Friday, April 21, 2006

American Inventor (SPOILER ALERT)

It was a total waste of time, but they did cut off the show without the moment I most wanted to see:

They didn't show what that Sackmaster guy's wife said when he told her, "Yeah, honey, our lives could have changed, and our children could have had their financial futures secured, and millions of lives could have been saved from future disasters thanks to the Sackmaster, but instead of working, I jacked off by the pool and got a new suit. I didn't even try. When's dinner?"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"The Last Two Nights Exclusively Online!"

That is the lipstick NBC is putting on its latest pig.

The network yanked
Celebrity Cooking Chazurai off the air for the last two nights of its scheduled five-night run. Hey, I understand if no one's watching, but this is the same network that cancelled Last Comic Standing with one episode to go. Earlier this year, Fox cancelled Reunion -- which is essentially a miniseries -- without bothering to wrap it up, and another show (I forget which one) got cancelled after the first half of a two-parter. Last year, Fox cancelled a couple of its reality shows mid-stream.

A TV network does have a responsibility to its shareholders and its advertisers, and I personally am happy that
The Office is on tonight instead of a cooking show I'm not watching.

But even so, there is such a thing as a pact with an audience. NBC made a certain promise to some folks for the last three nights. It's not their fault there weren't enough of them. And there may be even fewer next time NBC promises a "special week-long event."

The USG (Yeah, You Know Me)

He's as old and reliable as television himself. He's been around, in one form or another, in all crime and mystery shows and their offshoots.

I call him the Unreasonably Skeptical Guy, or USG.

The USG shows up everywhere, but nowhere did he show up more frequently than on Murder, She Wrote. Now for those of you under twenty years old, Murder, She Wrote was a show where Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher, a famous mystery writer who would travel the country visiting cousins.

Every cousin she visited would be accused of murder, and would ask Jessica to please help clear him or her of this wrongful accusation. If I were Jessica's cousin, of course, I would ask her to please go to Howe Caverns or Mount Rushmore and skip my house altogether, since I have enough trouble without running afoul of John Law.

Anyhoo, this show ran forever, and Jessica solved hundreds of unsolvable mysteries, almost all of which had baffled the local police. Just as the cops were about to fry Jessica's cousin, she would step forward and say, "Not so fast, Lieutenant." And then she'd explain what all the cops in Moab, Utah or Truth or Consequences, New Mexico had apparently missed. And they'd put Abby Dalton or Richard Moll in handcuffs and release Kristy McNichol or Danny Pintauro and that's that until next week.

So, back to USG: Next week, when she arrives in the new town, and her cousin (let's say Judith Light) takes her to the local diner she meets the town sheriff (let's say J.T. Walsh) who's a huge fan of hers, just thrilled to meet her. After all, a famous author! He's read all her books! She's solved over a hundred real-life murders! If you need anything while you're in town let me know!

Then a murder happens -- in a locked room with no windows in the middle of a parade -- and Judith Light is a suspect. Jessica asks if she can see the murder scene.

Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, Sheriff J.T. Huge Fan turns into Sheriff USG. Imagine a tone, dripping with unctious patronization: "Mrs. Fletcher, why don't you leave the 'investigating' to the 'professionals'? Mm-kay? Don't you bother your pretty little head about such things. We have a lovely seashell museum. Why don't you spend your day there?"

WTF?? He's the sheriff of Butthead Junction, meanwhile she's got a murder clearance rate of a HUNDRED PERCENT, and he's sassing her? And yet someone did it every week. And then had to eat shit at the end of the episode.

There were shows where the same person had to be USG every week, like Simon Oakland on Kolchak, or Joe Santos on Rockford Files, or Stephen Lang on Millennium. Talk about thick as a brick.

The same thing is true of that guy who always used to give Grissom a hard time on C.S.I. My god, lay off! That squad has the best clearance rate west of NYPD Blue, where Andy and his partners never had anything other than their psychic powers to go by -- "I don't like this guy for it." -- and they were never once wrong... and yet they still got grief from upstairs or downtown or 1PP or whatever.

And why is Courtney Vance always so gloomy on L&O: CI? Jesus, Vincent D'Onofrio has a way of getting people to waive Miranda and make full confessions like no TV detective since Columbo! Cut him some slack, why don'tcha?! (Also, does anyone else have the feeling that breakfast at home with Courtney Vance and Angela Bassett must take hours? "Paaaaassss the maaaaaaaple syyyrrrrrup?" "Iiiiiii'ddd beeeeee glaaaaaaaaaad tooooooooo.")

It's not just cops, either. At this point, why does anyone bother disagreeing with Luka on E.R.? (Especially Kerry, who might as well be wearing a fright wig and carrying a big cartoon saw. Patients, if you hear her coming, even with her new T2 hip, run!)

Anyway, the truth is, I love the USG. There's something satisfying about a good USG. About seeing him get his comeuppance, seeing him have to apologize to Ryan Atwood for misjudging him for the seven hundredth time.

And by the way, the USG used to always be a guy, but no more. In fact, the champion USG of all time is a woman, thanks to the Rosa Parks-slash-Babe Ruth of Unreasonable Skepticism: Special Agent Dana Scully.

I'm Going To Try To Do This Without Spoilers... But Be Warned

If you watched America's Next Top Model last night, you saw a challenge that could only have been designed by a sadistic monster. And that only a true sociopath could win. (Fortunately, a true sociopath was on the premises, and really shone.)

Then the girls got a lecture on the importance of temperance from Janice Dickinson. Once again, they got a lecture on temperance from Janice Dickinson. Because apparently Courtney Love was unavailable.

If you watched, you also saw a truly beautiful, sexy, shy, intelligent young woman -- someone who anyone would be lucky to have as their daughter or sister or friend -- sent home disappointed but with her head held high. She was awkward in competition, but she was noble in "defeat."

She may not have been "fierce" enough for Tyra's cult, but I nominate her for America's Next Top Role Model.

The Best Quote About Scott McClellan's Ousting

"Every housecleaning begins by changing the doormat."

-- Ed Helms, The Daily Show, 4/19/06

The Most Disturbing Thing Since the Furry Lobster

I Won't Say Who Got Sent Home Last Night on American Idol...

...but we should have gotten a hint who it would be when the producers cancelled massive recurring orders of eyeliner, hair gel, and Vagisil.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

They Put the Bang in Bangalore

This actual footage of a nutty Indian intersection will make you glad you commute wherever you do and not there.

Yeah, Kellie Semi-Butchered It, But I Don't Care

Kellie started well, ended horribly, but our President could learn a thing or two from her: she admitted her mistake -- overstating it, in fact -- was contrite, sincere, and I forgive her. I hope she gets another week. (If anything, we know Rod Stewart has selected his next wife.)

Paris, on the other hand... Oh, Paris. I can forgive being flat for "a cigarette that bears a lipstick's" but I cannot forgive taking a breath before "traces."

Is it a double standard to want Paris to go home for a few minor mistakes and forgive Kellie for major mistakes? Sure. But I like Kellie, and I love her attitude. Paris, meanwhile, makes me want to cover my TV with garlic and holy water. (The Satan Airways flight attendant uniform didn't help.)

And then there's Ace. I imagine Clay Aiken was sitting at home, watching Ace, and thinking, "What an unbelievable pussy." But then again, I imagine Dame Edna was thinking the same thing. Ace has got to go. Fortunately, his head has been pre-lubed, so he should leave the studio with a silent delivery.

Katharine was awesome, Taylor some distance behind. But this is the first time I've ever actually enjoyed Taylor.

Chris and Elliott were good, too. Ordinarily I completely agree with Simon, but this week I must part company with him: If anything, Elliott was all personality this week.

One more thing. A note to Katharine, and to any aspiring Idols reading this: She was poorly served by her director this week. You want to pick your moments as far as looking into the camera goes. For a singer, knowing which camera is on you is something you often want to keep to yourself.

If I know the camera to my right is on me, that doesn't mean I turn to my right... Far from it. It may mean I look straight ahead, but tilted slightly up and to the right, so I'm caught in a flattering profile. In fact, saving a look at the camera for the end can make it mean more. (Although it can still come off cheesy.)

But Katharine was either directed to keep whipping her head from camera to camera like a news anchor, or not directed not to. Either way, it was the only flaw in an otherwise magical performance.