Saturday, March 17, 2007

Netflix Snapshot: March 16, 2007

Big Love: Season 1: Disc 3
The Awful Truth (1937)
Must Love Dogs
Big Love: Season 1, Disc 4
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Hustle & Flow
Big Love: Season 1, Disc 5
That 70s Show: Season 2, Disc 1

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Men's Tourney Picks, 2007

I used to be an avid women's college basketball fan. I was a feverish, devoted, team-colors-wearing jump-up-and-down in the bleachers sneak-into-the-good-seats Stanford fan. I used to go to all the games, socialize with the players on occasion, and I even made it to the Final Four once. But, since leaving San Francisco, I haven't followed the tournament much in recent years.

This year, I wanted back in the game. I got excited about doing a bracket. I even worked my way into a high stakes betting pool for the men's tournament. But then, oh yes--I missed the deadline to submit my bracket. I saved it til the last minute, lost track of the date (I thought I had one more day) and then overslept the morning of. I didn't even make it into the no-stakes just-for-fun pool my friend was doing. Sigh. As North Texas will soon be saying..."there's always next year..."

Since I couldn't get in on any competitive bracket action--which totally pisses me off, by the way--here are my men's picks, just for the record.

Grandma's Bracket:

To the Sweet Sixteen:

Florida over Arizona
Maryland over ODU
OR over Notre Dame
Wisconsin over UNLV
Kansas over Kentucky
Va Tech over Southern Ill.
Duke over Pitt
UCLA over Indy
UNC over Marquette
Texas over USC
WSU over GW
Georgetown over Texas Tech
Ohio over BYU
TN over VA
Louis. over T A&M
Memphis over Creighton

To the Elite Eight:
Florida over Maryland
Wisconsin over Oregon
Kansas over Va Tech
UCLA over Duke
Texas over UNC
Georgetown over WSU
Ohio over TN
Louis. over Memphis

To the Final Four:
Florida over Wisconsin
Kansas over UCLA
Texas over Georgetown
Ohio State over Louisville

Texas over Florida

Let the games begin!

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Netflix Snapshot: February 22, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Product Placement

Congratulations to NBC's Heroes for reaching a new level of ick factor with product placement in tonight's episode. Windows Vista "sponsored" the (annoyingly revealing) teaser scenes for next week. Ewwww. Vomit. Hurl.

Oh, and an iPod nano got a long, slow close-up while sitting in a pool of blood. But compared to the Vista thing, it was a nonevent.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Must Watch/Must Not Watch List, 2007

Below, my recommendations for things you should definitely see--and things you should definitely NOT see this year. Check back often for updates.

Must Watch

--even though the black characters seem to have all disappeared completely (they weren't even mentioned in the show summary "Survival Guide" backgrounder that aired just before the premiere of this new batch of episodes), this is still one of the most watchable shows on television. Jack may be the best television hero ever. Kate is second only to another JJ Abrams creation, Sydney Bristow, in my all-time favorite tv heroines. The writing is strong. The acting fantastic. My one quibble is that they give too much away in the promos, and they air them CONSTANTLY, so it's hard to completely avoid them.

Who Killed the Electric Car--When you find yourself sobbing over the destruction of a car, you can assume that the filmmaker has done something right. Compelling without being heavy-handed; informative; a story we all should hear. It made me weep--and it made me yearn to own an electric car. Too bad there aren't any.

Six Feet Under Season 3 (DVD)--(warning: spoiler) Because I can't afford fancy cable, I'm just getting around to watching on DVD a lot of the shows that those of you with HBO and Showtime watched a long time ago. But since this is my list of what I watched and recommend this year, that's just the way the basic cable-fueled cookie crumbles. Unfortnately, Six Feet Under is losing its appeal. I can barely recommend season three to you, but I will. From the far too esoteric opening episode, to the drawn out drama surrounding Lisa's disappearance and demise, this season was unsatisfying. The reverse redemption of Nate's character as he loses all the ground he gained in the first two seasons and unravels into a neurotic, selfish, self-indulgent, fucked up bastard leaves me feeling unfulfilled. I liked it better when I could root for him. Now I just think he's a damaged prick. Perhaps season four will be better.

Little Miss Sunshine--I almost didn't watch this because it got so much attention. I had high expectations. But it turns out that my sense of the movie going in was completely wrong. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. How original, how well-done. I loved it. It felt like a truly independent film in all the most refreshing ways. It reminded me of Transamerica and Napoleon Dynamite, in that regard. I love a good road trip movie, and I had no idea going in that that was what this was. Bravo. If you are the one remaining person in America who has not seen this film, I suggest you give in and rent it this weekend.

Must Not Watch

-Props to the costume designer and, well, to props, but this film is a steaming pile of dookie. Unfortunately, it's not bad enough to be entertainingly mockable--it's no Gigli. Despite Adrian Brody's excellent portrayal of an ill-written detective, this script was a massive failure and the film an embarrassment to its top-notch cast. Poor Ben Affleck--he's so handsome, but he just can't act.

24--Dull, redundant, played, tedious, klunker of a show. Reject the hype. Watch Heroes instead. Or just go to bed. It will be more satisfying.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Netflix Snapshot: January 29, 2007

The first blush of my love affair with Netflix has worn off a bit, as they've disappointed me on so many levels. Slow turnaround times, intentional delays imposed on heavy users such as myself, cracked, scratched, and unplayable DVDs arriving a little too often...but still, I love my queue and the sweet satisfaction of a new red envelope arriving in my mailbox.

When I was dating Brian, he said to me once, "you like to document things." I had never noticed this about myself, but he was right. I do take pleasure in documenting things. In that spirit, here's a glimpse into my Netflix queue.

Current total movies in queue: 467 plus a bunch of saved ones that haven't been released yet

Currently at home: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Current top twenty:

Six Feet Under: Season 3: Disc 4
Little Miss Sunshine
That '70s Show: Season 2: Disc 1
That '70s Show: Season 2: Disc 2
That '70s Show: Season 2: Disc 3
That '70s Show: Season 2: Disc 4
Six Feet Under: Season 3: Disc 5
The Longest Yard
Must Love Dogs
Sky High
Brokeback Mountain
I Shot Andy Warhol
Dark Angel: Season 1: Disc 1
A Far Off Place
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Masters of Poker: Vol. 1
Feng Shui for Dummies

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Favorite That 70s Show Episodes

My favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows of all time, That 70s Show:

1. "Canada Road Trip," original air date: 05.08.01, Season 3, Episode 23. Eric, Kelso, Fez, and Leo go to Canada to buy beer, but are detained at the border when Fez loses his green card. Favorite line, "What are you doing in Canada?"

2. "Black Dog," original air date: 12.10.02, Season 5, Episode 9. Written by Mark Hurdis, directed by David Trainer. Jackie is disappointed when she turns to Hyde for comfort and support after her father is sent to prison, and Fez finds love during a fingerprinting lesson at the DMV.

3. 'Misty Mountain Hop," original air date: 1.22.03, Season 5; written by Dave Schiff. Directed by David Trainer. The Formans offer to help Jackie move her family's possessions out of their foreclosed ski cabin only to arrive to find Kelso, Fez, and Hyde partying it up.

4. "Water Tower," Teleplay by Jeff Filgo and Jackie Behan; Story by Linda Wallem. Directed by David Trainer. original air date: 6.14.99. Kelso ends up in the hospital after falling off the town's water tower, but Eric has an even worse scare after he accidentally walks in on his parents haviing sex.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

"The Definitive Top 20 TV Shows from the 80s"

A disgusted friend recently forwarded a link to this list to me, because he knew I would be equally disgusted. "The Definitive Top 20 TV Shows from the 80s?" I beg to differ.

Its creators call their list "unarguable." I maintain that any such list that includes ALF, Perfect Strangers, and Mr. Belvedere over Hill Street Blues, The Facts of Life, and Cagney and Lacey is, in fact, more aptly classified as "unthinking" or maybe just "unsmart." (Of course, the "unsmart" is also supported by the fact that the listmaker grudgingly added M*A*S*H to the list at No. 4, even though he "didn’t catch too many episodes because I hate Koreans and I hate war.")

My best guess (and my hope) is that these guys were just too little during the 80s to know better. Perhaps they were born in the very late 70s, so that lame, inane television shows starring bad muppets with acronyms for names and an aversion to salad seemed clever or even entertaining.

Perhaps there was something comforting to them about Mr. Belevedere, and so the fact that the show is drivel escaped them. Their choices imply a penchant for shows that were on before their mommies enforced an early bedtime, and shows that didn't include much probing dialogue or penetrating plot lines or character development. Who killed J.R.? "Who cares," they'd say. "Who's the Boss is on."

You can see the list (with video clips) in question here, but I will also summarize below.

Their list:

20. Mr. Belvedere
19. The Dukes of Hazzard
18. Knight Rider
17. Night Court
16. ALF
15. Perfect Strangers
14. Golden Girls
13. Growing Pains
12. Married...With Children
11. Who's the Boss?
10. Magnum P.I.
9. Doogie Howser, M.D.
8. The Cosby Show
7. The A-Team
6. Miami Vice
5. The Wonder Years
4. M*A*S*H
3. MacGuyver
2. Cheers
1. Star Trek: The Next Generation

It seems they would have been better served to simply say, "these are our favorite shows from the 80s. We're idiots. Live with it." Rather than to attempt to present them as the "definitive" top 20. Had they simply expressed a preference, one could leave it alone...but since they didn't, one must present an alternative.

Top 20 Shows That Are Better Than Half their List:
(in no particular order)
[Honorable Mention: The Smurfs (1981-1990)]
20. :20 Minute Workout (1982)
19. One Day At a Time (1975-1984)*
18. Real People (1979-1984)
17. St. Elsewhere (1982-1988)
16. Family Ties (1982-1989)
15. Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1986)
14. Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)
13. Bosom Buddies (1980-1982)
12. The Facts of Life (1979-1988)
11. That's Incredible! (1980-1984)
10. Fraggle Rock (1983-1987)
9. Mork and Mindy (1978-1982)*
8. thirtysomething (1987-1991)
7. L.A. Law (1986-1994)
6. Designing Women (1986-1993)
5. Square Pegs (1982-1983)
4. The White Shadow (1978-1981)*
3. 21 Jump Street (1987-1991)
2. Dallas (1978-1991)
1. Cagney and Lacey (1982-1988)

*best classified as a 70s show, but still running in the 80s and better than ALF for chrissakes.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The State of the Union, in Television, rebuttal, technobabble

Received this today from my dear friend (who I would like even more if he weren't a Buffy fan), Eric. I'm sharing it with his permission. For more of his TV rants--I mean, insights--check out his blog.

(My responses to Eric's remarks are italicized.)

>>You are correct in all things you say about the premiere of 24 this year.... except the bit about "attempting to blow something up", as the premiere ended with a nuclear suitcase bomb going off in Venice, CA. (and really, who would miss it)? Higher stakes as Jack avoids the nuclear snow-flakes, even though Jericho (which I've never seen) beat them to it. Plus, there was a fascinating discussion by two CTU agents about how angry they were about the formatting of a database ("I wanted columns, not comma delimited!" "I work best in comma delimited, you clod!"). You also forgot to mention "suburban family will be torn assunder by the works of a terrorists right in their midst" -- which also happened again. But the bad guy Kumar from "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" so, you know, it was almost to be expected.

And none of that matters, because 24 is a roller-coaster ride rocking good time. Once they got rid of the dumb-ass daughter, it became a masterpiece of plotting on top of plotting on top of plotting. It's the only super-hero show left on the air. Jack Bauer is the nation's personal Batman/Buffy/Peter Parker/Punisher/and Don Johnson era Sonny Crocket all rolled up into one. Its also sadly more plausible than the other "roller-coaster" shows like Prison Break and LOST (tho I'm sure Jack would break out of the prison and I'm sure he'd knife Henry Gale in his cancerous spine if it meant saving the country.) >>

See--I knew "24" would be predictable. And for my money, dull. And yet, here's someone with relatively discerning taste ("Battlestar Gallactica" not withstanding) who calls it a "roller-coaster rid rocking good time." I do NOT get it. At least they got rid of the slutty but annoying daughter, Kim. Did they kill her, or what?

>>If you're going to hate technobabble on a show, Alias always had 24 beat. Marshall was full of shit. None compare to good 90's era Star Trek, of course. >>

The difference is that Alias, at least the first two seasons, was a GOOD show. And the technobabble was entertaining. Marshall was a quirky character inventing amazing gadgets like a bug that looks like a bug or a lipstick camera or a parabolic microphone that looks like a purse. The gadgets--like the disguises--made the show fun and exciting. Tab-delineated databases? NEVER fun or exciting. Never.

>>Best/worst technobabble on the air today: HOUSE. Plus, it's as formulaic as they come. Tho I did enjoy his recent jousting with the obsessed police officer. (Runner up: Numb3rs. Honorable mention: Law & Order.)>>

You've inspired me to add a new category: "Worst Formulaic Show on TV." See below.

What about Brian is still on the air? Christ. I watched the first "season" of six episodes but couldn't come back for more. It's no Felicity, nor Thirtysomething. (I once got to personally yell at Bob Iger for canceling Thirtysomething in its prime. True story.) >>

Dude, seriously--it really is still on the air. My back-up VCR is set to tape it and I haven't bothered to tell it to stop, so I've still been watching it here and there. The hot but smart and totally together stripper girlfriend--I mean, "wife"--is nice to look at, at least. She has such pretty hair.

>>Show that should not be on the air : Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
And What About Jim.
And Two and a Half Men.
And Dancing with the Stars
And Til Death
And ER.>>

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip may have the worst name in television, but it deserves to be on the air. Certainly if Ghost Whisperer can be on the air, that can. Amanda Peet? Love it. And even though the show is basically The West Wing in a TV studio, it's well done.

As for those other shows, I don't have any explanation for shows as bad as What About Jim and Two and A Half Men. They are like JAG or Bob Sagat hosting America's Funniest Videos for all those years--I just don't understand how anyone can stand it. When I talk about television, I just don't even include those shows because I prefer to pretend they don't even exist.

As for ER, talk about beating a dead horse. NBC is desperate, but really--please, let it go already. When you killed Mark Green, you killed ER. It's time to bury it.

>>All shows suck compared The Shield and The Wire and Battlestar Galactica (which is almost completely technobabble free).>>

Yes, cable is where it's at. My new favorite is Weeds. But I don't get that in my TV. I have to wait for the DVDs.

>>Best boobs on TV: Katherine Heigl. >>

Definite oversight on my part, but in my defense, they're always hidden under scrubs.

>>Best shoulders: Evangaline Lilly>>

She's not only got the best shoulders, she's got the cutest face and is in the running for best hair. And I also nominate her for best action hero.

>>Stars most in need of a sandwich: Ellen Pompeo>>

Seriously, although Calista Flockhart is back on the air, you know.

>>The perfect woman: Jenna Fischer. Or, more specifically, Pam Beesly.>>

umm...I'm gonna have to disagree. That makes her all yours.

>>eric "tv addict" G.

PS: And remember, just about ALL TV -- even What about Brian -- is better than most movies these days. (but not What about Jim.) >>

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