Friday, May 5, 2006
Thursday, May 4, 2006
One note about next week, which I'll put in spoiler-text: you would have assumed that the season would end with Pam and Roy's wedding, but clearly, that's not the case based on the preview. Which makes a certain line in tonight's episode that much more of a gut-punch, as well as the wordless shot at the end.
Just one more episode? Damn.
I just hope Cirie knows what she's doing. It's great to think about F2 pairings, but first, you have to get there.
Unanimously approved: Every fiftieth song played over the sound system in a mall, food court, or casual-dining restaurant shall be a song recorded by ELO.
What's not great is that it seems inevitable that many of the loose ends left dangling during prior seasons will never be wrapped up. I'm always glad to see Rambaldi as a core plotline, but I just don't see the writers looking to resolve the many unresolved Rambaldi strands. What was that machine way back when -- il dire -- that got built from the 47 different Rambaldi artifacts? What of the prophecy? Who actually is the chosen one? (At one point it looked like the Sydney/Evil Nadia battle at the end of season 4 was intended to be the fulfillment of the prophecy, but now I don't think so.) What happened to the whole "quest for endless life" idea? What was in the test tube of green Sydney goop that Sark slid into his pocket?
And then there's the most frustrating unresolved mystery: there is no doubt in my mind that the document that Lauren led Sydney to at the end of Season 3 was originally intended to be something other than confirmation of Jack's role in Irina's "murder." There is also no doubt in my mind that the document was originally slated to further the Project Christmas plotline. And there is increasingly no doubt in my mind that we will never hear another word about Project Christmas. Grumble.
TV shows rarely get a chance to make The Leap. The great shows tend to be great from the start. But occasionally there are shows that need a little time to figure out what works and what doesn't, and by the grace of patient schedulers, they get that time.To me, it's already been at that level since it at least "Booze Cruise", if not as far back as "Diversity Day" itself, with "Valentine's Day" as the highest of high points this season. I've previously written about how so much of the pathos derives from everyone's being stuck, and in that sense, the show's best comparison is "Cheers". Except there, you never had the sense that anyone had higher ambitions for his or her life than spending it in a bar with their compatriots; here, you acutely feel that almost everyone wants something better out of life but is unable to get there from here, whether it's Jim wanting Pam who wants better than Roy, Kelly wanting Ryan who wants to get out of his temp job, Angela wanting more with Dwight who wants to be the boss (but will never succeed Michael), and, of course, Michael, who wants to be the cool, admired boss he believes he already should have become. Only Stanley, really, seems content to treat it like a job and go home to his family at the end of the day, and doesn't much care about what his co-workers are up to.
The first couple of years of "Seinfeld" were nothing to write home about, not until Jerry, George and Elaine spent an entire episode waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. (And even then, the show didn't become consistently brilliant until the Keith Hernandez episode.) "The Simpsons" had heart and physical comedy from the start, but it wasn't until seasons three and four that it turned into the anything-goes satire we know and love.
The only other comparison I can make is to "The Larry Sanders Show", which had an equally narcissistic boss, delusional about his workplace popularity, only replace TLSS' pervasive insecurity with its inverse. Instead of the pressures of working in an ultra-competitive town-slash-industry where everyone's conscious of his place in the global pecking order and looking for the next opportunity, you've got a workplace in which nothing you will do can change your lot in life, as you're still living in a dying coal town.
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
And has anyone gotten through on the Hanso number yet?
Only, with all the vicious taxi karma and the yielding, you didn't think it was still going to be that interesting of an ending. Kudos to the Amazing Slo-Mo Editors, and it's time for Thailand, home of one of my favorite episodes ever, as well as Survivor's worst season.
T.R. Knight and Isaiah Washington strike me as another good idea for a team. And Victor Garber and Michael Vartan. Others?
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
- Elliott: I'm back to my usual meh on Elliott after last week's unusually favorable reaction. "On Broadway" is one of my all-time favorite songs, but I have to reveal my inner geek here (or maybe it's not so inner) by confessing that I far prefer the Yale Whiffenpoofs' arrangement to the bow-chicka-wow-wow George Benson version that Elliott covered note for note, riff for riff. And that Michael Bublé song was just boring. (And I really wish that Michael Bublé had changed his last name. I can't help but get all Beavis and Butthead about it.)
- Paris: To me, "Kiss" was exactly the sort of thing she should have been singing throughout the finals, regardless of what the judges had to say about it. I just thought it was cool. As for her second song, I had to take a wild guess that the "Mary" the judges were referring to was Mary J. Blige, and I'm pleased to see that I was correct. (When did Mary J. Blige become an artist recognizable by only her first name?) I never heard the song before, but thought Paris did a nice job with it.
- Daughtry: Dude, that was Styx's Renegade! Great song, and I loved hearing Daughtry sing it. I have no idea what his second song was -- the words "I Dare You" are hard to google, yo -- but I totally agree with the judges that he sounded like his vocal cords were about to implode. Go drink some lemon tea pronto.
- Katharine: Adam nailed her 1984 song choice, much to my bummitude. That just sucked. But I lurved that "Black Horse in the Cherry Tree" song. And I am violently prejudiced against all new music, so that's saying something.
- Taylor: I can't believe that someone on AI sang "Play That Funky Music, White Boy," but I guess if someone was going to do it, that someone would in fact be Taylor. Not that this was a great vocal, but it was fun to Let Taylor Be Taylor. Someone should write that on a napkin. I also enjoyed his "Something," although I didn't think it was nearly worth the pimp slot. (Can someone tell me what the Billboard "pop catalog" chart is? Is it just an extended version of the annual top 500 songs of all time countdown on WYSP that provided the soundtrack for every Labor Day weekend of my youth?)
Although this was Paris's best week in a long time, I think she's lost a lot of voter goodwill and will likely find herself in the bottom two. And much as I love her, I suspect Katharine will be joining Paris there -- although I personally would obviously prefer to see Elliott hit the road.
If a restaurateur is going to enter the competitive downtown arena of pseudo-Asian pleasure domes, he might as well go for broke. . . . [T]he real surprise is how good many of Buddakan's alternately faithful and fanciful interpretations of it are. A restaurant this sexy doesn't need to be smart.The Philadelphia original is still going strong, almost a decade later, with a menu that contains my single favorite dish in the city -- their lobster fried rice, which is ridiculously addictive. Starr's restaurants thrive because on top of all the style and spectacle, the food still remains top-notch, so I hope his NYC venture thrives. (Now when are they bringing back my Blue Angel?)
- Superman Returns, the trailer for which indicates that Kevin Spacey's cold streak may finally be coming to an end, but makes me worry that the movie will be a little too joke-y for its own good, but still, I'm so there opening weekend.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which certainly offers a great deal of swash being buckled. (And a question--has there ever been a movie about which you expected less and got more than the first Pirates, which I was convinced would completely suck, but wound up being pretty darn great?)
- Casino Royale, which seems to have left behind the silliness that was the last couple of Bond flicks for a far more "realistic" take. We don't get too much of an idea of the type of Bond Daniel Craig is likely to be, but certainly this has promise, given that Martin Campbell's Goldeneye was, by a pretty good margin, the best of the Brosnan Bond films.
A few things that surprised me:
- I was not expecting Michael's reason for taking the support beam to be what it was. Desperate times . . .
- I was not expecting Michael to have honestly misjudged Tweener. I'm still hoping I'm wrong on that one and waiting for the "ah, so Michael really IS brilliant" twist that seems less and less likely. Anyone besides me think it completely undercuts Michael's prior history as ever-resourceful smart guy with unfailingly good instincts about people?
- I was not expecting Sara to react quite so poorly to Michael's news.
- Not everyone likes to eat brussels sprouts, apparently.
I did think that the montage was extremely well done, except in that it underscored the fact that there are apparently all of two bad inmates at Fox River.
- Do we know why Vito Spatafore limps?
- Was the montage music from last night's Prison Break the same as the House theme, or just very similar to it?
- Did anyone besides me scream at the TV until you figured out who was playing the divorce lawyer with a seizure disorder on Grey's Anatomy? And were you tickled when you realized who it was?
Part of the problem has been song selection, and the blame for that falls equally on the producers and the contestants. Ever since the fiasco of Showtunes Night last season, the themes have been so open-ended that we're about two weeks away from Songs That Rhyme Night. But when the contestants are left to their own devices, they pick songs that are either not right for their voices, sleep-inducing, or both. This season's Songs of the 21st Century Night was worse than bad --- it was boring.
When you give the contestants a very specific theme, you force them to push against the outer limits of their talents, and you get performances that are either spectacularly awful or ready for the time capsule. Kelly did "Stuff Like That There" on Big Band Night, Clay did "Solitaire" on Neil Sedaka Night, and while "Summertime" came on the relatively unspecific Movie Night, it was a song Fantasia had never heard before. . . .
Again, it's okay if a performance goes bad. Some of the most memorable "Idol" performances have been the out-and-out disasters -- not just freak show auditions like William Hung's, but finals fiascos like John Stevens applying his three-note range to "Crocodile Rock," or Corey Clark sounding like a strangled chicken on "Against All Odds." If you don't give the contestants room to be awful, you probably won't let them be great, either.
This thread is open for this topic, as well as speculation/suggestions for Year You Were Born/Current Hits night.
Monday, May 1, 2006
A quick Google check suggests that she's cleaned up her act, and is still doing the college circuit lecturing kids about alcoholism and binge drinking. Also, it reminded me that her season was back in 1999, which was way long ago, but Damitol's excellent recaps remain available. Still, other than maybe San Francisco, it remains the greatest Real World season ever, right?
In the first seven episodes, he has been depicting the male gangster psyche through a prism of weakness, insecurity, and fear of fading masculinity. He's giving us a sort of anatomy of the school bully. All the guys are being depleted in the power department this year -- Tony by Junior's gunshot, Junior by Alzheimer's, Johnny Sack by a jail sentence, Silvio by asthma, Bobby by an infantilizing Janice, and Christopher, once again, by Hollywood and drugs.
The result is a spectacle of compensation, as the boys' ongoing fight to be alpha dog has taken on a desperate edge. The more their masculinity is threatened, the more extreme their "masculine" behavior becomes. . . .
Many of you, I imagine, will keep reading.
Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.
. . . . Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn't drink it. The last third is usually backwash. Okay, look, folks, my point is that I don't believe this is a low point in this presidency. I believe it is just a lull before a comeback.
I mean, it's like the movie "Rocky." All right. The president in this case is Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed is -- everything else in the world. It's the tenth round. He's bloodied. His corner man, Mick, who in this case I guess would be the vice president, he's yelling, "Cut me, Dick, cut me!," and every time he falls everyone says, "Stay down! Stay down!" Does he stay down? No. Like Rocky, he gets back up, and in the end he -- actually, he loses in the first movie.
OK. Doesn't matter. The point is it is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face. So don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it. I haven't.
Full transcript here.
"THE JOB OF A LOVE SONG IS TO TELL THE OLDEST STORY IN THE WORLD AND MAKE IT NEW." Nearly every week I read the NYT Book Review, but it's not often that I read a review that makes me want to go right out and buy the book in question. This review of Daniel Handler's Adverbs certainly made me want to do so. Note the comparison to the works of Nick Hornby, an author the readers of this blog love. Also note the well known pseudonym under which Handler has written most of his other books. Check out the first chapter here.
Their wedding was the first I've attended with a reading from the Goodridge opinion on the importance of civil marriage, but I'd rather honor the couple with the quote they chose at the start of their printed programs. From The Odyssey:
There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.
Delighted we are, indeed, and we wish them all the happiness in the world.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Tonight's Sopranos returned to what seems to be the theme of this season -- can we change who we are? -- through three characters, Tony, Vito and A.J. Details ought to be left for the comments, but, wow, that scene with Tony and A.J. was immensely affecting. Maybe people can change . . . but some things, we've learned, may be hereditary.
Also, who's running the Crazy Horse now, anyway?
edited to add Sepinwall's take: "Either last night's Dartford scenes were a deliberate homage to [Douglas] Sirk or writers Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider went overboard trying to illustrate how different Vito's new world is from the one he abandoned. There were times where it didn't just feel like a different world, but a different show. But those occasional missteps didn't take much away from another fascinating episode, one that continued to push this season's themes of identity and change. I was wrong when I declared in my episode four review that Tony couldn't change. This is not the same man Junior shot. Old Tony doesn't shrug off Vito's 'crime.' Old Tony can't give Artie meaningful advice about his business. And no way does Old Tony turn down a pants party with Julianna."
There are no words that can comfort with a loss so profound and shocking, but there is at least something we can do.
In the days after 9/11, Dawson spent her nights as a volunteer at Ground Zero feeding the rescue workers, after a full day of working at her job and caring for Hannah. So the family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the American Red Cross, and we can all do that right now.