Friday, September 30, 2005

Kneel Before Zod! Smallville Returns - and: Jennifer Love Hewitt Talks To Me!

Wow, Southern California is Burning. Luckily I am somewhat removed from the epicenter of these wildfires here in Burbank, but still, outside right now there is a thick smell of smoke and even inside my apartment you can smell it. Pretty crazy - hopefully the whole thing calms down in the next day or two and the air around here becomes a bit more breathable, because right now it feels like I'm sitting around an everlasting campfire.

On another note, I want to give a big thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes yesterday - I really appreciate it. Kind of funny how in this day and age one has to check IM, facebook, myspace, and email just to see all the messages that people are sending. But despite the need to check so many different websites, it's all good and it's always great to hear from so many friends new and old - especially on a day when I had to work until 9:30 pm at Last Call With Carson Daly. I'm looking forward to the festivities though on Saturday, when me and fellow NBC page Liz (also of the Sept. 28th birthday) will be holding our joint Hard-Rockin' Birthday Bash - and I hope to see a ton of people there!


- I met Jennifer Love Hewitt! Okay, well, barely. But I did escort the former Party of Five-er and current Ghost Whisperer to her dressing room, where she promptly asked about the possibility of meeting fellow Tonight Show guest Matthew McCaughnehy (sp?). Well, she seemed nice enough, I guess, though much smaller in real life than I thought she'd be. Oh Party of Five, what a great show that was. Well, at least I really liked it at the time ...

- Nobody really of note was at Carson yesterday. I did see the band Keane perform - can't say I'm really a fan of their Coldplay-esque whiny-rock, but they weren't bad live, I'll admit. Oh yeah, funny story - they had Tony Yao of G-Unit performing at Carson, and I guess some ppl have some beef with him as part of this whole stupid East Coast vs. West Coast rap war thing. So the Carson peeps got nervous that some ppl in the audience wmight cause an incident or whatever, and suddenly asked ME to stand in front of the stage during the performance and watch out for anyone who might try to do something crazy. So, what, I'm supposed to take a bullet for this guy or something? So there I was , barely standing off camera during Tony's rap song, hoping that none of the slightly sketchy-looking guys nearby were in the mood to fan the fires of any rap feuds. How do I get into these situations?

- Tuesday however, I was present at Leno for the now-omnipresent Jennifer Garner interview where she let slip that her baby is going to be a girl. Have to say though that despite questionable taste in being hitched to Ben Affleck, the star of Alias and Elektra seems to be an incredibly cool and friendly person who completely won over the crowd, so count me as a fan, even if I never really got into Alias. Also saw cameo appearances by Damon Wayans and Pamela Anderson~!, who stopped by to sign Jay's bike for charity. That's two, count 'em two sightings of Pamela in the last month. In addition, saw a surprisingly rocking performance by Stephen Stills, he of Crosby, Stills, and Nash fame. I know it's just my own ignorance, but I honestly never even realized he had any kind of solo career before this week. Hey, not bad though, the man can still rock.

- Interviewed for primetime programming assignment on Tuesday. Tommorow another interview for a studios-production assignment. Once again, wish me luck and stay tuned.

Alright, I got a whole buncha TV Reviews for ya, but I'll try to keep 'em quick ...



SMALLVILLE - Smallville always seems to deliver with it's "big" episodes, but this season premiere really had a lot to prove after last season which was in general underwhelming and filled with nonsensical subplots and a plethora of lame crappy episodes. So I was eagerly anticipating this episode but also kind of hoping against hope that it wouldn't suck. But guess what? IT COMPLETELY ROCKED! Now THIS. IS. SUPERMAN. Intense action! Great character bits! Plot! Villains! A lot of cool stuff happening! It all added up to an episode that completely erased all the lameness of last season and set this show on a great course for the Season 5. This was just a joy to watch. They even got me to once again root for Lana, who in Season 1 was everybody's favorite girl next door but last year was turned into the most annoying character ever. Erica Durance as Lois was great. Jon Shneider as Mr. Kent was great. Michael Rosenbaum as Lex, as always, was outstanding. And finally, we got some progress with the whole Chloe-Clark thing, and who would've thunk it - the scenes with Chloe and Clark were amazing and actually gave me chills. And what about those Kryptonian supervillains - the disciples of Zod, no less - blowing crap up like there's no tommorow with turrets of heat vision blasts. And Braniac! And what about the always-super music of Mark Snow mixed with snippets of the original Superman score - simply awesome music in this episode. And Tom Welling should be Superman! After seeing Super-Zoolander, I mean Brandon Routh, as Superman, and seeing Tom Welling kicking all kinds of ass tonight, I mean come on - this episode restored my belief that this cast could and should make a Superman movie, they are just that likable. Most importantly, this show restored my faith in Smallville, which has had lots of ups and downs, but when it's at it's best - this is really great TV that both entertains and inspires. Smallville is BACK, baby. My grade: A


VERONICA MARS - dammit, I missed the first half of the season premiere, but I liked what I saw even if I missed some important stuff. Still, it looks like the groundwork is being laid for another intriguing mystery, while the loose ends from last season were addressed nicely. And what an ending - this show never does things quietly, that's for sure. Please, Watch This Show - tape/TIVO Lost if you have to. While it will be hard for Season 2 to match the sheer clockwork-like perfection of Season 1, this is good stuff, really good stuff even - surprisingly dark, witty, and entertaining. My grade: A-

PRISONBREAK - okay, this show is starting to seriously kick some ass. Things really kicked into high gear this week, and I'm loving the sheer over the top violence and mayhem of this prison-riot story. I am liking the cast on this show more and more with each episode, and this was just a classic to-be-continued nail-biter. Is Michael Scofield the new Jack Bauer? I wouldn't go that far, but he's already much cooler than that wannabe badass Chase from 24 season 3. My grade: A

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT - Once again, please, watch this show. It's only the best live action comedy on TV, and this episode continued to bring the funny after the great season premiere last week. Sure, some of the jokes were a little too out there, but hey, when the preview for next week's ep with Scott Baio made me burst into laughter in and of itself, you know this show is quality. My grade: A -

MY NAME IS EARL - Hmmm, once again, this show is trying really hard to be different and clever and cool, but honestly I just don't think it's all that funny, and nowhere near as clever as it'd like to be. Sure, the potential is there and Jason Lee simply rocks, but as of now I just don't think this show is worthy of the hype. I caught part of Commander in Chief that aired opposite Earl, and while it's not really my thing I could see that show becoming big as it has a good cast and some good dramatic chops inherit in its premise. As for Earl, it's got an uphill battle in more ways than one. My grade: C

THE OFFICE - whoah, can you say funniest episode yet of the American version of The Office? I can, because while this show has been straddling the line of Funny, this episode lept over that line and delivered the goods. This was laugh out loud funny, and it's about time this show kicked comedic ass like this. Carell, Rain Wilson, and the rest were on the top of their games, and the writing was the best I've seen yet on the show. The one bad thing: argh, this was kind of similar to my in-progress spec script - another idea I have to scrap! Anyways ... My Grade: A -

THE OC - Ummm ... what is going on with this show? Sure, there's some intriguing stuff going on with Julie Cooper and the sketchy chick played by Jeri Ryan, but the sudden deluge of cheesy high-school antics is killing this show! This show was originally about bigger stuff than social committees and school dances and petty jealousy - save that for some other show - this is The OC, bitch? Bring back the epic soap-opera storylines, the shocking dramatic twists, the old Seth Cohen, dammit all. Instead we get the HUGE revelation that the "Dean of Discipline" is getting some from a student! Haven't seen THAT before, and it's not like we couldn't see it coming a mile away. Fix this show! My grade: C

REUNION - this one on the other hand, is quickly becoming what the OC used to be - the best guilty pleasure on TV. But while the OC built it's reputation on becoming the first post-modern teen soap, Reunion is a good old-fashioned mystery built around a cool, modern premise and structure. I am loving the format of this show where each episode takes place One Year Later, and I am really getting sucked in to just about all of the wonderfully twisting plots and characters, and now I am dying to know who got murdered and who the murderer is. The cast is really growing on me and they have me hooked, with plenty of twists with each new episode. My grade: A-

NIGHT STALKER - I had high hopes for this show, mostly because it's from Frank Spotnitz who was a big force behind two of my all time favorite shows (both from creator Chris Carter), The X-Files and Millenium. I was hoping that the terrible reviews were wrong, but unfortunately, the critics were right - in fact most of them probably went too easy on this steaming pile - because this remake of the old-school Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a convoluted, boring mess. This marks the latest in the line of network scifi pilots that has totally sucked - joining Surface, Threshold, Invasion, and Supernatural in the category of "nice try, but go watch some X-Files and see how it's done." Actually, nice try is a bit generous in this case, because this show had bland characters, pretentious direction, a going-nowhere script, and did nothing to make you want to see more of this new version of Kolchack. Oh well, at least I have my Millenium DVDs to remember a time when Frank Spotnitz's name was associated with quality.
My grade: D

And finally ...

LOST - One one hand, this episode entertained me pretty thoroughly. On the other hand, it was basically a rehash of last week's ep with little new material - a bad sign as I don't want this show's pacing to become even more glacially slow than it already is. Sure, the time jump stuff was done pretty well, and the raft bits, especially the little battle with the CORPORATE LOGO SHARK OF DOOM were kind of cool for a while ... but come on, this whole episode goes by and we are pretty much back where we started. Now it does look like next week's invasion of the mysterious Others is going to pick up the pace a bit, but right now there are so many unanswered questions that the average viewer has probably forgotten half of the questions that this show has posed so far. Still, this show does intensity like no other, and it's pretty remarkable how they told us virtually nothing new yet ramped up the tension to crazy levels. Yeah, I'll keep watching. My grade: B

Okay ... lots of TV stuff in one post, I know. Anyways - I'm out. Thanks once again for all the birthday wishes. By the way, the quote of the day yesterday had to have come from one of my supervisors at work, the always-quotable Christy, who upon hearing that I was turning 23, responded by exclaiming: "23? I own pairs of shoes that are older that you!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Nobody Likes You When You're 23 ...

... at least that's what Blink 182 said. But what did they know, anyways?

But seriously, holy reality-checks, Batman, today I am 23. Who would've thought I'd have made it this far? And stuck with only a somewhat lame pop-punk song to represent my new age, whereas in the late teen years I had cool tunes like "18 And Life" by Skid Row or "Nineteen" by Thin Lizzy to proudly play upon the arrival of September the 28th. Haha oh well, guess ya can't win 'em all.

Let's reflect a bit, shall we? Last year at this time I was at home in Connecticut - I had completed my summer interning at Conan O'Brien, which was great, but soon found myself back in Bloomfield with no idea what to do next, which was not so great. Things were really seeming to hit a post-collegiate rock bottom, as I went from being in NYC, on my own, where I had a chance to hang out with a lot of my BU friends - Eryka, Aksel, Kirsten, Bre, Kate, and was working everyday with cool, smart, funny people - to suddenly being at home again with little to look forward to each day except for the opportunity to catch up on my videogame playing. And while I kept telling myself that I was going to get back to NYC as soon as I could, I had no idea how that could be possible, as I had no money, no job, and no real contacts except for the people at Conan, where they weren't hiring - or at least not hiring me. So basically all my big plans to make it in entertainment were fading quickly and I soon found myself applying for all kinds of crappy jobs at the behest of my parents. So yeah, one year ago was not so great.

It took a little while, but things finally started to pick up. I got a call from the Conan offices saying they wanted me to come back as a PA and help them m0ve offices. While the pay was barely enough to buy lunch each day, I eagerly accepted, and took the slightly drastic step of staying with an aunt I had who lived outside of NYC who I had never met or spoken to before that time. It turned out that the whole thing went pretty well, and it was one more chance to be in NYC and work at Conan, which was cool. Of course that was only a temporary gig until the move was completed about a month later, and after that I was almost back at square one, still with no idea of what I was going to do next. There were some slight rays of hope, as I began to go on a series of interviews in CT and NYC, a few of which for for some really cool jobs, none of which I got, of course. But hey, as I talked about in one of my first ever blog entries, during this time in the late fall and early winter I got to venture inside the hallowed halls of Nickelodeon, WWE, DC Comics, and ESPN for interviews, which was kind of cool in and of itself, especially DC, which I still smile at when I think of some of the big names I got to meet during that interview. But other than those few sparks of possibility, things were still looking kind of grim. My last bastion of hope was the NBC Page Program, which I had applied to back in July, but as seems to be typical, I had still not heard a word from months later. From what I had heard while at Conan, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to do the page program at first. But at that point, as my brother went to college for his freshman year and most of my friends were out of the state or country, the page program was looking pretty good.

Finally things started to happen, and I got the call to interview for both the page programs nearby in NYC and far away in LA. The LA one kind of took me by surprise, because while I had sort of thought about going out to LA I don't think I ever seriously considered it, mostly because I had no idea how I could move out there without a job, and conversely how I could get a job there while living in Connecticut. So suddenly I found myself flying out to LA, staying at a motel near the Burbank airport, and rushing off to interviews with NBC, Disney, Warner Brothers, and a few others, as I had hurridly tried to arrange as many interviews as I could once I decided that I was going to make the trip to interview at NBC. The trip seemed to go well (and it was also the subject of one of my early blog entries ...), but it was all just so much to take in that I had no idea what to make of it all. I didn't know what my chances were of getting into the page program, and the other interviews didn't give me that much faith that they'd lead to an actual job. Meanwhile, I was going back and forth to NYC, doing interviews there, including for the page program. In the midst of all the chaos, when I was kind of doubting that the page program was going to come through and about ready to start applying to Staples or Borders, I got accepted, out of nowhere into the LA page program, and the craziest part was that all of a sudden I had two weeks to figure out whether I was even going to do it. And once I decided to do it ... well, then I had less than two weeks to figure out my big move from Bloomfield, CT to Los Angeles, CA. Suffice to say, it was a lot to think about.

So here I am, and here I've been since late January when I started as an NBC page. Pretty unbelievable if you ask me. And now I'm celebrating my first birthday as a Californian, pretty far away from most of my family and my college friends. So even though there's been ups and downs, even though I can't get seem to get an assignment, and even though tommorow brings the prospect of working at Carson Daly all day until 9 pm ... on my friggin' birthday - that still beats the heck out of where I was this time last year, the specifics of which I honestly don't even remember, probably because it was too boring and nondescript to even recount. Sure, I was in nice and safe CT with my family, far from fault lines and the worst traffic of all time. But at least now I'm somewhat on a path towards where I think I may want to be.

Which I guess is not all that bad for 23.

Monday, September 26, 2005

"You get to drink from... the FIRE HOSE!"

Well here it is Monday night and I am gazing upon the remanants of yesterday's blog entry, which was almost completely and suddenly DELETED due to some crazy internet problems. So now my thoughts from yesterday seem completely out of date and like so 24 hours ago ... Oh well, might as well leave 'em as is anyways. So step into yer time machine, ladies and germs, here were my ...

Pre-Monday thoughts:

I am so impatient with all this page program stuff. I'm ready for the big-time, and I'm ready for it now. Get me into an assignment, get me on a show, get me a writing deal with Warner Brothers.

Ugh, this is one of those Sunday nights where I look at the week ahead and it just looks like total craptitude. I'm sorry, but the thought of working at Carson Daly on Wednesday - my birthday - until 9 pm, standing outside the studio and acting as a human directional sign, just makes me want to cry, vomit, or quit the page program.

I mean, my friend Sean and I sat down today and hashed out this really cool idea for a TV show - we fleshed out some of the characters, the premise - and overall it's a pretty freakin' cool idea. It has a great hook and a ton of potential. But here I am, in Hollywood, and even though I KNOW I am capable of churning out stuff like this on a regular basis, I am going in tommorow to give Tour of NBC # 5,341. Okay, okay, I could be in Bloomfield sitting on my ass applying for jobs at Staples, and the mere fact that that's NOT what I'm doing is in its own way a miracle, so I can't complain too much. But such is the plight of our generation -- the world just isn't ready for us yet.

Moving on from my teenage girl's livejournal-esque rant ...

... and bringing you into the quasi-present ... (ie some of this was written yesterday but most of it wasn't and/or had to be re-written ...) ... here are:



- On one hand this movie was pretty cool in all the right ways. On the other hand it was no Nightmare Before Christmas. Why, you ask? Let us count the ways: Firstly, the story was overly simplistic and thus stretched out to fill the movie, which led to a SLOW pace and a lot of dragging. Secondly, the music lacked the catchiness and overall quality of Nightmare, despite having Danny Elfman at the helm - no song here compares to the iconic This Is Halloween, for example. Finally, while the stop motion animation was once again brilliant, the visual style lacked the overall uniqueness and flair of Nightmare. The colors were left intentionally drab, but while this is cool for awhile, it eventually contributes to the inability of the film to consistently hold your attention. On the plus side, those visuals are often breathtakingly awesome, and the character design is once again inspiring. And of course, the voice acting was top-notch, with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Albert Finney, and the uber-voice of Christopher Lee all delivering the goods and bringing tons of life (or in some cases, death) to their characters. There are moments of greatness here, but it just doesn't come together with the combination of great songs, visuals, and plot that Nightmare had. Still, this is a must-see for fans of Burton or Nightmare. And for those who call Burton an overrated Hack - sorry, you're wrong - he may not be as good as his hype, and he may be hit and miss, but few other directors could bring this level of inventiveness and unique visual style to their films. But for those of you who worship the Goth ground that Burton walks on - sorry, but the flaws of this overly stretched out fairytale prevent it from acheiving an elusive "A." The bottom line though is that after weeks of dull, derivative leftovers at the box-office, there is finally something that is very much worth checking out. My grade: B+


- King of the Hill - pretty decent episode though not as good as last week's premiere, as there wasn't really much of a focus on Hank, and the Bobby / Dale storyline wasn't all that interesting. Still, another solid episode of the underappreciated veteran that keeps on plugging away. My grade: B

- Simpsons - Hmm, it seemed like this episode was really gonna bring on the funny, and I was digging the Milhouse-and-his-family stuff, featuring actual (gasp!) continuity and an actual (gasp!) plotline worth paying attention to. But in spite of being the funniest ep in a while, this one pissed me off simply for the fact that it soon reverted to MARGE KICKS OUT HOMER, THEN RECONCILES WITH HIM, VERSION 5,987, Enough already with this TIRED-OUT plotline that we seem to see every other week now (literally, as it was in the season premiere two weeks ago!). Shame, shame! My grade: B -

- Family Guy - Okay, this show is starting to really jump the ol' shark when every three seconds we get "Hey, this is even more _______ than the time I ________ ..." followed by a quick cutaway. The pacing of this show is getting a little ridiculous, and worse,a disturbingly small number of these cutaways are actually even funny lately. Still just about everything Stewie says or does still amuses me, so at least there was that. Curious to see that DVD movie as well. My grade: C+

TV MISC: Forget if I mentioned this already, but I am totally into FOX's new show REUNION now - that second episode, set in 1987, was awesome - much better than the pilot in my opinion. I kind of watched it in the background while working on some stuff, and suddenly found myself completley sucked in, as there were some great twists and turns. And by the way, THE OC is on life support as far as I'm concerned ... this DEAN OF DISCIPLINE stuff is moronic.



- A lot of Tonight Show stuff this week, and that unfortunate Carson Daly-on-my-bday business I mentioned earlier.

- Tommorow: Interview for the much sought-after primetime programming assignment at NBC. The odds are probably not in my favor interms of whether I have a chance of getting this one, but we'll see. Okay, so seriously, this is it. For the most part, this is my last chance at an assignment, so wish me luck that it goes well.


- This past weekend some friends and I revisited a pair of 1980's classics, and I just have some quick thoughts, which are: For one, UHF, the Weird Al comedy vehicle, is still pretty damn funny after all this time - well, at least it made ME laugh. Secondly, I am not typically one who likes to mock cherished childhood classics, but as we were watching THE NEVERENDING STORY, it became obvious that some of the scenes, notably the initial dialogue exchanges between Atreyu and the winged creature Falcor, have some REALLY WEIRD AND DISTURBING undertones. Maybe you just had to be there, but I don't know if I can ever watch this movie the same way again ... Anyone else ever notice this ...?

- Dayum, last night in my sleep-deprived daze I had some more pretty good stuff written here that was really pretty random, but I don't know if I'm up to the task of trying to remember and rewrite it all right now. I'm sure it wil lreappear at some point in the future, but for now I'm gonna go watch Arrested Development. Hey, at least I finally have a readable blog entry after last night's internet crash. So choke on that, Slappy.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

LOST Strikes Back!

Okay - it's late, I gotta go to sleep, and dammit all I had to work at Last Call With Carson Daly today, so I'm not quite right in the head at the moment ...

But, gotta give some quick LOST season premiere thoughts:

- My thoughts are these: THIS should have been the season finale, or at least elements of this episode should have been incorporated into last spring's ridiculously frustrating season-ender. Why? Because this episode was a perfect blend of mystery and resolution - finally, our heroes descend into that freaking hatch and what is inside is actually pretty darn intriguing, if not simply a catalyst for about 1,000 new questions. Still, at least things are MOVING plot-wise, and where we were at POINT A for waaaaaaay too long, we finally seem to be on a path towards that ever elusive POINT B ... know what I mean? Anyways, I gotta say that the opening intro to this episode was simply awesome - totally mysterious yet a perfect setup for what was to come. And the flashbacks worked on multiple levels, in that they told a pretty involving self-contained story about Jack's past, yet also perfectly set up the cliffhanger ending, as new character DESMOND surfaced on the island and made a big, big impact. Gotta love when storylines simply flow together in sync like that. Some intriguing new questions posed as well ... Does Jack also possess some kind of supernatural power (used unconciously to heal Sarah?)? Was Desmond's first encounter with Jack simply chance, or something more? And what exactly was he injecting himself with in the opening montage? Plenty to think about, and at this point I was plenty relieved to have anything to think about regarding Lost other than why are the show's writers and producers a bunch of lame-asses who won't show us what's in the stupid hatch? So yeah, Lost is back. And after seeing a trifecta of totally mediocre pilot episodes for bandwagon-riding new series - the poorly produced Threshold, Surface, and Invasion - Lost returned to show all the imitators how it's done. That's just good TV, baby. My grade: A

- Meanwhile, what about INVASION, the new ABC show following Lost? In a nutshell, it was about the most glacially-paced scifi show I've seen in a while, and one that was barely interesting enough to be able to sustain viewers for one episode, let alone a whole series. Because unlike Lost, which savors all its weirdness and pulpy trappings despite its focus on character, this show seemed to resent the very fact that it's called Invasion and that it is, clearly, supposed to be about aliens ... or something. I mean, of the 44 minutes or so of show that we got here, about 35 of those minutes were about the oh-so moving story of a family struggling to find itself, and about 9 minutes was recycled crap that was either done first and better on The X-Files (see the repeated use of the term E.B.E. like it's so cool and original when clearly that's been done), or simply seems to be a retread of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or about a million other similarly-themed scifi movies. Oh yeah, most of the characters on this show were annoying as hell, especially the kids. And my new pet peeve for high concept shows: you need a REASON for the characters to be involved in the drama. We can only suspend disbelief so much that regular people in extraordinary circumstances wouldn't call the police or whoever, for example - as happened here when the dad and his brother decide to not tell anyone about a dead body because it might, MIGHT, just be part of a government cover-up or whatever. Um, no. The premise should force the action, as on Lost when ordinary people deal with crazy stuff because they have no chice, seeing as how they are STRANDED ON AN ISLAND. So no, Invasion - despite some nice set-pieces and movie-like production values, is by no means a worthy follow-up to LOST, and that's too bad. Well, I guess it's okay since the last thing I needed was another good show to watch. But still, it's a shame. I guess. My grade: C


- Glad to see that MY NAME IS EARL did so well in the ratings. Hey, sometimes I gotta root for NBC, seeing as how I work for them and all ... and EARL has soooo much potential, curious to see the next few episodes and how they pan out, and hopefully this will help THE OFFICE out as well.

- On the other hand ... WHY AREN'T YOU WATCHING ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT?!?! It freakin' sucks that the ratings continue to be so low, when this show is the BEST COMEDY ON TV. Maybe it would help if it wa paired with an established show on Mondays ... one that is nearly as funny and at one time had a huge fanbase and lots of critical acclaim ... one whose quirky style paved the way for Arrested to be on in the first place ... say, Malcolm in the Middle? Do you hear me FOX? Do you?!?!?


- hmmm, kinda like working at Dennis Miller, meaning lots of standing around and seeing a lot of weird ppl in the audience who go because they are paid to be there. But oddly, I somehow ran into Jordan, one of my old roommates from my days staying at Columbia U in NYC (while I was interning for Conan) last year, at the show, after not having been in contact for over a year now! How random is that? Anyways, the show itself has an awesome set, and hey, I did get to see iconic MTV VJ Bill Bellamy in person (okay iconic may be a bit strong, I realize ...). And there was a so awful it's kinda funny interview with Molly Simms, who told a story so rambling and hard to follow that nobody had a clue what she was talking about. And the house band, Max and the Attack, was actually pretty rocking, kind of a Reel Big Fish-esque punk / ska band with a bit of a harder, metal edge to them. And I did see a new all-girl rock band called The Like perform, which was some pretty decent stuff even if they were kind of a wannabe female Strokes. But man, Carson has gotta work on his comedic timing a bit, that's all I'm saying. And please, get this man some better material! Some of the lines he is given are just brutal.

Bring back Dennis Miller, dammit all ...

Tommorow: Ellen, once again. And, interview for an assignment! No pressure .....

And finally: I've decided that MYSPACE.COM is a very scary website. A quick browse through people living in my area revealed that there are some MESSED UP people living in Burbank and surrounding cities (and some who I suspect live in my very apartment complex, but that's another story). Anyways, all I know is that there are some women who simply have no shame who really, really, should have a little shame. And by a little, I mean A LOT. Goodnight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I Have a Black Belt in Tae-Kwon-Flo

Well I survived one more day of NBC ticketbox, so yeah, that's an accomplishment.

So here I sit - tired, out of it, unable to think many clear and lucid thoughts. So bear with me.

(aka how I review things when unable to process much in the way of comprehensible ideas ...)

- PRISONBREAK: Monday's episode was great - this show is one notch away from the plateau of action-adventure thriller that 24 currently sits atop by its lonesome. A great cast, thoroughly enjoyable characters, and a plot that is unfolding slowly but surely with plenty of intensity and energy so I remain interested week to week. You know how a drama is really succeeding? When you instantly remember the characters' names - because a.) they sound cool, and b.) they are memorable, cool characters. I remember Michael Scolfield. My grade: A -

- ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: Oh please, will you just FRIGGIN' WATCH THIS SHOW ALREADY? Yes, YOU! Apparently the ratings for Monday's brilliant season premiere were less than stellar, and that just makes me sad. This episode was hilarious, clever, amazingly acted and ingeniously written - the best single episode since early on in season 2. As usual, David Cross as Tobias was golden, and George Michael Bluth is becoming one of TV's most endearingly awkward characters. WATCH IT! My grade: A+

- GILMORE GIRLS: Another great episode, poured on the schmaltz a little too much for my tastes, but at this point it's all nitpicking since I am hoplessly wrapped up in the ongoing saga that is these characters' lives. No other show mixes humor, drama, and quirky wit like this one does. My grade: A -

- MY NAME IS EARL: Hey man, I already reviewed this a while back, so chchcheck it out. Like I said then, it has potential, a lot of potential actually, but for now there is no way that this not as clever as it wants to be show lives up to the ridiculous amount of hype and promotion its gotten from NBC and the mainstream press. Should be interesting to see what the ratings are though.

- THE OFFICE (U.S. VERSION) - This season premiere was, most importantly, FUNNY. Since not many shows can actually claim that, you should REALLY be watching this in support. I know, I know, I ragged on this show to no end previously. But while it's still not the British version, it's still better than what else is out there. This ep tried to incorporate some of the British version's human drama, and did so with somewhat mixed results, as the Jim-Pam relationship is still no Tim-Dawn from the UK edition, not yet at least. But with talent like Steve Carell and Rain Wilson bringing the funny, that's kinda okay for now. My grade: B

For the love of God, I know, too much TV.

But one more comment: I feel that LOST has started an annoying trend among scifi TV shows where producers think it's somehow now acceptable to not fully show your show's main antagonists, ala Ridley Scott's less-is-more approach in the original Alien. Since Lost has gotten away with going a whole season without revealing the true nature of the island's "monster," show's like NBC's Surface now think it's okay to have a show ABOUT sea-monster-alien-things, and yet never SHOW the sea-monster-alien-things. How is this acceptable? On The X-Files, when there was an episode about a sewer monster, you saw the damn sewer monster in all its gruesome glory. This hidden in the shadows approach does work SOME OF THE TIME, but only once it a while can it be pulled off with any degree of success. But now every show thinks they can wait a year before actually showing us the aliens, sea monsters, or whatever it may be. Sorry guys, but I only have patience to wait for one excruciatingly long and slow-progressing monster mystery to be revealed at a time. And I swear, if tommorow's season premiere of LOST doesn't tell me what's in that flippin' hatch, I will flip out ninja style. And SHOW ME THE MONSTER! (and don't tell me some lame crap like "oh yeah, it's not an actual monster but just our ID come to life!").

So, some last minute suggestions for what should be in the hatch on LOST, that would all be pretty mind-blowing in their own way:

- Elvis
- Heaven
- Buried copies of Atari's 1980's ET videogame
- Missing Left Socks
- aliens
- clones
- Dick Cheney
- something really, really, coooooooooool



Real exchange at work today:

-Man rushes in and comes up to ticketbox.
MAN: I'll take one copy of Las Vegas: Season Two on DVD.
ME: I'm sorry, we don't sell DVD's.
ME: Yeah, sorry, we don't have them here.
MAN: But I drove all the way from Pasadena to get it! This is crazy!
ME: Yeah, you're probably better off just going to Bestbuy ...
MAN: Fine! (MAN storms off in anger)


- It rained in SoCal today - and as usual hell on earth erupts since people here treat rain like its a sign of the apocalypse.

- Perfect Strangers was a great show.

- Make me your friend on and/or

- Explain how Carson Daly has his own talk show. Somebody? Anybody ...?

That's about it for now, my brothas. Unfortunately I'm too tired to give you my complex thoughts on the socio-political state of the world at the moment. Maybe some other time. In the meantime, imagine what I might have said, write it down, and study, study, study.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Emmy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and Shatner

What up?

Have a good weekend? Hope so, cuz guess what man, it's almost Monday again. Depressing, huh?

So, about those Emmy awards ...

First of all, let's be honest. Who, really, cares about the Emmy awards? As if Hollywood isn't self-congratulatory enough, we need to see a three-hour awards show every year just so that a bunch of out-of-touch industry types can tell us who and what, in their humble opinions, doesn't suck? Please. I mean, let's look at a show like Crossing Jordan. Now I'll be the first to admit, I have never seen an episode of this show in my life, and I don't have any immediate plans to ever watch it. I know of no one who watches it, as a matter of fact. The only confirmation I have that anyone actually ever watches this inexplicably long-running show is the occasional tourist who ventures into NBC and mentions that they like the show. Now the show seems to get decent ratings. And I'm sure it's, well, GOOD. But is it great? Is it REALLY worthy of all these nominations for stuff year after year? Years from now will people be remembering how that one episode of Crossing Jordan changed their lives? Now on the other hand we have a show like Malcolm in the Middle. This show revolutionized comedy on TV. Without it there'd be no Arrested Development or Everybody Hates Chris, and sitcoms would still primarily include laugh tracks. But for Malcolm, no nominations. Look at 24 - it's fresh, exciting, nothing else like it on TV. I mean this show is already a CLASSIC in its own time. It's nominated, sure, but it doesn't win. So really, who gives a crap about the Emmy awards, which seem to always be about 10 steps behind the curve. And who knows, maybe Crossing Jordan wasn't even the best example to use, but you get the point.

That being said ...

I'm sure I've already covered the obvious omissions, but one more time - where in the name of Fox Mulder are the nominations for Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls, and King of the Hill for animated series? And why is Desperate Housewives considered a comedy? Is it funnier than Arrested Development? Um ...

Of the nominations that I actually care about, probably the biggest upset for me was William Shatner pulling out a win over Terry O'Quinn, who had to be hands down the best single performer of this past TV season for his role as Locke on Lost. Also, while I can't say that Lost didn't deserve recognition as a whole, as I greatly enjoyed the show, this should have been 24's year. 24, in it's fourth season, was the best show on TV this year, consistently riveting from starto to finish, unlike Lost which definitely had its ups and downs plot-wise, and finished with a very anticlimactic finale. Not to mention that Kiefer, not the overrated James Spader, should be hailed as best lead dramatic actor. Otherwise, I guess it was obvious that Arrested D's win last year was going to be a fluke, and that this was the year of Raymond - awards shows never fail to be sentimental like that. And at least Housewives didn't win best comedy, and Arrested took home the award for writing. Finally, Jane Kaczmarek is overdue some critical love for her iconic comedic role on Malcolm, and by the way, when will the hilarious Brian Cranston ever get his due for his consistently great performances on that show as Hal? What else? Well, I guess it's almost redundant at this point to honor aging British shows that everyone in the know already knows are great, but it does seem a bit absurd to nominate The Office and Ali G for awards that they didn't seem destined to win. Still, is there is anything out there better than The Office or Ali G? Nope - those are the two funniest shows of the last 5 years.

Anyways, though he was once again overshadowed by Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, my man CONAN O'BRIEN provided the comedic highlights of the telecast with his award presentation and with his writing staff's video intro for their Emmy nom. Hilarious stuff, including Conan belting out the themesong from Charles' in Charge~! and totally dissing NBC in a single breath. Classic. Speaking of John Stewart though, he once again got in a nice joke about Jewish writers (at least there is precedent for someone like me making it in the industry ...), and also indirectly bashed Jay Leno by praising Dave Letterman as the Johnny Carson of his generation. That hadda hurt, Jay, but let's face it, while the ratings may not reflect it, Letterman = the late night icon of the last 20 years, whereas Leno = well, I really should NOT be dissing the guy I work for ... Nice tribute to THE man though, Johnny Carson, by Letterman, very eloquent when called upon to be so, as always. Weird that Dave, Jay, Conan, and Craig Ferguson were all in the same room at the same time, but even more exciting was ...

The World's Finest Newscasters - Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, teaming up for perhaps the real highlight of The Emmys - getting a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd. These men are real titans of television, and honestly it is a sad sight to see the ranks of Real Newsmen so depleted following their retirement and the passing of Peter Jennings. While actors and other TV "talent" come and go, these guys are true icons - people who really did help change the world and push the media to new heights. So when people make broad generalizations about how TV is for idiots, all one needs to do is remind them of the class, dignity, and trust that people like Brokaw brought to the news each evening. Great segment.

And our old friend Ellen was host. Hmmm ... she seemed a little off tonight - I guess that comes from having your own talk show that is all about you and your own style and then having to go out into foreign territory and work on someone else's terms. Just glad I'm not one of the unlucky few who has to be at NBC at 4:30 am tommorow morning to work at Ellen's live post-Emmy wrap-up show. Ouch, that is gonna be rough.

Oh, and Kristen Bell shoulda won Emmy Idol, even if it was about the stupidest idea ever.


- great to see KING OF THE HILL back tonight in its tenth and possibly final season. As the Simpsons and Family Guy falter, King of the Hill is amazingly, consistently good. And look at tonight's premiere for example - holy lord - one main plotline that goes from the start of the episode to the finish - what a concept! Hank Hill continues to be one of the best characters ever put on television, and it is always a pleasure to watch his adventures unfold. My grade for tonight's episode: A -

- Simpsons, while not great, was at least better than last week's pure Suckfest. Some funny gags and an opening intro featuring a claymation GUMBY make this worthy of a B. Family Guy, meanwhile, was also decently funny, though not as sharp as it could have been. Still, some very funny moments (Gilmore Girls parody was kinda classic, orgy on the island was pretty crazy ...). Another grade of B. Odd though how they were running Family Guy segments on the Emmys while the show itself was on FOX.

- caught the new CBS sci-fi show THRESHOLD, which I am sorry to say completely blew. And oddly, this was hyped up as being the best of the new crop of high concept dramas. It had a pretty good cast, but the two hour pilot was one of the most boring, pointless, poorly-paced pieces of TV I've seen in a while. It was filled with useless techno-babble, terrible visual effects, bland and boring characters (let's see, you have an overworked female lead, Brent Spiner as a scientist, a perverted dwarf, and the guy who played Ethan Rom on Lost playing the exact same character!), and a been-there- done-that premise which took all two hours to unfold into an underwhelming cliffhanger. Don't get excited, fanboys, this is definitely NOT the second coming of The X-Files. Hell, the first season of the friggin' 4400 on USA was about ten times better than this. My grade: D

So yeah, the best new drama of the year, at this early stage, is still, easily, the great PRISONBREAK.

- Speaking of good dramas, all hail the return of Cartoon Network's JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. Yeah, you heard me. For a DC fanboy like myself this show is pure gold, and for everyone else this is the most action-packed, epic, and yes, ADULT adventure show on TV today outside of 24. And it currently stands as the last bastion of the animated Dini-verse, the brilliant series of animated programs featuring the writing of Paul Dini and the art stylings of the great Bruce Timm, which started with Batman: The Animated Series and continues to this day with JLU. As long as the definitive voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, is on board (and he is), then you can't go wrong. Now why was this amazing show not nominated for an animated Emmy?


Finally, a break from last week's Ellen madness. Tommorow I return to work at Leno, and Tuesday is unfortunately another day manning the NBC ticketbox of doom. Wednesday it's my first foray into the unknown and unfunny realm of Last Call With Carson Daly, and Thursday it's back to Ellen for a double dose of dancing discord. And wil lthere be interviews for assignments? Let's hope so. And will those interviews lead to actually GETTING an assignment? Let's really hope so. This is it, make or break time.


Is it just me, or do they put WAY too much cream cheese on bagels when you order a bagel with cream cheese at most local bagel establishments? For this reason, I think it's always a good idea to order cream cheese on the side.

And like Conan at tonight's Emmys, I look back on what I have written on this blog and say to myself: "I have no job ..." But then I realize that they can't touch me since my contract to take over as Tonight Show host in 2009 is signed, sealed, and untouchable. Oh, wait ... dammit.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Don't You Wish Your Middle Name Was "Cougar?"

- Now THAT was an episode of The OC. Huge improvement over last week's episode, and man, what an ending -- sure, in hindsight it probably could have been predicted, but it definitely caught me off guard. Business is picking up. My grade for tonight's episode: A -

Whoah ... I kind of jumped right into things there. Kind of sudden, I know. But hey, it's just been a really weird, random week like that. I mean let's be honest here - working three out of the past four days at Ellen is just about enough to drive one totally bonkers. So excuse the total random nature of this latest blog entry, but let's just say I haven't heard this much Vanilla Ice played since my brother bought some Vanilla Ice / MC Hammer Best Of CD and was playing that thing all the time. And the sights we must endure while at that show... People dancing that shouldn't be dancing, rolls rolling that shouldn't be rolling, jiggles jiggling that shouldn't be ... well, I guess you get the idea. It's enough to make one appreciate the comfortably uncomfortable lameness of Leno. Well, almost.

But yeah, today was another double-dose of Ellen, which basically means standing around and taking people to the bathroom. But for some reason all the waiting around while enduring terrible music makes the days seem so loooong. In reality we're not working that many hours but by the end of the day you drive home hungry, with tired legs, with a headache, and a pressing need to lie down.

I did see a ton of interesting celebreties on the show today, though. We had the return of CYNTHIA NIXON, who was one of the funniest guests from last season. We had the legendary (and seemingly on something) MERYL STREEP, who had a great segment where she and Ellen imitated various local dialects chosen at random. We had THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS, who bumped and grinded through a crowd-pleasing musical segment. And hey, even DONALD TRUMP showed up for an interview and to promote the latest season of The Apprentice. Oh yeah, Mr. Mad-About-You, PAUL REISER and former Columbo PETER FALK were on as well to promote their new movie. A loaded day, that's for sure. But the best Ellen moment I've seen in a whil probably happened yesterday, when the always charming LEAH REMINI was presented by Ellen with a mid-lifetime achievement award. As Leah pretended to be flattered and give an acceptance speech, she was cut off by blaring music ala The Oscars, and in anger, she spontaneously lunged at Ellen, and a full-on CATFIGHT ensued. It was all a joke, of course, but still ... hilarious, I tell ya. Also saw Mrs. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood perform yesterday ... can't say it was my cup of tea, but hey, it's been a pretty packed few days. Did I mention that the last few Ellen episodes have been followed by interviews for Access Hollywood and a bunch of other local news programs? Fun, fun, fun. But hey, it's been some good times, so I guess I can't complain too much.


- Gotta give some kudos to pages Scott McF and Akhila for producing a Page Newsletter that was sent out over email and was hilarious (not sure if the humor was intentional or not, but either way, gotta love seeing a news item tellign everyone that I bought a wooden sword at Medieval Times this weekend -as if everyone needed to know that - bwahahaha ...).

- Saw a DVD of the pilot for the new UPN comedy EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, based on the childhood of Chris Rock, which has gotta be the frontrunner for the season's best new comedy. This reminded me very much of early Malcolm in the Middle, and won me over from the get-go with endearing characters, Chris Rock's trademark satirical voice, a shrewdly integrated, underlying theme of social / political commentary, and a number of laugh-out-loud moments. I know, I know - you don't watch UPN. Well get with the program - UPN now has one of TV's best dramas, Veronica Mars, and one of its best comedies - Everybody Hates Chris. Now why does it have to be on at the same time as The OC and Smallville? Oh well, find a way to watch it. My grade: A

- Oh yeah - I've got to offer congratulations to my fellow NBC page Parneil, who had a brush with stardom last night, as she was featured in a sketch on The Carson Daly Show! Yep, if anyone saw the show last night (doubtful, I know ...), you may have seen Parneil showing Carson Daly around the NBC Studios in Burbank as he attempted, unsuccesfully, to be funny and witty. Hey, everyone's gotta start somewhere.

- My birthday is fast-approaching. Any ideas on how to celebrate?

- Met a family in the audience for Ellen today originally from BLOOMFIELD, CT! It's a small world, I tell ya.

- Tommorow: Danny's BIG DAY OFF.

So um, don't wake me up tommorow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

We Have A Situation!

You know you've been watching too much 24 when ...

1.) All the power goes out in LA, and the first things you think are a.) It's definitely an EMP bomb launched by terrorists and b.) somebody had better call CTU about this ...

- actually, I did kinda feel like a dumbass during yesterday's mass LA-area power outtage, because I of course see the electricity in my apt go out and assume that it was something unique to my apartment, so I call the office to complain about it, only to find out it wasn't just my apt, not just my building, but the whole durn greater LA area that was without power. Pretty surreal though, driving to work with no traffic lights and mass chaos seeming to be just within reach.


All-Ellen, All-The-Time Week continues ...

Ellen on Monday was actually a pretty sweet show, guest-wise. Two of my favorite TV stars were on the show, Lauren Graham and Jeffrey Tambor, of Gilmore Girls and Arrested Development respectively. Both were pretty funny on the show, though even with some quality guests, those Ellen tapings can get reaaaally long and tiring ...

Today however was a return to the position of ticketbox head, something which, as has been well documented here, is not exactly my most favorite thing to do. And while it was mostly a pretty quiet day, there were of course the prerequisite selection of crazies and nutjobs, notably this one VERY angry guy, likely hopped up on pain killers or something, who for no particular reason was very unhappy about having to attend the Tonight Show with a broken leg. Don't ask.

Oh, and today was also notable for another call by the man I will now dub "Mr. Crazy," who every so often calls, breathes heavily, and, sounding as if he may keel over from a heart attack at any moment, asks strange questions about The Tonight Show, and desperately inquires when certain female guests along the lines of Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra are going to be on the show. Weeeeeiiiird ...

Still no update on an interview for the Studio Productions assignment ... deadline for applying to Primetime Programming is Friday. Once again, stay tuned ...


- All hail the return of one of TV's cleverest, witiiest, funniest, and most intelligent family dramas - the almighty GILMORE GIRLS. All the haters and wannabe alpha males too insecure in their masculinity to embrace the charms of all things Gilmore need to wake up - because in a Fall TV season filled with half-assed dramas and paper-thin characters, the season premiere of Gilmore was a refresher course in good TV. Here are characters you can latch onto and love. Here are pop culture references that have bite and snap, not "oh look how cool we are" lameness (OC I'm looking at you ...). Here is drama mixed with humor that's actually laugh out loud funny. And most of all here's a show with real HEART that never ever gets too cheesy for its own good. Now let me explain something here. I like shows that are about BIG ideas. This show is. It's about living up to your family's expectations, about growing up, about living within different kinds of communities with all their quirks and cultural baggage. So you have those overarching themes that give meaning and context and depth to all the brilliantly written character interactions. The BIG ideas give the little ideas weight. It's why I don't like shows like Friends or Sex in the City. They think that the LITTLE THINGS are so important that we will care about the characters based on their hairstyle or their shoes or all their little foibles and quirks. And for many people, that's enough - everything else is just extra padding. But I hated all the shallow, self-involved, annoying characters on Friends - why should I care about them? Shows like Seinfeld and The Simpsons are brilliant because they look at characters on the micro level and poke fun at all the little faults and eccentricities of people and society in a stairical way. Shows like Friends ask me to take the characters at face value and love them just because they have little catchphrases or whatever that make them lovable to the masses. Well Gilmore Girls is about so much more than that, and that's why I like it. It's characters are lovably quirky, but in a natural, 3-D way - and it's whole WORLD is wonderfully quirky to fit the characters. We aren't asked to like them, but after a while you just do, because they are, simply, great characters. So yeah, great season premiere - come on, dudes, give some love to Gilmore. My grade: A

- Also watched SUPERNATURAL on the WB, which basically had some very nice f/x and visuals, but not much else. As you know I am a sucker for anything, um, supernatural-themed, so this show seemed right up my alley. But the lead characters, first of all, were completely bland and generic. Jenson Eckles or whatever his name is annoyed the hell out of me during his stint as Lana's boyfriend on Smallville last year and he wasn't much better here. This guy is just not that great of an actor and to me at least is totally unlikable. The backstory for these characters also seemed totally preposterous. On one hand, this show seems firmly rooted in the "Real" world. On the other hand, without any real in-depth explanation, we are expected to buy that the two brothers (might as well call them Abercrombie and Fitch) are "Hunters," who have somehow been trained to know everything about the paranormal, be expert martial artists, detectives, and warriors. Um, yeah, okay. This show can't seem to decide if it wants to be The X-Files or Buffy, which is understandable as I noticed its executive producers included McG of Charlie's Angels on one hand and David Nutter of Millenium on the other. Odd combo, indeed. Anyways, with generic leads, a plot ripped right out of those old Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, and a crazy, nonsensical premise, this show mostly kept my interest through some very slick horror movie-esque sequences and cool visuals. My grade: C

- I'll probably give Invasion and Kolchak a chance, but I wish the networks would take some time to come up with cool, interesting premises for scifi shows and not this endless parade of "They're Coming, and There's Nothing We Can Do To Stop Them (Or Is There?)" breed of high-concept shows which all appear to be mostly bland attempts to cash in on the success of Lost (despite Lost's successful premise having little to do with the above).


- In a turn of events that has really been entertaining me, some of my fellow pages have recently gotten into a war of words of sorts about the government's response to Katrina, sending arguments back and forth via email. And of all things, this started thanks to a jokey, photoshopped picture of Bush and Bush Sr. fishing in the flooded city of New Orleans. Let's get it straight - the response to Katrina was, as Bush today all but ADMITTED, piss-poor. Secondly, any apologists have no legitimate cause to point fingers at democrats for supposedly politicizing this tragedy. Let's face it folks, EVERYTHING is politicized in some way. And if John Kerry had done a better job of politicizing the debacle in Iraq, he might have won the election. And also, let's not forget that in recent years it's been the Republican party, more than anyone, who has exploited tragedy to further their own particular agendas (watch any W speech, or any Guliani speech for that matter from the last few years and count the amount of times they name-drop 9/11 ...). Now the other issue that has surfaced has been one of race and class. I think that these ARE factors in the lack of response. I don't pin the blame just on Bush, because we are all guilty of this type of thinking in a way. I mean look at the Columbine massacre. That really struck a chord with middle class America beacuse they looked on TV and saw kids just like their own in schools just like their own being shot at. And I know it struck a chord with me when I saw that footage and saw how eerily similar those kids seemed to be to people who I knew. The relative poverty of many of those affected by Katrina was, definitely, a big factor in lack of response. And it really is a shame, but it's made even more so by idiotic comments like those made by Barbara Bush in the wake of the tragedy. I think it also comes down to the fact that many people had this image of Bush as jsut a regular Joe. Well let's face it, folks. The Bush family is about as far away as you can get from middle class America. George W's story is anything but a rags to riches story - it's a story of a priveleged kid who got just about everything handed to him. So why the expectation that this guy has any kind of common touch. Look, lack of intelligence isn't exclusive to the lower classes - I mean look at some of Europe's royal families. Anyways, it really is a lowpoint right now for America, and I think people are going to look back and wonder how Americans got so swept up in so-called patriotism and the conservatism that followed in the wake of the Clinton sex scandal, 9/11, and the religious revival that we elected such a big frigging moron - twice.

Noe THERE'S something for you to think aboot.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

sunday Sunday SUNDAY - Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen!

Ah, tradition. It's like ... a fiddler on the roof. Or something.

So for many, many years now Sunday night tradition has been to sit down for a few hours, forget the impending school / work week, and enjoy some quality televised entertainment, specifically, the FOX network's Sunday night lineup. At it's peak, this lineup offered such greatness as The X-Files, Futurama, and Malcolm in the Middle. Now, all that remains of the glory years is that ever-present stalwart of Sunday nights at 8 pm, The Simpsons - perhaps the single greatest TV show of all time. But sadly, even a latter-day Simpsons apologist like myself comes to a point when even I must admit ... it's time to end it. Well, let me rephrase that ... Unless by some miracle the show can return to the stellar quality of its earlier years, it is really time to just put it out of its mediocre misery.

But being an optimist, I tuned into tonight's unusually early in the fall season premiere hoping against all odds that tonight would be one of those rare nu-Simpsons gems, those sporadic episodes that come about two or three times every year now, that kind of remind you of that old time Simpsons satirical magic.

Damn, that episode had to be one of THE WORST EVER episodes. And that's no Comic Book Guy exaggeration. That episode was just piss poor bad, and seeing as how it was a SEASON PREMIERE, no less, just made me feel sick in its pure awfulness. Let's see - the plot? Well as is standard now, the show began it's main plot halfway through the episode. And guess what - it was the oldest plot in the Simpsons book - Marge gets mad at Homer for doing something bone-headed, and runs out on him and the kids, leaving a hapless Homer to fend for himself, only to eventually win back Marge's love with some act of redemption. SONOVA - we have seen this exact plot too many times to count! What in the blue hell is wrong with the producers of this once transcendently incredible show? I HATE to say it, but this episode deserves a big fat grade of F. Yep, my grade for The Simpsons is a freaking F! Tragic.

And then some generic Married With Children wannabe show called The War at Home comes on, when MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE should be kicking ass, since as FOX might remember, it is currently up for 3 EMMY'S! Nope, it's relegated to the death-slot of Fridays. Ridiculous.

Family Guy's season premiere was at least funny enough to make me laugh a few times, though it is still a far cry from the heights of its Season One hilarity. I'll give it a B -, though that's probably generous.

The less said about American Dad, the better.

So, in honor of the Fall TV season, one which seems to hold precious few new shows of any great promise, I present to you a look at some of the greatest ever first episodes of TV shows, in my humble opinion. While many shows take time to develop into greatness (Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and King of the Hill are a few examples that come to mind), some just blow you away from episode one. So this is by no means a definitive list, just some favorites of mine ...



1.) The X-Files - the pilot of this show was a perfect intro to Mulder and Scully, and it was a tantalizing glimpse at a mythology that promised to unfold into something larger than we could imagine.
2.) Lost - a movie-like roller coaster ride that presented not only a plethora of mysteries, but also a remarkable cast of characters.
3.) Millenium - From the get-go, the character of Frank Black was unlike any other yet seen on TV, and the show immediately set a dark, ominous tone that made it unlike any other crime series ever on TV.
4.) 24 - As the clock began to count down, you knew you were in for something special - the multimple camera angles, dynamic action, and breathtaking pace hooked you from the start.
5.) Sliders - Laugh if you want, but few other shows have ever had the pure sense of fun and adventure found in this first episode, which presented a premise of literally infinite possibilities.
6.) My So-Called Life - Another one of those shows that was only appreciated after it was too late, My So-Called Life quickly established that it wasn't your parent's high-school drama. This was the defining depiction of high school for a generation, and Claire Dane's star never shone brighter than in her early appearances on this show.


1.) Malcolm in the Middle - Creator Linwood Boomer's unique voice was immediately audible in this classic, hilarious first episode which was a quirky look at the ultimate dysfunctional family.
2.) Freaks and Geeks - Why, NBC, why? Judd Apatow's amazing dramedy about high school life was, from the start, an amazingly, almost painfully honest and hilariously relatable depiction of teenagers.
3.) The Office - The British version of the show just had to do one thing to quickly ensure its greatness - introduce Ricky Gervais as David Brent, the boss from hell. Gervais' brilliant performance gave this comedy more depth than most dramas.
4.) Andy Richter Controls the Universe - This underrated show was prematurely cancelled, but its unique use of fantasy sequences and random cutaways was highly influential on many shows to come. Few other comedies have been so laugh out loud funny from the first episode.
5.) Futurama - Unlike The Simpsons which took a few years to mature into its full potential, Futurama began with a polish and cleverness that was beyond anything else at the time. Immediately, it established a classic cast in Fry, Bender, Leela, Zoidberg, etc, that was nearly on par with The Simpsons.
6.) Undeclared - What Freaks and Geeks did for high school, Undeclared did for college. In the first episode, it was apparent that Judd Apatow had succesfully retained Freaks and Geek's earnest sensibilities and its awkwardly hilarious humor.

Moving on ...


This week it's gonna be all Ellen, all the time. Well, almost. But let's just say I'm working at Ellen. A lot. That's a lot of dancing to the likes of Vanilla Ice and Toni Tonee Tony. Oy ...

Saw some up and coming young pop starlet on Leno Friday, named Hope Partlow. She sounded exactly like Avril Lavigne, except more sedate and less angry. The lyrics to her song were pretty unintentionally amusing though.


Friday: The pages gathered after work for a dinner in honor of Adriana, one of the few remaining from my page class, who is moving on from NBC to (gasp!) go to grad school. Good luck, Adriana, I mean writing term papers and stuff can't be any harder than giving tours of NBC, um, right?

Saturday: Some friends and I took part in something which I have always wanted to do since I was a young boy. See, I remember being on family vacation with my parents and pleading with them to take me to what, at the time, seemed like just about the coolest thing ever -- Medieval Times! But we never did go, and I never got to experience what it was like to eat a hearty meal with my hands while watching knights of the realm dueling it out in grand combat in a packed arena. Never go to experience it, that is, until this weekend! Yes, my friends and I journeyed to Medieval Times where we experienced an epic feast and a display of jousting, dueling, and spectacle fit for Arthur himself! A bit pricey, yes, but a fine night of sword-swinging action was had by all, in an event that I can only describe as a WWF wrestling match meets broadway musical meets dinner at the Cracker Barrell. Not a bad combo.


Read my blog, tell your friends, and leave a comment. Good luck to everyone starting another year of college / gradschool. Go Patriots! Go Redsox! Now turn off your computer and get a life, nerdboy.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Danny B Goes To College. Oh Wait, No He Doesn't ...

Buisness is beginning to pick up again.I know, I know, it's been a while. But here ya go - more blogified goodness, cholesterol free, baby.

Depressingly, this week marks the beginning of The Post College Years: Year 2. Pretty amazing, huh?


Work was getting really SLOW during the Tonight Show's hiatus, and after a brief hiatus of my own, I returned to the swing of things today by working at one of the first new episodes of Ellen of the fall season. Pretty good times, and it was nice to see all of the staff at the show again. Tommy Lee was on the show today, and this time, unlike when he last appeared on Leno, I was excited to see him since I have since become a big fan of Tommy Lee Goes To College. And, I know it's kind of pathetic, but today I was really psyched to witness his performance of his new solo-album single (Take Me Away, I believe it's called), because the song has really grown on me each time I've heard it, as it is also the theme song for Tommy Lee Goes To College. And this is despite the fact that I deemed this song incredibly lame when I first saw it performed a while back on Leno. Oh well, goes to show you the power of TV, or more specifically, of TV theme songs. I mean, would I have such a fondness for The Dandy Warhols "We Used To Be Friends" or Aimee Allen's "I'd Start a Revolution" or that song from Party of Five if I hadn't first been exposed to them while awaiting a new epsiode of a beloved TV show? (ok, in the case of Birds of Prey and Aimee Allen it was a pretty bad TV show, but that themesong did friggin' rock ...).

Also on Ellen today ... saw David Spade, who was pretty durn funny. Also, I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy's appearance, despite not being a fan of his comedy. His talk with Ellen about the nuances of doing standup was pretty interesting, and he seems liek a genuinely really nice guy. We were also treated to another appearance of the six year old science genious, who I saw last time he was on the show. This kid is a total nutball, but holy lord is he funny. What a character. Overall, it was a great change of pace to see Ellen - a comedian who can work so spontaneously and on the fly, as opposed to the much more predictable and played-out style of Leno on the Tonight Show. And hey, gotta love those catered Ellen dinners on Thursdays.

P.S. - Ellen got a surprise phone call from none other than THE ROCK! But nobody realized it was him until he said so, since he was talking in a weirdly non-Rock sounding wimpy old regular voice, and not his Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment Rock voice.

Well, I guess it was KIND OF like having a first day of school ...

- Now since I was last at NBC all kinds of crazy stuff has happened. For one, 7 new pages have started, none of whom I've actually met yet. I guess tommorow I'll meet some of 'em, but it's kinda be kind of weird officially being the Old Kid on The Block in what I am officially labeling PHASE 2 of my time in the Page Program. Now, it would be NICE if Phase 2 actually included going on assignment at NBC. But fate and the NBC gods seem determined to keep me away from doing anything other than giving tours and escorting guests to the bathroom. Turns out I did not get the development assignment I had re-applied for a few weeks back, and now I am applying for a few more assignments, most notably in the programming department which along with development was one of my top choices to work in. Will I get it? Who knows. At this point I know that nothing is guaranteed and everything is up in the air. All I can say is, stay tuned ...

What else?


Ok, first of all ...



- WHY -- Why was Veronica Mars moved to fall oppossite the juggernaut that is LOST? Why are TV's two best mystery shows on at the same time? DAMN YOU, UPN!

- WHY -- Speaking of UPN - WHY UPN are you putting a potentially great show, EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS - on at the same time as a show that appeals to the same younger viewers you want to attract - THE OC? And WHY, OH WHY, is the WB's top-rated teen-oriented show, SMALLVILLE, on at the same time as FOX's top-rated teen-oriented show, THE OC? GAHHHH!

- WHY -- FOX, why are you putting Arrested Development on Mondays, and not conveniently placed after The Simpsons, as it should be? Speaking of which, SCREW FOX for prematurely KILLING one of the best sitcoms of all time, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, by placing it on Fridays. That sucks.


- Quickly ... losing ... interest ...

I still love the overall tone of this show, but why are they continuing last year's trend of descending into self-parody, when the show is barely into its third season? Why is Seth Cohen, originally the show's breakout character, reduced to a walking punch-line? Why is Marissa still one of the most boring characters on TV? Why is Kirsten Cohen devolving into a walking ball of angst? Thank god for two people who are currently totally carrying the show. One is Peter Gallagher as Sandy Cohen, who is consistently great, and always makes the show worth watching. It is he who really elevates it past being a generic teens soap. And then there is Julie Cooper, who was vintage EVIL Julie Cooper tonight and whose scenes made me wake up from dozing off during the endless Ryan-Trey-Marissa saga part 354. Still too early to tell what Jeri Ryan's character is up to ... Hopefully the next episode will kick things up a notch, because The OC still seems to be in cruise control. My grade: C+

- Also watched REUNION, which I almost turned off after 10 minutes, but stuck with it and slowly got kind of intrigued by the premise, which you've got to admit is great. Every episode takes place a year after the previous episode, slowly unraveling a murder mystery revolving around a group of 6 high school buddies. Definitely has potential, but the plot and dialogue was pretty heavy-handed (it's 1986, we GET it, do we need a song or pop culture reference from 1986 every 5 seconds?), and the acting was kinda uneven. May give this one more shot before making a verdict, for now it's a B for a novel setup but lots of questions about how quality this will be from episode to episode ...

- Now, PRISON BREAK, on the other hand, has gotten better with each episode. I really like all the lead actors on the show, they give it a great, over-the-top, pulpy film-noirish feel. The intensity of the show is somewhat reminicient of 24, and I am hooked by the setup and am eager to see where the plot goes from here. A solid A- from me so far.


- Congrats to one of my first friends from BU, Christine T (or is it W now ...?) who was married over the labor day weekend. Yes, married I say! The first of my friends to ever get married! And knowing most of my friends, that will probably be the last one for a long, long while.


- Too tired to go into more detail now, but it's just amazing how the ball was dropped on New Orleans in the wake of the hurricane. One thing that just amuses me in a sickening way (if that makes sense) is Barbara Bush's recent comments about how some of the victims weren't all that unlucky for having to stay in places like the Superdome, seeing as how they came from bad conditions anyway. Oy, she is like one of those senile aunts whose sweet, grandmotherly veneer is just a facade for her horrible worldview. You know, to all those people who say "oh, George W Bush is just a regular Joe ..." let's just look at the family he comes from, which is anything but regular. I shudder to think that two of our supreme court justices will be chosen by this administration, which is on the verge of a full on global crisis. Between the botched war in Iraq, the botched relief efforts in Lousiana, the escalating gas crisis, and the possibilty of North Korea and Iran soon becoming nuclear threats, excuse me if I am not very optimistic right now about America's political outlook. And by the way, it is absolutely mind-boggling, in retrospect, that the democrats did not pull out of the last election with a win. And it speaks volumes about the weakness of John Kerry as a viable candidate for not getting the job done, and somehow making himself look like more of a joke than the idiot we have in the White House now. Please, John, do the world a favor and do not run for president in '08. Not that I am gung ho about Hillary either. Can we please get someone in the oval office who does not hail from a political dynasty? Someone new? Someone under 60? Someone who realizes what our country's priorities should be, and the realities of the grave threats we face as a nation? People, we are all in serious serious trouble right now. You don't (I hope) need me to tell you why GW Bush is f'ing things up right now. But hey, I'll tell you one thing, while I'm at it. WHY ARE WE NOT ACTIVELY SEEKING ALTERNATIVE FUEL SOURCES ON A NATIONAL LEVEL? THIS SHOULD BE ONE OF OUR ABSOLUTE TOP PRIORITIES AS A NATION! The fact that Bush is so blatantly in bed with the greedy an corrupt oil industry makes me sick. Who wouldn't want to live in a world where we were self-sufficient and off of oil, where we were not dependent on Saudi royals and Venezuela for our overpriced gas, an outdated fuel source we still cling to just so some jackass oil tycoon can get rich and some redneck jerk can drive his friggin' SUV 90 mph. I mean, we could be using like peanut oil or whatever. Think about it.

Well, that rant really tired me out. Time to get some rest and get ready for, um, wait - the weekend already? But my work week just started ... Oh, the wonders of vacation time. Hey, be my friend on and remember: don't hate the playa, hate the game.

And ... what exactly did Steve Miller mean when he sang ... "I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree?" Hmmmm ...