Friday, December 21, 2007

Love American Style - Season One, Vol. 1

To anyone paying attention, the Morgue has been woefully mismanaged in the past month and there's really no excuse for that. I've been busy doing various tasks for Bullz-Eye and Premium Hollywood, much of which involves viewing seasons of TV on DVD...which takes a lot of my time. Hopefully in the New Year I'll get back on top of things, including 007 in '007, which despite the change of year will retain its name. In the meantime, I've posted several reviews today, including this one:

Confession: I watched a lot of Love American Style as a kid. Although those memories are a distant blur, for many, the show’s most well-known aspect remains its catchy theme tune, the lyrics of which now bewilder me:

Loooooove, American Style,
Truer than the Red, White and Blue
Loooooove, American Style,
That's me and you

And on a star spangled night, my love (my love, come to me)
You can rest your head on my shoulder
Out by the dawn's early light, my love
I will defend your right to try

Wait a minute, pal: “I will defend your right to try?” To try what? To try resting my head on your shoulder, which you’ve already seduced me into doing? I don’t get it. If any reader does, please e-mail me and explain what the hell is going on there.

Find out if Love American Style is still truer than the Red, White and Blue by clicking here to visit Bullz-Eye.

Doctor Who: "Time-Flight" & "Arc of Infinity"

Two Who DVD reviews for your perusal...

"Time-Flight" is a Doctor Who story I hadn’t seen since I was a teen, so I looked forward to checking it out all these years later. Unfortunately, it turns out that it actually has one of the worst reputations of the entire Peter Davison era.

Surely it couldn’t be that bad, right?

Find out exactly how bad "Time-Flight" may or may not be by clicking here and visiting Bull-Eye.

"Arc of Infinity" occurs right after “Time-Flight” in the Who timeline, and any story following that one would have to look good by comparison. “Arc,” the first tale in the show’s 20th season, [has] so many intriguing elements banging into each other that it always manages to rise up above its pedestrian script.

Read the rest of the piece by clicking here to visit the universe of anti-matter known as Bullz-Eye.

October Road - The Complete First & Second Seasons

It’s easy to want to dislike October Road right off the bat. Its central character Nick Garrett (Bryan Greenberg, Prime) is the writer of a hugely successful debut novel with the annoying title Turtle on a Snare Drum. Nick has writer’s block, but avoids dealing with it via an invitation to speak at the college in his hometown. He hasn’t been there in 10 years, and in the interim has hardly spoken with his father (Tom Berenger), brother or his rag-tag band of high school buds.

Read the rest of the Season One review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

And click here to read the Season Two review at Premium Hollywood.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bullz-Eye TV Power Rankings - Winter '07


Bullz-Eye just published their lastest TV Power Rankings List and I was one of the contributors whose opinions helped shape the list (and wrote up selected entries as well).

Check out the list/article by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Upright Citizens Brigade - The Complete Second Season

It’s not the only way to pitch Upright Citizens Brigade to the uninitiated, but it could be the most truthful: this is a show for smart people who like to get high and laugh their asses off. The UCB seem to know this, too, and various aspects of drug culture find their way into the show’s second season, with an ongoing gag centered around the fictitious drug Supercool (which looks suspiciously like Pixie Stix) culminating in the final episode on this set. Of course, obtaining too much of a buzz could also result in getting a little lost along the way. Sketch comedy is rarely this meticulously plotted or strung together, and this material becomes funnier on repeated viewings, hence it is ideal for the DVD format.

Click here to read the rest of the review at Bullz-Eye.

Doctor Who - The Complete Third Series

As someone who’s been a Time Lord devotee since he was 13, it’s almost hard to believe this revival is three seasons in. It seems like only yesterday that Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) was surrounded by moving mannequins in a department store basement when Doctor #9 (Christopher Eccleston) grabbed her hand and issued the simplest of commands: “Run!” But times change and so does Doctor Who. In Season Three, Rose Tyler is relegated to haunting the memories of Doctor #10 (David Tennant). From the first installment in this box set, “The Runaway Bride” (last year’s Christmas special), Rose still plays a role in the Doctor’s adventures, and her name continually pops up throughout the entire season.

Click here to read the rest of the Season Three DVD review at Bullz-Eye.

In other Who news, earlier this week the BBC released the first shot of the Sontarans from the new series. I wrote about their return a few weeks ago and hoped they'd retain their basic look. Wish granted! There's no doubt the alien (pictured at right) is a Sontaran. They look almost exactly the same as they did in the old series, other than having slightly cooler looking uniforms. Isn't there just a tinge of the Schumacher-era Batman costume perhaps? Apparently this story also features the return of Martha to the series (my guess is mid-season?) as the picture indicates.

What I also really like about this photo is the way Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) is dressed. There isn't anything sexy about her getup, but rather an outfit perfectly suited for adventure. Hopefully Donna will be a return to a more traditional type of companion; one who isn't emotionally fixated on the Doctor. Not that I minded what was done with Rose and Martha in that arena; quite the opposite. But it'd be nice to see a Doctor/companion dynamic that is uncomplicated by issues of the heart(s) .

Read a bit more about these matters on the official site.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Warping Time

By popular demand...

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Journeyman

I've been covering the NBC time travel series Journeyman for the blog Premium Hollywood (a sister site to Bullz-Eye) since it started last month. Each Tuesday afternoon I basically write up a loose recap of the previous evening's episode. It's been a difficult and challenging endeavor because I'm not used to writing about a series with so little info at my disposal (unlike Doctor Who, in which I've had the luxury of seeing eps repeatedly and way ahead of time).

But I love Journeyman and wonder if others do as well. If so, come to the site every Tuesday and argue, agree or - even better - say the things I'm failing to address, which I'm sure are many.

To make it even simpler, you can just click here and bookmark the URL that directly leads to my Journeyman blogs...although there's plenty of other stuff on Premium Hollywood worth reading and this blog series is far from the cream of their crop.

By the way, anybody else dying to hear a Journey song during one of Dan's '80s excursions? Or did The Sopranos already ruin that gimmick for everyone else?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pleading the Fifth (Doctor)

The BBC has confirmed that Fifth Doctor Peter Davison will be joining Tenth Doc David Tennant for this year's Doctor Who Children in Need Special, which will be screened on Nov. 16th. (The last time they did this was the post-regeneration scene between Billie Piper & Tennant.)

Multiple Doctor stories are special events for Who, even though they're usually full of plot holes and cause big logistical problems for series continuity. This time around Steven Moffat has been given the task of writing the scene, entitled “Time Crash”. There’s no word on the plot, but with Moffat scripting, no matter how short this piece is, it'll no doubt rock the TARDIS.

The first such story, “The Three Doctors”, came around in 1973 to celebrate Who's 10th Anniversary. It's really more like the “The Two ½ Doctors”, as Doctor #1, William Hartnell, was so ill by that point that his appearance was reduced to the actor appearing on a video screen and reading his lines off cue cards. Nevertheless, the verbal sparring between Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee was a delight to behold as was the numerous companions’ reactions to having to deal with two Time Lords: Jo Grant (Katy Manning) was unaware of the Doctor’s regenerative abilities, while The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and Sgt. Benton (John Levene) had both first met the Doctor in his second incarnation, so for them it was a reunion in addition to being a predicament. The story involves the Time Lord planet Gallifrey being plunged into peril by a renegade Time Lord named Omega, and Docs Two & Three must travel to a universe made of anti-matter to stop him. It’s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes, but much of the production looks cheap compared to many of the stories of the era and the less said about Omega’s anti-matter blob monsters the better.

For the show’s 20th Anniversary, producer John Nathan-Turner unveiled “The Five Doctors”…which was really more like “The Three Doctors” (not the story mentioned above). William Hartnell had passed away ages before, so Nathan-Turner hired Richard Hurndall to play the First Doctor. Granted, Hurndall looked enough like Hartnell and played the part fairly well…but ultimately there was no substitute for the real deal. Next problem? Tom Baker (Doc #4) opted not to take part in the special, which led to script revisions and the Fouth Doctor’s presence reduced to a couple recycled scenes from his never-completed story “Shada”.

So this left Troughton, Pertwee and the then current Doctor, Davison, as the only “real” Doctors in the five Doc celebration. Luckily the story also brought back companions/actors from every era of the series as well as a number of villains. Again the story revolves around Gallifrey, only this time the bulk of the action takes place on the planet itself as the various Doctors and companions scramble around trying to figure out why they’ve all been brought there. It’s a goofy story with a threadbare plot meant as nothing more than a excuse to bring all these elements together for 90 minutes. If you’re looking for good storytelling you won’t find it here, but slickly produced nostalgia runneth amuck.

In 1985, Nathan-Turner again produced a multi-Doc tale entitled “The Two Doctors”, and this time, thankfully, there are two Docs on hand -- no more, no less. Patrick Troughton returned yet again for this lengthy story (3 episodes at 45 min. each) that reunited him with Frazer Hines’ Jamie McCrimmon and introduced him to Sixth Doc Colin Baker and his companion Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant). The story pokes a few holes in Who continuity, but is mostly an engaging yarn involving genetic manipulation, crossed time streams and humans as food (yes, you read that right) as well as a fair amount of location work in Seville. The Docs are kept apart for the bulk of the story and don’t actually meet until Episode Three, but when they do the pair get on like a TARDIS on fire and Troughton, aside from a grayer mop of hair, seems as if he never left the role. If you want to bask in a fun meeting of Doctors, this is the most engaging entry of the three.

The last time various Docs appeared in the same story was in 1993’s “Dimensions in Time”, which, like the upcoming special, was done for Children in Need. It’s quite frankly a dreadful two-part bit of nonsense that runs of all of 13 minutes and crams as many classic elements into that time frame. Moffat should have no problem topping the “Dimensions” script and the production team should find it just as easy to outdo the last multi-Doc entry. Davison looks great in the publicity shots, given that he last played the Doctor on-screen in 1984 when he was 33 – a younger man than Tennant is currently. Today Davison is 56 years young and while his hairline may have receded slightly and voice become somewhat more gravelly, he’ll no doubt do as wonderful a job at convincing viewers that he’s still the Doctor, as Troughton did back in ’85.

Discover Peter Davison as the Doctor for yourself by checking out either “Earthshock” or “The Caves of Androzani” (his final outing) on R1 DVD. Two new Davison-era DVDs will be hitting shelves on Nov. 6th – “Time-Flight” and “Arc of Infinity” (which saw the return of Omega from “The Three Doctors”). All three of the aforementioned multi-Doc stories are also available on R1 DVD.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Criminal Minds - The Second Season

CBS has, in recent years, been incredibly successful with its crime shows, so unless that’s your kind of thing, it’d be easy to write off Criminal Minds as just another one of the pack. Crime procedurals aren’t my bag by a mile, and yet there’s something about Criminal Minds that fascinates. It centers on the Behavioral Analysis Unit (the “BAU”) of the FBI, and each week it’s their job to get inside the heads of unsavory criminal types and stop them before they strike again…which often doesn’t happen, as many a death occurs on their watch before apprehending or taking out the “unsub.” The easiest way to describe it is as the TV series version of Silence of the Lambs, and it’s almost as grisly.

Read the rest of the gory details over at Bullz-Eye by clicking here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Biggest Finish Yet

There are a lot of things to admire about Doctor Who’s audacious third season finale, “Last of the Time Lords." There are also quite a few things that many seem to hate. I’d argue that the episode's greatest strength resides in its central villain, the Master (John Simm). For the first time in three seasons, the story ends not with the Doctor battling a race of robotic soldiers, but rather with him squaring off against one man with a face and a personality...and that one man is one twisted bastard.

Read the rest of this piece by clicking here to chain yourself up at The House Next Door.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sontaran Redux

The official Doctor Who website has confirmed the return of the Sontarans for Series Four. This is very cool news.

Forget the Daleks and the Cybermen - I've always been a slave to the Sontarans. It's a peculiar love because they only ever appeared in four stories and only one of those stories deserves the label of great: "The Time Warrior", which was also their introductory story, as well as being the tale that introduced a certain Sarah Jane Smith. (Although I do have a great deal of affection for the flawed yet entertaining "The Two Doctors", which marked the Sontarans final screen appearance.)

The thing I always liked about the Sontarans was that unlike the pepperpots and silver beasties, they had personality (mildly odd for a race of clone warriors). They were always pissed off and defending their honor. As with all of the returning baddies to the new series, I'm sure RTD & his cohorts have something revisionist in mind for these guys, but hopefully they retain their Grimace-like look alongside their inherent pissed-offness. They're off to an interesting start with the casting of Christopher Ryan as the Sontaran leader. Most cool people remember Ryan as Mike from The Young Ones.

Me? Not so much because I'm so uncool and was never a big Young Ones fan. He always amused me most as Marshall, Edina's first husband in Absolutely Fabulous, who was always hopelessly clueless and endlessly chasing some nebulous Hollywood deal. Ryan's an odd choice for this part since he's mostly thought of as a comic talent, but I look forward to seeing what he's gonna do with it. It says a lot that they've cast an "actor" rather than a guy to fit inside a costume.

Boston Legal - Season Three

James Spader, much to the ire of Sopranos fans (and to the surprise of Spader himself), just won his third Emmy for portraying defense attorney Alan Shore. I’ve been a Spader fan since Pretty in Pink, turning fanatic circa sex, lies and videotape, but due to a loathing for creator David E. Kelley’s Ally McBeal, I never gave Boston Legal much of a chance ‘til this DVD set. Whether James S. or James G. deserved the Emmy is worth debating (I could have the argument with myself), but based on the 24 episodes presented here, Spader definitely delivered an Emmy-worthy season of performances. Now I can stop bitching about his need to return to his movie roots and enjoy his work on Boston Legal’s upcoming season.

To read the rest of my review of the Boston Legal Season Three DVD set, click here and visit Bullz-Eye.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Master Disaster

It’s difficult to discuss Doctor Who's penultimate Season Three installment, “The Sound of Drums”, without also talking about the events of the episode that follows it. It (ideally) leaves the viewer slack-jawed and mumbling stuff like, “Well, I’m gonna have to see what happens next week.” Regardless, I’ll attempt to do my best to pretend I’ve never seen the season finale and discuss these events in a broader picture.

Wanna know more about the Master? Then click here and read the rest at The House Next Door.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Mastery of Time Travel

If “Blink” was the perfect standalone episode of Doctor Who, then “Utopia” is just the opposite. To get what’s going on here, one must be well versed in the lore of the new series, otherwise the entire affair will seem a jumbled mess. Familiarity with the old series is either a huge bonus or a detriment, depending on how willing you are to accept some bold Who revisionism. “Utopia” is also the unbilled Part One of Season Three’s three-part finale. Get onboard now or forego watching the rest of the season until DVD.

The Doctor: “You two! We’re at the end of universe, right? Right at the edge of knowledge itself and you’re busy…blogging!”

Read the rest of this piece by clicking here to materialize over at The House Next Door.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman - Season One

It’s a genuinely cool feeling when a TV show that looked uninteresting upon first glance turns out to be a major winner. Such is the case with IFC’s The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman.

Frankly, the show could potentially look uninteresting in numerous ways, but, for me, it was mostly due to its L.A./Hollywood-based setting, an environment that’s starting to seem awfully repetitive in the current TV climate. (Surely a list of examples isn’t necessary?) But a show about “the Biz” doesn’t have to be an exercise in more of the same, and Jackie Woodman seems to relish skewering the Hollywood underbelly in ways that make it a major accomplishment. (Sorry. It had to be done).

Read the rest of the review over at Bullz-Eye.

Desperate Housewives - Season Three

After a fairly lackluster Season Two, Desperate Housewives creator and showrunner Marc Cherry must’ve known that the third season of his hit series needed to kick some serious suburban hiney.

Cherry’s ace in hole comes in the unlikely form of dentist Orson Hodge (Kyle MacLachlan). Hodge was initially introduced toward the end of Season Two, where the guy lurked in the shadows and, in the finale, ran over Mike Delfino (James Denton), plunging the hunky plumber into a coma. MacLachlan returns with full-time cast member status in Season Three, and Orson quickly proposes to and marries Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross). But when it’s revealed that Orson may have murdered his first wife, the union gets off to a shaky start.

Read the rest of the breakdown over at Bullz-Eye.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"The angels have the phone box"

Is it possible that “Blink” is the greatest Doctor Who episode ever created? Maybe. But it’s even more probable that “Blink” is such a fine piece of sci-fi/horror that it deserves to stand on its own, outside the larger canon of the series.

If I were going to introduce someone to Doctor Who for the first time, it would be tempting to show them “Blink” -- and yet it would be unfair to do that because they might think the series is something other than what it is. If “Blink” is the greatest installment of Who, then what does that say about the show, given that the Doctor is in it for it all of six or seven minutes?

Whatever you do, be sure to read the rest of this piece over at The House Next Door.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Columbo Mystery Movie Collection (1989)

If you’re unfamiliar with Peter Falk’s iconic L.A. detective, Lt. Columbo, one thing you need to know is that it isn’t like other crime shows. Each installment begins with a fairly lengthy setup (at least 20 minutes) that shows exactly whodunnit, howdunnit and whydunnit. Then Falk’s scruffy, cigar-chomping, raincoat-wearing central character shows up to solve the crime. Since the viewer already knows the sordid details, the fun of Columbo is in watching Falk piece together clues and outwit the killer, which he accomplishes by leading the suspect to believe he’s an irritating boob who shouldn’t be taken even remotely seriously. No matter how many times the formula’s played, it’s always a pleasure seeing him take down the bad guy. Indeed, most of the villains even seem to have a sort of respect for the lieutenant after having been outmaneuvered by him.

Read the rest of my first TV on DVD review for Bullz-Eye.com by clicking here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

This Doctor Who entry has no title

Before moving on to more important issues, let’s talk scarecrows. This two-parter has so much going on that these creatures of nightmare almost get lost in the shuffle. The fact that they end up taking a backseat to the numerous other elements is a testament to the strength of the tale, as in any other story they’d be the standout. But the scarecrows serve a potent function – they exist to turn the schoolboys into men. The boys are learning to fight should a war arise (which it will), yet they’ve experienced little more than target practice. When the scarecrows in “The Family of Blood” attack, the boys are called to serve. The sequence is a brilliant Doctor Who twist (one in a tale with many). Because the show is geared toward a family audience, the boys could never engage in a bloodbath involving other humans or even living, breathing alien lifeforms…but scarecrows? They’re made of straw, do not bleed and as presented here, have a questionable “existence”. That doesn’t stop director Charles Palmer from staging the scene as if they’re as real as you and me.

You didn’t come here to read about scarecrows, did you?

Read the rest of my longest Doctor Who recap yet by clicking here and visiting The House Next Door.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

John Cusack: "I've made ten good films"


According to the TaiPei Times, John Cusack says, "I've made 10 good films".

His list? The Sure Thing, Eight Men Out, Say Anything, The Grifters, Bullets Over Broadway, Grosse Pointe Blank, The Thin Red Line, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity & Max and apparently 1408. (So it's actually 11 films, I guess.)

So I'm calling out to all the John Cusack fans and/or haters. What's missing from his list? What has no business being there?

Guess which two I think are missing? And should it be considered odd that he doesn't count Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as one of his best? (I'm not saying it is, just that it's strange he doesn't think so.)

People who suggest Must Love Dogs should be in the JC Top Ten are welcome to wait outside.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bein' a Dick

So what the fuck is Andy Dick’s problem anyway? Lately this guy’s been in the news more often than the lovely-and-IMHO-far-too-frequently-picked-on Lindsay Lohan. But with this cat, it’s always some obnoxious social faux pas travesty mixed with a healthy dose of freakshow. I’ve got nothing against Andy Dick and admit to actually enjoying the weirdness he adds to a Comedy Central Roast...but many people would be locked away in an institution for these types of ongoing shenanigans.

From CNN.com:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- David Stroupe said it was one of the worst experiences with a performer in the history of the Funny Bone Comedy Club.

He was referring to Andy Dick, a former co-star on the 1990s sitcom "NewsRadio," who appeared at the Funny Bone last weekend.

Stroupe, the club's managing partner, said the 41-year-old actor-comedian made inappropriate comments while on stage, groped patrons, took women into the men's room and urinated on the floor and on at least one person.

A limousine driver was to meet Dick early Monday morning at a hotel near the club, Stroupe said, but he couldn't be found and missed that morning's flight to Los Angeles.

Dick was across town, where he was issued a citation for urinating on the sidewalk by Columbus policeman John Fantin. Police eventually escorted Dick back to the hotel, Stroupe said.


So I ask again, what the fuck is wrong with Andy Dick?

A. He’s trying to live up to his last name.
B. He’s socially retarded and just doesn’t know any better.
C. Drugs and/or alcohol abuse.
D. Tourette’s?
E. He hates Hollywood and the way the machine operates, so he’s trying to break it down.
F. Between Roasts, he crafts inventive techniques for keeping Dick in the public eye.
G. It’s just good ol' fashioned performance art on a grand, tasteless scale.
H. All of the above.
I. Some of the above[1].
J. None of the above[1].

[1] If you chose "I" or "J", please elaborate on what the fuck Andy Dick’s deal is in the comments section below[2].

[2] If you are Andy Dick, please contact me so we can arrange an interview to get to the bottom of what the fuck is going on with you...over the phone, of course. I could probably handle a quick grope, but I gave up the golden showers thing years ago.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tennant Goes All Shakespeare

Updated!

Outpost Gallifrey is reporting the following:

The Royal Shakespeare Company have announced their 2008 line-up, which features David Tennant in two roles.

From July 24th until November 15th 2008, Tennant will be starring in the title role in Hamlet, alongside Patrick Stewart playing Claudius. Fans of the new series will also be excited to note that from October 2nd until November 15th 2008, Tennant will be playing Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost. Love's Labour's Lost was a major plot point in Series 3 episode The Shakespeare Code.


This tells me one of two things: David Tennant will not be playing the Doctor in Doctor Who Season/Series Five or that Season Five is going to be delayed for a year or longer. The rehearsal & performance periods for those shows would conflict far too heavily with DW's shooting schedule, which always starts in late July/early August.

Now all that said -- the Doctor and Picard!!! Blimey.

Update!

The BBC Press Office issued the following statement today:

After months of media speculation, BBC One can confirm that the Bafta-award winning Doctor Who will return for a fifth series in spring 2010.

Viewers are in for a treat this Christmas, as a special episode starring David Tennant and Kylie Minogue will be broadcast on BBC One in December 2007. Series four, which went into production in July 2007, will hit UK screens in spring 2008 with a special episode for Christmas 2008.

In 2009, Doctor Who will return with three specials starring David Tennant, with Head Writer, Russell T Davies. The full length fifth series will transmit in 2010.

Vacancy

Vacancy, the new romantic comedy from foreigner Nimr√≥d Antal, isn’t quite as romantic as the ads might lead you to believe. What’s being billed as something of a cozy late night getaway between a married couple (Luke Wilson & Kate Beckinsale), actually falls more on the side of a Lifetime movie. David & Amy Fox have recently lost their child in some horrible “disease of the week” kind of affair, and in an effort to rejuvenate the waning passion of their relationship, they decide to take a trip to the idyllic countryside.

Out in the sticks, they find numerous pleasant distractions including -- but not limited to -- a kindly, flirtatious motel manager (Frank Whaley) who begins to court Amy. A jealous David seeks solace in their room’s erotic video collection. Before long there’s much dashing about and David much choose his wife or porn and Amy must choose true love or flowery romance. Vacancy seems to be headed for obvious reconciliation -- however the ending is more of surprise than I signed on for. Highlight the following for a massive spoiler: The Foxes split up at the end!

The Foxes are very likable characters and although the actors have some wonderful chemistry, ultimately I began to tire of their madcap brand of sweetness – farce and romance can be mixed successfully (Coupling always does it well), but you can’t throw a deceased child into the mix and have it comedically play out. It just doesn’t work. Whaley in particular was far too nice of a man and I really felt sorry for what happens to the guy as he was deserving of love. While the videos David watches in the room (repeatedly) definitely got me hot and bothered (heck, it’s almost worth recommending the movie just for those sequences alone), they really had no place in a PG-13 rated film such as this one (nor did Luke Wilson's ass). On the plus side, the script offers up quite a bit of sparkling dialogue and the wit is of a near "Three Stoogesque" caliber. And if you’re looking for a satisfying ending, Vacancy has not just one or two rooms open for business, but the entire motel.



This was The Rued Morgue's (belated) contribution to Lazy Eye Theatre's Bizarro Blog-a-thon.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"How about a little fire, Scarecrow?"

“Human Nature” has myriad fascinating aspects marking it, but one of the most noteworthy is that it’s the first televised Doctor Who story based on a book. Paul Cornell’s Human Nature was published in 1995 as part of Virgin’s New Adventures series, and it quickly became the standard by which all other Who novels would be measured. The book featured the Seventh Doctor altering his DNA so as to better understand the suffering of his companion Bernice, who in the previous novel had lost someone dear to her. The TV adaptation, also written by Cornell (“Father’s Day”) shakes the premise up a bit and finds the Doctor and Martha on the run from a vicious group of aliens, but the lyrical song remains the same.

Become a human being by clicking here to read the rest of this piece at The House Next Door.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Heat is On

“42” seems to have a few elements working against it: It’s highly reminiscent of “The Impossible Planet”/“The Satan Pit” from Season Two. It coincidentally echoes the movie Sunshine (which was released some time after this was scripted & shot). It spews rapid-fire technobabble that’s nearly impossible to keep up with. Yet it’s got a massive positive: Its real-time countdown gives it an entertaining, gut-wrenching urgency, so the negatives don’t really matter.

Read the rest of this piece by lighting up over at The House Next Door.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Curry Turkey Mac & Cheese

If you're tired of the same old Mac & Cheese, try this spin on the tried & true standard.

Ingredients:

1 box of Mac & Cheese (standard 7.25 oz. size)
1/4 cup of Milk
1/4 cup of Butter or Margarine
8 oz. of Ground Turkey
Curry powder of your choice to taste

Fry the ground turkey until nicely browned in a skillet, while you boil your water for the macaroni. Prepare the macaroni as directed on the box, except for one thing: When combining the boiled macaroni with the milk, butter and cheese mix, ALWAYS put the milk in last. There's nothing worse than that cold splash of milk to interfere with the creamiest cheese mixture possible. Also, since we're adding turkey & curry powder to the standard mac & cheese recipe, it doesn't hurt to put just a little extra milk and butter into the mixture.

Now that your mac and cheese is done, add in the fried ground turkey (hopefully you turned it off some time ago, otherwise it's likely burned to a crisp). Stir vigorously!

Lastly, it's time to add in the curry. Today I used Sharwood's Hot Curry Powder, but only you can know which curry works best for your taste buds. I recommend between one and two Tablespoons, but again, add it to taste. I'm of the mind that one can almost never OD on curry powder, but that's just me.

Try messing around with this recipe; ground beef can be substituted for the turkey, or indeed no meat need be used at all. Curry is the perfect addition to mac & cheese - a lot of people just don't know it yet.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Charlie Goes to Candy Mountain

I guess this little piece of animated bliss has been around for some time, yet it falls squarely under the heading "Hey it was new to me!" (Thanks to Jake for exposing me to it.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Elevator Killer

Surely many people will have far more profound things to say about the passing of Merv Griffin than I. But one cannot be a devotee of The Man With Two Brains without recognizing his contribution to the film as well as his willingness to self-parody.

Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr: "You! You're the elevator killer. Merv Griffin?"
Merv Griffin: "Yeah."
Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr: "Why?"
Merv Griffin: "I don't know. I've always just loved to kill. I really enjoyed it. But then I got famous, and - it's just too hard for me. And so many witnesses. I mean, everybody recognized me. I couldn't even lurk anymore. I'd hear, 'Who's that lurking over there? Isn't that Merv Griffin?' So I came to Europe to kill. And it's really worked out very well for me."

Bonded Together

Jeffrey at Liverputty has sorta been my unofficial partner in crime (or at least my biggest supporter) in the 007 on '007 series. (Yes, another entry is being prepared for those of you who are still interested [it certainly won't be aimed at those who aren't].)

One area of James Bond where Jeffrey outclasses me on every level is in his knowledge of Fleming's books. Recently he was interviewed by the blog Notes of Interest about his feelings on All Things Bond. His opinions are well worth checking out, so please do.

Jeffrey and I are on somewhat different ends of the political spectrum, and yet I find it heartwarmingly reassuring that we most always agree on what makes Bond tick. Or maybe that's just the vodka talking...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

It’d be all too easy to write off “The Lazarus Experiment” as Season Three’s transitional episode, because, like “The Long Game” and “The Idiot’s Lantern” before it, that’s exactly what it is. Unlike the previous two outings, however, this has a firm grasp on what a transitional episode can really be. “Lazarus” shows obvious signs that the season is actually headed somewhere. Its strength lies not in its plot (which appears deceptively simple), but in its approach to character. Best example? Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) finally struts some serious companion wares and all of a sudden her chasing around of the Doctor (David Tennant) makes a lot more sense.

Fuck up your genetic code by clicking here to read the rest of this piece at The House Next Door.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Little Destruction

If you don’t own Life's Little Destruction Book, you should. It’ll make you feel better about committing those little social faux pas -- or even really big ones. Its tagline is “512 boorish, insensitive and socially obnoxious pointers for leading a simple, self-centered life.” It was intended as a parody of the similarly titled Instruction Book (which only offered 511 pointers), but there are some of us who discovered this text to be far more profound. Here are some of those pointers:

Never tip more than a quarter.

Take the hotel towel.

Help fools part with their money.

Let everyone know how hard you work.

If the mistake is in your favor, don't correct it.

Misquote.
(That one’s great for bloggers.)

Tell the ending of movies. (So’s that one.)

Give little kids clothes for their birthdays.

Add insult to injury.

Develop a convenient memory.

Touch strangers.

Sneer at people who try hard.
(Again, Blogger 101.)

Dish it out, but don't take it.

Develop a truly tasteless foul mouth.


I’m real fond of that last one, and recklessly embrace it if I’ve had a few drinks in a public place. You can read more of these tips by clicking here or you could just go buy the book...although in doing so you may be breaking one of the rules.

One great pointer (though I rarely abide by it as I've learned the fallout can be hell) is "Pass the vicious rumors along". Admittedly, this isn't all that vicious -- hell, it isn't vicious at all -- but it is a rumor and one that's got me stoked about Doctor Who Season Four: The Sun reports that Ben Kingsley is close to signing on as the Dalek creator, Davros. One thing that cracks me up about the Sun piece is their observation of the irony of “Gandhi playing Davros”. Good lord! As if Kingsley hasn’t played one bastard after another since 1982. Man, it’s what the guy’s good at! Does anybody really still think of him as Gandhi!?! His career since has been so anti-Gandhi. Maybe he feels playing Davros will forever wash away that stink?

As I recently wrote at The House Next Door, we’re all suffering from Dalek fatigue at this point -- but much like in the classic series, the one surefire way to overcome that is to introduce Davros. Davros entered the series in 1975’s "Genesis of the Daleks", and his introduction was revisionism of sorts whereas the Daleks were concerned (he'd never been mentioned before). It mattered not. Davros was ruthless, witty, cold and always able to engage in some sort of theological discussion that not only mesmerized the Doctor but also made his blood boil. His presence so overshadowed his creations that he featured to some degree or another in every subsequent Dalek story -- which was actually only five tales including his intro. (Back then, the Doctor didn’t meet the Daleks every season, just every few years.) Many complained the Daleks took a back seat to their creator (a valid criticism), but from a dramatic standpoint, one Davros was ten times more stimulating than a fleet of Daleks. He owned a copy of and lived by Life's Little Destruction Book.

Russell T Davies has done a sterling job of reinventing the Daleks (even if every outing hasn’t been stellar), and with the idea of the Cult of Skaro, he’s come close to replicating the Davros vibe. Close, I say, but not close enough. If he intends to reintroduce the mad genius one can only imagine the villainous reinvention he’ll have in store for the character, and Ben Kingsley is a superb choice for the job. I’d heard through the grapevine before this casting rumor that Kingsley is indeed a fan, so perhaps it’s genuine. The last time I wrote of a Who rumor via the Sun it was about Kylie Minogue’s appearance in the upcoming Christmas special and that turned out to be true. (Granted, the same article claimed Woody Allen would play Einstein and that, at least so far, hasn’t come to pass).

But it’s hard to imagine Kingsley signing on to play the part under the heavy makeup Davros requires. Is it possible Davies might unveil a "Genesis of Davros" storyline? Perhaps a story leading up to the nuclear devastation that nearly wiped the Kaleds and the Thals off the face of Skaro? See, Davros wasn’t always so hideous; he went through an Anakin Skywalkerish-type of literal meltdown, which is how he came to be a disfigured invalid. Terry Nation, the true creator of the Daleks, left the Davros/Dalek history open enough for it to be played with...and obviously Davies loves to play. One area that seems difficult to play with, however, would be the Doctor meeting Davros for the first time, as those events are clearly shown in "Genesis of the Daleks". But then again, you’ll not find me being such the fanboy stickler that I’d heavily criticize Davies for fudging that in some manner if it made for an engaging story. If the Daleks are to return next season, they’d better damn well be packing a dramatic punch, and there's likely no better punch than Davros.

If you’re new to Who, I highly recommend tracking down the DVD of "Genesis of the Daleks". It’s Who/Dalek/Davros 101 and one of the greatest Doctor Who social allegories ever written. But you’re sick of Daleks, right? The good news is it barely features them and focuses far more on their creator as well as the ongoing war between the two aforementioned races who coexist on Skaro (hence the title). Terry Nation, who’d been cranking out Dalek stories since 1963, was at the top of his game and just a few years later he unveiled what was to be his television masterpiece: Blake’s 7. (Someday soon I'm gonna write about B7...)

By the way, it's pronounced "DAV-ross".

Friday, August 03, 2007

Devolution

Early in "Evolution of the Daleks," the episode’s greatest moment occurs: Two of the Daleks meet in the sewer to discuss recent developments of their fearless leader, Sec.

Dalek #1: “Request information. What is your opinion of Dalek Sec?”
Dalek #2: “We were created to follow him!”
Dalek #1: “But..you..have…doubts?”

At which point Dalek #2’s “head” swivels around, and looks over its shoulder(?) to make sure they aren’t being watched and that no one is eavesdropping! The head swivels back to address Dalek #1.

Dalek #2: “Affirmative.”

The first time I saw this bit, I rewound it three times just to make sure I actually saw what I thought I’d seen, as well as to bask in it. See, a million Daleks flying through space or the sky can be great fun, but this is unprecedented defined. It’s funny, weird and mildly disturbing all at once and it shows the difference between the Cult of Skaro and all Daleks that came before them. They’re thinkers, doers and plotters with personality, and it's that moment that's a big factor in what makes this Dalek two-parter a cut above the pepperpot fold.

To read the rest of this piece, initiate emergency temporal shift by clicking here to visit The House Next Door.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Biggest (Non)Secret I've Had to Keep in Ages...

...is that



IS...



Good thing the cat's now officially out of the bag. Now I can ramble on and on about Jackie Earle Haley playing Rorschach in Zack Snyder's upcoming adaptation of Watchmen. Oddly, at the moment, I've got nothing to say except that it rocks.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who's McHale?

Someday I wanna make a list of celebrities who’ve “admitted” to loving Doctor Who. The Brits on the list wouldn’t be quite as impressive, because in a lot of ways, they’re a given. Last week I met Joel McHale of E’s The Soup and I don’t recall how Who came up, but he immediately confessed rabid adoration for the show – especially the classic series (weird, huh?). He gave me permission to spread it out amongst the world, so that’s what I’m doing. A quick look at Joel’s IMDB page reveals that he’s a mere 6 days younger than me. Maybe we went through the same teenage Who experiences? I wonder if some asshole on the school bus ever grabbed his novelization of "The Five Doctors" and waved it around, threatening to throw it out the window (as high school jock dickheads like to do)? This has nothing to do with "Daleks in Manhattan" -- but the recap needs some padding since it's Part One of Two, and it seemed a more interesting intro than rehashing the finer details of those metallic bastards from Skaro.

To read the rest of this piece, click here and order a Manhattan over at The House Next Door.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Monk, The Bobblehead

Meet the Adrian Monk bobblehead.

Monk rocks, right? It's one of the coolest, easy series unleashed in recent years. If you follow the formula, you don't have to tune in every single week. Monk shows up and solves the mystery. Sometimes we're in on whodunnit; sometimes not. Either way the show entertains mostly due to its cast and the writers' manner of deftly shoehorning each character into the plot.

None of this justifies the bobblehead looking nothing like Tony Shalhoub. But in defense of the sculptor, he may very well have too intricate a face for a bobblehead. Sure, it wants to be Shalhoub, but it is not.

To me, it looks like someone else...specifically. Curious if anyone else hones in on what I did (assuming my photo does the sculpture justice).

Hint: Remove the curly hair and focus on the face.

By the way, does anyone have any ideas as to the strength of the Bobblehead Culture? Why is it so prevalent? Why do these doodads keep getting made? I've pondered purchasing numerous characters, but have yet to find one that meets my standards. Do you own a bobblehead, and if so, which one? (Monk was a freebie, FYI.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michael Tolliver Lives

“Maupin denies that this is the seventh volume of his beloved Tales of the City, but – happily – that’s exactly what it is…” -- Publisher’s Weekly

The above quote is on the back of the dust cover for Michael Tolliver Lives, the latest work from Armistead Maupin. After reading the book, I’m in agreement with both Maupin and Publisher’s Weekly. Yes, it chronicles the same characters as the Tales of the City series, but unlike the previous six Tales books, Lives is told in the first person -- a marked departure and it gives Maupin's universe a new texture. Michael Tolliver Lives could have been whorishly titled Tales of the City: The Next Generation; you need no knowledge of the previous works in order to get it. The book takes place in the present, yet it’s been 18 years since we’ve visited these characters. While they’ve moved with and been affected by the times (alas, 28 Barbary Lane is mostly a distant memory), Michael, Brian Hawkins and Mrs. Madrigal are still the same people we love -- and yes, they still get high.

Maupin has stated that the numerous Tales characters are various sides of himself, yet Michael's clearly the closest to the real man. While reading the latest installment, I gradually found it impossible to separate Michael from Maupin (much like Gabriel Noone in The Night Listener). The two have fused into one, and, like a closeted gay man finally coming out, it’s refreshing to see Armistead embracing his fictitious alter ego as the straightest route to saying what’s got to be said. An aspect of Maupin’s writing that’s always been appealing is that his stories don’t depend on gay culture, but rather truthfully showcase it as part of the bigger world. This sounds so politically incorrect, but the new book is really gay for the first 3 or 4 chapters. It was almost off-putting until I just said to myself, “Hey dickhead -- Michael’s telling this story. He’s [now] a 55-year old homosexual. What other point of view should he have?” (And it was right around this point that Brian Hawkins, my favorite Tales resident, showed up.)

Michael’s seen it all. He’s fictionally been witness and party to every change and movement in gay culture since he was created in 1974. I once lovingly labelled Soap's Jodie Dallas "the worst homosexual ever created"; if that's so, Michael's the greatest. (Odd that the two were "born" only a few years apart.) The title Michael Tolliver Lives seems awkward, yet via Maupin's prose it becomes ideal. As characters go, Michael’s been in limbo since 1987, so yeah, he fucking lives once again -- sorta like Superman without the cape and tights. If I made a list of my gay friends, Michael would be the only person on it that doesn’t really exist – we're that close.

So what’s the book about? Love, family, honesty, forgiveness and just being there for people. In addition to those we already know, Maupin unveils a whole new set of characters that will undoubtedly resurface in his next book. One young lady is a hugely popular sex blogger; another individual seems ideally suited to carry the torch of Mrs. Madrigal should something ever happen to her (perish the thought, but she is 83 at this point). Michael's ultra-right wing Christian brother Irwin and his Jesus-freak wife Lenore are two standouts. Everything there is to dislike about Bible-thumpers can be found in the pair, but Maupin's a classy enough guy to give them sympathetic sides as well. They've got their beliefs, but Michael is family and a constant reminder that the world is a more complex tapestry than their views should allow. I was set to loathe these people, but Maupin, devil that he is, made me love them for their faults.

Reading Maupin is an effortless endeavor -- the guy just knows how to economically and entertainingly tell a story. Lives is a swift read that alternates between raunchy and sweet. It presents wry commentary, laugh-out loud observations and touching familial friction (Michael’s visit with his dying mother brought me to tears). There’s even his trademark Hitchcockian twist as the book nears the finish line when a buried secret rears its ugly head. Although not as “big” as say, Rev. Jim Jones’ appearance in Further Tales, it’s still pretty big as far as the novel’s concerned. When asked, “What’s next?” in a recent interview the writer fessed up: “Another book about the Tales characters. I've lived in that world for 30 years, even when I was writing non-Tales books. Whatever I have to offer seems to come through those characters, and I see no reason to abandon them.”

New Maupin is always a reason for celebration. Maybe I sound like I’ve been a fan since 1974; someone who’s accompanied him on this rewarding journey since the beginning…but that would require me to have been a very progressive 3-year old. Like many, I discovered his work back in ’94, through the PBS miniseries adaptation of the first Tales of the City book, and I’ve been a devotee ever since. While he can hardly be described as prolific (9 books over 30+ years), Armistead’s like the gay Kubrick of narrative fiction: You might not get much, but what you do get is always rich and special. What would Michael Tolliver Lives be like as an introduction to the Tales universe -- to read this text first and then go back and discover the finer details of these characters' pasts? You know -- in a Darth Vadery/Anakin Skywalkery sorta way. If Armistead were here right now, I’d ask him to craft the perfect gay lightsaber joke as an ending to the piece. I'd repay him by suggesting that he sell T-Shirts on his website proclaiming "There is no fifth destination". After reading the book, you'll want one.



* * *


The following paragraph contains spoilers that will mostly affect long-term Maupin fans. So if you know your Tales, you shouldn’t read it before reading Michael Tolliver Lives (but do come back afterwards!). If, on the other hand, you’re a Tales virgin, it probably won’t matter much one way or the other. Highlight the below text:

One of the most surprising aspects of Lives is the reappearance of Mary Ann Singleton (now Caruthers) near the book’s close. Mary Ann, for the uninitiated, was basically the central character of the first three Tales novels. As the series progressed, there was less emphasis on her and by the final volume, Sure of You, she’d become a selfish, career-minded bitch who ended up leaving her family for a job in New York. Maupin’s gotten a lot of shit from people over the years about the development of Mary Ann; he’s often been accused of betraying the character. By the time I hit Sure of You, I looked back and felt she’d been heading down this path from the very beginning. She was an opportunist from the word go and dramatically it made perfect sense. In some ways, Mary Ann was the most real character in the series because she wasn’t a happy ending. In Michael Tolliver Lives, I think Maupin seeks to redeem Mary Ann somewhat, as she begs forgiveness from both Michael and the reader. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not it works, but then again forgiveness is a complex issue. Perhaps this isn't the last we've seen of Mary Ann and he'll expand on the issue(s) in a future book. Her inclusion here is a real treat regardless, as she was the one character I didn’t expect to see again.