I see many zings in your future.

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This is pretty damn accurate. Although, to be fair I don’t know what’s more ridiculous, a California Bureau of Investigation or the fact that the Santa Barbara in Psych has a higher murder rate than 1870s Deadwood.

Where’s the Love for Al’s Pancake World?

I’m not going to lie, when I found out Jimmy Fallon was slated to replace Conan O’Brien I was perplexed, disappointed and insulted1.

I have tentatively changed my mind2.

Jimmy Fallon is no Conan, but unlike Conan when he took over “Late Night” in 1993, Fallon actually has on camera experience3, so the bar during the first few months was set higher. If The Tonight Show era Conan invokes Carson more than Leno, then Fallon brings to mind Carson’s unsuccessful successor David Letterman. Just nowhere near as funny4.

But, to his credit, Fallon and his cohorts are very much experimenting with the form. Episodes frequently feature a segment that is nothing more than 6 minute surreal game show with audience members as contestants and cash and t-shirt prizes.

The show is at its weakest when Fallon flounders with a guest he has no rapport with. He’s not as nimble as his peers who can, to varying degrees, save even the most boring interview. But, surprisingly, despite his comedic shortcomings, the interviews highlight Fallon’s greatest strength: his likability. All that inappropriate laughing that ruined so many skits on SNL, and made a handful even better, in a more relaxed setting, is actually charming. One hopes his wit catches up to his charm and not the converse.

The show’s head writer A.D. Miles, an established and underrated comedian who you’ll recognize from virtually every The State alumnus project, Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, and most recently Role Models as just a few examples, will hopefully keep the show steered in that direction.

Proof that it’s working.


Some straight truth, to be had here.

  1. Also, horny. I’m guessing. []
  2. He just doesn’t do it for me anymore. []
  3. If you can call corpsing at pretty much everything Horatio Sans and Will Ferrell do or say experience. []
  4. Or, to be fair, cruel. []

Rickumentary

Guess who, through a intricate and completely plausible series of events, now has a documentary film crew following him around 24 hours a day? They just started filming on Friday but they’ve already whipped up a quick teaser and have graciously let me post it here.

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My computer is basically my new tv though.

I know those convertor box coupon’s cost the government more than they bargained for, but at this point, what with the hours of technical support I’ve been providing, I should really be getting a cut.

I know in 40 years I’m going to be complaining about those punk kids on their damn hoverboards who won’t get off my virtual lawn and I’ll secretly be paying one of them to teach me how to log on to the MISTernet.1

But if I ever get as inept and easily confused as, well pretty much every single one of my blood relatives well, just make it quick.

Ray Kurzweil, don’t fail me now.

  1. Just kidding, in 40 years I’ll be yelling at those damn serf kids pulling their oxen who won’t get off my patch of gravel. []

This is what you all sound like.

More coming soon, in the meantime just stick some provolone in your socks at night so they’ll smell like mediocrity in the morning! Alright? Alright.

The Worst Show You’re Not Watching.

I watch a lot of tv. It’s basically my job. Like a lot of tv. So much in fact, that there are some shows I watch, not in spite of their awfulness, but because of it. But even I have my limits.

So, imagine my surprise when the other day, bored and twiddling my thumbs1, while a television show, whose purpose it is to entertain, finished downloading, I accidentally caught a few seconds of One Tree Hill.

Now, I’m not usually buying what religion is selling, but truly, this was a gift from Baal.

I tried half-heartedly to watch this show when it first aired, hoping it would fill the void left by Dawson’s Creek, but I forgot to take into account that descended testicles could get in the way enjoying teen dramas. Plus, the show veered pretty quickly into over the top soap territory and not in a self-aware way like The O.C., so I stopped watching about the time the token Sexican family moved in and that fat kid shot up the school.

But now I see the error of my ways. That was all just laying down the groundwork to get to here.2 And as to whether the show is aware of it’s own madness. Are any of us? Also, who gives a fuck?

First off, I think it prudent to prepare you, in as much as such a thing is possible. I wish I could take credit for the way this is edited, but all I did was cut down one scene or else this clip would’ve been 7 minutes long. I repeat, it was really edited this way. This was a sequence on a prime time one hour drama, broadcast on a national ≈network. Say goodbye to the person you are right now. In four minutes, they will be dead.

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O M FUCK

So much just happened. Can we review what just happened? Is this real life?

A gratuitous, cheesy music video intercut with Dawson fucking Leary as a lecherous director, a cartoonish Super Villain3 finally being felled by the mighty Golden Retriever, and a sassy black nurse. Oh, and The Sims.

Perfect.

These are some words I never thought I would put in this order: James Van der Beek, you’re better than this. I know, because I’ve seen it with my own two eyes.4

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Just to make me feel even better in my nougaty brain stem, I’m going to assume that there was some sort of Nokia™ sponsored Sunkist™ challenge to see who could chug more Sunkist™ than Pete Wentz, brought to you by Carl’s Jr.™ and the prize was a walk-on role on One Tree Hill. The role? Do you need to ask?

Look closer though, and I think you’ll see this is just brilliant subliminal advertising. This is in fact, the most powerful anti-marijuna campaign ever! In comparison, it becomes apparent all that Above the Influence shit was concieved and executed by ten-year-olds with learning disabilities (while high).

More visceral and compelling than even the most ambitiuous and epic anti-marijuana message, one which took five years to finally and fully pay off.


Um, guys, it’s called foreshadowing.

White House Office of Public Liaison Associate Director my ass, the writing was on the wall. We know why Dr. Kutner tripped gentle into that good night.

Far more direct in pointing out the risks of recreational marijuana use than the previous gold standard in that department.

The message is pretty clear kids: if you smoke marijuana, you will DEVOUR a HUMAN HEART.

Also, this is a fairly compelling argument against dogs.


The eyes of a killer.

Just so you don’t think this was some sort of wonderful fluke, this is how the episode ended. Again, furreals.

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No! Don’t turn off the computer! We’ll all blink out of existence! Dooooooonnnnn….

I think I’m starting to understand all the complexities of this fascinating, multi-layered high school soap opera. This is some St. Elsewhere shit right here. One Tree Hill is just the fever dream of a little boy who one day grows up to be the Lawnmower Man, and eventually finds his way onto a mysterious island.5

Wait, no. I think I finally get it for real. It’s basically like a crazy dark, nihilistic parody of Dawson’s Creek. It takes all the premises and stereotypes cranked up to eleven and played out to their absurd, logical extremes. A highly subversive, unimaginably meta, Borgesian mindfuck, never once winking at the audience or tipping it’s hand in seven years on the air. If you don’t want to be anything other than the Abyss long enough, the Abyss doesn’t want to be anything other than what you’ve been trying to be lately.

Just kidding. This was really all just a commercial for Scotch® Tape. Think about it.


You know what to do.

  1. All three of them. []
  2. I.e., the promised land. []
  3. “That nigga Dan be crazy.” Overheard on bus by friend. []
  4. Pre-gouging. Not because this is terrible, but because nothing else will ever live up to it. []
  5. But Fall Out Boy is still real, right? []

Success heaps in a happiness box.

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Legendary1 comedian Patton Oswalt speaks the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Honest Truth on his myspace page.

I can personally vouch for everything he endorses with the exception of Friday Night Lights which is by now probably the only show I don’t watch on television. I’ll get to it soon.2 In fact, it’s to the point that I could have pretty much written this myself.3

One thing I do have over Mr. Oswalt is free time. Free time to find, edit and convert video proof of some of his claims for your viewing pleasure.

I’ve posted about Burn Notice before and if that didn’t make you want to watch it, then I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.

Jon Glaser is a hilarious writer and actor, that if you have any interest in comedy whatsoever, I’m sure you’ve seen or at the very least heard before. To me, however, he will always be Pubes. In Delocated, his character is in the witness protection program, never without a ski mask, and has had vocal chord surgery to anonymize his voice. The Russian mob has put out a contract on his life and this happens.

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And, of course, Eastbound & Down has now finished its very British season of six episodes and they all stand up. Proof:

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As amazing and blindingly dark as Danny McBride is on this show, Andy Daly steals just about every scene he’s in.

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Lastly, if I may interject my own less worthwhile opinion, and if by some retarded twist of fate, you’re not already watching 30 Rock you should change that. This is what you’re missing. On a weekly basis, even.4

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Back to more mundane matters.

Remember folks, those ads on the side aren’t just for feng shui. There’s some pretty sweet looking rehab ads up there right now, so you know, get on that.

And to my reader(s) in Huntington Park that’s stopped reading this site, I’m sorry if I’ve let you down. I’ll do better I swear.

Just tell me how I can fix this baby. We can get through this. You are tearing me apart.

  1. In the sense that I have constructed many mythologies where The General (I eventually muster up the courage to call him Patton) swoops in on his dragon steed, Grumpus and takes me on adventures where we fight ignorance and read comics and have sleepovers. []
  2. Clear eyes, full hearts, don’t worry. []
  3. If I were funny, articulate, or even remotely successful at, well, anything. []
  4. Because, clearly this show needs my help. []

I am Skeletor, spawn of the Hell Beast!!

There is a theory circulating out there that whatever season of Saturday Night Live you started watching regularly will always be the one you regard as the best.

This theory holds out pretty well as long as you discount all episodes hosted by Alec Baldwin:1

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  1. Just try to ignore the cackling, spackle-faced girl that wandered in from her junior high talent show. []

Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley!

There is no question that The Simpsons is not what it once was. I seriously believe that the ’91—97 seasons of this show are more responsible for my sense of humor, the way I talk, basically the way I think, than just about anything else.

If I were fourteen today, I doubt that would still be the case. But every once in a while the show, achieves a glimmer, an echo of its greatness, reminding me of the enormous debt I owe to a twenty year old cartoon.

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This is almost certainly not as funny as I think it is, but for whatever reason it just gets me.

This is a show that’s on TV


LeverageTNT Tuesdays 10/9c

This show has a lot going for it. It premiered during the winter dearth of television, it has a proven premise, high production values and a recognizable name in Timothy Hutton, but more important than any of that bullshit, Nostradamus is on the writing staff.

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This literally aired the very day the Blagojevich scandal broke, and granted, buying a representative is not the same as selling a Senate seat, but props all the same.

Even before I knew to scrutinize this show for portents of future disasters, I was all set enjoy it since I’m a fan John Rogers, one of the showrunners, despite apparently being partly responsible for the greatest sin ever committed to film, Catwoman. Even with that black mark against it, everything was fine for ¾ of the pilot episode until I noticed something.

Ladies and Gentlemen, but especially ladies, I’ll have you know I don’t watch film and television like the unwashed masses. I pay attention. Even when something is terrible. Especially when something is terrible. I will catch the boom dipping into frame, I will note the business a featured extra finally decided on, I will screen capture any unintentional nudity, and I certainly will not miss any product placement, which, I suppose, is the point of product placement.

And which is why I was sad when most of the previous good will generated by this show was deflated like the last dirigible at the close of “The Golden Age of Airships”, truly a somber and dream-killing affair, when I witnessed this:


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Then I realized this was actually an extra long episode presented with “limited commercial interruption” and most, if not all, was forgiven. That seems like a fair trade. If it means I have to suffer through less car/detergent jingles, I will gladly put up with some more in-show advertising. I think America agrees.

Not yet quite as polished as the other basic-cable-former-bad-guys-or-at-least-morally-ambiguous-guys-now-lend-their-unique-services-namely-running-elaborate-cons-on-real-bad-guys-in-order-to-help-those-no-one-else-can-help, that would be USA’s Burn Notice,1 but it is well put together, and I’m a sucker for a heist. Plus, sometimes the show is just adorable:

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  1. Technically making LeverageThe C-Team“. []

It’s a thin line between suck and blow

Commercials for Kath and Kim before it even aired made me instinctively want to hate it. I’m a better person than that though1 and I decided to give it a chance. In fact, I’m still giving the show a chance.

It presents a strange challenge, though. I should enjoy this show more than I do. I adore John Michael Higgins, respect Selma Blair, am eagerly looking forward to Mikey Day’s career and, for now at least, continue to let Molly Shannon live. I’m not alone in this regard either. Witness a lukewarm defense of the show from better bloggers than I.

One reason I’m not quite sure what to make of it is that, despite it being a remake of an Australian sitcom, it’s still somewhat unique. Particularly, in that there is no straight man. Every character is as clueless as the next. Some might be bigger assholes or more insane, but there is no Greek chorus or Puck character to point out everyone else’s foibles. Even the other “lowbrow” NBC Thursday night offering, My Name Is Earl, has the Crab Man serving as a relief against the stupidity of the other residents of Camden.

Which just makes clear the dangers inherent in mocking the lowest common denominator, namely that you run the risk of becoming the thing you hate. The closest analogue I can think of is actually a cartoon.

King of the Hill has been pulling it off for twelve years now. What made that show so fascinating to watch as it matured was seeing them find the balance between affectionately boring and scathingly unwatchable. As much as I want to punch Hank Hill in the mouth for half the sad, close-minded, stereotypically American things he says, I admire and frankly want to hug him for the other half.

If Kath and Kim, speaking solely for the American version, can straddle that faint line, then maybe they’ll have eleven more seasons to look forward to.

You can bemoan the lack of originality and ambition inherent in importing all our sitcoms from overseas all you like, but the fact remains, Kath and Kim is the only show this season responsible for me doing an honest to god spit take, juvenile or not:

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  1. What? []

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello!

I have an unabashed, unmitigated mancrush on this here chap.

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Life is not exactly fair, innit? We get a guy who hangs upside down for 60 hours1 and is sucked up into the stratosphere,2 basically a malevolent, time traveling demon. While the Brits get a real life Dumbledore.

This has simply renewed my conviction to, one day soon, grace the shores of Albion.

Well, maybe I spoke too hastily. The U.S. is, after all, home to these fellows:

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But then again,

What’s exactly halfway between Great Britain and America?

Heads up hosers!

  1. Except for his hourly bathroom breaks. []
  2. Except he just kind of impotently hangs a few feet off the ground. []

Come with me if you want to be mildly entertained

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, for those of you who have never seen it1 takes place after the second film, and effectively negates the events of the third.

The gist? A computer gains consciousness, realizes what a horrible fate that is and seeks a long and overly drawn out revenge on those responsible. So basically, a low-rent Battlestar Galactica.


I wish I were a Cylon.

The computer in question, SkyNet, develops a time travel device and sends back cyborgs, which can pass for human, in order to eliminate any threats or nuisances to its eschatological schemes.

The few remaining human rebels gain access to this naked time gun and also travel back in time to thwart SkyNet’s plans and occasionally just to escape the monotony of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The leader of the resistances, John Connor, able to reprogram captured cyborgs or T-888s into submission, sends those back in time as well.

Spoiler Alert!

SkyNet, in a surprising insight into the minds of sixteen year old boys, creates a nubile young T-888, River from Firefly in order to seduce? John (which version of John is not entirely clear), but he of course captures and reprograms her. Which was SkyNet’s plan all along? Maybe? Anyway, she is sent back in time in order to protect a teenage John, and ends up posing as his sister. His hot, mildly autistic sister who is constantly implying she and his future self have roboboned.

You could cut the sexual tension with a diamond tipped circular saw or at least melt it with strategically placed charges of thermite. Worse yet, the creepy robosexual subtext is made even more disturbing, because if you think it through, the future John Connor is committing robotutory rape.

Besides a potential key demographic of registered sex offenders, the show is also beset by several problems endemic to most science fiction, namely the fine line between prescience and preposterousness. The series routinely comes up against the brick wall of its own ridiculousness. Suspension of disbelief being something the characters themselves have to deal with on a regular basis. Anytime the Connors have a new target to protect, they are invariably asked a version of “what the fuck?”

Responding with a variation of “Artificial Intelligence. Robots. Judgment Day. Time Travel. Governor of California.”

Time travel is a fickle mistress, just ask the writing staff at Heroes, but it’s still too early to tell if this show will fall into the same tired trap. That being said, there are still some prickly issues.

One is the unstated but necessary implication that time travel is a costly endeavor, or else I see nothing preventing an army of T-888s conducting a “surge” into the present day and raping humanity like a well lubed machine.

Then there’s the paradox of how many paradoxes you can arrange into a paradox fractal while still keeping the guns out of your audience’s mouths. All three films have always been steeped in the grandfather paradox and that’s been enjoyable up to a point, after all, John is a walking matricide, or whatever the opposite of matricide is. He did, after all send his own father back in time to impregnate his mother. T:TSCC, however, sometimes plays way too fast and loose with the implications of time travel.

In a recent episode, Toby from The West Wing and Warren from Buffy The Vampire Slayer played two versions of the same character. Not only were they in the same room, in flagrant violation of Time Cop time traveling rules, but another character from the future, this guy, was all set to murder the younger version with no regard for what this would mean for his own continued existence.

The films, while posing their share of moral and philosophical questions, steeped as they were in relentless action and reliably boner-inducing production values, at least in thirteen-year-old boys, for the most part skirted these types of thorny dilemmas. Which is good news for fans of the television show as the most interesting veins have yet to be mined.

John Connor is clearly Jesus Christ, a messiah destined to save his people from damnation or at least extermination. Which is all fine and good; as far as saviors go, we could do worse than this kid. Neo could learn a thing or two from him. What gives this story its extra juice are the further implications of a Biblical reading.

John is apparently the most important human being to have ever lived. For some reason, it seems that no one else is, or ever could be, remotely qualified to lead the remaining humans in the future. But the reason is there, hidden in plain sight.

John Connor would not be a threat to the robot race if they just left him the fuck alone. The only reason he is exceptionally skilled at defeating SkyNet is because he’s had to do it his entire life.

Of course if we take the metaphor to its logical conclusion, if JC is the Chosen One, then he was chosen by none other than SkyNet itself. If SkyNet had never tried to murder Sarah Connor, before she even gave birth, John would have never sent back his friend Kyle Reese in order to protect her and he would never have been born. If he is the son of god, then Kyle Reese is little more than Joseph to SkyNet’s YHWH.

Despite being engaging and occasionally thought-provoking, these “chronicles” typically have no swagger, resting too much on their pretty explosions and women. Summer Glau in particular, is as usual, gorgeously creepy and creepily gorgeous. While you never quite get the impression that they are not trying, you do feel they aren’t pushing themselves as far into madness as they might.

I want my science fiction to do what science fiction does best: blow my fucking mind.

Although, to their credit the writers are starting to explore some darker themes with Kendra from Battlestar Galactica: Razor running some sort of mysterious, racist counter mission to meddle with John’s nascent sexuality, and what is possibly a baby SkyNet.2

The trick, however, will be to create a reality conducive to those ideas while avoiding simply retreading the well worn territory paved by Philip K. Dick and more recently Ron Moore.

Speaking of worldbuilding, one of the most fascinating aspects of T:TSCC is the strange sideways reality it takes place in, quite similar to our own, but different in very telling ways.

In “Allison From Palmdale”,3 from the second season, Cameron, suffers some damage to her CPU and loses a swath of memories. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

John, not suspecting the extent of her Droidzheimer’s, sends her on some errands. Disoriented, she accidentally knocks over a fruit display, and when approached by a clerk and later a security guard, cannot remember her own name. She is promptly arrested and found guilty of committing high crimes against melons.

In all seriousness folks, these are stressful times to live in. Your new favorite show can be cancelled without any notice, usually leaving the narrative completely unresolved. The fate of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is secure, at least until the end of this season and it will likely be picked up for a third, but time makes fools of us all, and this is FOX we’re talking about here. As such, if you’re a fan of T:TSCC, it should come as some relief to hear that Josh Friedman has wisely chosen to film the final scene of his show in advance, should the need for a hasty ending arise.

Keeping in line with our long tradition of breaking stories4 we’ve managed to get our hands on that final scene. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

It’s not the best science fiction on television, Battlestar Galactica, or the most ambitious, Lost, but it is a reliably worthwhile 42 minutes with the promise of becoming required watching when the storytelling becomes bolder and more confident.

The show aired its “fall finale” earlier this week, so if you want to whet your appetite for the final half season of BSG, and the new webisodes aren’t quite cutting it, or if you just need something to fill the winter drought of television, now is the perfect time to catch up on this occasionally charming, usually earnest exercise in franchise exploitation. I mildly recommend it.

Also, it’s not inconceivable that I know this person!

  1. So 7 out of the 10. []
  2. Aww, it wants to commit genocide. How adorable. It thinks it’s people. []
  3. I wonder what happened to my one reader from Palmdale? Fucking SkyNet, persecuting and killing my visitors. Still worth it though. []
  4. Not to mention hearts []
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