Sure-fire way to ruin my day? Point out to me that FOX is set to Ameri-make™ my most favorite of cult classic Brit television series, "Spaced." Want to make it worse? Tell me that it's being written by "Will & Grace" and "Desperate Housewives" writers, and helmed by "Chuck" and "Supernatural" creator (and "Charlie's Angels" director) McG.
If you haven't seen this fine series, and you like smart/funny things, and/or nerd things (i.e. Star Wars, comic books, science fiction, zombies, videogames, movies, etc) I highly recommend picking up a copy at the usual location. Better yet, if you have a region-free DVD player, you can pick up the excellent 2-season box set from amazon.co.uk. It has loads of extras, including a Reference-O-Meter subtitle track to help you make sense of the few references you missed.
UPDATE: In case you are hesitant to download a show you know nothing about, the first episode is available on YouTube.
Having decided that I wanted to make a split-screen video showing a bit from Flight of the Conchords alongside the corresponding Footloose clips that inspired it, I then spent over an hour downloading the clips off YouTube, correcting their aspect ratios, trying to get the new videos to load in Cinelerra, trying to figure out how to do a split screen in Cinelerra, and ultimately learning that Cinelerra is -- dare I say -- a useless pile of crap (at least on this Ubuntu install), I decided to just let you use your imagination instead. No capable video editor means I won't be fancily editing any videos.
I hate to keep harping on about TV stuff, but I've been spending a lot of time with it lately. Everything else I have to talk about makes me uncomfortable, sad and irritated, so that means I probably won't talk about it much. So TV it is.
Last night was the premiere of CBS's new geek comedy Big Bang Theory, a show that I thought looked like it'd probably be pretty bad, but might potentially be similar to the truly fantastic Brit comedy The IT Crowd. It was even worse than I had imagined it might possibly be, and nothing at all like The IT Crowd. (I have no idea whether this is good news or bad news for the Amer-remakeTM of The IT Crowd that NBC is planning for an upcoming mid-season replacement. Not that I think that's even a remotely good idea in the first place. But I thought that about the Amer-remakeTM of The Office as well, and after finally caving to the universally positive reviews I've heard from people I trust I've discovered that it's actually as good/better than the original that I loved. Which means that I'm not going to condemn this new one outright. Yet.)
I don't have words to describe how truly awful this show was, so I'll talk about something else instead. The producers of this show seem to be relying upon the standard age-old technique of causing unfunny things to be funny by simply putting a laugh track overtop them, but these guys've kicked it up a notch; they're also now working under the assumption that the LOUDER the laugh track the funnier the thing will be. I have never heard laughter that loud before, which says a lot considering my penchant for Golf-Ball-in-the-Nuts conventions. (Bob Saget himself is headlining GBitN '08!! Can't wait.)
My favorite part of the episode was when D said "Man... that laugh track laughs at EVERYTHING..."
If you don't get jokes on TV but like to laugh when you hear other people laughing, then this is the show for you. However, if you DO like the jokes you laugh at to actually be JOKES, AND funny, then this is most assuredly not the show for you. Sample "joke": "Well, we sometimes play Klingon BoggleTM. That's BoggleTM -- but in Klingon."
NBC made the smart decision to put a bunch of their new season pilots up on On Demand so people could view them before the real airdate, meaning we've watched a few of them now. I'm sharing my brief impressions of them should you be interested.
*Bionic Woman: not entirely sucky. It's no BSG, but it's actually something I'd consider watching. No bionic noise, though, which seems like such a bad decision. I mean, the noise is the defining thing of the whole genre. It'd be like having Cylons without those red scanning eyes. Oh, wait...
*Chuck: this show reminds me a lot of Heat Vision and Jack -- but not in a good way. Ludicrously lame plot: Best Buy Geek Squad guy gets sensitive government secrets downloaded into his brain by watching a video made up of thousands of still frames of sensitive info. This turns him into the only record of this data, making him very important to the government. This also makes him incredibly proficient at kicking ass and being a spy. Had a few good laughs. Also: many not-so-good laughs.
*Journeyman: this is almost exactly the Quantum Leap/Morning Edition/Voyagers/Sliders "gotta fix what's wrong with the past" show that it looks like. Kind of an interesting new angle on it, though, and reasonably well done. I enjoyed it a lot, and the only thing that concerns me is the presence of an over-arcing plot thread that you know they're not going to wrap up before it gets cancelled. This is my favorite of the new shows.
BBC America also has the pilot for Torchwood up, which is the new show from the Doctor Who people. I'm not a Dr. Who fan, but I can say Torchwood has exactly the same look and feel, and follows almost verbatim the pilot for Dr. Who. Hot girl stumbles into something she doesn't understand, does research on it, then gets invited to join. Eh. Not my cuppa. But if you like Dr. Who you'll probably like it.
This does, however, give me an excuse to make another comic, and to point out that I will be posting them here from now on rather than over at comics.nyquil.org. (I don't make them nearly often enough to warrant a dedicated site for them. Plus, nobody knows comics.nyquil.org exists. Here, at least, people might see them.)
Without further ado, here's how I imagine this merger of loves:
Looking through my PVR's upcoming recordings, I noticed that The Knights of Prosperity has some episodes airing this week. I was planning on writing an impassioned plea to Leslie Nielson (and all of his extended family) to please watch them so that this fine show could have a chance to rise from cancellation, but that got me thinking.
Why should we continue allowing Leslie Nielson to dictate what shows we watch? The question seems strikingly similar to that of Electoral College voting -- except, of course, that these votes don't just impact silly stuff like politics; these votes affect TV for gosh sakes. As far as I know, the man only ever had one show, and it got canceled after only six episodes, so what gives him the right to determine what shows live and die?? (Of course it did spawn 33 and 1/3 movie spin-offs, but those hardly count as television.)
Let's rise up from the shackles Frank Drebin has put upon us and take back television once and for all. Let's unite to ensure that the Nielsons don't just promote their selfish interests, rather let us choose our own shows based on merit. By calling and texting special numbers like our founding fathers intended.
I don't really talk much about television if I can help it, but I was just perusing the upcoming recordings on my PVR and saw that tonight (July 21st) at 10pm Comedy Central is running a marathon of all six episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program. This is a formal heads-up so's you can set your Tivos or whatever.
I know that Miss Silverman has a reputation for being somewhat overrated, and I must confess to feeling much the same about her myself. However, in my opinion, The Sarah Silverman Program is the best non-Lucky Louis sitcom on the air. (Not that Louis or Sarahexist anymore, per se. Reruns.) It is often clever, usually funny, and not at all what I expected it to be.
Sarah's observations on life are pretty funny throughout, but her co-stars really make the show for me. She plays an exaggerated, even more obnoxious (if you can imagine that) version of herself, causing her somewhat-normal friends and family on the show to deal with her in frustrating ways. Brian Posehn is particularly great as one of Sarah's gay neighbors (or, "gaybers" as Sarah calls them)., and it is really them that make the show shine for me. The interaction between the gaybers is really great, and to me, seems like the most realistic portrayal of homosexual couples on tv. None of this Will and Grace crap. Did I mention that Brian Posehn is great? (I love Brian Posehn.)
While "researching" my previous stupid idea, I had an even stupider one. I now present you with the following 80's sitcom that never was, based around the idea that when your mom is a "ho" -- and dead -- it's never quite clear just who your biological uncle is:
If you grew up on the 80's and/or have any kind of fondness in your heart for either Star Wars or Transformers, I'd strongly urge you to just go ahead and quit reading right now. What I'm about to show you, courtesy of my action figure collection, is quite possibly the wrongest toy in existence. I'm not kidding: I can't think of anything more wrong.
The following images may disturb sensitive eyes; viewer discretion is advised.
I wish I was kidding. The Millenium Falcon, complete with tiny Han and Chewie figures, transforms into a giant Chewbaca robot and giant Han Solo robot.
"Transforms into a giant Chewbaca robot" is one of those phrases I could have gone my whole life without saying, but no, Hasbro has forced me to do it. I've had this thing sitting since Christmas, debating whether or not to share it with the world, but decided that I simply had to.
Anguished cries about murdered childhoods ought to be directed to Hasbro, not to me. I'm just the messenger. The very perturbed messenger.
I have a really big favor to ask: Could you all refrain from putting TV spoilers in your blog posts and titles of blog posts so that those of us who cannot stay up late enough to watch shows in real-time will still enjoy them the next day when we watch them on our PVRs?
This is specifically directed towards Battlestar Galactica, but I can imagine that there are other shows people might be upset about having spoiled as well.
All day going through my Google Reader subscriptions I kept coming across titles and posts saying things like "Frak!," "Frack!," "Frakk!," etc, and I had to work pretty hard to avoid reading anything else in them. This also means that anything insightful that you said about BSG will most likely be lost forever as I'll never be able to go back and find all those posts again.
Seriously, it's bad enough that Ron Moore has spoiled some of it for me in his podcast ( and even worse still that SciFi spoiled some of it for those who don't listen to the podcast ) without having to carefully read through my mountain of blogs to just enjoy the one show I care about.
All morning I've been trying to remember this show my parents used to watch when I was a kid. I don't really recall much about it, other than the title having something to do with the number pi, and that the main character was some sort of ladies-man / freelance-mathematician who traveled around Hawaii solving complex equations or somesuch.
Now that I think about it, I'm guessing he must've been pretty successful in both fields... he drove around in a Ferrari and had a bad-ass moustache.
I first heard about ABC's The Knights of Prosperity six months or so ago, when Maz Jabroni was talking a bit about why he signed on to it. His love for the show was enough to sell me on it without even knowing what it was about; he talked in length about how it concerns Everyday Joes trying to overcome their lots in life, to scrape ahead and make something of themselves through somewhat unconventional means. Sounds great. He also said it was really funny. Bonus.
Then I found out the show was originally called "Let's Rob Mick Jagger!," and that it was created as a vehicle to allow Donal Logue's real-life personality to shine through and to allow him to stretch his "wacky character" muscles in ways he hasn't had the opportunity to since you saw him in MTV's "Jimmy the Cab Driver" spots back in the mid-nineties. Donal Logue is easily one of my favorite actors of all time, so I had to mark another point in the "I want to watch this show" column.
So then I heard that it's a serial arc, where throughout the season they get progressively closer to accomplishing what they've set out to accomplish, each week getting slightly closer to the better lives they desperately want to make for themselves. It's kind of a bumbling-criminal 24/Prison Break -- except funny, and not gimmicky, unrealistic or overrated. I've been saying for some time that networks need to embrace long-term arcs that don't require strict adherence to their timeslot shackles, and it seems ABC is taking the chance. The show is designed such that you can miss episodes without any worry; each one is self-contained, yet progresses through the overall arc painlessly. I really hope it pays off, because I'd like to see more tv like that.
I just watched the pilot episode and have to say that it surpassed even my extremely lofty expectations. It is very funny in ways that most comedy programs are not: there's no laugh track and no "jokes" per se, most of the humor is situational and dialog based. For instance: Maz Jabroni's character is a taxi driver who has hired a naive student to "intern" for college credit for their crime syndicate, having convinced him that they're producing the film "Taxi 2 (colon) Step On It." There's an amusing anti-cliche wherein an outsider wants into the syndicate, and the leader (Donal Logue) thinks it will be hard to convince the others to approve it. Seconds after seeing that this particular outsider is in fact a smokin' hot chick, all the syndicate members gladly approve her joining. It's exactly the way I think a bunch of inexperienced criminals would behave, but exactly the way they never do in fiction.
The characters are all quite likeable, and all pretty grounded in the "blue collar" day-to-day lifestyle that most of us live in. They don't sit around drinking expensive coffee or shopping at fancy stores. They have realistic problems. This is no Friends or Will & Grace; you're laughing because it's funny, not because the tv started laughing so that you know it's time to.
The show is put together pretty slickly as well as being well-written. There are many cuts to an E! Channel program about Mick Jagger's home, wherein Mick shows us completely over-the-top extravagances such as a hat-storage room with a sophisticated climate-control system and a swiming pool that is only used by Mick's dogs -- ensuring that even the most law-abiding viewer doesn't feel too bad about what the Knights are trying to accomplish. The soundtrack is all Dick-Dale-meets-Enrico-Morriconi surf-guitar renditions of a popular spaghetti western theme that really helps to set up the exciting situations they get into, punctuating their lack of grace as these bumbling, inexperienced criminals execute their plans.
This is my new favorite comedy, and I give it a full five (out of five) Chicken Enchilada Grilled Stuft Burritos -- a rare feat in this age of lousy, derivative television. I couldn't possibly have loved the first episode any more, which is rare for me as I find that even the best shows usually take a few episodes to really catch a stride and hook me. I greatly look forward to next week's episode, and hope that you either catch the pilot when ABC runs it again Friday Jan 5th at 9pm, or acquire it via some other means.
For reference purposes, here are some fiction programs that I enjoy (in no particular order): Battlestar Galactica, Dead Like Me, Veronica Mars, Dexter, Medium, Brisco County Jr., Northern Exposure, Firefly, Spaced, That's My Bush, South Park, Scrubs, Robot Chicken, Home Movies, Heroes (though to a lesser degree after each episode), House.
Some that I dislike: Smallville, any of the CSIs, Psych, Friends, Will & Grace, Family Guy, Eureka, Monk.
If anyone would like reasonings for my likes/dislikes, I'd be happy to provide them in the comments. I just list them in case I overlap at all with your tastes, thus increasing the likelihood that you don't miss out on a great show.
An hour or so ago, Tim sent me the technological equivalent of a "Hey Peterman! Turn it to channel 9!" via text message, informing me that ESPN2 was playing the World Juggling Federation championships.
If you had been lucky enough to be in the non-descript satellite-installation van that always seems to be parked outside my house, you'd have been hearing the unmistakable sounds of a male human enjoying porn on the TV. I'm talking "Mmmm," "Oh yeah, that's nice," "Yeah... Do that again...", "Oh my lord!" and the sound of biting my nuckle out of sheer exquisite amazement.
In my limited experience with what normal people call porn, I never really understood the way people react. Now, though, I do. Pink, supple flesh shining in bad studio lighting doesn't do much for me, but show me a 15-year-old transitioning from 5-club flats to quads gets my interest quite peaked.
Not to mention seeing Vova Galchenko doing 7 clubs. What made that even greater is that the guy right before him ended his routine by pretending he was going to do 7, making the crowd laugh. I bet seeing Vova come out and do it will put a damper on his little joke in the future.
The only downside of this porn experience is that I don't know whether to buy more clubs, or to just throw away the ones I have. I can't even do most of those tricks with 3, let alone be able to even juggle 4 or more.
I've been too tired lately to come up with content for here, let alone be able to make it sensible or entertaining.
That said, here's something I scratched out this morning:
One of my guilty pleasures is the show Ghost Hunters on the Scifi Channel, which I suppose might technically violate my "no reality show" policy. I think it squeaks by, though, on the basis that it's so steeped in a fantasy-world rendition of how science works.
See, the Ghost Hunters seem to legitimately believe that what they do is "take a scientific approach" to the study of the paranormal -- but unfortunately most of what they do just plain isn't scientific at all.
One of the staples of the show is Using Faulty Logic™, which I'm pleased to say they're quite good at.
Because so many people seem to not understand how logic works, I'm going to give a couple of examples of Ghost Hunter Logic™ and explain why they're no good. Hopefully this will serve as a kind of public service announcement, possibly helping some people that don't realize that they're not thinking logically about things.
First up: thermometers and EMF detectors as scientific ghost detection tools.
The theory here is that many places that people typically think might be haunted have been found to have measurable temperature differentials and measurable Electro Magnetic Field fluctuations.
As a logic excercise, we're going to assume that ghosts do exist, and that they do cause EMF/temperature fluctuations. (This is quite a stretch; neither of these things has been even close to proven, but bear with me.)
So, if I were going with Ghost Hunter Logic™, I could make the following claim:
"I just measured a cold spot and an abnormally high level of electromagnetic radiation with my scientific instruments. Because I know that ghosts cause cold spots and magnetic field fluctuations, I now know that there's a ghost here right now. Give me a tv show."
In case you're one of the large part of the population suffering from faulty logic-detection, that statement doesn't work because you can't correlate cause and effect in this way. Just because Pine-sol smells like pine doesn't mean that smelling pine proves that there must be Pine-sol around.
That's the fundamental flaw with how the Ghost Hunters guys investigate things. They come into every investigation thinking that there are ghosts; now any cold spot or magnetic field fluctuation that can't easily be explained becomes evidence that there's a ghost. Sure, they often discount them if they can easily explain them, which I have to give them credit for, but far too often they just don't think of the logical explanation.
Case in point:
Recently they were investigating a haunted library. As they walked around through the aisles, they kept hearing "footsteps" coming from aisles that would stop as soon as they would stop to listen. This suggested to them that something sentient was trying to evade detection. What this suggested to me was that their own footfalls were pehaps being echoed, or that there were loose floorboards or something that would transfer the noise over to another aisle.
I'm going to try to make a habit of posting examples of faulty logic I come across in an attempt to solve this serious problem.