Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Trick or treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat!

Charlie Brown's neighbors are a bunch of dicks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Marathon

Inspired by the AV Club's 24 hour horror movie marathon, as programmed by Eli Roth, I thought I'd concoct my own marathon for this Halloween.

I guess I'll adhere to the schedule Roth lays down for his marathon: noon-to-noon. And yes, it does make a difference. Some of these movies need to be watched at night. Viewing times are approximate, with a few minutes laid aside here and there for bathroom breaks and shots of caffeine and/or Jack Daniels.

The Devil's Rejects
Noon - 2 PM
Boy, the next word out of your mouth better be some brilliant fuckin' Mark Twain shit, 'cause it's definitely getting chiseled on your tombstone.

I love The Devil's Rejects. I raved about it when I first saw it; I even called it my favorite movie of 2005. If I go through with this marathon, I'll be watching it with buddies who saw Rejects in the theater with me; this film actually became a genuine bonding experience between us. What better way to start off this marathon than with the film that solidified our friendship? What better way to start than with one of my favorite films -- horror or otherwise -- of the new millennium? (Answer: none. None better way.)

The Omen
2 PM - 4 PM
Look at me, Damien! It's all for you.

Next, we throttle back a bit, with a classic that's a little more thoughtful and suspenseful, that demands a bit more patience than the all-out assault of Rejects. I love The Omen, but it's probably best to front-load it in the marathon, as the mood and tension the film creates require a certain amount of attention, which will probably be lacking in the small hours of the morning. The last time I watched it, a few years back, I was pleased to find that the few gory, shocking moments, though slightly cheesy by today's standards, still pack quite a punch if you allow yourself to become absorbed in the narrative.

Friday the 13th Part II
4 PM - 5:30 PM
You're all doomed. You're all doomed!

I had to include at least one entry from the three biggest franchises in horror -- A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th. For some reason, I'm not much in a Halloween mood this Halloween. (Maybe if Rob Zombie's remake were out on DVD... but it's not.) And if it comes down to Freddy vs. Jason (which it has), I'll go with Jason every time. I've always been a fan of the Friday series, going way back to my pre-teen years, when Part II became the very first gory horror movie I ever saw. And childhood trauma aside, this probably is the very best of the series, with Jason taking center stage for the first time, and a finale that ranks among the most disturbing of the '80s teen horror boom.

Near Dark
5:30 PM - 7 PM
Normal folks, they don't spit out bullets when you shoot 'em, no sir.

Near Dark, I think, is a fine choice to watch as the day actually turns to night outside. I've only seen this film once, a long, long time ago. I'm looking forward to rewatching it, whether as part of this marathon or just renting it on its own sometime, for the heck of it. I love the way director Kathryn Bigelow mixes the vampire and Western genres (which I think Tarantino and Rodriguez did to lesser success with From Dusk Till Dawn). And the reunion of Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen, from the previous year's Aliens, is worth the ticket price in and of itself.

Evil Dead 2
7 PM - 8:30 PM

In the AV Club feature, Eli Roth selected the original Evil Dead. I prefer Evil Dead 2, the half remake, half sequel. It may not have quite the same unsettling low budget immediacy of the original. But in the intervening years, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell had become true professionals, rather than inspired amateurs. This second film is slicker, funnier, and much, much bloodier. It's been 15 years now since Army of Darkness. A remake of the original is in the works (with someone other than Raimi directing), but that's not what we want. Dammit, where's Part 4, guys?

The Thing
8:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Somebody in this camp ain't what he appears to be.

Roth, who uses The Thing to open his marathon, calls it "one of the best horror films of all time," and he's not wrong. It's still absolutely shocking in its groundbreaking, astoundingly original and grisly special effects. And the gore is enhanced by the layers of paranoia, dread, and isolation director John Carpenter blankets the action with. A landmark in horror.

10:30 PM - Midnight
Who's going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow.

I'm trying to alternate between the darker, longer, more straightforward of the marathon entries with lighter, shorter, more humorous fare. And while Re-Animator is tremendously gross and disturbing, a swift punch to the gut, it's also very, very funny. Genre great Jeffrey Combs is a riot as the disturbed Dr. Herbert West, and the horror is so extreme, it quickly becomes necessary to laugh in order to preserve your sanity: oh, no, what is that man doing to that woman with his own severed head??? It's awful, awful, awful -- and sickly hilarious.

The Fly
Midnight - 1:30 AM
I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake.

Last year, I praised this movie in detail. Go read what I said there. Along with, and even moreso than, The Thing, this is a strong contender for best horror movie ever made (both films remakes, oddly enough), and absolutely essential in this marathon.

An American Werewolf in London
1:30 AM - 3:15 AM
I was murdered, an unnatural death, and now I walk the earth in limbo until the werewolf's curse is lifted.

Another gear-shift film, from the profoundly affecting psychological horror of David Cronenberg to the lighter, though lavishly bloody and scary, work of John Landis. Rick Baker's Oscar-winning FX are still remarkably convincing, with the bloody mess Griffin Dunne deteriorates into being a particular highlight. The shock moments peppered throughout never fail to make me jump, and the comedy never fails to make me laugh (as when the very dead Dunne complains to werewolf David Naughton, "Have you ever tried talking to a corpse? It's boring!")

3:15 AM - 5:15 AM
I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies.

Much like The Thing, or Evil Dead, Alien is another horror classic built on isolation and paranoia. This one just happens to take place in outer space (where no one can hear you scream). John Hurt's legendary indigestion scene, and the iconic alien, remain horrifying nearly thirty years (!!!) after the film's release.

Dead Alive
5:15 AM - 6:45 AM
Stand back, boy! This calls for divine intervention!

Switching again to comedy-horror, we have Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (aka Braindead, outside of the U.S.), which is quite possibly the goriest movie ever filmed. Non-stop buckets of blood, bile, pus, slime, and assorted other viscous substances ooze out of every frame of this no-holds-barred splatterfest. You practically need an umbrella to watch this thing. And the comedy is as hilarious as the violence is nauseating: who doesn't cheer on hearing Father McGruder's "I kick arse for the Lord!"

6:45 AM - 8:45 AM
If they had told me it was going to be fifteen years, would it have been easier to endure?

I named this harrowing experience my eighth favorite movie of 2005; I said what little I could about it here, after being brutalized by its terrible power. This is a film that haunts you. And it's the one film I most look forward to introducing to my horror movie-loving friends. Even if we can't commit to an entire 24 hour marathon, this has to be one of the movies we watch on Halloween.

8:45 AM - 10:15 AM

As morning creeps in, and our minds buckle under the strain of the marathon, this brisk jolt of nostalgia from my misspent youth should be enough to wake us up for the home stretch. One of my fondest grade school memories is of spending the night at my friend Kevin's house, staying up way, way too late, and watching Phantasm on Showtime. Then having Mountain Dew-fueled nightmares starring Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man.

Shaun of the Dead
10:15 AM - Noon
You know, I don't think I've got it in me to shoot my flatmate, my mum, and my girlfriend all in the same night.

Perhaps the perfect film to conclude a horror marathon. I called it my seventh favorite film of 2004; going solely by how many times I've seen it compared to the other films in that top ten, it's now number one by a country mile. It should've been on my Most Rewatchable List; even though I own it on DVD, whenever I run across it on TV I have to watch it (as I did just last Saturday on Comedy Central). This zombie comedy should be an attention-keeper, even at the very end of a rough 24 hours of horror film overload, and should serve as a painless transition back into the real world (or restless, haunted sleep).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another You Tube Cop-Out Post

Here's another low effort, cop-out You Tube post for you tonight, to tide you over (and keep my daily posting streak alive) while I prepare an extensive post for tomorrow.

This is the scene from Stranger Than Fiction in which Will Ferrell plays guitar and sings for Maggie Gyllenhaal; it's why the song "Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric is under Lyric of the Moment on my sidebar.

I just love everything about this scene. I love that Ferrell's eyes are tightly shut while he sings. I love that Gyllenhaal only slowly becomes aware of his singing from the other room. I love that she's so quiet, so enraptured as she approaches him, you can hear the floor squeaking. I love that she begins mouthing the words along with him, picking up the song in the middle of the chorus. I love how he falters as he finally opens his eyes to see her. I love that the original song cuts in, loud and powerful, as she kisses him. I love that the kiss is in slight slow motion, heightening the passion. I love that he still calls her "Miss Pascal." It's all so terribly sweet and romantic. What a wonderfully perfect film moment.

Big Halloween-themed post tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Two items on Roger Ebert

Item the first:

I hadn't watched it for a while, but I watched Ebert & Roeper (or really, for more than a year now, Roeper & Random Guest Critic) last week, and again this week. And it's striking how much damage has been done to the show's tradition, impact, and integrity by the absence of the Thumbs.

If you haven't heard, the Thumbs Up/Down grading system has been removed from the show. This is due to a breakdown in contract negotiations last August between Ebert, who co-owns (with Gene Siskel's family) the trademark on the Thumbs, and Disney-ABC, which distributes the show.

If you believe the statement from Disney, Ebert forced the show to remove the Thumbs ratings and symbols, until the contract dispute was resolved. If you believe Ebert, he granted the right to use the Thumbs while good-faith negotiations continued, and it was Disney who banned the Thumbs. Not surprisingly, I believe Ebert.

It seems silly that such a fuss could be kicked up over two manual appendages. (It seems even sillier for me to keep capitalizing them as Thumbs -- which still falls short of, as Ebert would have it, THUMBS™). But the truth is, there's no more coveted or trusted sign of critical approval in American film than "Two Thumbs Up!" And for Roeper now to have to conclude each show with such wimpy summations as, "We both liked this, we both didn't like that," instead of the definitive, "Two thumbs up! Two thumbs down!" -- it's just a massive disappointment.

I've loved the various incarnations of this show for over two decades now, and to watch it be castrated by Disney like this is shockingly disrespectful, and more than a little sad. Reason #8,700 to hate the Disney corporation. (That said, I'm still going to Disneyland in one week! I am powerless to resist the call of the Mouse!)

Item the second:

Roger Ebert's new review of Grindhouse (he's catching up on movies he missed while he's been ill) includes the following snippet:

"Tarantino's Death Proof, which I liked better, splits into two halves involving quartets of women, most of them lesbians..."

Most of them lesbians?

First of all, how is this even relevant? If Ebert were going to make a point about this later in his review, about the usage and context of the characters' sexual orientation within the film, it would be understandable. As is, it's just weirdly out of place; it feels like a leering and/or sniggering jape from a little boy. Tee hee! Lesbians!

Secondly -- is that even accurate? Were most of them lesbians? Does that mean three women out of each quartet? Or five out of the total eight? I know Jungle Julia was, if only because she was connected to a female doctor from Planet Terror; I don't recall anything about the sexuality of the other women. Did I tune out that much during the wildly overwritten and agonizingly interminable dialogues between these characters? I probably did, come to think of it; that was some boring-ass shit.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Corner Gas

Left to right: Lacey, Brent, Hank, Oscar, Emma, Wanda, Karen, Davis

Of all the new shows to debut this Fall, by far my favorite is one now entering its fifth season. In Canada, that is; in America, it's brand new. It's the comedy Corner Gas, which is now airing in reruns on Superstation WGN (check the link for days and times).

Corner Gas is set in the sleepy, middle-of-nowhere burg of Dog River, Saskatchewan (those of you educated in American schools: that's in Canada). Brent Leroy (played by Brent Butt, the show's creator) is proprietor of the gas station/mini-mart from which the show gets its name. He's a schemer, but his schemes are always for very small stakes, and he's always foiled. And he's usually got a comic book in hand, which I get a kick out of. Hank, who's a bit gullible and slow on the uptake, is the local handyman of sorts, but he spends most of his time just hanging out with Brent at the gas station. In this clip, Brent and Hank have fun with a driver passing through town. It's the first scene from the first episode, and immediately sets the tone for the series: low-key, amiable, lots of back-and-forth jesting, and very funny.

"What do you mean? Like, topographically?"

Wanda is Brent's only employee. She's sharp-tongued and deeply sarcastic, indifferent and inattentive to her work, and she generally gets the best of Brent and Hank. Here's a scene that typifies the relationship between all three, and the work habits at the station.

"The werewolf is nature's robot"

Lacey is the new gal in town. She's moved from the big city of Toronto to run The Ruby, a coffee shop next to Corner Gas. She's frequently confounded by the stubborn adherence of the locals to things she considers unimportant -- for example, she creates an uproar when she wants to fill in the town's only pothole. She's played by the lovely Gabrielle Miller, and she's bound to be a future OoMA.

Davis and Karen are Dog River's police force. Davis is the senior officer, quick to point out mistakes or slips in protocol, but extremely sensitive when rookie Karen reveals his own failures. And Oscar and Emma are Brent's parents. Oscar, who owned Corner Gas before retiring, is prickly, easily confused by newness, and likes calling everyone "jackass." (I can relate to that.) Emma mildly tolerates most of Oscar's tantrums, but she knows how to manipulate him, and everyone in town, to her advantage.

In this sequence, the town tries to decide how best to attract tourists. Much to Brent's chagrin, they decide to build the world's biggest... well, you'll see.

"World's Biggest..."

I love this show. I love the often subtle, usually deadpan humor. I love the way the characters play off one another, and have conversations like real people. I love the way the show perfectly captures the feel of a small town. At times, it's a bit reminiscent of Northern Exposure, but without such extremes in weirdness or quirkiness. At times, it could be Hazzard County, minus all the car chases. In fact, here's a clip that pokes fun at The Dukes of Hazzard and narrator Waylon Jennings:

"A bit of a pickle"

Corner Gas is immensely popular in Canada. (Two sitting prime ministers have appeared on the show! That's like Dubya making a cameo on Two and a Half Men.) I hope the show catches on even half as well here in the States. It's not often I become as big a fan of a series as quickly as I have with this one. It might take an episode or two for the characters and humor, so much more laidback and grounded than most American sitcoms, to catch on with you -- but they eventually will. This is great entertainment.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm guessing it'll happen during the 2008 May sweeps

A quick Lost timeline:

2005: Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros are arrested for drunk driving. Their characters are subsequently killed off.

2006: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is arrested for driving without a license and disobeying a police officer. His character is subsequently killed off.

2007: Daniel Dae Kim begins getting his résumé in order. If he knows what's good for him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fall 2007 TV: The Final Wrap-Up

Now that all the new Fall shows have debuted, it's time to take a look back and ask, "Why the hell did I do that again?"

Here's a rundown of my grades for all of this season's new entries, linked to my reviews, along with some brief commentary. In some cases, I've adjusted my grade up or down, to reflect my evolving opinions. My grading system is roughly along these lines:

1: Why do you hate me, TV?
2-3: Won't ever watch this again
4-5: Borderline; might give it a second chance
6-7: I'll watch as long as it's not up against something better
8-9: Permanently on my viewing schedule
10: Battlestar Galactica, The Daily Show, Deadwood, Lost.


Big Shots: 2
Horrible crap, a waste of talent so severe it makes me question why I ever considered these people to have talent in the first place. Has nobody cancelled it yet?
Carpoolers: 4 (original grade: 3)
Cavemen: 4
I've watched three episodes apiece of Carpoolers and Cavemen, out of pure TV laziness. I think it's fair to adjust my initial grade for Carpoolers and say both shows are of equal, lackluster quality.
Dirty Sexy Money: 8 (original grade: 9)
This is still possibly my favorite of the new Fall programs, but its subsequent outings have yet to match the brilliant pilot. If it drifts a little farther away from the humor and into soap opera cliches, I might lose interest altogether.
Private Practice: no grade
One of the new shows I refused to watch, and I don't regret it!
Pushing Daisies: 8
I'd say this is just about tied with Dirty Sexy Money for my favorite new show. Successfully pushes the boundaries of romance and quirkiness, without (yet) crossing the line to sappy or obnoxious.
Samantha Who?: 5
The second episode developed Samantha's lost life, but not the humor. Has potential, but better find it quickly.
Women's Murder Club: 3 (original grade: 4)
The more I think about it, the more I dislike this show. Very stupid pilot, leaving me with no desire to watch ever again.


The Big Bang Theory: 7 (original grade: 6)
I know there must be some of you who think I'm nuts, but I'm really enjoying the characters and the humor. Even blonde ditz Kaley Cuoco is growing on me.
Cane: 5 (original grade: 7)
I went with the higher grade originally because, while I greatly admired the cast, they weren't in the kind of show I'd like to watch. I finally decided that the grade should reflect that fact more accurately. If a great cast can't get me to watch a show, the show ain't that good.
Kid Nation: no grade
I don't watch reality shows. I can't see them from up here on my high horse.
Moonlight: 1
Congratulations, Moonlight! You're the worst new show I had to endure this year. You join 2005's Killer Instinct and Freddie as the only shows I've ever given a 1.
Viva Laughlin: 2
The first scripted show to be cancelled -- axed before I could even post my review. Good thing I didn't love it!

The CW

Aliens in America: 7 (original grade: 8)
I loved the pilot, but the series just isn't hooking me. I actually skipped this week's episode, and watched Chuck instead. While it remains in this competitive timeslot, I doubt I'll be tuning in again.
CW Now: no grade
Another show I refused to watch.
Gossip Girl: no grade
I said of this show: "Sight unseen, I can tell this is so god damnably contemptible that I refuse to even consider watching it." It's already been picked up for a second season. Yep, that sounds about right. Sigh.
Life Is Wild: grade pending, possibly
I still have it on tape. I still haven't decided whether or not I'll ever watch it. Starting to seem like not.
Online Nation no grade
Another of the shows I opted out on. Already cancelled.
Reaper: 8
The predictable formula was beginning to wear on me, even though I was still enjoying the humor and the characters. But my interest peaked again after the last couple episodes mixed things up by introducing a recurring plot line, involving Sam's contract with the devil. Good Satanic fun.


Back To You: 3
Do I really think this is the worst new sitcom of the Fall, worse even than Carpoolers and Cavemen? Yes. Yes I do. And I stand by that.
Kitchen Nightmares no grade
No reality shows!
K-Ville: 3 (original grade: 4)
I've watched bits and pieces of some of the episodes since the pilot, and this is really, really bad. Worse even than my original low judgment.
Nashville no grade
Another reality show I allowed myself to skip. The first Fall show to be cancelled.
The Next Great American Band: no grade
No reality shows!


Bionic Woman: 2 (original grade: 5)
I wanted so badly to like this show, which accounts for the relatively high grade I initially gave it. After punishing myself with three episodes, I was out, and the new grade more truthfully represents its sheer awfulness.
Chuck: 7 (original grade: 6)
The pilot was a little wobbly, and the second episode was worse. But the next three episodes have been solid enjoyment through and through. Fine comedy action.
Journeyman: 7 (original grade: 8)
God, this is a gorgeously filmed show, taking fine advantage of many San Francisco locations. And I like the introduction of a possible villain, in the professor from Lawrence Livermore Lab. But it's a little too humorless, and the familial strife is a little bleaker than it needs to be.
Life: 5 (original grade: 7)
Looks like I've quit this show, which explains the drop in my grade. I skipped it last week, intending to catch the reairing on Sunday night. Well, I skipped it Sunday night, too. And then I skipped the new one this week. It has its merits, but I just can't muster the energy to commit to it.

Best slate of new programming:

Hard to judge. NBC had four new shows, and until a couple weeks ago, I was still watching all four -- 100% success! Then I dumped both Bionic Woman, which is horrible, and Life, which is decent but just not essential to my viewing experience. Still, 50/50 ain't bad.

ABC had eight new shows, one of which I refused to watch. Out of the remaining seven, two have become my favorite new shows, one sitcom has the potential to stick around for the long run, and only two of them did I really hate.

The CW had six new shows, but (if I wind up never getting around to Life Is Wild, which seems likely) I only deigned to watch two of them. But both of those shows were very, very good.

I think I'll give the nod to ABC. They couldn't hit NBC's 50% success rate, but they did have the two best debuts of the Fall season. Well done.

Worst slate of new programming:

CBS made a valiant effort to claim this title. Out of five new shows, I could only make myself watch four, and two of them were unquestionably the worst new shows overall.

But Fox, oh, Fox: out of five new shows, I pre-judged three to be unwatchable, and the remaining two were dreadful. That is a 0% success rate. Congratulations, Fox: you managed to offer the very worst of a bad crop.

Final numbers:

28 new broadcast shows.
19 shows reviewed.
1 review still pending (but don't hold your breath).
3 shows already cancelled.
6 shows rated 3 or lower.
7 shows rated 6 or higher.
4 shows I was genuinely looking forward to, pre-season (Bionic Woman, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Reaper).
1 anticipated show that turned into a bitter disappointment.
2 shows I probably wouldn't have checked out, but am glad I did (Aliens in America, Dirty Sexy Money).
6 shows I will make an effort to continue to watch. (Aliens in America would make 7, if The CW moves it to a better timeslot.)
0 shows I'm truly enthusiastic about. I can see myself giving up any or all of these shows with no real sense of loss. While there's a lot of quality programming, there's nothing I feel I have to watch, and hope to still be watching five years in the future. Which makes for a pretty weak premiere season.

And, as always:

1 dude who needs to get a life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Douchebags on Parade

You're all a bunch of smart, nice people, so I'm assuming you're already aware of this. But I feel the need to make it perfectly clear.

Douchebag Central

If you watch Phenomenon tonight, even ironically, you are a bad person. There is no middle ground. This may seem unreasonably judgmental to some of you. I only put it in such stark black and white terms because I am so very right, and if you watch this show, you are so very wrong.

O.D.: Original Douchebag

"Mentalist" Uri Geller was debunked as a fraud decades ago, most famously on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. That he retains an ounce of credibility indicates the willful gullibility of a large percentage of the American populace. I mean, if we'll swallow a fake war, what's a little spoon bending? But make no mistake (to use a favorite phrase of one of the architects of that fake war): Geller is a charlatan, a con artist, a defrauder of the simple-minded. Supporting this show supports his vile duplicity. Period.

Kid Douchebag: He's younger, but so very much douchier

I don't know near as much about Criss Angel, and I don't really want to. As far as I can tell (and I may be wrong), he's fairly straightforward about the fact that he is performing illusions, not using genuine extrasensory powers. I just think he's a total douche.

I implore you, and I assure you I am 100% serious: be a good person. Do not watch this show.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Sidebar Updating

Did some more tinkering with the sidebar, adding icons to various sections. Just to spruce it up a bit. Not sure if I like it or not. If you have an opinion one way or the other, let me know. Or tell me a story.

Sidebar Update: Addenda and Errata

Re: Sidebar Update

I went to the library to pick up Timequake, for my Kurt Vonnegut Reading Project. It's checked out until Thursday. So I went with Slapstick instead.

The icon under Current Reading on the sidebar has been changed to reflect this. Please make a note.

Also: Jewel Staite was formerly described as being "cute as a button." Reliable sources have informed us that she is, in fact, "cute as a bug's ear." The Management regrets the error.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall 2007 TV: Viva Laughlin

Viva Laughlin (CBS)

It seems a little pointless to review Viva Laughlin at this point, since, as noted in a comment from Greg Burgas, and confirmed by Zap2It, CBS has already cancelled it. The first episode airs Thursday, the second episode airs Sunday, and it's dead on Monday. Ouch.

Let's face it: a show this "unusual," to be charitable, was never going to succeed, especially not on CBS, whose motto is "Commutatum Timemus" (lit. "We Fear Change"). But it might have at least made it to episode three if it had been any good. Which it wasn't.

Rather than dancing on the grave at length, let me just hit a few low notes:

--The lead actor, Lloyd Owen, is powerfully devoid of charisma. He actually repels the viewer, when the viewer needs to be coaxed into accepting the show's wacky format.

--The writing is abysmal. Toward the end of the episode, the son sells his car to try to help his father out of a bind. The father searches for something kind to say in return. Father: "That blemish -- red zit thing on your face... it's clearing up real nice." Son: "Thanks." And both they, and the sentimental music, bask in the warm moment they have shared. Sweet merciful crap, that is bad.

--As for the singing: it works twice, kind of, in the beginning. Owen sings along to the radio (Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas") in the car; we've all done that, and we've seen characters on other shows do that, too. Then, when he arrives at his casino, he continues the song as he walks inside, amidst the new construction, even jumping on top of a table for the big finish. It's a nice transition, from singing in the car to genuine musical number, easing us into the format.

Later, Hugh Jackman arrives at his own casino via helicopter. He sings "Sympathy for the Devil" as he walks the gaming floor, winking at every showgirl, throwing money in the air. Jackman's a fine singer, and loaded with all the charisma that Owen lacks. But the tune loses its fun quickly. The song crosses the line from Jackman taking pleasure in his debauchery, tongue-in-cheek fashion, to an anvil of exposition: No, listen, we're serious, this is the bad guy! Get it? He's singing about the devil because he is the devil!! At least, that's how it felt to me. Jackman even ends the same way Owen ended his song, by jumping up on a table. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that this was an intentional mirroring moment, that Jackman's flourish, surrounded by beautiful women and cheering gamblers, is meant to contrast Owen's finale, to an empty casino still being built. Maybe it was intentional. Or maybe it was just lazy, repetitive choreography.

The real disaster, in re: the singing, comes when Melanie Griffith takes part. She and Owen duet on Blondie's "One Way or Another," and hoo boy, is it bad. First of all, let me note that Kristen Bell did this song on Veronica Mars first, and much better. Second, Griffith is just plain scary to look at these days, what with her cosmetic surgery-disfigured face. Third, there's simply no art, no fun, no joy in the staging; they just sing the song back and forth to each other, as Griffith tries to seduce Owen, and he resists. It's so flat and devoid of energy and excitement. It's hard to watch, frankly; it's an embarrassment. I'd love to see a minute-by-minute tracking of the ratings during this part of the show; I'm guessing this is where they hit rock bottom, as viewers tuned out by the thousands.

Oh, did I mention everybody is singing over the original songs? It's like bad karaoke! Rather than compose any new songs, or even make new musical arrangements for old songs, they just sing right over the pre-existing version. So you get Jackman trying to outdo Mick Jagger, which ain't gonna happen. Or you get Owen singing over Debbie Harry's voice. It worked when Owen was singing with Elvis on the radio, but aside from that, it's just clunky and distracting.

I was actually looking forward to this show, in some ways. I thought Jackman could bring some life to it (and he did, but not near enough to overcome the general awfulness of the script), I thought the show might be a pleasant break from all the crime procedurals that dominate the airwaves, and heck, I just like Laughlin, and I was looking forward to seeing it on the small screen. But it's a total flop. CBS was wise to cut their losses so quickly, but they would've been a lot wiser never to greenlight it in the first place.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Fall 2007 TV: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who? (ABC)

I didn't find the premise of Samantha Who? very promising or original -- bad person gets conked on the head, gets amnesia, turns good -- and I don't think much of star Christina Applegate's acting ability. Yet I found the pilot episode surprisingly enjoyable. Maybe I've been conked on the head.

Applegate is the titular Samantha, who wakes up after a brief coma to find she's lost her memory. She's surrounded by her parents (Kevin Dunn and a hilariously passive-aggressive Jean Smart) and best friend (Melissa McCarthy). But she has no recollection of her parents, nor that she hasn't spoken to them in years. And she's unaware that her best friend isn't really her best friend anymore; they drifted apart when Samantha first started turning into a horrible bitch, many years ago. Her real best friend (Jennifer Esposito) couldn't even be bothered to visit her at the hospital; she's every bit as self-absorbed and callous as Samantha was.

The memory loss seems to have regressed Samantha back to the decent person she once was. When she discovers that she's been cheating on her live-in boyfriend (Barry Watson), she's crushed, as is he. After alienating or being repelled by everyone in her life, she finds the only person she can open up to is her building's doorman (Tim Russ, still looking very much like the Vulcan, Tuvok, he played on Star Trek: Voyager).

There were a lot of good lines and situations in the pilot, though honestly, not a lot of great ones, or even memorable ones. But I found myself liking Samantha, and Applegate, an awful lot, both as the kind amnesiac flailing about and trying to regain her life, and as the old, vicious Samantha that occasionally takes center stage. Applegate impressed me a lot more here as an actual actress, rather than merely a pretty line reader, as she has so often seemed on TV, or even struggling to keep up with the boys in Anchorman.

I also like the rest of the cast. Melissa McCarthy was always great as the sweetheart Sookie on Gilmore Girls; here, her sweetness covers up a bit of a manic personality, obsessed with Samantha. I liked Jennifer Esposito on Spin City, and she's fine here, with a believable nasty streak. Jean Smart and Kevin Dunn are both solid comedic talents, and make the most of their parts. Barry Watson is the weakest link here; his character seemed like a bit of a one-note doormat at first, but after his discovery of Samantha's affair, he toughens up a bit -- let's say he's up to two notes.

It's not a brilliant comedy, but it's an agreeably amusing one, one I can easily see myself watching again, if not going out of my way to watch.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Night Is Movie Night

Why is Sunday night TV so awful? It's one of the most competitive nights of the week, ratings-wise, and advertising dollars-wise. But with baseball preempting the Fox cartoons, there's not a damn thing I want to watch.

I mean, I'm kind of watching the baseball game. After some lethargic play, putting them down 3-1 in the series to Cleveland, looks like the Red Sox suddenly decided they wouldn't mind going to the World Series after all. And I'm kind of watching the football game, too -- I'm even wearing my Broncos shirt. Hell, I've given up on Cal, might as well pick some other football team to root for.

So while everybody else is watching Desperate Housewives, or Cold Case, or Brothers & Sisters, or whatever the hell it is everybody watches, I think it's going to be movie night for me. The light all day has been eerily orange-grey, with the ash from the Malibu fire choking the sky; the wind outside is literally howling, kicking up gusts of 40, 50 miles per hour and more, shrieking through every crevice on the outside of the house. Just the right creepy atmosphere to watch 28 Weeks Later.

Back tomorrow with those final TV reviews I keep promising to write. Including Viva Laughlin. Capsule review: sucked.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another YouTube Cop-Out Post. Cal Sucks.

After another disgraceful loss from Cal, who are playing like they're allergic to winning, I could use some cheering up. So here's one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV. From the first season of NewsRadio: Phil Hartman has quit smoking, and Dave Foley has given up coffee. And Andy Dick picks the wrong moment to interrupt.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another reason I miss the Bay Area

When I was attending Cal, I would make near weekly visits to the UC Theater, which is one of the best movie theaters ever. Or was -- faced with having to make $350,000 worth of repairs to meet "seismic upgrade" standards, it closed its doors in 2001. Sad!

Anyhoo. This is the "no smoking" warning that used to run before every feature in the UC. You don't get to see this kind of stuff at the big chain theaters!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kick, Pooh, kick!

Recent TV: I skipped last night's Bionic Woman, just as I promised I would. I have to admit, I felt a nagging urge to watch it anyway, despite knowing how awful it would be. But I resisted, and am a better man for it.

Heroes is getting really weak. I've been hating the stories involving Peter in Ireland, and Hiro in ancient Japan, but when they didn't show up in this Tuesday's episode, I was pining for them to return. Because without them, we had to spend even more time with the even more awful stories involving Claire and her douchey new boyfriend (aptly nicknamed "Captain Emo" over at The AV Club), Maya and Alejandro (or "the Toxic Twins," ibid), and, worst of all, the wretched Katrina-exploiting Nawlins plotline, featuring Pint-Size Gangsta and his sister, the Tomato Carving Wrestler. I keep hoping this season is going to shape up like last season, which floundered a bit at the beginning, but got progressively more awesome as the pieces began falling into place. There was a minuscule amount of forward progress this last episode, with the revelation that Parkman's father was not only one of the original 12 heroes, but is also the "Nightmare Man," but this show needs to pick things up in a big way before it loses me altogether. At least Kristen Bell will be in next week's episode, which should improve things quite a bit.

I skipped Life last night, because it's going to reair this weekend, if I feel like catching it. And I didn't miss it that much. Or at all, really. Out of sight, out of mind. It's just about eliminated from my viewing schedule.

Still loving Dirty Sexy Money, but it might be drifting a little too far into standard soap opera cliches, and away from the humor that made me enjoy it so much in the first place. It's a little early to tell, so it's still got the benefit of the doubt.

Pushing Daisies remains my other new favorite show; it may actually be surpassing DSM. Last night's episode was the first without Barry Sonnenfeld directing (ABC objected to his budget overruns), and there was no discernible drop in quality. In fact, I liked it more than the previous week's outing. How can you not love seeing Chi McBride stuck in a hole like Winnie-the-Pooh, complete with the line, "Kick, Pooh, kick!" Fun stuff.

Tonight's TV: My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock (with Steve Buscemi!), and another hour-long The Office. Also: Ugly Betty, which I'm beginning to tire of, and tonight's guest appearance by James Van Der Beek doesn't exactly have the kind of star quality that's going to refresh my interest.

A new show debuts tonight, the last of the new Fall shows: the drama/musical hybrid, Viva Laughlin. Which might be interesting -- and should, at the least, be different -- but is getting slaughtered by the critics. I'm starting to fall a bit behind; I have yet to post my reviews of Samantha Who? (which I kind of liked) and Life Is Wild (which I still haven't even watched). I should post Samantha and Laughlin soon, but honestly, I don't know if I'll ever be able to bring myself to watch Life Is Wild. I started it yesterday, and turned it off almost before it had begun. Zero interest.

On cable tonight, on Comedy Central at 10:00 is a repeat of last night's excellent new South Park, followed by a new Drawn Together, which I probably won't watch until it reairs at 12:30, since I'll be watching Viva Laughlin at 10:00. And on FX at 10:00 is a new It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I won't watch until it reairs at 11:00, for the same reason.

Plus, tonight on Fox, starting right now, the Cleveland Indians should be putting the final nail in the coffin of the Boston Red Sox, and advancing to the World Series against the seemingly unstoppable Colorado Rockies. Better wrap this up -- it's baseball time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Monthly Sidebar Update!

Let's jump right into it:

The new Object of My Affection is Jewel Staite, who is, and I'm not pulling any punches here, cute as a button. A button I say!!! Here is a bonus picture to reinforce my case:

And deny too that you are... THE SHROPSHIRE SLASHER!!!

Cute as a button. DENY IT IF YOU DARE!

She's been acting for a while, for someone of her young age: a decade ago, she had recurring roles on Space Cases and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show. But she's probably best known as the much beloved Kaylee from Firefly and Serenity. She's currently featured on the Sci-Fi Channel's Stargate: Atlantis, though, sadly, even her presence is not enough to get me to watch a weak spin-off of a show I didn't care about in the original iteration.

My Kurt Vonnegut Reading Project continues to cruise along. Since the last Update, I've finished Bagombo Snuff Box, as well as A Man without a Country and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. A Man without a Country was his final book, and a brief one, and I'll have more to say about it soon. As for Rosewater: I'd read this book before, about 20 years ago, and as with most of Vonnegut's books I read around that time, I remembered almost nothing about it. I find I didn't like it as much as I expected to, or thought I once had. It feels a bit meandering, and I didn't like Eliot Rosewater as much as I anticipated liking him, when I re-encountered him a few months ago in Slaughterhouse-Five (he appears there in an insane asylum, along with that book's hero, Billy Pilgrim). The book is a bit sadder and meaner than I was expecting (and that's saying a lot, for a Vonnegut book). But it's still Vonnegut, which means it's still very sharp and funny, especially in its characterization of Eliot's father, the rabidly conservative Senator Rosewater, and well worthwhile. I just finished it today, so I'm not entirely sure which Vonnegut is next, though I'm leaning toward his final novel, which I have never read, Timequake.

Under Watching, we've got more Babylon 5. I'm up to the fifth and final season, and, while it's not quite as bad as I was bracing myself for, it's still a dramatic drop in quality from the stellar fourth season. And no Claudia Christian! What a crime.

For Listening, there is Barenaked Ladies Are Me. I got this a few months ago, and frankly, I'm still trying to like it. I've been a huge fan of BNL since buying Gordon about 15 years ago, but this album, and their previous one, Everything To Everyone, just leave me cold. The hooks aren't as strong, the humor is greatly diminished -- both albums feel very soporific and bland, and the songs all run together for me. But I keep trying to like this one. I'm waiting for that moment where it clicks, and I really get into it, the way I have with other albums (not theirs, necessarily; I went through the same thing with Ben Folds' first solo album, or Fountains of Wayne's Welcome Interstate Managers). Hasn't happened yet.

Hating: Cal. Still not over it!

Lyric of the Moment is from "Whole Wide World," by Wreckless Eric. I recently bought the DVD of Stranger Than Fiction, which is so tremendously sweet and sad and funny and inventive. This song is from the scene where Will Ferrell plays guitar for Maggie Gyllenhaal; he sings to her with his eyes tightly shut, and you can see her falling in love with him right then and there. It's terribly romantic, and this song works perfectly in that moment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This is all I've got time for today

Makes sense to me.

Boy, I loves me some Achewood. Here's the new T-shirt design being sold through the site:


Mine should be shipping this week (along with a few of the strip collection books). Maybe now I will get that helpful advice from strangers I've been hoping for, god dammit.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Damn Cal! Also: Weekend TV

I'm still so sour over Cal's idiotic loss to Oregon State I can barely even think about the other TV I watched this weekend. I don't normally get this wrapped up in sports. I mean, I get angry when my teams lose (stupid Dodgers!), but this got me so furious it pretty much ruined my whole weekend. I kept feeling like a wrong had been inflicted against me, personally, like I was getting audited or someone had keyed my car or something. Which is crazy, I know, but there you have it. And I kept being surprised by why I was feeling so bad. I would become aware that I was all anxious and upset, and wonder, "Did I bounce a check? Did I lose my keys? Oh, yeah -- fucking Cal lost."

Not only do I think backup QB Kevin Riley, who made the most boneheaded play I have ever seen in football, college or pro, should be cut from the team, I now find myself wondering whether Coach Tedford should even be allowed to remain as coach. That's how disastrous this loss was, and that's how inappropriate Tedford's response to it was. Here's what he had to say about Riley, whose idiotic failure to throw the ball away and stop the clock cost Cal the game, and a chance at the #1 ranking in the country: "It's not his fault whatsoever." Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Tedford also said, "We didn't lose the game because of that play," which is wrong, but at least I understand what Tedford was getting at here: the entire Cal team is to blame for playing horribly enough to put the team in the position of needing a last second field goal to send the game to overtime. They missed a long but makeable field goal on the opening drive. They fumbled on their own 16, setting up an Oregon State TD. They couldn't score a touchdown with four chances from the one-yard line, and turned the ball over on downs. Right there: that's where they proved to me that they deserved to lose. But they kept shooting themselves in the foot, as though they hadn't already done enough to give Oregon State the win. They fumbled the kickoff after Orgeon State's go-ahead TD, which resulted in a field goal and a 10-point deficit halfway through the 4th quarter. And then, after closing to within three, with 14 seconds left from Oregon State's 12-yard line, with an excellent chance to win outright, or at least send it to OT, Riley's colossal blunder ended it all.

And so, instead of proving they were #1, they proved that they don't deserve to play football. They fell to #10 in the AP Poll, and in the Bowl Championship Rankings, which were released for the first time this week, they're not even in the top ten. What a miserable, miserable failure.

Not that I'm bitter.

Hopefully, that's out of my system now.

In other weekend TV: NBC did indeed reair Chuck on Saturday night, and I thought it was pretty good. It's still funny enough, and I like the actors enough, to stick with it, as long as NBC keeps reairing it on the weekend (TV conflicts prevent me from watching the original airing on Mondays).

I missed The Sarah Silverman Program on Thursday, so I had to catch the rerun on Sunday. Damn funny episode. This is the one where she licks her dog's butt. But she has a good reason: since the dog is always licking its own butt, she wants to see what's so darn delicious about it. Her judgment: "That is fair at best." Now branded as an animal sex offender, she winds up in rehab, on the advice of her friend Homeless Mike, who is now just Mike, because rehab helped him give up crack. Sarah, sympathetic as always: "Aw, but that was your favorite!" Possibly even funnier was the side story, with Brian and Steve inviting Sarah's sister Laura and her cop boyfriend Jay over for board games. My favorite line comes when Brian insists he never breaks the law, and Steve challenges him to take a look at the lamp (a bong hidden under a lampshade). Sweet, naive Laura: "There's a lamp law?" Love this show.

The Simpsons was a little better this week; I enjoyed hearing Steve Buscemi as the bug-eyed (of course) bank robber, and I really got a kick out of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' cameo, a return appearance as Mr. Burns' former/Snake's current girlfriend. I think that's cool, that she would show up for just a couple of sentences, which other stars of her stature might consider beneath them, or not worth their time. It's like how Joe Mantegna insists on always playing Fat Tony, even if he's only got one line.

King of the Hill, once again, featured way too much Bobby, but it was still a solid episode, with the biggest storyline for Boomhauer's character since Brad Pitt played his brother (which was back in 2003). There was a lot with poor, stupid Bill as well, which is always good.

Family Guy, unbelievably, was a repeat. Only four weeks in, and already a repeat?? Ridiculous. Anyway, I'm still enjoying American Dad more than any other show in Fox's animation block, which is as much a shock to me as it is to you. The Roger & Steve story was hilarious, with Roger convincing Steve that a crack den was the American extension of Hogwarts, capped off with a Scarface-inspired bloodbath. And I enjoyed Stan's attempts to convince his new best friend not to be an atheist anymore, packed with a lot of funny reflections on how the religiously ultra-devoted often can't even seem to comprehend atheism. And Martin Mull's debauched, faithless Father Donovan is always a hoot. Stan: "My best friend is an atheist!" Father Donovan: "I'd hardly call us best friends, Stan." Later, to Stan's wife: "Am I gonna see some jugs, or am I just wasting my time?"

Tonight's TV brings us one of the last debuts of the Fall Season, Christina Applegate in Regarding Henry. I mean, Samantha Who? Applegate is a woman with amnesia who discovers the person she used to be isn't very nice. Surprisingly, this show has been getting some good critical buzz, so maybe it won't be quite as painful as I've been expecting.

Also tonight: How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory (with another Roseanne guest star, following last week's appearance by Sara Gilbert: Laurie Metcalf as Johnny Galecki's mother. Nice!), Aliens in America, Heroes, and Journeyman. Chuck, as I said above, will have to wait till the weekend.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

COMICS: Hembeck Omnibus

Fantastic news from the world of comics -- coming next February: The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus!

This book right here!

I'm a big fan of the awesomely swell and funny Mr. Hembeck, and the announcement of this gigantic collection -- over 900 pages, for a mere 25 bucks! -- is the most exciting thing to happen to comics since... uh... some unspecified time in the past when comics didn't suck so much.

And I'm not just saying that because he has occasionally visited and left comments at this blog, once even linking to me in an "episode" of the Fred Hembeck Show. I'm also saying it because he's as big a fan of The Who as I am! Oh, and his comics are wonderful. But mostly the other stuff.

I've almost completely quit reading comics, but this book is definitely worth my money, and yours, too. And congratulations on such a massive testament to your work, Fred!

American Elf

American Elf is a diary in webcomic form, created by James Kochalka. It's updated every single day.

This is the current comic posted at the site:

American Elf

That was posted four days ago. Four days without updates of a daily comic. I'm starting to worry. I hope everything is all right with him and his family.

EDIT: New strip today, October 15. All is well. That's a relief!

Saturday Night Dead. GET IT???

Holy hell. And I thought last week's episode of Saturday Night Live was bad. Tonight's was just atrocious.

Did they even rehearse? I mean, above and beyond the disaster of depending on a wasted and confused Richie Sambora to deliver lines -- which was one of the most painful things I've ever had to witness. All night long, it was just one error after another. A prop wouldn't be properly framed, an actor would play to the wrong camera, the director would cut to someone after they said their line.... Was this the first show for everybody? Have the first 32 years of SNL now not happened, and everyone's trying to figure out how to make this show from scratch?

I've been complaining about the overuse of non-comedically-inclined hosts on SNL, putting them in practically every damn sketch -- and rather than cutting back, they decide to put host Jon Bon Jovi in the traditionally host-free cold opening, too. Criminy! Bon Jovi, by the way, was even worse as host than I feared. That sketch with him as an alien was death, pure death.

And take the opening sketch, which is generally where the show wants to put its strongest material, right? Instead we get an awful game show sketch built around the accents lifted from the "Two Gay Guys from Jersey" running characters on Weekend Update. Guess what, SNL? Not funny. Ooooh!

Not surprisingly, the best sketches were the ones lacking any Bon Jovi. The bits ripping on Dane Cook's horrendous baseball promos were funny and scarily accurate. The Iconoclasts spoof, featuring Charles Barkley and Björk, was very enjoyable (Barkley: "Come on, Bork! Let's go watch the TVs at the Best Buy!"). I've said it before: the graveyard sketch, the one right before the end of the show, is often the funniest of the night, because this is where the silliest, most offbeat, most original ideas get dumped, and since time is an issue, they usually don't drag on for five minutes too long. When they work (and they certainly don't always), they can be real home runs.

And the "Punching People in the Face Before They Eat" Digital Short was a riot. I haven't laughed so hard at SNL since the Natalie Portman gangsta rap Digital Short ("P is for Portman! P is for Pussy! I'll kill your fuckin' dog for fun, so don't push me!"). Or maybe the Spelling Bee sketch:

But what the fuck happened at the end of the show? All of a sudden, Jack Nicholson is there? And he's introducing another song from Bon Jovi? This has to be first time ever the host performed more songs than the actual musical guest. Which really sucks, since Foo Fighters are the first musical guest I've given a damn about since I can't remember when. They get only one song? That's bunk. Why even invite them on the show? Why not have Bon Jovi officially be the host and musical guest, and skip the pretense? Bizarre.

Two additional notes about the Foo Fighters: was that Pat Smear on stage with them? Is he back in the band? And I don't know about you, but I loved watching the cellist in the background, just sitting idly during much of the song, banging her head along with the music. Being a professional cellist probably doesn't afford you many opportunities to bang your head.

This show has been sheer agony this year. But heck, what else am I going to watch on a Saturday? You win, SNL, you win.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall 2007 TV: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club (ABC)

I watched Women's Murder Club live, rather than taping it, so I've got to try to get this review down before it slips my mind. I will admit, the several Jack & Cokes I've had are contributing to my urgency, as they will also contribute to my total memory loss about the pilot if I wait too long. So this is going to be sloppy and unprofessional -- but hey, so was WMC! (Rim shot.)

First of all: kudos for being another show set in beautiful San Francisco that features actual location shots in beautiful San Francisco (like Journeyman), as opposed to a show set in beautiful San Francisco that features location shots in gloomy-but-I'm-sure-it-has-its-own-particular-charms-please-don't-get-bent-out-of-shape-Canadians Vancouver (Bionic Woman). Interesting side note: one of the "Club" members is a reporter for the fictional San Francisco Register, which is also the name of the fictional paper Dan works for on Journeyman! What's more, the same fake newspaper was also featured in both Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Weird.

WMC stars Angie Harmon as transsexual Lindsay Boxer, who works as a homicide detective for the SFPD. Wait... what? That's her actual speaking voice? Really? Oh.... Angie Harmon stars as a natural-born woman working as a homicide detective for the SFPD. (Lay off the cigarettes, Ang.) Laura Harris (Daisy on Dead Like Me, terrorist dupe Marie Warner on the second season of 24) is Assistant D.A. Jill Bernhardt (and I swear I did not know she was supposed to be a D.A. until I looked it up on the ABC site -- I thought she was another detective. Was that my bad, or did the show really not make that clear?). Paula Newsome (from... a bunch of stuff I don't remember her in) is Medical Examiner Claire Washburn. And Aubrey Dollar (from various crap) is Cindy Thomas, the Register reporter who will apparently be the fourth member of this unofficial club.

First disappointment: this isn't an actual club. I presumed, from the title, this would be a Star Chamber kind of thing, where the women would get together and solve crimes that had fallen through the cracks, and/or mete out their own personal brand of justice. You know, the usual. Instead, it's just a bunch of women who talk to each other every once in a while. Boring!

No, they just share information, and dish about one another's personal lives. I mostly enjoyed the cute conversations between the three main characters (the reporter is kind of tangential as of the pilot episode). They play off one another as though they were actual longtime friends, which is nice work. But whenever the script turns to relationships -- in the gal-pal conversations, or in actual face-to-face interactions with male romantic interests -- the whole show turns into a big pile of horseshit. Literally. (No, not literally. I'm still not drunk enough to commit the #1 grammatical crime on my list. Yes, I have a list of grammatical crimes. #2: the "non-ironic" "misuse" of "apostrophes." #3: they're, there, their, it's, its abuses.)

There's a crime, and some stuff happens, and Angie Harmon gets a dog, and, miraculously, her middle-aged black partner does not get tragically killed. It's all very pedestrian and predictable. The very final shot, in which the much-discussed "Kiss Me Not" killer strikes again, was a nice touch, establishing a season-long (or longer) mystery. But the crime-solving basics didn't grab me, nor did the "wait, it's a bunch of chicks trying to solve crimes, in between, let's say, getting mani-pedis and admiring bikini waxes on corpses and sleeping with ex-boyfriends on work desks and menstruating" gimmick. Six episodes and out, that's my prediction.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Friday, October 12, 2007

What is a Jim?

I said I would post again later today about TV. Well, it's later, but I haven't got much to say.

--Women's Murder Club premieres tonight. Hope it doesn't suck. [EDIT: I'm midway through watching it. I wouldn't say "suck" -- yet -- but I wouldn't say I like it, either.]

--Still haven't watched Life Is Wild. Or this week's Dirty Sexy Money. I bet I watch the latter before the former.

--My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, and The Office continue to be awesome. 30 Rock is shaping up into the new Arrested Development, what with all the callbacks to previous characters (yay, Dr. Spaceman!), incidents, and lines (loved Tracy's "mind grapes" reference). Oh, as well as Will "Gob" Arnett guest starring. But we haven't seen Rachel Dratch yet this season, have we?

--Re: The Office: I totally watch for the DVD screensaver box to hit exactly in the corner, too. I can identify with their excitement. Loved the quiet moments on the roof with Jim and Pam, counterpointing the zaniness of Michael's intentional-but-unintentional kidnapping of the pizza boy. And about time we saw Jim lapse back into pranking Dwight; the computer gaining sentience, spurring Dwight's competition with the internet site, was a classic, and Pam's final touch of having the computer cede superiority to Dwight, out of sympathy to his painful breakup with Angela, was a sweet touch. I always love it whenever Michael or Dwight prove their paper sales competence, despite their overwhelming everything-else incompetence. Dwight's triumph over the internet was another illustration of why these idiots continue to have jobs. Also, I wonder how far Andy's courting of Angela will go? Very promising plot thread. And what's the deal with Andy playing the lackey to Dwight? Even if he's just "biding his time" to destroy Dwight later, he's going pretty deep into the role.

--I keep forgetting to mention It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Last night's episode was hysterical, from Dennis' glam rock leotard, to Charlie's dyslexic-style lyrics sheet, which looks like a child's rebus puzzle, to Dee's romance with a possibly mentally challenged man (title of the episode: "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person"), to Charlie's disturbingly explicit, allegedly unintentional male rape-fantasy song (lyrics: "Every night you come into my room/And pin me down with your strong arms/You pin me down and I try and fight you/You come inside me, and fill me up/And I become the Night Man") -- so wrong, but so damn funny.

--Also loved tonight's installment of Avatar. Sokka episodes are always fun. (That's for the one or two of you readers who are also fans.) Seriously, the way this TV season is developing, I'm looking forward to these two cable shows more than almost any show on the major networks, new or returning. (My three favorite sitcoms, 30 Rock, The Office, and How I Met Your Mother, are the exceptions.)

Galaxy Quest

Hey, you know what else might be fun? Rather than the 87th consecutive post about television? Watching a movie! Like this one:

By Grabthar's hammer!

Man, I love Galaxy Quest. Now, I'm not going to defend it as an all-time great or anything. I mean, it's no RoboCop. But it's just a big bundle of fun, enjoyable no matter how many times I see it. It definitely would fit right in on my Most Rewatchable Movies list.

The premise: the cast of a long-cancelled, fan favorite sci-fi TV series (such as, oh, I don't know, Star Trek) gets mistaken for real spacefaring heroes by an alien race, and swept up into an interplanetary war. Much hilarity ensues.

Every member of the cast is just so perfect. Tim Allen has never been better (not that there's a lot of competition) as Jason Nesmith, the egotistical "captain" of the group. Sigourney Weaver is wonderful, playing against her Aliens reputation as Gwen DeMarco, a bosomy blonde whose only job on the TV show was to repeat what the computer said. Alan Rickman kicks all kinds of ass as Alexander Dane, the deeply resentful Shakespearean actor reduced to playing an alien and wearing a rubber appliance on his head.

Among the rest of the outstanding cast: Sam Rockwell, in one of his earliest breakout roles, as the extra who fears he's all-too-expendable (his situation report from the tactical computer: "Hey guys, there's a red thingy moving toward the green thingy.... I think we're the green thingy"); Enrico Colantoni as the lead alien whose faith in the reality of "Galaxy Quest" can not be shaken (when asked if he also believes Gilligan's Island is real, he woefully mourns, "Those poor people"); Daryl Mitchell as the panicky pilot (who is played as a child by Corbin Bleu, now of High School Musical fame); Tony Shalhoub as the ultra-laid back engineering officer (initial reaction on being transported through outer space onto a genuine spaceship: a coolly appreciative, "That was a hell of a thing"); Missi Pyle (perhaps most famous as the mono-browed Fran from Dodgeball) as the alien who falls in love with Shalhoub; Justin Long (also of Dodgeball, strangely enough) as the nerdy fan who helps the crew on their adventures (in between his mom making him take out the trash); Heidi Swedberg (George's dead fiancee from Seinfeld) as Justin's mom; and, in one of his earliest roles, The Office's Rainn Wilson as one of the alien engineers.

That's a lot of comedic talent, and it all pays off in this clever, funny, and at times even exciting movie. Everybody gets their moment to shine, and not just comedically; I can't help but cheer every time I get to the scene where Rickman's character loses his composure and, with a banshee scream, viciously attacks an alien villain.

In many ways, this is like the ultimate fanfic: what if Shatner, Nimoy and the rest really had to pilot a spaceship into battle? But the script is a lot better than the primitive, somewhat mercenary film you would expect from the description. It's got an unceasing amiability to it, a warm regard, underneath the comedic barbs, for sci-fi actors, fans, and the genre itself.

Additional fun can be had, by the way, by watching for the obvious cuts made to turn the originally-planned PG-13 movie into a straight PG. Try to identify where the curse words have been removed. Best one: when Sigourney Weaver balks at a dangerous path and exclaims, "Screw that!" Only -- her lips are saying something else. "Screw" doesn't begin with an "f," Sigourney!

Sure, the whole thing's kind of goofy, but it's a pleasant, cheery goofiness that never gets old. I just watched my DVD yesterday, and I already feel like watching it again.

I'll be back to posting about TV later today. Just wanted to mix things up a bit. Even I need a television break every once in a while!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hopeless Devotion only goes so far, TV

I already told you what I thought of last night's Bionic Woman. I wasn't very favorably impressed by another of the new shows, Life, either.

I've been enjoying it till now. The main character, Charlie, has been quirky (that particular brand of quirky you only see on TV) but likable so far, but last night Charlie was stepping over the line more toward irritating, stupid -- even offensive. As when he continues stalking his ex-wife's new husband, and forcibly kisses the ex-wife in front of the new husband. "Quirky" doesn't quite cover sexual assault. That's when I started to hate Charlie, which probably means the end of this show for me.

I think the television overload I've submitted myself to over the past couple weeks is finally catching up to me. I think I'm subconsciously trying to find reasons to weed out some of the new shows, to get my TV watching back under control. Or maybe these shows actually just aren't worth watching. Whatever. Bionic Woman is gone from my schedule, and Life gets one last chance.

I liked the new episode of Pushing Daisies, at least... but talk about quirky! Quirky almost to the point of smothering. The show is trying way too hard. I mean, I still like the main characters, I still like the premise, I still find the thwarted romance kind of adorable. And some of the more unusual moments still really worked for me -- mainly the ones involving Kristin Chenoweth. Her big musical number, "Hopelessly Devoted To You," was fantastic, a bold, imaginative leap beyond traditional TV. But many other moments of absurdity fell flat, felt phony -- such as the dandelion costumes for the women in the car showroom. Dial it back juuust a notch, and things will be much more palatable.

As to the question of the dog's age I raised before: on rewatching the pilot episode, the dog is established as being over 22 years old -- it was more than three when it was killed, and it's lived more than 19 years since then. The world's oldest dog, according to varying reports I've found on Google, was possibly 27, possibly 29. That's pretty old. But the oldest documented golden retriever I've been able to look up was 19 and a half. Golden retrievers have an above average life expectancy -- between 10 and 18 years, per various sources. Ned's dog is pushing it, at 22, but it's not quite as impossible to believe as I had previously suspected.

In case anyone else was still wondering.

I've got the new Dirty Sexy Money on tape, as well as Life Is Wild, which I really don't want to watch. Maybe tomorrow. Oh, and I also did finally watch Tuesday's Boston Legal. I decided to give it one final opportunity to win me. Instead, here's where it lost me: John Larroquette is defending a man guilty of running a cockfighting ring. Flat-out guilty. No denial at all. Larroquette then gives a big speech about how badly chickens are treated in this country, and argues that cockfighting chickens lead better lives, so his client is morally in the right. I actually said out loud, "If the jury falls for that horseshit, I'm done with this show." They did, and I'm done. David E. Kelley can go peddle his Mary Sue court cases elsewhere.

Tonight's TV: NBC's two-hour comedy block, plus Ugly Betty. I'm ambivalent on Betty. Unless it does something special, I think this will be its last week on my schedule. See, I'm eliminating shows left and right!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bionic Woman: I'm out like Shout

"I'm about to get analog on your ass."

"Bring it, bitch."

There. Right there. That terrible, terrible exchange from tonight's episode: that's when I decided to give up on the new Bionic Woman. I'm out.

I already went through this with Studio 60. Sticking with an awful show that I kept hoping would get good, while it just kept sucking. But not this time. This time, I'm not going to keep torturing myself. This time, I'm quitting while I still have my sanity. So long, Jaime Sommers. And what a shame.

Before I let it go for good, here's a list of a few other things from tonight's episode that irritated the shit out of me:

--Jaime's lack of concern over the 14 people that the original bionic woman Sarah Corvus slaughtered before being shot.

--Jaime's lack of real anger, or any convincing emotion, when face to face with Sarah, the woman who killed her fiance, Will, and her unborn child. I half blame the writing, half blame Michelle Ryan's weak acting.

--Jaime alerting the secret agency to her meeting with Sarah, then warning Sarah to run when the agents approached. Which she kept doing. "I hate you, Sarah. Run, Sarah!" Jaime's more wishy-washy than Charlie Brown.

--Jaime's awful, awful, awful sister. I was rooting like crazy for Sarah to kill her.

--The inexplicable casual friendship Jaime has established, between episodes, apparently, with several of the secret agents who monitor and control her. Now she's chatting on the phone with one of the scientists, whom she met for, like, thirty seconds last episode, like they're best gal-pals. What the hell happened there?

--Jaime can't take out four non-powered, punk-ass thugs by herself. Are we supposed to be dazzled by bionic implants that suck that bad? Ooooh, she's as powerful as... one person who can fight kind of well. Sooo impressive.

--Sarah tells us several times that what Will did to her brain, when reviving her from the gunshot that "killed" her, took away her emotions. Then why the hell is she always crying?!

This is an incredibly shitty show, primarily due to its supremely shitty writing. David Eick, creator of the series, who wrote this particular episode, also wrote for Battlestar Galactica. How did he become so horrible in transferring from that great show to this one? (In all fairness, he was responsible for one of the worst episodes of BSG.)

So: I'm done, out, gone. Any of you still watching, you can let me know if it ever gets better, but my bet is it'll get cancelled first. And deservedly so.

Like the toothpaste?

I did indeed watch Cavemen and Carpoolers again tonight. I'm a glutton for punishment. Neither of them is any good, still, but I find that, as opposed to my opinion last week, Carpoolers surpassed Cavemen in the second episode. Not by much, but there you go.

There were two particular bits I liked in Carpoolers:

--Using the OnStar system to ask for help figuring out the lyrics to "Come On Eileen." If you could actually do stuff like that, I would totally sign up for OnStar.

--Laird, pretending to be married with four children, challenged to name those kids: "Emma... Dasher... Luciano... and Colgate."

Also, the Marmaduke character continues to be funny in a very unsettling way. But few other laughs are to be found.

Cavemen suffered from a lack of Nick Swardson, whom I guess was only signed on for the pilot. Though having the awesome Carlos Jacott in his stead was a nice move. Sadly, nothing else about the episode could remotely be described as "awesome."

I have learned my lesson. No more of these shows, I promise. Also: fuck you, ABC, for your advertising campaign. "Make a Man Date"? What kind of idiocy is that? Do you really think that's going to work? Straight men are going to be irritated at best, repelled at worst, gay men, I have to presume, have better taste than to watch Cavemen and Carpoolers in the first place, no matter how you market them, and women, apparently, can just go to hell.

Speaking of hell... Reaper had another solid outing, but it's beginning to feel inessential. I like it, but I'm not feeling a need to tune in. It has to show me some capacity for growth and development. It's funny, sure, but it just isn't so funny I'm going to keep coming back out of blind devotion.

Bones and House are on tape to watch later. And I'm still trying to build up the will to watch and review Sunday's debut of Life Is Wild. I'm finding it hard to care, and I'm making a wild guess that none of you will care much, either. Sometime soon -- I did make a solemn oath, after all. (Well, not really.)

Tonight's TV: looking good. ABC has Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money, which are starting to gel as my two favorite new shows. And NBC has Life, which I also enjoy a lot. Additionally, NBC has Bionic Woman, which I seem to be sticking with only out of sheer stubbornness. It'll acquire quality any time now, I'm sure! (Well, not really.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ride the Tricycle

Last night's How I Met Your Mother was hilarious, the best of the season so far, involving Ted's efforts to close the deal on "riding the tricycle" with Danica McKellar (reprising her role from the first season's classic "Pineapple Incident" episode) and Busy Philipps, while his friends alternately try to help or "trike block" him. It had more of the quick quip-trading and frantic energy that generally make for good HIMYM episodes, and Barney was at his best, supremely confident and full of jealousy and doubt at the same time. That said, every check in on Robin's storyline brought things grinding to a halt. She's been more separated from the main group than a part of it for the first three episodes this season, and though it worked well in last week's episode, she needs to return to the fold. These characters work best in tandem with at least one other of the crew, not solo.

For an alternate version of the tricycle scenario, be sure to take a look at this bonus video from the CBS site (if it doesn't automatically load, click "How It Really Happened Part 3"). There's an ad to view first, but trust me, it's worth it.

Okay, people, what can I tell you: I really like The Big Bang Theory. I admit it. Anyone who wasn't sold on Sara Gilbert showing up as Johnny Galecki's co-worker/possible romantic interest, as though they were reprising the David/Darlene relationship from Roseanne... well, I guess you'll never be sold, because that was gold, baby! Hopefully Gilbert will return in the future. The show is still stronger, I think, when it's just the nerds quibbling amongst themselves, rather than dealing with Penny next door, but overall, this has become a very worthy sitcom. Hey, I'm as surprised as you are.

Heroes felt a little more like it was heading in the right direction -- or any direction -- with last night's "chapter," but it still mostly feels like it's treading water. We were close, so close, to Hiro's tedious Japanese adventure coming to an end -- before it had a chance to lumber to the predictable "Hiro becomes Kensei" close I've been dreading -- and then he has to go and change his mind and stick around some more. Grr. Guess we're still lumbering toward predictability. And I hope Claire's boyfriend with powers, West, turns out to be evil or something, because he's just an obnoxious waste of screentime otherwise.

I'm still enjoying Journeyman, especially all the beautiful S.F. location shoots -- hey, the Palace of Fine Arts! I love that place! Let's go to the Exploratorium! And I liked both the variation on Dan's time-traveling -- sticking with just one day, through several trips -- and the big quandary Dan faces once there: how in the world would you convince people there's an earthquake on the way? The show could use a bit more levity, but I'm happy with it. Too bad that, if you believe Yahoo!, it's one of the New Shows in Trouble.

Tonight's TV: Bones and House on Fox. I'm sticking with Bones for some reason, even though it's pretty mediocre. House, on the other hand, I'm loving; last week's job applicant competition was excellent, and tonight should be more of the same. I just hope Kal Penn makes the cut. That guy is great.

Also tonight: Reaper. And the small possibility that I will give Cavemen and Carpoolers a second chance. Maybe they can do more than their pilot episodes indicated. I doubt it, but maybe. And I've officially given up on Boston Legal. Again.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Quick TV Notes

Last night's TV:

--Family Guy and American Dad continue to be more amusing than The Simpsons and King of the Hill. That needs to be rectified.

--Three weeks into The Simpsons, and Homer has had (or pretended to have) three new jobs. Spin the story wheel a little harder so we get a new plot next week, okay, writers?

--King of the Hill has had three Bobby-heavy episodes in a row. That's like if Family Guy had three Meg episodes in a row, or Lost had three Claire episodes in a row. Bobby is the least interesting character! Give me a Dale episode!!

Tonight's TV:

At 8:00, I'll be taping How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, watching Aliens in America (but skipping Everybody Hates Chris), and again waiting until the weekend reairing to catch Chuck. Although... according to the Yahoo! TV info, looks like Chuck isn't scheduled to be reaired, on NBC or Bravo or anywhere. Oh well, if that's true, guess I'm done with Chuck.

Quick Chuck digression: I noticed in last week's episode that one of the secrets in Chuck's head is how Oceanic Flight 815 -- the plane from Lost -- crashed (according to him, it was shot down, which goes against the show's mythology). Pretty funny.

At 9:00 is Heroes. I think, after watching it last week, I'll be back to skipping Two and a Half Men again. Or hell, maybe I'll tape it. I could go either way. And at 10:00 is Journeyman, with the earthquake episode. Cool.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


The highlight of yesterday's TV was the crazy NCAA football action. #2 USC gets upset at home by Stanford, of all teams. And #1 LSU comes this close to also being upset at home by Florida (and what a great game that was -- I was rooting my heart out for Florida!). If LSU had also lost, that meant my beloved Cal, sitting in the #3 spot with a bye week, could potentially have moved up to #1 by doing nothing! And how sweet would that have been? As it is, Cal moved up to #2 in the AP and USA Today polls (though they still got zero votes for first place, and the new #3, Ohio St., got two votes for first in the USA Today poll, which is weird -- no respect!), and USC dropped to #7 (ha!) in the USA Today poll, and #10 (HA!!) in the AP. There's still a rough road ahead for Cal -- the Nov. 10 home game against USC is still huge, but before that, they've got an away game against #14 Arizona State (#13 in USA Today), who is currently 6-0 overall. In fact, though Cal is #2 in the nation, they're only third in the Pac-10! Arizona St. is #1, and UCLA is #2 -- they're 3-0 in conference (as opposed to Cal's 2-0), though they're only 4-2 overall.

Had enough football talk yet? Okay, I'll stop.

Speaking of football (suckers!), I did not watch Friday Night Lights on Friday night after all. I know a lot of you think it's the best drama on network TV right now. I guess I'm just missing out. It's one of those shows I can't make myself get interested in, even though I know I would probably like it if I gave it a chance (other past and current examples include Homicide, Boomtown, and The Wire, which I keep saying I'll rent on DVD, but never do). Oh well.

Saturday night I watched the reairing of the second episode of Chuck, and I still like it, though it's certainly nothing special. The humor is enough to keep me watching, even though the spy stories are weak and full of holes. And boy, that Yvonne Strahovski is a cutie, isn't she?

This week's Saturday Night Live benefited from having an actual comedian as host, Seth Rogen, but it wasn't much of an improvement over last week's debut. In fact, without an SNL Digital Short or a Robert Smigel cartoon, it may actually have been worse. Chevy Chase's appearance during Weekend Update was kind of exciting at first, ultimately turning sad as he stammered out one laugh-free gag after another. Really, the only good sketches in the show were the running "MacGruber" bits, which I always enjoy. The "Douchebag of the Year" sketch also had a few laughs, though, as with so many SNL premises, it was more unrealized potential than actual comedy. The sketch with Seth Rogen and Kristin Wiig as the two annoying children (attempted catchphrase: "I said 'we'!") was interminable and painfully awful. Please try not to be so horrible next week, SNL. What's that -- Jon Bon Jovi will be hosting? Well, there goes that hope.

Tonight's TV brings the two-hour animation block on Fox, which is all I care about. I might watch a little of the Bears-Packers Sunday Night Football game, but it's hard to get enthused about it. And at 8:00 on The CW, we have one of the last debuts of the Fall season, Life Is Wild, which takes the usual obnoxious little shits from the typical CW teen drama, and transplants them to Africa. Hilarity ensues? Or something? We'll see.

Fall 2007 TV: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies (ABC)

Bryan Fuller created the clever, funny, and unique series Dead Like Me, which was cancelled after two seasons, and Wonderfalls, which was yanked after only a handful of episodes had aired. Barry Sonnenfeld was involved with producing or directing (or both) the clever, funny, and unique series Maximum Bob, The Tick, and Karen Sisco, none of which made it past ten episodes. These two people with powerful creative visions but terrible track records come together to produce Pushing Daisies, which is a clever, funny, and unique series. I liked it a lot... but I'm not getting too attached.

The pilot (or "Pie-lette," according to the episode title) was written by Fuller and directed by Sonnenfeld. It introduces us to Ned (Lee Pace of Wonderfalls), who has the inexplicable power to bring dead people back to life with a touch, then send them back to death with a second touch. Along with his partner, a P.I. named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), Ned makes a living by reviving murder victims, getting them to tell him who killed them, and then collecting the reward money. When Ned discovers that his childhood crush, a girl named Chuck (played by Anna Friel as an adult), was recently murdered, he revives her, but withholds the second touch, keeping her alive. They discover a strong love for one another, but if Ned ever touches her again, she'll die.

You can see why the average viewer might not be so quick to embrace this show. It's a little odd by TV standards. But it's also charming and sweet and painfully romantic, packed with humor and originality. I got into the weird premise immediately, and I greatly enjoyed the entire cast, which also includes Kristin Chenoweth as Ned's infatuated neighbor/co-worker, and Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene (whom I will always love as Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors) as Chuck's oddball aunts. Pace is able to ground the show just enough to keep the quirkiness on a relatable level; Friel, whom I don't think I know from anywhere else, is adorable as the romantic interest who can never be touched by the one she loves; and Chi McBride always has the potential to be awesome, though he so frequently appears in garbage (like The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, Waiting..., and the worst new show of the Fall 2005 season, Killer Instinct).

My affection for the characters and the clever writing is tempered by a few quibbles. The look of the show is blatantly artificial, with unnaturally bright colors and sets that look like models, which can work in films like many of Tim Burton's, or Sonnenfeld's own Addams Family flicks. But on the small screen, where such experimentation is rare, that kind of look doesn't play as well. Rather than seeming cleverly inventive, it can seem cheap and phony instead.

And the writing raises several questions. When Ned is a child, he resurrects his dead dog. Some time later, his mother dies, and he resurrects her as well; when she touches him a second time, he's shocked to find it results in her death. So... he never touched his dog again after raising it from the dead? Even before knowing the second touch meant death? What kind of a child wouldn't immediately hug that dog? And 19 years later, Ned still has that dog. So, did Ned's touch make the dog immortal? Or is it merely the oldest dog in the world? Also, when Ned allows someone to live without administering the second touch, that means someone else has to die. So when Ned touches wilted strawberries in his pie shop, to make them new and fresh, does that mean, say, a bunch of boysenberries are dying in their place? And so on. I realize that a show centered on magic can't be expected to adhere strictly to reality, but it would be nice if it didn't raise more conundrums than necessary.

I can see this show collapsing under its own quirkiness. I could also see it being cancelled within a couple of months. But I really dug the pilot, and I can't wait to see the next episode. Pushing Daisies is up there with the best of the new Fall shows.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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