Monday, May 30, 2005

Space Mountain May Be The Oldest Ride In The Park ...

.... but it's still got the longest line! Whoooooooo!

Happy Memorial Day.

Well today wraps up a wild five days of total insanity. What could cause such utter exhaustion? You guessed it - a long weekend with the parents.

The highlight of the last few days was definitely Saturday's trip to Disneyland. I'd never been before, only to Disneyworld in Florida, and it was cool to go on some of the classic rides like Pirates of the Carribean, the Haunted Mansion, and the Jungle Cruise, plus some new ones like Indiana Jones, which was pretty freakin' awesome. But man, those old-school rides really are amazing, even after I've been on 'em multiple times at this point. I mean, the Haunted Mansion to me really falls into the category of art. The detail is just amazing, and the floating, transparent ghosts flying and dancing every which way still makes me wonder "how do they do that?" Same goes for Pirates, which is just too sweeet, a truly amazing ride.

But yeah, very tiring few days, as Thursday and Friday I had two long days at Universal, finishing out my week working at the LA Screenings there. While it was a week of long hot days, it was a fun experience. They really put us to work at times, whether it was moving boxes around or running carnival games (yes, finally my college education comes in handy!), but it was kind of a good bonding experience, and I got to get a caricature drawn of me, got my fortune told, got some cool pictures, saw a lot of movie sets at Universal (including Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives and a really cool crash site set from the upcoming War of the Worlds), and of course got to work with some great people. Sure there were long stretches without much to do but sweat in the glaring sun, and yes we were treated to the same BBQ food for six days straight (free, yes, but I couldn't even look at the catfish after day three ...), but overall it was a very positive experiecnce. So anyways, yeah, between working at Universal, the Tonight Show (featuring Matt Lauer, Carrie from Americon Idol, and Nikka Costa, who rocked!) and meeting up with my parents for food, shopping, and having them analyze every aspect of my new apartment, it was a very long and tiring few days. Since I know you're interested, my various shopping trips the last few days yielded such items as an area rug for my apt., a new shower head, a plant that really creeps me out for some reason, and some pretty cool vintage posters that I got at Disneyland. Riveting stuff, I know. (Hey with 24 and Lost done for the season I gotta fill up space somehow ...).

I also interviewed for another assignment - this one over at Universal in the Studios Development dept. Hopefully it comes through, should find out this week. It would definitely be a great opportunity to be around writers, producers, and execs so if I were selected for the assignment I'd be a very happy man. But since the Primetime Programming assignment did not come through, this one is my last chance to work in development or programming via the NBC page program for a while. No pressure or anything.

This week is probably going to be a little slow, which is definitely a good thing. But somewhow I got stuck with ticketbox duty tommorow, so I'm working from 7:30 am to 5. That start time is killin' me just thinking about it, so I'll save further musings for another time, since if I don't get some quality sleep I am going to really be screwed come tommorow morning.

Oh hell, who am I kidding. I am pretty much guaranteed to be cursing my alarm clock and clutching my pillow while prying my eyes open when 6 am comes around. The only thing that makes me feel any better is to remember that I have it better than my friend Bradd, who was telling me yesterday that his new job is going to rquire him to arrive to work each day by 5 am. Now THAT would make me cry.

Oh, and my first statement, as was oft said by Ric Flair, and written mostly for my own amusement, is, alas, a lie. Space Mountain, at least the one here in California, is temporarily closed for renovations. So, yeah, um, nobody's really in line for it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

LOST: I Had a Bad Feeling About This ...

I thought this might happen ...

Tonight's season finale of LOST is going to accomplish just what the producers wanted - everyone is going to be talking about it. But it's not going to be "oh my God, can you believe that?" or "oh damn I can't believe that happened." Nope, what's going to be on everyone's mind is a simple phrase, now commonly abbreviated as: WTF?


As has been par for the course, tonight's finale had two hours that, plot-wise, were mostly uneventful. Again, it was all build-up, but the build up was done so, so well ... creating intensity, anticipation, and drama at it's best. The characters stole the spotlight as usual. There were a few great moments. The hapless science teacher Artz getting BLOWN TO BITS by the dynamite he was holding was a hilariously dark moment. Sayid healing Charlie by igniting gun powder on his wound was kinda cool. The tension between Michael and Sawyer on the raft was great. The flashbacks, as usual, were insightful, well-written, and intriguing. But this was the FINALE. And at the least, there should have been some kind of revelation that did something, anything, to move the plot forward. Now there were three main plot threads here, but only one had any kind of interesting conflict, while the other two were totally redundant and seemingly pointless. Okay, Walt getting kidnapped from the raft was kind of cool, and the fate of Sawyer and Michael and Jin, left flailing in the water after the raft got blown up, is one of the most interesting setups for next season. So even though the boat of weirdo redneck dudes that caused all the trouble provides about 50 questions and no answers, this would have been fine if the other plots delivered at all. They didn't. The Danielle plot was a waste. Claire's baby gets kidnapped AGAIN and for what? Just more ambiguity and stretching of the action. Then, the big reveal. After about an hour and a half of Jack, Kate, Locke and Hurley journeying with the dynamite to open the hatch, they finally blow it open with about one minute left in the show. And inside is ... wait for it ... A FREAKIN' LADDER. Wow, what a shocking surprise! It's like opening the mystery door to find ... a hallway! NOBODY CARES IF THERE'S A LADDER. We waited all year and spent 26 hours waiting for THIS? Look, I appreciate a good mystery as much as anyone, but this is now, officially, ridiculous. Veronica Mars had an awesome finale that answered all questions and raised new ones simultaneously, in ONE HOUR. Hell, 24 has mastered the art of amazing cliffhangers, but that show has also delivered one hell of an ending for its finales. And for all that people complain about how The X-Files wrapped up, that show almost always DELIVERED on its season finales - it never let it's viewers down once for a good SIX YEARS before things started to get muddled. This is season ONE of LOST and there has not even been a hint of payoff. Individual episodes of the show have been AMAZING. Some of the best TV I've ever seen. But the overarching plot has done the following: set up a brilliant mystery that is completely open-ended, with about eight or nine different threads tying back to the central question of "what is going on with the island?", and then, in the end, has progressed those threads in a fashion that can only be described as WEAK. The following mysteries have been hovering about all season: How was Locke's paralysis cured after the crash? Why did Jack see his dead father on the island? What is the signifigance of Hurley's "cursed" numbers? What is the nature of Walt's apparent psychic powers and did they or the numbers affect the plane crash or tie into the larger mystery of the island? What is the "monster" on the island? Is it real or some kind of illusion? Where is the island? Why did the plane crash? Who are "the others" that Danielle speaks of? What happened to her child, Alex? What is the signifigance of Claire's baby? Who is Ethan Rom and why did he try to kidnap her baby? What is the Black Rock, a seemingly ancient ship, doing on the island? What is in the hatch? Man, these are only SOME of the questions that the writers have posed to us, and yet none of them are even close to being answered, which is just LAME. This show has at times been such a breath of fresh air. So original, such well-developed characters. Great production. Wonderful acting. And one of the most intriguing premises ever on TV. But come on, give us a reason to keep watching. And no, the mystery of whether Charlie will get back on heroin is NOT enough. Overall, a disapointing season finale that failed to advance the mystery to one of the year's most perplexing mysteries, on what was, in any case, one of this year's best shows. If the ending had delivered, this could easily have been an "A" episode, but what we got forces me to lower things substantially. My grade: B -

Well, what else:


More fun at Universal. Got a caricature done of me, pretty funny lookin'. Also got some cool photos with the cowboys and cowgirls at the Wild West backlot set. Later went to NBC for a free screening of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I really enjoyed this movie and thought it had tons of funny moments and an overload of cool ideas. I've never read the books but always kind of meant to and I could pretty much tell that their humor and imaginative ideas would be right up my alley. The cast did a great job, the movie had an almost old-school British feel with great character designs and really fun narration from the Hitchhiker's Guidebook. Nice to see Martin Freeman from The Office in the leading role. Sure, it felt like a lot was crammed in, which sometimes gave the movie a jumpy, disjointed feel, but overall it was a really fun, funny, and entertaining ride. My grade for HITCHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: B+


Day 5 at Universal, then returning to NBC to work The Tonight Show, and then my parents are in town for a week of family fun ... yeah, I had better rest up. Well, as Hitchhiker's has taught me: DON'T PANIC (and ... always keep a towel handy).

One Hand In My Pocket

Longest. Day. Ever.

I worked almost 13 hours today.


Nonstop craziness from 8 am to past 8:30 pm.

Another insanely hot and hectic day at Universal Studios. Another bunch of tables to set up with gift baskets and souvenier NBC pens. Another bunch of wacky foreigners coming to see the leatest and not-so-greatest offerings from NBC-Universal, and yes, another Wild-West-themed BBQ on the Universal backlot. One cool thing: while yesterday the only celeb in attendance was Lake Bell, star of the upcoming FATHOM, today we had Steve Carell and a few other cast members of The (American version of the) Office. Coolness.

Then things got crazy. Exhausted from our day out in the beaming sun, another page and I got ready to head back to NBC at 1:30 to work at an Ellen taping. So we got there and found out that hey guess what, they changed today to a double taping of Ellen, meaning we'd be there for TWO count 'em TWO full tapings of the show, which would mean we wouldn't be getting out until nearly 9 pm. Well, we somehow made it through Ellen, despite many of the staff members there being especially on-edge today since it's one of their last taping days of the season. So the important info, such as when we'd be free to hit up Ellen's catered buffet dinner, was not exactly easy to come by. But wait, it wasn't all gloom and doom. Guess who performed on Ellen today ...?


Sure, her music isn't my typical listening fare, but there was a time long ago, say around middle school, when Jagged Little Pill converted me to the cult of Alanis. I listened to that album all the time back in the day, and I absolutely loved it. While I haven't really followed most of Ms. Morisette's music since then (though I do love the more recent song Precious Illusions ...), Jagged Little Pill will always be a favorite of mine that reminds me of those tumultuous days of preteen angst. In fact, all one has to do is look in my eighth grade yearbook from Solomon Schechter Day Scool, flip to my self-designed page, and see, among other things, a quote from the Alanis song Hand In My Pocket, which seemed to suit me around the time of eighth grade graduation. And guess what song Alanis played on Ellen today? To celebrate her all-accoustic rerelease of Jagged Little Pill, she played that very song! Awesome!

While that performance was amazing, overall this was one long-ass day, and I was ready to drop by the time I got home. But hey I got some pressing matters to discuss, namely ...


Wow, a great season finale to a great year of a great show. No huge shocks or out-of nowhere twists, but tons of action, intensity, and a great ending that presents a ton of intriguing possibillities for next season.

I actually was surprised at just how well this season developed and explored certain themes. The one that really stuck out to me was the personal sacrifices that the members of CTU make in order to carry out their professional duties. We see Jack Bauer, a man who has already lost a great deal in the name of protecting his country, make one more attempt at having a real life. He started the season the closest he's been in a long while to escaping the rigours of the field and moving towards a semblance of a normal life. He ends the season with no identity at all. He is for all intents and purposes nonexistent, erased to protect his life and his country. This nicely paralleled the Tony-Michelle story arc, which saw them able to overcome the demands of their jobs and find each other once again, putting their lives and their relationship back together. Some more quick thoughts:

- Loved "Team Jack" helping him escape at the end. Definitely the best part of the episode, as Tony, Michelle, Chloe, and Palmer all work to help Jack avoid assasination.

- Marwan sure was a crafty villain, but he went SPLAT.

- Is Jack going to tell Audrey about what happened? And what about his daughter, who surprisingly never made an appearance this season?

- Great stuff with Pres. Logan and Palmer. "You played a role." Hahaha that was just evil.

- What ever happened to Beeeeeehrooooooooooooz?

- I love how in the world of 24, the US government is always, on some level, corrupt, and you can never really trust anyone.

- Hahaha when Tony was saved by Jack, and Jack asked him if he was alright, Tony simply replied with his trademark "Yeah."

- Nice - Naked Mandy is still out there and ready to return for next season, hopefully with a few more acting lessons under her belt.

- Jack Bauer is the man - enough said.

- Bring on next season!

My grade: A


Saw three pilots yestrday for new shows. Fathom, a scifi show about alien seas monsters that mysteriously appear in the oceans (no, seriously!) had some nice acting and great production values, the plot ultimately seemed pretty bland and not compelling enough to carry a series. It had some excellent scenes that had plenty of tension, but it is just not a strong enough premise to be worth watching and following. Thick and Thin, a half hour sitcom, had some decent stuff from it's lead actress (forget her name at the moment) and from SNL's Chris Parnell, but the premise is simply insulting - a formerly fat girl gets thin and has to adjust to her new life of dating and popularity, even as most of her friends and family remain overwight. It's a one-joke premise and the fat jokes will get real old real fast. Now wait, NBC-Universal's best new show is actually going to be on ABC. It's called SONS AND DAUGHTERS and trust me on this one, this show is HILARIOUS. The pilot is a semi-improvised comedy, kind of mixing the styles of Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's basically about an oddball, screwed up family, but dude, it was SO funny. A ton of the actors involved were absoultely great, especially the kids, who really stole the show. This is definitely one to watch for. My grades: Fathom: C+, Thick and Thin: D+, Sons and Daughters: A -

Alright, got to rest up for tommorow. Day 4 (!) at Universal. And ... oh dayum, the last big season finale, the big finale of LOST, which is going to be make or break for that show.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

"I don't want to hurt you! I just want to make you kosher!"

Just call me the Frisco Kid.

Today I saddled up at the crack o'dawn, despite it being a FRIGGIN' SUNDAY, and moseyed on down to Universal Studios where myself and a posse of other pages began what for me is day one of a week of LA Screenings. Basically people from all over the world are coming, and we're trying to get them to buy our shows for their networks, whether they're in Brazil, Japan, or the United Arab Emirates (hmm well not sure 'bout that one ...). So today Central, South America, the Caribbean islands, and Mexico were all in the house, and we welcomed them to the USA by holding a huge shindig at the Universal backlot - namely in their kickass OLD WEST SOUNDSTAGE! Now, I reckon' that this backlot is practically every right-minded boy's fantasy-land. Basically, it is like being in a Wild West frontier town. So yes, much fun was to be had pretending to have gun-duels, walking through oversized saloon doors, and listening to the ambient musical stylings of an authentic Old West-style bluegrass banjo-playin' duo, as Cowboys roamed around lassoing stuff and fortune tellers and caricature artists entertained out Latino friends. Sure, it was about 5 billion degrees out there, but hey, pretty cool nonetheless. Oh wait, did I mention I was working at 8 am on a Sunday? So yeah, not exactly ideal, but if I had to be working this was hardly the worst thing I could have been doing. Oh yeah, can you say free lunch vouchers? Well howdy there pardner, what I got to say is: YEEEEHAAAAAAAA.

Oh - one funny moment - I go to the far side of the lot to use the restrooms there, come back out, and the Universal studio tour tram is coming by, past the Old West set where we're stationed. Some tourist on the tram looks at me in my page uniform, walking past the saloons and horse stables, and yells out: "Hey, you're not a cowboy!" Kind of surreal.

After the event was over I headed back into the Citywalk area and, seeking to escape the ridiulous heat, caught Kingdom of Heaven with a fellow page. So time for a quick:


Hmm ... Gladiator to me was an instant, four-star classic, so the sweet previews for this one (the followup historical actioner from Ridley Scott) got me super hyped up. Alas, the mostly negative reviews drained most of my enthusiasm. Still, I was excited to see the movie today and it turns out that it was definitely worth seeing. On the other hand it was a really slow paced movie in places and while the overall theme was interesting, most of the finer details of the plot and characters were pretty muddled and unmemorable. Orlando Bloom was decent as the lead, but he was overshadowed early in the movie by Liam Neeson as his father, and he never really takes over the movie like he should. It doesn't help that his character is written as pretty bland and lacking much real motivation for any of his actions. The coolest character by far was the Christian King who was a leper and hid behind an eerie silver mask. Awesome idea (not sure if it's based on fact or not) and a really cool visual. Too bad more of the movie isn't devoted to him. The villains of the picture have some pretty nice, suitably evil lines, but never quite reach the level of Joquain (sp?) Phoenix's Gladiator villainy. The movie's messages also seem to be very mixed and I came out of it not quite understanding what the point was. I won't get into the whole deal but basically it was hard to really sympathize with or even follow Orlando Bloom's course of actions as he rises from humble blacksmith to leader of the English army during the Crusades. Still, some interesting concepts, good action, a few bits of excellent acting and sharp dialogue, and a very thought-provoking historical setting make this at least worth an eventual rental. My grade: B-

Okay, now for some ranting about TV schedules. WHAT THE HELL ARE THE NETWORKS THINKING? Before I get to that, first, the good:

Arrested Development is BACK. AWESOME. And the Monday at 8 pm timeslot seems like a good idea - build up a comedy lineup to lead into 24 and new show The Inside which will replace it until January. Jack and Bobby is cancelled, which isn't good, but as I said earlier, this show went out with a bang and had a great ending that really works well as a finale to the series, so I can't say I mind too much that it won't be back. Oh yeah, NBC has put together a seemingly decent comedy block on Tuesdays with The Office paired with the promising new show My Name is Earl.

Okay, that's about it for the good ...

Now for the rest of the complete idiocy ...

What. The. Hell? Okay UPN, you took the plunge and renewed Veronica Mars, which had low ratings but was easily your biggest "buzz" show. Kudos for that. BUT, you then take this young-skewing mystery show with cult sensibilities, and PUT IT UP AGAINST THE MOST HIGHLY RATED MYSTERY SHOW WITH CULT SENSIBILITIES?!?! What are you thinking? Yes, it now follows UPN's highest rated show, America's next top model, but honestly do you think those shows attract the same audience? The only thing I can think of is that they didn't know Lost would move from 8 to 9 pm. If they want to fix this, the solution seems pretty obvious: switch Top Model and Veronica Mars around, putting Mars at 8pm. Sure, VM is kinda dark for the 8pm slot, but it creates a nice block of VM and then Lost for genre fans who want to watch both shows. If only ABC had just kept Lost at 8 ... they are really screwing VM with this move. That being said, VM shoulda stuck to Tuesdays.

This one is just mind-boggling. At least with VM the stakes are relatively low despite the show's vocal fanbase. But, come on, WB, Smallville is one of your highest reated shows. It's a teen drama that appeals to males and females -- JUST LIKE THE OC. I guarantee there is a ton of crossover audience with these two shows, so WHY move Smallville to Thursdays at 8? This just makes zero sense for WB. Smallville should have been kept at 8 pm on Wednesdays, where thanks to ABC's shifts, it would no longer be competing with Lost (which was probably the reason for it moving in the first place - wow ABC really is messing things up left and right with Lost moving to 9 pm!). Well, looks like my VCR will be working overtime.

Okay FOX, it's official: SCREW YOU. It just seems so obvious ... you want to move Malcolm away from Sundays, that's clear (even though it's been a Sunday staple for SIX YEARS - it's probably going into it's last year so why not just let it stay put for one year?!?!). So look, Arrested is moving to Mondays, it's a similarly quirky humor to Malcolm, so it seems obvious -- put Malcolm on Mondays at 8:00, the slightly older-skewing Arrested at 8:30, and then 24 at 9. It's perfect. But no, instead, after years of screwing a truly CLASSIC show by sticking it at 7:30's, you all but KILL IT with the Friday death-slot. That is just plain horrible.

So yeah, it's craziness. Networks are so dumb. It's amazing. Oh yeah, kinda funny how UPN is totally screwing Vince McMahon and the WWE by moving Smackdown to Fridays (apparently without even telling them ahead of time). Man how they have fallen in status from the glory days of the late 90's, when WWE and WCW combined were pulling in like a 10 or 11 rating every Monday night.

In movie news, I LOVE the casting of Kelsey Grammar as the Beast for X-Men 3. Seriously, his voice is perfect, and he even kinda looks the part. Sure he is older and not exactly superhero-ish in stature, but CGI and latex makeup can do plenty to fix that. Now Maggie Grace (of Lost) as Kitty Pride I'm not sure if I approve of. She seems way too unlikable to pull it off, but hey who knows.


Great episode. They played this one mostly straight and kept the humor to a minumum, and when Seth did deliver his overused as of late one liners they came at just the right moments. Kiersten's breakdown was handled very well, and the whole Trey storyline came to an excellent conclusion, that was shocking yet nothing so out there as to ruin the show. The return of Jimmy Cooper was much-welcomed, as his character really brings a fun dynamic to the show, and I liked how in the end the focus was back squarely on Ryan, who it is easy to forget is supposed to be the show's main character. My grade: A -

Man, I'm hearing such mixed reactions about STAR WARS. But I stand by my review, for now at least. Sure, much of the acting was bad and the cheesiness of the dialogue distracted at times, but you just can't look at it like you would a typical movie. Think of a book like THE ODYSSEY for example. Does it have great dialogue, realism, consistency, or dramatic flow? NO. Is it a classic story? YES. Because it's the overarching story, the MYTHOLOGY, that's key. It's the same with a good story told around a campfire. You remember the CHARACTER'S, the THEMES, the most basic, iconic aspects of the journey and the mythos - they resonate and last because they are universal and archetypal yet fresh and imaginative. And we aren't watching Star Wars for Quentin Tarantino-esque dialogue or Oscar-caliber acting. We're watching it to see an epic saga unfold - to watch larger than life characters do larger than life things, and look damn cool doing them. So yes, Star Wars: ROTS succeeds in what it is, suceeds in creating the appropriate stage that the first two prequels did not. And if you don't think so, then you're watching the wrong movie.


Back at Universal bright n' early for more screening events.

Will I get the primetime programming assignment?

And ...

Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

You Can't Deny THE FORCE: Goodbye to A Legend and STAR WARS thoughts

Well, today is both a day for rejoicing and a day of sadness.

Let me set things up.

Today: gave an exhausting tour to a bunch of fifth grade boys. Worked at the Tonight Show, featuring Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane!), Amazing Race's Amber and Rob, and Big and Rich featuring Cowboy Tony (who surprisingly kind of kicked ass, kind of a Run-DMC and Aerosmith pairing meets Garth Brooks). Wanted to pass out from standing outside in 80+ degree heat all day while dealing with annoying people. Then I headed back to the apt with fellow NBC page Brian G and ordered some pizza, preparing to watch what would soon become:


Well, he went out with a bang, that's for sure. An amazing, amazing game from the legend. For one more night, it was Miller Time. But when all was said and done Reggie couldn't do it alone, though he sure did try to put his team on his shoulders and carry them farther than anyone expected. The Pacers lost a game that they should have won. They blew leads, committed turnovers, and got killed on the boards. But the game itself soon took a backseat to the inevitable farewell to a legend. Larry Brown's timeout, called with seconds to play, was an amazing gesture - stopping the game to allow Reggie Miller to hear the adulations of the crowd and his fellow players - both his teammates and his rivals. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before in sports. The sheer respect that was shown was awe-inspiring. Truly a great moment - but again, a sad one. My team had lost, and it was over, the end of an era. That's it. The NBA that I grew up with is officially gone. The era of my childhood is over, a new, strange, unfamiliar chapter begins. Thank you Reggie Miller, your career was a huge influence and inspiration, and it's been one hell of a ride.

Speaking of the ending of an era ...


So I watched as the game ended and Reggie walked off into the sunset like an old cowboy finally leaving town. I rose from my chair and gathered myself. Brian and I got into his car and headed to the theater for another sort of grand drama - STAR WARS - the finale.

We floored it to the theater and rushed inside, only to find an already large crowd taking up the majority of the seats. Lightsabers were waving, illuminating the huge theater that was heart-breakingly devoid of empty seats. Unable to find anything in the upper levels, we had to settle for the lower area. Luckily we moved up a few precious rows when we spotted some open seats. We were right there, front and center. It was time.

The previews rolled. Immediately it was obvious - this was gonna be a good crowd, like the kind I used to get in Boston at the Fenway theater - cheering, screaming, yelling - and totally primed and ready for the main attraction. Some good teasers. War of the Worlds, Stealth, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Fantastic Four - and my next big anticipated movie - The Chronicles of Narnia, which looked spectacular. Finally, the crowd applauded as the good ol' 20th Century FOX logo drummed up the opening credits. The rarely seen Lucasfilm logo shimmered on the screen and then, there it was - the opening crawl. As John William's legendary score played and the crowd burst into applause, we sat and watched - the final Star Wars was here.



It's REALLY hard to give opinions on a movie like this. On one hand, the characters, the vision, the grandeur, the theatricality, the action, the imagination - are all unparalleled. This is Star Wars we're talking about - the quintissential pop cultural mythologoy of our time. In spite of anythign else, the Star Wars movies have an undeniable appeal that will always be there and make them transcend the typical science fiction movie franchise. So even when a movie like this one has a few scenes containing awful dialogue, wooden acting, or badly-edited transitions, well, hey, it's still Star Wars, and yes, that does count for a hell of a lot. But this isn't like the first two prequels, which didn't have the pure epic storytelling or great moments of the original trilogy. This one did. This one had the intensity, the action, the characters, the thrills, the scenes that made you want to stand up and cheer, or look away, or yell out in geeky happiness. Yep, despite some clunky moments, make no mistake about it: Lucas redeemed himself. He went out with a bang, and he delivered the movie we all have been waiting years to see. Because in the final analysis, the truth must be told: THIS MOVIE F'N ROCKED.

First off, the number one reason, without a doubt, why ROTS kicked my ass and yours was because of Ian McDiarmid - aka Senator Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, aka The Emperor, aka hands down one of the all-time great movie villains. He delivered an absolutely CLASSIC performance here. If you can't appreciate his totally over the top, seethingly evil, gleefully sadistic role in this movie, then you my friend just don't get it. McDiarmid's scenes with Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu, his climactic fight with Yoda, his seduction of Anakin to the Dark Side - all pure awesomeness. McDiarmid's voice - his hissing, cackling inflection, just screams "I AM THE MOST EVIL BASTARD IN THE GALAXY, AND I WILL KILL YOU." and he completely owns this movie. I have no idea how old the guy is in real life, but thank Lucas that he was ready willing and able to resume his role as Palpatine for this second trilogy, because oh man does he make this one special and turn in a performance for the ages. And for a sheer moment of coolness, during his fight with Mace I just kept thinking "oh dude, is he gonna use the lightning power?" and oh my, when he did, well, that was good stuff.

Major credit must also be given to Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan. I think he had his best performance yet in the role and really began to channel the gravitas of his predecessor, Sir Alec Guinness. He's been the most solid and consistent actor in the trilogy, and he seems to really understand how to play a Star Wars character.

On the other hand, Hayden Christianson has been a mixed bag so far. Here though, he does really improve leaps and bounds. He looks suitably older, fiercer, and scarier. He does a lot to make his turn to the darkside convincing, from the wayward look in his eyes to the brooding weight he seems to carry with him at all times. When paired with McGregor or McDiarmid, Christianson turns in some great stuff. It's his scenes with Natalie Portman that are easily the weak link of the movie, and of the series. The first scene between Anakin and Padme was just godawful, to be honest. I had no idea what they were even talking about. Portman just is not beliveable as a fantasy character - she just seems too modern and too of our own time. Her scenes really bring down this movie a notch. And she's not helped by Lucas' tendency towards simplistic, often laughably amateurish dialogue. Sure, sometimes he gets it right, and his lines are best delivered by melodramatic actors with a flair for grand, fantastical drama, like McDiarmid, the always-great (and still going strong) Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, the comedy-relief in a gold tin can Anthony Daniels as c3P0, or the always brilliant Frank Oz as Yoda, who here is as lovable and show-stealing as ever - maybe more so. But Portman, and to a lesser extent Christianson, don't always understand the kind of delivery required to make Lucas' pulpy vision seem believable, and that's why we get a few dialogue-heavy scenes that are just total clunkers.

That's the bad. But oh, the good is daaaaaamn good. The final thirty or so minutes in particular is just mind-blowing. Obi Wan vs. Anakin, Yoda vs. Palpatine, all set to the incredible, clasic score of John Williams, who is putting forth his absolute best in this movie. One particular scene, with Padme and Anakin staring ominously at the forebodingly-lit cityscape before them, just had this awesome, Blade-Runner-esque music that was just awesomely creepy. The action in this movie felt like Star Wars. From the opening space battle to R2D2 laying the droid-powered smackdown to the encounters with the badass General Grievous to some long-awaited Wookie vs. Stormtrooper action to the final, epic duels, the movie rarely let up. And each scene had a weight not present in the previous prequel episodes.

Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader was done so, so right, just as I always imagined it. The one flaw was the laugh-inducing "NOOOO!" shouted by Vader as he awakens and hears his wife is dead, which just felt weird and overly cartoonish. But from Anakin's dismembered body to the POV shot of the mask being affixed to that first mechanical breath to the familiar voice of one James Earl Jones emanating from that classically cool-as-all-hell suit, this was what everyone wanted to see it, done better than we could have hoped.

If I were to grade this movie scene by scene, it would be something like: A, A, A+, D, A, F, A, A, A, A, D+, A, D, A+, A+, A+ ... you get the picture. Yes, there are sections where the dialogue reeks of sucktitude, where the shot just lingers way too long, where nothing in particular seems to happen. But the rest - the rest is classic Star Wars. Sometimes, well, BETTER than classic Star Wars, with some moments up there with the best in A New Hope, Empire, or Jedi - and considering how legendary those movies are, that's saying something. Like the original trilogy, this one ends up being much, much greater than the sum of it's sometimes weak parts. This really is the essential installment of the prequels - the big one, the important one. I can only imagine a young kid watching this and then having the joy of discovering that three more movies - a whole new saga with new heroes, villains, and a happy ending to boot awaits - right there for the viewing, reassuring in its mythological completion - that in the end, an ending told years and years ago, the good guys do win and yes, Darth Vader does repent and the Empire does meet its final fate. The puzzle is complete - and this is it - that final piece that makes it all come together. The force is strong in this one. My grade: A

Alright, back with more soon, including thoughts on the season's last OC. Oh yeah, I gotta comment on KELSEY GRAMMAR as BEAST, FRANK GORSHIM, and the new fall schedule that is going to toally mess everything up! Ahhhhhhhhh, I can't take it.

As 2 Skinny J's said: You can't deny the force.

Darkseid of the Moon

Well it's 2 am but since I can sleep sorta late tommorow I decided to jot down some stuff for you all ...

The week of fun continues (and for once, that is NOT sarcasm).

After Monday's frikkin' sweet day at Universal Studios, yesterday was another day that made me appreciate how cool my job can be. Sure, most of it was a grueling day working at the ol' NBC ticketbox, but at about 5 pm things got a lot cooler. First off, I had my long-awaited interview with the primetime programming dept., and it seemed to go pretty well. The three young women I interviewed with were great and it quickly turned from a formal interview into a lively discussion about NBC and TV in general. Only potential problem is that like ten pages are all applying for the assignment, so who knows what will happen. If I get it though, I will be completely psyched - it will be an awesome opportunity to be around scripts and around people who can really help me with my writing. Looking forward to hearing back from them one way or another.

Then after the interview I threw on some jeans and headed out to join many of my fellow pages for a special edition of Ellen. See, Ellen had a huge outdoor show yesterday which featured a mini-concert by Gwen Stefani! Now this was pretty cool because Gwen is not necessarilly someone who I'd ever end up seeing in an actual concert, but I was a big No Doubt fan and she is, clearly, an awesome performer. So it was pretty cool to see her perform Rich Girl with Eve, as me and a buncha other pages stood right up by the front of the audience. Not a bad day.

Continuing the streak, today was a pretty cool day at Ellen, just because it was very laid back and their were plenty of classic shenanigans that ensued. One of my fellow pages, a pretty crazy character who is never one to pass up the spotlight, actually got so into the pre-show dancing that he was pulled onstage, where he ate up the attention, playing to the crowd and drawing applause with a hilariously outlandish array of dance moves, from splits to breakdancing to some stuff that I don't quite know how to describe. Unfortunately the tape was not rolling to capture this moment, but I simultaneously laughed my ass off and cringed in embarrasment. Suffice to say I was thoroughly burned out from busting out killer dance moves all day in between escorting people to the bathroom and chowing down on some quality Ellen catering. But luckily I was able to return home just in time for a much-anticipated night of TV (more on that later, of course).

And of course tommorow is going to be big. After working at the Tonight Show for the first time in a while, I'm going to be heading home to watch Pacers-Pistons, game 6, then heading off to the 8:50 showing of a little milestone movie, STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH. So yeah this has really been a good week. But hold up, I gotta pause for a little aside ...

Holy crap, I cannot believe that tommorow I'll be seeing the last ever Star Wars. While I don't consider myself an ultra-diehard Star Wars fan by any means, the franchise definitely is special to me. I remember as a very young kid, I had a bunch of action figures from various toy lines. There were the Justice League-ers, the Marvel heroes, He Man, and then there was Star Wars. I remember I had Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and some weird alien dude. I don't remember when I first saw the movies, but I do remember I loved all things Star Wars, whether by osmosis or whatever I don't know. I had the kids' book versions of all three movies, and that filled me in on the stories. I also had the tape-books. Remember those? I think those were my first real exposure to the whole universe. I had a book about Wookies - it was wonderfully illustrated and was about the first meeting between Han Solo and Chewbacca - at the time it seemed like just about the best story I had ever heard. My grandmother can attest to that as I can remember making her read it to me about 5 billion times (she is the best storyteller ever, so books were always better when she read them). Now I used to watch Reading Rainbow, like, all the time. And there was one episode that went behind the scenes of Star Wars and showed how they did the makeup and all that. And I remember being positively fascinated with that one episode and always hoping that that one would be replayed, and when it was, I was in heaven. And then there was this one Star Wars-themed episode of Muppet Babies - oh my god when that one would come on it was the greatest. What a great show that was, if not for that show I think I might not be doing what I am doing. And I remember going to Disney World, to MGM Studios, and first going on Star Tours. Today, that ride seems almost quaint. But then it was pure magic. Even the line was amazing. You were there. Inside Star Wars. How could it be any better? So sure, by the time that the original trilogy was rereleased in the late 90's I had seen the movies a few times here and there, but it wasn't the actual movies I loved - yet - it was just the concept of other worlds - of Star Wars, that I had always been fascinated with. But I remember seeing each rerelease as they came out with my brother, and it was that experience of seeing the films on the big screen, as they were meant to be seen, that for the first time made me a devoted fan of the movies themselves - the individual moments, the action scenes, the flow of the story. Now when I saw the first prequel, well, at first, I was in awe. Yep, it seems stupid now, but I remember going to class the next day unable to think about anything but Star Wars. The more I thought about it though the more I thought ... hmm, that kind of sucked. Repeated viewings only reinforced my gradually increasing disappointment. Byt the time Attack of the Clones came out when I was in college, I was excited but only mildly so. I enjoyed the movie but not immensely. I was let down in many ways, and never had that initial post-viewing buzz like I did after seeing Episode I. Still though, I had chills when that opening John Williams theme came blaring over the speakers. There was the power of Star Wars, that old magic, struggling to break through. And hopefully, it will again. Like many, I'm sure, I am ready to be blown away again. This is it, this is the big one. This is the last great blockbuster, the end of an era. Sure, my generation came to the game a bit late. Sure, Lord of the Rings set the fantasy trilogy bar to new heights and showed that there is always a Next Big Thing waiting in the wings. But this is, sorry Neo, The One. There's never been another story quite like it, and when you love stories like I do you have got to love it and hope that this final chapter is going to be good, because that's how it should be and what everyone's been waiting for. The franchise, like the story it tells, is transcendent - mythical in that way - everyone's got their own story. Tommorow, for that particular chapter, is the end. I'm excited, I'm pumped. Bring it on.



Excellent episode, but what is happening to Rory? See, I knew playing a lady of the night in Sin City would be bad for her. Now she's quitting Yale? Oh well, at least it's something different for the character. And nice ending with Luke and Lorelei. Some people at work were bashing this show the other day and saying eveyone on it talks the same. First off, totally untrue. Everyone is SO distinct and unique on this show - that's what makes its dialogue so amusing to listen to. It's talky, yes, but MOST shows are very un-talky, if you think about it, which is equally unrealistic in its own way. The haters need to recognize, this is probably thebest written show on the WB, and one of TV's best. My grade: A-


Wow - on one hand, this was undeniably an amazing, amazing episode. On the other hand, this seasons and the series as a whole is ultimately going to be judged by endings and answers, which we are, maddeningly, no closer to after tonight's episode. We know that the Black Rock is in fact ... a giant ship? Um, okay. We know that there are people called "The Others" who are dangerous and make their presence known by warning beacons of black smoke. Again, um .... yeah ... And we know that there is a hatch, which is signifigant, but we have no idea why ... oh yeah, and that giant monster that we've never actually seen is revealed as being the island's "security." Can we be any MORE vague? Next week's season ender better do a helluva job of answering at least a few questions or else this show is just really going to be pushing my patience. But back to my first comments, the character arcs in this sp were done wonderfully. The launching of the raft was just done so well, it felt so epic and grand and mysterious and like a feature film, not a network TV show. The moments between Jack and Sawyer, Locke and Danielle, Jin and Sun, and Michael and his son were some of the best exchanges we've yet seen on the show - all very emotionally charged. And come on, if you didn't get a little teary-eyed when Walt's dog started swimming after him as he sailed away on the raft, only to finally turn around in futitilt - well, you are a cold-hearted person. I cannot wait for next week's double-length finale, but I am just not fully confident that it will be satisfying, plot-wise. But, taken on its own, this was a damn good hour of entertainment that hit all the right emotional notes. And special mention must be given to the show's music, which here really stood out as suitably grand when needed and also very eerily Twilight Zone-like when appropriate. My grade: A


In this extra-long season finale, this show's great cast, who I have really grown to love over the years, really shone. But oh lord, were they stuck in a mystifyingly nonsensical plotline. So much credit should be given to Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover for their roles as Lex and Lionel Luthor. Rosenbaum as Lex in this ep was just awesome, really convincing (take note Hayden Christianson!) as a guy who was on the precipice of turning fully to the dark side. Tom Welling has developed great chemistry with his female leads in Lana, Lois, and Chloe, and all four of the show's young leads were really on here. But this ep was forced into having to wrap up a year's worth of truly terrible plot threads, and it did it by throwing out a ton of WTF moments that ended with a big fat "to be continued." These weren't cool, well built-up cliffhangers. There was a weird spaceship, Clark suddenly in the Antartic, and a comatose Lionel with Kryptonian symbols running across his eyes. WHAT. THE. HELL. IS GOING ON? Still, this episode was littered with great moments. The idea of a Superman, in my mind, is an extremely powerful one, and this episode evoked some of those epic images that the concept of superman brings to mind. Clark saving a kid from the falling meteor storm, Johnathan Kent telling his son to go and embrace his destiny. All good stuff, matched by the usual kewl f/x, music, and production values we have come to expect from Smallville. I am torn because this show does some things really right and others really, really wrong. So please, next season, give these great characters some equally great stories! My grade: B / B+

P.S. - the Batman Begins preview after Smallville looked daaaaaamn good. I can't wait for that one (and don't woryy, more on THAT later).

Oh wow, with all that I almost forgot that tommorow, once again, could be REGGIE MILLER'S LAST EVER GAME. I have a bad feeling that this really could be it, as the Pacers are really outmatched in this series against Detroit. But as a wise talking dog once said, "Ya Gotta Believe!" And I will be watching and hoping that my favorite athlete survives to fight another day. Because when everything's on the line, when it's the big game, when the team's back is gainst the wall and the odds are not in their favor ... well, everyone knows that that, well, that is, and has been for a long while: Miller Time. Once again: GO PACERS!

Monday, May 16, 2005

They Killed Castle! Plus: The Best Monday at Work Ever!


They killed Castle, by far one of Jack Bauer's coolest yet most obscure comrades in arms (gotta love his badass name). Yep, you know it's that time of week again - when I'm talkin' some 24.

- Excellent episode this week, really upping the ante from last week's less eventful edition. Once again this show mixes high action with a satisfyingly cheesy does of cornball melodrama to produce a great hour of pulpy adventure. For example, on most shows the revelation that Sec. of Defense Heller's son is holding back information - because he's ... gay (!) - would be a ridiculous plot point. But here it's is so cheesy as to be hilariously entertaining, with just the right amount of confused reactions from Jack and Heller to make it work. I mean, doesn't the son know that feelings and emotions mean nothing when the country faces impending nuclear crisis? Gosh! But tonight's ep took time to rekindle the romantic fires between Tony and Michelle, and also to highlight Jack's desperate plea to Audrey: "How can I explain this ... I'm not usually a stone-cold mercenary who kills mercilessly for the greater good, it's just that, well, once a year, I have these really, really bad days ..."

- Seriously though, some kickass action tonight, good building drama as things go even more downhill for the good guys. Marwan escapes for the 5 billionth time, Naked Mandy, the enigmatically EVIL femme fatale mysteriously reapears, leaving a trail of blood in her wake, and just when things are looking up for good ol' Tony "Yeah ..." Almeda, he goes and gets himself taken hostage, in an exact parallel of what happened to Michelle in last year's climactic episodes. Next week's 2 hour season ender is going to be huge. This ep, with with a few meandering subplots (continued power struggles in the Oval Office, Trey from the OC's sexual preferences) didn't quite live up to what I was hoping for, but hey it's 24 and you learn to take the good with the bad. My grade: B+


Let me preface this by saying that I have to wake up crazy early tommorow and am therefore ogoing to refrain from going into full detail about today's events. But basically today myself and 5 other pages took a trip to Universal Studios to work at a presentation of upfronts - basically presenting our NBC fall schedule to advetisers to get them to fork over cash to buy ads during our shows. The event was actually taking place in NYC, but was simulcast in CA for West Coast ad agencies to get a peak. So while the big execs and stars of the new shows were in NYC, we watched on a big screen from within the Universal theme park.


As with the last one of these thigns I went to, NBC was very good at using humor and honesty to admit they didn't have the best year, but were also very confident in predicting they'd soon be back on top. There was a funny special edition of SNL's Weekend Update to open the presentation which was very self-deprecating, but also took some well placed jabs at the other networks. Then a very funny video of NBC's Kevin Reilly's year from hell played, mocking the fledgling exec's first year at a company that was clearly headed for disappointment. Again, very funny and self-mocking. Then Reilly and Zucker came out to present the new lineup, which was surprisingly cautious. Only 6 new shows are premiering in the fall. Perhaps the biggest surprise though is that The Office is actually renewed for a second year, which despite my personal distaste for the show, I think is a good move on NBC's part. As Reilly stated, most comedies need to be nurtured before they break out and become hits. Plus, it is going to be paired with a show that was easily the highlight of the presentation, called My Name is Earl. Earl, starring Jason Lee, looked hilarious. I'd describe the style as Malcolm in the Middle meets Raising Arizona, if that makes any sense at all. Basically, Lee plays a white-trash Southern criminal who is basically a lifelong loser. Life keeps giving him lemons and so he seems stuck in a rut of crime and booze. But one day, he hears Carson Daly, of all people, say something about karma, and decides to right every wrong he's ever committed in his life, which amounts to approximately 268 items that need fixing. I know, it sounds weird, but the clips they showed were immediately hilarious and very refreshing in how different they were from anything else out there. Other than that, the E-Ring, a West Wing-esque show about the Pentagon, looked decent but kind of blah, and Fathom, a sci fi show about underwater alien life forms, looked kinda crappy but who knows, it was hard to tell what it was really about from the clips alone. Inconceivable, a soap opera based ina fertility clinic, looked pretty pointless, and Thick and Thin, a midseason comedy about a formerly fat women, had some decent moments but seemed too gimmicky to last. Three Wishes, an Extreme Makeover-esque show that grants ordinary ppl wishes hosted by Amy Grant, could attract a similar crowd and do well, and I'm sure the curiosity factor will drive people to check out The Apprectice: Martha Stewart, though I honestly could care less about Martha Stewart. Oh yeah, Four Kings, a midseason sitcom about four young guys in NYC featuring Seth Green, looked like a very boring, bland version of That 70's Show without that shows' charm or fun. My Name Is Earl is one to watch out for, E-Ring - maybe if you're into the political drama thing. Otherwise, don't hold your breath for a revolutionary fall season, or anything that matches an Arrested Development or Lost in terms of originality or style.


Well after a relatively simple few hours of guiding people in and out of the theater, us pages got to chow down on some excellent catered food, served all you can eat buffet style for maximum foodage. Let's just say that the dessert table did not disappoint. Then, after some quick cleanup duties, we were done for the day! Which meant we were inside Universal Studios, it was only 3 o'clock, and sure, we were wearing our NBC page uniforms, but hey, screw it - it was time for some FREE THEME PARK ACTION!

Yep, it was awesome! We hit up The Mummy ride, Shrek 4-D, Jurrasic Park (with ridiculous-looking ponchos to protect our uniforms from getting soaked!), and more. I even won a big Shrek doll by making two, count 'em, two baskets in a row at a basketball carnival game. Niiiice. Oh yeah, did I mention I was getting PAID for all this? TV sneak previews, catered lunch, and a free day at Universal Studios. Now THAT'S what I call a good day at the office. Yep, my job is cooler than yours (well, at least for one day).


It's back to cruel reality as I work from 7:30 am to 5 as ticketbox head (ugh the mere thought of it is giving me a headache), and then at 5 is my big interview for the primetime programming assinment! Wish me luck! Oh yeah, Ellen is having a free outdoor Gwen Stefani concert at 5, so depending on how long my interview goes I may get to hit that up. And hey, can't forget that Star Wars comes out Thursday, getting hyped up ... and on one last note of nerdiness, holy crap, Sony revealed the Playstation 3 today! Doesn't come out until Spring 2006 but dayum that is gonna be sweet. Okay, big interview tommorow - can I be bright and cheery, and, um, coherant after 8.5 hours of the dreaded ticketbox? Hope so, and speaking of hope - come on, get your act together for tommorow's game, this is it, do or die, win or go home - play Foster more, feed O'Neal in the post, play good D, and get one mo' big game outta Reggie cuz lord knows it's gotta be Miller Time ... yeah, what I'm trying to say is, GO PACERS.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

"Why Is There A Watermelon There?"

5 points for anyone who can name what movie the title quote is from.

So it's Sunday, Sunday, Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Pretty busy eventful weekend this weekend, finally got out a little bit which was much needed after a week that threatened to drive me permanently insane after five straight days fielding phone calls and processing mail as ticket office head at NBC.

But this past friday, I will give credit where credit is due - I got "punk'd" by my coworker Anisha with one of the absolute best prank phone calls in the history of prank phone calls, one which had me totally thinking it was real for the whole, nearly 10 minute call. Here's a short version in dialogue format, noting that the woman's voice is that of a very angry, very ghetto African-American woman (not sure how else to describe it in more politically correct terms).

ME: Hello?

WOMAN: A'ight, I'm comin' down the freeway and I gonna be at the show at 4:30. Deys gonna let me in, right?

ME: Well, the show starts at 4, so I'm sorry but they won't let you in after the show has started.

WOMAN: What in the hell you talkin' about? Rick told me be there at 4:30!

ME: Rick?

WOMAN: Uh-huh. RICK! He works at the show!

ME: Well I'm sorry but it sounds like Rick gave you the wrong information.


ME: Umm ...

WOMAN: I am comin' to the show and I am goin' in whether they like it or not. But first I'm comin' to you to whup yo' ass.

ME: I'm sorry, look, it's not my decision ...

WOMAN: Don't play with me, boy. I know where you at. And I am comin' there to find you! I am comin' there right now!

Okay well that's the gist of it but I can't convey in writing how scary and convincing she sounded over the phone, and this went on for a good ten minutes. Finally I hung up the phone in frustration, and as I did Anisha ran in and screamed that it had been her on the phone, knowing that she had got me and got me good. Wow, that was a DAMN good prank phone call, and set the bar to a new level for all inter-office prank calls. The few witnesses who were privy to this call were in stunned disbelief, and I was running around the office screaming in disbelief. I'm telling you, Crankyankers had nothing on this one.

Oh, Friday was also sweet due to a big-ass bbq to celebrate one year of corporate consolidation at NBC-Universal. The burgers were excellent and the ice-cream hit the spot. Mmm ... free food.

See, work can be fun sometimes.

TOMMOROW: I head to Universal Studios to work at a pilot presentation to a bunch of advertisers. Will I get a sneak peak at NBC's new lineup of potential hits, or just be standing outside in 90 degree heat smiling and nodding for eight hours? Don't know, but this could be interesting. If I do get a glimspe, excpect impressions to follow.


Well FOX's long-running Sunday night shows bowed out for the year tonight, but did they go out with a bang or a whimper? Overall, I'd have to say that tonight's episodes were nothing special. None of them felt like a true season finale. Malcolm in the Middle, especially, is a show that I've come to expect something special from in it's season-enders, as they have often ended on some kind of special note or even a cliffhanger. Tonight's episode was pretty good, but was so focused on Lois and Hal that Malcolm himself was barely there. The Reese subplot was very funny, and Hal as always was hilarious with his overexaggerated expressions and tendency to become obsessed with one crazy project after another. But the best episodes of this series put a crazy spin on topics like school, family, and growing up - not on something like a beauty pageant and Lois' self-esteem, which is only tangentially related to the main premise of the show. Oh well, still one of the absolute best and funniest comedies on TV, and I couldn't be happier that this show is coming back for another season next year. This year they found a good focus by refocusing on Dewey and less on Macolm's love-life, but I hope next year they get back to Malcolm a bit more and also bring back Francis to a more prominent role on the series. King of the Hill was very good tonight. Sure, it treaded on familiar thematic territory, but hey, it works. I think this show is really a comfort-food, it is really old-school in some ways in that there's usually a lesson to be learned at the end of each episode, and yet few other shows feel as grounded in modern reality as this one. Okay, Simpsons, this is gonna be a tough one. Both of tonight's episodes had something in common - in what is a rarity for the show these days, each had a pretty strong premise. Flanders moves out, and Bart goes to Catholic School - not bad, not bad - good potential right from the get-go. Overall though, the jokes fell flat more often than they worked. The first ep did have a few hilarious jokes, notably when the Simpsons go wit Lisa to an independent movie theater. And the second ep had some interesting stuff going on but just not enough laughs to go with it, aside from a random glimpse at the year 3000 at the show's end. Unless I get hired on as a staff writer, I can't say I expect much from the Simpsons next season, but you never quite know with this show. Family Guy was alright but not one of the show's better episodes. The cutaways seemed more frequent than usual, notably trying to hide a scattered plot that seemed all over the place and random. Sure, some of them - the totally random Bruckheimer-esque fight between Peter and a big chicken, and the Star Wars parody closing medal ceremony - were pretty funny. But this isn't a sketch comedy show so you have to be able to tie it all together, which this episode struggled to do. I hope FOX wises up, brings back Arrested Development, and axes American Dad. I would go with the following Sunday nigh lineup:

7:00 pm - classic Simpsons rerun (so as not to get new eps preempted during football season)

7:30 pm - King of the Hill

8:00 pm - The Simpsons

8:30 pm - Family Guy

9:00 pm - Malcolm in the Middle

9:30 pm - Arrested Development

Having all of those comedies in one night is a bit of overkill though. One alternative would be to move 24 to Sundays at 9pm, mirroring the lineup when The X-Files was still on Sundays. I don't know what they could move out, but maybe move Malcolm and Arrested Development to a different night? Hey, if I get the primetime programming assignment at NBC I could actually be helping to make these kinds of decisions. Scary, huh?

MY GRADES: King of the Hill: B+, Malcolm in the Middle: B, Simpsons 1: B, Simpsons 2: C+, Family Guy: B-

Alright, I gots to go. To where? Well, as one legendary neurosurgeon/particle physicist/rockstar once said: "No matter where you go, there you are."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Miller Vs. Miller

In the span of two days, two fading stars named Miller face turning points. One embraces greatness, the other continues to fall. More on that later. First:

Well another day where I come home from work ridiculously tired, not because I worked particularly long hours or anything but just because, I tell ya, some of the personalities I have to deal with requires a lot of energy expenditure and a hefty dose of patience.

As I was coming home today I did witness a Hollywoodrific example of unstoppable force meeting immovable object, as the late great Gorilla Monsoon used to say. Basically, as I walked to my car, past the Ellen artist's entrance, out comes Taye Digs into a limo, but wait, it wasn't the star of UPN's Kevin Hill that caused such a commotion, it was Mariah Carey, who soon after exited the show into her own large caravan of black vehicles. And who was arriving at that very moment? None other than J-Lo herself! Yep, these two titans of diva-hood had a near-miss, and I guess that's for the best, as a run-in of the two could cause the universe to implode, or maybe just a big-azz catfight. Crazy.

Anyways, today brought some interesting news which directly affects us pages, as it was revealed that Dennis Miller's CNBC show is, in fact, cancelled, after a number of conflicts between Miller and CNBC. It's weird - having worked at the show it really gives you a new perspective on cancellation - I mean sure Miller will go on to other things, but all the people I've met who work there are suddenly and sadly out of a job, just like that. It's a tough business, that's for sure. I think that Miller's show had a decent format, but Miller's recent stubborn political conservatism alienated him from his old fanbase, which I would guess were mostly liberal intellectual types who enjoyed him back in his SNL days. Sadly, Miller himself often seemed less than 100 percent committed to his show, and you could see that in the uneveness of his performances. I myself appreciate that he has an original comedic voice and a smart if sometimes obscenely incomprehensible style that few could fully understand and see the humor in. Hi show was also way too unfocused, featuring everything from political panels to celeb interviews to cooking segments, and you never quite knew what to expect from it. I will say also that I will miss working at the show. It was a nice change of pace from Leno and Ellen, at least making an effort to present thought-provoking topics and doing something a little different. His opening video highlight real had some CLASSIC comedy moments from the show's brief lifespan. There was Don King kissing up to Dennis ("Dennis Miller, I would like to promote YOU!"), this really flamboyant reporter interviewing people at the Republican National Convention ("I am not a crazy old lady!"), and of course Tim Meadows bashfully skinnydipping at a nudist colony. Funny stuff. Where does Miller go from here? Who knows, but since CNBC is so focused on becoming a channel about business and business related news only (oooh, compelling stuff that is for a TV station), he won't be popping up there anytime soon. As one poster to the Daily Kos website states: "A tragedy this big hasn't been seen since the Visigoths conquered Southern Gaul." Hahaha ... don't get it? Exactly.


Now let's talk about another Miller - that's right, Reggie Miller - who last night had a few more great moments to help the Pacers defeat the Pistons in an amazing game that saw the Pacers even their series with Detroit at 1 game a piece. Great game and it was amazing to see the determintation of Reggie to put some points on the board at key times in the game. Kudos to Jeff Foster who had a career game (20 rebounds!) and Jamaal Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal, who had huge contributions as well. Weirdly, this series is really paralleling the Dallas-Phoenix series, which has followed the exact same pattern of a blowout by the hometeam and then a close victory by the road team. Phoenix, overall, is playing great and looking unstoppable if they can keep up the pace, though Dallas may have something to say about that.



A pretty good episode this week, though a little slow paced, and Kate's flashbacks were frustratingly short on real answers about her past, which seems more mysterious than ever now. I was left wondering what Kate did to her mother that made her so unwelcome at her hospital bed, and also what she did to become a fugitive in the first place. Kate's character has been one of the show's trouble spots, as the writers can't seem to decide if we are supposed to root for her or be suspicious of her apparently manipulative ways. I know it's supposed to be left ambiguous, but it just seems inconsistent. Otherwise, the stuff with Locke and Jack, and with Michael and his son, was great. What is in that freakin' hatch? I can't wait for the season finale, but with the pace they're going at it seems like it will be years before we get any answers. My grade: B


A great, great season finale. Looking back, it was, in it's way, over the top and heavy on the cheese. But I was totally caught up in it. In all honesty, I woudn't mind much if this was the final episode of the series, because it wrapped up so well and really seemed like a goodbye to the characters. Throughout the season I've complained that Jack was unrealistically stoic, but all that lack of emotion was paid off big time in this ep - I swear that was an amazing scene when Jack meets his father for the first time, and just breaks down and cries, showing emotional vulnerability for the first time, well, ever. Damn that was some powerful stuff. All of the scenes came together really well, and the pieces of the puzzle really fell into place. Finally we see exactly how Bobby becomes President and how Jack comes to suffer his final fate. A very nice ending to a show that really, really improved and found its focus over the course of the year, and in the end turned into one of the most emotional, smart, inspiring and epic series on TV. My grade: A

Smallville: Wow, that sucked. This series has really hit rock bottom. Sure, there were a few decent character moments between Clark and his father, and Lex and his father. But the plot, oh my God, that plot was atrocious. The writers clearly have no clue how to create a convincing villain for Clark aside from Lex, and the amazingly crazy plotline of this episode was testament to that (I won't even go into it here because it's so absurd, even for a show about a young Superman). Now despite all that, I am still looking forward to the season finale. This show tends to run on cruise control for much of the season, but rarely fails to deliver the goods in its movie-length season enders - so I still have faith that they can bring closure to a year's worth of crappy storylines in a fun, exciting way. But wow, looking at this ep, the Jason Teague / Lana / tattoo /caves / reincarnation plotline has been so completely nauseatingly awful that it's gonna be painful just to see it brought up again in any subsequent episodes. Please let all of these terrible plotlines die and refocus this show on bringing the classic Superman mythology to life. My grade: D

THE OC - Decent episode that dragged for much of the first 40 minutes or so, but dayum that last 5 minutes was a sweet cliffhanger for next week's season finale, which is shaping up to be one hell of an episode. The adults on the show have really become a lot more interesting than the teens, and it shows in how played out the Seth-Summer, Ryan-Marissa stuff is, even as the Julie Cooper plot is really stealing the show. Oh, and who knew poor George Lucas regrets missing his prom? Talk about pointless guest appearances ... Could you imagine Lucas actually making a movie based on Seth's comic? That might be the worst movie ever, I mean talk about being out of ideas - oh, let's go mine material from a 17 year old's badly drawn comic about a bunch of teenage heroes with stupid names. That'll work. Actually, that doesn't sound that improbable, which is scary. My grade for this episode: B -

Well, that was a lot of writing. Tommorow promises to be crazy as usual, so I gots to get my rest. Oh and hey, George Lucas, I have some material you can use - it's called IBA: The Movie, and I think it could be bigger than Star Wars, no joke.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Wow. Re: Veronica Mars Finale

Consider this the online equivalent of a standing ovation.


Or better yet: Holy crap.

Now THAT is how you do a season finale.

For the last hour, I have been staring at my TV alternating between holding my breath, biting my nails, and feeling shivers down my spine. Damn, that was good TV. No, scratch that, that was damn good storytelling - that was damn good ART. That, along with last week's episode of Veronica Mars, were two of the best, most satisfying, most exciting, most unpredictable episodes of television I've ever seen. So first of all, to a.) anyone who prejudged this show and thinks it's some stupid teen soap or something, and to b.) anyone who hasn't watched it yet for whatever reason, I say: GET WITH THE PROGRAM - THIS IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE beST SHOW ON TV RIGHT NOW. When the Season 1 DVD is released in a few months, I implore you, go out, buy it, rent it whatever, but just watch it if you need to catch up so you're primed and ready for Season 2. Because by some miracle this fairly low rated show got renewed, and there is NO WAY that people should be skipping it in favor of the utter CRAP that is pulling in the ratings right now. On a quick aside, it is truly disturbing to see that next week, in the now-sacred timeslot of Veronica Mars, will be a reality show about Britney Spears and her white trash husband - a sad state of affairs indeed. But anyway, I don't want to dwell on that travesty. I want to talk about tonight's season finale, which was , to use one of my favorite words, freakin' awesome!

But first ... some obligatory Spoiler Space.


So the slightly sadistic faded movie star, Aaron Echols, is Lilly Kane's killer! He was having a scandalous, secret affair with her - his own son's girlfriend (!) and murdered her in a fit of rage when she playfully threatened to reveal the videotapes (!) he had secretly been making of their escapades. I have to say, this was revealed so well. Honestly, I didn't really suspect him, but the clues were revealed JUST RIGHT so that in the moments before it became clear who killed Lilly, I guessed exactly what happened, because just as it did for Veronica, things began to make perfect sense to us the viewers as well. This dark, exciting, season-concluding episode did a FANTASTIC job of addressing all the major mysteries and subplots while still throwing plenty of twists and turns in as well. In the first few minutes alone, we were made to think that the mentally unstable Duncan Kane killed his sister. But no, later we find that his parents only thought he did, and therefore tried to cover his tracks and avert suspicion. Then we were led to believe, as was Veronica, that Lilly's off-kilter ex-boyfriend, Logan Echols was the jealous murderer. But when the final reveal came, it was dramatic, heartbreaking, and yet totally surprising.

And yet, despite all the mysteries it was the CHARACTER MOMENTS that really shone. I don't think I've seen a more powerful scene in a long while then the entire sequence where Aaron Echols traps Veronica, as her father rushes to her rescue. The action in this scene was realistic, gritty, and scary - someone was going to get hurt, bad - and Keith Mars' (now shown to be Veronica's actual father!) desperation to save his daughter was truly palpable. Seriously, wow. All of the relationships on the show really came to a head here. Veronica's love and appreciation for her dad, her loyal friendship to Wallace, her rocky romance with Logan and eventual betrayel, Weevil's rivalry and suspicion of Logan, the tension between Veronica and her deadbeat mom, Aaron Echols predatory, violent nature, Duncan's uncertainty and his bond with Veronica. This is epic, complex, multidimensional stuff. No wonder this show gets low ratings.

Now even with something this good there's bound to be a few complaints. A few little things that bothered me:

- No opening theme song! What? The kickass theme by the Dandy Warhols is so key to this show and is crucial in setting the tone. Well, I guess I can accept it if it allowed for a few extra minutes of program time.

- Wait, what the ...? What happened to Logan? He looked like he was about to plunge himself off a bridge, or maybe get pounded into street meat by Weevil's gang. What happened? So that's one mystery for next (thank God) season ...

- But then, another cliffhanger? I would have rather seen just closure, but okay, I'll bite, who opened Veronica's door at the end? Gotta be Logan, Duncan, or the choice I'm gonna go with, Wallace, who reamined her one true, normal friend throughout the season.

- The one scene I thought was kind of awkward was the opening where the Kanes tell Duncan what "really" happened - that he murdered his own sister (which of course was false). The scenes just felt a bit off and the reactions unrealistic. Oh well, still ...

Amazing, amazing episode. Incredible show. This season finale really showed this to be a series with a lot of complex themes, not just a one-note mystery. But oh what a mystery it was. Thank you to all of the creators involved. Thank you to the amazing cast. Job well done.

My grade: A+

Well, what ELSE is goin' on?

More ticket-office fun at NBC. Since they're low on personnel, I went at it mostly alone today, and I tell ya it's enough to drive a man insane. At least 5 legit psychos called the office today. One woman hung up on me because I was being "rude" (when in actuality I was very polite, but told her that I didn't know how the bus system in Burbank worked) and kept saying I was ignoring her for some reason ... Then this crazy dude with a psycho-killer voice kept saying how we should have "nice women" on the show like, get this, Pamela Anderson and Tori Amos. Okay ... And then a guy who yelled at me for not knowing fluent Spanish (sorry!), a girl who absolutely could not find our office despite talking on a cell phone RIGHT OUTSIDE OF IT, and oh so many more ... CRAZINESS I say! Literally!

Oh yeah - last night's 24 -- good stuff, kind of a filler, laid-back ep (for 24) but still darn good nonetheless, highlighted by some hilarious lines from Chloe ("So Jack, it's going to be very awkward for you to talk to Audrey now, seeing as how you just destroyed her life by being responsible for the death of her husband and all." = Bwahahahaha). Jack finally gets his hands on Marwan -- nice, very intense. And hey, there's no better cliffhanger than a nuclear missle getting launched somewhere in the heart of Middle America. Yeah, I think I'll be tuning in next week, you know, just to see how that little plot point turns out. OVerall though this episode dragged a bit in a few places and did seem overly drawn out, not REALLY picking up steam until the final 15 minutes or so ... (yep, despite all that other stuff goin' on). My grade: B+

Well, my PACERS got owned by the Pistons yesterday, and their chances aren't looking good. More on this as it develops - but GO PACERS and win game 2 tommorow!

Alright, tommorow it's more adventures in the Ticket Office. As usual I just do my job as all the drama unfolds around me. Yep, in the page program every day is basically one handheld camera away from being an episode of The Real World, so you can bet that there'll be lots of mail to open, more than a few phone calls likely originating from a padded cell somewhere, and a healthy dose of drama that should best be saved for yo' mama, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

It's a Mother's Day Miracle!

Okay, not really.

Happy Mother's day Mom, Grandma, and Hallmark.

Well I'm just not feeling the blog tonight. I sat down to write about some political stuff I was going to tackle, but decided that without the proper research it would just sound incomplete and uninformed, so nevermind.

I would like to make mention that Friday's tonight show was in fact pretty sweet -- Hayden Christianson's appearance got me even more hyped up for Star Wars (even though Leno's interview, as usual, was pretty blah - yeah we get it Jay, the word "Sith" is funny), and Beck was pretty rockin - as multiple NBC pages assembled to watch his performance. Oh, and Tracy Ullman was extremely funny as well.

This coming week it's a return to being the man in charge of ticket office, where I don't have to wear the ol' page uniform but, well, I'm stuck i nan office answering phones and processing mail from 9 to 5 for a week.


- First round is over and tommorow it's the grudge match we've all been waiting for: Indy vs. Detroit - the rematch, with Reggie Miller's career on the line. Man, I cannot wait for this series although I have a bad feeling the the Pacers are not going to be able to compete with Detroit's inside presence and depth, and Rip Hamilton is always a tough matchup for Reggie, as are the Wallace's for the much skinnier Jermaine O'Neal. The Pacers are going to have to shoot the lights out and get big games from O'Neal if they hope to win.

Alright kids, some quick FOX SUNDAY NIGHT reviews and then I'm outta here:

- Overall a decent night of comedy - def better than last week. The big thing though was that the 8 pm episode of The Simpsons really, really sucked. Badly. Wow, was that terrible. The 8:30 ep, with a hilarious premise of Homer being worried that the Rapture was coming, as he saw in the "Left Below" movie (which was one of the funniest parody scenes I've seen on the show in a while), was a lot better, but still by no means a classic or anything. King of the Hill had an excellent, Bobby-centric episode that put a new spin on the classic "Bobby joining a sports team but not in the way Hank envisioned" plot. Sure, we've seen this basic premise before, but hey, it worked and had some hilarious Hank moments. Malcolm was very good. Dewey is, oddly, becoming the real star of the show, but his interactions with his special-ed classmates are pretty funny, and Malcolm sometimes works better as a supporting character. It seems like they aren't really doing much with Francis though. I actually loved his plotlines the last few years when they had him working at a dude ranch, but what do I know. Now he just kind of pops up from time to time, but it was good to see him this episode. Family Guy was okay, but had some truly funny moments. They must have some younger people writing for them because last episode they had a dead-on GI Joe spoof and tonight they cracked me up with a YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON TELEVISION parody. Okay, now that is gold if you're of my generation and grew up watching old-school Nickelodeon (don't even get me started). The main plot with a femme-fatale teacher was pretty lame but the asides (like the genious opening Law and Order parody) made this episode. Turned off American Dad after five minutes - sorry, it is so bad it's not worth watching. My grades: King of the Hill: B+, Malcolm in the Middle: B+, Simpsons 1: D, Simpsons 2: B, Family Guy: B

Alright I'm out. Don't worry, next time will be more interesting, I promise.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

O say can you C

California here I am.

Welcome back to the blog that gets more fans by the day, Danny's Digital Domain. Hmm, now that I just typed that out, it may be time for a new name. Holy crazy ideas, Batman. Time for:

The "Name That Blog" sweepstakes. If anyone has a new idea for a blog name, let me know. Back when I had a column in the ol' Daily Free Press at BU, it was titled Suburban Legends. That name doesn't quite fit any more though. I've also tossed out such potential titles as Tough But Fair (a longtime favorite of mine) and another BU holdover that never quite made the cut -- Defenestration Nation. So - write me a comment or whatever -- what should my blog be called? Prize, much like the time for Game 7 of Celtics-Pacers, is TBD.


I haven't been feeling this show for a long while now, but tonight's double bill pulled me ever so slightly back in, though I was still left feeling like we're being jerked around by the writers. Some comments:

- Enough build up for the alcoholic storyline already! This has been going on for two years! We GET IT. Kirsten Cohen is an alcoholic. She has a problem. Stop building up to this "revelation" as if it were the secret to the island on LOST. Okay, now she's in a car accident. So there's some progress, now let's MOVE THIS STORYLINE FORWARD.

- And, enough with the ridiculous love triangles. I know they really like parallel plotlines on The OC, but does EVERY CHARACTER have to be in a love triangle thingie?

- AND, enough with major plotlines being advanced due to STUPID MISUNDERSTANDINGS! This is NOT A SITCOM! Sure, the OC is known for its comedic interludes, but come on, every conflict on the show is due to miscommunication between the characters, the worst example being Summer re-dumping Seth for the billionth time because she happened to see him on an MTV spring break show just as he was coerced into licking whipped cream off another girl. Okaayy, what is this, Saved By the Bell: The Self-Mockingly Ironic Years? In tonight's eps alone we have failure to communicate as the major problem with Ryan and Marissa, Seth and Summer, AND Kirsten and Sandy.

The Good: Julie Cooper vs. Caleb Nichols, Trey becoming psycho-evil rapist, Seth's antics with a bunch of old men at his grandma's retirement community, Seth using a gang of comic book nerds to spy on Zach and Summer, Seth and Zach's geek-on-geek fight, Summer as Miss Vixen.

The Bad: The whole stupid "graphic novel" storyline that is going on forever and doesn't even really make sense (how exactly does Zach contribute to it?). More forced tension with Kirsten and Sandy, Summer and Seth.

My grades: Episode 1: C+, Episode 2: B-


Now, while the OC has kinda been losing me, JACK AND BOBBY had one mo' AWESOME episode yesterday, and they also did the whole drunk driving car crash story about 100 times better than The OC. In fact, for most of this year, Jack and Bobby has made the OC it's bitch, quality-wise. But seriously, what a great great episode. The show keeps IMPROVING, which is so cool. Usually, for example, I kind of tune out the documentary segments. But this ep had BY FAR the best documentary segments the show has yet had, with a middle-ages Warren (Bobby's best friend from childhood) recounting his reunion with his old pal after Bobby becomes President (now THAT's high concept). Just the thought of this scene - the US President and his old buddy in the oval office in 2050-something, playing videogames on an "antique" X-Box, talking old times, made me smile ear to ear, and then the closing line was just so, so great. The grown up Warren is talking to the camera, and he remembers talking to Bobby as PResident, and it wa something like "I said to Bobby can you believe it? Us here after all these years, me a successful businessman and you the freakin' President? And Bobby looks at me and says, Warren, I never even thought I'd make it through high school." Seriously, what a great ending to this fantastic episode. Sure, the guy who plays Jack is still too stoic and stiff as an actor, but the Missy stuff has been handled REALLY well, and the Bobby and Warren story was just classic, relly believable and realistic. They really seemed like KIDS, not like adults playing kids. Even if this series is done aftet next week's season finale, I think it really works as a self-contained maxi-series, a unique look at the making of the future US president. My grade for this ep: A


Now, I was tempted to do another gut-reaction quick post in response to last night's LOST, because like 24 and Veronica Mars this week, it was another HOLY JEEBUS type episode. Sure, we still know nothing about the island, but we do know that Locke, Jack, and Sayid may be headed for a major throwdown. My big gripe is that, in retrospect, why was everyone so understanding of Shannon nearly killing Locke, who has yet to be proven guilty of anything and has gone out of his way to be civil about things (well, except for knocking out Sayid and ruining everyone's chances of getting off the island ... but hey, Shannon didn't know that ...). Overall, though, a really intense, captivating, well done episode. Amazing acting by all parties involved, especially Terry O'Quinn as Locke. Now give us some answers already! My grade: A

PS - I have heard some interesting theories about the island on Lost and the Hatch. I am leaning towards agreeing with the theory that something, either a being (alien? government experiement? mutant psychic?) or object (mystical artifact? extraterrestrial craft?) is hidden away in the hatch and is psychically influencing the people on the island to its advantage, maybe as a master plan to free it, and Locke is its primary servant. Okay, on second thought that sounds kind of ridiculous. I have no freakin idea what is goin' on on that island.

Anyways ...


Sick game between Pacers and Celtics tonight. At first that Paul Pierce shove at the end was just shocking - had he turned to the Dark Side and gone all Ron Artest on us? After some replays though it did look like a pretty big flop by the opposing player, so it definitely was not as big a deal as it initially appeared. Anyways, here's hoping that Reggie and the Pacers can pull out Game 7 on Saturday so that a.) Reggie can live to fight another day before retirement awaits -- he can't go out losing to the Celtics in Round 1! and b.) Detroit - Indiana: Best of 7 - you know you want to see it.


Nothing much to note at work lately. Wed. I worked Leno and saw Sly Stallone, a funny comedian named Daniel Tosh, and Faith Evans perform (definitely not my type of music). It's always cool to see Rocky himself, even if it's the 3rd time I've seen him on the show since I started at NBC.

I gave an amazing tour yesterday. The people on it were treated to sightings of Jay Leno (who stopped to talk to us and sa,y as is his custom, "Lame tour, huh?"), Kevin Eubanks, John "Stuttering John" Melendez, Nancy "I got harassed by Pat O'Brien" O'Dell, Billy "Won't Admit I'm George W's Cousin" Bush (oh please Lord don't let him read this), and a bunch of guys dressed as knights. Coolness.

Finally met the new pages. One is a fellow BU grad, and another is originally from CT! Finally, New England is REPRESENTIN' at the NBC page program.


Get yer lightsabers ready, and rev up your landspeeder, cuz Anakin Skywalker (you know, Hayden Christianson, not that bald pasty dude from the end of Return of the Jedi) himself is a-comin' to The Tonight Show! The nerds should be out in full force (or will they? maybe they reserve that type of thing for Wookies and Natalie Portman?). Good times. In addtion, the woman whose show first gave us The Simpsons, Tracy Ullman, will be in attendance. Plus, a man named BECK will entertain us with his eclectic musical stylings, to which I say: "Odelay!"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mission to Mars

Okay, Veronica Mars, tonight, was simply spectacular. Sure, each episode of 24 is in and of itself an action packed thrill ride. Lost has been up and down, but has come through with some really amazing episodes and presented us with the most intriguing TV mythology since The X-Files. But, Veronica Mars has sustained an amazing mystery, and an amazing, ongoing story, over an entire season, with not a weak episode all year. And it's been building to this. The clues have been tantalizingly, expertly dropped. The characters have slowly been exposed as the layers are peeled away. Standalone stories have been deftly intermixed with running plot threads that grow and surprise in each new episode. And as good as an action packed hour of counterterrorist meyhem is, as good as a a good science fiction premise is, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a long, epic story, told with a beginning, middle and end, with plenty of twists and turns, that builds to just the right conclusion - not because it's going to get ratings, but because it's the ending that is simply meant to be - the logical conclusion even if it's one that, in the beginning, nobody quite saw coming. Tonight's Veronica Mars had more twists and turns than a Twizzler, and yet everything kind of fell into place - the other shoes dropped, and dropped hard ...


Duncan Kane is Veronica's brother -- and it was he who "raped" her one year ago. Wow, it makes perfect sense but still, the emotion and suddenness in Duncan's confession was really surprising and completely intense - an amazing scene. Veronica is out with Logan when they stumble into a surprise party where their relationship is revealed to everyone, causing Duncan to flip out and go postal - in another equally intense scene. Then, just when things seem peachy with Logan, Veronica, ever the detective, is horrified to discover spycams set up in his room! Whaaat? This seems (I hope) to imply that Logan is just as creepy and evil as we originally thought, but this plot point gives us one more mystery to ponder before next week's season finale. And then, Keith Mars goes all Memento on a hooker, only to question her about unjustly-incarcerated Abel Koontz - somehow leading to him ... returning home with Veronica's estranged mother! Whoah, one more crazy cliffhanger for good measure.

All in all, a fantastic episode. Great show, and I already can't wait for next season and the next chapter in this great story. But next week, next week after months of build-up and anticipation, we find out who killed Lilly Kane, and I am pretty confident in predicting that it's going to be one more awesome episode. As for tonight's episode -- wow. My grade: A+


One tour of only two people, then Ellen all day, featuring special guests Matt Dillon, Golden Girl Betty White, and the operatic stylings of Il Devo (not DEVO, unfortunately - the 80's new-wave rockers who are best known for "Whip It." That would have ruled.) There was dancing a-plenty and good times were had by all, even if I was ready to drop by the end of the show from all the craziness.


So long Philly and Sacramento. Ray Allen is quickly taking his game to another level, and was phenomenal in tonight's game. Allen Iverson has been playing in that same stratospheric level this whole year and especially in the playoffs, but once again it's not nearly enough, as he is surrounded this year by some rising young players, but overall the Sixers just can't compete with the likes of the defending champ Pistons. PACERS get a huge win, and Thursday is going to be huge - they have to close out the Celtics or they are in trouble in a possible game 7 - victory in that situation is definitely not a given. And if they win ... the Pistons await in Round 2 -- bring it on.

TOMMOROW: Tours and Tonight Show - and ... will I finally meet these new pages already?

Twenty Twenty Twenty-Four Hours to Go (I Wanna Be Sedated)

Oh my God.

24 24 24

Okay, yes, that ending to 24 was EXTREMELY contrived and you could see it coming a mile away. BUT ... holy lord, that was incredible. Jack Bauer hits absolute ROCK BOTTOM as he ...


... IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAUL REINS' DEATH! Wow, that last 5 minutes, despite that everyone and I mean everyone knew what was coming, as it was well-telegraphed, wow I was holding my breath and had to loudly exhale upon hearing that final beeeeeeeep. This show has balls, that much is for sure.

The sad part is that the more I think about it the more it looks like they may be headed towards a season finale that finally sees Jack sacrifice himself in the line of duty. They are setting him up as a man with nothing left to lose. Sure, his unseen daughter is out there somewhere, probably getting caught in a cougar trap or something, but otherwise, I feel like Jack might be headed for the big CTU in the sky. If that happens, I am going to be very sad indeed. But for now, the stakes have been raised. Sure, this China stuff is coming out of nowhere, and is quite a tangent to go on this late in the season, but it looks like all hell is going to break loose, and oh yeah, a nuke is about to go off in an hour! Can even Palmer save us?

more thoughts .....

- nice exchange between Chloe and Edgar.

- more nice moments between Michelle and Tony -- I think that Tony's redemption and reunion with Michelle is being set up to parallel Jack's tragic fall and isolation from those close to him.

- the thing with Buchanan going off on Tony did pretty much come out of nowhere though

- so wait, in the case of a NUCLEAR BOMB THREAT, the Chinese consulate can't hand over a man with proven terrorist connections? Wow I hope that wouldn't happen in real life. In any case this seemed just a bit absurd.

- Man, those Chinese guards sure were trigger happy ...

- Dude, Jack's covert ops mission was straight outta Metal Gear Solid ... am I wrong? SNAKE? SNAKE! SNAAAAAAAKE!

- Palmer lives three minutes from the President's bunker?

- And shouldn't he be talking with oh, I don't know, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, etc, before making decisions?

- Yeah, things as always are a little contrived and require huge suspension of disbelief, but daaaaamn these writers know how to set up a dramatic situation. If not for the end this episode would probably rank a mere B or B+, but the ending's emotional impact, cleverly woven and built up to throught the episode, elevates this KICKASS installment of 24 from a Tony "Yeah." to a classic, Jack Bauer "Dammit!" Basically, you're not gonna find a more nail-biting, exciting, well-told story on TV. My grade: A


- Escorted Wanda Sykes and Lost's Jorge Garcia (aka Hurley, aka Hugo) to their dressing rooms for Leno. I told Jorge I was a huge fan of Lost and enjoyed his character. Damn that dude is HUGE, like that big bearded guy from Harry Potter huge. I said I couldn't wait to find out what was goign to happen in the season finale, and he smiled as his friend jokingly exclaimed "everybody dies." Now that would be pretty funny.

- Didn't even get to meet the new pages as I was giving tours and at the Tonight Show all day, and tommorow I'm going to be at Ellen so I may not get to meet them until later in the week. Oh well.

- Well an assignment I want at NBC has finally come up for grabs - in the Primetime Prgramming dept. It'd be a lot of work but I'd get to get my hands on all kinds of scripts and stuff, so I'm going to apply for it. We'll see what happens. Oh, and it would require strict confidentiality. Hmm, I wonder if that includes blogs? (yeah I'm sure it does).


Terrible refereeing across the board tonight. In the Rockets-Mavs game, A bunch of bad calls really hurt Houston, especially the totally wrong no-call where Michael Finley was allowed to help steal the ball while out of bounds. Then in the Spurs-Nuggets game, an Earl Boykins (who by the way, at like 5"2, had an awesome game tonight) three was called as a two-pointer, which would have been the difference in the Nuggets winning the game before going into overtime, where they handily lost. Still, very close, entertaining games tonight, marred by some very bad, crucial calls by the referees.

Tommorow - GO PACERS.

At work:

Ellen all day + tour in the morning = loooooong day.

Scary Thought of the Day:

And you thought 24 was pure fiction ... Condoleeza Rice says that we're not scared of a nuclear threat from North Korea, and basically says "bring it on" since we have ample deterrent capabilities. Okay ... that makes me feel comfortable. Millions will be dead here, but it will be all good since we got 'em back good. I'm not saying we should negotiate with rogue nations, but how about using some language that doesn't seem to provoke a nuclear attack? All I know is, our President is no David Palmer, and we can see all the trouble HE's had dealing with threats to the country. Yeah, bring it on indeed.