Saturday, May 29, 2010

9.0 IP 0 R 0 H 0 BB 11 K; 27 UP, 27 DOWN: Roy! Roy! The hardest working man in baseball did it all tonight. Wow.

(Was there some other sporting event going on?)

Below the fold, video of all twenty-seven outs.
FINALLY CLUBBER LANG WILL AVENGE HIS LOSS TO ROCKY BALBOA: Chicago Blackhawks v. Philadelphia Flyers, Game 1. If you never have given hockey a chance, you really should. Thank you for Ryne Sandberg and a nice dipped Italian Beef with sweet peppers beats a Philly Cheesesteak every time.
DON'T GET CAUGHT WATCHING THE PAINT DRY: Did anyone do crazy/intense on screen better than the late Dennis Hopper? Manohla Dargis penned a fine appreciation last month, and my words feel so inadequate to capture the brilliance of someone who delivered so many memorable performances -- Easy Rider, Blue Velvet, Apocalypse Now, Hoosiers, hell, Speed ... just mentioning each evoke so many strong memories for me of vividly real, hard-lived men functioning in a different reality from the rest of us. We're talking about an actor so compelling in his craziness that when he described Kevin Costner in Waterworld as being "like a turd that won't flush," you bought his anger even though he was evoking this metaphor in a world without running water and, hence, no flushing.

[Via the first link. Among his many marriages, Hopper was married to Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas for eight days. "Seven of those days were pretty good," Hopper said. "The eighth day was the bad one."]

Below the fold, the man at work with Christopher Walken in True Romance. Decidedly NFSW, but so worth it. RIP to a true American original, whom Roger Ebert and Matt Zoller Seitz places in proper context with text and video:

CONTINUING OUR ROUND THE CLOCK COVERAGE OF GARY COLEMAN'S DEATH: The Avenue Q creative team reacts to the Coleman's passing by wielding a scalpel and not a axe.

Friday, May 28, 2010


ETA: He's hardly alone. Buzzfeed has a great roundup to the critical reaction to "Lawrence of My Labia."
CHOOSE CAREFULLY: A quick poll, because I want to take the nation's temperature on this. Matt Costa: endearingly understated indie folkster or insufferably saccharine cheeseball?
AS FAR AS YOU CAN TELL A HOUSE BECOMES HOTEL WHEN YOU MAKE IT WHAT YOU WANT TO: Since we're already degenerating into Lost-level minutiae about Diff'rent Strokes, here's something I was thinking about this afternoon.

I believe, but could be convinced otherwise, that Diff'rent Strokes was the first show to assemble the complete version of the paradigmatic family sit-com main set. Slightly raised main entrance at house right, door to the rest of the house at house left, stairway upstage (running from house right at the bottom to house left at the top), couch downstage. Off the top of my head, after Diff'rent Strokes this was the layout for Cosby, Charles in Charge, Married With Children, and Modern Family (I have a vague recollection that it was the setup for Eight Is Enough as well). I'm into deep memory here, but I think that this set design builds on the All in the Family prototype, which is the same except that the couch is a pair of recliners/chairs sharing a table.

Am I wrong?
  • NYT: “What’choo talkin ’bout, Willis?”
  • WaPo: "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
  • Reuters: "What you talkin' 'bout Willis?"
  • Time: "Whatchootalkin’bout, Willis?
  • AP: "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?"
  • Gather: "Whatcha talkin bout Willis?"
  • CSM: "Whatcha' talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
  • Access Hollywood: “Wat’choo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”
  • The Sun (UK): "What choo talkin' 'bout Willis?"
Willis talks about it here. As Isaac noted to me via email, it's an especially interesting question given that this was a show which was deliberately called Diff'rent Strokes and not Different Strokes.
"I'VE NEVER SEEN A BLACK GOLDFISH BEFORE." "THAT'S OKAY, HE NEVER SAW A RICH WHITE MAN EITHER.": Gary Coleman had a brief moment atop the world as a child and adolescent, followed by an entire adulthood as a high-profile butt of jokes, usually mean-spirited ones (I'm sure I'm as guilty as many on that point). I'm sorry to say that he's now on life support after a brain hemorrhage resulting from a fall earlier this week.

Added: I'm sorry to say that there is no happy ending to this story -- Coleman died today.
ARCHIE PANJABI ARCHIE PANJABI ARCHIE PANJABI: Aside from Lost, Idol and all the shows we cover on a regular basis, a lot of shows we don't normally discuss have also concluded their runs of late.

I know we're planning on doing season-ending grades for some of them in the coming days (Matt has a thing for Castle and USA hour-longs; I have a thing for the subject of this post as well as the rest of her CBS show, The Intriguing Investigator Who Works At That Law Firm With Nurse Hathway), but today feels like a good day to open up the floor and let y'all talk about the other shows that you've been loving this season, and for which the rest of us ought to do some catching-up during the summer.
PROGRAMMING REMINDER: Next week, for the eighth consecutive year, is Bee Week on the blog. Our National finalist veterans Raf and Heather will be back, and hells yes Shonda will be back next week.

You know who else is back? Olathe's Vanya Shivashankar (do watch the video at the link), albeit as a competitor for the first time. Hannah Evans, now a two-timer after her brother Matthew's five-time run. Tim Ruiter, a 2009 rookie who came from seemingly nowhere to finish second last year, along with 2009 prime-timers Neetu Chandak and Anamika Veeramani. And 268 more kids that we'll be Googling (public news sources only -- their Facebook pages are their own business) and otherwise learning about as we wait for 272 of them to misspell words and one to emerge victorious.

For those who haven't been here before during a Bee Week, you're in for a treat. Site veterans know what's in store, and we look forward to this celebration of geekery again.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MAYBE THIS TIME, THE RAMBALDI STUFF WILL MAKE SENSE: E! indicates that ABC is interested in rebooting Alias. The original pilot of Alias remains one of the best pilots in recent memory, with its great musical selections, immense visual style, and authentically surprising plot twist at the end about SpyDaddy's allegiances, and I don't know if there's a reason to revisit it. That said, if they're going to do so, any thoughts on casting you'd like to see? Summer Glau is a maybe too-obvious choice for Sydney Bristow, but she'd work (as would fellow Whedon alum Dichen Lachman)--any other thoughts of how to cast this or make it work?
AN END TO PREMORSE: Following up on TPE's post on the timely passing of Art Linkletter, this day before the extended Memorial Day weekend is perhaps most appropriate to answer conclusively the question of who is the most surprisingly alive person today?

And by "surprisingly alive," I don't mean folks like Courtney Love, Keith Richards or Andy Dick whose lifestyles would seem to stand in opposition to sustained living, but rather those people whom you've forgotten about and just assumed had passed away years ago. Like Ark Linkletter. Or, per this helpful resource, Dolores Hope, now a centenarian like her late husband Bob (and tomorrow, 101 years old), or former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (94), whom I had just assumed had gone to the final peace conference in the sky at some point.

Even more intriguing -- and I don't know how to balance out this factor -- are folks who aren't quite as super-old, but I still assumed they were dead. Like Jake LaMotta, Esther Williams and Monty Hall -- all still alive at 88. Give us some more ideas.

From the archives: 9-29-06: "Whose obituary is, at present, the most stale? By which I mean -- the person's obituary was pre-written a long time ago; the subject remains alive; and there hasn't been anything new in the person's life for years which would require an update of the obituary," for which I still think the answer is Deanna Durbin.
NO, THE FATHER IS NOT JOSH LYMAN: Courtesy of Joshua Malina's Twitter (and a Variety report, which I would have missed were it not for his Tweet), there's a good reason we haven't seen Janel Moloney (better known to us as Donna Moss and Monica Brazleton) in anything since her appearance on 30 Rock in the high school reunion episode--she's the mother of Julian Francis Zarvos, who's almost 4 months old. Mazel tov to her and given that she's apparently an NYC resident, can Sorkin's next show please shoot in NYC?
DO YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO MAKE HIM CHANGE? Willie Nelson has finally gone and cut his hair. (Picture at link, more here.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I THINK AS PART OF THE DEAL, WE SHOULD INSIST ON BRINGING THIS GUY OVER AS A JUDGE: As Bill Carter reported, that's what Fox executive Sandy Grushow said to his colleagues during the 2002 negotiations to buy the U.S. rights to Britain's Pop Idol -- and "this guy," whose name he could not remember, was Simon Cowell.

Tonight marks not only the end of the ninth season of American Idol but also the end of Simon Cowell's tenure on the show, and he will be sorely missed. The ethic that Cowell brought to Idol -- and which was carried forward into other reality shows by folks like Tim Gunn, Tom Colicchio and Janice Dickinson -- is that it's okay for judges to judge. Not everyone deserves the you tried really hard, and that had some redeeming qualities response -- good, substantive criticism helps separate the great from the pretty good, and over the years viewers incorporated Cowell's preferences as their own and stopped seeing him as a villain, but rather as a guide. Still, to be sure, the Parade of the Deluded during auditions became a tedious pigeon shoot, and the gay banter and teasing with Seacrest was not entertaining.

But on the whole, what I said in December 2008 when I awarded him the ALOTT5MA Award for Reality TV Host/Judge of the Year remains true, and I don't know that Idol survives beyond 2011 without him. He more than anyone else defined the role of a "judge" in this new tv genre, and the entertainment universe is indebted to him for that.

This is an open thread for discussion of tonight's grand finale. Enjoy.
DEAD PEOPLE SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS: In another edition of our premorse report, I regret to inform you that Art Linkletter was not already dead when he died yesterday at the age of 97. He was married for almost 75 years, which is just awesome, but seriously, how was this guy still alive long enough to be dead only now?
HE'S EVIL TRACY? OH, HE'S EVIL COMMA TRACY. GO ON: Some people have called this a down year for 30 Rock, though I question whether it's a down year or we're just becoming overly accustomed to the show's pace, cadences, and characters.* However you feel about the season as a whole, though, I certainly hope you were looking forward to this year's installment of Everything Tracy Jordan Said, from Unlikely Words, because it's as good as I remember it.

*We've now had the show for four years, and I think the maximum ideal lifespan for a show is five seasons. Go ahead and think of a show other than The Wire or maybe BSG that ran five or more seasons and never had a creative drop-off or an extended period of mediocrity (and The Wire benefited creatively from both the short cable season and at least one extended hiatus). True excellence in a television show depends to some degree on a show's ability either to present us with something new or to present something in a new way. Comedy in particular requires an element of surprise, which must be extraordinarily difficult to maintain for 100-plus episodes without wholesale cast changes.
I ALWAYS DREAMT OF THE DAY COLONEL ANGUS WOULD REST HIS HEAD AT SHADY THICKET: For years, I have complained that the Mark Twain Prize -- sort of a lifetime achievement award for comedic talent presented by the Kennedy Center -- had a serious backlist of worthy recipients to honor before naming folks like Whoopi Goldberg (2001) and Billy Crystal (2007). The last two years have helped rectify things with the long-overdue recognition of George Carlin (2008) and Bill Cosby (2009) with well-deserved national praise for these humorists who changed American culture .

Your 2010 Mark Twain Prize honoree is Tina Fey.

Look: I think Tina Fey is phenomenal -- as a writer, actress, creator, risk-taker, ground-breaker ... she is a remarkable talent.

She's also just forty years old.

Back in 2007, I noted that the following people had yet to be recognized with this honor: David Letterman, Norman Lear, Eddie Murphy, Woody Allen, and Carol Burnett. (Mel Brooks, too, but he did receive a Kennedy Center Honor last year.) Indeed, the only justification I can think of for this is that they realized that a woman hadn't won since 2003 (Lily Tomlin) and Carol Burnett, Diane Keaton, Elaine May and Nora Ephron weren't interested. Too soon, too soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE, LEE, YOU DON'T NEED IT NOW, AND IT'S CALLED "BEING IN TUNE": Because despite Crystal's clear kicking of his ass tonight, Grand Unified Theory of Idol #2 compels the conclusion that he'll win anyway (not so much based on actual improvement but on the judges' insistence that it had occurred). That was a bad "Beautiful Day" and weirdly arranged "Everybody Hurts," and as Fienberg writes:
We haven't had a finale gap this big between performers since The Battle of the Davids. Of course, in that finale year, I had Presumptive "American Idol" Winner David Archuleta dominating David Cook on my score card. The voters didn't care (and they made the right choice). I have no objection to people voting for Lee because they liked him all season. He had a good season. He also saved the worst for last. Crystal, in contrast, delivered one of her best performances at the end of her biggest night and didn't seem to be at all in awe of the environs.
Tomorrow night, this predictable and uninspiring season ends. We have not been inspired to CoverItLive, but we'll be around to talk.
HER LEGAL RIGHT TO POST THIS IS NO LONGER IN .... JEO ... IS NO LONGER AT RISK: In order to spoiler-protect for those watching on delay, Amy Watts' account of her performance on Jeopardy! tonight is below the fold for the time being.
  • Price of gallon of leaded gas: $0.57 vs. $0.31
  • President: Ford vs. Kennedy
  • Best Picture: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest vs. West Side Story
  • U.S. Population: 216.0 million vs. 183.7 million
  • Federal Debt: $541.9 billion $292.6 billion
  • Most Popular Baby Names: Michael and Jennifer vs. Michael and Mary
  • Top Rated TV Show: All in the Family vs. Gunsmoke
  • McDonald's: Opens First Drive-Thru Window vs. Opens Hamburger University
  • Home Run Champion: George Foster vs. Roger Maris
  • Pulitzer Fiction Winner: The Killer Angels vs. To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Francisco Franco: Dead vs. Alive
  • Grammy Record of the Year: Love Will Keep Us Together vs. Moon River
  • Tony Best Musical: The Wiz vs. Bye Bye, Birdie
  • Franchises that have won the Cup: 13 vs. 16
PACK YOUR BAGS, Y'ALL, YOU'RE CANCELLED: Joel McHale and the editors at The Soup perfectly encapsulate my feelings about Tyra Banks.
IT'S CAPABLE OF BUSTING A BUNKER UNDER THE BUNKER YOU JUST BUSTED: I know it's late (and I know you're weary), but I did finally see Iron Man 2 this weekend and wanted to vent about all the suckage and laziness. The first one? Loved. Great origins story, witty, interesting character arcs all entertained me just fine before the machine v. machine mayhem at the end. This one? Meh. Just a few nice RDJ quips (esp. the Gallagher line) and ScarJo and Sam Rockwell did their things just fine, but the plot generally bored me and the machine violence did nothing for me. Been there, done that. I wonder if it worked better for folks already familiar with the comic books and thus more excited about the overall Marvel Universe stuff which was going on, because as much as I liked the first I was clearly not the target audience for this one.

One more thing: the film has an extended cameo from DJ AM (Adam Goldstein), and to say that it's a distraction which took me further out of the movie is an understatement. I wasn't prepared for that.
AS A BONUS, MY EDITS TO THE PHANATIC'S WIKI PAGE HAVE NOW LASTED FOR A MONTH, THUS MAKING THEM CANONICAL: Yes, I would pay cash money to see what antics the Phillie Phanatic, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper could unleash together.
BARTOWSKI'S BRISTOW CODE ANN. (2D): You all remember the original Bartowski's Rules of Greater Los Angeles Basin Spying? Just a couple of quick, spoilery addenda after the jump:

Monday, May 24, 2010

BE PATIENT -- THERE IS A NECKERCHIEF IN THERE: A gallery of World Cup mascots. On 1966's World Cup Willie: "You can almost smell the Boddington's on his breath. His belligerent posture hides a threat: If Britain loses, he's going to burn this entire pub 'down to the feckin' grrrownd!'"
IT DOESN'T MATTER THAT I DON'T ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT HOCKEY. GORDON, IT'S ON: LET'S go FLY-ers! [clap clap] [clap clap clap] LET'S go FLY-ers! [clap clap] [clap clap clap]
WHO IS A REGULAR READER OF THIS SITE? Tuesday night, and hopefully thereafter, frequent commenter Amy Watts will be appearing on Jeopardy!. You can see her in this week's preview here.
FOLLOW WHAT YOU FEEL; YOU ALONE DECIDE WHAT'S REAL: While Isaac's post remains the catch-all for thoughts on last night's Lost finale, I wanted to break out one question for separate discussion.

As satisfying as last night was on the level of emotion and character, I don't think one can dispute that it failed to solve some of the significant mysteries which animated the series. Not all of them mattered -- the identity of the others involved in the outrigger chase likely wouldn't help bring added meaning to what happened, but just fill in the answer to a trivia question. But a few questions, I think did need to be answered and weren't. Here's a few:
  • What made Walt special? What made Desmond special?
  • What were Widmore's motivations this whole time? Were there actual "rules" governing Linus and Widmore, or were they just a fiction they both chose to believe?
  • So what did Jughead do? Did it open a portal to SidewaysWorld for these people, or something else?
And, yes, I would see the spinoff series of Hurley and Linus running the Island, or, of course, Sawyer & Miles: Buddy Cops.

Below the fold, the alternate endings revealed on Kimmel last night:
STRANGER THAN FICTION: One wouldn't think that books titled Men Who Hate Women and The Air Castle That Blew Up were going to become huge international bestsellers, but as the Times Magazine revealed yesterday, that may be the least twisted part of the post-death fame of Stieg Larsson, with family drama and issues of Swedish probate law galore.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

HERE ON FIBBER ISLAND: Did you like it? Did you hate it? Did you understand it? Those of us lucky enough to live on the West Coast haven't seen it yet, but here's your thread. I'll update later.

Added: In the end, the finale was about Lost, The Story, and not Lost, The Mystery. Which is exactly what I wanted. Last year's finale gave us reenactment as portent, a warning that not all would go right with the fuzzily-reasoned plan to blow up the past with a nuclear warhead. This year's finale (and parts of the season) gave us reenactment as a way of unclogging memory, an invitation to the characters to look hard into those mirrors that kept popping up. Not to spoil -- you wouldn't be reading if you were worried about that, would you? -- but tonight's callbacks, both the explicit flashbacks (sonogram, delivery, hatch) and the more oblique references (Locke echoing Juliet's "it worked" from the beginning of the season; Jack repeating "what happened, happened" without the "you have to let go" kicker, which Christian supplied later) just felt earned.

I suppose I should expect some disappointment at an episode that definitively picked a side in the fundamental Lost debate: Man of science, or man of faith? But I don't. The rules of why the characters had to do what they did to get to the final scenes weren't important. This episode felt right as the payoff for all of their stories -- for the long con, as Sawyer might describe the show as a whole. So no, I don't care that nobody explained Walt, or that we don't know who etched the hieroglyphs into the stopper, or who the skeletons in the sub-basement were, or what happened after the scene where the thing happened and the other thing was doing that thing, or even what Juliet meant in the first episode this season when she said "it worked," because it didn't. As a person who complained about the alternative universe, even I will admit that ultimately that was the one that resonated.

And, incidentally, now that I'm spoiling, I also thought that a lot of care went into the guest list for the party (other than one omission who could be explained by another). I appreciated the distinctions that they drew.
LOCATED: We've had a request from sconstant that there be some Open Thread today for folks who don't give a whit about The Most Important Television Episode Of The Decade and wish to discuss other topics. The Island tells me that's okay; just make sure someone posts a comment at least once every 108 minutes, or else terrible things may happen.