Saturday, May 19, 2007
Is there anything left to be said about the show that brought animation and subversion back to prime time, and pop culture savvy and real self-awareness into it for the first time? "Seinfeld", "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers" were good shows that lasted a long time, but none changed and influenced the culture the way "The Simpsons" has. "The Simpsons" basically built a whole tv network, and whatever else Rupert Murdoch may have done to ruin America, well, supporting this show through all the early controversy around it is a hell of a mitigating factor.
[Damn. Just thinking of how long it go it was that the show was controversial just reminds me of how long it's been on the air. Half the episodes have aired since Homer ran for trash commissioner against Mr. Steve Martin. Put another way, all the episodes which aired from the time the show started until I was in practice for a year just constitutes half the show's run so far.]
Sure, the whole thing sped by quickly, but every character got an opportunity for a glory note reminding us why we love every quirky resident of the greater Stars Hollow metropolitan area (which I define to include Hartford). Tears when I realized why Emily was so fixated on the Dragonfly getting a spa or a tennis court. Tears upon tears when I realized what the heck Luke was doing with his tackle box. (While I haven't cared about Luke since shortly after the "I'm all in" speech of a couple years ago, every aspect of his role in the finale was beautiful and -- unusually -- believable.) A minor flood when Rory and Lorelei drove up and saw the tent. I hope that someday Amy Sherman-Palladino will tell someone what the last line of the finale was supposed to be, but David Rosenthal has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to how he wrapped this puppy up in its last couple of hours. (Oh, and I'm so glad they managed to pull off the final cameo appearance.)
There are shows and there are shows, but only one can claim that it made me want to be a mother. Bon voyage to the Gilmores, one and all.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Edited to add: And, as always, one can go here to read Shonda's take on it all.
Yesterday, the theme was the pending resignation of Paul Wolfowitz. The station played these songs:
- Will The Wolf Survive? -- Los Lobos
- Girlfriend Is Better -- Talking Heads
- Espresso Love -- Dire Straits
- Scooby Snacks -- Fun Lovin' Criminals
- Resignation Superman -- Big Head Todd & the Monsters
Ironically enough, the next song the station played was
Ironically enough, the next song the station played wasGood Excuse by the John Butler Trio.
I have to believe that we can come up with a better list of songs than that!
The other non-spoily thing that I liked about this episode, though, is that it dipped back into J.J. Abrams's bag of tricks for one of my favorites: the Tomb Raider homage. I'm not talking about the Jolie movie; I'm talking about the Eidos game. When Alias was at its action best, it was just a hot girl going left, run, right, shoot, roll, shimmy through the air duct, drop, jump, blow stuff up. The end of this episode was shot exactly like that, and even appropriated the dim red light on yellowed wall coloring and lighting from all of the Tomb Raider warehouse/hangar/villain's lair scenes. Loved it. I have my suspicions about whether this will all pay off in the finale, but this was great setup.
So it is not really surprising that, even in a season in which only one anorexecution could be called "mildly controversial" (that of Dionne over Natasha), this conclusion was both obvious and fitting. Obvious, because neither Renee nor Natasha was capable of winning. Renee not only was hard and old -- let's just say that there's only one reason why a person's husband might move to Twenty-Nine Palms to make more money, and that reason rhymes with Feeling Death Ham Threat A Clean -- but looked it. As for Natasha, perhaps no reality show contestant has prompted as much spirited disagreement in the Spacehold. Spacewoman thought she was cute and funny. I thought she had the neck and jaw of a football player, skin so shiny it looked oiled and polished, a decidedly non-model paunch, wax lips, and a face like it was made up by the same people who brought us Vincent D'Onofrio in Men in Black. I do think I understand why a certain demographic thinks Natasha is pretty -- she is more or less what bad plastic surgeons are aiming for when they build that cheeks-and-lips mask that looks so stupid to those of us who are not plastic surgery fetishists. Given those two finalists, the victory of preternaturally skinny Jaslene, who might be pretty had she not had the ass of a hamadryas baboon grafted onto her chin, was inevitable.
But it was fitting for an entirely different reason. Jaslene's arc was that she was the girl who got booted in the last cuts before they came up with last season's 12 contestants, and that's about right. It may be a stretch to say that all 12 of last cycle's models were better than Jaslene, but it's only a stretch by two or three contestants. So next cycle, Tyra, a little more care in the auditions?
I can happily report that for the third straight year, Grey's Anatomy (and now Private Practice) creator Shonda Rhimes will be guest-blogging here as part of our two-day live coverage in two weeks.
For wagering purposes, Beloved Samir is the sole five-timer, with three four-timers and eleven competitors returning for the third time, including ALOTT5MA faves Evan O'Dorney and Jonathan Horton. More on them soon.
Of course, if handled badly, it could be an embarrassing failure on the level of Temptation Island and Who Wants to Marry Rick Rockwell (Who's Not Really A Millionaire)?
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Me? I still like PJ's suggestion of "Enter Sandman".
- TAR does not appear on the schedule in any way, shape, or form (though it's been reported it'll likely return at midseason)
- Without A Trace and Shark swap slots, with Trace returning to the Thursday at 10 slot to deliver a deathblow of mercy to ER.
- Musical mystery Viva Laughlin gets the bizarre slot of 8 PM Sundays, sandwiched between 60 Minutes and Cold Case Music Videos.
- Kid Nation, which is apparently Survivor with kids, except heartwarming is on Wednesday.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Melinda, I was worried about a bit, and you could see the gap between her and Tina Turner on "Nutbush City Limits". Melinda, at 29, just can't perform like Miss Turner still could at age 57, though her singing remains top-notch. And then, on "I'm A Woman," well, bringing the backup singers to the main stage was just such a nice close-the-circle move on her part, and I was sold. She deserves a chance to win this.
As for Jordin, for a while I've wanted her to win this competition. She's not as technically proficient as Melinda, but she's better with a live crowd, more radiant, more fun to watch. I wouldn't have brought back "I Who Have Nothing" this week, but she sang it awfully well.
Feinberg weighs in, and I want to echo his note that this is "the most wide-open an American Idol competition has ever been as of the Top Three." No one's clearly the weakest, like Nikki McKibbin or Elliot Yamin were, or so obviously ahead of the field like Fantasia Barrino in season three. I'd get rid of Blake, but YMMV.
Sepinwall says to worry about Jordin's chances, since whoever sings first in the final three always goes home.
- Barker's Bargain Bar
- Cleveland Steamer
- Double Digits
- Donkey Punch
- Flip Flop
- Flying Camel
- Golden Road
- Golden Shower
- Hole in One (Jordan: "you knew he would nail the distance putt every single time")
- Hot Lunch
- Push Over
- Secret X
- Stack the Deck
- Swap Meet
- That's Too Much
- Tossed Salad
Yes, I am a 14-year old boy.
I particularly liked the claim that "User dialogue (e.g., from role playing games, simulation games, etc) may be used to characterise the user (e.g., literate, profane, blunt or polite, quiet etc)" and generate appropriate adverts. Given some of the (NSFW!) "user dialog" (NSFW!) that is prevalent in these environments, I can't begin to imagine the ad copy that might result.
More interesting to me though, is the basic premise. Could a long-enough log of gaming behavior provide a good dataset for reconstructing the player's personality? Significant aspects of the personality? What behaviors or responses could be predicted, and how reliably? The answers to these questions will attest to the richness of games as media, and may also suggest other more serious questions about how such media are deployed in the future.
- Legally Blonde gets snubbed for best musical (Mary Poppins gets that slot), but gets in for score and book.
- LoveMusik does not get any top category nominations, though the leads are nominated.
- Two surprising snubs in the lead actress category--neither Lea Michelle (Spring Awakening) nor Kristin Chenoweth (The Apple Tree) is in the list.
- No love for the Les Mis revival at all.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Okay, gang, favorite Pricing Game? Without a doubt, mine's Cliff Hangers.
The sun had just set on a warm spring day, and Robert Stitt was hanging out with some old friends in an empty parking lot on North Street. James Brown was on the boom box, and Stitt had a few drinks in his belly when someone challenged him to see who could pull off the most difficult dance maneuvers.Getting served: it's dangerous even when Leopold "Butters" Stotch isn't around.
"He was a pretty good dancer. Back in the day he used to do flips," said John Boxley, a friend of Stitt's who was among the crowd who watched the "battle dance" unfold Monday night. "It was a bunch of older guys dancing who thought they were still young."
When someone in the crowd pulled off a body flip, Stitt took off his shirt and decided to try it himself, Boxley said. He said the crowd of about 20 friends began chanting his name, egging him on.
"That amped him up a little bit," Boxley said.
But Stitt was no longer the young athletic man who graduated from New Britain High School 30 years ago. . . .
- In re Scared Four Year Old Girls: Totally depends on the kid in question. Would that Cosmo Girl could have borrowed an inch of Lucy's height, because the girl is fearless and was only stopped from riding every single roller coaster in the park by her 39" (in shoes, no less) stature. She loved Splash Mountain (totally sneaked her on), Kali River Rapids, all of the 3D adventures (including It's Tough to Be a Bug, which frankly scares the heck out of me!), Goofy's Barnstormer (the only rollercoaster approved for the under 40" set) and so forth. The only things that she really didn't like were Pirates of the Caribbean (having no idea of the plot and no interest in pirates) and Snow White's Scary Adventures, which I couldn't get her to try once she realized that the word "scary" was in the name.
- Wait a Minute, We're Fish: Wow, did the success of Finding Nemo ever save EPCOT from having to bulldoze the formerly horrifically boring Living Seas Pavilion.
- Princess Wear Daily: One of my favorite things about WDW is the total nonchalance regarding a bazillion little girls running around all day in full princess regalia. In fact, our highly successful method for sneaking Cosmo Girl onto Splash Mountain was sticking a pair of high heeled princess shoes on beneath her Cinderella gown and giving her a whalespout updo to give her a more regal 40"+ bearing.
- Duuuuuuude: This was Mr. Cosmo's and my third trip to WDW in the last eight years, and every time there's some new technology that impresses me. This time it was the computer and animation technology that allows Crush the Sea Turtle to interact directly with members of the audience in Turtle Talk with Crush (which I think they have at Disneyland as well), and the similar (but improved) technology at work at the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, at which Mike Wasowski is the MC of a comedy show designed to evoke enough laughter to power Monstropolis for some amount of time. The audience was invited to text their jokes in, and so Cosmo Girl had the mindblowing experience of hearing Mike Wasowski's nephew Marty tell her favorite joke, announcing that it "was sent in by Cosmo Girl, of New York City."
- Plot Light, Effects Heavy: Disney decided it would be good to have a really big show at MGM. And when Disney decides to do something big, they really do it big. In this cast, they built a 10,000 seat amphitheater and designed a spectacle of live action, animation broadcast onto sheets of water, fireworks, dancing, really fast boats, interpretive movement, singing, a ton of live characters, every great Disney villain, and of course, a Mouse. I have to say, Fantasmic! is deserving of its exclamation point.
- Because Everyone Loves a Good Jazz Square: What do you call 300 screaming tweenies all singing "no no no, stick to the stuff you know" along with a full cast of cheerleaders and basketball players? Some might call it hell, but the High School Musical Pep Rally at Disney/MGM Studios had Cosmo Girl (as well as Cosmo Mom and Dad, I'm not ashamed to admit) bopping all the way to the top.
- Hoop De Doo! My third time seeing the show, and it never gets old. The unlimited sangria is helpful but not necessary.
The Sue Hawk Memorial Prize this season goes to Harvard Law grad Alex Angarita, who, it turns out, apparently was trained by half of the lawyers I've had opposing me in my career. Yelling, refusing to let the other person talk, being unable to anticipate the answer that obviously was going to be given because it differed from Alex's unconsidered opinion of what the answer should have been, getting visibly upset by that answer, and then giving a pissy speech that had literally no content -- that's bad. But the kicker was the smug smile that suggested that he thought, contrary to all reason and sense, that as long as his voice filled the darkness, he somehow must have won the point. People of the Internets -- Alex Angarita is a bad lawyer. If you hire him, you will regret it.
- Bionic Woman does not get the 10 PM Monday slot, as was originally suspected, which instead goes to Journeyman, which sounds like The Time-Traveler's Wife crossed with a CBS procedural.
- Heroes gets a spinoff--Heroes: Origins, which apparently will be six "single character" episodes, with voting on who will join the regular cast for Season 3--to fill gaps in the schedule.
- Chuck, which sounds like a strange combination of Get Smart and Jake 2.0, gets on the schedule on Tuesdays.
- Thursdays get a slight shuffle, with The Office and 30 Rock switching timeslots (thank God for the dual tuner TiVo, folks), and ER staying put.
- Friday Night Lights gets moved to Fridays at 10, which has the plus of allowing more mature themes, but the minus of killing family viewing of the show.
For a network that has a lot of schedule problems, sure seems like they didn't take a whole lot of risks.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Obvs, Song of the South has been reduced to the narrative inside Splash Mountain, only without Uncle Remus, and Captain EO is no longer with us. No evidence of the 101 Dalmatians, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Lady and the Tramp characters either, from what I could tell.
But we ran into the Mad Hatter. Go figure. And Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, Donald, Goofy and Pluto are all still at the core of the place, even if they only exist on the level of iconography these days -- and not in any kind of narrative universe, as far as kids know.
If I could make a prediction, the next few years are going to see even more Capt. Jack Sparrow and Pirates stuff than there is now -- it's the one character on whom they've clearly got the boys hooked. I have to assume some kind of "Dinner with Captain Jack and the Crew" is forthcoming...