Saturday, September 21, 2013

"VIEWERS WILL BE ABLE TO DROP IN AT ANY TIME AND BE ABLE TO FOLLOW EXACTLY WHAT'S GOING ON IN A STORY CONTEXT":  From May 2004, Lindelof and Cuse lay out a 20+ page long-term treatment for Lost with the primary purpose of telling the network what it wanted to hear. (Boone as a gradually-off-his-meds schizophrenic would have been interesting, though.)
ALOTT5MA CIRCUMLOCTION DESK:  Although I care almost as little about soccer generally and the MLS in particular as Dan Rydell, I have a number of friends who are big fans, and let me know that there is a raging controversy about the propriety of the chant "you suck, asshole!" at MLS games.  However, when the NYT covers the story, hilarity ensues, as "asshole" is apparently forbidden in the Times style guide (though "suck" apparently is not), with the Times electing to describe the chant as "a more vulgar expression of 'You suck, jerk.'"

Friday, September 20, 2013

SNAKES, WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE SNAKES?  I suspect folks will want to talk about Prisoners, which is sort of Harlan Coben crossed with Terrence Malick, and I have a question, but to even ask it is so spoilery that it has to be after the break.
AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO KEEP YOU SAFE:  Hey, Breaking Bad fans?  Don't forget about Huell.
JUST A STEEL TOWN GIRL ON A SATURDAY NIGHT, LOOKIN' FOR THE FIGHT OF HER LIFE:  Join hands and hearts and voices, voices hearts and hands as we review Vulture's Amanda Dobbins' attempt to rank the Top 24 Dance Movies of the Modern (starting with Saturday Night Fever) era, based on Danciness.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'LL TAKE "BAD IDEAS FOR BIOPICS ABOUT UNDERAPPRECIATED ICONS FOR $400," ALEX:  One can be a fan of Jesse L. Martin as well as the late Marvin Gaye without wanting to see the former as the latter in an upcoming film about the latter (even if, unlike the Andre 3000/Hendrix film, they haven't been Jackie Jormp-Jomped on the music rights) (and it features Cool Lester Smooth as his producer yelling "I don't work for you! I work for the label!") (and Martin seems to have just taken every piece of headwear which was left on the Rent set for this), just as one can look forward to Bill Zehme's long-awaited biography on Johnny Carson while dreading a planned NBC miniseries on his life and career.  (Who could possibly star?)
THE LUXURIANT, FISH-CATCHING BEARDS OF THE BOSTON RED SOX:  The WSJ's Jason Gay thinks that despite the start of the NFL season, you should still be paying attention to baseball:
You could look at this "enhanced" wild card in a couple of ways. You could be a fuddy-duddy and groan about the dilution of baseball's fussy, old-school postseason, and then complain about your oatmeal and the line at the pharmacy and the lack of Walter Matthau movies on cable. Or: You could view baseball not as a museum piece but a living thing—and see the re-evaluation of the playoffs as a way to goose a beloved sport. 
And this season, fruitfully, you have craziness. At least in the American League—so, half-craziness. The National League race is sort of a slumber party—St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh look poised to hoard the Central title and the two wild-card slots, unless Washington finds a miracle (even here, you see the influence of the double-wild-card system; that Central title looks massive). But in the AL, it's madness. The following teams are still in the mix: Texas, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, the Kansas City Royals, the Yankees…and, if I'm not mistaken, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Vancouver Grizzlies, Biscuit, my neighbor's orange tabby cat…and I think the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ALFALFA, HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SEE THE ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF BUCKWHEAT BEING SHOT? Prepare your Emmys haterade now, because nothing can kill an awards show's buzz faster than a Don Cheadle self-congratulatory tribute to how well television covered the Kennedy assassination, followed by a Carrie Underwood tribute to the Beatles' performance on the Ed Sullivan Show having been fifty years ago (next year).
PUT DOWN THE YO-YO AND STEP AWAY FROM THE GIRL:At least based on critical and Twitter reaction, seemed like there was pretty much universal adulation for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I agree.  It's got a tricky balancing act to pull off in future episodes, balancing the Sambergian weirdness of him running around in a Speedo with making sure that the crimes being investigated are at least somewhat plausible/serious, but the pilot pulled that off pretty well.  Two particular things I wanted to note:
  • I particularly admired how the writers took care of the (necessary) information dump, by having one character explain to the new Captain who these folks were and some of their quirks.  It lays out the characters without feeling like we're being lectured to or giving us Too Much Exposition.
  • Unlike a lot of sitcoms in particular, the characters and universe seem to be pretty well-developed at this point.  Contrast with Parks and Rec and New Girl, both of which took time to figure out who their characters were and how they fit into the larger world.  
It's a difficult balancing act, to be sure, and I'm going to be interested to see how Fox's audience embraces it (honestly, it felt to me more like an HBO show with profanity/naughty bits stripped out), but I'm sold.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HE HAD A PHD IN STREET STRUT: Allison Janney visited Arsenio Hall tonight, and proved that she can still do The Jackal.  (The original clip.)  It's a good year for West Wing alums, with Janney, Whitford, and McCormack all having new sitcoms (and Whitford's is particularly good), and Dule Hill returning to Broadway later this fall.
SHUT THE F--- UP. LET ME DIE IN PEACE: Tara Ariano wishes that the Emmys Necrology segment also recognized the tv characters who died since the last awards ceremony, and has a list of the dearly departed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW I KNOW HALF THE THINGS I KNOW:  A whole bunch of Emmys were handed out at the Creative Arts Emmys last night, including a big pile of gold for the folks who did what they did to Rob Lowe's face for Behind the Candelabra; Best Guest Actor awards for Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) and Carrie Preston (!!) (The Good Wife) in drama, and Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory) (his first Emmy ever) and Melissa Leo (Louie) in comedy; and Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn winning their first Emmys for Reality TV Host, because apparently Project Runway is still on the air.
LOOK ON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR!  This week, conclusively and forevermore, the man who was Breaking is Broken. I find myself with terribly little original to say, given the professionals who provide such tremendous recaps on a regular basis.

But something about MZS' piece on how tv shows end got me thinking about how well this show is sticking its landing—no fake serial killers, no year-long dream sequence—and how much of this is a phenomenon for which we should be thanking the Lost creators. Lindelof/Cuse insisted that the show would go off the air when they were done telling the story they wanted to tell, that they would not stretch it out indefinitely so long as ratings were good (and demonstrated just how lame the stories would be if forced to stall). The Sopranos, too, demonstrated how a great show could weaken if forced to carry more hours than the story justified.

So here we are. Two hours to go, and not a moment will be wasted.

added: Alyssa Rosenberg:
[B]y “Ozymandias,” the real moral obscenity of Walt’s self-justification has become clear: Walter White has done more to harm his family than dying of cancer and leaving them impoverished ever could have. His conception of family as a hermetically sealed unit has, paradoxically, opened it up to tremendous harm....

I don’t know if the viewers who have watched and despised Marie, the woman Skyler once described to Hank as “my spoiled, kleptomaniac bitch sister who somehow always manages to be the center of attention,” can recognize what Breaking Bad did tonight, setting up Marie as the truest example of what really doing right for your family looks like. But I hope at least some of them do.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A BOY NAMED IF-CHRIST-HAD-NOT-DIED-FOR-THREE-THOU-HADST-BEEN-DAMNED: What do we like around here?  Well, lots of things.  But two thing we definitely like are lists and baby names.  So, how about this terrific Salon piece on the rather extreme world of 16th and 17th century Puritan baby names.