Friday, November 30, 2007

Tin Man has no heart

Yeah, I know, trite. I didn't get the chance to do a formal review of the new Sci Fi miniseries "Tin Man," so I'll give a few thoughts here.

"The Wizard of Oz" is a pretty rich bit of source material, as witnessed by the numerous interpretations of the books over the years. Turning "Oz" into a dark allegory on power hit its peak with the book (not the Broadway musical) "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire. That's a very, very dark, very troubling take on the story. Although I thought the ending sucked.

Anyway, if that's the very best, "Tin Man" is a very pale imitation.Here OZ stands for the Outer Zone, a parrallel universe ruled by an evil sorceress and the Tin Man is a former cop and Dororthy becomes DG and so on.

The visuals are creative enough - the sorceress' minions travel through tornados and the Tinman is punished by being locked in an Iron Maiden contraption and forced to watch a holographic film that endlessly repeats the murders of his family.

But despite that, the story falls flat. And the performances barely rise to the level of wooden. Zooey Deschanel in particular has some 'splaining to do for sleepwalking through this thing. In the interviews I've read, the actor's comments all have that trying-too-hard-because-I'm-a-little-embarrassed-how-this-turned-out quality to them. As well they might.

So, good idea, some points for execution, but Sci Fi's reach clearly exceeded his grasp on this one.


TV Talk reaction

Got an interesting range of reactions to yesterday's mini-buying guide for HDTV's. A couple people found it helpful and thanked me, one guy had a follow-up question on whether her should get a 720p or a 1080p set (I argued it doesn't matter unless there's no price difference).

One guy said the column was "worthless" (that's a quote) because I didn't explain LCoS and SXRD and DLP and SED. I think he was upset because he has a DLP set and I alluded to them being "bizarre." I would strongly argue that, if the idea of a chip of microscopic tilting mirrors is not in and of itself bizarre enough for you, then those whacked-out "It's the mirrors" commercials would push any reasonable person to that conclusion. People get protective about weird things.

And another guy said the article was incorrect because I didn't explain that you can stretch a 4:3 picture to cover the black bars on a 16:9 screen. Speaking of bizarre... Do people actually do that? My wife never bothers to change the formatting, so she's often watching 4:3 stretched and it drives me crazy. What's the point of having a great TV if you purposely distort the picture?

Anyhoo, if any of you have any follow-up questions or just want to call me an idiot, feel free to do so in comments.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Springs question from You Tube debate

One question from Colorado Springs made the cut at last night's CNN-You Tube debate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

TV striking back

Loved this ad in today's A section:
Definitely creative marketing, although I'm unsure whether "Daniel Boone" reruns trump "Office" reruns on my schedule.

House: Last three standing

This was kind of a letdown to a really fun, half-season ride through House's version of "Survivor." I didn't care about the patient who didn't care whether he lived or died. I can't even remember which diagnosis they finally settled on - measles, was it? Whatever.

I can't decide if Kal Penn has had absolutely nothing to do all season because the writers wanted to showcase the candidates who weren't going to make it, a la Cutthroat Bitch, or if they just hadn't figured out what to do with him. In any case, there's no case to be made for him to be there. 13 at least got a showcase episode a few weeks back, although it failed to make her interesting. Mini Stud, of course, rocks the world.

So I dunno where they go from here. The cast has grown unwieldy - the only one who benefits from a reduced role is Wilson, who is now practically guaranteed to steal every scene he's in. The problem with the new faces is that I don't care much anymore about the old Cottages (should we call the new crew Cabins? Condos? Duplexes?).

Still, as I started out saying, it's been a great half-season. Fox only has three more episodes in the can, so the January return is likely to be short if the writers' strike goes any longer.
Elsewhere on Tuesday night, that was a pretty good "Reaper." I'm really pleased they're finally edging away from the Andi subplot and adding a potential daughter of the devil to the picture is a great plot twist and should open up all kinds of potential storylines. Trouble is, the show only has a couple episodes left and still hasn't gotten a back nine order. Ah well.


Marcu leaves KKTV, Harding returns

This was KKTV/Channel 11 morning news anchor Jeff Marcu's last day at the station. He's leaving after seven years to pursue some business ventures, but will be filling in from time to time. Starting on Thursday, he'll be replaced by John Harding, who, interestingly, is the guy Marcu replaced back in 1999.

Harding was the morning anchor from 1997-1999, originally anchoring with Melissa Brown. He left for jobs in Little Rock, Ark., and then Tampa, Fla.

Marcu was known for his reporting as well as his anchoring - he won three Murrow awards in his time at the station. As I recall, we gave him "TV hottie" in the Best Of edition a couple years ago, too (and that was before his current GQ/John Edwards 'do).

Forgot to mention, KK put up a nice tribute to Jeff on their Web site -

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday Monday

Alan Sepinwall had this to say about last night's "Heroes": "the entire episode, and much of this season, falls under Ebert's Idiot Plot rule, where the only way the story works is if as many characters as possible act like idiots." Which is probably more analysis than that episode deserved. Blech.

My main disappointment is that only two heroes will fall next week. I could lose a baker's dozen off the top and be none the worse for wear. Peter- you're at the top of the list, bucko.

It's not right to root for the good guys to not just lose, but actually die. It's not what you'd call a good sign. But man, Alejandro had that coming.

Anyhoo, good "Chuck" episode. BTW, "Chuck" just got a full-season pickup, although what that means here in strike-ville is anybody's guess. Still a good sign for a good show. Loved the pineapple scene. Loved all the scenes with Chuck himself in them, which is odd since I generally prefer the supporting cast in this one. Loved Adam Baldwin. But you knew that. Hated all the kick-fighting in the Buy More. Did these people forget that they brought guns?

And a good HIMYM. Lesbian prison guard.Yips. Baseball. Good times.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Real life imitates... um, well, you can't really call it "art"

What's frightening about this news item, other than the sneaking suspicion it's a harbinger of the impending apocalypse, is that "Las Vegas" did the exact plot line a few weeks ago. Spooky.


Friday, November 23, 2007

BSG: Razor

If you missed yesterday's TV Talk what with the turkey frenzy, here's a second chance. Razor airs at 7 p.m. Saturday on Sci Fi and you should watch it.

Terrorism. Torture. Genocide. The rule of law. Religious extremism. Sacrificing freedom for safety.

While the topics sound like the day’s discussion on “The McLaughlin Group,” for my money, you can’t find a smarter, more nuanced look at the big questions than the Sci Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica.”

The beauty of the show — besides the compelling story, the great performances and the not-bad-for-cable special effects — is its unflinching look at the choices people make under enormous pressure.

If you haven’t seen “Galactica,” Sci Fi is offering a two-hour taste of everything great and grim about it at 7 p.m. Saturday with “Battlestar Galactica: Razor.”

It’s a two-hour movie that branches off from the main story line — a distant human civilization is all but destroyed in a surprise attack by a race of intelligent robots, the Cylons, and a few survivors struggle toward a lost outpost called Earth.

That, of course, is also the plot of the original, 1978 “Battlestar Galactica” that inspired the modern series. While the near-complete destruction of humanity was simply a device to set a campy sci-fi plot in motion for the ’78 version, in the modern take, the genocide informs its characters’ every twitch as they wrestle with both surviving and survivor’s guilt.

“Razor” fills a long dry spell between “Battlestar’s” third season, which ended in March, and its fourth and final season, which won’t premiere until April 2008. It also fills in the back story of the Battlestar Pegasus, which entered the plot in the second season.

Whereas the titular Battlestar Galactica survived the initial attack and rounded up a group of civilian ships to flee toward safety, the Pegasus was left alone under the stern authority of the ship’s commander, Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes).

In “Razor,” Cain delivers one of the more stirring calls to arms ever seen on the small screen, telling her crew, “A philosopher once said, ‘When faced with untenable choices you should consider your imperative.’ Look around you. Our imperative is right here: in our bulkheads, in our planes, in our guns and in ourselves. War is our imperative, and if right now victory seems like an impossibility, then there is something else to reach for: revenge.”

The Pegasus’ story is told in a series of flashbacks, set against a oneoff plot about a mission to a renegade Cylon outpost with a hideous secret.

It’s a shame the show had to wait three season to tell the story, since the Pegasus’ story of duty and sacrifice forms a nice counterpoint to the Galactica’s tales of political intrigue and power struggles.

Like “Galactica” — which followed a plot thread on the horrors that religious extremism can unleash with a story in which suicide bombers were the good guys — “Razor” sets up its characters to make impossible choices and neither condemns nor condones their decisions.

I realize a lot of TV viewers will never get past the cognitive dissonance produced by a science-fiction show tackling such serious subjects. And a lot of other folks have an understandable reluctance to watch such a grim program. But stepping outside our world and our times, and stepping away from realism, is what gives “Galactica” the freedom to do this stuff and gives viewers the perspective to think about it.

And, for fans of the show who might be put off by a spinoff that doesn’t advance the main show’s plot, let me warn you: There’s one very large plot reveal right at the end of “Razor” that should make the wait for Season 4 seem even longer.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Pop-Up Book of Sports Deaths

I'll take a break from the Packers game to recap the funniest "Daisies" of the season.

You know, it wasn't immediately clear whether this series would go for the straight-up humor, or stick with the fairy tale whimsy that flowed from its premise. Well, in this episode, it went whole hog for both.

My favorite was Emerson reading Knit Wit magazine, "his literary outlet for knitting humor."

But "Death by scratch 'n sniff? What the hell happened to people shooting each other with guns?"

And "Cigars, aftershave, antacids, cash and yarn. You're a knitting detective."

And "Follow the yellow, thick hose."

And "When did they bump up your smell?"

And, of course, "The Pop-up Book of Sports Deaths."

Just frickin' hilarious from start to finish. If you've been avoiding this show because of the twee-overload factor, it's time to reconsider.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cable Nielsens

The cable Nielsens are always good for a grin. Check out who's checking in at No. 14:

1. NFL Football: 49ers vs. Seahawks (Monday, 8:30 p.m.), ESPN, 8.96 million viewers
2. “SpongeBob: Atlantis SquarePantis” (Monday, 8 p.m.),Nickelodeon, 8.76 million viewers
3. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Monday, 7:30 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 5.96 million viewers
4. “SpongeBob: Atlantis SquarePantis” (Saturday, 9 a.m.),Nickelodeon, 5.20 million viewers
5. “Behind the Pantis” (Monday, 8:45 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 5.77 million viewers
6. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Monday, 6:30 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 5.37 million viewers
7. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Monday, 7 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 5.28 million viewers
8. “WWE Raw” (Monday, 10 p.m.), USA, 5.10million viewers
9. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Monday, 6 p.m.), Nickelodeon, 4.86 million viewers
10. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Sunday, 9:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 4.61 million viewers
11. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.),Nickelodeon, 4.99 million viewers
12. “WWE Raw” (Monday, 9 p.m.), USA, 4.96million viewers
13. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Sunday, 9 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 4.50 million viewers
14. Democratic Presidential Debate (Thursday, 8 p.m.), CNN, 4.04 million viewers
15. “Back at the Barnyard” (Sunday, 10 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 4.30 million viewers

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday recap

Second first - "Heroes"
It's really sort of heartening to see that Tim Kring and company are actually listening to their fans and learning from their mistakes. They're spilling out the answers in a pretty steady drip now. Sure, keeping a few things for later, like the mystery woman, but avoiding the stupid time wasters they screwed around with earlier in the season (which is to say, four episodes ago, Hiro would have inexplicably not bothered to check who had killed his father, just to keep the plot spinning).

So, props for that and wrapping up the murder and pushing the Parkman storyline a little and doing some pretty good action stuff with HRG.

Nowwwwwwwwww on the other hand, saw the HRG twist coming a mile away, saw Adam killing Hiro's dad coming like three months ago, still don't understand why it's dangerous that Adam is 400 years old, the "Did you pack Mr. Muggles bath?" was funny, but forced, and ... why didn't Elle just fry everyone at the exchange - she looked pretty dry by then.

I shouldn't bitch. It was a pretty good episode and light years ahead of the first handful this season (no Nikki, no Peter certainly helps). It's just that the show isn't that well written and now that the freshness has worn off, it's sort of glaring.

In other news, I've finally elevated "Chuck" to my "watch-live" list. Pushing "How I Met Your Mother" to the DVR, but it does fine there. I have no actual comment on tonight's episode, other than it was pretty good, loved the sidekick goofs (I don't have the names down yet), and saw the Bryce thing coming, albeit not in the level of "Heroes" obviousness.

"HIMYM" was saccharine, but the slap bet never gets old. Ever.

All in all, a pretty good night of television.

"Weeds" finale

Showtime's signature series "Weeds" wraps up its third season tonight. I'd planned to to write about this in last week's TV column, but...

It's not that it's bad, it's just that "Weeds" sort of defies analysis. It's got its own drumbeat, its own low-key in-jokes and repetitive elements that you either accept or you don't.
I like the show, I'm willing to accept its surreal take on suburban life, but I've never found the characters compelling enough to put it on my must-see list. Or, more to the point, to pay the $15 a month to get Showtime to watch it. Now, "Dexter" plus "Weeds" is getting pretty close.

Anyway, the finale leaves viewers on tenterhooks as a wildfire wipes out Nancy's farm - and most of Agrestic - while the feds close in on her operation. There's some funny bits in there - my favorite is that Matthew Modine's sleazy preacher/real estate developer abandons the Southern California life for the greener pastures of Colorado Springs.

Guess they haven't heard about our lackluster housing market out in Hollywood.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good strike news!

They'll get back to talking in a week.

Obviously, unless one of the sides is willing to budge on some payment scheme for downloads and streaming video, talking won't do jack.

From way out here in Colorado, it seems obvious to me that the networks have to give on this. Sure, nobody is making money on downloads yet, but if the industry is going to survive, someone will have to figure that out. And if you can cross that bridge, kicking the writers a small percentage of that is not going to make or break the networks.

The networks, of course, want to figure that Internet stuff out first and get around to paying the writers later. No problem, except last time they made that argument, the writers said buh-bye to DVD residuals -- which turned into a hefty cash source about 10 seconds after the writers kissed them off. And somehow that formula never got readjusted.

So we'll see. Cross your fingers - if this deal is done by Christmas, we might even see a few new "Office" episodes before the year is out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gah! Battlestar goes down in flames

I'm really starting to feel the pinch of the writers' strike. The fourth and final season of Sci Fi's "Battlestar Galactica" shuts down production. I've kind of come and gone from the show over the years, but at its best, it's an amazing, amazing program.

Next week's TV Talk (on Thanksgiving Day) is about the BG movie "Battlestar Galactica: Razor," which airs at 7 p.m. Nov. 24. The movie was supposed to keep fans busy until the new season starts. But we have no idea when that new season is going to come.

Anyway, watch "Razor" whethet you're a BG fan or not. It's a two-hour treatise on what makes the show great - primarily its absolutely unflinching, unnerving ability to take on tough, relevant subjects without choosing sides. It may be the most morally gray program ever to air. And, of course, it works dramatically, too.

The only downside to BG is how unrelentingly grim the whole thing is. Wiping out 99.99 percent of humanity has a way of doing that, I guess.

For BG fans, "Razor" is a one-off that uses a mission to a renegade Cylon outpost, and flashbacks, to tell the story of the Battlestar Pegasus. Although most of it is an aside from the main storyline, there is one very big hint about the ongoing storyline right at the end. Don't turn it off too soon!

Thursday recap

If you read Thursday's TV Talk, you know this was the last "Office" episode until whenever the writers' strike ends. Maybe fitting, then, that it goes out on such a bittersweet note. Michael's divided loyalties, the "What do you want me to say, he's a nice guy" thing, and, of course, the bitchin' "That's what she said" riff. That last scene with Michael and Jan talking about finding some Chinese food almost got me teary.

Honestly, I didn't really follow the ins and outs of the deposition, but I loved, loved, loved it when Michael pushed Toby's tray on the floor. And the ping pong subplot wasn't too bad -- Kelly was funny and it was funny that Jim sucked at ping pong and it was funny that when Pam and Kelly finally went womano a womano, neither could hit the ball (possibly stereotypical, but still funny).

Meanwhile, "30 Rock," for an episode that got off to a rocky start, had some great material. Edie Falco and Jack made an awesome couple and everything out of their mouths was hilarious - Falco talking about Hillary's health care plan and Jack responding, "I want to kiss you so you stop saying such ridiculous things" was gold.

The Kenneth the Page subplot about Jack's pants was fun, if predictable, but I wasn't really on board with the Liz-terrorist subplot, except for the payoff that the guys were trying out for "The Amazing Race." As a "Race" fan, I could appreciate their effort. Liz's "Can we have our money now?" line to the camera was fan-tastic, and an apparently intentional double-entendre with the WGA strike.

Unwholesome Muppets

Muppets are apparently far less wholesome than we generally remember.

A funny, if improbably Britsh-oriented, take.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday recap

I really enjoyed that episode of "House." The "documentary" epsiode is such a hackneyed device, so played out, but they really had fun with it. A lot of little, great touches (most of all, Michael Michele getting the axe at the end - although I'm sure that will come back to House at some point). Wilson talking about House's background was classic and the way the finished doc twisted House into a hero was a nice joke.

And "Reaper." I keep hoping I'll start to hate this show, just to clear out the Tuesday 8 p.m. logjam. But it keeps being just good enough to keep me around - and last night's ep was better than just good enough. They expanded their infernal world a little, with the Devil showing that he makes deals all the time and Doris from the DMV having all kinds of fun. And they kicked the can with Andi and Sam, an annoying subplot that I wish would be quickly resolved in some fashion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Strike update

A few soap writers crack. Might seem like a sign of things to come, but it's probably a one-off. The soaps are a dying genre and the soap writers are probably correct to think that regardless what happens with the strike, it would turn out badly for them. I mean, it's not like they're ever going to see any DVD cash or Internet residuals.

It's been interesting to see the strategies the networks have taken with their late night talk shows. CBS has been running recent episodes of "Late Show wth David Letterman" to keep things somewhat current. NBC has gone back a few years to find repeats of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" - so at least the jokes will seem fresh, even if it's all old news.

That may mean that CBS is more optimistic than NBC, or maybe just the NBC had thought things through more.

Will the FCC eliminate media cross-ownership?

If it does, I hope like heck they don't do it the way this bozo wants to:

Of course, that bozo is one of the guys who gets to make the decisions. His reasoning is totally assbackwards, which is hardly unusual for the FCC.

As I see it, the correct argument for eliminating the cross-ownership rules (which say that companies can't own a TV station and a newspaper in the same city) is that the evolution of the Internet as a news and information medium makes old boundaries between electronic and print obsolete and arbitrary.

Ideally, a combined print and electronic news outlet would have a high enough community profile to draw sufficient Internet traffic to maintain a robust news-gathering presence even if the electronic and print outlets that spawned it disappear.

Sure, these days, a newspaper could start a video news department and "broadcast" those stories on its Web site (we do some of that at The Gazette) - and a TV station could hire a few print reporters to round out its Internet coverage - but that hasn't happened much.

As of now, I think it still makes sense for a TV station to buy a newspaper or vice versa, rather than starting from scratch. By buying an established institution, you get the name recognition, credibility and expertise that business has in its medium, and you don't have to try to compete against them on their own turf.

Would this Frankenstein's monster of media actually work? I'd like to think so, although I suppose it's possible that you'd just have print reporters stumbling through TV stories and TV reporters misspelling their way through print stories (watch KOAA's News First Now at 4:13 p.m. Thursday if you want to see me do the former).

If it worked out right, on the other hand, you'd get great footage and live reporting on breaking, visual stories and depth and context for less-visual or less-immediate stories.

UPDATE: It's kind of fun to speculate about who would buy what in this town. The Gazette has a news partnership with KOAA, but when it comes to spending tens of millions of dollars, money would probably trump any established relationship. KOAA and KRDO are both owned by newspaper companies, or at least companies that started out running newspapers. That might mean something, either as buyers or sellers. KXRM and KKTV, on the other hand, are both owned by small-to-medium-sized TV companies, which might make more sense for a merger.

In the longer term, I'd expect a nationwide shakeup as media companies horse-traded and merged to get their print and electronic assets aligned. I'd guess that the process would provide a significant boost to newspaper stocks, although I can't say that it would be permanent.

Actually, that's another argument against Martin's bozo proposal: The real value in combining TV stations and newspapers, at least from a financial perspective, would come in small to medium markets (he proposes relaxing the rule in only the top 20 markets).

The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune may be losing circulation and market value, but combining either of them with a TV station wouldn't do a damn thing. Their brands are already firmly established and their staffs are so large that combining coverage with a TV station would be more of a distraction than an asset. There's precious little synergy to be found there.

In a smaller city - especially in a much smaller city, even smaller than Colorado Springs - combining operations could produce real cost savings and hopefully create a critical mass of eyeballs for a combined Web site.

Of course, if The Gazette bought a station, or vice versa, there likely wouldn't be room for a TV writer on the staff of the combined company. It would be a ridiculous conflict of interest. So, bad for me, but, I think, potentially good for news coverage and certainly better than the government sticking its nose in.

Heroes grows a little

I really wanted to like this episode, right up until Peter started acting stupid again and taking off his shirt. He's the Jean-Claude Van Dam of television. Not pretty.

Still, the Peter-Nathan stuff was good, Adam was a plausible villain, Kristen Bell was pretty good. Heck, I even started liking the Wonder Twins down in Venezuela. Killing off an entire wedding party - good times!

Hated the DL stuff. I seriously thought the firefighter thing was a dream sequence, it was so ridiculously cheesy. Apparently not.

But didn't the promos promise, or at least suggest, that we'd learn how Sylar got away? Sylar's still more interesting than the rest of this yahoos put together.


Monday, November 12, 2007

The clock is ticking on your favorite show

TV Guide has a handy list of what shows are going to run out of new episodes when. Bad news for Office fans! And it'll be a bleak Christmas for nearly everyone else.

Strike update

Week two of the television writers strike and things are looking grim.

Layoffs spread. Lawsuits swirl. The Dark Rider approaches.

It's the end of days people. I tell ya.

Actually, I'm on board with Eli's earlier comment - the strike should be a good opportunity to catch up on my Netflix list. Plus, if there's nothing on in primetime, I won't feel guilty for spending eight hours watching football on Saturday. And Sunday.

Of course, as a TV writer and a TV fan, this is going to suck. Shows I like are going to go down in flames, never to see another airdate regardless of the strike's outcome. Some horrible reality show the networks throw together in the elevator will become a huge hit and a pop culture phenomenon with a spew-inducing catchphrase. If it goes on long enough, next fall's development slate will be completely ruined. Most viewers probably won't notice, more's the pity.

A complaint: One thing I've heard a lot is that there's nothing good on anyway and the writer's should be paid as soon as they come up with something that's not crap. Look folks, it's not the writers' fault that there's a lot of crap on TV. Heck, it's not really the network executives' fault. Networks throw a bunch of crap against a wall, and copy the hell out of anything that sticks. You want better TV, watch good shows and fill out your Nielsen diaries. And be sure to let me know once you've gotten everyone to agree to your definition of "good."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

From my mind to Tim Kring's mouth

An interesting interview with "Heroes" creator Tim Kring over at EW. As you'll see in tomorrow's paper, this week's TV Talk deals with "Heroes" sophomore slump and how to fix it. Short version: Better villains.

I don't entirely trust Kring to have a second-half (or next season, depending on the strike) turnaround the way "Lost" did last year, but it sounds like his ideas are sound.

Is House jumping the shark?

Yeah, on one level, last night's episode was business as usual. But the details were exceptionally cartoonish. House flirting with the CIA doc, getting everything wrong, then being redeemed at the end, the CIA jet, the heretofore principled Doctors Without Borders guy going over the border. The whole thing felt like it had gone around the bend.

And then CIA doc wanting to join the team - will there be any slots left for the Scooby Gang? I was never sure whether Foreman took one of the slots. Is there just one left now? I know Kal Pen has one spot and I know 13 has another -- the two least-interesting candidates, unfortunately -- so my math is already off here.

Maybe a little writers' strike-inspired hiatus will do the team good.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Look for the union label...

Strike! Strike! Strike!

Here's a very long, very thorough, rundown of the issues, ramifications and likely outcome of the strike (with swear words thrown in to make sure you pay attention). Here's a shorter version.

As I see it, there's little to no chance the writers strike a deal before 2008. It seems like there would be a window of opportunity where the television networks might blink in January, lest they head into February sweeps with a cupboard full of crap (most of the current shows will run out of scripts before then, so the networks will have a chance to try out whatever reality/news/whatever junk they'll use to fill the gaps and see if they can put together some sort of primetime schedule - of course, given the production lead-times, getting fresh shows on the air by February assumes the writers will be churning out scripts while they're walking the picket line).

If nothing's done by February sweeps, the studios won't have any incentive to make a deal for another couple of months. If this sucker lasts through May sweeps, the fall TV season will already be hosed and I imagine the studios will already be hiring scab writers in order to get something on the air.

I dunno, it seems like it's going to be long and ugly. If there's an old show you always wanted to watch on DVD, get in the Netflix queue NOW (and savor the irony that DVD residuals are one of the major sticking points for the union).

The LA Times has a nice rundown on when the networks will run out of what.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Writer's strike update

It looks like it will begin Monday.

Most shows have been furiously stockpiling scripts, but it will be interesting to see when things really run out. Hurriedly finished scripts may not do much for viewers. On the other hand, with no writers, the networks have no one to pass notes to, so even a half-assed script could at least be uninfluenced by chickens--- network suits.

Although we've been talking TV here, the strike will impact the movie studios, too. The difference there is that the lead time is so long and the studios have so many scripts optioned that the strike will have to go on for a long time to be noticed. Same thing, though, most big-budget films have the writer on scene to tweak things during the shoot. You definitely do not want Michael Bay making script changes on his own, you know?

Office recap

I would do a whole Thursday night recap, but I was out drinking cheap beer and the DVR let me down on "Earl" for some reason (and I haven't added "Scrubs" to the DVR lineup yet and probably won't).

Quality office episode... Loved Rashida Jones. Loved Stanley. Loved the Finer Things Club. Loved the want-ad for "middle aged black man with sass... big butt.. bigger heart."

Tell me, though, fellow "Office" fans, the writers seem to be making a point in every episode of showing Jim to be, well, a d-bag in some way. Sometimes it was something small, like not reading "Angela's Ashes" this week, or stealing the pizza a couple weeks back, sometimes it's something bigger, like his overboard campaign against Dwight at the beginning of the season.

Which leads me to wonder: Are Jim and Pam destined to break up at the end of the season? Will they give Jim a chance to become a better man?

My hope was always that once they let Jim and Pam get together, they'd have fun with their relationship dynamics without breaking them up a la Ross and Rachel. Stuff like the Beets Motel episode. But that's not really the dynamic they're setting up.

Now, to play the Devil's advocate, too, they've certainly shown Jim's good side from time to time, too. Most notably, the "You might even say I love Italian food" scene.

What do y'all think?


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Boo! Hiss! SC Democrats rain on Stephen's parade

And to think people stereotype Democrats as humorless...

UPDATE: "But we really liked him."

Pushing Daisies

Man, I can't believe they did it again. I was expecting at least one stinker of an episode sometime in the first batch, but last night's was another very sharp, very funny installment.

Best line - "You wouldn't need all that bait if your belly was full of fish." That had me howling.

The special effects have gotten cheesier with the budget cuts, but I think they're cheesy in a way that works with the show's feel. I don't feel cheated seeing Olive jockeying against a green screen. It's just funny.


No word yet this morning on the writer's strike, BTW. This was the last word from Variety: "Strike in limbo as contract expires."

I explain a little more about the strike in today's column. The issue is money - DVD residuals, stuff like that. It's going to be fascinating to see how it plays out, though. If it lasts awhile and the networks go all-reality, it could be the nail in the coffin of the writer's guild. Or, just as likely, the nail in the coffin of reality television. Whichever, it's likely to make for a bleak Christmas for TV fans.