Thursday, November 23, 2006


Show of hands: Is there any
Jericho fan on Earth who awaits each episode eagerly because he can't wait to find out what's happening with Eric and April?!

Remember when I wrote about Thing-o-phobia? How networks hate it when their shows are about what they're supposed to be about? So Windfall isn't about the lottery, it's instead a long, boring study of a marriage breaking up.

Well, now we have a show about the end of the world. But to give it some zazz, they keep dwelling on... a long, boring study of a marriage breaking up.

(Rule of thumb: if your show's about the Apocalypse, you really don't need to "add drama." The movie Testament was fairly dramatic, don't you think?)

Beyond that, no offense, but the guy who plays Eric may be the least interesting and charismatic person I've ever seen on television. Whenever he's on screen, I see the color draining from my TV and feel the joy draining from my life.

Meanwhile, some genius decided it would be a good idea to hire Gerald McRaney, who was so mesmerizing on Deadwood... and then have him literally sleep through, like, five episodes. I'm not kidding: he was asleep!

I really want to like this show, and I keep watching because I keep hoping the good parts will start soon. But they keep making wrong choices. (IMHO)

For example, last night Chinese-labeled packages were parachuted in, full of food and water. So was a generator, which was stolen by bandits who live outside of town (don't ask). Immediately, Skeet Ulrich warns everyone that the food may be poisoned, and Mayor McRaney quarantines the stuff. An argument breaks out. Some people in town eat anyway.

Then (here come the bad decisions) the food turns out to be okay, the generator gets stolen back and gives the town Christmas lights, a couple kisses, and an absentee Dad makes it up to his kids. (Oh, and a character who is good one week and evil the next turned good again, just so we would feel bad about the character's death. I didn't.)

Now, here's what I would have done instead, and you tell me if it wouldn't be more interesting: A few defiant town members eat the food (as did one character we love, who didn't know about the ban). The generator gets stolen before they can use it.

As they plot to get it back, there is a massive explosion outside of town. The generator wasn't a generator at all: It was a huge bomb that blew when it was switched on, and half the outlaws are dead and the others need help, but most of the town doesn't want to help them; a moral crisis ensues, and on Thanksgiving no less. Meanwhile, those who ate the food put on their "uh oh!" faces. Was the food poisoned? Will they die next week? Will they save the injured outlaws? Will the outlaws, injured and without food or water, go all Mad Max on the town? If the Chinese are hostile and have unlimited air power, how will the Jerichonians survive? Will it lead to a dozen interesting cliffhangers for next week's season finale?

I would watch that show, what about you?

(By the way, it must have been infectious, because
The Nine and Day Break, both shows I like a lot, also seemed to be playing a game of "What would be the least interesting choice?" at every turn last night. And the only thing that consistently bothers me about Day Break is that Taye Diggs keeps trying to find a way to explain his predicament, in roundabout sentences, and finally gives up when the other person doesn't get it. You or I or anyone in the world would simply say, "It's like I'm living in Groundhog Day!" and the other person would instantly understand the concept.)

One more Jericho quibble, and this isn't Jericho's fault, it's CBS's. Has anyone else noticed that CBS shows just look... well... crappier than the other networks' shows? Not the writing, I mean the physical look of the shows.

I mean, compare Lost to Jericho. The former is stunning and lush and rich-looking, and the latter is washed out and looks like six extras standing around some empty land in Bakersfield.

Matthew Fox... or Skeet Ulrich? Naveen Andrews... or the guy who plays Eric? Terry O'Quinn... or the guy who plays the other guy running for mayor? It's all just so bland and cut-rate.

Even compare, say, the rich look of the Law & Order shows to the bland Hardcastle & McCormick look of Numb3rs. Or compare Medium and Heroes to Ghost Whisperer. Or House to 3 lbs.

(The exception is, of course, the CSI shows, but I credit that to the look of those shows having been established by Touchstone.)

I mean, you could put a show in front of me and not tell me what network it's on, and I know I could probably tell you whether it is or isn't a CBS show. Think about it: Does Justice look like a CBS show? The O.C.? The Nine? No. But Close to Home sure does.

Even compare the look of Conan's show to the look of Craig Ferguson's. It's like an entire network is being shot with camcorders.

I hope a cinematographer or someone else with the technical savvy I lack can explain if I'm seeing things, or if there truly is a stylistic difference between a lot of CBS shows and better-looking shows on other networks.

By the way, I've been awfully rough on CBS, but it's only fair with all the CSI and Criminal Minds plugging I've been doing. And I hope all the networks -- and all of you -- have a very happy Thanksgiving. Everyone should. Even that guy who plays Eric.

The Secret Scream and the Keystone Iraqis

Sonic weapons have been around for a few years, but one is finally making it into the hands of the U.S. Marines in Iraq, according to the Daily Mail (via Gizmodo). The Secret Scream is a vehicle-mounted stun gun that fires two sonic waves at a specific person, up to 300 yards away. The 110-145 decibel sound of a screaming baby played backwards causes the skull to vibrate and cause permanent deafness, and an excruciating migraine.

(I would suggest the same effect could be achieved by playing Lady Sovereign's "Love Me or Hate Me" and Gwen Stefani's "Wind It Up" at the same time. Just at regular volume. But that's me.)

Right now The Silent Scream is being touted as a weapon, but I say let's rejigger it into a motivational tool for the Iraqi army. Clearly they need some kind of kick in the pants: it's been three years of training and they're still not ready. Three years, and they can't "stand up" yet?! American troops are trained in two months!

After three years of training, these Iraqi knuckleheads should be ready to hit the Crucible or Victory Forge backwards and blindfolded. And if you're going to tell me, "Well, it's not the same guys for three years, dumbass. We teach a bunch of them, then we teach another bunch, and so on."

Well, in that case, can't the classes of 2004 and 2005 teach the classes of 2006 and 2007?! WTF?!

Monday, November 20, 2006

She Found "School Teacher" in a Dic Tionary

My Favorite Headline of the Day

Logo Orders Lesbian Surfer Series

Variety: Fox Dumps O.J. Book and Special

In a burst of sanity, News Corp. has canceled the Simpson wallow. You know something's deplorable when O'Reilly and Geraldo sneer at it. "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch.

Meanwhile, look for Judith Regan's upcoming book, "If I Made Myself a National Joke, Here's How I Did It."

A New Word to Describe The Amazing Race's Team Alabama

And no, it's not bitches or assholes... though those are certainly fitting.

No, I suggest: "Cho-dependent."

Do Whatever You Have To Do To Watch This Show

I am still recovering from last week's Show Me the Money. It's hypnotic, intoxicating... Shat-Tastic!

It's as though Iron Chef, Deal or No Deal, and Sabado Gigante had a three-way, and Paddy Chayefsky was the matchmaker. I hate it, I love it, I can't not look at it. If you think you know what kind of show it is, I guarantee you're wrong.

And what can I say? Even after watching this show, I still love William Shatner. There has to be a 12-step program for people like me.

The "Liberal Media" Strikes Again

Keith Olbermann asked, quite reasonably, why the majority leader race between Jack Murtha and Stenny Hoyer was depicted by the press as "Dems in Disarray" or "A Party in Crisis Mode" or "Coming Apart At the Seams"...

Meanwhile, the day before, Trent Lott had been elected minority whip by one vote. But the press angle on that story was "The Comeback Kid."

You would think that, once Keith asked that question, it would be a good question for CNN's Reliable Sources to address. Instead, the tease on Reliable Sources was "Too little too late? How did Jack Murtha become a symbol of Capitol Hill corruption, and why didn't journalists cover that story until after the election?"

This headline was accompanied by the 26-year-old ABSCAM clip of Murtha. Not once in the show was it mentioned that he refused the bribe. Why bother, when you have grainy surveillance footage that makes someone look corrupt? (I'm not saying Murtha is snow-pure, but this was a cheap shot by any definition.)

All this came a week after Reliable Sources' lead story was how "journalists are rejoicing" over the Democratic wins, and whether the media will bend over backwards to favor Pelosi and Reid.

Increasingly-bizarre host Howard Kurtz actually asked, "Did the media make Rummy a scapegoat for an unpopular war?"

Ah, the liberal media...

How Ya Doin'?

One of the biggest thrills in my professional life was working with Joe Walsh on two episodes of Duckman. He appeared in two episodes I wrote and produced, and I am not ashamed to say that the only reason I wrote him into them was the hope that I could meet him. (I even thought of bringing my guitar for him to autograph, but it seemed such a lame thing to do so I chickened out.)

He was (and is) someone I always admired. And he didn't disappoint.

He was warm and funny and did a great job for us. And in the second show we did, I asked him to sing a version of "Life's Been Good" with new lyrics I'd written for the episode. I thought he would just do it then and there, with his acoustic guitar, in the studio. Instead he asked if he could work on it at home.

We were stunned to receive a DAT a few days later with a fully-produced version of the song, which Joe had done especially for us. It was very generous of him, and I will always be grateful that he took the time.

Today is Joe's birthday, and I just wanted to wish him a happy one, and to remind everyone that sometimes you meet celebrities and they are even nicer than you expect.

Make It Solo

The Election is Over and Gas Prices are Going Up Again

Anyone surprised? Anyone? Bueller?

Never Ever Believe What You See On the News

Every news outlet covered the "stampede" or "riot" in Fresno among PS3 hopefuls. They showed some later part of the footage below, or another angle thereof.

None that I saw told the whole story:

After waiting on line for 3 or 4 days, the crowd was suddenly informed that there weren't enough units to go around... so forget the line you've been camping out in. Now we'll have a new line. First 34 people to get over there. GO!

So the store makes an idiotic decision to throw panic juice on a cranky mob at their emotional peak... and then start a footrace??

That's what I call a recipe for disaster.

Sure, these people could have behaved better. But news operations covered it as though the crowd spontaneously decided to surge. They are after all, gamers. Thugs. Lowlife. Should've expected it, America seemed to cluck.

Believe me, if a new BMW came out with only six cars at each dealer, there'd be lines aplenty.

And while I myself would never, ever camp out for a console, I was still dismayed by the lack of respect shown these folks by media types. I heard a lot of anchors say things like "Get a life, people." I have never once heard any anchors say that after the annual Filene's wedding dress stampedes... which are, by contrast, completely self-generated.