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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Right now, you’re asking yourself, “what on earth does a gun-toting, hokey-loving, horseman of the apocalypse have to do with a twinkle-toed merry-maker?” If you would just turn your attention to the following evidence, I’m sure you’ll have no problem figuring it out:

Watch me.

There were a few weeks there when critics heralded the inevitable demise of SNL. After the election, they argued, when Tina Fey went back to 30 Rock and could no longer carry the show with her spot-on Palin impression, SNL would cease to be culturally relevant and we’d all just go back to doing drugs on Saturday nights. What JT shows us, however, is that SNL never has to go down that road – as long as Justin Timberlake will regularly make surprise guest appearances on the show where he hosts better than the host, performs better than the musical guest and is funnier than all of the regular cast members combined.

See? It’s easy. If Tina Fey can carry an entire episode with one two and a half minute sketch every other week, a little Justin magic once per quarter can stave off the death knell for SNL indefinitely.

Oh, and may we never forget.

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Last night, I lounged on my couch, wistfully viewing American Idol sans Brooke White and lazily clicking through the internets, catching the latests news from the North Carolinian and Indianan voting precincts.

As the night progressed, it was clear that Obama was Archuletaing the shit out of North Carolina. He breezed in with his charm and precocious professionalism, and rolled out with all of our hearts. All the while, Clinton faltered like Sayesha before Andrew Lloyd Webber week.

And then this happened:

Jason Castro perfectly mirrored Clinton’s showing in Indiana. Both had stong showings in their contests – Clinton won the state and Castro loosed his charm and adorableness upon America. But the slightest of hiccups for both will probably mean curtains for them.

Clinton’s less-than-a-point lead in Indiana and thorough whomping in North Carolina will make it even more difficult for her to overcome her opponent. And poor Jason’s inability to remember the words from the first verse of the song he was singing pretty much guarantees him the axe tonight on the results show.

American Idol once again proves itself a vitally important tool for understanding the complexities of electoral politics.

On a final note, I just also need to say a word for a fallen hero, the Mike Huckabee of American Idol. She lasted longer than anyone thought, and yet she was taken from us far too soon. Sweet Brooke White.

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So, as Plainclothesman mentioned earlier, a few Brooklyn Skeptics hit this party last night that IFC was hosting to celebrate/promote its new season of…um…webisodes? Oh jesus, I hate that word more than “blogosphere.” But anyway, they host a bunch of shows on the internet, which everyone will be able to start watching on IFC.com this summer.

Not long ago, I sort of loathed the very idea of internet shows. This might have something to do with having ever seen The Burg – a web series so bad that it might have single-handedly made Williamsburg lame. Suffice it to say, I believed this little piece of internetness to be still born.

However, in recent months, I’ve taken to watching nearly all TV shows on the internet anyway – mostly thanks to hulu.com. I don’t have cable. I have rabbit ears. And they do a piss-poor job of delivering even the network shows to my lonely, lonely eyes. The internet, on the other hand, gets pretty good reception.

What I’m trying to say here is that television sets are totally fin and the internet is where it’s at. This is why we have to pay close attention to those shows which are made exclusively for the internet. We all saw Quarterlife and we know what an abortion internet on the TV is. But TV on the internet seems to be going strong.

Enter IFC.com’s new shows, two of which are being pre-viewed right now, “Young American Bodies” and “Wilfred.”

Young American Bodies is in its third season, and as far as I can tell, is four minutes of talking and one minute of nipple shots and making out per episode. I only saw two episodes, but that seems like a reasonably accurate description. Now, some of you might take this to be a negative thing, but I don’t think so. Soft core definitely has its place. And the characters are pretty likeable. You can watch the previous episodes online here and you can watch the new episodes beginning May 27th.

When I saw clips of Wilfred at the party last night, I pretty much assumed it would be completely retarded. But actually, it is completely delightful. Basically, it’s about a guy who is dating a girl with a dog – and the dog is played by a man in a dog suit. The dog says creepy things, smokes pot, likes to watch DVDs, and gets an itchy butt at night. I have a feeling this show would be unwatchable if it wasn’t 5 minutes long and played by English actors. But it’s delightful and I’m excited to see how it turns out over the course of the season.

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On last night’s Idol, Kristy Lee Cook took her “simple hick girl” thing a little too far. That’s right. She sang “God Bless the USA.” I just want to remind our readers that this was, in fact, the same song that my entire elementary school sang together – along to the tape, of course – in front of all our parents as some kind of Bush I era No Child Left Behind initiative.

Below, I dissect the implications of this act, based on whether she is a retarded back-woods blond or an evil genius. Please join me in this excercise.

Possibility 1: Kristy Lee Cook is a hick. She’s a simple girl who loves horses and God and America. She chose a song that reflects two of her three interests.

Implications:

  • Her earnest rendition of this classic Operation Desert Storm tune will resonate in the hearts of other hick Americans and she will continue on into the late rounds of Season 7
  • She will have followed in the rich tradition of all-American sweethearts who pull at the heartstrings of nationalists, a la Josh Gracin, Marine and Popular Idol Contestant of Season 2

Possibility 2: Kristy Lee Cook is an evil genius. With her keen sense of America’s socio-political breakdown, she calculated that the most willful and extravagant American Idol voters are, in fact, the Christian Right. In the off-months between elections, pastors have no choice but to encourage parishioners (via fear of eternal damnation and skin-melting heat) to vote for the Idol contestant who most closely holds their anti-abortion, America First beliefs. This is Kristy.

Implications:

  • Exploiting this voting block for every consecutive performance, Kristy Lee Cook will sail through the final rounds, eventually being crowned as this season’s American Idol.
  • Kristy Lee Cook will ruin the only genuine thing about the show: that contestants are generally clueless n00bs, who, thinking they are the next Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, pick songs that are hopelessly wrong for them. But this is good. Nobody likes a calculating, know-it-all music exec in the lithe body of a 20-year-old farm girl.

I ask you, dear readers, to decide for yourself.

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As you all know, Johnbaptisedme and I are rabid enthusiasts of the ABC primetime phenomenon, Dancing with the Stars. This week, on the season finale of Dance Wars (mediocre, in comparison), they announced the twelve celebrity contestants of Season Six.

Join us as we dissect the contestants in terms of viability, rigor, and lameness.

1. ADAM CAROLLA

Recklesley: I’ve been a fan of Adam Carolla since I had a bed time. He was the co-host of Lovelines, a sex-related radio talk show that replaced Lovephones (another fantastic show) on my favorite radio station in 1998. Well, actually I might have hated him in 1998 because he was a horrible, obnoxious counterpoint to Dr. Drew’s measured reason. Anyway. I also hated The Man Show. So I guess what I’m trying to say that Adam Carolla better fucking step up this season and give me a reason to stop loathing him.

Johnbaptisedme: I used to really dislike Adam Carolla until I found out he’s bff with Jimmy Kimmel, who I like. Then I thought I’d maybe give him a chance. It’s similar to when I thought I hated Norm MacDonald but then in 1999 saw him on an episode of Celebrity “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and discovered he’s really intelligent. Anyway, I’m predicting Adam won’t be good on his feet.

2. CRISTIÁN DE LA FUENTE

Recklesley: His primary job title is “Latin American Heartthrob.” So I can only imagine that involves a lot of dancing. I predict he’ll be pretty good.

Johnbaptisedme: I don’t know who this man is, but his name reminds me of Daisy Fuentes’.

3. SHANNON ELIZABETH

Recklesley: Shannon Elizabeth plays a slutty American in one of my all-time favorite movies, Love Actually. Despite her hotness, I feel that she will be reasonably uncoordinated and will only make it about half-way through the season. Hot people don’t have any gumption.

Johnbaptisedme: Once upon a time I watched a movie called “Tomcats.” This was the worst movie I had ever seen. Shannon Elizabeth starred in it, and therefore I think she should be voted off the first episode of DWTS.

4. STEVE GUTTENBERG

Recklesley: I can’t believe the guy who invented the printing press is actually alive – and in good enough shape to dance. Oh, the miracle of cryonics!

Johnbaptisedme: I love Steve Guttenberg. He made a really good movie with the Olsen twins called “It Takes Two.” You should netflix it. But just a warning, Kirstie Alley plays Steve’s love interest. Don’t worry though, it was pre-weight gain Kirstie.

Recklesley: You are a mean girl, JBM.

Johnbaptisedme: This is a just statement, but in my defense, Kirstie gained I think somewhere between 80 and 400 lbs within a two year period. NOT that that is bad, well, it sort of is because she was morbidly obese, so she probably faced some health risks such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, etc., but looks wise you’re right, I shouldn’t make fun of her. However, do you remember that show “Fat Actress”? Because that show was about Kirstie Alley. Literally. She was the “fat actress” on “Fat Actress.” Therefore I think my comment was not as terrible as it may have come off as.

And to show how great I think she looks now, here’s Kirstie wearing a bikini on the Oprah show:

Recklesley: I’d hit that.

5. MARIO

Recklesley: Who’s his partner? Luigi?

Johnbaptisedme: No, Recklesley. Mario is a current R&B artist. He is in no way associated with that tool, Luigi. Remember how stupid Luigi was in Mario Bros. 2, and how he couldn’t even jump? No matter how hard you pressed the “b” button his player would only rise one millimeter. Frustrating!

6. MARLEE MATLIN

Recklesley: I have no idea who this woman is, but apparently she is 80% deaf. She does not seem to have been employed as a professional dancer at any point in her career, so she will likely be one of the nameless masses who are quickly shed from the show’s roster. Certainly not the first person to go, but it’ll be pretty early on, I would say.

Johnbaptisedme: Actually, Marlee Matlin won an Academy Award in 1986 for a movie called “Children of a Lesser God.” But I mostly know Marlee from her brief stint on “Spin City” and her character on “Seinfeld.” She’s obviously the “Heather Mills” of this season, meaning she’s the constestant who must overcome a physical obstacle. But I like Marlee and I wish her the best of luck.

7. PENN JILLETTE

Recklesley: One of the few ultra conservative comics I can think of. Oneiroi loves this guy. I have a feeling I won’t be watching alone this season.

Johnbaptisedme: Penn is one of the most annoying human beings on earth. I hope he performs a magic trick on the dance floor and accidentally disappears. Forever.

8. PRISCILLA PRESLEY

Recklesley: I guess her musical re-invention didn’t work out so well. What a shame.

Johnbaptisedme: Weird. Priscilla Presley. Naked Gun.

9. MONICA SELES

Recklesley: This totally jacked, superstar athlete will probably take over Laila Ali’s fan base. I just hope she’s as graceful and awesome as Miss Ali.

Johnbaptisedme: Um, Monica Seles is the tennis player who got stabbed, right? Like, while she was on court? I think that’s her. In any case, sounds like she’s a champion. Maybe she’ll win.

10. JASON TAYLOR

Recklesley: Not Jonathan Taylor Thomas. So, whatever.

Johnbaptisedme: I guess this guy’s a football player. Too bad I have no idea what football is.

11. MARISSA JARET WINOKUR

Recklesley: Marissa is best known for her portrayal of Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway musical, Hairspray. I was slightly disappointed that she is not the cutie pie from the 2007 movie of the 2002 musical of the 1988 movie. Oh well. Seeing as she is professionally employed as a dancer, not unlike Joey Fatone from last season, I think she’ll be pretty good.

Johnbaptisedme: Wait, so is this girl “healthy”? Does she look like Ricky Lake? I mean 200lb Ricky, not 2007 cover of US Weekly “Slimmed Down” Ricky.

12. KRISTI YAMAGUCHI

Recklesley: I’m going to go with Kristi as my initial favorite, having not seen anyone dance yet. All I can remember is how inspirational she was when she got the gold for the good ol’ U. S. of A. in 1992. It was, obviously, the only time in my life I was ever interested in figure skating. So, good luck, Kristi!

Johnbaptisedme: You know, I always thought that Kristi Yamaguchi and Paul Wylie belonged together. Am I alone here?

Okay, I, Johnbaptisedme, just noticed that Maxim Chmerkovskiy, one of the professional dancers, is no longer participating in the program. For those of you who don’t know, which I think is everyone here, Maxim was the best pro dancer on show. And I loved him. He will be sorely missed.

Maxim,

I will find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.

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If you are like me, you’ve breathlessly been watching the new Fox Business Network (this is a lie).

This isn't news.

I’m sure you’ve seen the new Fox Business Network posters appearing in the subways, which are begging to be defaced (graffiti “artists”, hoodlums & vandals: get to work, I want to see which direction you go here).

Murdoch said, “”We want to spend a lot of time on innovation, successes and people who are making money”, and Ayn Rand’s zombie cheered! He went on to say that the business channels, “…dwell too much on failures and scandals and politics”. I overheard on NPR that some of this “dwelling” was done too much on Enron. Thank goodness, Fox Business will do to any business scandals, what Fox News did to the Iraq War (wish it away).

I personally hope this reinforces the battle of “wall street vs. main street” reinforces the other war, and finally ends the injustices put upon the majority of Americans by the liberal rich elites. If this is so, I’m sure that the News Corp. will let me know where I stand.

Also please tune in next week when News Corp. introduces the Fox Food Network. Finally getting rid of those frou-frou, pinko, lobster & caviar recipes, and instead teaching you how to cook one of those inherently good, country styled, chicken-fried steak, like a real American.

chicken fried steak, an american past time.

Until then, if this is your thing, keep watching. I’m sure by this time next year it will be the business channel to watch…and Murdoch will finally fulfill his world domination plans and finish his tireless work on rebuilding the Death Star.

actual image

actual evidence of construction

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I had given up on television. I was tired of Law & Order Really Bad Stuff Unit, CSI Omaha, and everyone’s favorite, “Make People Compete To Get Married or Date Shmucks for Money”. I was out of the loop. It took me years to get a hold of Lost, Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica & their brethren in television. In the end those shows led me to agree with Matt Groening & J.J. Abrams that we are in a golden age of television.

What this all means it that I’ve been obsessively watching television since the beginning of the season. It’s the first time I’ve actually been paying attention. With that in mind, I think I’ll start reviewing some of my favorites & so so’s of the new shows. It may be too late to get started into them, but I’ll let you into one of my secrets on catching up.

I’ll review Reaper first.

(more…)

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In case some of you people don’t read one of the ten thousand blogs that review “Gossip Girl” on a weekly basis, I’m going to give you a rundown of what’s been going on. I want you all to be caught up to speed so you can fully enjoy tonight’s episode. Because you all should watch “Gossip Girl.” Each and every one of you. Even you boys.

Very quickly:

Serena – Main character. Blonde, beautiful, left NY mysteriously for one year but is back. Used to be a party girl.
Blair – Used to be BFForevs with Serena. Obvs is the less desirable of the duo since she is a brunette. Has secretly always been jealous of Serena, and for good reason.
Nate – Blair’s boyfriend. Is a tool. Slept with Serena before she left. Is the reason why Blair hates Serena.
Dan – Good guy. Is not rich. Likes Serena.
Chuck – Evil and insanely rich. Is the most ridiculous human being on earth. Is my favorite character.

Episode One: review

Episode Two: Serena decides she really likes Dan after their first date. Dan is secretly embarrassed because he tried to say “bye” to Serena as she left the cab at the end of the night, but she didn’t hear him. It was cute. Also cute, the point in the episode where Blair parades around her bedroom in a corset and sheer robe with fur cuffs. And by cute I mean weird. And old seeming. Like, old-timey seeming.

Back to the plot, for their second date Serena invites Dan to The Rapist’s (aka Chuck Bass’s) weekly brunch held at The Palace Hotel. If I had a bajillion dollars I would hold a brunch like this. And like the show, I would only invite high schoolers and serve them alcohol. Just seems like the right thing to do. Anyway, while at brunch, Dan feels out of place since unlike everyone else in attendance he’s from humble beginnings. Dan, for those of you who don’t know, lives in Brooklyn with his father and younger sister. They live in massive loft in Williamsburg. And I know, W-burg is basically the same price as Manhattan. BUT, here’s what I figure: Dan’s father is a musician and it seems as though he’s been living in NY for a while. So, it’s possible he bought a place in Wills when it was more industrial and less hipster occupied. Hence, this show is completely realistic. Now, where was I…oh right, a million dollar brunch hosted by a seventeen year old.

Towards the end of the brunch Dan finds out Serena sexed it up with Nate while Nate was still dating Blair. Dan says, “I thought you were different.” Serena says, “I thought you were too.” And then they go their (Journey) separate ways.

Episode Three: Episode three begins with a school assembly that kicks off with an a capella version of Fergie’s “Glamorous.” I must say, had our morning events begun with our high school choir singing “Angel of Mine” by Monica, I assure you, I wouldn’t have skipped every single AM gathering that didn’t take attendance. (Once, I decided to sleep in rather than participate in this activity called I-Flirt where every student filled out a questionnaire and discovered which classmates they were most compatible with. To this day, I regret never knowing who my high school soul mate was. [Pizappas, remember when X-n’s number one match was MD, her arch nemesis?])

So, this assembly is important because its focus is on Ivy Week, and Ivy Week’s grand finale where reps from every Ivy league school come to scout out who’s hot and who’s not. It’s a very big event. And can in many ways make or break these students’ chances of getting into school. Since it’s pretty clear SAT scores or grades are no longer important.

A little further into the show, Chuck, from his limo, spots Serena entering a rehab facility. After slowly rolling up his tinted glass window until all you see are Chuck’s eyes framed between two black objects, he tells Blair the news. Both consider this to be the juciest of the juicy, and Blair plans to expose Serena’s “drug problem” to the Ivy reps and class at the week’s main event. (Bitch!) But neither C or B know that Serena was actually going in to visit her brother who recently tried to off himself.

Finally, at the Ivy affair, as planned, Blair announces to the entire crowd that Serena’s pulling a Lohan (rehab). Shortly after, Serena’s brother charges up to Blair and reveals to her his wrist scars. Blair feels remorse. And not because she was most likely wearing a corset underneath her dress, but because she realizes Serena’s life is hard. Then in the final scene Blair reads Serena a letter she wrote to her, but never sent, while Serena was away at boarding school asking S why she left without saying goodbye, explains how she needs S and wants to talk to her, and lastly, how her dad left her mom for “a 31 year-old model. A male model.” (That quote right there deserves four stars.)

The two then cry together under a central park bridge and it seems are once again a united front. <@:)

Episode Four: Serena and Blair are once again BFFs. Blair’s mother, a fashion designer, decides to put Blair in her new ad. While at the fashion shoot everyone realizes Serena has more presence than Blair and Blair’s mom thinks Serena should model instead. Blair tells Serena she steals everything from her, which is technically true, and Serena explains she was told they were doing the shoot together. Blair confronts her mom about being a cold-hearted bitch, and B and S steal B’s mom’s dresses and take glamour shots of each other at Columbus Circle.

Subplot: A pal from Nate and Chuck’s past comes back. He’s a self-proclaimed hippie who comes from money. You know, everyone’s favorite type of person. Chuck does not like hippie and cannot understand why Nate would want to hang out with him, “We’re who you aim to be, not run away from.” Truer words have never been spoken, Chuck.

Everyone’s fave rapist

Fake poor guy tricks Nate into a high stakes poker game, where he is secretly guaranteed to lose. Nate loses $10,000, cannot pay it at the moment, almost gets beat to death, until Chuck barges in and saves the day. Chuck threatens hippie to leave them alone or else, and pays off Nate’s losses. I like the route this series is taking. Everyone who watches this show is well aware of the fact that Chuck is a serial rapist who mostly targets girls just out of middle school. And yet the producers felt compelled to make this guy into a hero. As if to say, everyone has a good side. Even rapists. Bravo, Gossip Girl. Bravo indeed.

xoxo
jbm

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Last week Jon Stewart was chosen as the host of the next Oscar ceremony in February of 2008. I don’t watch award shows very often, because I usually find them boring. For some reason, I saw the MTV Video Music Awards. They weren’t hosted by anyone, but were clearly edited by a six year old on speed, and hence the lack of a host was barely noticed. I missed the Emmys last weekend but heard that Ryan Seacrest was the host, so I can only assume it was as exciting as watching an ironing board with a microphone propped up in front of it. I always watch the Oscars however. I guess I have been watching them for so long, that it is for purely nostalgic purposes that I endure the long, useless ceremony. And now Jon Stewart, after being put on hold for a year in exchange for Ellen DeGeneres’ funny but harmless shtick, is back to host once again. While I like Jon Stewart, I sadly think that even The Daily Show is becoming a little stale and tedious. I think he is an incredibly smart guy, and obviously funny, but one can only remain smart and funny for so long. His last hosting job was humorous at times, but ultimately quite bland.

As a side note, while 2008 has already been chosen, I’d like to make a recommendation for 2009: Zach Galifianakis. I think this would make people watch, and actually get excited about what they might see. Uncomfortable playing even smaller comedy clubs, Galifianakis often resorts to getting drunk on stage, yelling at his audience and making fun of how fat, bald, ugly or boring his audience members can be. Wouldn’t this be great when surrounded by the Hollywood elite? Never content to remain on stage, he would travel through the audience and hound people. He could make Harvey Weinstein sweat, Laura Linney shiver and Renee Zellwegger cry. I can already see him opening with the question “What was it Jack Valenti used to say about eating pussy?”

Zach Galifianakis

Obviously, this will never happen, but why not at least make the ceremony more interesting? Maybe never have anyone host more than once? Billy Crystal might be funny the first time, but after award show number seventeen, he kind of loses his appeal. The Academy Awards will always be a show for old Hollywood, where celebrities go to have their egos stroked. It’s the place where Crash beats out Brokeback Mountain, Celine Dion wins over Elliott Smith and Taxi Driver loses to Rocky. I just wish the ploddingly dull ceremony in which these awards were handed out could at least hold some element of surprise.

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Last night, upon plainclothesman’s recommendation, I trekked out to the Court Street movie theater to watch Jodie Foster’s new revenge murderfest, “The Brave One.” It’s not really that I didn’t like the movie. It’s more that it ruined New York for me, which is one of the few things that I love with the capacity of my soul. For a movie that attempts to grapple with serious questions about justice, trauma, death, morality and a spiritually wounded person’s ability to live, there is an awful lot of hyperbolized violence and an awful little of actual substance.

In the film, Jodie Foster plays Erica Bain, an Ira Glass-like NPR host, but instead of good-natured reverence of humanity, she employs a “lipless fury”* while she brutalizes both the image and inhabitants of our fair city. Following an obscenely violent mugging/beat-down in Central Park, Erica loses her shit (understandably) and develops a slight case of agoraphobia, which quickly morphs into a seething, pitiless blood lust, sated only by the execution of people who fuck with her (less understandable). Just like her idealized city of New York, throughout the movie, Erica sheds her innate humanity and becomes unfamiliarly savage. New York spits thug after thug at her, and she fights back with an unsure hand on an illegal 9mm.

Now, okay. There is crime and brutality in New York. Yes. There are victims of crimes who lose their ability to live in New York. Definitely. But really, this isn’t fucking Baghdad over here. The problem here is that the movie doesn’t balance its gross distortion of New York with anything that puts it into perspective. It is as though in the filmmakers’ minds, it was a genuine reflection of this city through the eyes of one fictionalized New Yorker. I’m just going to put this out there, but no UWS radio host – shit, no one at all – has ever been nearly beaten to death in Central Park, then witnessed a murder in a bodega, then mugged on the subway, then coerced into prostitution, and then gotten into a crowbar fight with a Roosevelt Island parking mogul. Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s so completely overblown, but with no wink-wink-nudge-nudge “I understand there is such a thing as human decency” foil for the audience. Even Terrence Howard, the magnetic north on the moral compass of this story, turns out to be a little off, depriving the ending of its grounding.

Stop ruining New York, Jodie. I have to live here.

0916072218.jpg0916072215.jpg

We got home safe last night.

* Courtesy of Kate, resident cultural analyst for Brooklyn Skeptic.

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