Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Today's Stuff

First of all, I just realized that my previous post to this one was my 100th post. Yay! *Sniffle* First, I'd like to thank my parents for putting me on this earth. Secondly, to the fans, who have always... hey... come ON I just got up here, you can't start playing the music YET!! Oh COME ON, all I want to do is [bleep] thank the [bleep] people who got me here, and you mother[bleeeeeeeeep] are playing me off? Whatever.

[The last acceptance speech Nikki Stafford ever gave.]

Ahem. So, first on the agenda, HUGE excitement from me today: FX has announced that April 3rd will be the return date for season 6 of The Shield. I LOVE this show. I know people love House because he's such a nasty and unlikable guy, and therein lies his likability. But no, give me Vic Mackie any day. This show is dark, violent, graphic, and there have been times when I've actually looked away (like when the guy had his face pressed against an element on the stove that was turned on high.... that'll leave a mark). But it's brilliant, and no one plays nasty like the wonderful Michael Chiklis. I cannot WAIT for this show to come back. The no-doubt future Oscar winner Forest Whitaker will be reprising his role in a few episodes.

On Whedonesque today, someone posted an article where Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars was asked if she'd like to have Sarah Michelle Gellar on the show, and she said absolutely (Um... what else COULD she have said?) The article sparked a huge response from the Whedonverse community on there, talking about how disappointing the show has become, how they've lost sight of what they'd set up in season 1, and even elicited a remark from Michael Muhney, who plays Sheriff Lamb (i.e. one of Veronica's nemesisisisss, who has been underused this year). He posted simply: "There is so much truth in many of your have no idea. I wish I could expound." Crikey. What is going ON over there? I really hope VM gets a chance to redeem itself with a fourth season, rather than being remembered for its disappointing third.

On CanMag, you can read a brief interview with Yunjin Kim confirming another Sun and Jin flashback in the 16 eps of Lost that are upcoming, but I couldn't help feel uncomfortable with their choice of title on the article. "Yunjin Kim says 'Me So Lost'"?? Uh.... Is Michael Scott writing headlines for them now?

Speaking of Michael Scott, J.J. Abrams is currently shooting the next episode of The Office, so watch for a blog from Pam to appear soon (since the others either don't really update theirs, or they talk about non-Office stuff, or, in the case of BJ Novak (Ryan), post to tell people to back off on recommending The Wire to him. Ok, BJ, you can calm down now.)
Nikki Asks the Hard-Hitting Questions
For the next week I'm going to be featured on Yahoo! Canada's Answers page as asking a "celeb" question (that still makes me giggle). My question is about the fate of endangered waterfowl and how it's affecting our larger ecosystems... ok, seriously, it's about Lost. I know, I know, the former is what's expected of me, but I decided to ask outside the box on this one.

You can see my question here, and respond to it. I'll be choosing the winning answer on February 7th, to correspond with the return of a certain show, and the winner will get 10 points on the answers page or something. (Originally it was a copy of the book, but there was something about privacy laws and how we couldn't actually ask for contact info of the winners and such, so that went out the window.) But, um, how about whoever answers the question and brings 200 people to my blog regularly, I'll happily send you an autographed copy of my book! :) The race is ON!

They've also posted a blog on me and my Lost book here. And I'd been planning on doing a big TA DA! on my blog, but I'll just do a little one: I've just signed a contract to write season 3 of Finding Lost for publication this October. I'll post the cover here as soon as it's finished.

So head on over and post your responses!! The next week on Nik at Nite will be very Lost-related, so consider this the kickoff to counting down until the return of LOST!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Heroes: The Fix
I just watched this week's ep of Heroes (sorry I didn't post on last week's; I was on vacation, and by the time I saw it I figured it's been all talked out already). This will be a brief post; I'll do a longer post on it later this week.

Invisible Man: Loved the scene of him fighting with Peter and no one able to see them. This is such an intriguing new character on the show. Will he be able to help Peter? Will he reveal to him that he's actually an alien? Is TARDIS parked in the back alley somewhere? Eccleston is SUCH a great actor, and I love him in this role.

Clare: Not too much happened between her and the Haitian (am I the only one who wants to pronounce that Hay-tee-an like Cher in Clueless??) other than exactly what they discussed last week, but it's really nice to see her and Zach being friends again. The ending of the episode was pretty awesome, with her finding her Firestarter Mommy.

Matt: "Yay! You're pregnant! This is awesome timing! Not only do I not have a job right now, but we were JUST about to break up. Wow. This will totally save the marriage." Here's hoping the baby possesses super crazy powers.

Micah: Someone posted a comment on here back in December that they thought Micah's power was the manipulation of electronics, and that would appear to be the case with this ep. Good timing, too... just as his dad was about to send him out for a factory job.

DL: Cool that he was able to move through the padded cell walls like that, but where did he go? Didn't anyone else see him coming through the other side? Can he just melt into the wall and actually move sideways through them? Not quite clear.

Nikessica: So far we've never seen her bring forth Jessica willingly, I don't think. She's saying she's trying to keep her down, but is she able to will her into existence? (Or perhaps she's been willing her into existence every time, and just doesn't want to admit to herself that she's been doing it consciously.)

Sylar: Freakiest. Ending. Ever. I LOVED the line, "How's Clare?" It made me scream. How was he able to convince the doc he was dead? Does it have anything to do with that cockroach we saw scuttling by him last week?

Hiro/Ando: LOVED that the Boss was actually his father, and loved even more that it was George Takei. I've met Takei on a couple of occasions, and he's truly lovely, and adores being adored by sci-fi fans. Now he has one more show to add to his genre belt.

From last week, I have to mention what I think is one of the funniest Hiro scenes yet: when he's chatting with Nathan and he does the SWOOSH in the air with his hand to indicate Nathan flying, and Nathan says, "Keep it down" and he holds his hand lower and does it again. Awesome.

So this is just me scratching the surface, let's discuss.

On a completely different note (but in a Takei vein), if you want to see a HILARIOUS sendup of Star Trek fandom, check out this clip from The Daily Show from a couple of weeks ago. When Rep. David Wu pronounces there are fake Klingons in the White House, The Daily Show did the obvious -- they invited Nimoy and Takei onto the show, and the result is one of the funniest clips they've done in weeks.

Joss Whedon + The Office = GOLD
Sometimes the planets align just right, and two things of absolute beauty come together in a way we might never have imagined. Such is the case with the now confirmed news that Joss Whedon has directed an episode of The Office, which will be airing during February sweeps. Now, the episode wasn't written by him, which is a damn shame, but maybe that will happen for a future episode if this one goes well. But hey, I'm willing to take this.

For some more information on the shoot from the people who are on the show, you can check out the blog of Bealsebub, who is a production assistant on the show (the photo used with this entry is his: that's Joss in the red hat, Ryan in the coat next to him, and Steve Carell is two people away from them). You can read his post here, where he talks about how much fun it was working with Joss, and how Joss even called the guy's mom to wish her a happy birthday. All together now, "Awwwwww!"
Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam, blogs all the time during filming (the computer you see in front of her on the show is real, hooked up to the Internet, and she and others are often blogging for real), and in her recent post she talks about Joss being on the set, and how he was giggling like a girl at the dailies (she meant that in a good way). Joss, who read her post when it was mentioned on Whedonesque, then posted the following on the site:
Well, I just got back from my last day of shooting. And already, rumors are flying. Jenna is terribly sweet but her eyesight and hearing are, well, dodgy. I clearly remember standing with excellent posture, arms akimbo and fists at my hips, throwing my head back and laughing a manly, one might almost say Viking laugh. Yes, that's how it was. Ha-HA!

You know those press releases where everyone gets mentioned and everyone's really nice and talented and it's clearly some studio wash? That's pretty much what this post is gonna read like. That show is stuffed with talent, efficiency and sweetness from the tippity-top to the lowly bottom, which in most cases would be the visiting director. It was crazy. I kept waiting for someone to be off, or mean, or limited... all anybody in the staff, the cast or the crew met me with was excellence. Ridiculous excellence. Reminds me of a show about a spaceship I worked on, only on this show the executive producer seems to be sane, which is quite frankly a little unseemly. Gak. I can't even start. I can't name a single person, not so much as a grip, 'cause the list of love would just eat up my weekend. (All right, I'll mention Jenna. Despite her failing senses, she is dazzling to work with. But you know, there's also -- no! Be strong!) All I can say is, I was well housed. I didn't write the ep (Brent Forrester did, who is so -- I'm strong! Not listing!) (He's awesome!) (Shut up!) (You're not the me of me!) Sorry. Dizzy. Didn't write the ep, and if I did my job right, no one will be able to tell I directed it (despite an odd, and as God is my hostile witness, TOTAL coincidence...), yet I was allowed to collaborate and feel like a well oiled cog in this perfectly working machine, and I'm pretty sure I'm reconsidering ever describing myself as 'well-oiled' again. (Hggh.) This is how TV should be made, and the proof of that comes weekly. What a rush.

One day I'll gab about it at length, but not today. I'm exhausted. I have so many crushes I have to lie down. And then write an X-men. Eat, I should probably eat.

Being lucky is so much more fun when you know it. Leave me!

Seriously, how awesome is Joss? I cannot WAIT for this episode. And the following week's episode is apparently going to be directed by J.J. Abrams. The TV gods are smiling on me. What's next, the return of Buffy?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lost Moment #10
Just for consistency's sake, I'm posting this. Another non-moment.

"Monkey?" "As in...'Touch my'"
Veronica Mars returned this week, and the show was in superb form. The episode put more of a focus on Mac, who is such a great characters, and was underused in the first part of the season. A new guy, Bronson, has his eye on Mac, and while she's a little slow on the uptake, she finaly sees what's in front of her.

There was a moment in this episode that made me think of Buffy, and I wonder if anyone else did at the same time: Veronica and Mac are walking across the campus toward the announcement board, joking about how Veronica's going to try to save a little monkey with a banana, and all I could think of was they are totally Buffy and Willow. Same jokiness, same nervousness in Willow/Mac, same hairstyle with V/B... And then I found this online today, where Michael Muhney (who plays the cocky sheriff) was posting about how much he loves Firefly, and it was like a total merge of Joss/Rob Thomas worlds.

The mystery of the week involved a missing monkey from the school's science lab, and the suspicion of a college animal rights group called PHAT (People for Human Animal Treatment), which Veronica mishears as FAT and wonders aloud if the "fat" people stole the monkey because it was delicious. It was just one of the many moments in the episode that had me laughing out loud. Others:
"Where did you get the rats?"
"They just showed up at my door."
"Oh, like in a tiny van with a sob story about needing a place to crash?"

Veronica, Parker, and Mac pretending to be sorority sisters in love with the redneck huntin' rock singer, and Mac being a really bad actress: "Uh... the second amendment is TOTALLY my favourite." Then dressing him up in a "Meat is Murder" t-shirt without him knowing it.

Dick photographing his namesake and throwing the polaroids off the balcony, and Logan's response, "I think I told you that management asked that you stop doing that." And then talking about the Zach Braff movie Garden State as if it were a book.

OK, so they went for the obvious jokes when making fun of Canada -- the photo of a moose, Mac saying "eh," Veronica saying "aboot" (we do NOT say aboot... Americans say abowt), and playing The Barenaked Ladies -- but hey, I still found it hilarious. And then, I'm sure, the joke about the Hoff seriously offended a friend of mine (don't worry, K, I was laughing... um.... AT the joke, not with it?)

The overarching mystery is off to a bit of a slow start, and I thought Keith was a little thick walking into a bar in a town where he used to be sheriff, then became a bestselling author with his mug on the television every single night because of his role in the highest-profile case in Neptune EVER, and he tries to put one over on a guy who's lived in Neptune for several years and teaches criminal profiling. Duh.

Of course, the ending had me yelling at Veronica to wake up and stop making the same mistake again. Which is really weird, because a year ago I was yelling at Veronica to kiss Logan, kiss Logan, KISS LOGAN! And now I'm just watching her in the same pattern she always follows. See, a year ago, there was no Piz. And I love Piz. He's cute, funny, and has the best way with words, and is perfect for Veronica. Maybe too perfect? They say opposites attract and all that, but Piz is just so supersweet. And, in the end, he gets the final, perfect zinger.

Logan, canoodling Veronica: Hey Piz, what's new?
Piz: Nothing, apparently.
Ding, Dong, the Emperor’s Dead!: Rome, Season 2
Season 2 of HBO’s gory epic of Ancient Rome began last week, and this second yet final season (which will only consist of 10 episodes) promises to be as brutal and amazing as the first season was. Now that Caesar is dead, Marc Antony, Cassius, and Brutus have some ‘splainin’ to do. Octavian has been named Caesar’s son in his will, and will inherit all of Caesar’s assets, and he takes Antony as his favourite, telling him to declare a truce, forgive all of the sins of Caesar’s assassins, and forgive Caesar of any of his crimes, so he dies a hero.

Meanwhile, greedy Atia agrees to her son’s ideas because it will make her “the mother of the richest man in Rome”; Servilla comes to pay her respects to Caesar, enraging Caesar’s widow; Pullo (played by the fabulous Ray Stevenson), newly married to his former slave whose fiancé he murdered, must figure out how to get her to stop calling him Master.

Yet the most intriguing story of all is that of Vorenus (played by equally fabulous Kevin McKidd), who discovered at the end of season 1 that his “grandson” is actually the son of his wife, and as he came at her in a wild rage, intending to kill her, she did the job herself, flinging herself off their balcony. Despite his initial malicious intentions, he is inconsolable over her death. His anger had been a momentary insanity, and now he’s faced with the permanence of the consequences of his actions. Season 2 begins with him holding his wife’s body, and when his children return, he curses the lot of them and banishes them. Another temporary insanity. Hours later, he realizes they’re the only family he has left, and when his friend Pullo returns, Pullo reassures him that the curse won’t take, and they’ll return to him, and they’ll all go back to being a big happy family. Minus mom.

But things don’t go according to Pullo’s plan. Vorenus finds out the local mobster has kidnapped his children, and when he and Pullo confront the man at his palace, massacring most of the place to get to him, he tells them he raped the children and had them all killed. If you’ve seen season 1, you know how this scene ends.

Are the children really dead? Vorenus is completely gone now, and with the head of the mob dead, he’s set to become the new heavy of the area. He has nothing to live for but vengeance. Despite a rocky start at the beginning of season 1, where Vorenus wasn’t exactly a likeable fellow, he became one. But he’s snapped now, and appears to be lost forever.

The second episode has aired, and I’ve got it PVR’d and can’t wait to see it (Cleopatra will be playing a far bigger role this season, so that should be exciting), but if you haven’t yet experienced Rome, get season 1 on DVD. It’s a terrific show, and despite not having the marketing power behind it of other HBO series, it far surpassed any recent season of The Sopranos.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The 2007 Oscar Nominees
The nominees were just announced, and I wanted to post them before I can think about it and make comments:

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel
Adriana Barraza, Babel

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

Best Original Screenplay
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen

Best Adapted Screenplay
Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

Best Foreign Film
After the Wedding
Days of Glory
Lives of Others
Pan's Labyrinth

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Paul Greengrass, United 93

Best Picture
The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pan’s Labyrinth
I haven’t been updating the blog this week because I’m on vacation in Mexico right now (and I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch Heroes tonight, which is killing me!) But I wanted to blog about a film I saw last week that was fantastic.

Pan’s Labyrinth has been appearing on several year-end best-of lists of critics everywhere, while most people are completely unaware of it in the midst of nights at the museums and people stomping yards. Stephen King, writing for EW, called it the best movie he’s seen in five years (but then again, King often writes in one giant hyperbole). I don’t know if I’d go quite that far, but I can honestly say it’s the most unique film I’ve seen in that long, if not longer.

In 1944 in Spain, a young girl, Ofelia, accompanies her pregnant mother to the house of her stepfather, who is a captain in the Spanish army. After the Civil War has been put down, the captain and his minions are searching out the rebels who are still fighting a losing battle, and getting rid of them, one by one. The captain is a vicious, brutal, awful man.

Meanwhile, behind the captain’s cottage, Ofelia discovers an ancient ruin of a labyrinth that, when one reaches the centre, reveals a long staircase that tunnels down into the earth. When she follows the stairs, she discovers a faun who informs her that years ago, another girl was the princess of the King of the Underworld, and she’d run away to the world above, immediately forgetting her former life. The king has spent the rest of his life trying to find his daughter’s soul reincarnated in another girl, and they believe it might be her. So they set up three tasks for her to perform, and if she can successfully perform them, she will be able to come and live in the kingdom of the underworld and rule as princess

Sound like a happy little fairy tale? It isn’t. There’s a reason this girl wants to escape her real life and accomplish these tasks. Her mother is a loving woman, but is beholden to her monster of a husband. Because the captain is not Ofelia's real father, he has no love for her (not that he would if she were really his daughter) and treats her like a nuisance he has to endure. He is a truly terrible person, and the scenes of him killing and torturing people are graphic beyond your wildest dreams. The mother’s pregnancy is a difficult one, so the bedridden mother cannot be a protector to her vulnerable daughter. . The faun is loving one moment, ruthless and vengeful the next, so he’s untrustworthy and one wonders if Ofelia should be following him or running away from him.

The tasks the girl has to endure are terrifying, grotesque, yet darkly funny. She’s brave in the face of danger (if sometimes not very bright) and no matter how scary her foes appear, you realize that nothing is as scary as the war and its effects on people living in the cottage. When faced with the final task, Ofelia is asked to make a terrible sacrifice, and stands between the danger of one world, and mortal peril of the other.

The special effects in this film are incredible. Pan, the fairies, and the monsters on the tasks are nightmarish creatures but they don’t look created by computers. There is a scene with a lifelike mandrake root that Ofelia uses to try to help her mother that is beguilingly freaky. One of my favourite moments in the film is when Ofelia is resting her head on her mother’s belly, telling a story to her unborn brother, and the camera pans down into the womb where we see the fetus moving around and then suddenly sitting still, listening intently to his sister’s tale.

This movie is a disturbing, frightening, and ultimately devastating look at the power of imagination, and what we do when faced with a horror that is too much for our minds to accept. I adored this film, and with it moving into a wider release, I’m hoping more audiences will be able to marvel at this wonder of a movie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Some Lost Goodies for Ya
Here is the Lost preview #9. Again, not a lot of information, but I don't care. I'm intrigued. And hey, watching Charlie get slapped hard is always good fun! :)

And here is the two-minute trailer that ran recently to remind us of what we've seen in season 3 already, and what is upcoming, and it's WAY exciting! And for all of the Lost fans out there, watch this and then ask yourself what is up with all of the naysayers who have been saying Lost has seriously slipped in season 3? Are they mentally deficient? Either that, or they deserve shows like Deal or No Deal and shouldn't bother watching Lost anymore. Let the rest of us enjoy the really good stuff, and they can have their dreck. ;)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lost -- More on the End of the Show
So today, folks, we have a perfect example of a journalist who can't write, so she masks it in bitchy commentary that masquerades as "funny" and voila, you have a columnist. Yep, I'm talking about Lisa de Moraes (and about 300 other columnists out there). Why is it that columnists always think they have to be "biting" and "sardonic"? She could be a closet Lost lover, but heaven forbid she might say that in her column -- egads, imagine what her PUBLIC would do if they thought she was a nice person?

In her coverage of Lindelof and Cuse discussing the end of Lost, she refers to Damon Lindelof as looking panicked, the network denying everything, the writers of Lost not having a clue what they're doing, and they're apparently losing viewers by the boatload. Why? Because they've written a show that requires viewers to tune in every week (shock!) and also requires the viewers to think a little and put together the puzzle pieces (horror!). (And how dare she say my friend Crissy's boyfriend was in a panic??)

Here's the thing: this is the same entertainment columnist (and I'm picking on de Moraes here because she's a pretty easy target, but she's certainly not alone in that all-too-common Columnist as Bitchy Critic category) who no doubt will write in some column this week that she's sick of shows like Deal or No Deal becoming such huge hits, and bemoaning the lack of truly smart television. You can't have it both ways, people. Why is it such a crime to suggest something is good these days, or, even worse, that you LIKE it?

Here's the most puzzling part of her story:
The intrepid reporters hounded Lindelof afterward outside the ballroom of the
Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel. They surrounded him and tortured him with
questions such as, "Did you know both your show and 'Grey's Anatomy' have
characters on them named Dr. Burke?" "Yes, but they spell Burke with an 'e,' "
Lindelof said, panic setting in.

Could someone tell me who Dr. Burk is on Lost? Bryan Burk is the executive producer, but he's not ON the show, and I don't think he's a doctor. Yes, there's a Dr. Burke on Grey's Anatomy, and there are Dr. Burkes on Guiding Light, Lost World, The Sentinel, ER, Friends, As the World Turns (yes, I IMDB'd it) and about 20 others. I think I'm missing something here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Live Blogging the Golden Globes
… well, kind of. I’m live-PVRing it, and have had to pause it a couple of times while running upstairs to calm my daughter, who’s particularly difficult tonight. But mostly live blogging while being allowed to skip through commercials.

Best supporting actress in a film went to Jennifer Hudson: George Clooney presented, and the guy could not BE more suave. He opened the envelope and said the award went to Leonardo DiCaprio, a joke on the fact the guy’s all over the place. Hudson was sweet, but thanked God and said, “I can’t believe this!” over and over, so the evening was off to clichéd start.

Best Original Song: Prince won for Happy Feet. He wasn’t there, and Justin Timberlake, who was presenting the award, didn’t know that, so he stood there waiting and waiting until someone shouted something from the back, and the guy totally ad libbed by stepping up to the mike, saying, “I guess Prince isn’t here tonight, so I’d like to accept this award on his behalf” and then he crouched right down so the mike was over his head and said, “Thank you.” Hahahahahaha! First great moment of the evening.

Jack Nicholson’s daughter is introduced as the chickie in the dress who helps people walk off the stage (because apparently after you win an award, you need help walking) and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Nicholson look that proud of anything that wasn’t himself.

Best supporting actor in miniseries or TV show: How CUTE was Masi Oka when they announced his name?! The Golden Globe went to Jeremy Irons (and I had a moment where I went, “YEAH… oh” because I thought it was Pivens. Damn. I LOVE Pivens in Entourage and he should have taken this. However, I’ve also seen Elizabeth I, and if you haven’t seen this miniseries, SEE IT. It’s gory and brilliant and beautifully acted. But I still love Jeremy Pivens more. (I just wish Eva Longoria had said, “And the winner is, from Elizabeth I…” so poor Pivens didn’t look so shattered when Irons walked past him.

Best Actress in a Drama: Kyra Sedgwick took this one; it’s always so cute to see her kissing Kevin Bacon. Wow, a Hollywood marriage that works!! My favourite moment of them calling out the names on this one was when they said Evangeline Lilly, and you could see Dominic Monaghan taking a huge gulp of a drink behind her, and then looking up like, “Huh? Oh… uh… oh…” and by then the camera’s already off them. Sedgwick thanked her family and said, “I just made Jack Nicholson laugh and I don’t know why!” and they cut to Nicholson who is so clearly hammered it’s pretty hilarious. Some stupid woman standing at the edge of the stage interviews Sedgwick moments after she’s won, and it’s like when those sports “journalists” are standing at the end of a golf tournament and Tiger Woods walks off after a bad round and they shove a mike in his face and say, “So, Tiger, how did you play today?” and the guy always looks like he’s going to clock them (MAN I wish he would) but instead talks about how he gave 110% and could have putted better but maybe tomorrow will be better. Sedgwick similarly just kept going, “Wow!” and looked like she wanted the woman to GO AWAY so she could go and bask in her win with her husband.

Naomi Watts introduces Babel as one of the Best Picture nominees, and screws up the name of the director, despite the fact he directed her in 21 Grams. Maybe she’s hitting the same sauce as Nicholson. Cate Blanchett looks flawless when they cut to her.

Renee Zellweger comes out, squinting worse than usual (Are the lights seriously that bright, Bridget? Really?) and tells everyone to clap for the Hollywood Foreign Press. She keeps moving away from the mike so you hear only some of the words. “I know from experience…won an award from…Foreign Press, so I’d like to intro-…sident of the Hollywood Foreign Press.” Old guy walks out and this is where Monaghan and Nicholson go and order some more drinks. No, wait, they just cut to Jack with his eyes rolling back in his head (seriously) and the whole audience began laughing, and old guy looked seriously disconcerted, said the rest of his speech “andiwishtheverybestforeveryonetonight” as quickly as he could and left.

WHOA, Will Ferrell’s got a major fro going on, what’s that all about?

Puffy Diddy Piddy is giving the next award for Best Supporting Actress in TV show or miniseries. Come ON, Elizabeth Perkins! Emily Blunt wins for Gideon’s Daughter (she was also up for The Devil Wears Prada). It’s the only one of the shows I haven’t seen. Sigh. Her dress is a mermaid-type of thing, and she’s seriously shuffling in it, she can barely walk. While she has a lovely English accent, she has this nasally weird monotone that makes everything she says sound like that teacher on Charlie Brown, “Wha wha WHA, wha-wha WHA wha.”

The entire cast of Heroes is taking the stage. What the frak? They’re giving the award for Best Actor in a Drama. What, they couldn’t have sent out just two of them?? Anyway, come on Michael C. Hall, come on Michael C. Hall… Mohinder reads out the envelope and it’s Hugh Laurie, from House. Wow. Shocker. Sigh. I adore Hugh Laurie, but not in this show. I do love hearing “Teardrop” from Massive Attack as he walks to the stage, but it’s too bad millions of people know it as “that theme from House.” Laurie’s speech is pretty funny; my favourite part is when he says not every crew is wonderful, and somebody somewhere is working with a bunch of drunken thieves. Hahaha!

Hilary Swank is interviewed and she has a ghastly thing in her hair. And she tells exactly the same story about her mom putting quarters in a phone that she told when she got her star on the walk of fame last week.

Charlie Sheen introduces Bobby, and he’s standing in such a weird way, with beady little eyes, his pants hiked up too far… he looks like a 100-year-old man with dyed black hair. Oh, he’s forcing his big brother Emilio to stand up. “Stand up, stand up, STAND UP.”

Steve Carell is on the stage. I am so happy right now! Oh wait, no I’m not, he’s reading a teleprompter and looks like he thinks it’s not funny. It’s a new category for Best Animated Film. Come on Cars! YEAH! Ok, FINALLY an award I’m happy with. Yeesh. Took long enough. John Lassiter, king of all things animated, is getting up to accept. How could a moment with Steve Carell be so dull?

Best Actress in Comedy or Musical: Joaquin Phoenix is presenting and standing there like, “Here I am presenting this award and I wish I was anywhere else but these people gave me an award last year for playing Johnny Cash so apparently I’m completely indebted to them so please let this go quickly so I can leave.” Come on, Toni Collette! (Also nominated for 2 awards.) Nope, Meryl Streep. Should I just give up now? (Apparently the Hollywood Foreign Press loves Devil Wears Prada) Well, Meryl’s always good for a funny acceptance, so don’t disappoint! She cuddles up to Nicholson’s daughter, and apparently knows her. Meryl pulls out a list and someone groans loudly, and she tells them to shut up. Hahaha! They’ve shown Reese Witherspoon about a dozen times during the speech; is she seen as her successor? Why is Felicity Huffman sitting on her hubby’s lap? Is there a shortage of chairs? (I’m calling up my inner Principal Snyder on that one.)

Everyone’s milling about, Ben Stiller’s walking out on stage; people are all still talking. Yuck, his intro is just as bad as Carell’s. He’s introducing Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen’s dropped the mustache (he’s apparently stopped being Borat in interviews as well).

Salma Hayek. I hate her. Well, no, not really, but her character on Ugly Betty turned out to be a conniving cow this week and now I hate her. She’s presenting best miniseries. Come on Elizabeth I! Wow, two Helen Mirren shows are nominated! She must be torn… Elizabeth I stands a better chance, but Prime Suspect is what got her started… yay, Elizabeth I just won!

Rachel Weisz is on stage. Scorsese looks bored, Hanks is yammering every time they show him. She’s doing Best Supporting Actor in a Movie. Eddie Murphy looks full of himself. Wow. Surprise. The guy’s apparently a complete prick in real life. Jack Nicholson still looks demented. PLEASE win this category just so we can hear you talk!! I want to see him get to the stage. Oh wait, Mark Wahlberg is also up and he’s fantastic in The Departed. Eddie stupid Murphy won. Sigh. Start acting, Eddie: make them all think you’re likable.

Sarah Jessica Parker “Am I Cute or Am I Cute” is introducing The Devil Wears Prada.

Sienna Miller and Terrence Howard (hot) are introducing Best Supporting Actor in a miniseries. Come on Chiwotel Ej…ejio… come on Chiwotel! (Just saw Tsunami, and this guy will break your heart in it.) Bill Nighy wins for Gideon’s Daughter. Wow, I need to see this miniseries; that’s two awards for it now. I love Nighy, so this should be good. He’s funny, and gracious.

Is it just me or is this the night for the Brits? Looks like the Hollywood Foreign Press has gone a little… foreign.

Best supporting Actress in a miniseries. If Helen Mirren doesn’t win this, I’ll eat my laptop. They show Scully for Bleak House. Annette Bening is looking more like Nicholson, all glassy-eyed and giddy. Every time they show her she’s chugging her champagne, and this time she’s almost falling out of her chair. Oh man, Mirren’s nominated twice!! Okonedo is nominated for Tsunami as well; she’s all crazy in that movie, but great. Mirren won; awesome, don’t need to eat my laptop now. Does this mean she’s going to win for both Elizabeths tonight? No one could possibly beat her for her work in The Queen. Mirren is absolutely gorgeous.

Cameron Diaz, newly split from Timberlake, newly black-haired, and newly red-lipped. She looks like Snow White. As usual, she’s annoying, a terrible actress and can barely read the teleprompter. She presents The Departed. Why? Because she was in a Scorsese flick?? She’s wearing a white dress that makes her look like a toilet paper doll.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Swank come out and do best screenplay, and winner is guy who wrote The Queen. Oh COME ON, they practically play him off the stage and he’s making the most interesting comment of the night. Hate award shows.

Vanessa Williams and stupid Tim Allen come out (WHAT is with her hair?!) to give Best Actor in a Comedy. SO torn between Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell… Baldwin wins!! He goes up to the back of the stage and comes out (??) So far, not funny. Come on, get funny Baldwin. Damn… Tina Fey should have written his speech. Well… at least he’s not spouting stuff about how the Republicans should all be slaughtered in their homes along with their wives and children. He’s kind of funny talking about his daughter, and AAAGH!! The Donald’s hair is only trumped (pun intended) by his wife’s. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Geena Davis and James Woods are coming out now. Davis towers over Woods. Best Comedy TV series. Desperate Housewives. Blech. The scene they show is completely unfunny. Entourage, YEAH! The Office, OH YEAH!!! OK, the clip they show is AWESOME. This one MUST WIN. Ugly Betty, yeah! Weeds, yeah, but not as funny as the others. Still awesome though. They don’t show a scene, but a montage, which is never as funny. UGLY BETTY??!!! Oh come on, this show is awesome, but it’s not The Office!!!! Seriously, the Hollywood Foreign Press is on crack this year. I love Ugly Betty, don’t get me wrong, and it’s lovely and funny and wonderful. But The Office is so brilliant I was laughing out loud at their clip, and I’d seen that episode twice. That said, I’m really hoping America Ferrera wins for best actress. All the girls are screaming behind the guy, like SHUT UP, dude, and bring up the ladies, that’s what this show is about!!! They show J. Lo, who’s all like, “Oh yeah, holla for my Latina babes!!”

Jamie Foxx is on the stage and just said, “Yo, represent!” Ugh. He’s presenting Dreamgirls. Is it normal to have someone who’s in the movie presenting it?? It’s supposed to be presented by someone outside of the film. He just referred to a brilliant ensemble cast. Did the real presenter back out at the last minute?

Djimon Hounsou and Sharon Stone are on stage now. How much do I love Djimon?? They’re presenting Foreign Language Film. Apocalypto. Anti-Semite Mel Gibson has figured out a way to get his ass into the Foreign film category. Come on Pan’s Labyrinth! (I just saw it on the weekend and it’s GORGEOUS and brilliant. Go see it.) Wow, what a great category. Even insano Mel Gibson’s film intrigues me. Clint has won for Letters from Iwo Jima. I’m dying to see that film. Clint Eastwood is brilliant. He parodies Jennifer Hudson’s speech, haha! Ohmigod, Prince is sitting RIGHT THERE in the audience, no wonder poor Justin Timberlake thought he was there! He probably was talking to him on the red carpet.

Lovely Jeremy Irons presents The Queen. No one can beat Mirren in this role.

Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant are presenting Best Original Score. Grant explains that Prince got caught in traffic (???) and asks him to stand up (Prince, get up on a chair so we can see you!) Barrymore’s not wearing a dress that makes her boobs drop to her waist. Grant opens the envelope as Barrymore says, “And the award goes to…” and Grant says, “Oh, it’s in French so I’d better read it,” as if to say, “you stupid bimbo, don’t even attempt this one.” Guy who did The Painted Veil wins.

John Stamos and Jennifer Love Hewitt come out to do Best Actress in a Comedy. Come on America!!! YES!! The HFPA loves Ugly Betty!! And I love America Ferrera. They show Felicity Huffman saying to William H. Macy “Good for her,” in a moment of true noblesse oblige. She looks fabulous in that dress, wow. This girl is supposed to be ugly?! She’s all weepy and sweet and Salma is crying. Uh… they just took the spotlight off her or something because her face got all dark, and now it’s bright again. She’s thanking absolutely everyone and doing it all by memory. WOW! America leaves the stage, and the bimbo is standing there babbling and I’m going, “Walk on by, walk on by, don’t stop” and you can see America looking offstage and someone’s telling her to stop, so she stops by her and waits while the bimbo yammers, and then LEAVES, hahahahaha, but then she comes back and the woman says, seriously, “What do you have to say to all the people who thought you shouldn’t have this role?” and America looks stunned and completely taken aback. What I would have given for American to have hit her over the head with that award.

Tom Hanks walks out like he owns the damn room (I like Tom, but he’s considered the greatest actor of his time AND HE KNOWS IT) and since his last film was the Da Vinci Code, I think he should let that puffed-out chest sink down a little. Anyway, he’s giving the Cecile B. DeMille award to Warren Beatty. Beatty hasn’t been in a film since… Bulworth? No, I just IMDB’d it and he’s done ONE movie since Bulworth (1998). Oh well, I guess the award is for lifetime achievement, and this guy did Bonnie and Clyde (love love love love love this movie), Shampoo, Reds, Heaven Can Wait, Bugsy… Bulworth was insane, but I laughed all the way through it. They keep flashing “Tom Hanks Golden Globe Tribute to Warren Beatty” and I WISH someone would teach these people what a possessive is. Tom Hanks makes a joke about Beatty being a Romeo, and it’s HILARIOUS! (Though I’m sure Annette didn’t love it, but it’s not like it’s news to her.) Warren’s speech is long and windy, though I like the crack about how it’s not fair that every film he’s done is called his comeback and it’s not fair that Clint does 2 big movies at the same time.

Dustin Hoffman is on stage. Holy crap, he just stumbled sideways… drunk? He makes a crack about Ishtar in reference to Beatty. He’s presenting Little Miss Sunshine. My favourite movie of last year.

Steven Spielberg is presenting Best Director. Clint. Clint. Frears. The Babel guy. Scorsese. Scorsese wins. Will he get the Oscar? He gets up and talks like he always does, in that peripatetic way that sounds like a machine gun. The Departed is an excellent film, so I’m happy about this one. Poor Clint is splitting his vote on this one. They’re telling Scorsese to wrap it up. These shows suck.

Reese takes the stage looking awesome. Best Actor in a Comedy. The place erupts for Sacha Baron Cohen. This one’s Borat’s. Come on, make us laugh!! And… he does. By commenting on the genitalia of his co-star. OH my god, we are howling with laughter here. I don’t know who’s funnier, him or the co-star, who has stayed in character with his wine and strange looks. They PLAY HIM OFF. ARGH. Funniest speech EVER, and they play him off. ARGH.

Dane Cook (yeah!) is on the stage presenting Thank You For Smoking. I’m not a huge fan of this film; I found it overrated, but maybe it’s because I don’t smoke and don’t really find the humour in it, despite the satirical aspect of the movie. Who knows. I just didn’t find it funny. The clip they show from the trailer is hilarious, and contains all of the highlights of the movie for me.

J Lo takes the stage. She’s looking nice, actually; I don’t actually hate her dress or hair. Best Comedy or Musical Movie. Lopez looks like she’s going to have an aneurysm saying the subtitle of Borat. Winner is… Dreamgirls. Ugh. You know, this movie could be wonderful, but from the sounds of it, is about as original as a tv movie of the week. And Little Miss Sunshine should have had this one. Gay man gets up and accepts this one. They play him off after 20 seconds, CRIPES. The people in Dreamgirls look suitably pissed, and they SHOULD. This is Best Picture, folks, turn off the damn music!!

Dang, my PVR stopped jumping forward so now I have to sit through commercials. Sigh.

OK, CTV has just cut in and they’re announcing SOME award that seems like Best Drama (thanks, CTV; I’d tell you what I think but I think I’ve used the word “suck” too much), and it goes to Grey’s Anatomy. Over Lost and Heroes. WHATever. My husband: “I don’t want to see any more shows about f*&%!ing hospitals or lawyers.” Woman steps up to mike and guy behind her says, “You have 27 seconds, be fast!” Ugh. They pull back and you see Dominic Monaghan shaking his head. I agree, Dominic, I agree.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (looking like Teddy Roosevelt or something, Civil War pic, maybe?) doing Best Actress. Wow, I think Penelope Cruz TOTALLY has this one in the bag. Not. Just skip it and say Helen Mirren. She’s so awesome because when she wins for Elizabeth I, she talked as if she were her, and now she’s talking about Elizabeth II walking into a role and how she did, too. All that and smarts, too? I love her.

Felicity Huffman does Best Actor in a Movie, Leo…Leo…Will…Forest…Peter. How I would love to see Peter O’Toole win this… Forest takes it. I’ve heard amazing things about this film but it came and went before I could. I’ve used the word “love” too much, too, but I LOVE Forest Whitaker. Whether it’s for Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai or his phenomenal turn in The Shield, he kills whenever he’s on screen. He’s choked up and can barely talk (please don’t play him off, please don’t play him off). They don’t play him off.

Ah-nold comes out on crutches. Is he still considered an actor? I didn’t think he was an actor when he was an actor, but now he’s a Republican goon. Best Picture… Babel!!! That was a shocker. It’s the ONLY award this thing wins, and yet somehow it’s best picture? I thought The Departed had this one. Or maybe even The Queen. But Babel? This one’s gotten mixed reviews. Alessandro tells Ahnold that he has his papers in order, he swears. HAHAHAHA! Good for him, he’s had a great career so far, and… they’re playing him off. Sigh. Ahnold just said, “Next year, we’ll be back.” Ha. Ha.

Overall, I usually enjoy the Golden Globes because they take chances that the Emmys and the Oscars don’t. But this time they seemed to go for the obvious (if it was British, it will win) and while in many cases that’s awesome for me, I guess I’m ticked that genre TV is completely shut out, despite getting nods this year, and Ugly Betty over The Office? That’s such a mainstream choice. Oh well… better luck next year.
Lost producers ask for a finale end date
A story on the wire today has said that Lost producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have said they're starting talks with the ABC network to finalize a date for the end of Lost. This would have a huge impact on the show (all good, I would think) because they'd know exactly how many more episodes they need to get to the end. Therefore, they can carefully plot out their puzzle pieces, rather than just writing and writing as if it's not ever ending.

The best part of this article is near the end, where Lindelof states that yes, ratings have dropped slightly, but they're not going to alter their writing style to get them back (think Alias). Yeah! I've put a pic of him with this posting, because he's my friend Crissy's boyfriend. And because he's awesome.
In another report on the same story, they quote Lindelof as saying 90-100 eps would be good, so that would put the end of the series at season 4.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What I Loved This Past Fall TV Season…
…that I haven’t yet blogged on.

After the first episode of this fantastic and unique show, I was a little wary of it. It’s about as bright and cheery as England during the Bubonic Plague. The writing was first-rate, the premise was original (a sociopath working in the forensics department of the police department solves crimes during the day, and commits them as a Robin Hood serial killer by night, killing people who got away with their crimes), and the acting is phenomenal. Michael C. Hall is incredible – I never think of him as David Fisher when he’s on this show. But it was SO dark, I wasn’t sure I could handle it week after week. I hung in there, though, and by the third episode, I was hooked. Through a series of twists and turns, we slowly discover who the ice truck killer really is… but why he has a certain fascination and knowledge of Dexter isn’t clear until the final episode, and it was AWESOME. My only question is: How can they do a season 2 on this? I can’t wait, but I also can’t help but think this would be a really, really cool show to have run a one-off treatment, like that Showtime miniseries, Out of Order, with Eric Stoltz and Felicity Huffman, that blew me away a couple of years ago. My fingers will be crossed for Hall to win the Golden Globe this Monday.

Battlestar Galactica
WOW. I’ve wanted to watch this show for so long now, and a co-worker had them on DVD and began lending them to me. I started season 1 in August, with the miniseries, but with the promotion of my Lost book and watching about 20 different shows through the fall, I didn’t have a lot of time to catch up. Over the Christmas hiatus, I finished season 1, season 2, and got completely caught up on season 3, and it is SO good. I’m not really a sci-fi person, believe it or not. I’ve written books on Xena, Buffy, Angel, Alias, and Lost, so my interest seems to be less in shows based in outer space than shows with a fantasy element to them, focusing on the human condition (the monsters on Buffy weren’t so much monsters in the external, literal sense as the inner, personal demons she and her friends were constantly at war with). But Battlestar doesn’t feel like a sci-fi show. Sure, it’s on a battleship that’s in space and is full of military personnel, but it’s about the same human issues that those other shows are about. Starbuck can convey reams of emotions on her face without uttering a word. Adama isn’t so much the admiral of the ship as the father figure to everyone on it. Apollo is an interesting, complicated guy with a lot of emotions (though I must admit I disliked the group of episodes where he’d gained a lot of weight; the makeup was pretty crappy, and made him look like he was holding Toblerones in each cheek). Colonel Tigh is angry, annoying, and sad. Gaius Baltar is one of my favourite characters because he’s SO awful and annoying, but if anything ever happened to him I’d be devastated. James Callis plays him brilliantly, and it took me most of season 1, going, “Where have I SEEN him before?” to realize he was Tom from Bridget Jones’s Diary, because he’d made the character so unique from his previous one. I love that Lucy Lawless has joined the cast and I think she’s great. The idea of Cylons – a race of machines – worshiping the one God that is the basis of Christianity and all other monotheistic religions, whereas the humans subscribe to a polytheistic religion based in Greek mythology, is fascinating to me. I don’t think the show is futuristic so much as entrenched in the past, as if these are the events that happened pre-Bible, pre-history. I love the complex philosophies that have happened with the Cylons, as these “things,” as the humans call them, these things who cannot feel or care about anything, are trying to find the meaning of life, just as humans are. I love this show.

My Name Is Earl
While not as funny as The Office or 30 Rock, My Name Is Earl is still a great half-hour. Joy’s humour is derived from her political incorrectness, when she cracks a mean joke at someone for some “defect” they may have, and then stands there killing herself laughing. When she’s charged with a felony and given a deaf lawyer (played by Marlee Matlin) she’s so inadvertently awful to her, yet Matlin’s character is so terrible back, that when Matlin finally speaks and Joy bends over laughing saying, “oh my god, you should hear your voice right now!” we laugh, too, and hate ourselves for doing it. In another episode, Roseanne guest-starred as a religious trailer park landlady, where they realize by accident that their walkie-talkies are on the same frequency as her hearing aid, and they pretend they’re the voice of God and order her about, asking her to bring all of her belongings to them. Of course, this is only after forcing her to do the Hokey Pokey. “Putteth thy left foot in. Putteth thy left foot out. Putteth thy left foot in. And shaketh it all about.”

Everybody Hates Chris
This show continues to be funny, and I love the actor who plays Chris Rock. The best part of this show is the real Chris Rock’s voiceovers, which are often also politically incorrect, but biting and hilarious. The parents are awesome, the situations often unreal, and the teacher, Ms. Morello is so horrible in her earnestness you’re cringing through your laughter. She’s always trying to be on Chris’s side and clearly, but says the most racist things you could imagine while doing it (TV Guide referred to her as “terminally Caucasian”). She assumes his family is poor, his parents don’t work, he doesn’t get to eat at his home in the “ghetto,” and when Chris ran for class president, she gave him the black power salute from the audience.

The Daily Show
I watch this every day, and I love it. Last week they had one of their investigation reports from Jason Jones, where they talked about how kids could defend themselves in the classroom. It was one of the funniest things I’d seen on the show in ages. I found it on YouTube here (it’s worth it just for the guy cowering behind the textbook):

As long as The Daily Show is on the air, SNL’s Weekend Update (and the weekly parody on Studio 60) doesn’t stand a chance.
And that's it for what I loved (besides Heroes, Lost, Veronica Mars, Ugly Betty, 30 Rock, and The Office, all of which I've commented on on here. I didn't mention EastEnders, my guilty pleasure, because it's SO far behind the current schedule in England it's insane. For any English readers out there, Little Moe's just come back and has gotten back together with Billy; Zoe and Dennis are moving in together; Vicki just found out her older boyfriend Tom was trying it on with Chrissy; stupid Stacey Slater has just moved in, and Demi's just had a baby. I think you're about 2 years beyond that.
I'm hoping to blog on the shows I didn't like this past fall season, but tomorrow, it'll probably be about the Golden Globe awards. :)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More Lost Previews
Two more Lost previews have been uploaded to YouTube. Unlike a couple of the others, these don't exactly scream "intrigue." Here's #7:

And #8:

Oh look... Bai Ling is wearing her usual red-carpet outfit. Blech. I hope the writers can make Bai Ling work. I'm not her biggest fan, and her episode of
Angel, "She," was certainly not a highlight.

And finally, for anyone who's getting a little weary of the non-previews we've been getting, someone put together a quick parody of one of them:

It all returns February 7!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What I Loved this past Fall Season: THE WIRE
To borrow a question Entertainment Weekly often asks when referring to The Wire, “Why aren’t you watching this show yet?!” I kept saying in December that I’d blog on it, but then I couldn’t come up with enough adjectives for AWESOME. So I’ll try now. My other posts on The Wire here and here were to entice new viewers. This one’s for the people who watched season 4.

The most recent season of The Wire was the best yet. We watched mayoral candidate Tommy Carcetti move from being the long shot to winning the primary, despite being a minority in a city that is predominantly African-American. With his wide-eyed idealism, Carcetti sought to bring money to the schools, clean up the streets (literally, by sending garbage trucks out to clean up the corners), institute programs that would entice young kids moving into the drug trade to perhaps reconsider… and then he won. And it’s not like he was making this stuff up just to win, but when faced with his new colleagues, he discovered a multimillion dollar deficit in the school budget, one that would require drastic cuts to fix. He could no longer give the bonuses and salary hikes to the cops that he’d promised. He couldn’t force the city to go out collecting garbage off street corners when the city didn’t have the money for it. At the government level, the buck stops when the city’s poverty becomes a reality to you. And now we begin to see how the other mayors became so corrupt.

In the police department, the special crimes unit is disbanded (again) and the wire taken down (again) and Kima is off to homicide, where she’s treated like a newbie (they don’t know just what a brilliant detective they have working for them in her). Cedric Daniels was promoted to Major at the end of season 3, and through Carcetti, suddenly becomes Colonel. The sudden promotion of people – and the political reasons behind it – becomes a major eye-opening part of the season.

But there’s an idealism, a feeling that maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference. Carver believed the difference wasn’t in making the arrests, it was in getting to know the kids on the streets and learning the ins and outs of the drug trade, so you could start to see it from their point of view. Unfortunately, he also has an unfailing loyalty to his pissant former partner, Herc, who is the screwup of all screwups. In thinking he’s helping Herc out of a serious situation, he turns over one of the corner kids in his case, and Herc uses the kid, puts the word out on the street that the kid is a snitch, and puts the kid’s life in serious danger, all to save his own ass from being demoted for doing something stupid. Then there’s Jimmy McNulty, the main character of the first couple of seasons, with almost no scenes in this one. He's moved in with another officer and her two kids (and steals office binders for the kids to use in school, one of the funnier scenes in the season). He’s watched some of these corner kids grow from naïve tykes to seasoned dealers, and by the end of the season tries to help out Bodie. But he quickly realizes that trying to help a corner kid is akin to picking up a baby bird that’s fallen out of the nest: the mother bird will smell the intruder on its young, and will quickly dispose of the baby.

There are the addicts, the people who are the bottom feeders in all of this, who don’t profit from any of this, but whom everyone else profits from. Bubbles is one of the best characters in the series. This guy is a drug addict who became an informant for Kima at the beginning of the series, and she managed to clean him up. But he couldn’t stay off the stuff for long, and by season 3 was a full-blown heroin addict once more. In season 4 he’s taken on a protégé who isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, and while he tries to get him to stay in school, the kid eventually jumps ship, selling drugs on the corner instead. Meanwhile, Bubbles sells his stolen goods on the street corners and another thug sees a golden opportunity, robbing him and beating him every day. Bubbles turns to the cops – the people he’d helped for so long – and asks Herc (great) to help him out. Herc says sure, sure, but it turns into a complete disaster, almost ending in Bubbles’ death. Bubs realizes he’s completely alone in this, and this man – who’s a complete mess, but wouldn’t normally hurt a flea – decides to take matters into his own hands. He gets his hands on a poisonous substance… and just then his protégé returns. Bubbles, momentarily forgetting the dangerous situation he’s in, welcomes the guy back with open arms… and the stupid kid snorts the stuff while Bubs is sleeping. Wracked with guilt, Bubs turns himself into the cops, and they don’t know what to do with him. He attempts suicide, begs them to lock him up for murder, and eventually they put him in a mental institution and send his rehab sponsor over to see him. The scene of Bubbles completely breaking down when his former sponsor walks into the room is one of the saddest of the season.

On the street level, you’ve got Marlo Stanfield, who’s running the show with an iron fist, care of Snoop and Chris, two nasty pieces of work who kill people, pour lye on them to speed up the decomposition, and leave them in vacant buildings by nailing up the doors behind them. He realizes that children are our future and doles out cash to the kids getting ready to go back to school, telling them they can use it to buy new clothes, when in fact he’s buying their undying loyalty. Only one – Michael Lee – refuses the cash, knowing the others are selling their souls to the devil. Marlo's faithful soldiers stand on all of the West Baltimore corners, shouting, "Pandemic!" constantly in the background. Pandemic is the hot drug of the moment, and has been aptly named.

But Marlo’s a smart guy. Because he’s figured out the thing that becomes the main theme of season 4: the children. Season 4 moved its focus to a group of youngsters who seem destined for a life on the corner. Pryzbylewski (or Prez) started off as one of the most incompetent cops on the force, largely there because his father-in-law was a major in the police force. In this season he starts off as one of the most incompetent teachers you could imagine, but he gets better. He never becomes a Michelle Pfeiffer character, helping these kids find their way outta the gangsta’s paradise they’ve grown up in, but he does learn to reach them on a certain level, even if he’s still bumbling through class exercises by the end.

The season focuses on four kids: Michael Lee, Randy Wagstaff, Dukie Weems, and Namond Brice. Through these kids, we see the real darkness of the Baltimore drug trade. Michael takes care of his little brother, always walking him home, helping him with his homework. His mother is literally a crack whore, often passed out on the couch, occasionally wandering into the kitchen to ask Michael for money (he carries the family's welfare card) and freaking out if he doesn’t give it to her, but she usually crawls back to her hole, itching her neck and shaking. In one scene, he asks his mom where the Rice-a-Roni is so he can give it to his little brother for dinner, and the cupboard is bare. She tells him she already gave it to the kid, and Michael realizes she just gave the kid the box, forcing him to eat it raw. He’s the one who doesn’t take Marlo’s money, but when his little brother’s deadbeat dad comes back from prison, Michael begins to panic. It’s never clear what the guy ever did to Michael, or if he did anything at all – maybe Michael just thinks he might, or maybe he doesn’t like the fact that someone else would be taking over as the man of the house – but he ultimately goes to Marlo to help him out on the little matter of his dad, and becomes far more indebted to Marlo than any of the kids who took the back-to-school money.

Randy Wagstaff lives with a foster mother, “Miss Anna,” who is strict, but loving. She keeps him on the straight and narrow, and he’ll do ANYTHING to avoid getting into Miss Anna’s bad books. Because he’s small for his age, he keeps the shirts from various grades (the grades are colour-coded, with maroon being the grade 8s, and other grades wearing other colours) and steals a stack of hall passes that allows him to jump from one room to another at lunch, selling chips and snacks to the other little kids and making a profit. When he’s caught, he begins to spill the beans on a murder that happened at the beginning of the first episode when Lex is killed by Snoop and Chris, and Randy witnesses part of it. Carver takes him under his wing, as mentioned earlier, but allows Herc to get his dirty mitts on him, and before long it’s common knowledge on the streets that Randy is a snitch.

Duquan (Dukie) is the poorest of the bunch. Other kids make fun of him for smelling bad at school. He loses his uniforms all the time because his parents are such hardcore drug addicts they will steal everything – including, literally, the clothes off their child’s back – for drug money. Namond and Randy are his closest friends, but even they always have looks on their faces like they wish he'd go away, and walking to school he tends to hang back behind them. He’s a sad character who keeps a smile on his face, puts up with the other kids pretending he doesn’t exist half the time, and endures beatings from the other kids. He’s the smartest of the bunch books-wise, and can repair electronics (we watch him working on a handheld electric fan for a while). Prez realizes what is going on at home, and gives him a teacher's locker to keep his clothes away from his parents, and allows him to use the showers. He teaches Dukie how to use a computer, surf the Internet (where he and Randy find candy in bulk, suddenly making Randy’s profits go up), and for the first time in his life, Dukie actually has some self-esteem.

Namond is the polar opposite. His dad was a drug kingpin, now serving time, and his piece of dirt mother is living large on his father’s money, spending like the money will never dry up, and urging her son to be like his daddy and go out to that corner and make a man of himself. He's got the clothes, the money, the videogames, and the bling, unlike Dukie. His mother is possibly the most infuriating character, because while Dukie’s parents are too strung out and impoverished to even be parents, Namond’s mother has the chance to help her son break out of the vicious cycle, and her greed far outweighs any loyalties to her son. Namond becomes so disruptive in class that he’s moved to the Special Class, set up by former police chief Bunny Colvin. As an experiment, they watch these kids that the system considers to be lost to them as they sit around, fight with each other and the teachers, and eventually start to see correlations between drug dealing and other aspects of life and school. They begin with the basics – teaching these kids manners and how to act in public places – in order to “turn them into” human beings. Both Colvin and Prez learn to reach out to these kids by addressing them on their level. Prez teaches his class about probabilities through games of dice (which Randy uses on the street with a profitable outcome).

There’s hope in this show. So much hope. The politicians hope they can make a difference; the police hope the politicians will follow through on their promises, and that by getting to know the people on the streets, they might be better police and make a difference themselves. The teachers try to make a difference, but because they’re so close to the kids and understand the reality of their situations, they don’t have a rose-coloured view of things. Sure, they’d like to see a handful of these kids rise above their situations and find jobs somewhere other than the corners. Some, like Prez and Colvin, actually do something with one of the kids to help them on a personal level. The kids, more than anyone, are the pessimists. The glass isn’t half empty to them – it’s empty. Why bother going to school? they wonder. A middle-class child who’s never been exposed to the world of The Wire goes to school to learn how to be something when they grow up.

And therein lies the problem: these kids don’t plan on growing up. Most of their friends never lived to see 20, and they all ended up slinging drugs, so why bother going to school? If you only have 16 years on this earth, why waste it sitting in a classroom while some adult teaches you fractions and ways to conjugate verbs? Even if you do somehow manage to get a decent job, you’ll probably be paying off your parents’ drug habits and supporting them, and there’s just no way you’ll ever get ahead.

But then there’s that light again. That hope. Prez shows Dukie there can be another way, and Dukie flourishes in class, becoming a good student. Colvin takes Namond and a few others to a restaurant to show them how the other half live. Randy begins to like being at school.

And then, just like that, it’s gone. By the end of the season, McNulty’s offers of help to Bodie force a bullet into Bodie’s head. Dukie graduates to another school, and knowing his friends won’t be able to help keep him from being beaten up every day, and knowing that he doesn’t have the luxury of the teacher’s lounge showers and lockers, he drops out. Randy, now known as the snitch, becomes Enemy #1 to the kids on the streets, and they firebomb his house. He’s not home, but Miss Anna is, and she nearly dies in the fire. And Michael, the kid who was his little brother’s only real guardian, the kid who refused Marlo’s money, becomes the most ruthless of them all. He orders his stepfather’s execution. He becomes Snoop and Chris’s pupil (and no, while it looked like he was the one who put the bullet in Bodie’s head, it wasn’t actually him). He moves out and starts living the life of a gangster. He allows Dukie to come and live with him, but as Dukie listens to Michael having sex with some girl in the next room, while he tries to reassure Michael’s little brother, he knows he’s caught in a vicious cycle, and will never be happy. The finale ended with Michael becoming a part of Marlo’s gang, Randy going to a foster home where his snitch rep has preceded him, and Dukie – sweet Dukie – standing on a corner, slinging drugs.

Is this possibly the darkest show on television? Maybe. But it’s not the sort of show where you’re sitting there with your head in your hands going “oh GOD, there is no hope… none.” It’s very funny at times. Omar, whom I mentioned in a previous post, continues to be awesome. In his warped Robin Hood ways he steals from the drug dealers, and gives to himself. The police respect him, but when bodies start falling, clamp down on his activities. Bubbles has hit his low point, but there’s only one way to go from there. Could he be rehabilitated? And what about Carcetti; will he be able to make any sort of positive difference? The end of the season saw the reinstitution of the Major Crimes Unit, with McNulty rejoining the group, so that's setting us up for an exciting final season.

And then there’s Namond. Of the four kids, he was the lost cause. His father is a drug dealer, his mother a waste of space, and he had a temper that was out of control. His mom puts him on a corner under Bodie’s watchful eye, but Namond is just a screwup. When faced with any sort of threat, he begins to cry. This is not the fierce man that his dad Wee-Bay was, and his mother knows it. But Namond has something the other kids don’t: Colvin. By the end of the season, Colvin appeals to Wee-Bay to let him save just this one kid, and Wee-Bay gives in. The final scene of the season is Namond sitting on Colvin’s front porch, just on the edge of the West Baltimore corners. Will he find peace, or will season 5 bring him right back to the lifestyle he believed he was destined for?
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
But only temporarily.