Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Swell Season
This past Friday I had the immense pleasure of getting out to see my first concert since my son was born... and wow, did I choose well. I blogged a couple of months ago on the film, "Once," one of those life-changing experiences I haven't had in a movie theatre since... well, I can't remember the last time, actually. (If you haven't seen it yet, I believe the DVD is scheduled to come out December 18). The two stars of the film, Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard -- the latter best known as the singer of The Frames -- are now touring the album they did together, called The Swell Season, which contains songs from the movie, and some of their own material.

After the show had completely sold out, there was a surprise announcement that Mary Margaret O'Hara would be the opening act. I never thought I'd see her perform live in my lifetime -- she almost NEVER comes out of hiding, and when she does, it's on very short notice -- and I am so happy I did. If you live outside of Canada and haven't heard of her (or if you live inside Canada and haven't... shame on you, I might add) she released her phenomenal album, Miss America, in 1989, I think it was (or maybe 1988) and has never recorded another note. Yet when she opens her mouth the most incredible voice comes out of it. Now, almost 20 years later, she came walking onto the stage like it was no big deal, and most of the audience knew they were in the presence of greatness.

Those who didn't know who she was, however, must have been a little baffled by the figure who wandered onto the stage. The photo here is not from that gig -- this is a show she did with Gavin Friday (a singer I love with the passion of a thousand suns). Instead, she walked out looking like Grandma at the nursing home. On laundry day. She had a button-down black top with a lavender-coloured sweater over it that was shorter than the shirt. Her hair was her trademark pinned up but tousled and falling apart. And then... the pants. They were spandex pants that were tight on the butt and thighs but flared at the bottom, and they had a zig-zag print in gold, purple, green, and black.

I instantly loved her.

She opened up her mouth and I looked at my brother and just said, "Oh wow." O'Hara doesn't sing in a falsetto, she sings with her real voice. It doesn't waver, it never gets a note wrong, and it is GORGEOUS. Think Patsy Cline with a weird musical sensibility. She howled, she growled, she wailed, she yelled... she sang a gospel song with screams in the middle of it. Her arm was shooting out, she constantly readjusted the microphone, she buttoned and unbuttoned the top button on her shirt. She's very fidgety, but it never affects the performance. Whenever she bantered with the audience, she did it when we were loudly applauding her, and the moment we stopped, she stopped talking, so no one could ever really hear anything she was saying. She was amazing, and if the show had ended right there, I would have sailed away happy.

But gladly, it didn't. Glen Hansard wandered out onto the stage to wild applause (nobody here seems to know who The Frames are, but they'd seen the movie and seemed to think he was the character in it). He sang one of the songs with nothing but an acoustic guitar, screaming out the chorus with such fiery passion it brought tears to your eyes. Then Marketa Irglova and two other performers came out, and the audience went wild again. They sang another song, then she took her place at the piano, where she quietly remained for most of the rest of the gig. Between songs Hansard would tell long, detailed stories about his inspirations for each of them, and they were fascinating and hilarious. The show was quiet and beautiful, and one of the best gigs I've ever seen (and before children, there was a time when I'd see up to three bands a week). It still doesn't top that Gavin Friday show at the Rivoli in April 1996, but hey, it came damn close.

If you haven't yet seen Once, please do.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Wire Starting Soon!!
I was seriously going to end on the Heroes post, and I just got this bit of information: The Wire is scheduled to begin January 6th! I am SO EXCITED. I know I'm becoming a broken record, but I cannot stress enough that this is the smartest show on television (yes, smarter than Lost, I'm afraid) and you MUST watch the previous 4 seasons to really get season five.

Season 1 was about the cops dealing with the kids selling drugs. Season 2 was about the longshoremen and how the drugs get into the country. Season 3 was about the actual heads of the crime, showing one of them rising above the others, getting an education in economics, and using that knowledge to build a better drug business. Season 4 (the best, in my opinion) was about the kids in the school system, and how the drugrunners catch them early so they really don't stand a chance at finding a better life. Season 5 will move to the Baltimore Sun and show how the media works with the cops and the politicos (or against them) and how the drug trade flourishes despite it all.

If you're a fan of The Wire, check out this AWESOME long piece in the New Yorker. I loved it.

Season 5 of The Wire premieres in Canada on Sunday, January 6 on The Movie Network (eastern Canada) at 9 p.m. ET and on Movie Central (western Canada) at 8 p.m. PT .
Heroes: Cautionary Tales
Yes, I'm making up for not posting all week. And yes, I agree that this photo is a spoiler, but if you haven't watched this week's Heroes yet, you're slower than I am, which is pretty darn slow.

This week's episode of Heroes was a good one. However, because we had so many bad weeks I'm finding that my husband is rolling his eyes at every little thing that happens, even if the things were moments we'd have been watching with intrigue a year ago. I have to admit that I've become more questioning of things. So first, things I liked:

-Hiro seeing little Hiro.
-the scene between Matt and Angela, and Matt forcing her to talk and her begging him to stop. Every scene between these two has been fantastic, a bright light in an otherwise dreary season.
-Matt telling his boss that Angela and co. were involved in some organization back in the 70s, and the guy, without changing his serious face, saying, "Like a disco?" Ha!
-Noah cracking Moronder in the nose. Awesome. Maybe if he managed to wedge a piece of cartilage into his brain, Mo would actually learn to THINK.
-Elle stuck in the chair with her feet in the water. Kristen Bell has a great scream.
-The freeze-frame effect of Adam and Kaito hanging in the air
-The recreation of Bennet's death from the painting. The layout was exactly the same, from the angle of his head to the way his arm dangled. Loved it.
-The ending, which mirrored the season 1 episode ending where Claire woke up with her ribcage open, and said, "Oh sh--". Bennet says the same thing.

Things I didn't like:
-when Hiro saw little Hiro, Kaito was standing right behind them and little Hiro didn't notice that was his dad? He looks the same!
-Molly offering to help Matt... don't you think the kid would be a little more traumatized? (I forgot to mention last week that fb must have been FURIOUS that Molly didn't die! haha)
-Elle being so skanky with everyone. Is it because of her zappiness that she hasn't been able to get close to a lot of people, and it's made her a little... needy, shall we say?
-the effects when Flyboy takes HRG up in the sky. As crappy as the freeze-frame was cool.
-Bennet NOT shooting Moronder. A year ago I wanted the cute guy to stay. Now I CANNOT STAND HIM.

What is WRONG with Mohinder? Why do the writers consistently make him the most confused person on television? "Guess what, Noah? I'm IN! We are inside The Company and we can finally take them down after months and months of research... oh just a second, I have a call on the other line... Hello? Bob. How are you? What?! Noah's evil? Um... OK, we were actually infiltrating The Company from the outside, I'm sorry. Let me help you take Noah down. Just a second, I have a call on the other line... Noah? Hey... oh right, The Company is bad. I hate to tell you this, but I've been working for The Company, and they're going to kill you. Yes, I will help you. OK, talk to you later.... Bob? Sorry, had to get rid of that call. OK, yes, you got me, it was Noah. Oh, you're right. He's evil. Yes, let's kill him."

It would be one thing if he were a double agent like Sydney Bristow, but he's not actually playing both sides against one another, he's switching sides due to his own stupid gullibility. This guy is too much.

Am I being too hard on Moronder? What do you think? Is Heroes getting better? Did the first few bad episodes ruin the rest of it for you or are you willing to give it a chance?
Lots of little blog posts today. This past week's Dexter was SO good, that, as has been the case the past few weeks with this show, when the end credits run I moan out loud, SO disappointed that I have to wait a whole week to find out what happens. (This is why people wait for DVDs...)

Lila has turned out to be a psychopath. As much as I loved her character, I always found it a little too convenient that she's a former addict, yet always seems so together. In the last couple of episodes, we've seen that Lila knows exactly how to get what she wants, and will go to criminal lengths to get it. Her addiction stems from her fear of abandonment, and now she thinks Dexter will be the one to leave her. She's set fire to her house, and now broken into Rita's home. When Dexter finally confronts her after she does the unthinkable and forces him to meet the man who killed his mother once again, hoping it would bring them closer together, he is truly frightening. If she decides to push things further, we might see Dexter come closer to his breaking point than ever before.

I LOVE this show.
Battlestar Galactica Returns!
Hey all you BSG fans... this weekend marks the return of BSG to our screens (yay!) though it's not the cast we're used to. Battlestar Galactica: Razor will air on Saturday night on Space in Canada, and at some point on the Sci-Fi Channel in the U.S. It's a 2-hour prequel to the series. The actual show will begin in April (APRIL!)

Ron Moore had an interesting blog where he talked about the impact of the writer's strike, and how he's halted production, which could mean the ending of BSG would be shelved forever, but this strike means too much to him. Go Ron Moore! (Can I just use this moment to not downplay Ron Moore, but to say that I ADORE Ellen Degeneres from the bottom of my heart and that's why I'm so disappointed that she's crossing the picket line to continue her show? Sad... I know she's the producer and she stands to lose a lot from it, but as a comic, and therefore someone who has to write a lot of her own material, her support in the strike would be really crucial. But anyway...) Back to Ron Moore: Kudos to you for having the conviction and the strength to fight for your rights.

And while I've got the attention of BSG fans, I wanted to mention that my good friend Jo Storm has a new book out called Frak You: The Ultimate Unofficial Guide to Battlestar Galactica. It's awesome, and has the complete episode guide to the first three seasons, photos, bios, etc. Definitely check out this book if you love the show.
Pushing Daisies: Smell of Success
Death by scratch 'n' sniff. Only on Pushing Daisies.

This week's episode... what can I say? Every post I just say it's better than the one before it, and this one was no different. I loved the premise, the opening at the boarding school reached a new low of pure sadness (how did Ned grow up to be so sweet?), LOVED Paul Reubens (his performance didn't quite reach the perfection of his inbred prince on 30 Rock last year -- with his little porcelain hand... hahahaha! -- but it was pretty awesome. I didn't even recognize him at first!), and the ending was such that he just might be making a recurring role, since he seems to be on to Chuck.

There was so much to love in this episode, but as with every ep of this show, there was once again one moment that was truly sublime: the ending, where we finally see the Darling Mermaid Darlings take to the water. The animation was stunning, Lily singing "Morning Has Broken" actually brought tears to my eyes (!) and it was a moment we'd all been waiting for.

No Pushing Daisies this week coming up, but there will be one the following week, thank goodness. :) LOVE LOVE LOVE. When will they be coming out with the action figures?!

What was your favourite moment?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jamie's Chefs
If you've only seen Jamie Oliver's cooking show, where he prepares dishes at a manic pace, staring at someone just behind and off to one side of the camera while nattering away the whole time, then you haven't seen the most entertaining things that he's done. A couple of years ago, he had a reality show where he tried to train 15 dysfunctional kids to run their own restaurant, and he dealt with people mouthing off at him, not showing up for shifts, or just plain buggering off completely. The winner became the chef at Fifteen, a restaurant that Jamie shelled out 2 million pounds of his own money to start up. Now he's continuing the endeavour with his Fifteen Foundation, starting up similar programs for inner city kids in other cities, by donating money from the sale of his books and DVDs.

There was the other show, Jamie's Lunches, I think it was called (School Lunches? I can't remember) that I actually missed and would love to catch at some point, where he went and exposed the British school system for all its fried foods, showing how important (and easy) it is to make healthy lunches for the kids who are supposed to be the country's future.

Now he's back with Jamie's Chefs. The first episode just aired Sunday night on the Food Network, and he's taken 4 of the chefs from his Fifteen experiment who didn't make it, and he's seeing which one of them can take over a restaurant he's buying with the Foundation money, called -- seriously -- The Cock. It's a pub. (There's a great scene where Jamie comments on all the "cocks" that are decorating the place.) We watch as he narrows the group to four, then runs those four through a series of tests, and further reduces them to three before giving them a big challenge. Each one can excel at a different side of being the head of a restaurant, and it's fascinating to see one step up in one challenge, and fall flat on their faces in the next.

This is a four-part series, so catch it if you can, Food Network, Sundays at 10. If you missed the episode from the other night, it'll be repeated this Thursday at 10pm. To get yourself in the mood, read this interview with him from this past weekend's Globe and Mail. He talks about the experiences he's had with the Fifteen endeavour, and his fellow celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain. Addressing the fact that both have called Oliver a TV hog and a long time ago referred to him as a bit of a hack for being on TV so much, he says:

"I wasn't saying I was the best chef in the world, and I still don't now, and I wouldn't dare," he shrugs. "Before Gordon [Ramsay] did much telly, and Anthony Bourdain, they hated TV chefs. And the reality is, they turned into them. Gordon and Anthony have done more telly than I've ever done, and I've been doing telly longer than them. I spent two years doing four one-hour documentaries on school dinners. ... I guess what's slightly upsetting me, is when you rate someone [like Mr. Bourdain] and then they think you're a bit of a pussy. It's not very inspiring."

Friday, November 16, 2007

TV Roundup: The Week So Far
I still have a lot sitting on my PVR, but here are my thoughts for the week so far:

I finally got around to watching it last night, and I must say it was the best episode of the season. Of course, I still had nitpicks (for example, Elle says she caused a blackout in 4 states when she was 8, then was put into a room attached to a lithium drip when she was 9 while psychiatrists tried to figure out what to do with her, and then The Company stepped in, and she's spent the last 16 years of her life with them. Then she says she's 24... she'd be 26 if the writers could actually add). But going back 4 months just felt right. Unfortunately, there should have been 2, maybe 3 episodes before it, rather than making us wait almost 2 months for some answers. And apparently it's not important what happened to Parkman, Mohinder, Molly, Claire, Noah, Hiro, and Ando, although... when you think about it, their stories are pretty much self-explanatory. Regardless, I thought it was really well done. I hope next week's is more of the same. I might just be persuaded to go back to doing full posts on it. :)

ROCKED. Dexter stepped up his game this week, and actually brought his life as a serial killer into the office to help him get rid of his arch-nemesis. The scene with him and Doakes alone in the room, with Dexter whispering, "I own you" and what followed, is possibly my favourite of the series. Everyone on staff thinks Dex is this quiet meek little man. They have no idea who they're in the company of, and that's what's so much fun about this show.

Ugly Betty:
I forgot to mention last week that playing the show out to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" -- despite it being one of my all-time favourite songs ever (especially as covered by him) -- was SO 2002. And so overdone. Every other show on television used that song years ago, and now Ugly Betty has to get on that train late. That said, this week's was great. The final reunion of Claire and Bradford; Betty and Mark saying, "The Secret Sex Room" and then pointing at each other in shock; Wil telling Mark that she's worried Bradford will leave his money to charity, and Mark saying, "Then we need to hunt this Charity down and kill her" (HA!); and the final scene with Alexis and Daniel sitting by an empty space. Loved it. I think it's even better this season than last. Oh, and Mo'nique was BRILLIANT.

The Office:
This week's, like last, was kind of meh. It had its moments, but it was actually far more interesting to watch it as a drama than a comedy. Steve Carell is amazing in the scenes with the lawyers, as he goes from goofily compliant to stupid to upset to hurt to furious to vengeful. He's put his loyalties in the wrong place, as usual. It was actually a little disappointing to have it end with him and Jan casually talking about what to eat for dinner. The drama was so important, and then deflated in the end. I think the scene of Dwight and Mose playing ping-pong was the highlight of the episode (though I did LOVE Kelly's distinction between trash talk and smack).

America's Next Top Model:
You know, I've kinda been with Bianca on Heather for a long time... she's beautiful, yes, and she seems to take a great picture and handles Jay's suggestions perfectly. But critique her and she falls apart like a house of cards. She just does not have the tough skin required for the business, and if she wins, it could destroy her.

Kitchen Nightmares:
Boring. I actually have the second half of it still running in the other room as I type this, and stopped watching. Yawn. That said, if you want to see Gordon Ramsay in a HILARIOUS scene with Ricky Gervais, check it out:

Pushing Daisies:
LOVE LOVE LOVE. See post from yesterday.

Gossip Girl:
I still like this show, and its soapy goodness. I'm glad Nate didn't go through with what his parents wanted, because he's right: I saw Blair all excited on the bed thinking they're going to get back together, and all I could see her was as a socialite years from now, alone while her husband is off with another woman. So I'm glad he saw the error of his ways early. Why am I talking about this show so seriously? It's campy awesome. :)

Dirty Sexy Money:
Haven't seen this week's yet, but last week was just too tied up in the whole quest for Nick's father's killer. I hate that storyline, and just want to focus on the Darlings.

The Next Great American Band:
OK, I've been wanting to post on this show FOREVER now. No one is talking about this show, for some reason, like it's the poor man's American Idol, but I am SO completely hooked. This show is where bands perform for the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, Sheila E. (!) and some judge from Australian Idol named Dicko. (Seriously.) Unlike Simon Cowell, who just says stuff to be funny, this guy is good. Every time a band performs my husband and I are critiquing them for one thing or another, and 80% of the time Dicko says exactly what we'd just said. He's always got good advice, even when the stupid audience is booing. Speaking of which, whenever they boo dude from the Goo Goo Dolls he gets SERIOUSLY pissed and upset and begins complaining about it like a big whiner. It's worth it just for that. :) My favourite band in the competition right now is Sixwire, a country band. Yeah, I said it. A COUNTRY band. I HATE HATE HATE country music. HATE IT. (The other day I'm in a store and over the sound system comes this line: "I want to kiss you out in the sticks/ I want to check you for ticks." I stopped what I was doing, thought, I couldn't have possibly just heard what I think I heard. And then I did. Came home, googled it, and it's apparently some huge hit for Brad Paisley. What the hell is WRONG with country music fans???? Anyway.) But Sixwire has a lead singer that looks like a slightly heftier version of Josh Holloway (if you don't believe me, tune in) and they are brilliant. There's a retro 60s band called Tres Bien, who were fun in the beginning and now are kind of boring. Last week this screechy grrl band called Rocket got booted (thankfully) but we are still subjected to the horrors of this tiny hardcore metal band called Light of Doom, where all of the members are between the ages of 9 and 11. Seriously. They were awesome in the beginning, now creepy and weird (especially since all of their moms are in the audience screaming for them and drooling... ew...) My other fave is The Clark Brothers, a sort of gospel band (yeah, I said it... oh forget it) who are unbelievable. The thing about this show is, typically the band I'd be listening to would be more along the lines of one called Dot Dot Dot, a guy who wants to be the lead singer of The Killers but appears to be too coked out to even focus on the judge's critiques, but when you're watching this show, you don't care about the STYLE of music being played, it's how good they are. And the country band is stellar, as is The Clark Brothers (and the lead singer of the Clark Brothers is seriously hot.) Franklin Bridge is another wicked band, and they play sort of a funk/rock thing, kinda Jimi Hendrix. It's on tonight: TUNE IN. I love this show... it's seriously addictive. Unlike the trumped-up karaoke night that is American Idol. The best part? You don't have to suffer through an annoying results show. Instead, they make everyone prepare a song for the following week, and then one by one they announce the bands who made it, and they come out and perform. At the end there are 2 bands left in the green room (which is, literally, green), and they're booted. Bwaaaahahahahaha. Awesome. I have a feeling this week we'll be saying goodbye to Denver and his Mile-High Orchestra. Awesome name, but not very good.

Friday Night Lights:
The show I will miss the most (equally with Pushing Daisies) during the writer's strike. Last week Landry's dad found out what was going on, and what he decided to do as a result was nothing short of shocking. Would any of us do it for our children? Probably. That's why I love this show. Good parents teach their children it's wrong to murder. Special parents help their children cover up that murder. Awesome. Did anyone else think that Jason was going to be killed off the show two weeks ago, by the way? Whoa...

Aliens in America:
This show just cracks me up to no end. It exposes the subtle racisms that we seem to all accept, and makes them look ridiculous. This week the mom -- who talks like Margie in Fargo -- runs into the breakfast room and says, "This is my running partner I told ya about... ya know, the one with the black husband?" Last week Raja got a job working for an Indian boss in a convenience store (causing the sister to say, "What are you, a total stereotype?") and the boss kept muttering under his breath that he was a dirty dog eater. I always thought the actor who plays Raja was over the top and not particularly good, just funny for sitcom's sake, but this week when they showed him screaming in nicotine withdrawal, I thought it was some of the funniest stuff this show's ever had.

I think I'm behind on this one, too, but last week with Leon trapped in the snow globe was particularly hilarious. I loved the actor who played Leon, especially when you just heard his voice calling them douchebags.

Still one of the best new shows on TV. If you're not watching this show and they rerun it during the strike, tune in. It's SO hilarious. I love Casey, who's so hardcore and wanting to kill everyone in sight... Chuck is great, his friend Morgan is funny, Tang is awful (as bad as he is on Dexter), and the premise just doesn't get old. I love this show.

30 Rock:
Haven't watched last night's yet, but last week's was brilliant as usual. I'm so glad Alec Baldwin stuck with the show. A couple of weeks ago he was pretending to be Tracy's father and I was doubled over. Baldwin is a comic genius.

A couple of weeks behind on this one too (man, all the shows I watch with my husband I'm behind on!) but while it started out strong and then faded a bit, it's definitely back on track and I think it's great. Another one to check out if you haven't yet. Now that his son also knows what is going on, it's definitely stepped up things. It's only a matter of time before they have to let the brother know what's up.

I think that's everything. I'm sure I've missed something. :) Oh, I've dropped Everybody Hates Chris. It was just getting too samey. And, you know, that extra half hour was TOTALLY eating into my week. Har.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pushing Daisies: Bitches
It's been two weeks since the last episode, and two weeks is TOO LONG! Oh, what will I do with the writers on strike and missing my Pushing Daisies?! But the return was SO brilliant. This show has not given me a dull moment yet.

-the title of the episode
-That wonderful claymation moment at the beginning when we flash back to Ned's childhood
-Little Ned and Little Chuck wearing her crazy hats and looking at the moon
-EMERSON!! "That girl dropped a bomb in your subconscious with her saliva."
"Some women love like ganstas. They all like, 'Ooh, baby, you're bleedin', how did that happen?' while they're hiding a razor in their weave."
-The scene of how the polygamist died, and how he was stabbed multiple times because of his "tenacity" and slipping on the coffee, stabbing himself over and over. I was doubled over with laughter.
-the four of them going undercover to interrogate the wives, and none of them actually being very undercover
-Emerson being controlled by the dog trainer's snapper
-The Collador-Russell-a-poo
-the Snuppy's Puppies corporate headquarters, with the giant puppy rotating head
-the trio waiting in the Snuppy's breeding room, and you see a bunch of covered crates rocking back and forth with the dogs inside, breeding (ha!)

But the absolute gem of the episode was the Vertigo dream that Emerson has. I've seen that film half a million times, and to see it parodied with Emerson's head instead of James Stewart was a new level of genius for this show. I especially loved the closeup of his head, and the confused look on his face, followed by the silhouette of his body free-falling into the pies.

Wow... can this show GET any better??!! I hope so! :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Writer's Strike, Part 3
Our fave writers speak out about the strike. Joss Whedon:

And Damon Lindelof, here.
The Writer's Strike, Part 2
You know, I've been complaining that so many articles and blogs are being written about how the writer's strike will affect the average Joe sitting at home on his couch, yet they aren't focusing on the strike itself, what it's about, and what the writers are asking for.

And then I went and did the same thing. D'oh.

If you want a really quick and dirty explanation, this is it. It's less than 4 minutes.

Basically, the studios cut writer's residuals on home video sales by 80% in the '80s so they could fund the burgeoning home video market, and writers agreed. Two decades later, the pay cut still stands, and they make a tiny percentage of what the studio gets (for a $20 DVD, they make 4 cents). Now that same pay is being given for any internet viewings, whether it's free streaming or a paid download. The writers are simply asking for another 4 cents on both. They want 8 cents for a $20 DVD. And the studio says that's too much (?!)

You can go here to read the daily reports from the strike lines. Here's my favourite line of the bunch:

William Mapother, aka "Ethan Rom" from "Lost," walked the picket line Wednesday... BUT HE WASN'T ON THE MANIFEST!!!"


Apparently this Friday is going to be BSG picketing day, and they were joking that they'll probably do it in costume. WICKED.

Let's show our support to those writers. Our TV season could be over because the stupid networks won't recognize the importance of them.

Think of it this way, for Office fans (the Office writers have a great complaint YouTube video here, including Ryan, Toby, and Kelly, who are all writers on the show): Two weeks ago we saw an awesome and hilarious episode where Stanley was going to quit. This past week, featuring exactly the same cast but a different writer (Steve Carell, unfortunately), the show was a dud, and other than Michael singing falsetto in the woods, I barely chuckled at all. It's not the cast of a show that can make or break it, despite how much we love this cast. It's the writers.

You can sign the petition to support them here.
Lost: Mobisodes
Are you dying for Lost to start up in 2008? Worried how the writer's strike will affect it? Wondering if Jack ever had a nice moment with his dad?

Worry no further: The little Lost mobisodes have begun as of today. From now until the show begins in February 2008, the ABC website will be featuring little "missing pieces" of previous episodes so we can see a little bit more of each character. Of course, this could end up being about as gripping as those previews were last year for the show to begin in February 2007, but so far the first one was actually pretty compelling, considering it's only 2 minutes and 40 seconds. And -- shockingly -- they're allowing people who don't live in the U.S. to actually watch them.

Go here to see the episode, and there will be a new one every week.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Writer's Strike
Several people have been asking me what my thoughts are on the writer's strike, and I've had a few newspaper columnists emailing me asking for a quote or two on it. So I thought I'd finally blog on it, if for no other reason than to get more answers from you on my comments board.

Before the writers walked on Monday (when the original date was set for midnight on Halloween) I'd read a lot about it, and several points kept popping up. If the writers walked, the following would happen:
*late night talk shows would cease immediately, since a lot of their subject matter is based on things that happened that day
*daytime talk shows would probably have 3 or 4 eps in the can, and then they, too, would stop
*soap operas have sketchy story lines that would get them through November, but by December they'd be doing clip shows or reruns (of soaps?! I don't think I've ever seen a soap rerun in my life, but wouldn't it be cool to go through the vaults and show people old episodes from 20 years ago?) But seriously, I thought this was kind of funny... I mean, don't soaps usually write themselves? I speak as someone who hasn't watched a North American soap opera since about 1988...
*network shows would have a few episodes finished, so they could continue probably until the end of November, and then they, too, would be on indefinite hiatus
*reality television would invade our sets in droves. They do have writers, but they don't belong to the writer's guild because they, well, suck
*shows like SNL would go into immediate reruns because they're filmed, well, live

And one show just kept coming up in all the discussions: Lost. And the basic rumour was this: Since Lost has 7 or 8 episodes in the can, scheduled to run in February and March, they're WAY ahead of the game on this one. If the strike went until January and then the writers were back on the job, other network shows would be scrambling to write and film episodes for March, while Lost would be coasting through on their finished ones and would be writing for April, giving them a lot of extra time. As a result, Lost would become the blockbuster show it was in the first season, because other shows would continue to be off the air while Lost was showing super-awesome new episodes.

The best news for me (yes, even better than Lost) was that the final season of The Wire (aka the smartest television series EVER) is completely finished and in the can, and scheduled to run in January, so while the rest of television would be a vast wasteland of reality scum, The Wire would be the one shining light, and there's a chance viewers would tune in in droves, making The Wire a well-watched show. And if ANY show deserves that, it's The Wire (by the way, major Wire plug here: THERE IS NO LONGER ANY EXCUSE NOT TO WATCH THIS SHOW. I was in Costco the other day and all seasons are there for $38.99... seriously. For an HBO show... not $80, not $100, but $38.99. Please buy this, watch it, and be blown away. I cannot stress this enough).

And then... the writers went on strike. And suddenly there's a WHOLE new tune being played.

For, it seems that those writers? Well, they plan on being out for a VERY LONG TIME. As in, rest of the television season long. Which means Lost has 8 episodes of 16, and no more. Word came out at the beginning of this week that Team Darlton was looking to pull the show completely, and that season 4 would start in February 2009, not 2008. I think that spells DISASTER. Fans are already grumbling about waiting almost a year, do they honestly think they'll wait TWO? Especially when the time between the DVD and the show will be about 15 months? Uh uh... won't happen.

Today ABC announced that regardless of what happens, they will run the first 8 episodes starting in February. This has Darlton a little worried, because they now believe that running 6 episodes of season 3 in the fall of 2006 before a 3-month hiatus was a huge mistake, and they think if it's done again... bigger mistake.

So what will happen? Will Lost go off the air indefinitely, probably spelling the end of the series? Will they run the first 8 episodes and then disappear, ruining the momentum of the season?

Man, this is worse than if Nikki and Paulo were resurrected... oh wait... what am I saying...

And I'm not even talking about the rest of our shows. The Office may be going into hiatus effective immediately, and they'll either show reruns of the American version, or there's talk of airing the UK original version with Ricky Gervais (which I love, but I've already seen -- several times -- so I don't need to see it again). 30 Rock, Ugly Betty (which is REALLY GOOD this season!), Heroes (which, um... isn't, but I'd still miss it terribly), Friday Night Lights (Nooooooo!), etc.

And what about the new shows? Pushing Daisies just got a full season order, will it ever make it to a season 2 if season 1 isn't allowed to finish? (WAAAAAAAAAHH!) I also adore Chuck, Journeyman, Reaper, Gossip Girl, Dirty Sexy Money... what will happen to them?

And think of the DVD sales (or lack thereof). How do you sell a season when you only have about 6 episodes, and yet the show hasn't even been cancelled?

That's another trend that's been apparent this season -- nothing's being cancelled. It's like the networks needed to hold onto every last show in the hopes that they might be able to stagger them through the season or something.

One thing that's showing through as a major strength in all of this is the cable programming. As I said, The Wire is already in the can. Dexter is finished, and is running right now and will continue to run to the end of the season. The final season of The Shield is also finished, and scheduled to begin in the new year. Maybe other series need to look to this model as the one to follow. Get an entire season written and shot before airing the first episode. But that takes big bucks, and the networks can't pony up for that the way HBO can.

But HBO will be the clear (and only) winner in all of this, I think. Next year's Emmy Awards will go to HBO because it was the only one with complete seasons. But what about this time next year? If HBO has to work a year in advance, then a year from now they won't have any shows, because none were written. So this will affect the cable networks much later, whereas the big networks will be affected immediately.

Or... they could just admit the writers are the most important people on a tv show, give in to their demands, and get their damn shows back on the air. Because the alternative seems to spell disaster.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Random Things for a Tuesday
For anyone who doesn't watch Heroes, scroll down for pictures of supercute kids instead. :)

Ok, so last week I said Heroes was a little better than the week before, and got beat up on the comments board, but I'm going to say it again. It was better this week, and actually ended with a very intriguing cliffhanger! Could Takezo's entire story have been set up by Adam just to change history?? Hiro was more charming in the one-minute scene with Ando than he's been all season.

However, it's still not anywhere NEAR what it was the first season, and every week is exposing the inadequacies of the show more and more. In the past week I've been thinking about the show a lot (and have decided, for now, I'm not sure if it's worth devoting an entire blog post to it anymore). We're supposed to assume that the action we see week to week is happening simultaneously, right? So how is it that Peter meets his Oirish Garl in Cork, gets to know her, falls in lust, sees her brother get killed, travels to Montreal, and time travels.... and in that same time the Dunder Twins travel 50 feet to the Mexican border? Maybe we're not supposed to see it as simultaneous.... hm.

Anyway, this week had too much Niki, and the momentary return of DL (no, GOD NO, not MORE of that family, we're supposed to be killing them off one by one) but happily, no Monica or Micah. Whew. But no Sylar, either, and he's been awesome this season, unlike everyone else.

Hiro's back, so FINALLY no more Japan, which is a blessing. Moronder looks like more of an idiot than usual, and now spills his master plan to Bob. (Sigh.) The Flying Doofus finds out his girl is the daughter of his nemesiseses when HRG shows up, and HRG blows his top when he discovers Claire's been dating a guy and using her powers for stupidity.

I was a little disappointed with the Matt storyline. It seems like in one week Kring's decided to suddenly jump the story forward, despite plodding it along for weeks, and Matt takes down Daddy and saves Molly a wee bit too easily for me.

And where the hell is Elle? Was Kristen Bell (whoa... check out my ell rhymes there) just dangled in front of our faces to make us think Veronica was coming back? I want more Elle.

So I know it's a week past Halloween, but I want to post pics of my little kiddies in their costumes anyway. I rarely post pics of my kids on here, but they're just too cute for words, so here they are:

That's my daughter Sydney as the cutest chicken ever, and Liam as a superhero. I'm not sure what his powers are, but they've got to be more interesting than any of the ones this season on Heroes.

I didn't get a chance to post on Pushing Daisies last week, but it SO rocked. Emerson and Olivia are the greatest characters on TV right now. LOVE THEM. There were so many moments where I was howling. I wish I had time to list them all.

My brother showed me this last week and I thought it was hilarious. It's funny the first time you watch it, funnier the second, and hysterical the third time. This is a British comedy duo called Mitchell and Webb, and I could watch this all day. Dundundundundundundun-Dundundundundundun-Dundada-da-da!!

I think my pal CK will like that one. Speaking of her, another thing that's made me howl recently was posted on her site. She and I are big fans of finding crazy Bollywood musical clips on YouTube, and she's found the mother of all of them. Go to her site and check it out there. It's priceless (even if you don't like Bollywood musicals, you'll find this funny). Enjoy!

UPDATE: I realized that link no longer works, so try this one.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Finding Lost Contest Winner!

Hello all! I posted a contest a couple of weeks ago, and thanks to it being mentioned on a couple of Lost sites, I had a lot of entries in the end, and I want to thank everyone who entered. I loved reading your entries, and what I've decided to do is post my favourite response here, and leading up to Lost I'll post some of my other faves. Maybe together we can lure back some of the "lost" Lost viewers through your heartfelt pleas. :)

It was a really tough decision, and in the end I've decided to give away two books. One for someone who won the contest, and one as just an extra gift to someone who made me laugh out loud. I randomly chose Heroes as the television show that these hypothetical one-time Lost viewers defected to, and as a result I inadvertently received a lot of contest entries bashing Heroes and showing the love for Lost, and that's not what I meant when I was posing the question. My bad: as much as Heroes is rubbing me the wrong way this season, I certainly wasn't looking to come down on it as the worst show or anything (I reserve that for According to Jim...) However, one entry in particular that chose that road made me laugh out loud, and I thought it was brilliant. So I shall give away two books as a result.

The entry that actually wins the contest is from Christopher Cross. He doesn't give away any spoilers (a man after my own heart) yet he brings up almost all of the high points of the show in such a mysterious way that I think he'd manage to lure back a ton of fans. In fact, in my own plea, which I will post before the February return of the show, I think I'll use his same tactic and list off my favourite things without giving anything away. So without further ado, here's the winning entry who is speaking to the Lost defectors in general:

Dear Bandwagon jumper,
While I won't take the David Chase way of handling fans, I will state that you do have one strike against you for leaving your favorite show in favor of something else with mediocre plotting and storylines (Yes, I am looking at you Heroes and Grey's Anatomy). But here you are reading this probably trying to figure out if you should run out and buy that Lost - Season 3 dvd and maybe catch up on what turned out to be, arguably, Lost's strongest season creatively.

Since I am believer in second chances, I have done you the favor of making a list of the top then things you missed out on without actually telling you anything that happened. No spoilers here! So here we go...

Top ten things you missed while you were away (without spoilers)
10. You missed how Locke ended up in the wheelchair.
9. You missed the guest appearance of Cheech Marin
8. You missed Kate and Juliet frolicking around the jungle in the rain together (I guess this only applies to guys)
7. You missed Sawyer in numerous scenes w/o his shirt...also in the rain (This applies to women?)
6. You missed some of the best scenes ever between two actors at the top of their game ( Terry O'Quinn & Michael Emerson). Both were nominated for the same Supporting Actor award at the Emmy's this year. Terry (Locke) won!
5. You missed Desmond's one of a kind backstory.
4. You missed the "real" Sawyer revelation.
3. You missed the Ben backstory
2. You missed the departure of one of the most beloved characters on the show.
1. You missed the greatest cliffhanger in television history (and this is not even close, therefore it's not up for debate)

Runner ups: A family connection amongst a few of our Losties. The emergence of Juliet as another strong female character. The return of an old friend. Did someone say Boone?

Lost has three seasons left before it's over and gone. Sure you can wait until then and buy all the dvds. But then you will miss out on the fun as it unfolds. You will risk the chance of someone ruining it for you by letting the cat out of the bag.

PS: Were you watching Heroes this season and thinking "Wow, I am digging Nathan Petrelli's I-am-depressed-so-that-I-am-going-to-rock-a-ratty-beard-look?" Well, I have news for you. Lost did it first! Wink Wink.


Now, the other winner, who answered my question as it was posed by showing why Lost was better than Heroes as Chris Martin (and no, I don't have a thing for guys named Chris... it just happened that way). He chose to send me his entry as a graphic, following my request to be as crazy and unorthodox in your responses as you'd like to be, and he gave us a chart showing why Lost is heads and tails above Heroes. If you're trying to lure back the particular Lost fans who defected to Heroes, this is the way to do it. Great job, Chris, and thanks for giving me such a laugh. I hope y'all enjoy his entry as much as I did! It might be a little hard to read, so I've put a translation underneath:

First boxes have pictures of Sayid and Moronder: Sayid's says, "Middle Easterner with amazing instincts." Moronder's says, "Middle Easterner with not-so-amazing instincts." Second line says, "Audience can find subtle numbers throughout the episodes." Heroes column says, "Audience is hit over the head with the same symbol over and over." Third line says, "Dramatic kite-flying scene" with a pic of Jack and Skank Ling. Heroes column says, "Dramatic double-dutch scene." (He calls a draw on that one.) Fourth line has a pic of Rose saying, "If you say live together, die alone one more time I'm going to punch you in the face." Heroes column says, "Save the cheerleader, save the world." Final line, my fave, says in the Lost column "Finale blows our minds." Heroes column: "Finale blows." Ha!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and keep checking back here for postings of the honourable mentions leading up to the February premiere of our favourite show!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Finer Things, Indeed
It just keeps getting better. Last night's episode of The Office was Joss Whedon's second directorial foray on The Office, and it was almost as funny as his previous one (though topping Michael's awkward speech at Ryan's business school and Dwight chasing a bat through the office would be a feat unto itself). Stanley says he's going to take a job at the Utica branch, and Michael and Dwight carry out a cockamamie scheme to sabatoge the Utica branch to show them just how supercool they are. Karen returned as the regional manager of that branch, and by the end of the episode it was clear that the main criterion for becoming a regional manager is being slightly unstable.

Meanwhile, back at the office, we find out that Pam, Toby, and Oscar are all participants in the VERY EXCLUSIVE Finer Things club, where they read books, discuss paintings, and eat cucumber sandwiches in an attempt to escape the drudgery of life at Dunder-Mifflin. Michael and Dwight kidnap Jim and pull him into their scheme to go to Utica, and we see Jim angrier than ever (seriously, he was so angry I thought someone had done something to Krasinski to make him act like that). He's so ticked that Michael and Dwight have pulled him into their stupid prank, and clearly thinks he's above them, yet by the very end, when Pam allows him to join her club, we see that he's actually just a rung or two above them, and in the end is a bit of a doofus himself. (But a less terrorist-looking one.)

Fave moments:
Stanley's deadpan questioning of Michael's stupid Ferris Bueller dummy: "I don't understand why sleeping at your desk is better than you not being here."

Michael: "You cannot take the hilarious black guy from the office!"

Stanley saying "Money" over and over while Michael tries to talk to him.

Oscar: "Besides having sex with men, I would say the Finer Things club is the gayest thing about me." (I loved how soon they flash to Toby after he makes this comment... Toby is clearly only in the club because Pam is.)

Michael trying to get Karen to take Toby, and then acting like there's something disgusting in his mouth and blurting out: "I can't do it. Toby is the worst... that was a bluff."

Michael asking Karen to put her through to her best salesperson. Ha!

Michael's awkward discussion with Ben Nugent, the top salesman in Utica. "Aren't you the guy that hit the woman with the car?... Didn't everyone from Stamford quit immediately??"
Michael: "No, I fired them, and you're next." [pause] "So what do you say?"
Ben: "Seriously?!"

Toby standing in the doorway with his china mugs and bowtie, and Michael's response: "Oh... my... god. That's why people are leaving. I have no words."

"Utica! Utica! Utica!"

Jim's serious anger when they throw his cell out the window. Krasinski is really believable in this scene; I thought he was going to quit the show at one point. (I do love that they go back for his phone when he says it has pics of his brother's kid on it.)

The look on Jim's face when they have materials to build a bomb in the back of their car. "Are you kidding me? We've been driving around with this in the trunk the entire time?"

The mustaches.

The name tag on Jim's outfit that says "Madge."

The freakout in the car when they catch Dwight peeing in a can. "OH MY GOD!" Michael veering the car.
Jim: "Michael! Watch the road!"
Dwight: "Hey! You're making me spray!"
Michael: "How could you? That's disgusting, man!"
Dwight: "Ah! I think I cut my penis on the lid!"

Andy trying to get into the Finer Things club.
Andy: "The Finer Things club is the most exclusive club in this office. Naturally it's where I need to be. The party planning committee is my backup, and Kevin's band is my safety."

The fact that Dwight, Michael, and Jim sitting in the car in grey outfits with thick mustaches makes them look like a bunch of terrorists.

Dwight insisting he needs to put the chalk in the guy's eyes, and Jim saying "Nothing in the eyes!"

Jim putting his seat all the way back in the car.

Andy referring to Stanley as his Uncle Remus.

Dwight updating Jim way too much on the walkie. "We are climbing some stairs. I am breathing heavily."

Dwight: "I can see the security guard's eyes. I have to do something to his eyes!!"

"The eyes are the groin of the head."

The look on Jim's face as they dump the photocopier down the stairwell.

Jim trying to hide when Karen returns, and Michael urging him to make love to her. "Just climb on top of her and think about Stanley." HAHAHA!!!

Dwight keeping his mustache on after Michael and Jim take theirs off while Karen is interrogating them.

Michael and Dwight threatening to "burn Utica to the ground."

Michael giving Stanley the plastic USPS box that's not his property. "Fly away, sweet little bird. Fly away."

Michael's want ad: "Wanted. Middle aged black man with sass. Big butt. Bigger heart." HA!

Stanley: "How on earth did Michael call my bluff? Is he some kind of crazy genius?" Starts laughing. "I'm sorry, sometimes I say crazy things."

The outfits everyone is wearing during the Angela's Ashes discussion.

Jim: "I really liked it. It was a fun read."
Toby: "Fun? Really? What was fun about it, the death of the twins?"
Jim: "No... that wasn't fun."
Oscar: "Who's the main character?"
Jim: "Angela. Nope. The ashes."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

There's a scene in the book, Shelf Monkey, where a bookstore employee -- on Halloween, no less! -- runs through the store after having heard the best news she's heard all year, yelling, "OhmyGODohmygodohmygawdohmygodOHmyGODohMYgawd..." It's November 1st, so imagine me without the Halloween costume, but running through my house, sleeping infant in my arms, whispering the same words with gleeful excitement.

Then imagine me reading the REST of the article and slumping to the couch in dire disappointment.

Yes folks... I have awesome news, awesomer news, and terrible news. Prepare thyself.

Awesome news: Joss Whedon has developed a new sci-fi TV show and IT HAS BEEN PICKED UP!!!!!!

Awesomer news: His star? Eliza Dushku. GAAAAH!

And now, the terrible news...

It's been picked up by FOX.

Sigh... Joss, how could you?? Didn't you learn from the perils of your buddy, Tim Minear? Didn't they hurt you enough when they killed Firefly? Haven't you noticed that sci-fi + Fox = certain cancellation??

For now, let's rally together and vow to get every friend, family member, enemy, and casual passerby to watch this new show. If it can get the numbers of "When Good Chickens Go Bad" then they'll be sure to keep it...

Oh come on, a girl can dream, can't she??

The new show will be called Dollhouse (love the title already!) and here's the basis:

"Dollhouse" will feature Dushku as Echo, part of a group of young people programmed with different personalities and skills for different assignments (the trades are a little fuzzy on what these "assignments" consist of or who's sending the people on said assignments). In between gigs, their minds are wiped clean and they return to live in a lab/dorm known as the Dollhouse. Things go a wee bit pear-shaped when Echo begins having actual memories and she tries to seek information about her past.

Variety quotes Dushku as saying, "He's my favorite genius," Dushku said. "And my favorite friend. He's been like a big brother ... and the only person out here I've ever wholeheartedly trusted, because he's never let me down."

Aw... and the always funny Joss says, "It was a mistake!" Whedon said. "I sat down with her to talk about her options, and acted all sage, saying things backwards like Yoda and laying out what I thought she should do. But in the course of doing it, I accidentally made one up. I told it to her, and she said, 'That's exactly what I want to do.' "

You can read articles on it here and here. In the meantime, who wants to take out the URL,