December 2007 Archives
If you felt bad about missing last night's premiere of Paranormal State: don't. It's a terrible show -- boring, overly invested in the Catholic Church as a blanket solution to all paranormal problems, and unable to marshal and explain evidence of hauntings in a convincing way.
Plus, nobody gives a damn about Ryan's alleged "and so we meet again, demon whose name I drama-queenily refuse to let anyone utter aloud...except when I am too busy narrating the show from inside a giant tin can, or using my eyebrows to prompt my psychologist friend to 'feel faint' in the 'presence' of an 'evil' 'spirit,' or wearing my slacks too high" backstory. We tuned in to see if you could find ghosts; if you can't find any, fine, but at least try instead of pantsing around with the holy water. Thermal imaging! Digital tape read-back! Anyone who has read even a page of Hans Holzer knows that this is how it's done! If I, a ghost-story addict, think your show is flaky, you have no chance of impressing anyone else!
Don't bother with it; I wish I hadn't. Catch a rerun of Unsolved Mysteries instead, or hop on over to Weird NJ.com; much spookier, much less with the "the power of Ryan compels you!" dramatics.
Anyone else watch Cool As Ice on HBO2 yesterday? Show of hands. ...Nobody else? Not even a few minutes, just to see if it's as bad as you've always suspected?
I don't blame y'all for not admitting it even if you did watch it, but...I sat through the last half hour, just to see if it's as bad as I'd always suspected. And it absolutely is. It's terrible. What's surprising is how apparently not terrible the script must have seemed, because in addition to non-master non-thespian Vanilla Ice, the cast features such TV luminaries as Deezer D (Malik from ER), Kristin Minter as the love interest (also an ER alum -- she played cranky desk clerk Randi, and she's unrecognizable as such in CAI, to the point where I thought it was actually Jennifer Connelly), Jack McGee (late of Rescue Me), and Michael "Steven Keaton" Gross. Who also had an ER turn, now that I think of it, as Carter pere, but is cast here as Minter's father, and I have to give him credit -- it must have dawned on him relatively early in the filming that he'd signed onto a complete stinker, but he gives a hundred percent in all his scenes.
But spotting TV's lesser lights trying to make the mortgage is just about the only amusement offered by the movie, ostensibly a remake of/homage to Rebel Without A Cause that showcases the nadir of high-waisted-denim/floofy perm fashion, as the shoulder-pads-and-neon late '80s transitioned into the equally hideous rayon-pirate-shirts-and-flannel early '90s. Vanilla himself is attired in the worst the era had to offer -- hugely oversized leather jacket with custom appliqués; checkerboard shaved into the back of his head; douchily angled baseball cap; ska shorts -- and cannot act even a little, but in some shots, you can see how he put his whole deal over, because even though he's dressed like a David Silver Edition Ken Doll and accessorized with a bright-yellow crotch rocket, he's still handsome. Cheesy, but handsome.
And he seemed like an okay guy on Celebrity Bull Riding, at least compared to that asshat Nitro.
It happened a month ago, so no doubt everyone else has already processed the "Gary Anthony Ramsay spazzes off on a NY1 call-in show, then quits/gets fired from the channel" story and moved on, but I just caught wind of it last week, and...wow.
New Yorkers (well, the ones who have Time Warner cable) have a relationship with NY1 -- as though it's a person. A family member, sort of, in the sense that nobody is like, "I LOVE that station!", but it's around all the time and you need it, in a way, and when it's gone, you miss it. When I lived way out in Brooklyn, outside the Time Warner Cable service area, I had satellite cable -- and Time Warner is NY1's parent, so, no NY1. Then I moved further in, closer to downtown, and got hooked back up with Time Warner, and of course the installer did his remote test on NY1 and the minute it came up onscreen I yelled out, "Lewis!" Lewis Dodley is a pro, man. He's such a great reader: "My mustache and I are interested in -- but, because we are professionals, not surprised by -- the story we are about to share, sonorously, with you."
You start out not even watching watching the station; you just put it on because it has the temperature bug in the bottom left corner all the time, and you want to know if you need a jean jacket. But...then it's on, and then it's on some more, and you form bonds with it, with the segments and the anchors, like when Kristen Shaughnessy was growing her hair out and every woman in the city was like, "Hooooo, that's tough." Or when Annika Pergament showed up on a Sopranos episode in the first season; it put a badge of tri-state authenticity on the show's lapel. And when you're talking about gi-GANTIC eyebrows, for a national audience you go with a Scorsese joke...but for the locals, you use George Whipple. (Awesomely, in the staff profile page I've linked to, said brows wiggle Flash-ily. Hee.)
So, it's weird to know Ramsay's off the air. He wasn't my favorite anchor; that honor goes to the delightful Pat Kiernan, who does "In The Papers" and mods The World Series Of Pop Culture. I met him once, when I was a researcher on a pilot, and he's just as lovely in person; he even emailed the next day to thank me and the writer on our three-man team for our help, which he didn't have to do. But Ramsay has been part of the cultural landscape around here for a long time, him and his businesslike flat-top. It's probably one of those stories that, outside the catchment area, nobody will care much about, but for the locals, it's distressing.
Not so distressing that I'll stop doing my Neil Rosen imitation, though. "Because what he actually did just wasn't that big a deal in the end...out of a possible five apples...I'm going to give Gary Anthony Ramsay's departure...only one apple." Hee.
Anyway. Good luck, Gary! Thanks for all the headlines.
The show is just so...off, lately. I've really enjoyed it the last few seasons, but it's really not doing it for me this year, and it's strange, because I have to tell you, I'd looked forward to Sara Sidle's departure for weeks -- could not wait for her to git gone. I really liked Jorja Fox on ER, back in the day, and while I didn't have nearly the level of investment in the Gil/Sara romance that some did -- which is to say that I had none, and sort of thought less of Gil for rewarding all her moping and DUI-ing by finally responding to it -- I actually didn't mind it onscreen, and though Petersen played it well. But Sara had slowly devolved into a collection of mannered line readings, pissy glowering, and inexplicable tonsorial choices (what in the Sam Hill was that late-era-Brady Flo Henderson 'do from a couple seasons ago? And do they not have hot oils in Los Angeles?), and when I read that Fox would be leaving, I was really glad. The character had gotten tired, she'd gotten tired of the character, it showed -- good call.
But since she's left, the show doesn't hang together quite right. I'm all for a Hodges-centric episode now and then, because his relationship with Gil is unique and fun to watch, but that means a Liz-Vassey-centric episode also, usually, and they write her so annoyingly that it takes all the fun out of it.
And then there's this nonsense with Warrick. Sobell used to have a running gag in her CSI recaps about Warrick's semi-permanent residence in the subplot sub-basement, and it has always seemed like Dourdan is underused, particularly when you think about how many Catherine/Sam Braun subplots we had to sit through over the years -- but, you know, the guy has a gambling addiction, and then he gets over it, and then when he mentions gambling, it's kind of hard to tell whether the writers actually remember that. And he gets quickie-married, but then the divorce is taking seventeen times as long as the entire courtship and marriage combined, and we have no reason to care except that it's a device to gin up his drug addiction, and then poor George Eads has to play this Lifetime-y Randolph Mantears scene last night all, "So you're taking uppers AND downers MY GOD MAN LOOK AT YOURSELF"? He actually said that shit, first of all, just in a different order and without the "MY GOD MAN" part, and second of all, who calls them "uppers" anymore? Who wrote that scene, Jim Bouton? And third of all, with the...throwing them in the trash? And Warrick's like, "Good point"? And...they look at some evidence, and...scene?
This isn't even mentioning the weird Oliver-Stone-esque seduction sequence, which may or may not have been a withdrawal nightmare -- I think it was, but it was so stagey and overly drawn out, I couldn't really tell, and "confusing" and "ambiguous" aren't the same things, creatively. Dourdan did his best with the material; I don't envy him having to play that last scene. And at least they got him out of his shirt. It's just way too much, too late for the character. I don't think people watch the show for this sort of soapy Emmy-bait stuff, and if you want to foreground a character who's historically been neglected, you need to do it more gradually.
In short: I see what they were trying to do...I think. But if I'm right, it didn't work, and if I'm wrong, it's a total mess.
I haven't watched the show in years, and frankly, I cannot rewatch the scene where Carter and Lucy get stabbed, because it was horrible enough the first time, and I remember how just reading that recap (not actually that recap; the next recap, which is what the link goes to) made me cry, so I choose not to put myself through it. Maybe you are made of sterner stuff.
But you know what might? News that it's now going to be worked on by Magical Elves, the production company behind Project Runway and Top Chef. Frankly, this is what Bravo should have done in the first place, and it's too bad it took a season of total crapola to figure out that you can't just call it Top Whatever and have people care; it's the actual talent attached to the great project that makes it great. I do give them credit, however, for getting the right people on the case before it was absolutely and completely too late to rescue the franchise. As bad as Top Design was, it's not like a show called Top Design operating on that concept can't work. But it needs to be done really, really differently, and with any luck, Magical Elves will make everything better for all of us, just like the storybooks say.
And I will totally watch a second season of Shear Genius. I won't be proud of it, but I'll do it.
...Not really. Dunbar cheating on his girlfriend with Ashbob Squareface is not exactly the shocking plot twist of the year. But it could get interesting if Julie reacts to her on-air cuckolding the way I hope she will, to wit: dropping a taser down the front of his sweatshorts and pushing him into a swimming pool, then marching into the house and flushing all his steroids down the toilet. Free Julie!
Even crazier than that, though: Kelly Anne. Between Shauvon's boyfriend, Captain Controllo, demanding that she come back to the States pronto and Trisha's stripper weave attacking Parisa, we haven't had many episodes lately that focused on Kelly Anne's pathological neediness -- but even though last night's didn't exactly focus on it, it showed it off to disturbing effect. First she's spitting in Parisa's direction; then she's getting a lecture from her new BFF Ashli about how she should interact with Parisa, even though Ashli has lived in the house for all of 12 minutes; then she's, like, PAWING Parisa in the hot tub while Parisa semi-leans away from her all "I...didn't miss this, actually." Keh-RAZY!
It's like Kelly Anne doesn't know how, or who, to be if someone else doesn't tell her, or if she can't see herself reflected in people around her, and it's really just to an insane degree with her; she seems like a sweet person, at bottom, but that's got to be exhausting to live with.
I'm relieved to read that Alan Sepinwall feels the same way I do about Heroes at this point -- namely that he's about done with it: "I have a feeling I'll wind up tuning into 'Heroes' volume 3, whenever it debuts, but I won't be happy with myself for doing it."
Exactly. I want to love the show, and it does certain things well -- not least sensing somehow when I'm about to get truly fed up and kick it off the DVR, then coming across with an exciting, touching episode in the nick of time -- but it just does them too slowly. The Hiro/Kensei plot dragged on too long initially, then wrapped up a bit too quickly on the Adam end. The Maya/Alejandro characters served no purpose that I can see, other than to 1) keep Sylar treading water onscreen until the writers could contrive his return to New York, and 2) bug the holy hell out of the majority of the audience with Maya's wide-eyed, breathy whining and black-eye-gunking. The Monica character, same problem -- cool enough power, but didn't move the ball forward, and in the climactic scene, she...didn't even use her power. I have zero issue with Niki getting killed off -- I've never liked her -- but they should have found another way.
I love the Bennets (including Mr. Muggles), I love Ando because he says what any of us would in the same situations, I love seeing Tobolowsky on my screen every week, and I'm that lone contrarian who likes Parkman; I see enough Sean Blumberg in him that I still have hope. But I had many of the same issues with Lost -- the writers didn't seem to have a plan; the pacing was inconsistent at best; the episodes tended to focus on characters (Kate, mostly) I didn't care for; I gave it two seasons, it didn't pay off, and I booted it off the season-pass list and have never regretted it.
I'm willing to concede that, as Sepinwall mentions, this season of Heroes may have been timed oddly because of the looming strike, but that only explains the rushed quality at the end, not the lethally slow (and repetitive) episodes at the start of the season. Writing series TV isn't easy, God knows, but if you know you have 22 episodes and you know you have a certain arc you want to complete, it does seem like you might write to that task a bit better, and not make the same mistakes you made pacing-wise in the previous season.
But I'm getting the feeling that this is...just how the show is. Overly laborious set-ups; occasional sparks/twists in the middle; unsatisfying payoffs; too much focus on certain characters while others stay out of sight for episodes at a time. If you're going to kill off a Petrelli, you kill Peter, not Nathan, my God. Peter is self-righteous and super-slow on the uptake, for starters, and for another thing, and Adrian Pasdar is the man. Put that guy in a "you killed my brother, prepare to die" vengeance subplot and you're going to be cooking with gas all season long. Put Ventimiglia in the same one, and...not so much. He tries really hard, and he looks good with his shirt off, but he's not a nuanced actor, and if the pacing is going to be this slow, I need something else to interest me. He doesn't qualify.
It's so CLOSE, the show, which is why it's so frustrating, but when it comes back, it's got three episodes to show me it's learned its lesson, and then I'm out.
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