Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Near-Death of a Salesman - New York Times

While I'm thinking this sounds like an excerpt from his recent autobiography, any chance to read something by Bob Newhart is a chance worth taking.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

BBC - Drama - Dracula

Not a lot here, but there's a clip from the upcoming movie...
BBC - Drama - The Ruby in the Smoke

Official site now up! After seeing the trailer following yesteday's Doctor Who Confidential, I am so very excited...

Monday, December 18, 2006

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel: "ABC has pulled the plug on its midseason SF series Day Break, which is off the air, effective immediately, Variety reported. Day Break, starring Taye Diggs as a cop who relives the same day over and over, was a midseason fill-in on Wednesday nights for Lost, which is on hiatus until February.
Day Break was headed off the air at the end of December anyway and will leave two weeks earlier than planned.
"

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Originality is old hat as the BBC spins off its top series - Britain - Times Online: "The next show to give audiences a sense of deja vu will be Life on Mars, which stars John Simm as Sam Tyler, a detective who is catapulted back to 1973 after a road accident.
BBC One has commissioned a sequel starring Philip Glenister, who plays hard-drinking Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt. Provisionally titled Ashes to Ashes, the action picks up the characters in 1981, for a series that the BBC calls 'More Miami Vice than The Sweeney'."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

BBC - Press Office - Torchwood to return for second series: "BBC Three's Torchwood is back for a second series but this time it will premiere exclusively on BBC Two as confirmed by Jane Tranter, Controller of BBC Fiction, and BBC Two Controller Roly Keating."

Monday, December 11, 2006

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel: "Spider-Man helmer Sam Raimi will produce a new film version of the classic radio serial The Shadow for Columbia Pictures, which acquired the screen rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

So I finally went out to the theater to see Casino Royale.  In a casino, ironically.  And not only did I think it was a great movie, apparently other people in the audience thought it would be a great movie to bring their baby to see.  Because babies love nothing more in their entertainment than loud noises and explosions.

And, despite all the advances in technology, what with the Internet and all, it still seems that there's not a lot of difference between having a baby crying in its seat and carrying a crying baby out to the aisle.  If it's still in the theater, we can still hear it.

And I don't care if the stupid baby-toting couple paid for their tickets so they have a right to see the movie.  I paid the same for my ticket, and unless I get to have sex with the mother, then I should have the right to have a baby-free movie experience.

It's just going to make it harder and harder for the studios to get me into theaters to see their movies.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel: "Raimi Helming Doc Savage, Shadow?
IGN.com reported a rumor that Spider-Man helmer Sam Raimi will bring to life several iconic pulp characteres from Street and Smith Publications, including Doc Savage, the Shadow and the Avenger, in a single film.
"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Now you have no excuse - Pop Candy - USATODAY.com: "Thanks to Pop reader Chad H. for telling me that all nine episodes of Friday Night Lights have been posted at NBC.com. Good strategy -- perhaps the CW should do the same with Veronica Mars."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Techdirt: Ever Wished You Could Push A Button To Remove A Disruptive Movie Watcher?: "Regal Entertainment Group, owners of the largest US movie chain is calling technology to the rescue. They'll be giving out little devices to 'mature' audience members, along with a free bucket of popcorn. If there's a problem in the theater, whoever has the device can click a button and immediately alert theater employees to come and help deal with the situation. The pager device apparently has 4 separate buttons. The first is for disruptions in the audience, including mobile phone-related issues. The others are for a faulty projector, temperature problems or the generic 'other' button. "
Image: The Ruby in the Smoke: Philip Pullman

Check out the new cover from the TV series starring Billie Piper!
Steve Rolston Online: "Seriously. I'm currently
illustrating Degrassi: Extra Credit vol. 4 and I'm quite thrilled to
be on this project. Like many Canadians my age, I grew up watching
Degrassi Junior High and then Degrassi High. And when I tuned in to
Degrassi: The Next Generation a couple years ago, I was hooked again.
Great teen drama that most people can actually relate to and
which isn't afraid to handle real issues."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Library Says Farewell to 19-Year-Old Mascot - washingtonpost.com: "SPENCER, Iowa -- The final chapter is closed on Dewey Readmore Books.The 19-year-old cat, who became a mascot for the city's library after being found in a book drop, died Wednesday in the arms of librarian Vicki Myron."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Full-length trailer for the new movie from the folks who brought us Shaun of the Dead

Multimedia message

Not clear on the whole drive-thru concept.



So I'm in the car at the Sonic drive-thru, and the passenger in the car in front of me gets out of his car to look at the menu up close! Now, admittedly, the print on the menu is pretty small, so some slack shall be cut for him, but still...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

'Nine' deep-sixed over bad numbers - CNN.com: "ABC's low-rated freshman drama 'The Nine' -- about the aftermath of a botched robbery and hostage situation -- has been taken off the schedule, effective immediately.Seven episodes of 'The Nine's' 13-episode order have aired. On Wednesday, the final night of the November sweeps, ABC will air a special '20/20' in the low-rated serialized drama's 10 p.m. slot.According to the network, the remaining six episodes of 'The Nine' will return later in the season. The decision mirrors ABC's move this month to bench the new drama 'Six Degrees.'"

Monday, November 27, 2006

While I do watch far too much television, I spend some time reading, too. And not just comics, although there’s nothing wrong with that. So let me talk a little about some of the books I’ve read recently.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
It’s such a cliché for people who like the things I like to be big fans of Neil Gaiman. But I am a big fan, and have been since Don’t Panic, his non-fiction examination of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. His novels are always a treat, but his short story collections are every bit as fascinating and magical. I love seeing him experiment with form and structure, as he does here, and it makes waiting for the next novel just that much more bearable.

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
Back in the 1990s, James Owen created a comic called Starchild, which felt like a classic European fairy tale for adults. The story was compelling, and his intricate, detailed art really drew me in. He only produced probably 17 or 18 issues (Two complete stories and the beginnings of a third) but that was enough to make him one of those creators I always try to keep an eye out for.

Well, now he’s back, reinventing himself as a prose fantasy author. (Truth be told, I believe he has a series of novels out in Germany, but this is his first big push in the American market.) He illustrates the book as well, and his art has gotten even more intricate and polished in the past few years. The story, about a group of men from 1917 London on an adventurous quest through a series if magical, imaginary lands is an exciting page-turner, and it’s fun picking out the various literary references. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t portrayed in quite enough depth to really make me feel for them, but that’s the book’s only real flaw. And, quite honestly, it’s the same problem I have with Lord of the Rings, and I found this book more interesting. Maybe because it was easier to remember the characters’ names.

This looks like the beginning of a major return from James Owen, with a sequel due next October (and hopefully one every October after that), a picture book next year, new issues of Starchild, and possibly a new graphic novel series.

Doc Savage and the Shadow reprints, by Lester Dent and Walter Gibson
I think I’ve talked about this before, but when I was a kid, I became a fan of both the Shadow and Doc Savage through adaptations. In the case of the Shadow, it was the DC comic by Denny O’Neill and Mike Kaluta. With Doc Savage, it was an NPR radio adaptation. It wasn’t that hard finding Shadow and Doc Savage reprint paperbacks at used book stores—in fact, Doc Savage stories were still being reprinted at that point—but while I read more Shadow novels than Doc Savage ones, I never really found myself diving into those original books the way I did with other series I love, like Doctor Who.

Now, Shadow fan/historian Anthony Tollin, along with Doc Savage expert Will Murray, is reprinting both series in a monthly series of paperbacks packaged to closely resemble the original pulp magazines. He’s using the original covers, and formatting them just like the old magazines, with two columns plus the original illustrations. They’re newly typeset with the typos corrected, and there are articles from Tollin and Murray putting the stories into context, and overall, it’s a fantastic package.

So this is my first real chance, as an adult, to read chunks of these stories, and I’m pleased to say that they hold up. I’m still a bigger fan of the Shadow, and I would argue that Walter Gibson is a more polished writer, but I’m really growing to enjoy Lester Dent’s Doc Savage stories. He’s got a much more distinctive, quirky, idiosyncratic writing style that almost sounds like an oral retelling of a folk tale or something. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books in terms of style, and that’s meant as a compliment.

It appears that these reprints will be coming out monthly, so hopefully I’ve got those to look forward to for a while.

I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This by Bob Newhart
If I can say this without sounding too whiny, I don’t remember doing a whole lot of things with my parents. I do remember watching the old Bob Newhart Show with them every week. And I must have only been seven or eight at the oldest, so this would have been a formative influence on my sense of humor.

Bob Newhart’s new autobiography perfectly captures the tone of his standup and television persona. It isn’t particularly lengthy, focusing mostly on his professional life, and only running a little over 200 pages. But with someone like Newhart, I don’t know if I’m looking for hundreds of pages of little details of his childhood. I want to know him as the person I’ve seen on TV, and this book covers how he got there. And it gives me some idea of what Newhart is like as a person. And it made me laugh.

I asked my brother to give my dad a copy of this book during his most recent hospital stay. I had hoped it would cheer him up a little, plus give us something in common to talk about. But my dad still hasn’t read it.

Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
The second Moomin book I’ve read, and the first in the series (thanks so much for your helpful listing of the order of the books, Amazon.com). I wish I had read this one first, since it introduces the vast cast of characters I found myself plunged into in Finn Family Moomintroll. But otherwise, no complaints. Why I can have so much trouble remembering the names and characters from Lord of the Rings and not have the same problems here, I can only speculate. I think it’s because the stories here are so much more relatable, despite the otherworldly characters. They’re gentle tales of family and friendship, not Big Epic Battles in which it’s important to remember who is killing and who is being killed, even though it ultimately comes to nothing.

Plus Tove Jansson manages to create a much more tangible world for me, focusing more on descriptions of setting and sensation, rather than doling out bits and pieces of made-up histories and language. I can only imagine that her setting is based on her home country of Finland; I’ve never been there, but this feels like I would imagine Finland to feel.

Just received the first collection of Jansson’s Moomin comic strips in the mail today, and that looks every bit as charming as her books. Definitely planning on continuing the series.

The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss
I really loved The Vesuvius Club, Mark Gatiss’ first Lucifer Box novel. It was genuinely funny, but also a good, solid pastiche of turn-of-the-century pulp adventure stories, with some wonderful weirdness mixed in.

This sequel felt a bit more serious, and while it worked just fine as a relatively straight adventure novel with humorous overtones, I didn’t embrace it the same way I did the first one. It was just a little too conventional, I suppose. Although, having said that, I still enjoyed it quite a bit, and do hope that we’ll see more books from Mark Gatiss, either part of this series or not, more humorous or not. (It’s not like his work for Doctor Who has been laugh-out-loud…)

Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
It’s about time someone published a new Norman Partridge novel. And it’s well worth the wait. And I just finished it last night, so I’m not really ready to say anything about it yet. Still needs to percolate a bit.

And in between, I’ve finally gotten caught up on the latest Doctor Who novels, which were all fun.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Very tense episode of The Amazing Race tonight.  I have to admit, I'm glad Kandyce(sp?) and Dustin did not get eliminated.  They made a careless mistake, and it would have totally been their fault if they had been eliminated.  But they've been consistently racing better than the other teams, it's nice to see that a rare instance of sloppiness didn't cost them everything. 

Saturday, November 25, 2006

TSA Sets Price for a Faster Trip Through Airport Security - washingtonpost.com: "The Transportation Security Administration said yesterday that it will charge $28 a year to process background checks on each airline passenger who joins a privately run traveler registry.Congress created the Registered Traveler program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in response to complaints about long security lines that became common at airports with stepped-up passenger and bag screening."

Not sure if this is brilliant or evil. Going with evil.

Friday, November 24, 2006

For Graphic Novels, a New Frontier: Teenage Girls - New York Times: "In May, DC plans to introduce Minx, a line of graphic novels aimed at young adult female readers, starting with six titles in 2007, each retailing for less than $10. The stories will be far removed from the superheroes who more typically appeal to young males. They include "Clubbing," about a London party girl who solves a mystery; "Re-Gifters," about a Korean-American teenager in California who enjoys martial arts; and "Good as Lily," about a young woman who meets three versions of herself at different ages."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Weekly World News - Story: "BALTIMORE, Md.--To quell a recent surge in party mortality, the U.S. Medical Birthday Council has released urgent guidelines for safe surprising.



'Hugs given after the surprise should be firm and rhythmic, to support heart action and prevent cardiac arrest,' said council chairmain Lance Champion, M.D., Ph.D."
unitnews | Entertainment News & Comment Robin Hood Gets Second Series : "Jane Tranter, Controller of BBC Fiction, and BBC One Controller Peter Fincham have commissioned a second series of Robin Hood the BBC announced today.
Jonas Armstrong, Lucy Griffiths, Keith Allen and Richard Armitage will all be returning for a new 13-part series which will once again be written by Dominic Minghella and which starts filming in Budapest next spring."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fast food restaurants that were good and I miss, number one in a series (maybe):

Kenny Rogers Roasters

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gaze in awe at the talent that is CSI: Miami's David Caruso!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Michael Ausiello - Ask Ausiello | TVGuide.com
: "Question: Your superpower is super scoop. Save the world and give us some Heroes poop.-- Sarah

Ausiello: Fanboys, prepare to piddle yourself. Christopher Eccleston -- the original Dr. Who from the current Sci Fi/BBC series -- is joining the cast in January in a really super (tee-hee) role. Speaking of cool casting, wait until you see who's ******* ****'s ****. You're going to flip."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Comic Book Resources - CBR News: Todd Dezago Announces "Tellos" Compendium Edition: "The new edition features every 'Tellos' work created by the Dezago/Wieringo team, including all ten issues of the original series, two 10-page side-stories and an additional 5-page supplement that appeared elsewhere in 'Tellos'' short run. Dezago mentioned that the door is open for the remaining 'Tellos' material, which was illustrated by other artists, to be collected at a later date. In the meantime, Dezago has reunited with Wieringo for an original graphic novel they expect to have completed next year."
"Lights" still on at NBC - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For 'Friday Night
Lights,' the good news is that NBC has given the football drama
a full-season pickup despite its ratings struggles.

The better news is that the network is understood to be
planning to move the show from the Tuesday 8 p.m. slot, out of
the line of fire when Fox's 'American Idol' returns in January."

Monday, November 13, 2006

So I've been getting caught up on Smallville this week, and I was really enjoying the first two episodes of the season. You know, in spite of the now-obligitory beat up Lana sequences. (Since when is having your hand impaled by a poker just a flesh wound?) Then I watched the third episode, and while I'm liking the Green Arrow stuff (a personal favorite character since the deserving-of-reprinting Mike W. Barr/Trevor Von Eeden miniseries), I see, once again, this week's attractive woman has to be an evil threat.

And I'm still watching it, despite myself. But I'm sure there's a paper somewhere in there just waiting to be written.
Apple - Trailers - The Simpsons Movie - Trailer

Sunday, November 12, 2006

tbs.com - The Jim Henson Company%u2019s Puppet Up!: "The Jim Henson Company's Puppet Up! %u2013 Uncensored
monday, november 20 at 11/10c on TBS

From the company that for fifty years has celebrated irreverence, creativity and performance comes The Jim Henson Company's Puppet Up! - Uncensored: a demonstration of what happens when the perilous and provocative forms of traditional comedic improvisation are mixed with a bunch of puppets. With a motley group of characters brought to life by the world renowned puppeteers of The Jim Henson Company, this is not your average night at the improv and it is definitely not for children. But all others are welcome to enjoy the uninhibited anarchy of live puppet performance as never seen before.
"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just read in Emily Bergl's Men in Trees Blog that it's been picked up for a full season.  I'm no longer holding out much hope for Six Degrees or The Nine, no matter how much I'm enjoying them.  But I will be heartbroken if NBC doesn't order a full season of Friday Night Lights.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blog - Keep Reading: "There's only one thing to say to all those recent rumors of the cancellation of Studio 60: Pttthhhhhht (or however you might write the sound of a tongue sticking out).Reliable sources close to NBC tell me the ratings-challenged (but fan-adored) Studio 60 has received a 'back nine' order, meaning the series will complete a full 22 episodes for its freshman season. I'm told that NBC prez Kevin Reilly is standing behind Studio and keeping it in its Monday-night time slot for the time being, in hopes that the show's audience might grow."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ABC transplants "Trees" to Thursdays - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC is transplanting its
new Anne Heche drama 'Men in Trees' to Thursday from Friday,
effective November 30.

The show will air in the 10 p.m. slot, following 'Grey's
Anatomy.' Freshman drama 'Six Degrees,' which failed to gain
traction in that period, has been pulled off the schedule and
is set to return with new episodes in January."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I know I've raved about Jamie S. Rich's work in the past.  I just finished his latest graphic novel, 12 Reason Why I Love Her, and I'm every bit the fan I was before.
I just finished reading James Owen's Here There Be Dragons, and am very excited to read his plans for 2007 here.  More on this later.
Weekly World News - Story: "Weekly World News has always supported alternative candidates, including extraterrestrials, mutants, and dolphins. However, we believe that Hillary Clinton deserves reelection to the Senate over Nocturnal Party candidate Dracula.

Beyond the logistics of having a vampire in Congress -- he would miss every vote cast between dawn and sunset, and the intern mortality rate would rise --Dracula's mesmeric powers would make a mockery of the democratic process. While one could argue that this has already happened over the past seven years, there is a difference between bleeding people for oil and bleeding them period."
For folks looking for a last-minute opportunity to try to change things for the better in this country, MoveOn.org's Call for Change campaign is looking for more phone volunteers for a last-minute effort.  For more information, click on the graphic below.  (But, at the very least, get out and vote if you haven't already done so.)


alt="Call For Change" width="150" height="200">

Monday, November 06, 2006

I found myself distracted from otherwise excellent episodes of Robin Hood and Torchwood by these thoughts (Spoilers, obviously):








Okay, so when Guy of Gisbourne confronts Marion in her guise as the Night Watchman, how does he fail to notice that she's a woman? I mean, it would probably have been unusual for a woman to take up arms in that day and age, but wouldn't it also have been unusual for a man to have such large breasts? Perhaps the Night Watchman costume was meant to be more loose-fitting and ambiguous, but it wasn't. Which makes it fairly pointless for Gisbourne to claim that he'll be able to track down the true identity of the Watchman, because Gisbourne wounded "him" on his wrist, so he only has to look for someone with a wounded wrist at the archery contest set up to lure Robin Hood. A wounded wrist, or unnaturally large man-boobs, I suppose...

And since when do Cybermen wear high heels?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jewel Staite ~ Notes ~ Dear Roj
"Now that I'm home, I can confirm that I will be coming on to Stargate Atlantis for a few episodes. I still have no idea who I'm playing, but I do know it's female. I hope. Anyway, I'm really excited to be going back, and they're a great bunch of people and—major plus!!—it shoots at home! So watch for that next season."
Independent Online Edition > Media: "'This Life' was a series that came to define a generation growing up in the 1990s - but can Egg, Milly, Warren, Miles and Anna recapture the magic 10 years on? Tom de Castella meets the cast and creators on set to find out."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

FOXNews.com - 'Studio 60%u2019 Cancellation Imminent - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "Here we go: despite receiving an order for three more episodes on Friday, the Aaron Sorkin NBC drama 'Studio 60 on Sunset Strip' is about to be put out of its misery.

Cast members are already confiding in friends that the end is near. It's likely NBC will pull the plug shortly I am told by insiders.

Last week, Studio 60 had 7.7 million viewers. Compare that with competing 'CSI: Miami,' with 17.5 million. That gap cannot be closed."
(Ooh, check out how copying from Microsoft Word into Blogger screws up the formatting and makes my entry look like a fucking poem. Yet another reason to be happy that I have a Mac...)

However many weeks we are into the season, and I’m finding
myself less and less enthused about the show being hailed as the best show on
TV: Battlestar Galactica. 
Everything that I loved about it is still there: it’s fantastically
written, acted, produced, and all that.
 
Particularly compared to the original series (which is, after all,
complete shit), it’s great to see a genre series that takes itself as seriously
and has as much to say as, say, HBO’s The Wire.
  And while I made the comment in an earlier entry that it
shouldn’t be written off
  just
because it’s sci fi, I’m finding myself drifting away because it’s
unrelentingly grim.

 
Don’t get me wrong. 
I’m not saying that they should try to find the lighter side of genocide
and terrorism and closed-minded fundamentalism and war.
  I’m just saying that watching it, week
after week, with no glimmer of hope or happiness, is starting to wear me
down.
  Maybe I just need to be sure
I’m awake enough at the end of it to watch my recording of Men in Trees
immediately afterward, just to cheer me back up.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Just a quick TV reminder as I enjoy this tasty Nevada Day:

Tomorrow night, be sure to catch either Viva Blackpool: Ripley's Return on BBC America, or Hellboy: Storm of Swordson Cartoon Network.

Viva Blackpool is a sequel to the fantastic musical murder mystery series starring David Morrissey, David Tennant, and Sarah Parrish.  Hellboy is the cartoon adaptation of my favorite comic and live-action movie.  Both promise to be fantastic.
The Waitress, the Maid and the Candidate - washingtonpost.com: "President Bush was asked this week about how the Iraq war has lasted nearly as long as the U.S. involvement in World War II.'This is a different kind of war than a war against the fascists in World War II,' he answered. 'We were facing a nation-state --,' He stopped and quickly corrected himself: 'Two nation-states.' Then he tried again: 'Three nation-states in World War II.'Don't forget the junior Axis members, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania!"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Still in a bit of a mood, Dad still being in the hospital, and having discovered that an ex girlfriend is a convicted sex offender. However, my day was considerably brightened when I found this page. Had me laughing out loud.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Torchwood debuts with 2.4 Million Viewers
: "The premiere of Torchwood on BBC Three attracted 2.4 million viewers, one of the biggest multichannel audiences of all time and the channel's largest ever audience.The opening episode 'Everything Changes' was the third most show in its slot beaten by ITV's Prime Suspect and Channel 4's showing of the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.The episode equalled the audience for BBC One's Wide Sargasso Sea and secured a 12.5% share of the total audience which is believed to be a record for the channel.The second installment, 'Day One', held on to almost all of the audience attracting 2.3 million viewers."
So, despite one being a sitcom and one being a drama, it’s easy to compare 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. They’ve both got numbers in the title, and they’re both set behind the scenes at a Saturday Night Live-style sketch comedy show. And they’re both doing pretty poorly in the ratings. TV Guide says that Studio 60 is being buoyed up by its lead-in, Heroes, but I believe since that report was published, its audience has eroded even further. (Clearly, the plan to try a new episode of Friday Night Lights in the post-Heroes time slot is a vote of no confidence for Studio 60.) And 30 Rock lost a third of its audience between its first and second episodes. I was one of those who came back for the second episode, but I won’t be back for the third.

The thing about 30 Rock is, I just didn’t think it was funny. I use a fairly sophisticated tool for critical analysis of sitcoms: if I laugh at some point during the show, it is probably funny. If I laugh multiple times, it is probably funny more often. And since the “com” in sitcom stands for comedy, and comedy—in the modern sense, anyway—is meant to be funny, then a show that has me laughing more often than not is a successful sitcom.

And I don’t believe I laughed once during 30 Rock’s second episode, so I am showing it the door. This is the first time this season that I have decided to stop watching a TV show, following Desperate Housewives.

And, for those keeping score at home, I did not weaken tonight. I neither watched nor recorded Desperate Housewives; instead I watched Thursday’s episode of Six Degrees. When I finish watching an episode of Six Degrees, I find myself wanting to see the next episode, to find out what happens next and to learn more about the characters. I don’t feel that way about Desperate Housewives any more, so Six Degrees, a show I am not home to watch when it airs, is a better fit in that slot.

And while it is sort of heartening that almost every new show that I’m watching is in danger of being cancelled, I don’t want to find myself with nothing at all to watch. So, I decided to give Jericho a try. Since, you know, it has been picked up for a full season and all. And I liked what I saw. In some ways, it’s a thematic companion to Friday Night Lights. They’re both shows about small towns reacting to disasters that rock them to their cores. In one, it’s the paralysis of the star quarterback in a town where high school football is the one thing that gives the town meaning. In the other, it’s World War III. Or something. And the football one is better made, but languishing in the ratings. But still…

Sunday, October 22, 2006

COMICON.com: TIM KRING, ALI LARTER & SANTIAGO CABRERA TALK HEROES : "Basically we are using the sort of comic book or graphic novel nature of the visuals to allow us to push that a little bit. Although we are experimenting internally with how much we want to try and push the gore factor. The truth is, we found the limit there and are backing off of that a bit. "

Heroes creator/producer Tim Kring, talking about the surprisingly graphic visuals in recent episodes of the show.
Mirror.co.uk - TV & Film - TV Land - LIFE ON MARS - BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT: "GOOD news for all Life On Mars fans - BBC bosses have ordered a spin-off of the time-slip cop drama. And the new show will be set in the 80s...The series will be called Ashes To Ashes, after the David Bowie song which topped the charts in August 1980, fact fans."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

NBC Orders More: "NBC has ordered nine more scripts of
Friday Night Lights in an apparent signal the network will stick with the modestly-performing rookie drama.

NBC is also planning on airing an original episode on Monday night, October 30 at 10 p.m., in place of a planned repeat episode of
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.The network will try and use a lead-in from freshman hit drama
Heroes to draw new viewers to the show."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

ABC shows love to "Brothers" - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC has given a
full-season order to 'Brothers & Sisters,' a freshman drama
starring Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths.

The show had a tough act to follow in the Sunday 10 p.m.
slot, taking over for red-hot medical drama 'Grey's Anatomy,'
which relocated to Thursday. In its four airings to date, it
has averaged 12 million viewers, and won the 10 p.m. hour among
adults 18-49. It also ranks as one of the top new series among
affluent viewers. The ABC order takes its complement to 22
episodes."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I think, after tonight’s episode, Desperate Housewives has lost me as a viewer. No guarantee that I won’t weaken when 9:00 rolls around next Sunday, but the fact that I can watch it for free online if I want makes it an easier decision to make. (Or download it from iTunes, come to that.)

After a strong first season, I found my attention drifting during the second year. It started feeling like I was watching the show more out of habit, rather than out of an earnest desire to see what happens next. I was still feeling that a bit this year, and then came tonight’s episode. Mike suddenly has amnesia and can’t remember his relationship with Susan? Andrew comes home and immediately, his relationship with his mother is just fine (and, out of the blue, his sister is sleeping with one of her teachers)? Lynette, normally the practical one, is bribing little league players to boost her son’s confidence? I’ve read people accusing the producers of Lost of making things up as they go along. While I don’t agree with that, I think there’s definitely a case to be made for the producers of Desperate Housewives doing just that.

Meanwhile, Brothers & Sisters continues to impress. And on The Amazing Race, I find myself rooting for beauty queens Dustin and Kandice. Partly because they’re hot, and partly because they work well as a team and don’t bicker embarrassingly. Except for the not-dating thing, they actually remind me a lot of Kris and Jon from Amazing Race 6. Here’s hoping they make it to the final three…
This week’s My Name is Earl featured cats and my two favorite Cyndi Lauper songs. And, of course, it was hilarious. Three reasons for me to keep watching and loving the show.

After two episodes, I’m enjoying the BBC’s new Robin Hood TV series. It’s not perfect (I could do without the flying arrow “thwip” sound effect every time they fly in a location caption), but it’s a lot of fun. I can’t remember my first exposure to Robin Hood—probably the Errol Flynn movie—but he’s one of those classic heroes whose stories I always find myself drawn to. (Others on that list would be Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, the Shadow, Batman, and Blackhawk. And that’s probably it.) So I was probably preconditioned to like this show coming out the gate.

The reaction I’ve seem so far—which is very little—seems to be mixed. One review mostly enjoyed it, but while I agree with some of their criticisms—they also dislike the thwips—I think some of the comments display a certain naïveté and ignorance of the demands of popular television. Complaining that the version of Robin Hood seen on BBC1 on Saturdays at 7:00 pm (I think) features actors who are cleaner and more handsome than 12th century outlaws would actually be—because there are so many dirty, ugly leads on television these days—just seems like nitpicking. Similarly, reaction on writer Paul Cornell’s blog seems divided. One poster—rather tactlessly, considering that Cornell, in addition to being one of the nicest humans on the planet, is also one of the writers on Robin Hood--described the series as “one of the worst things I’ve seen on TV In a long time.” Which, you know, entitled to his opinion and all that, but how nice that he has managed to miss so many other shows. Particularly the last Robin Hood series that I can recall, starring Matthew Poretta, and made during the height of the Xena-fueled syndicated fantasy/adventure series boom. This is why superlatives are a bad thing.

Me, I’m getting a kick out of the action, the humor, and the topical references to (metaphorically) the Iraq war. Those references do border on the heavy-handed, but if it’s a choice between something that tries to make a point about something important and something that doesn’t, I fall on the side of the one that tries. (And when it succeeds like in The Girl in the Café, it’s a beautiful thing.

So, I’m not as fanatical about Robin Hood as I am, say, Doctor Who or Spooks or Lost, I am definitely hooked, and plan on sticking with it through all 13 episodes.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I don't usually like to talk about work or personal stuff here but...

Guess who's been invited to do a presentation at next year's NYC Comics Convention?  (No, it's not Penelope.)
And another new Torchwood trailer...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Read the first issue of the new comic, Criminal, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.  I had loved their work on the superhero noir comic, Sleeper, but I had really become a fan of Ed Brubaker's after the straight crime comic he did with Michael Lark, Scene of the Crime.  Brubaker and Lark are doing Daredevil now, and he's also writing Captain America.  And that's great for fans of those characters, because it means their comics will be good.  But it's nice that he's finally got something out for the rest of us to read.

And it's even nicer that it's great.
"Lost" Hit by Battleship Patinkin - Yahoo! News: "Forget the Others. The greatest single threat to the survival of
Oceanic Air Flight 815's castaways may just be Mandy Patinkin.

On Wednesday night, the mild-mannered star of stage, screen
and Crestor commercials saw his two-season-old CBS crime drama,
Criminal Minds, come within about 200,000 bodies of toppling
ABC's Lost."

Score one for the lovers of the instant resolution. I hear in next week's ground-breaking episode of Criminal Minds, Mandy Patinkin catches a serial killer.
Can I just say, real quick, how much I’m loving Google’s new
Mac widgets?  Makes posting to the
blog so much easier.
Totally need to go to bed right now, but Grey’s Anatomy
totally gets points for getting me to start liking Derek again.  Although it’s going to be hard to have
any sympathy for Meredith when he hurts her again.
  And Finn is right: he will.  (And Meredith knows it.)
 
And what a sad, sad surprise to hear Denny’s voice at the
end of the episode.
 
 

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just some quick notes about last night’s dramas:

(Here there be spoilers)

Lost probably provides more fuel for the side arguing that not enough happens. Which is true, if you believe that the only story the show is telling is about the island. Instead, I would argue that the show is about these people who are now physically lost on this island, but who all may have been spiritually lost for much longer. And if we don’t learn who these people are and how they came to be, if our viewing of their current circumstances isn’t informed by their backgrounds, then what is the point? We might as well just be watching a monkey in a smoking jacket sitting in a chair explaining everything to us. (That’s a reference to the highly recommended Lost podcast.)

(Speaking of the Lost podcast, this week, Damon LIndeloff wisely pointed out to people who don’t like waiting for answers that Criminal Minds on CBS is a great show. This week, Mandy Patinkin will be catching a serial killer.)

So, did anything happen on Lost this week? Well, we learned that Sun isn’t as trustworthy and honorable as we’d like to believe. As a child, she was responsible for a maid being fired because Sun blamed her for something that Sun had done. We learned that she did cheat on her husband, which may also explain how Sun can be pregnant on the island if Jin is impotent. (“This show never answers any questions!”) We learned that, when push comes to shove, Jin won’t kill when ordered to, and that he resents—or resented—Sun for putting him in the position where he would be ordered to. We learn that Sun will kill when threatened. We learn that the Others aren’t necessarily as tough as they’d like everyone to think, except for Juliette. We learn that Ben has been on the island all his life, which I believe would predate the Dharma Initiative. So they’ve been on the island longer than previously thought. And they have connections to the outside world, although if Jack thought they were lying about the World Series, I’m not sure why he didn’t at least suspect that the video of the game was faked. But still, we know it wasn’t, so the Others must have gotten it somehow.

So these are the sorts of things the average episode of Lost makes me think about, and that’s why I don’t accuse it of treading water just because it doesn’t explain where the polar bears come from.

And it’s getting late, and I still want to watch tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy before I go to bed. (I work on Thursday nights, so I have to record everything to watch later. But I’m still really enjoying The Nine. Sure, it’s only been two episodes, but any more, I only give a new show about five minutes to hook me. So sticking with it this long says something.

As I said, I don’t want to spend too much more time blogging, but one connecting theme that developed last night between two characters was the idea of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Now, Jeremy killing the comatose bank robber is the sort of vigilante justice that we’re often meant to applaud, but I suspect it’s not going to work out all confetti and bouquets of flowers. It just doesn’t feel like that sort of show. And seeing Nick, the cop, sell out, even if it was to protect the others, was also a bit of a surprise. I had expected that story to be a fairly typical, “I’m going to do what’s right no matter the cost” storyline, and it turned left when I expected it to turn right. So this one is definitely a keeper as well.

And both these shows can be viewed, for free, online at ABC's web site.

I also caught the first episode of 30 Rock, the Tina Fey sitcom set behind the scenes of a live sketch comedy show. (Not to be confused—in any real sense—with the great Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the Aaron Sorkin drama set behind the scenes of a live sketch comedy show.) I wasn’t bowled over, but I made it all the way through and want to check it out next week. Possibly more later.

Multimedia message

Penelope enjoys her new Cat Sitter DVD.

New Torchwood trailer:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

According to this week’s issue of TV Guide, NBC’s >Friday Night Lights isn’t doing too well in the ratings. It’s coming in third, after established hits NCIS (which I’ve been watching since the beginning) and Dancing with the Stars (which doesn’t interest me, but I’m in the minority here). So it’s already fighting an uphill battle.

It’s got a couple of other strikes against it, too. It’s about football, so it’s automatically going to lose that segment of the audience that isn’t interested in football at all. I mean, I’m not interested in football at all, and that was almost enough to make me give this show a pass. Only I tend to be less knee-jerk than the average audience member, I think.

Then there’s how it looks and feels. It’s about a bunch of high school kids, but it doesn’t seen one bit like Dawson’s Creek or One Tree Hill (another sports-oriented high school drama, come to think of it). It’s got different angles edited together, if you pay attention to such things, but it looks even more like a documentary than the “mockumentary,” The Office. So it’s a new show, competing against popular incumbents, and it doesn’t have the crutch of being comfortable and familiar to lean on.

What it does have going for it is a low-key feeling of verisimilitude. Tonight’s episode featured so many moments that most other series would have played for melodrama. Whether it’s the scene where Coach Taylor agonized over his team’s chances with their first string quarterback hospitalize while his wife comforted him, or the scene where that quarterback learned the true extent of his injuries, the dialogue felt like honest, heartfelt reactions, and the actors played it like real human beings. I’m all for the stylized, snappy dialogue of an Aaron Sorkin or a Joss Whedon, but sometimes, it helps to hear characters talking the way real people talk, not the way people would like to talk.

And, of course, it helps to have actors who can keep the tone real, like Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, and all the kids who play the teenagers, who actually seem like real teenagers. Between this show, The Wire, and Heroes, maybe we’ve turned some sort of corner.

So I’m going to keep watching Friday Night Lights as long as it lasts, and I hope it finds a broader audience. Even if it is about football.
Now that the fall TV season has begun in earnest, it’s time for me to get back to the main intent of this blog, and talk about what entertains me. To start, here’s my current TV viewing list:

Monday:

Prison Break on Fox

I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did last year. After the first seasons of Oz gave me enough hard-core prison anal rape drama to last me a lifetime, I was wary of another prison show. But it turned out to not be a prison show so much as a Mission: Impossible-type caper show. Now that the characters are out of prison and on the run, it’s more like The Fugitive with an ensemble cast, and I give Fox credit for letting the show evolve with the story. Plus it’s well made.

The Class on CBS
I decided I needed more comedies in my TV diet, and this one was getting good reviews in TV Guide. But the pilot didn’t really hook me. Then I saw most of the second episode at work, on my break, and found myself laughing. And really, that’s all I ask from a sitcom: that it makes me laugh out loud. So I gave it another shot, and it’s grown on me.

Heroes on NBC

This one was getting a lot of buzz from the comics fan community for obvious reasons. (Those reasons being it’s about superheroes, and it’s got comics creators Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale on staff.) But when Yahoo put the pilot online to preview, I really enjoyed it as a work of television. I love shows about an ensemble of characters who aren’t necessarily all connected by something simple and obvious like a workplace or a family or whatever, so I look forward to seeing how all these disparate characters end up weaving in and out of each other’s lives. I love the surprises and cliffhangers, like discovering that Pete actually can fly, or that Hiro can travel through time. And it’s a show that isn’t afraid to show people frozen alive, with their skulls cut open and their brains scooped out.

Plus, it’s one of the few new shows that’s doing well enough to be considered a hit.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on NBC

And despite the massive hype, Aaron Sorkin and Matthew Perry’s return to series television is not a hit at all. I’ve read criticisms that it’s too much of a TV insiders’ show, or that the subject isn’t important enough, or that they don’t show enough of the comedy, for a show about making a live comedy show. I say, do you have to be a cop to enjoy CSI, or a gangster to enjoy Sopranos? (Maybe you do, since I’m not a gangster, and I don’t like Sopranos. But plenty of people do.) I don’t know how movies about making movies do, but for me, Studio 60 is just a workplace show that happens to be about television. And I don’t really want to see the actual sketches that they do, so much as I want to see the process and the characters. If I want to see a sketch comedy show, I’ll watch SNL or MadTV.

What I want to see is the characters under pressure to produce on deadline and from forces outside. The stakes don’t need to be huge, because that’s the sort of stuff I do every day, too, and the stakes aren’t huge in my life. I want to hear Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford and Steven Weber and Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson and Tim Busfield spouting off that rapid-fire Aaron Sorkin dialogue I came to love in Sports Night and West Wing and A Few Good Men. And that’s what I’m getting from this show, and I’ll miss it if it goes away.

Tuesday:
The Street on BBC America

Haven’t actually seen the first episode of this, since BBC America kindly let it run longer than it was scheduled, and so I didn’t record the whole thing. But it’s about the people living on a single street, with each episode focusing on a different group, as I understand it. So it’s an anthology show, sort of, mixed with what I talked about above on Heroes, watching how almost-strangers pass through each others’ lives. And it’s written by Jimmy McGovern, who created Cracker, one of my favorite shows of all time.

NCIS on CBS

This has been a favorite for over three years now, and I’m not stopping watching it. Detractors can call it CSI Lite, but it’s the characters and humor that keep me coming back (and the lack of same that keep me away from the CSI franchise).

House on Fox

The previous two years have been fantastic; why stop watching now?

Friday Night Lights on NBC

Was totally going to give this a pass, despite the presence of favorite actor Kyle (Cloud of Pink Mist on Grey’s Anatomy) Chandler. But TV Guide gave it a rave review, plus it also stars Connie Britton, from Spin City and The Brothers McMullen. So I watched the first episode, and it’s shot in this nice, pseudo-documentary episode that really makes it very watchable. Which is a good thing, because I really don’t like football, and I still want to keep watching this show.

Help Me Help You on ABC

Okay, I loved Ted Danson in Becker and I loved the therapy background of the original Bob Newhart Show. And NBC’s decision to show two Law & Order shows back to back on Tuesdays completely burned me out on that franchise in just one night. So I decided I needed a sitcom, and this sounded good. And it’s gotten mixed reviews, and I’m not laughing at it as often as I do, say, My Name is Earl. But I am laughing, so I’m planning on sticking with it.

(Although this is what’s keeping me from watching Veronica Mars, which everyone says I should watch, and which I was almost willing to give another shot to. But I’ve tried to watch it twice, and both times, it didn’t hook me enough to keep watching. So I have to stick with what I know I’m enjoying.)

Wednesday:
Bones on Fox

What I said above about NCIS probably applies to Bones, too.

Lost on ABC

I can’t actually respect the view that nothing happened during the second season of the show. I think there’s far too much fixation in the Lost fan community on just wanting answers to the mysteries, but if you don’t spend time on the characters, you get a soulless, shallow time-waster like Vanished (which will probably soon live up to its name). Or The Da Vinci Code. But the fact that Da Vinci is such a success probably shows what the public really wants.

(I’m not knocking Da Vinci Code as a work of nonfiction. But as a novel, it’s crap.)

So I’m okay with the interior of the hatch not being some sci-fi, James Bond villain stronghold, and I’m okay with not having the show answer all its questions right up front and then spinning its wheels for three or four years. I think the show is giving out information at the right pace, and balancing plot and character just fine.

And I loved the opening of this season. This is still one of my favorite shows currently on, and I’m really looking forward to the way this season is structured, with a relatively self-contained six new episodes in a row, then off until January or February, and then the rest of the season all in a row, without being interrupted by reruns.

The Nine on ABC

I just watched the first episode today, and I was totally caught up in it. I like the storytelling structure, where we see the effects of an event before learning the cause. I look forward to filling in the blanks, more than I would if things were told in a straightforward, chronological order. I’ve read complaints that the flashback structure just rips off Lost, but this is hardly the first time this sort of structure has been used. So you short-attention-span mother scratchers can just shut up.

Plus, it’s got a cast I really like, especially Tim Daly, Kim Raver, Scott Wolf, and Camille Guaty.

Thursday:
My Name is Earl on NBC

I don’t think I can really say anything about this show. I laugh harder at this than anything else (except maybe The Venture Bros) and that’s something I really need.

Smallville on CW

I’ll admit, I’m starting to feel a little guilty that I’m still watching this. On the one hand, I like seeing how they’re steering Clark Kent in the direction of becoming Superman. On the other hand, the actual individual stories are getting a little too cruel and exploitative to the women characters to be comfortable. I’m getting tired of seeing every female character either being a victim or evil, and I’m getting more tired of seeing them getting beaten up and tortured. Or photographed in the shower, and for me to get tired of that says something.

So we’ll see. Because I haven’t actually seen the first two episodes of the new season. So this may be dropped in favor of Ugly Betty.

The Office on NBC

Just started watching this show this season. It’s nowhere near as good as the original British version, because it’s still played too broadly. Plus they can’t seem to figure out that if you’re trying to make something look like a documentary, you can’t shoot it shot-reverse shot. But it’s making me laugh, which, again, is something I want to be doing more of. So…

Ugly Betty on ABC

I watched the first episode on ABCs web site, since I’m already recording Smallville and the NBC sitcoms. But I really liked the characters and the story. It had just the right tone for the subject matter, I thought: not too broad, not too serious. So I had sympathy for the characters. I plan on continuing to watch it online, but if Smallville fails to hook me this season, that may change.

Grey’s Anatomy on ABC

I’m not sure how it snuck up on me, but this is another favorite drama, right up there with Lost.

Six Degrees on ABC

Again, another show about people drifting in and out of each others’ lives, and I’m really enjoying it. Plus, it’s got some favorites in the cast (Campbell Scott and Erika Christiansen) and it’s produced by Lost/Alias/Felicity creator JJ Abrams. And while he’s probably not as heavily involved in this as he is in the shows he’s created, it’s got a lot of the same qualities as those shows. (And his involvement is why I’m going to give What About Brian another shot tomorrow night.)

ER on NBC

Yes, it's been on forever, and yes, it isn't as good as it was 13 or whatever years ago. But it's still good, it's still a show I enjoy, and it still has Parminder Nagra on it (which is why I came back to it after a number of years away).

Friday:

Doctor Who on SciFi

This isn’t a show; it’s a way of life.

Men in Trees on ABC

If I hadn’t enjoyed Anne Heche’s performance in Everwood so much last year, this would have been completely off my radar. But I did see her, and found her quirky delivery/performance really appealing. And while this show really does feel like a mash-up between Sex and the City and Northern Exposure, I don’t so much mind, because I like both those shows. More importantly, it seems to have recaptured what made both those shows special and interesting, instead of just copying the surface details. So it’s a total chick show, but I’m hooked.

Battlestar Galactica on SciFi

I don’t believe in any sort of must-see TV, but seriously? If there are people not watching this just because it’s science fiction and called Battlestar Galactica, it’s their loss.

Saturday:

Scooby and Shaggy: Get a Clue! on CW

The jury is still out on this Scooby-Doo Meets Venture Bros thing, but in the meantime, I’m still watching it.

Legion of Super-Heroes on CW

Back in the 1980s, Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes were two of my favorite comics. The idea that either of them would ever be turned into cartoon series was unthinkable, let alone that they would be any good. But they were, and they are, and even though I almost wish I were ten again and watching them as a kid, I’m loving them just fine now.

The Batman on CW

While the 90s cartoons are arguably better, I’m enjoying this new Batman cartoon quite a bit. I like that it’s more action-oriented then the earlier cartoons, because my Batman comes in many flavors.

Flight 29 Down on Discovery Kids

I love this little half-hour drama about a bunch of high-school kids trying to survive on a desert island after a plane crash. It’s like Lost like Campbell’s Chicken Soup is like prime rib. The kids are well-written and well-played, and writer DJ MacHale manages to get a great deal of drama out of these kids struggling to figure out what they need to do to survive. When I was a kid, I remember watching half-hour live action dramas for kids like Ark II and Space Academy. Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Fox all used to do stuff like that, and now it’s just this show and Power Rangers Mystic Force, as far as I can tell.

Sunday:

Everybody Hates Chris on CW

As the first week’s ratings showed, Sundays at seven is just an awful time slot for a show like this. It’s already being moved to Mondays. But it’s still hilarious, and for a show about a black family in 1984, it’s very universal.

The Amazing Race on CBS

Easily deserving of its multiple Emmy wins. I love the whole visual excitement of seeing so many different countries, and I love that the challenges actually have something to do with the cultures of the country, instead of being completely random.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC

It’s totally emotionally manipulative, and chock full o’ product placements, but it’s all for a good cause. And I end up crying like a baby every time they shout out to move the bus. (And Paige Hemmis is cute.)

Desperate Housewives on ABC

Loved the first season of the show, but I was watching the second season very much out of habit. With the third season, they seem to have done away with the idea of an overarching mystery, and this may be a good thing. Instead of finding something contrived to connect the stories (like the Betty Applewhite story last year), it may be more comfortable to just tell stories about the characters. However, I’m already growing tired of the story of Lynette vs the mother of Tom’s other kid (whose name I can’t even think of right now, which shows how invested I am in that story). So we’ll see how long this one holds my attention.

Brothers and Sisters on ABC

To be honest, I probably would have given this one a pass if they hadn’t hired Greg Berlanti (creator of Everwood) to run the show. Between him and Ken thirtysomething Olin behind the scenes, there looked like a chance for greatness. And it is, indeed, turning out to be a very good family drama. No fancy gimmicks, but I honestly can’t think of another show like this currently on the air. It’s just well-written and well-acted, and it deserves to be one of the two most successful new shows on TV this season, along with Heroes.

The Wire on HBO

Considering how finally the third season ended, I was very surprised to see this one back. But back it is, and already renewed for a fifth season. Which is great, because it’s a very low-key, down-to-earth, realistic-feeling series, and there aren’t enough like those around. (It has that in common with Friday Night Lights, which is probably why I’m enjoying both of them so much, even though neither one is about a subject that I would have thought I’d have wanted to watch.)

So that’s the overview; as the days go by, I’ll be trying to write something specific about each episode as it airs.

Lest it sound like it’s nothing but TV for me, I should mention that I just finished reading Never the Bride, the latest novel by Paul Magrs. Another fantastic work of Northern English Magic Realism, and perhaps one of the best sequels to several classic works of British fantastic literature I’ve ever read. Highly recommended

Monday, October 09, 2006

Television & Movie News BBC Confirms Life on Mars End : "The BBC have confirmed that the second series of Life on Mars will bring an end to DI Sam Tyler's adventures in the 1970's."

This comes as no real surprise, and it's nice to see a show like this reaching its natural end, rather than being unnaturally extended. Makes you wonder how long a life the projected American remake could possibly have, though...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Nebulous, my new favorite science fiction comedy radio series (which I completely missed the second series of), written by Graham Duff and starring Mark Gatiss, is now available from iTunes! It won't be out on CD until next year.
Here is the first official full trailer for new Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bidders Get in Line to Buy Music Retailer's Assets - Los Angeles Times: "Tower Records is having the biggest sale in its history: Everything must go.The iconic music retailer was put up for sale after it filed for bankruptcy protection in August for the second time in less than three years."

This is a piece of my childhood dying, here...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Keith Olberman finally says what everyone in America should be saying...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bush fights GOP revolt over terror bill - Yahoo! News: "Bush took vehement exception when asked about Powell's assertion that the world might doubt the moral basis of the fight against terror if lawmakers went along with the administration's proposal to come up with a U.S. interpretation of the Geneva Convention's ban on 'outrages upon personal dignity.'
'If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic,' Bush said. 'It's just -- I simply can't accept that.'
Growing animated, he said, 'It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.'"

Because, of course, as Americans, we are just inherently better than the terrorists, not because we do follow codes like the Geneva Convention...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yahoo! TV Fall 2006 Preview

Thank you, NBC, for putting the complete first episode of Heroes online. CBS has their comedy/CSI juggernaut, but between this and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I think I'll be tuning in to you guys.
Man Of Action | TGIF: "So, Friday's here already and the MOA crew is up to their collective armpits in BEN 10 DVD stuff. Yesterday, Duncan recorded a commentary track for an episode of the Season 1 DVD release. Today is more interviews, photos, personal humiliation, etc...

Now, don't ask me when the DVD is gonna' come out. I have no idea. But, whenever it drops, it appears that it'll be loaded with extra content, so all you kids out there can tell your parents that they'll be getting their money's worth, no doubt about it."
Great new stuff from Pixi! - Doubleclix's Blog: "Pixi has announced its September 2006 collection of metal Asterix figurines, and there will be plenty to gawk at: Timandahaf, Pepe and Gluteus Maximus are some of the celebrities in this new series, which you can see on the Pixi page in the licensing directory on asterix.com, to be found in Mrs. Geriatrix' hut. "
SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel: "USA Network ordered up a 13-episode sixth season of its hit supernatural thriller series The Dead Zone, starring Anthony Michael Hall, Variety reported. The basic cable network also gave an order for a 16-episode second season of Psych, its comic one-hour show about an investigator who pretends to have paranormal abilities.
"

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Did television's toughest prosecutor kill Melinda Duckett? By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine: "Among Grace's most revealing statements, as she struggled to disavow any responsibility for Duckett's death this week, was this one: 'I do not feel our show is to blame for what happened to Melinda Duckett,' Grace said Monday. 'Melinda committed suicide before that interview ever aired.' "

Thursday, September 14, 2006

BBC - Press Office - The Sarah Jane Adventures: "Multi-award winning writer Russell T Davies has written a brand new series for CBBC called The Sarah Jane Adventures. It stars one of The Doctor's most famous companions, investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith.

Russell T Davies says: 'Children's TV has a fine history of fantasy thrillers - I loved them as a kid, and they were the very first things I ever wrote. So it's brilliant to return to such a vivid and imaginative area of television.'



The series begins with a 60-minute special which will be broadcast in early 2007 with the series due later in the year."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SciFi.com has started posting a series of ten Battlestar Galactica webisodes briding the gap between the end of last season and the premiere of this one. The first one is pretty cool, and feels very much like part of the series. However, if you haven't seen the end of the second season yet (I know at least one friend has not), I'd recommend staying away until you're all caught up. Otherwise, there will obviously be spoilers.
I’m trying to post my thoughts on Steve Irwin to the Animal Planet forum, but unsurprisingly, it’s very busy, so the page won’t load. So I’m going to post it here, instead.

When I was a kid, I loved shows about animals. Whether it was reruns of Disney’s True Life Adventures on The Wonderful World of Disney, or the original Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, hosted by Marlin Perkins (probably also reruns), I watched them with my family. But somehow, at some point, I drifted away.

Then, one day, I came back. Part of it may be living with Penelope, but a large part of it came from watching Steve Irwin’s shows on Animal Planet. Though it was parodied and mocked by the hip and cynical, I found Irwin’s passion and enthusiasm very infectious. I couldn’t help getting as excited as he was about whatever he happened to be talking about. His wife Terri’s presence helped a lot. Her calm, down-to-earth sensibility provided the perfect contrast to his over-the-top performance, grounding it in reality. I really felt like she would call him on anything that was fake or too much. So as over the top as he could seem, I really felt like he was genuine.

(The show about them running their zoo--Croc Hunter Diaries?—also provided another, more down-to-earth perspective on Irwin, showing how he interacted with his staff and animals on a daily basis. It proved that while he was larger than life when hosting his shows, the heart behind it all was true.)

And I’m not going to ignore the blip on his career when he brought his baby into the crocodile enclosure at his zoo. But while it may not have been a smart thing to do, ultimately, no harm was done. And there are too many people who deserve to be pilloried for ongoing errors they make that cost people’s lives every day.

Even the Crocodile Hunter movie won me over, because it could so easily have been screwed up. I had expected Steve and Terri to be recruited by the CIA or something stupid like that. Fortunately, Irwin was smarter than that, and delivered a movie that was just a big-screen episode of his TV shows, only with an entirely separate story going on in the background that he and Terri were completely oblivious to. The plot, about spies trying to recover a stolen satellite swallowed by a crocodile, isn’t going to win any Oscars, but if there was an Academy Award for charm and charisma…

And now he’s gone.

But he brought wildlife education and conservation back into the public eye, and arguably made Animal Planet much more successful, also helping that cause. As a people, we can’t even seem to get worked up over the wrongs we do to each other. Animals don’t even have a voice that most people are wiling to understand. Thank goodness there are people like Steve and Terri Irwin who are willing to speak for them.
Comic Book Resources - Comic Book News, Reviews and Commentary - Updated Daily!: "A couple weeks ago, I was a guest speaker at a librarian's conference, as part of a panel (with the librarian who put it together and a distributor specializing in library sales) on 'graphic novels in libraries.' Curious experience. Even as I mounted the podium for my 15 minute chat, I really had no idea what I was supposed (or going) to say.

Not that I'm a complete novice at these things. I've done enough convention panels, and Bill Willingham, James Hudnall and I occasionally go around to local libraries to talk with (mainly) kids about creating comics. Still, public speaking's not my favorite thing, and this was a very different crowd. But they do represent forces comics creators and publishers should start taking into account."

For the record, the librarian who put it together? That would be me.

And I hear that this column is being forwarded around at the offices of DC Comics. So I'm an anonymous mover and shaker.

Monday, September 04, 2006

TORONTO 06: GEOFF JOHNS TALKS ALL STAR BATGIRL - NEWSARAMA: "Rumored for a little while now, it was finally officially annouced Sunday in Toronto: Geoff Johns and JG Jones will team next year to start off All Star Batgirl, starring Barbara Gordon. "

Love Batgirl, love JG Jones' art, hate hate HATE Geoff Johns' writing these days. So conflicted.

On the other hand, if it's an All-Star book, he can't just revive other writers' stories (and he says as much in the interview). Plus, the last time he wrote a comic about a teenage girl superhero, it was Stars and Stripe, and that's the book that made me a fan of his, before he just decided to just rip off stuff from the 80s... So maybe... Just maybe. That's all I'm saying.

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Stealth mode.

"Crocodile Hunter" Irwin dies - Yahoo! News: "SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian
naturalist who won worldwide acclaim as TV's khaki-clad
'Crocodile Hunter,' was killed by a stingray barb through the
heart while filming a new documentary on Monday."

Monday, August 28, 2006

When I was a kid, I didn't know anything about pulp fiction magazines, until I saw the cover of The Shadow #1 at a local comics store, in their back issues section. (Actually, that's not entirely true. I saw a small blurb about someone getting the rights to do a Shadow movie in an early issue of Comics Scene magazine--this was at least 10 years before the movie was actually made starring Alec Baldwin--and that led me to actually purchase the comic book I had seen displayed at the comic book store.) The comic, by Denny O'Neill and Mike Kaluta fascinated me, and I bought as many issues as I could, which all happened to be drawn by Kaluta.

Still, I wanted more. This would have been well before the days of the Internet, so I'm not sure how I did my research. Probably just hit or miss, really... I know I started finding paperback reprints of the original stories at used bookstores, and eventually I found a copy of The Shadow Scrapbook, a nonfiction book about the character and series written by creator Walter Gibson and uber-fan/comic book colorist Anthony Tollin. I probably heard about Doc Savage as I was learning about the Shadow, but it really didn't register on my radar until after NPR did a radio series. Doc Savage paperbacks were fairly plentiful as I did my Shadow search, but I really didn't try to collect those. No, my passion was for the mysterious urban crimefighter and his network of agents.

(I did become more interested in Savage as I got older. But since his books were still being reprinted, there wasn't the same urgency or desire to snatch the older ones up whenever I saw them. Since the Shadow rights were tied up with the still-unproduced movie, they were more difficult to find.)

I bought the various comic book revivals of both characters, and saw the Shadow movie as soon as it came out. (Not a perfect adaptation, but still fun, I thought.) But I despaired of ever seeing new Shadow reprints, especially after the movie failed to be a huge hit. Eventually, Bantam Books stopped publishing Doc Savage books, and they both faded into my memory, along with all the other things I once loved that aren't available any more.

However, as I mentioned earlier on this blog, Anthony Tollin (co-author of The Shadow Scrapbook now has the rights to reprint both the Shadow and Doc Savage novels. And the first Shadow book is out, and it's great. It's designed to look like an old pulp, using the original cover art, but the material inside has been newly-typeset for clarity. The original illustrations are also in place, but they've been cleaned up nicely, and are probably as good as can be without having access to the original artwork. The book contains two complete Shadow novels, and includes some feature articles giving some background to the novels. For example, this first book contains "The Golden Vulture," and the article explains how the story was originally written by Doc Savage creator Lester Dent, then rewritten by Shadow creator Walter Gibson, making it a unique collaboration between these two pulp giants.

And, the important thing is that the books completely hold up. I'm not saying that they read like contemporary adventure fiction, although except for the technology, they aren't really dated. But they are every bit as enjoyable and exciting as I remember as a kid. There's a reason the character and these stories have endured and keep being revived, and I'm pleased to find out that, in this case, the memory hasn't cheated. (Yes, Superfriends and most of the cartoons made by Filmation, I'm talking to you.) Tollin is offering subscriptions to the books, and I'm totally going to subscribe, just so I don't have to go seeking these books out every other month.


I love Plastic Man, but this is a little too "Ren & Stimpy" for me...
MediaGuardian.co.uk | Media | BBC's Robin Hood tapes stolen: "Thieves have stolen the only master tapes for the BBC's new ?8m series on Robin Hood and are demanding a ?1m ransom for their safe return, it is reported today."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Year After Katrina, Bush Still Fights for 9/11 Image - New York Times: "If the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina called into question the president's competence, that Air Force One snapshot, coupled with wrenching scenes on the ground of victims who were largely poor and black, called into question something equally important to Mr. Bush: his compassion."
"24" Is Among the Big Winners as Television Presents Its Emmy Awards - New York Times: "Among specialty programs and networks, HBO cleaned up, winning nine awards, with three for "The Girl in the Cafe" and four for "Elizabeth I." "The Girl in the Cafe" won for outstanding made-for-television movie, best writing in the same category and outstanding supporting actress in a mini-series or movie, to Kelly Macdonald. "

Yay, Kelly Macdonald!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What a Moronic Presidential Press Conference! By Fred Kaplan - Slate Magazine: "Asked if it might be time for a new strategy in Iraq, given the unceasing rise in casualties and chaos, Bush replied, 'The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. ... Either you say, 'It's important we stay there and get it done,' or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president.'

The reporter followed up, 'Sir, that's not really the question. The strategy--'

Bush interrupted, 'Sounded like the question to me.'"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

BBC - Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper) - News : "The SCI FI Channel and BBC Worldwide Americas have confirmed that Doctor Who will return to SCI FI in September 2006.
The run will kick off with a two-hour premiere package that will include David Tennant's debut, The Christmas Invasion."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel: "Jonathan A. Steinberg and Josh Schaer, two of the creators of CBS' upcoming post-apocalyptic series Jericho, told SCI FI Wire that the series will be told from the point of view of its smalltown residents and that viewers will only slowly begin to learn about the nuclear disaster that is at the show's core."

Okay, you know what? After the failure of most of last season's serialized TV shows (Threshold, Surface, Invasion, Reunion, Heist, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some), I'm not going to get hooked on another one. Yes, Lost, 24 and Prison Break managed to succeed, mostly because they aren't like anything else. And I'll stick with the ones I watch, which are still on. But I'm not jumping on board any new ones, because it's just not a satisfying viewing experience when you never get the end of the story. So thanks for letting me know this up front, creators of Jericho. Best of luck to you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Meerkats' rabies tests prove negative: "A family of five Minnesota Zoo meerkats destroyed after a girl was bitten did not have rabies after all, a zoo official said Friday.The 9-year-old girl, who has not been identified, was bitten Wednesday when she reached her hand into the animals' exhibit."

This is why I hate people. This is why I'd rather stay at home than go out and interact with the rest of the world. Just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Outpost Gallifrey: Doctor Who News Page: "The BBC's in-house newsletter Ariel today released information suggesting the identity of the second Doctor Who spinoff series that has bee rumored for the past several months, one that will bring back Elisabeth Sladen, who appeared last season in the episode 'School Reunion'. Says the item, 'CBBC is developing a spin-off series from Doctor Who based on the adventures of investigative journalist Sarah Jane, played by Elizabeth Sladen, and to be written by Russell T Davies. Sladen, who originally played the Doctor's assistant in 1973, returned for the last series where she was seen vying with young Rose Tyler for the Doctor's affections.' Outpost Gallifrey has heard from a variety of sources that the working title on this is Sarah Jane Investigates. There is currently no word as to when this might appear; we'll keep you posted."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

NEWSARAMA.COM: SDCC '06 - DC COMICS' DC UNIVERSE PANEL: "As the creators ran down the lists of their current work, Paul Dini announced that he is working on a Black Canary/Zatanna hardcover graphic novel, with art by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti."

Monday, July 17, 2006

BBC - Doctor Who (David Tennant and Billie Piper) - News : "We're pleased to tell you that Murray Gold's wonderful soundtrack to Doctor Who will be making its way to CD in the near future."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Spoilers for the end of Series Two of Doctor Who if you follow the link...

Paul Cornell's House of Awkwardness: Doctor Who: Jackie Tyler Leaves the TV On: "Indeed, it could be said that if at the heart of science fiction is 'cognitive estrangement', that is: we're way far from home and boggling at the huge new ideas we'e been thrown into the middle of, then Doctor Who, particularly but not entirely in its new incarnation, isn't actually SF."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

SCIFI.COM | The Amazing Screw-On Head: "In this hilarious send-up of Lovecraftian horror and steampunk adventure, President Abraham Lincoln's top spy is a bodyless head known only as Screw-On Head.

When arch-fiend Emperor Zombie steals an artifact that will enable him to threaten all life on Earth, the task of stopping him is assigned to Screw-on Head. Fortunately, Screw-On Head is not alone on this perilous quest. He is aided by his multitalented manservant, Mr. Groin, and by his talking canine cohort, Mr. Dog."
News: "BBC
America has picked up two dramas from award-winning writer Jimmy
McGovern--'The Street' and
'Cracker'--from Granada
International.

'The Street' is set
in Northern England, with each episode focusing on a different
house on the block. It is a Granada production for the BBC. The
cable channel has also taken a new feature-length episode of the
crime drama 'Cracker',
with Robbie Coltrane starring as criminal psychologist Dr. Edward
'Fitz' Fitzgerald.

The channel's GM, Kathryn
Mitchell, notes, 'We're thrilled to present two new works
from one of the most important writers in modern U.K. television
drama. From the emotionally powerful stories about the
relationships of ordinary people in a small blue collar community
in The Street to his exploration
of international relations in the exciting new Cracker
story, these shows demonstrate the incredible range of Jimmy's
talents.'"

Monday, July 10, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Comic Book Resources - CBR News - The Comic Brief: "The Shadow and Doc Savage are returning to thrill fans old and new.
Anthony Tollin has acquired the license to reprint the original /Shadow/
and /Doc Savage/ pulp novels, and will be publishing trade paperback
reprints in partnership with Nostalgia Ventures, Inc., a leader in the
field of radio and television nostalgia. These/ Shadow/ and /Doc
Savage/ volumes are officially licensed by Conde Nast, the owner of the
famous properties."
I haven’t seen it yet, but yesterday, at work, a normal teenage girl volunteer proclaimed Superman Returns to be the best movie ever. And a female coworker who doesn’t read comics thought it was great, too. So, really, I don’t much care what comics fans think about it at this point.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

If only more comics companies would understand that the best way to sell a new comic is to actually let people read some of it...

Comic Book Resources - CBR News - The Comic Wire: "Oni Press is way excited to announce the release of Matthew Loux (F-STOP)'s gnarly new graphic novel SIDESCROLLERS -- a hilarious story of friendship, small town desperation, a pack of scouts, summer, God cats, Satanic cats, football, Street Fighter, junk food, romance, rock, and roll."