Saturday, May 19, 2007 - How long can 'The Simpsons' go?

MAGGIE IS WALKING BY HERSELF, LISA GOT STRAIGHT A'S, AND BART . . . WELL, WE LOVE BART: After reaching 400 episodes on Sunday, is there any limit to how long "The Simpsons" might air? Variety says no.

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.]
STILL LOOKING FOR A REALTOR WHO CAN SELL US A COTTAGE IN STARS HOLLOW: I finally got around to watching the Gilmore Girls finale tonight, and I will unabashedly admit that the tears were plentiful. Although the basic concept is a little dubious -- Rory's been away at Yale for four years, and yet her "departure" was treated as though she hadn't left Stars Hollow for more than 10 minutes at a time since 1986 -- the execution was handled quite beautifully.

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.
ANOTHER MEANING OF "BSG": This marks the ten-year anniversary of Bill Simmons' sports column. I would have to say that he is among the most consistently entertaining writers on the planet.

Friday, May 18, 2007

HALF MAN, HALF ANIMAL, ALL MANIMAL: The fine folks at Best Week Ever offer a list of the 10 Greatest Completely Insane Television Shows Of All Time. Of course, they manage to omit The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, everyone's favorite "drunk Lincoln" sitcom. I'm sure there are others you can come up with--do so.

Law Blog - : A Campaign to Change "Attorneys General" to "Attorney Generals"

WHOPPERS JUNIOR: The WSJ Law Blog is leading a campaign to change the plural of "attorney general" from "attorneys general" to something ludicrously wrong. In the Comments, pledge your support for holding the line and resisting this silly change.
MY SALARY IS PAID IN STANLEY NICKELS: There is clearly demand for an Office thread, and we oblige where we can. Discuss inappropriate plastic surgery, visits to gastropubs, breakups, get-togethers, and, yes, Creed Thoughts, below.
SPANISH FLEA: Turns out that boys who are 2 3/4 years old haven't a trace of irony. Mrs. Earthling was out with the girls and the Little Earthling and I ran around the house all night with Herb Alpert blazing away in the background. He loved it. Me, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'M FREE, DAMMIT: Well. That was rather bleak, wasn't it? With no exceptions that I can think of offhand (except for maybe Sloan, but he doesn't exactly have arcs), the Grey's Anatomy season finale pretty much rebooted every single character without rebooting the show itself. All while leaving the door wide open to eliminate a character or two over the summer should negotiations or the impact of public and/or network opinion so require. Nicely, nicely done.

Edited to add: And, as always, one can go here to read Shonda's take on it all.
FINAL ANSWER? As I learned today, YouTube does, in fact, contain everything, including a video that many readers of this site have previously seen, but that those who have not may well be interested in. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)
CLAP FOR THE WOLFMAN? Philadelphia radio station WXPN has a regular feature called "5 at 5:00" in which the station plays five songs organized around a particular theme at 5:00 PM. Often but not always, the theme is taken from an event in the current news.

Yesterday, the theme was the pending resignation of Paul Wolfowitz. The station played these songs:

  1. Will The Wolf Survive? -- Los Lobos
  2. Girlfriend Is Better -- Talking Heads
  3. Espresso Love -- Dire Straits
  4. Scooby Snacks -- Fun Lovin' Criminals
  5. Resignation Superman -- Big Head Todd & the Monsters

Ironically enough, the next song the station played was Good Excuse by the John Butler Trio.

I have to believe that we can come up with a better list of songs than that!

#6: THE TIME I READ HIGH FIDELITY AND IT MADE ME WANT TO ORGANIZE MY FLASHBACKS BASED ON LISTS*: That's a gold-medal performance by Lost, I think. Decent marks for execution, and off-the-charts marks for degree of difficulty -- who possibly thought we could care about an episode with the twin whammies of (a) no new information in the flashback; and (b) hobbit-centrism. But they pulled it off, in part by replacing Charlie's whining and druggy petulance with cajones and maturity.

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.

*Post title by Adam.
OH COME ON, LET'S CRASH THE PARTY -- EL DORADO ON THE LAWN: One of the things I love about LA is the frequent contact with Z-list celebrities. While Spacewoman has had good, legitimate sightings -- bantering with Jeremy Piven about whether to steal everything in J. Crew when there were no salespeople around, for example -- mine tend to be people who would draw a "who?" from your average man on the street. And yet, given my tastes, I'm abnormally proud of my last two: first, sharing a plane from Boston to LA with OK Go (who were all on coach standby and who lugged their own equipment from baggage claim), and second, comisserating in a nonmoving line about Best Buy/Geek Squad's we-do-not-answer-phones policy (it's an actual policy!) with Real World/Surreal Life uberslut Trishelle Cannatella. I kind of feel bad about that last description, because she was nice and friendly. So let's just call her Real World/Surreal Life uberfriendly Trishelle, and you can draw your own conclusions.
OUR NEXT TOP NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER: Adam said I'd have some more to say, and I do. I'm going to spoil, so for the tiny demographic who tapes ANTM but doesn't watch it right away, stop reading and do your homework. Anyway, I said early in this season -- excuse me, cycle -- that I wasn't going to watch ANTM in protest of the pulchritude-free direction Tyra chose to take it. I didn't exactly keep that promise -- I missed a couple of episodes and watched only parts of others, but I generally knew who was sticking around. Then, in an Idol thread a few weeks back, I mentioned that all of the cameos were really putting the lie to this season's contestants. It's one thing to be outdone by Carridee's "my sham life as a spokesmodel" segments, since Carridee is actually both pretty and hot. It's another thing entirely when your current contestants make also-rans like Melrose and April, who were competent but medicore in their own seasons, look like Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima. And it's yet another other thing when Nicole Freaking Richie is the most luminous beauty at a party attended by all your wannabes.

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?
SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE THAN BURNING ONE'S FOOT ON A GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL: Jenna Fischer, out celebrating the renewal of The Office (and based on her MySpace blog and her bf-4-ever status with Angela Martin, I believe that "celebrate" in this context has absolutely nothing to do with that verb as applied to most celebrities), slipped while leaving the restaurant and fractured four bones in her back. Yeesh. Get well, Pam.
SAMIR PATEL WATCH: Deadspin is reporting that ESPN talkers Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg will anchor ABC's primetime coverage of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. (Why not Wilbon & Kornheiser, if you're going that route?)

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.

CBS 2007 Fall Preview

PARENTS OF AMERICA, YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN YOUR KIDS DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS: Okay, based on the video preview at the bottom of this page, CBS's "Kid Nation" reality show could be totally awesome. Forty kids, one town, no adults in a Survivor without eliminations.

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

STOKE ME, STOKE ME or THE UNTENABLE FIREPLACE: If you're like me, you came away from this article about a squabble between the occupants of an Upper West Side co-op, a squabble that is newsworthy in the fact that among the building's tenants are Bono, Steven Spielberg, Steve Martin, and 95-year-old Mitch Miller of "Sing Along With..." fame, impressed with the fact that rocker Billy Squier, another resident, despite last having a hit record in 1984, was shrewd enough to not completely squander his money. - Campaign Song Poll

NEVER BEFORE AND NEVER SINCE, I PROMISE: Picking up on a post of Matt's from January, the Hillary Clinton for President campaign needs your help picking a rockin' theme song and is running a poll, with options including U2's "Beautiful Day" and "City of Blinding Lights", KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" and Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now" which, if nothing else, just reminds me of the last time we elected a Clinton president. Of the nine songs nominated, five are by non-American artists, for what it's worth.

Me? I still like PJ's suggestion of "Enter Sandman".
I WILL ONLY. CALL. ONE. NAME: I imagine Isaac will have more to say on this once he's seen it, but those who've already seen the Top Model finale want to talk, I imagine.
AMERICA VOTED: They sure did.
SERIOUSLY, THIS IS AMERICA'S MOST WATCHED NETWORK? There's very little of interest on CBS's new fall schedule, which doesn't change a whole lot on a network that does very well even though no one seems to ever talk about its most successful shows, at least around here. A few scheduling notes worthy of attention:
  • 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

JUST THEIR LUCK: Not only has Lindsay Lohan secured the prestigious top spot today in the Maxim 100, but from our bureau across the pond we've learned that boy band McFly has scored yet another No. 1 single on the UK charts. Hell, Chris Pine is even getting good notices in his role in Neil LaBute's "Fat Pig" in L.A.
HEH. SHE SAID "NUTBUSH": See, I don't think they've had a song-and-dance performer as talented as Beatbox Blake before -- he's like everything Justin Guarini tried to be, only talented. His performance of Thicke's "When I Get You Alone" was better than Thicke's own performance last week, and he did his Maroon 5 thing quite nicely. And yet I can't advocate voting him into the finals, because his singing's just not up there with his performing. His "Roxanne" was weak, poorly interpreted and gimmicky. [Still, they have to get Sir Mix-A-Lot to the Kodak Theater for next Wednesday's finale to complete that duet.]

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.
TRADER BOB, MEET DIRTY SANCHEZ: Inspired by a re-read of the comments to Adam's The Price is Right post, I pose the following dichotomy: Price is Right game or deviant (apocryphal) sexual practice?
  • Barker's Bargain Bar
  • Bismarck
  • Blumpkin
  • Bonkers
  • Bullseye
  • Cleveland Steamer
  • Double Digits
  • Donkey Punch
  • Fisheye
  • 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
  • Plinko
  • Punch-a-Bunch
  • Push Over
  • Secret X
  • Stack the Deck
  • Swap Meet
  • That's Too Much
  • Tossed Salad
Not as easy as you thought, huh?

Yes, I am a 14-year old boy.

MAYBE WE'LL GET TO MEET THE AWESOME'S CHILDREN: The good news? Reports from several sources confirm that the production team behind HIMYM got the call today, and they'll be returning on Mondays at 8 in the fall. The bad news? Not only will One Tree Hill be back, reports indicate Veronica Mars is a goner.
IF YOU LIKED THE +5/+10 FLAMESWORD OF GROTHMAUG, YOU'LL LOVE NEW CHORIZOS EXTRA HOT CHORIZO SAUSAGE SNACK CHIPS: There have been reports that Google has filed a patent covering a scheme to target ads to video gamers based on in-game behavior. No, I haven't found a link to the actual application. Yes, I am too busy (lazy) to dig it up.

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.

Via Slashdot.
THE ALLOT5MA CODE OF ETHICS: The WSJ's report on how TV networks are trying to court bloggers with swag isn't exactly surprising. However, it does require us to state that we are open to receiving swag of any sort, but that simply providing us with basic swag does not necessarily guarantee coverage (much less positive coverage). In order to guarantee positive coverage, we require really good swag. Stress balls and invitations to dinners with mediocre banquet food ain't gonna cut it. You've got swag you want to give to us? Address is on the left.

Candy Addict » Classic Tootsie Pop Commercial Gets a Makeover

HOW MANY MARKETERS DOES IT TAKE TO BASTARDIZE A CLASSIC COMMERCIAL? One? Two? Three? The world may never know, but it can see the results here.
AMERICA'S 12TH MOST WATCHED AWARDS SHOW: Tony nominations are out, and unsurprisingly, they're dominated by Spring Awakening, Coast of Utopia, and Grey Gardens. A few things of note:
  • 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.
AMERICA'S BROADCASTING COMPANY: The gutsiest move on ABC's fall schedule? A Wednesday without a single returning program, anchored at 9 by Private Practice. The most gutless move? Not even attempting to play against CSI: Miami--instead, we get The Bachelor there. The Vartan/Malina/McDermott/Titus Big Shots gets the coveted slot after Grey's (somewhat surprisingly, given that it would seem to be a male skew), and even though it's all new, Wednesday looks interesting. Also of note--only one hour of sitcoms (though hourlong Sam I Am is listed as a "comedy") on the entire schedule, and all the horrid ABC sitcoms (According to Jim, George Lopez) that seemed to never die are gone.

Did you see that? -

A BLOODY GLOVE, A WAGON FULL OF FAT, AND MILES DRENTELL: As part of the paper's 25th anniversary celebration, USA Today's Robert Bianco lists the 25 biggest tv moments and shows of the past 25 years.

Monday, May 14, 2007

DUDE, YOUR WIFE IS THROWING UP IN THE TRASH: As HIMYM ended its season tonight (with an ending that surprised pretty much no one), we're greeted with the happy news that it "is expected to return," especially since CBS is only ordering one comedy (apparently to replace the departing King of Queens). Cane, a/k/a "Dallas, except in Miami, and with rum instead of oil," leads the pickup list, and Laughlin, an Americanized version of BBC musical drama Viva Blackpool, gets a somewhat surprising pickup, though the fact that Rob Thomas has allegedly already been offered the showrunner job piques my interest, even if it means Veronica Mars is likely toast.

Bob Barker - TV- Column - New York Times

PLINKO? OVERRATED: This week, CBS celebrates Bob Barker's impending retirement with two hours of primetime specials. The Times profiles Barker on Tuesday, noting that he broke (by five years!) Johnny Carson's record for the longest time spent hosting the same network show. (Ryan Seacrest, who's the only contender I can think of, still has about 30 years to go.)

Okay, gang, favorite Pricing Game? Without a doubt, mine's Cliff Hangers.
NOTHING'S SMELLING LIKE A ROSE, BUT I DON'T CARE: Because I'm going to the TMBG Album Release Show at Joe's Pub on Wednesday. There's a nice report at that link from everyone's favorite Daily Show / PC / Hobo-related entertainer, John Hodgman (the YouTube vid). | `Battle Dance' Turns Deadly

KIDS, WHEN THEY SERVE YOU, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SERVE IT BACK. BECAUSE, THEN, IT'S ON: Via the Hartford Courant, a dance battle turned deadly in New Britain:
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.

"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. . . .
Getting served: it's dangerous even when Leopold "Butters" Stotch isn't around.
THIS FEELING'S LIKE NO OTHER: Because we know that this is the blog of choice for parents of four year olds planning their Disney World vacations, here's my own smidge of insight.
  • 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.
ANGARITA MANAGEMENT: Another extremely strong Survivor episode and gratifying finale, this time long, long after a lot of us (me) resigned ourselves to the thought that the show would never again be anything but predictable, boring, and marginally more interesting than watching nothing at all. For the second time this season, we had a tribal council where the producers and editors somehow turned a tribal council in which there was absolutely no doubt about what was going to happen into a nail-biting, emotionally resonant scene. And once again, we got that most reliable of all Survivor traditions -- the one where the jurors, given an opportunity to ask one question of the finalists, proudly build little altars to their vanity and self-pity without for a moment realizing how idiotic and childish they look.

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.
MUST SEE TV? We have an NBC fall schedule. A few things of note:
  • 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.

I WANT A GIRL WITH THE RIGHT COMBINATION: Waitress is almost as good as the reviews say it is, even if at times it feels more like a TV pilot than a feature film, relies a bit too much on cliche and coincidence at times, and manages to both have too many endings and have the ending come kind of suddenly. What it did get me to do immediately, though, is download Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," which is used as underscore for a scene in which Keri Russell's Jenna, happy for the first time in years, struts through the diner where she works with a smile on her face. This leads us to the music video, in which people unfamiliar with Cake are filmed listening to the song for the first time and giving their opinions, which is well worth a few minutes of your time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

IT'S A CHANGING WORLD, AFTER ALL: There's a lot for me to say after this Disney World trip, but the thing that's sticking with me right now that's most relevant to this blog is the way in which the theme park is in (perhaps constant) transition. Right now, the Princesses are clearly ascendant, but not all of them -- Pocahontas and Mulan don't seem to exist anymore, while Mary Poppins (presumably because of the Broadway show) is way more present than you'd expect.

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...
KENNEDY AND HEIDI: There's no way to discuss tonight's Sopranos episode in anything but a completely superficial way (Tony knows the good restaurants) without turning into Spoilerfest. By popular request, let's talk.

e.t.a.: Sepinwall: "It's not Vegas. It's Hell."
HIS NAME IS MY NAME TOO: The Social Security Administration released the Top 2006 baby names on Friday. For the fourth year in a row, Jacob and Emily topped the list, at 1.13% and 1.02% respectively.
CHUNG-CHUNG: Calming the fears of many an NYC actor, all three Law & Order shows will return come fall. Criminal Intent will move to cable on USA, while the other two will remain on NBC. L&O: Mothership is now two seasons away from tying and three seasons away from breaking the Gunsmoke record for longest-running prime-time program. No word on cast changes for any of the shows, though you have to expect that Criminal Intent will either be Goren or Logan, and no longer alternate weeks, and that Mothership will lose at least Fred Thompson. (NBC goes first at upfronts with a schedule announcement tomorrow.)