Tuesday, September 30, 2008

episodes: dexter, desperate housewives, californication

Dexter: I agree with Alan Sepinwall (and I tend to) that there's just something wearing off about Dexter. The show isn't lacking interesting characters, nor are the storylines or character development weak, but I think that Dexter Morgan should only have a limited run. This show shouldn't last as long as, say, Friends or even Lost. He's infinitely interesting character, but I fear that Showtime might diminish his mystique and intrigue by constantly showing us more of his humanity. Although, this opener was superb in the Dexter-as-real department. (Spoilers!!!) Rita's son asks Dexter to come in for "bring your daddy to school for show and tell" day, and Dexter is intrigued by this. Michael C. Hall plays Dexter with such ambiguity -- not just morally, but characteristically (even with the narration sometimes I don't understand what's he thinking) -- that I didn't know if Dexter was genuinely touched by the prospect of having a son or if he sees this opening as a chance to really integrate himself into this idea of normalcy. The Season 3 premiere is entitled "Our Father," which refers to a plethora of fathers, both literal and representational. There's Harry, Dexter's dad, whom Dexter is slowly leaving behind as he deconstructs Harry's Code and his entire childhood. There's Jimmy Smitts, who plays a lawyer whose son Dexter "spontaneously" kills. Of course, due to Dexter's forced charisma (but is it really that forced...?), this guy becomes Dexter's friend and, I imagine down the road, a new father figure for Dexter. (Season-long theme!) But there's also Dexter-as-father... he's becoming Cody's new representative father, but at the end of the episode, Rita realizes she's pregnant. I'm incredibly interested in where they're going with this... but I was kind of annoyed that Harry's Code was constantly mentioned throughout the episode. I thought Dexter let go of the code? But of course, killing a random person and accidentally sperminating his girlfriend was never part of the plan... so perhaps this season will explore a primal, spontaneous aspect of Dexter.

Also while watching this show, I realized how diverse the cast is, and no one's really type-casted. Sure, Masuka is the "funny Asian," but is that really a stereotype? No, he just also happened to play the "funny Asian" on Chuck during Season 1. (Although, there's also a "funny Asian" -- as in, comedic relief -- on The Mentalist, so maybe this stereotype is replacing the "token black man"?) I love that this show takes place in Miami -- not New York or LA -- and the show explores both the beauty and the pollution of the city (beauty of the water, pollution of, you know, dead bodies). None of it seems forced, and I enjoy watching these characters act in a paradoxically natural way. The show, make no doubt about it, employs realism -- but Dexter, due to his removal from society, serves as ironic or satirical character that takes you out of that realism. It's seriously one of the best shows on TV -- and perhaps one day I'll give my defensive rant on Season 2 -- but they need to get rid of Harry's Code.

You can see a majority of the premiere at -- I don't understand this at all -- Imdb.com. Watch it HERE. Of course, it's a bit edited... no naked Rita for you. You need to order Showtime for that. Rating: A-

Desperate Housewives: Yes, yes. We've all heard about the five-year jump -- to an obnoxious excess -- but the show's not really rejuvenating anything. (Did you know Marc Cherry got the idea of the time jump from Lost? Yep, true story.) I loved, loved the first season of this show because it really seemed to be a postfeminist text. You have women who choose to be housewives -- and Susan was even a children's book author and Lynette was a career woman -- but the show lost sight of that. It's no longer about women making things work in suburbia; instead, it's about the age old clichés of women having to choose between a career and a man... and then it slipped into women just keeping their men. It's incredibly tiring and overdone. I was not impressed with this episode, although I did love the addition of Neal McDonough to the cast. He's super creepy as a Norman Bates type character, calm on the outside but completely psycho on the inside. But his fifteen minutes aren't worth the other 45... and if I wanted to see that character, I would just watch Dexter, which is opposite Desperate Housewives. Rating: B-

Californication: God bless OnDemand for giving me the second episode of this Showtime gem one week in advance. I'm not going to lie. I should hate this show. There is gratuitous nudity galore and it is inconceivable that someone like Hank Moody would go get so much tail. (Honestly, ever woman he talks to wants to bed him within two lines of conversation -- if there even is conversation!) But it's well written and extremely well acted, and the chemistry between David Duchovy and Natasha McElhone (arguably the most beautiful -- certainly that I've ever seen) will punch you in the face. The first episode was so-so... it's the scene after The Graduate that shows you what happens after you ditch your wedding and jump in the back of the bus (a convertible, in this case). In the premiere, Hank gets a little snip-snip, and watching Hank hold his privates is somehow comical enough that I never got tired of it. He performs accidental cunnilingus (which is just as funny as you're hoping) and runs into Callum Keith Rennie -- who, it seems, has a multiple episode arc. (Thanks the gods!) But the second episode is a REAL gem. Hank's friend Runkle, played by Evan Chandler who will always be Harry from SatC, gets fired for masturbating at work. His boss shows him the video -- which includes curious impressive editing and multiple angles -- and then he goes on a blow binge with his wife. Hank tells him, "No man should ever have to see his O-face." The funniest scene of the whole episode is Runkle yelling at his coked out wife. He starts talking hypothetically about his future and then when she doesn't understand, he yells "YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME" and then goes to sulk in the bathtub, all the while wearing a Red Lobster bib. It's absolutely brilliant. While last season was primarily a B-rating show, this season looks promising. Can Hank stay faithful? What does Hank actually want? Is love enough? It's an age-old question, but it's executed in such a remarkably fresh way. Rating: B+ (premiere), A- (second episode)

the face of brilliance

Ever wondered what brilliance looks like? Here's the trailer for directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York. I am beyond excited for this. The petal falling off the tattoo? Beautiful, inspired, and haunting. "When are we going to get an audience in here? It's been seventeen years." This looks like a mind-bending look at life as an art -- literally.

And here are two posters for the film:

Monday, September 29, 2008

sarah palin vs. katie couric

I bring you a SNL sketch in which Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) goes up against Katie Couric (Amy Poehler). It's scary how, when watching this, I forgot which parts were made up. Compare it to the actual (transcripted) exchange between Palin and Couric:
COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
I'm sorry, Palin, but not only did that NOT make sense, but it was just a bunch of talking points that avoided the question. If Palin were a student answering one of my questions, I would absolutely, hands-down fail her. The SNL sketch is scarier than it is funny because... Palin's ignorant in politics.
When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded:

"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."
I honestly don't understand why more Republicans aren't up in arms over Palin's nomination. When it was first announced, my family and I joked that McCain was practically handing the election over to Obama, but then no one criticized her. They embraced her. Questioning her on foreign policy and experience somehow became sexist (no doubt -- a false sexism). Why aren't Republicans more upset and outspoken about the horrible choice? The phrase "Palin is a heartbeat away from the Oval Office" is the most frightening phrase I've ever heard. She's literally a heartbeat away -- which, I think, is a mean-spirited thing to say about McCain's age and health (and I don't think him being old is a qualified criticism for him as president). But Palin shouldn't be anywhere NEAR the White House. She shouldn't even be on the lawn!

But now I bring you a more level-headed analysis from Fareed Zakaria, who, you should note, does not bring up religion, abortion, gun rights, or gay marriage. He's talking about the national crisis -- something much bigger than any one of us or our beliefs. The fact that she is a staunch Republican has nothing to do with the crisis facing America. McCain's camp should have picked someone else. Anyone else.
Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.

Domestically, the bailout and reform of the financial industry will take years and hundreds of billions of dollars. Health-care costs, unless curtailed, will bankrupt the federal government. Social Security, immigration, collapsing infrastructure and education are all going to get much worse if they are not handled soon.

And the American government is stretched to the limit. Between the Bush tax cuts, homeland-security needs, Iraq, Afghanistan and the bailout, the budget is looking bleak. Plus, within a few years, the retirement of the baby boomers begins with its massive and rising costs (in the trillions).
By the way, if you're interested in -- you know -- the facts, check out FactCheck.org to distinguish fact from political jargon from the first presidential debate.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

paul newman

Paul Newman, January 26, 1925 - September 26, 2008

This is truly a sad day.

episode: the office, "weight loss" (5.1)

I bring you a review of The Office's Season 5 premiere, "Weight Loss."

The Office premiere really outdid itself. Last season was uneven (but still funnier than most other comedies on TV), and the Season 4 finale brought back all of the reasons we love this show -- and then the Season 5 repeated those jokes and multiplied and amplified them. The only problem is -- and it's hard to call it a problem, but that's what it is -- I really, really love Amy Ryan as the new Office cast edition and would hate to see her leave. She brings humanity back into Michael's character, and can you believe it, she BEAT BOXES. Hilarious, unexpected, but entirely plausible moment. The premiere brought back jokes about Kevin's mental retardation, which was, hands down, the greatest part of the finale last season. Normally The Office hasn't worked as an hour-long show in the past, but that was because most of the episodes -- excluding "Casino Night" from Season 2 -- were actually two half-hour episodes stitched together. But "Weight Loss" was a full episode and it rolled along nicely because all of the characters (even Creed!!!) had screen time. And for the first time ever, I didn't want to punch Kelly in the face.

Most importantly -- spoiler!!! -- Jim proposed to Pam. She's in New York at design school, and I really thought that the writers were going to drag out another triangle between Jim, Pam, and her new design friend, played by Rich Sommer of Mad Men fame. But they didn't. They alluded to that potential storyline as a red herring so that when Jim got down on one knee, it was unexpected, breathtaking, and I squealed for the first time since "Casino Night" (aka Best Screen Kiss Ever).

I give this episode a 9.5/10. (I'm going to start grading episodes...)

My friend Rachel and I like to send each other our favorite quotes from episodes literally moments after the show ends, so here is a compilation of some of the best quotes... which was difficult, considering I could just as easily have copied the entire script. Unfortunately, I won't be transcribing any of the visual hilarity, like the interview with webcam-Pam, which was really inspired. Rachel thinks Andy got some of the best lines of the episode, but I think the best line of the night definitely went to Creed: "It wasn't a tapeworm."

Quotes from "Weight Loss" (5.1)

Andy: I'm excited to lose weight for the wedding because... I really want to have washboard abs the first time Angela sees me naked.

Kevin: Pam, you weigh 226 lbs.?
Holly: Almost, Kevin.
Pam: Not almost, though, Holly. I mean, not close to 200.
Holly: Math is hard.
Kevin: (nods) Yeah...

Andy: Every little boy fantasizes about his fairy tale wedding.

Jim: So why haven't I proposed yet? Actually, Pam and I talked about it and we just decided that we didn't want to spend the first three months of our engagement apart. Pam's always said that she doesn't want a long engagement. Something in her past, I guess. I'm not really sure about the whole story... something about a guy... who used to work here...

Michael: I once went 28 years without having sex. And then again for another 7.

Michael: Do you have any idea what the number one cause of death is in this country?
Dwight: Shotgun weddings.
Jim: That's not what that is.

Kelly: (during an interview) I swallowed a tapeworm last night. It's going to grow up to three feet inside of me, and then it eats all my food so that I don't get fat. And then after three months I take some medicine and pass it. Creed sold it to me. It's from Mexico.
Creed: (in a separate interview) That wasn't a tapeworm.

Ryan: I wanted to say I'm sorry for treating you bad the past couple years. I was in my mid-twenties. I was going through a lot of stuff. I think I never really processed 9/11...

Andy: Andy Bernard does not lose contests. He wins them. Or he quits them because they're unfair.

And here's the proposal scene... in case you're like me and want to watch it over and over and over again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

new poll: best TV husband?

I have a new poll for you today, and it asks, "Who would be the best TV husband?" This, of course, can be read two different ways: one, who would be a good husband on TV, or two, who from TV would be a good husband. Interpretation is inherently subjective, so have at it. If you think your life is a TV show, go with the former. Or if you want one of these men to exist in reality, go with the latter.

Your choices are:
Jim Halpert, NBC's The Office
Malcolm Reynolds, Fox/Sci-Fi's Firefly
Leoben Conoy, Sci-Fi's Battlestar Galactica
Gregory House, Fox's House, M.D.
Chuck Bartowksi, NBC's Chuck

BFI: 75 classics to share with future generations

The British Film Institute, in celebration of their 75th Anniversary, asked 75 people from various professions and backgrounds in the industry to each pick a movie that they would most like to share with future generations. It wasn’t limited to British films, and the idea was to get a good cross-section of what people consider to be a timeless “classic”. You can see the full list here, but I've included some below.
The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo)
Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry) *
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) ***
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn) ***
Cabaret (Bob Fosse) ***
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick) **
Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg)
The Fog of War (Errol Morris)
Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg, Josh Pate) *
The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola) **
Great Expectations (David Lean)
A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester) -- "He's not your grandfather! I've seen your grandfather!"
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean) **
Metropolis (Fritz Lang) ***
Otto e mezzo (Federico Fellini) **
Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino) ***
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese)
Raising Arizona (Joel and Ethan Coen) ****
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman) **
Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly) **
Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick) **
The Third Man (Carol Reed) **
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock) **
West Side Story (Robert Wise) ***
The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming) ***
The Women (George Cukor)
* While I love it, is it really a classic?
** Typically, I use the phrase "greatest movie ever" when talking about this movie (whether I've seen it or not).
*** Perhaps there should be a distinction between "old" and "new" classic?
**** I don't talk to people who like Nicolas Cage.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the office premiere is tonight!

Kristin over at E! Online has been putting up interviews with The Office cast all week in honor of the season premiere -- which is tonight! (My suggestion is to TiVo AND watch The Office and forget about McDreamy and those other folks at Seattle Grace.) Here, Kristin interviews John Krasinski, and they discuss the future of PB&J and him possibly directing an episode where he is shirtless on a boat. Mmm. Enjoy!

Oh, what the heck? Here's an additional video with some false spoilers... Angela marries Creed, Pam is a man, and Dwight is a Cylon.

episodes: tuesday night dramas

I know, I'm a little behind on these. But, despite popular opinion, I do actually have a life.

House: (And yes, that is the entire episode above.) Fox is trying, what I think is, a clever marketing strategy by introducing a new character named Lucas (played by Michael Weston) on House with the potential of having his own show. It's clever because the network and producers can see if the characters is liked by the audience members. But here's something they probably weren't banking on... I love the new character, but I only love him with House. Season 4 reminded us that the show was in fact based in reality and that it made no sense for Cameron, Chase, and Foreman to stay with House forever (especially since he's a bit of jerk), despite the fan backlash about how little screen time their favorites were getting. In all honesty, I don't watch the show for them; they're actually quite boring and I think they served their purpose. I don't particularly care for the new batch of doctors either. I don't hate or even dislike them; I just don't think they're interesting. But I don't watch the show for them -- I watch it for Hugh Laurie. I watch it for the atheistic misanthrope whose sarcastic retorts are always the highlight of the episode. ("Your comments are always sexist or racist." "That top makes you look like an Afghani prostitute.") So now Fox has introduced the character of Lucas, a private detective hired by House to spy on Wilson as well as dig up information on his patients. This is endlessly fascinating in that it's Lucas's job to pry, so now we don't have to have the obligatory moment in every episode where one of the doctors says, "But House, breaking and entering is illegal." So now that'll stop, and it'll allow for the writers to become much more creative with the background of the patients. But what makes Lucas work is his manipulation of the human condition. He can read House, and I think it both comforts and annoys House. I don't know why everyone loved his friendship with Wilson so much because House was a jerk and Wilson had no backbone, so I love this new push with Lucas where there is a dominant controller in the relationship, and if there is, it's definitely Lucas. He's quirky without being irritating, and he's able to manipulate the greatest manipulator. ("How many friends do you have?" "17." "What? Do you have a list?" "I just picked a number because it didn't matter and now you can get back to your point.") It's fascinating and it made for good TV. But would I follow Lucas to a new show? Perhaps, but I really enjoyed the bantering relationship with House. My favorite line of the night? Cuddy asks, "Why did it cost $2300 to fix a coffee machine?"

Fringe: Sorry, J.J. I may be hanging this one up. I cannot stand any of the leads -- ANY -- but I'm always fooled into coming back because Joshua Jackson has one or two good lines. Walter picks up a crown of thorns (not literally, but the Biblical allusion is there) and says, "This brings back memories." Jackson's character replies, "Of what?" But it's not a good show. The pacing is all wrong -- any moment of revelation lacks momentum, and it reminds me of the scene in Lost where Locke is revealed to be in the coffin. Get to it, already. The plots are always ridiculous, and tonight's case was resolved by a man with unintentional ESP (due to an experiment Walter did on him years ago), and Walter rewires his brain so that his telepathic VISUALS are translated into AUDITORY conversations over cell phones. I'm sorry but... no. And then they electrocute the brain (or something) which bothered me because, as my mother pointed out, brains don't have nerve-endings. And at the end of the episode, someone says, "Dunham, don't you ever smile?" and then she walks around with a creepy forced smile that creeped me out. If it's between this and The Mentalist vying for the 9-10pm timeslot...

The Mentalist: ...I'm choosing The Mentalist. (You can watch the Pilot here.)

Finally! A fantastic premiere with engaging characters and a hypnotically charismatic lead. I love me some Simon Baker. Is it the greatest show ever? Well, no. (That would be Battlestar Galactica.) Haven't we seen shows like this before? Yes -- House, Monk, Psych, Raines. But those shows all had gimmicky characters, whereas this show has Simon Baker playing a character named Patrick Jane who used to be a fake celebrity psychic who now just uses his fantastic skills of observation to help the police solve crimes. There's a season-long (possible series-long) arc involving a serial murderer named Red John, who killed Jane's wife and child years ago because he was parading the murders on television for entertainment value. First of all, this show's opening is absolutely wonderful. After a woman shoots her murderous husband, the police walk in and Jane throws his hands up and says, "Seriously, it's not as bad as it looks." What makes this show work is that Baker plays Jane with such a subtle grace that you really can tell that he's a tortured character -- without the obvious "I'm a tortured soul" markers. He's closed off to people, but he's still charming. He's not a jerk. He never exposes his true thoughts as a way of guarding himself and as a way of protecting those around him. He completely carries his burden on his shoulders and he knows it's his problem. When speaking with a psychiatrist, he talks about making his brother do his chores and then one day his brother sawed off his arm and bled to death. The psychiatrist responds, "That's what happened to Johnny Cash." Jane responds with a smile, "Oh... is it?" With this model of social behavior, I think this show can really pace itself with how much they are willing to reveal about his character. You don't find out about the wife and child until near the end of the episode, and what's more, the very last sequence shows Jane entering his house (the same one his family was murdered in), and it's furniture-less. He walks into a furniture-less bedroom and sleeps on a mattress on the floor underneath a symbol Red John left for him. It's an incredibly telling visual without being overly sentimental or creepy or too foreword. I also enjoyed the supporting cast -- including Robin Tunney who plays a cop that is not too masculine and not too feminine, but is only concerned about getting the job done -- and I look forward to discussing future episodes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

mad men art

Dyna Moe's Mad Men wallpapers are also available as customizable prints, and the ridiculously cool Mad Men icons can be found here. She designs each image based on a scene or moment from every episode, and she was inspired by some of the illustrators of the same era. My favorite is the last one, based on an earlier advertisement on the show: all women are either a Jackie or a Marilyn, which are you?

episodes: monday night explosion

I know. I'm providing a wealth of opinions that you couldn't care less about. But at least there are pictures... yeah?

The Big Bang Theory: While I enjoy my time spent with this show, I really just enjoy Sheldon. I don't care for Leonard (he's not particularly relatable, and he doesn't have a gimmick or any of the good jokes), but Penny is growing on me. Regardless of the simple episodic plots, I like this show and laugh every time I watch it. I will enjoy the friendship-relationship dynamic better when Sara Gilbert joins the cast later, but it's definitely worth watching. And Sheldon has secured a spot on my "characters I love but would hate in real life" list. He moves out of his apartment because he doesn't know how to keep a secret from his roommate? Oh, Sheldon. You're so hilariously weird.

How I Met Your Mother: First of all, the B-storyline was how important it was for Ted and Marshall that Stella like Star Wars, which she had never seen before. (Is that even possible?) And we all know how I love Star Wars. Her impression of a Wookie was pee-in-the-pants hilarious, and the whole conversation between she and Marshall could only work on this show. "Ted loves Star Wars for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Do you think you could pretend to love this movie for the rest of your life?" She replies, "I do." And you know, it wasn't corny. It was sweet. Honest to God sweet. Second, the Barney-Robin A-storyline was really fantastic. Neil Patrick Harris steals every scene he's in, so the writing was true to the character when Barney admitted to feelings for Robin but still slept with other bimbos. (He justifies to Lily, "Bimbos make me pretend to be a better man," and damn if I didn't think he was going to burst into song.) On a semi-date where Barney planned to tell Robin of his feelings, my heart sank when Robin introduced a waitress, "Have you met Barney?" Not the funniest episode of the series, but still a quality half-hour with tons of laughs and a heck of a lot of heart. But certainly Marshall and Lily had the moment of the evening when it was announced that their code word for sex was "rhinoceros."

Gossip Girl: During the commercials for Big Bang and Mother, I switched over to Gossip Girl and finally started to understand why I don't like the show. It's not the sex -- because honestly, there isn't that much sex. Sometimes I think sexual innuendos on ABC Family's Greek are dirtier than some of the visuals on GG. So I made two newfound discoveries. One, I shouldn't be able to catch sporadic 5-minute sequences and understand the A, B, and even C storyline. Not enough time is really devoted to singular characters. I understand that it's an ensemble show, but not every single character needs to be highlighted. (This show goes into D, E, and F storyline territory, which is a big no-no in Scriptwriting 101.) Two, I don't understand any of the character's motivations. True, I only saw maybe 15 minutes total of this episode, but I've seen entire episodes before, and I don't understand why they do the things that they do. Sometimes I understand Blair, but I will never understand any of the reasons Serena and Dan broke up or subsequently got back together and then subsequently broke up again. It's like the world of GG is inconsequential. They just do what they want. And by they, I mean the writers. Give me a rational understanding of the characters, and perhaps I can at least accept the appeal of the show. Or is that too much to ask for? Should people just like it because the characters look pretty?

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles: This is by no means a good show. I will admit to that right away. The two leads are completely uninteresting. John is whiney and a bit too eager to have responsibility, but I guess that's the problem with having a teenager as a lead. However, he should take initiative beyond his mother because he's ambitious, not because he's rebelling against her authority. And as for Sarah Connor, she's supposed to be bad-ass. Remember Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2? She bulked up. She was ready for the Terminators to come back for her. She was prepared. Lena Headey's Sarah, beyond only having one apathetic, overly cautious facial expression, is really boring. She has no real direction. The writers need to give her a specific purpose, a goal to achieve by the end of the season. This show will not work as an episodic adventure. It should have multiple arcs that are under the umbrella of a season-long theme. The A-storyline should not -- I repeat, should not -- be that a Terminator is chasing them. In fact, that should be the B or C storyline. They need to do something other than running. So with these criticisms, why do I still watch this show? Because I will always defend science-fiction (even Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter), and because I really do enjoy Summer Glau and Brian Austin Green. I even like the character Charlie, played by Dean Winters (the Beeper King from 30 Rock), and I hope they find a way to keep him around. Well, now that (spoiler!) his wife is dead, he doesn't have a reason to stay away... By the way, his wife's death means actress Sonya Walger has more time to play Penny on Lost...

Heroes: What can I say other than I was really disappointed and that I remembered why I stopped watching in the first place. Let's see if I can organize my thoughts:
1. It was predictable. The storylines, the characters' actions, and especially the dialogue. I think my fellow Heroes-watcher and I predicted a good ten lines of dialogue, including this real gem, "I'm from a different future."
2. Same problem as Gossip Girl: too many characters. And why don't any of them die? Why should I care about them being in danger if I know they'll survive? Like Sylar. I love the character -- I do -- but he should have died at the end of Season 1. The fact that he didn't die diminishes the grandiose gesture of all the heroes coming together. And what about Linderman and Nikki/Jessica? They like the actors so the writers have found ridiculous ways to keep them on the show? Nikki/Jessica was a horrible character with an ambiguous power (multiple-personalities? ohh, strength...), so what did they do? They started from scratch. New identity.
3. All of the heroes are the same. The show is missing a real opportunity to present subtle metaphors and social commentary. The show is supposed to be about ordinary people coming to terms with being extraordinary, with being different. Different people should have reacted differently to their situations, but it seems like everyone has now accepted their powers and are all determined to fight evil. Why aren't any of them hiding? Why are they all ready to pick up a sword and seek out evil? And especially with the whole Heroes vs. Villains binary, the characters have become one-note characters. The show says the characters will teeter on the border between good and evil, but I think the exposition will be so overloaded that the grey area won't be so grey. And (spoiler!) in case anyone wasn't paying attention, Ando isn't evil. He kills Hiro in the future because Hiro switched sides. Know how I know? Because it's predictable, and because I wrote Heroes.
4. Peter has way too many powers. The awesomeness of Sylar was that he was unstoppable and had multiple powers, so by giving Peter all of these powers, it devalues Sylar as a superpower. It's like in Iron Man -- who can be the foe for a flying robot except for a bigger, badder flying robot?
5. Speaking of Sylar... he's a Petrelli? This goes back to a lack of originality on the writer's part. The show already pulled this trick with Claire and Nathan/Peter. They wanted to keep Sylar around so they made him related to Nathan, Peter, and Claire.
6. Kill the cheerleader, save the show.
To quote Alan Sepinwall's column, "It acts like something out of Joseph Campbell when it's really a Spark Notes take on '80s comic book stories." Brilliantly and concisely put.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

aaron sorkin should moderate the debates

Aaron Sorkin wrote the following piece for an Op-ed for The New York Times, and all I have to say is, by God, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! There is a CLEAR winner in this election, and I'm insulted that the media contends that so many women vote for the gender. Because we don't. Here is Sorkin's delicious imaginary meeting between Barack Obama and the POTUS of The West Wing.

BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.

BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —

OBAMA Look —

BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA Which was?

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA What do you mean?

BARTLET I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA I’m asleep?

BARTLET Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET I mean tons.

OBAMA I understand.

BARTLET I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.

OBAMA How did you do it?

BARTLET Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.

OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched The West Wing.

OBAMA That would make it easier.

BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old ER time slot with 30 Rock as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.

OBAMA What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

BARTLET I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity. Plus, if you had a black daughter —

OBAMA I have two.

BARTLET — who was 17 and pregnant and unmarried and the father was a teenager hoping to launch a rap career with “Thug Life” inked across his chest, you’d come in fifth behind Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and a ficus.

OBAMA You’re not cheering me up.

BARTLET Is that what you came here for?

OBAMA No, but it wouldn’t kill you.

BARTLET Have you tried doing a two-hour special or a really good Christmas show?


BARTLET Hang on. Home run. Right here. Is there any chance you could get Michelle pregnant before the fall sweeps?

OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA What’s the second step?

BARTLET I don’t care.

OBAMA So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.

OBAMA Wait, what is it you always used to say? When you hit a bump on the show and your people were down and frustrated? You’d give them a pep talk and then you’d always end it with something. What was it ...?

BARTLET “Break’s over.”

obama and mccain tax proposals

From the Washington Post, here's a bit of visual education (click to enlarge):

Under McCain's tax proposal: The bottom three groups, which amounts to 60% of taxpayers, will have their taxes cut by .2-.7%, or roughly $19-$319. People who make above $2.7 million, however, will have their taxes cut by a whopping 4.4%, or roughly $269,364.

Under Obama's tax proposal: The bottom three groups will have their taxes cut by 2.4-5.5%, or roughly $1,042-$567. For those making above $2.7 million, their taxes will increase by 11.5%.

Under McCain, the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Still confused? Read this CNN article that takes a closer look at the proposals.

And no matter your party, please look through FactCheck.org. It's an unbiased site that investigates the truth and lies behind advertisements, speeches, and quotes/interviews. Know the facts before you vote. Knowledge is power, guys.

Monday, September 22, 2008

post-secret pop-culture

For those of you who are convinced that you are not affected by the wonderful world of make-believe, I bring you pop-culture secrets from Post Secret:

And no, I did not send this in. (It's not a secret anyway...)

I am convinced that this, like the "rape fantasy" and "prostitute fantasy," is a myth perpetuated by the media.

I did a post on this a while ago...

ew: 50 biggest emmy snubs

Entertainment Weekly recently made a list of the 50 Biggest Emmy Snubs. Below are shocking snubs I agree with from the 26-50 range.
40. James Callis, Battlestar Galactica -- possibly my favorite character on TV
36. Michael Cera, Arrested Development -- who else can make loving your cousin so adorably cute?
34. David Cross, Arrested Development -- three words: "I blue myself!"
30. Matthew Fox, Lost -- he is the male version of Mary-Louise Parker
And now from the 25 Biggest Snubs section:
25. Sports Night -- somehow this Sorkin gem didn't win anything
23. My So-Called Life -- teen angst at its best and most well articulated (I heart Angela and Brian)
22. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- spouting off sarcasm is not as easy as it looks
16. Kristin Davis, Sex and the City -- when Miranda tells Charlotte she's keeping the baby, Davis gave the best reaction I've ever seen on TV
15. Battlestar Galactica -- IT'S THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION
11. The Wire -- this show is mentioned in the same breath of BSG as the best show on television
7. Norman Fell, Three's Company -- I've never seen another misogynist homophobic landlord I've loved so much
4. Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls -- seriously, this was a major oversight
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- IT WAS THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION

And now for my thoughts on the Emmys...

I enjoyed Oprah's opening, especially the clever pun that television entertains, educates, and inspires us, bringing our live into high definition. Aww. Indeed.

They should never do multiple hosts again, especially with Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, or Ryan Seacrest. I don't know why this concept is so alien to award show directors, but I would actually rather watch three hours of acceptance speeches than a bunch of mediocre sketches that don't make me laugh. Don Rickles had the moment of the evening when he kept going off script. That's a comic legend -- let him host the show next year! But if not him, then get Ricky Gervais and Steve Carrell to co-host. Their playful taunting was the only fun moment of the evening (besides Rickles), and it was again unscripted. I could watch them engaged in a staring contest all night. But then Gervais's introduction leads into... a montage of past winners? Wait a second. The show is constantly reminding us that speeches should be kept short and that they don't want to run out of time, and then they show past winners unable to find words during their speeches? Umm, no.

I was also unimpressed with Klum's strip at the beginning. She came out in a power suit, masculine and still sexy, and William Shatner had to literally rip her clothes off to objectify her as a sexual object. I read that Klum changed her outfit over 70 times, and that's just absurd. I understand that designers want to advertise their designs, but -- and this is blasphemous -- award shows should not be about the clothes... UNLESS it's about costume design.

I enjoyed Laura Linney's acceptance speech. It was short, to the point, and she managed to thank "all the community organizers who help form our country." That's my girl.

Major Winners:
Lead Actor in a Comedy – Alec Baldwin!!!
Lead Actress in a Drama – Glenn Close
Lead Actor in a Drama – Brian Cranston
Lead Actress in a Comedy – Tina Fey
Best Comedy – 30 Rock
Best Drama – Mad Men!!!
Glenn Close gave a great line when she said of her fellow nominees, "I think we're proving that complicated, powerful, mature women are sexy in high entertainment and can carry a show." And although Cranston was a long shot, I'm glad that the Emmys finally decided not to overlook him because he really is a fantastic actor. But Jon Hamm's day is coming, I promise you. (Also, Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan Holloway, should definitely be nominated, especially for last Sunday's episode.) And Baldwin was ever-so gracious and grateful, and I'm so happy he won. And yay for Mad Men winning best drama show (technically it's "Outstanding Drama Series").

Saturday, September 20, 2008

emmy love

I know, I know. I'm postponing my top five BSG moments, but that's because I haven't found any good pictures for those moments. So perhaps I'll post it without pictures. At any rate, the Emmys are on Sunday, and I wanted to go through who I think should, but not necessarily who will win. You can see the full list of nominees here.

Outstanding Comedy Series: As much as I adore The Office, Season 2 of 30 Rock is absolutely hysterical. "Rosemary's Baby" showed us Alec Baldwin's true genius, and the whole Uncanny Valley-porn-video game plot at the end of the season was comedy gold. None of the other nominees come anywhere close to the brilliance of this show.
Lead Actor in a Comedy: No contest. Alec Baldwin. Every single line of dialogue is amazing, and he throws some of them away. His insults to Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) are so natural and his character is so full of power that I can't help but drop my jaw when he's on the screen. How has Baldwin not been doing comedy all these years?
Lead Actress in a Comedy: This one is actually a tough one. The stereotype is that women aren't funny, and yet I'm having a hard time discerning who deserves this award more. Well, I can rule out America Ferrera because playing a stereotype is never interesting, and I can take Mary-Louise Parker out of the running because I consider her role dramatic (Weeds is really a drama with comedic elements, at least this last season has been). I do think Julia Louis-Dreyfus has done a lot with her role on The New Adventures of Old Christine and I do enjoy Tina Fey on 30 Rock, but I have to go with Christina Applegate. Although I don't like the show all that much (the characters are annoying), she is both physically and verbally funny. She knows just the right intonation with her dialogue, and her slapstick pratfalls are also unexpectedly funny. I'm good with any of them winning, really, but Applegate plays Sam unlike anyone else. She is both clumsy and ditsy, and yet I still believe her when her character needs to be serious or smart.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Hmm... this one isn't tough at all. Neil Patrick Harris's over-the-top Barney was given some really fantastic material this season, especially with his Bro-Code-breaking hook-up with Robin. How many catchphrases has this character created? A win for NPH would be legen--wait for it--dary!
Supporting Actress in a Comedy: This one's a coin toss between Kristen Chenoweth and Jean Smart. I've been a fan of Smart's for years (she brought a lot to a minor role in Garden State), but honestly, she really only plays two characters. Chenoweth could be overlooked because perky characters tend to be, but Chenoweth brings so much heart and sadness to her perky character that it's hard not to fall in love with her and say, "Chuck who?"
Guest Actor in a Comedy: Four out of the five nominees are for 30 Rock, but is there really any question that short-robed Will Arnett is the clear winner?
Guest Actress in a Comedy: Again, three out of the six were nominated for 30 Rock, and I'm going to have to go with Edie Falco on this one. I know, I'm biased for 30 Rock, but Falco was able to hold her own against Baldwin, and that is no small feat. She was funny and a great role model for women. Double awesome!

Outstanding Drama Series: Lost was better this year, but it still wasn't anywhere near Emmy-winning. And Dexter's second season was still fantastic, although not as great as the first. But Mad Men should take this award home. It's a wonderful period piece with infinitely intriguing characters, and although the episodic plots aren't that captivating, you keep coming back for more because you can relate to these characters. No one is wholly good or wholly bad (even our protagonist!), and that's very interesting to watch unfold during the weeks.
Lead Actor in a Drama: Can you believe Hugh Laurie hasn't won an Emmy for this yet? He won a Golden Globe, but he's long overdue for the Emmy. As much as I love Jon Hamm's portrayal of Don Draper on Mad Men, this award should go to Hugh Laurie because 1) he's long overdue and 2) the interactions with his new interns really gave Laurie a new playing field in which to create his role of the ultimate bastard boss. Giving roses The Bachelor-style to returning interns was just beautiful. But if it isn't Laurie, I certainly hope it's Michael C. Hall for Dexter. I think his complex character is oversimplified by many critics, and Hall brings such a creepy and yet sexy mystique to the role.
Lead Actress in a Drama: Meh. Boring. None of these roles interest me...? Actually, none of these shows interest me...
Supporting Actor in a Drama: Hmm... this one's a bit tricky. I think Michael Emerson should have won for Lost Season 2 (or even Season 3) but not necessarily this last season. And I love John Slattery on Mad Men even though he's only in it for a few scenes each episode. Still, no matter how short your stay, the question is if it's memorable. My vote's for Slattery. There's an episode where he's in the hospital crying to his wife, apologizing and telling her he loves her, and it just breaks my heart. He brings so much depth to a crooked, despicable character.
Supporting Actress in a Drama: This one's easy. Chandra Wilson deserves the win for Grey's Anatomy. She owns every scene she's in, and she's the only actress on that show that I never catch acting. She is Dr. Bailey.
Guest Actor in a Drama: I don't watch ER (I've been maybe seen fifteen episodes in the entire series), but I don't have an opinion about the other nominees, so my vote is for Stanley Tucci. He's fantastic in everything he's in, and I doubt that ER is any different.
Guest Actress in a Drama: Umm... absolutely no clue...

Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series: Although I prefer The Daily Show to The Colbert Report, I think this win really belongs to the latter. TDS's correspondents just aren't funny anymore (although Samantha Bee's "lady brain" bit had me in stitches!), and Colbert carries his show on his own. He's beyond witty, and Colbert really shines brightest during the interviews. He's taking his "character" less seriously now, and I think he's in as much as awe of his popularity as the rest of the country is. If he suggested that every newborn be named after him, I guarantee that at least 100 Stephen Colberts would be born the very next day.
Outstanding Made-for-TV Movie: Although I adore Extras, I don't think an extended last episode counts as a Made-for-TV movie. This category is dominated by the awesomeness that was Recount.
Actor in a Miniseries: Like I even have to think about it... Kevin Spacey for Recount.
Actress in a Miniseries: She brought warmth and heart to her role in A Raisin in the Sun, and the Emmys would be blind if they didn't pick Phylicia Rashad.
Supporting Actor in a Miniseries: Again, like I even have to think about it... Denis Leary in Recount.
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries: I did enjoy Laura Dern as Katherine Harris in Recount (and would be quite happy if she won), but my heart belongs to Audra McDonald's performance in A Raisin in the Sun. There are few people who should be nominated for everything they do (even breathing!), but McDonald is one of them. Except for Private Practice -- she's wasted on that sub-par show.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

hi-jinks? hi-larious!

From the brilliant, high-larious Joel Watson over at Hijinks Ensue, I bring you the funniest film comics I've ever read:

Shaun of the Trek

An Offer He Can't Refuse

2008: A Spam Odyssey

I'm Going to Ask Battlestar Galactica to Homecoming

Nuke the Fridge at the 2008 Summer Failympics

Comic-Con Revelations Pt. 1: "Sereni-Tube"

J.J. Vu

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

top 10 favorite BSG moments: 6-10

I haven't written on my favorite television show in a while, and I don't want anyone to ever forget my ever-growing love and adoration for this show. The following are my Top 10 Favorite Moments from Battlestar Galactica, the greatest show ever made.

10. D'Anna tortures Baltar in "Torn" (3.6)
After lying about his discovery of a virus on a Cylon baseship, Gaius Baltar is physically tortured by D'Anna, a Number Three model. Baltar envisions his Number Six (ie Head Six) apparition having sex with him on a beach, and suddenly a visual juxtaposition fills the frame. Baltar moans in ecstasy, but is it pain or pleasure? D'Anna looks on in a mixture of disgust, horror, intrigue, and possibly sexual arousal. Well played by both Lucy Lawless and James Callis. On the one hand, this scene shows how Baltar is able to manipulate his reality, but on the other, it shows how humans are able to distort the truth about their situations. Technically, the scene is amazing, from the ambiguous location to the low lighting, which, of course, is the visual opposite of the beach Baltar and Six inhabit. This is surreal mind escapism at its best.

9. Starbuck dreams of making out with Leoben in "Maelstrom" (3.17)
Dreaming, Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace imagines herself painting what would be known as the Eye of Jupiter on her childhood home (which was taken over by the Cylons during the apocalypse). Kara is, of course, in a tank and undies. Her muscles are highlighted in this skimpy outfit, and she is both masculine and feminine. She takes a nap, and Cylon Leoben wakes her up. He throws her against the wall and forces her to kiss him. She fights at first but eventually gives in, and then they fall to the ground, rolling around in paint. It's quite possibly the hottest moment from TV. Ever.

8. Starbuck is about to assassinate Admiral Cain in "Resurrection Ship Part 2" (2.12)
Holy crap. The division between 2.0 and 2.5 is filled with philosophy. Admiral Cain is the ideological opposite of our Galactica hero and leader, Admiral Adama. She's a woman where "the ends justify the means" determines her actions, and she is more concerned with statistics than sympathy. She has rebellious civilians executed in order to keep them in line. And it's a tough question to ask -- when people don't do what you tell them to do, and you're the leader, how do you get them to do it? In Cain's case (and there is a definite allegory to the Biblical Cain and Abel story), she rules by physical coercion. And you know, Adama's not a saint either. Later in Season 3, Chief Tyrol revolts and Adama threatens to hurt Tyrol' wife, Callie, in order to get the Chief to back off. So finally the two leaders butt heads and the both find themselves at the last resort -- they must assassinate the other. So Starbuck, who is now a pilot on Cain's ship Pegasus, is sent to assassinate her boss. Meanwhile, Cain's right-hand man is sent to kill Adama. Then Cylon raiders come and they must fight the enemy before they fight each other. So who wins? Humanity wins. Neither leader is killed. At least, not by a human... but this scene is very interesting for Kara Thrace, who is struggling with both her morals and her sense of duty. But more than anything, this scene shows that Starbuck and Adama are not as unlike Cain as we would like to believe.

7. Helo shoots his wife, Sharon Athena in "Rapture"
Holy frak! This scene breaks my heart a thousand times over. Cylon Sharon had a hybrid baby with human Helo, but President Roslin and Adama told them the baby child shortly after her birth. When Sharon learns that her daughter is alive and well on the Cylon Resurrection ship -- and further that Roslin and Adam lied to her -- she schemes a way to get her daughter back. If her husband shoots her, she will download into a new body on the Resurrection ship and retrieve her daughter. The way that this scene is shot is amazing because the two characters are pacing around, and the decision to kill Sharon is not explicit. They could planning to assassinate Roslin or Adama out of hate, or they could be planning on stealing a ship (which is more likely). Sharon goes up to hug Helo, and then you hear a shot and Sharon falls into his arms. Helo cries out and the audience realizes, holy frak, he just shot his wife. Yes, Sharon would most likely download into a new body... but for the human Helo, there's always that doubt. What if she's not the same Sharon? What if something happens and she's unable to download? What if he just killed her? Gods, I love this scene.

6. Lee's speech on the stand during Baltar's trial in "Crossroads Part 2" (3.20)
The shift at the end of Season 3 seemed kind of odd. Suddenly the CAG and Admiral's son wants to be a lawyer? But then you rewatch Seasons 1 & 2 and you realize that this was the next logical progression of his character. He's always been a leader. Plus, this sets his character up for Season 4 when he has to negotiate with D'Anna who wants the Final Five or else she's going to kill hostages. Lee becomes, oddly enough, the acting president while Roslin is with D'Anna, but he does such a fine job during negotiations that every odd moment leading up to Lee as president suddenly makes sense. But back to "Crossroads Part 2." Lee, who is defending Gaius Baltar in his crimes against humanity, is called to the stand by Romo Lampkin:
Lee: Did the defendant make mistakes? Sure, he did. Serious mistakes. But did he actually commit any crimes? Did he commit treason? No. I mean it was an impossible situation, when the Cylons arrived, what could he possibly do? What could anyone have done? I mean ask yourself, what would you have done? What would you have done? If he had refused to surrender, the Cylons would have probably nuked the planet right then and there. So did he appear to cooperate with the Cylons? Sure. So did hundreds of others. What's the difference between him and them? The President issued a blanket pardon, they were all forgiven, no questions asked. Colonel Tigh, Colonel Tigh used suicide bombers, killed dozens of people: forgiven. Lieutenant Agathon and Chief Tyrol, they murdered an officer on the Pegasus: forgiven. The Admiral, the Admiral instituted a military coup d'etat against the President: forgiven. And me? Well, where do I begin? I shot down a civilian passenger ship - the Olympic Carrier, over a thousand people on board: forgiven. I raised my weapon to a superior officer, committed an act of mutiny: forgiven. And then, on the very day when Baltar surrendered to those Cylons, I, as Commander of Pegasus, jumped away. I left everybody on that planet alone, undefended, for months! I even tried to persuade the Admiral never to return. To abandon you all there for good. If I had my way nobody would have made it off that planet. I'm the coward, I'm the traitor. I'm forgiven. I'd say we're very forgiving of mistakes. We make our own laws now, our own justice. And we've been pretty creative of finding ways to let people off the hook for everything from theft to murder. And we've had to be, because, because we're not a civilization anymore. We are a gang, and we're on the run, and we have to fight to survive. We have to break rules, we have to bend laws, we have to improvise. But not this time, no, not this time. Not for Gaius Baltar. No, you, you have to die. You have to die because well, we don't like you very much. Because you're arrogant, because you're weak, because you're a coward. And we the mob, we want to throw you out the airlock because you didn't stand up to the Cylons and get yourself killed in the process. That's justice now. You should have been killed back on New Caprica, but since you had the temerity to live we're going to execute you now. That's justice.
The first time I saw this, I didn't quite get it. I thought Lawyer Lee was misguided and implausible (his grandfather was a lawyer and that somehow qualifies him to be legal counsel?), but upon repeat viewings, and especially after starting back with the miniseries and rewatching the entire series, I've come to understand how this developed. It's not as random or forced as it once had seemed. And besides, this was creator Ron Moore's way of exposing the truth of human nature to us. These people are the Galactica may be in leadership positions and they have sign names and titles, but they're still just people and they still make mistakes. And more importantly, they justify and classify the world around them. Crimes committed on New Caprica are excused and forgiven, but Baltar has to be punished. He has to die. It's a very intriguing study of the human condition, and even if this scene seems out of place, you can't deny that it's extremely well written.

Monday, September 15, 2008

seven minutes of 'the day the earth stood still'

Oh, snap! Jon Hamm is in this movie. These seven minutes read like an extended trailer with longer scenes, but most of the scenes occur at the beginning of the movie, so instead of showing too much and turning me away, I'm actually more intrigued. I still don't think that this movie needed to be made, but I will make all sorts of justifications for science-fiction. I'm always game for movies that show how relying on technology is bad... "In this case, the less advanced civilization is us." Score one for aliens! And I don't care what anyone says. I like Keanu Reeves.

I just have one question: does the earth standing still have nothing to do with the sun's revolution anymore?

the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed. seriously.

Tina Fey is dead on, and her funniest moment comes during an impromptu gun cocking. This skit hits all of the major issues -- the fact that they are ideological opposites so Palin should stop riding the coattails of Hilary's feminist breakthrough (because Palin is so far from being a feminist it's frightening); the fact that Palin doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is (and most people don't, but she should); the oversimplified Palin comment that anyone can be president if they just want it enough; that crying "sexism" is irrelevant if the media is asking questions about her credentials and experience; that Palin was the mayor of Alaska's meth capitol; and the ridiculous notion that seeing Russia from her background makes Palin an expert in international diplomacy.

But let's not forget Amy Poehler's amazing portrayal of the "boner-shrinking" Hilary. "I invite the media to grow a pair, and if you can't, I will lend you mine." SNL has really gotten off track these past few years -- I didn't laugh at any of the other sketches during the night -- but this one is beyond brilliant.

But really, guys. Let's stop glorifying the Republican's celebrity (a completely hypocritical turn of events considering the Republicans were slandering Obama for being a celebrity). Let's start talking about the issues. Let's try and teach people not to be one-topic voters (abortion is the number one reason why people choose one party over the other, regardless of social security, international affairs, war, education, and a hundred other things more important). Let's make it less about what they wear or how they speak. Let's make this election about what they say and what they plan to do. Elections should not be entertainment. They should not be "easy to understand." I want the leader of my nation to be smarter than me. (The president should be in the top 2% in the nation, not in the top 70%.) I want the next president to bring change (and not fake keep-everything-the-same change). I want the leader of the free world to believe in true freedom, not selective freedom. So stop with the "lipstick on a pig" commentary. Stop with photoshopping Palin in a bikini and the VPILF website. Make it about the issues.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

trailers of interest

Doubt, John Patrick Shanley

Update: "The dragon is hungry." I take it back. I am definitely seeing this. The acting looks phenomenal, and the setting is refreshing. Plus, I don't think I'll figure out the ending of this one...

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Terry Gilliam

This is just a pre-production trailer, but it still looks really amazing. You may remember hearing about this movie as the one where Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell will play variations of one role, the one that was originally cast as Heath Ledger. This, not Dark Knight (as is the popular belief), is really Ledger's last role. Director Terry Gilliam talks about the movie in a way that actually says nothing about the movie. It's a bunch of adjectives tacked onto fantastical words, but in all honesty, this trailer doesn't need words. Just show me the images. My favorite image clocks in at 2:19; iridescent blue-green jellyfish abducting people. Awesome.

Changeling, Clint Eastwood

Plot: Angelina Jolie's child is kidnapped and then the police return a boy to her, but it's not her son. I like Clint Eastwood well enough, but I don't think his name is synonymous with Academy Award and I thought Million Dollar Baby was extremely overhyped. But I loved Mystic River and I think Changeling will be a return to the mystery-suspense that Eastwood is so good at. I believed Tim Robbins' character was guilty, and I could very well believe that Angelina Jolie's character is just crazy. I'm indifferent to this movie -- I'll either see it or I'll wait to see it, but it'll be one of those "nothing else is playing" scenarios.

The International, Tom Tykwer

(Ignore the mini-trailer before the actual trailer. I would've put a Youtube trailer up, but this one is HD!) Plot: Clive Owen, playing Clive Owen, has to "go outside the system of justice." Naomi Watts also stars. I don't know. Stuff blows up and there are guns involved. With movies like this, I need a really intelligent plot (Italian Job and Inside Man did this well), and I just won't be able to tell until reviews come out. I don't really care if reviewers like a movie -- I just look for buzz words. If the phrase "plot holes" appear, I tend to avoid the movie. Also, if "great twist" appear, I tend to avoid it because I go into the movie knowing there's a twist so I'm subconsciously looking for clues and I figure out the end before it happens (I figured out 4/5 of the twists in The Prestige). So I'll wait on this one.

The Soloist, Joe Wright

I love Joe Wright, I do. I adored Pride and Prejudice and fell in love with Atonement, a faithful adaptation to one of my favorite novels. But this is just screaming "GIVE ME AN OSCAR" and I can't get behind that. Does it look beautiful and heartwarming? Yes. Is Robert Downey Jr. retrieving his career from oblivion? Yes. But am I also getting sick of him? Yes. It just looks like too many things are set up for "Best Oscar" for something... acting, directing, script, cinematography... where are movies like The Lives of Others, good honest movies? Sigh. I don't think I'll be seeing this...

Nothing Like the Holidays, Alfredo De Villa

Wow, it's September and here's a trailer for a holiday movie. But guess what, it actually looks funny. Plot: A Puerto Rican family spend what may be their last Christmas together; the parents are getting a divorce. The difference between this movie and others like it are that these jokes do not seem forced, and the ones that are ("Does your plumbing work?") work because of the Hispanic culture. And it really bothers me in comedies, TV or film, where other characters don't laugh when someone says something funny. People would laugh in real life! At least in Nothing Like the Holidays, the characters not only laugh, but they make fun of each other. They're an actual family, and it's not about them hating each other. (So overly cliché.) I'm definitely going to see this because I'm a closeted sap, and I'm a sucker for "Lean on Me."