Saturday, December 18, 2004

AS HOSTED BY PAST WINNERS MIRA SORVINO AND NATE NEWTON: The following 2004 ALOTT5MA Awards were handed out in ceremonies prior to broadcast:

Saddest Celebrity Death: Spalding Gray

Best-Orchestrated Celebrity Comeback: Prince

Favorite Recurring Joke On 'Pardon The Interruption': Trampoline Bear

Least Favorite Recurring Joke On 'Pardon The Interruption': Beano Cook.

Reality TV Competitor of the Year: Rob Mariano, Survivor All-Stars

The and then nothing turned itself inside-out Award for Indulgent, Non-Essential Television Programming: VH-1's Best Week Ever

Television Program That Most Ought To Hire Several of the Bloggers Here: VH-1's Best Week Ever

Saddest Involuntary Departure from the Blogosphere: The late Doug Pappas, who'd be having a field day analyzing the Washington Nationals situation right now.

Saddest Voluntary Departure from the Blogosphere: Alex Balk, The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

Best LawProf Addition to the Blogosphere: Ann Althouse

Best Question That No One Is Quite Ready To Ask Yet: Is Nancy Reagan dating again?

Reality TV Host of the Year: Tyra Banks is, again, a runner-up (too much Tyra's Mom!), Phil Keoghan gets enough praise, and Jeff Probst, apparently, is getting all that he needs right now.

So, this year, we single out Ralph Garman of SpikeTV's Joe Schmo 2, who, in the role of Last Chance for Love host Derek Newcastle, had to manage a fake British accent, two duped competitors, a major scenario shift and a wayward trained falcon, and did it all with great class, style, humor, and, given all the nonsense, the straightest face possible.

Congratulations to all the winners and their families. Complaints can be registered at the usual location.
ON THE COVER OF THE MAGAZINE: Before handing out my next ALOTT5MA Award, gotta recognize the winner in the last category. I'm overruling the popular vote winner in the Most Overexposed Female "Celebrity" category (Paris Hilton) and give it Toni Bentley. As Kingsley put it in the comments:
The woman wrote an entire book about how much she enjoys getting, as the South Park kids might say, F'ed in the A, and how transformative it is to render oneself a nullity, blah blah blah, and that kind of conscious self-exploitation deserves credit.

I agree in toto, and Ms. Bentley can contact us to pick up her trophy.

Turning to our next category, this week's EW does not contain Lohanboobies on the cover, but it's nonetheless time to give some awards out to one of this blog's favorite magazines. The Best New Feature In EW is hard to give out, because the magazine hasn't introduced a whole lot of good new features this year, but one stands out--What Would Have Happened. This sidebar feature in the TV section asks creators of late lamented cult classics how the shows would have turned out. They've covered shows like "John Doe," "Popular," and "Cupid." It's a clever idea with a good, solid series of show selections. The only other real contender I can think of is the now-regular appearance of Great American Pop Culture Quiz.

Unfortunately, where there is a best, there must also be a Worst New Feature in EW, and the fact that it takes the place of Pop Culture Quiz is just strike one against The Pop of King, perhaps the worst new column of this year. Stephen King's rambles about "why aren't there any good movies anymore?," "why don't I get any respect?," and "I loved this pop cultural thing!," give a unique combination of being utterly self-aggrandizing and boring.

One last note on this week's EW--is it just me, or does the picture of ALOTT5MAA nominee Tara Reid on page 60 look creepily like fired "Apprentice" candidate Jen Massey?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

EVERY VOTE COUNTS: Some ALOTT5MA Award categories are easy for us to resolve on our own. Some aren't, and such is the case with the 2004 award for Best Daily Show Moment. I'll just share my nominee, and then, please, suggest your own in the comments.

Let's take you back to Wednesday, July 28, 2004, in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. Late during the headlines, and I'm paraphrasing here, we saw the following during the first segment:

[Stewart:] Of course, the highlight of last night's convention speeches was the keynote address by Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who inspired the crowd when he said the following about the American dream:

[Obama Video:] It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

[Stewart:] Well, that skinny kid with a funny name happens to be with here with us tonight. [dramatic pause] Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Doodle von Taintstain!

[Out walks a talk, skinny white guy, probably an intern on the show. Applause, laughter.]

[Stewart:] Actually, I understand that his family's name was originally pronounced "von tahnt-steen". We'll be back.

I look forward to seeing everyone else's nominees.
HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISMUKKAH: I'm slightly ahead of the fine folks over at Low Culture, who claim to never have watched an episode of "The O.C.," having watched a sum total of one episode (last season's finale), but even I am aware of how "Chrismukkah" is sweeping the nation. And that leads me to a question I pose to you: which artifically-created TV holiday is better--Chrismukkah or Festivus?

Chrismukkah: Born (at least arguably) from "The O.C."
Festivus: Born from "Seinfeld."
Edge: Festivus

Chrismukkah: Features the "Yarmulclaus"
Festivus: Features the metal pole of Festivus.
Edge: Chrismukkah

Chrismukkah: Features Mischa Barton's inability to act.
Festivus: Features Jerry Stiller screaming.
Edge: Even

Chrismukkah: Features beautiful people punching each other.
Festivus: Features the "feats of strength."
Edge: Festivus, because it's not over till you pin him.

Chrismukkah: Wide-ranging merchandising
Festivus: Was a Ben & Jerry's flavor
Edge: Chrismukkah. (Were it a summer holiday, maybe Festivus would have a shot.)

Chrismukkah: "Oy! Humbug!"
Festivus: "I've got some problems with you!"
Edge: Chrismukkah.

Chrismukkah: 59,600 Google hits
Festivus: 113,000 Google hits
Edge: Festivus

I think that gives the slight edge to Festivus, but I'm open to discussions. (Thanks to this transcript of last season's O.C. Chrismukkah episode for much of the information I rely on.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

MORE THAN A MOUTHFUL: This is not been the easiest year to award the ALOTT5MA for Most Difficult Challenge In A Reality Competition, because of the existence of so many worthy nominees. In a year that saw Survivor All-Star's one-on-one logrolling competition, Survivor Vanuatu's hang-on-a-totem-pole and hold-the-bow-and-arrow endurance tests (see this remarkably comprehensive chart of all past Survivor challenges for more), TAR5's final episode race up a Phillipine cliff, ANTM3's do-a-commercial-in-transliterated-Japanese and The Benefactor's Elimination Jenga, winning this one was going to be tough.

But we do have a winner, and I don't think anyone who saw this challenge would contest its difficulty, or its entertainment value. The Amazing Race 5. Episode Four. Pushkin, Russia. One kilogram of caviar. And the bodies started dropping. Never before have so many tv viewers learned so much about the need to replenish electrolytes so quickly.

Great challenge. Great television. ALOTT5MA winner. Tell me I'm wrong.
LATE BREAKING COMPETITOR: It may still wind up behind Scott Peterson in the Foregone Conclusion of the Year sweepstakes, but the fine New York City medical examiner has revealed that ODB overdosed on a mixture of "cocaine and a prescription pain killer."

Also, to clarify, as far as I know, the "Cherry Jones" who is ODB's mother, is not the same as noted stage and film actress Cherry Jones, the Soderbergh/Shaymalan regular whose performance in the massively underrated "Cradle Will Rock" should have been award nominated.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

THIS IS A RACE. THIS ISN'T ABOUT COMPASSION: It's interesting the things you learn in a leg of The Amazing Race. Like that there are things worse than racism and the white woman's burden -- namely, Jonathan, as the gulf between his behavior and simple human decency has widened to epic proportions. Like that watching sausage being made isn't that interesting after all. Like that Gus enjoys his beer, and we continue to enjoy us some Gus McLeod. Like that Germany still has an active soap box derby circuit.

But mostly, that our hatred of Jonathan knows no bounds, and that Phil Keoghan rules. You?
THE AMBIGUOUSLY GAY NEWSPAPER: The Chicago Tribune began a new ad campaign this week designed by TV Funhouse's J.J. Sedelmaier. You can see the first TV spot, which advertises the paper as a marital aid, but cautions against its use as birth control, here, or download the print ads here, including this one, which seems to imply that non-Trib readers are so dumb they wipe their asses with money. No word on whether Ace and Gary will star in future spots.
"SO DON'T WORRY IF YOU WERE A COMPLETE MORON UP TILL NOW:" TAR5 Racers Colin & Christie share their thoughts on TAR6 so far here (unsurprisingly, via TV Tattle). Among their thoughts? Team Hellboy is "not 'America's Sweethearts.'" Christie claims that those seeing similarities between Jonathan and "my beloved Colin are sadly falling into the trap of creative editing." Colin unloads on the "stupid 'luck' challenge" with the hay bales as well as bunching generally, and demonstrates a superficial understanding of probability. There's also a decided undercurrent of bitterness, such as Christie's suggestion that Gus and Hera can win if they "learn from Chip & Kim, and latch onto" stronger teams. In the words of Phil himself--"Who wil be" Thread's open for all pre-show discussion.

Monday, December 13, 2004

NO HE DI'INT! The companion piece to the ALOTT5MA for Foregone Conclusion of the Year is, of course, the award for the WTF?!? Moment of the Year, given to that instance -- whether in fact or fiction -- that most caused Americans to pick up their phones, call their friends and say, "Hey! I didn't just see that, did I?"

Certainly, the nominees this year were legion. Janet Jackson was the presumptive favorite, of course. Soon, the Dean Scream followed, and other events like the Red Sox comeback, Rick James' passing, Howard Stern leaving broadcast radio and "Hey Ya!" not winning the Grammy for Record of the Year tried and failed to raise the shock-meter. Even in the world of fiction, learning that The Village was really set in a hamlet and seeing Aleksandr slap Carrie wasn't going to top Janet's escapade.

But then something did, on the night of May 2, 2004. If you were watching The Sopranos ("Unidentified Black Males") that night, you remember where you were when Meadow's boyfriend, Finn DeTrolio, stumbled on the construction site in the wee small hours of the morning only to find Vito "Wide Guy" Spatafore in a nearby pickup truck in a way we've never seen him before. And a nation of millions rewound their TiVos and watched it again. And again.

(previous winners in this category include OJ Simpson's Bronco chase; Dr. Kimberly Mancini pulls off the wig; the Pine Tar game; "Wu Tang Is For The Children"; and the death of Dana Plato.)

What did I forget?
FOREGONE CONCLUSION OF THE YEAR: Apologies to the annual Pagonging of the doofuses, to the east- and south-biased BCS's annual screwing of a west coast team, and to the fact that at 3:00 on a sunny day my west-facing office will be 95 degrees. This year's Isaac-sponsored ALOTT5MA Foregone Conclusion of the Year was ratified today, when the jury recommended the death penalty for Scott Peterson.

Leaving aside the circumstantial evidence of guilt and lack of remorse so clear that it became sort of an E! News Extra primer on "Anatomy of a Case," this one was in the books before it started. The rule is simple. If you have no personal stake and you've heard about the case, the jury will vote for the death penalty. It is a near-scientific certainty that if you have been identified on the cover of Us Magazine as a capital defendant, you should feel free to take up smoking and fatty foods. There are two decent explanations for this. First, protestations to the contrary aside, juries may be affected by the media coverage or by people who have been affected by the media coverage. Second, the things that make a case sexy to the media are the same things that make it revolting to a jury.

I can think of only two occasionally successful exceptions to this rule: (1) you had a co-defendant worse than you are (Nichols; Malvo); or (2) you got a jury to hang the first time (Menendez brothers). Corollary to (2): Juries generally don't give the death penalty while acquitting (Simpson).

Anything I'm missing?

BAD DIRECTIONS: Shyamalan, Stone, Spielberg, Sayles...Newsweek's David Ansen isn't too fond of this year's films from big name directors whose surnames begins with S, though to be fair, Lars Von Trier and Jean-Pierre Jeunet take it on the nose, too, in his Ten Worst Movies of 2004. Ansen's ten best are here, and just my luck, I've seen two on the worst list and none on the best list, though let the record show that I didn't have to pay for a baby sitter the night I saw The Village and we took the kids to Sky Captain.

Also, just got the EW with Lohanboobies on the cover, and I should note that they, too, are jumping on the Modest Mouse bandwagon, naming it their the CD of the year (or at least the Listen 2 This insert's CD of the year). Just get the thing already.
SWEAR TO GOD, I WAS THE NEXT CHOICE: Although it'll still apparently be called "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," Regis Philbin will host this year's big ball drop while "The World's Oldest Teenager"continues to recover from his throat. Regis' cohost will not (thank God!) be the ever-annoying Kelly Ripa, but rather, he'll be "joined" in pre-recorded West Coast bits by hostess Ashlee Simpson. For obvious reasons, I love Regis, but couldn't they have chosen someone a little
THEY'RE SPECIAL: Ladies and gentlemen, you're newest Rock Hall of Fame Inductees--U2, Percy Sledge, The O'Jays, Buddy Guy, and The Pretenders. Sadly there was no posthumous nomination for Dimebag.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

MAKING LEVITY OUT OF INAPPROPRIATE SUBJECTS: I'm fairly certain most of our readers have read of the murder of "Dimebag Darrell," former guitarist for the metal band Pantera. According to some news coverage, his assailant screamed "You broke up Pantera" before beginning to pump bullets into his head. What's next?

Fan storms stage during Scott Stapp concert and nails him to a crucifix, shouting "You broke up Creed!"

Fan storms stage during Trey Anastasio concert, steals his weed, and shouts "You broke up Phish!"

Fan storms stage during Natalie Merchant concert and force-feeds her non-vegan foods, shouting "You broke up 10,000 Maniacs!"

Further "Fan storms stage during (artist) concert and (does ridiculous thing), shouting 'You broke up (artist's former band)!'" jokes are invited in the comments.