Kicked When Down

Well, wasn’t Survivor: Pulau something last night?  What a turn of events, followed by another turn of events.
I am under the impression that, by law, reality show games such as Survivor are supposed to be pre-planned, from start to finish, before the contest starts, so that charges of impropriety and favouritism are more difficult to press.  Last night’s change from the ordinary made me wonder whether that was planned before the game started, or whether it was a made-up-on-the-spot effort to get force the Unbeatable Team to lose a member.
Whatever the answer, it made for one of the better episodes of Survivor that I’d seen.  The Reward Challenge was for the reward of food, but, it was revealed, the winning tribe of the challenge would, as would the losing tribe, have to vote out one of its members.  What!!!???!!!  How is that fair?  What is the justification for that?  Excellent!!!  But that wasn’t the only surprise.  The members of the winning tribe, after voting out their member (good riddance, Willard, boring Willard), were then told that they were to each vote to give immunity to one of the members of the losing tribe.  What???!!!???  A second surprise??  Excellent!!!  This of course resulted in the guy, Ibrahim, who was 100% destined to leave getting immunity.  Who would they vote out now?  How would they be able to confer?

And what a humiliating and tough day for the losing tribe (is it Ulong?).  Not only do they lose a challenge that they had come close to winning, but they must suffer the indignity of having the other tribe witness their tribal council, and the even worse indignity of seeing the other team eat delicious bowls of beef stew while they sit, stewing in their own patheticness.  Then the final kick is that the satiated winning team gets to screw up their plan of voting out Ibrahim.  Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick.  Frazier Goes Down!!!  Frazier Goes Down!!!
In the end, the Pathetic Tribe votes out the much-tattooed- and-therefore-much-more-ugly- because-of-the-tattoos Angie.  Apparently because she didn’t like being lost in the jungle during a lightning storm???   I guess the fact that she was one of the strongest and most consistent challenge performers on the team wasn’t relevant anymore.  Probably because the members of the team has likely given up the concept of "tribe" by now and are thinking about how they each can manage to survive whenever a merging of tribes takes place.  Their weak will now eat their strong.

Anyway, a good season of Survivor got even better last night.  Way to take everyone out of the usual discomfort zone.

"Homosexuals Are Strong"

So says James, The Southern Redneck on this season’s Survivor.  He had just been bested, twice, by Coby, The Gay Guy in a physical challenge and was humiliated by the defeat.  His rationale in justifying this incredible and surprising affront to his masculinity was that it makes sense because homosexuals go to the gym a lot and work out, so of course they are strong.  As I watched that, I imagined civilised southerns just shaking their head and silently cursing him for squirting such a huge stream of Ignorant Brand Lighter Fluid to the Stereotype Barbecue.
Then, on The Apprentice, the Stereotype Barbecue kept on burnin’ as John (the Vince Vaughan of this season’s group) seemingly went out of his way to cook Male Chauvinist Hot Dogs.  He and a couple of female team-mates were to meet with some Rock Stars and he all but told them to whore themselves up to please the male rockers.  He called one of them “the fluffer”.  I had kind of liked John (much like I like Vince Vaughan) until then, but he lost me with his stupid “women are best when they sell themselves as sex” mentality.  Glad he got fired.  Too bad that Trump seems to share John’s basic philosophy about females in business.
Also on The Apprentice, I must say that George and Carolyn (Trump’s assistants) absolutely rocked in this episode.  George owned the final board meeting. He was fantastic.

Spree-ality TV

Too many reality shows to keep tabs on right now.  I may have to vote one of them off the island.
Here’s my oh-so-important opinion of the current slate that has me in rapt attention:
American Idol – I still don’t know why I watch this show.  It’s young quasi-talented egotists singing songs that I’d never put on my iPod.  Why watch?  It’s not so much for the "you were a bit pitchy but you were a’ight" Randy, dawg.  It’s not for the "your aura was im-magnificantacular, and I love your look, but you have to work on your look, and on how im-magnificantacular your aura is" Paula.  It’s for the "If I was being honest, I would give an opinion that so often is exactly what needs to be said, and that mirrors what Rob thinks" Simon.  I feel like a school girl typing this, but Simon is so right-on so often.  Plus, I watch for the pathetic "my world just ended" dramas that happen every "results show" Wednesday.
Amazing Race 7 – a scant 3 weeks after the end of AR6, it’s back.  Looks like a great bunch of competitors.  I’m surprised that I find myself cheering for Boston Rob and Amber.  I think it’s because so many of the other teams have marked them as the enemy.  They really are a pretty entertaining couple.  I hated to type that.  When did gay boyfriend couples become the joke?  I like them all, except the "Suck it up" guy.  Does anyone else think that the old guy, Meredith (get beat up as a kid much?), look like Larry David when he’s wearing his cap and sunglasses.  Spitting image, I say.  For that reason alone, I cheer him on.  Not so crazy about his wife, whom I’ll dub "Dagnabbit".  Anyone else interesting?  Probably, but not worth mentioning right now.
Survivor – I’m liking the gang they’ve coralled onto the island this time around.  A good bunch of people, all seemingly knowing how the game is played.  Except, you know, for the fact that they all still seem to get upset when they, you know, learn that the people they’ve begun to trust are, like, you know, actually trying to win.  I thought they were all everyone’s friends! 
The Apprentice – I so hate this show.  Arsehole business people doing whatever necessary to kiss the ass of the biggest arsehole around, Donald Trump.  Stupid arseholes who continually let picky picky picky stupid non-game stuff get in the way of their success on the show.  Stupid contests whose results are basically at the whim of the producers so, really, they can pick and choose who goes on and who gets fired.  Contests that are nothing more than advertisements for products.  I so hate this show.  I hate it.  Can’t wait til it’s on again Thursday.  Damn you, Trump.

Developing Arrested Development

This week’s The Onion AV Club has a fantastic interview with Mitchell Hurwitz.  He’s the creator of Arrested Development.  It’s one of the best insights into the work and effort and talent that goes into creating a television sitcom.

The Amazing Race Finally

Well, this season of The Amazing Race winds down on Tuesday, and I must say that I’ve been disappointed in this season’s production:  too many hard-to-distinguish actor/model couples; too many couples who too-easily snap and bitch at each other for silly things; not enough couples to actively cheer for;  too many to actively cheer against;  and a couple so awful that it was no fun to hate them, they were that terrible.  I was also disappointed that the show seemed to turn towards more "Fear Factor" type challenges this time around.  The challenges this season were definitely not the cream of the crop.  And, too much bunching up of teams within episodes.  Too many chance for teams that made mistakes to catch up to the rest, due to everyone having to wait for something to open the next day.
With four teams and one two-hour finale left, here’s what I hope happens:
-I hope Kris and Jon win.  They have been pretty inconspicuous throughout the run, but have time and again, performed well and have continued to be classy and positive and upbeat. 
-I hope that Adam and Rebecca are the next team to fall to the wayside.  I don’t know, honestly, how they are still in the game.  I am so very tired of Adam threatening to quit at every turn.  Before he leaves the show, I hope it is revealed to him that he is gay.  It is important for him to come to terms with that.
-Of the other two remaining teams, Aaron and Hayden and Freddy and Kendra, I would prefer F&K to succeed over the other.  For the longest time, the participants in both couples were interchangable to me, and only in the last two episodes was I able to begin to distinguish between them.  Mostly because I thought Kendra started showing a bit more spunk, making her team the more memorable of the two "actor/model" type teams.  I hope that Hayden gets at least one more chance to bemoan her situation of being immersed in the poverty and lifestyle of another culture.

Go Kris and Jon.

I Wonder, did Jeff Stay Cool?

When Mr.T gives someone props like this, you just have to pay attention:

Jeff was the hippest kid in town.  Ain’t no doubt when Jeff’s around.  With pants pegged tight, and hair and fitness, he’s the 80’s nod to fitness splendour.
Stay Cool, Jeff

And man, can that Jeff dance!  Wonder what he’s doing now?

Monday Morning – To The Keyboards, Canada!

Get ready for it, Canadian SuperBowl fans, because it’s coming.  The annual post-game complaint is nearly upon us.  That complaint?  How come we in Canada aren’t able to see all the SuperBowl-premiered advertisements?  Instead of seeing the premiere of the latest and greatest new SodaPop ad featuring SexySinger, or that hilarious, irreverent new ad from, or the further adventures of the large-hooved alcohol-transporting equine-slaves, we are stuck with countless airings of (at least here in The Maritimes) the ad for The Cunard Restaurant.
Yes, the yearly migration of disappointed Canadian sports and/or advertisement fans to their keyboards is almost here, the time when so many take to their blogs and/or forums to post angry complaints that Global Television has yet again highjacked the American stations carrying the SuperBowl telecast, causing us to miss out on an essential element of SuperBowl Sunday – The New TV ads. 
Since so many will be too incensed to type clearly their displeasure, I offer the following missive, which you may feel free to copy and paste as your own angry diatribe:

This sux!  I watched the Superbowl expecting to see all those cool and funny ads and didn’t get to see many of them at all.  Every station carrying the game was the same channel.  It was all showing Global TV coverage.  What’s up with that?  I’m paying money to get the American stations and the commercials they show too.  But how come I’m getting Global broadcast on the American station?  What a rip!!  I’m gonna complain to my local cable provider and demand that I not pay for the American stations I’m not getting when I should be getting them.  Everybody should write and complain.  I wanted to see what that insurance duck was up to and I get some crappy ad for a local restaurant?  Poison!  I’m never eating there!  That place sux!

I’m Never Watching Global Again!!!1!!!

The Office – American Style

I saw an early copy of the pilot episode of upcoming NBC sitcom The Office.  This is, of course, based on the BBC original, which many, including myself, believe to be the best comedy program ever shown on television.
When I heard that "America" was going to be re-envisioning the series, I immediately thought "well, that’ll suck".  Turns out I was right.
The pilot was pretty bad.  It looks good, and the script is good (basically the same as the first episode of the BBC version, but Americanized), but the acting and direction (barely) miss the mark.  Even though they barely miss, it’s enough to derail the whole thing.
The direction:  It’s supposed to be shot as if it’s a documentary on the goings-on at an paper-supply office.  I noticed that there seemed to be too many cuts and edits between characters in many scenes.  Close up on Character A as he talks, cut to close up on Character B as she responds, cut to a different angle on Character A again.  I began to wonder where all these "documentary cameras’ were.  It really lessens the belief that this is supposed to be documenting the day. 
The BBC version got it right: two camera angles at most for any scene, and cutting between characters was employed sparingly.  The pacing of the show was, not surprisingly, too rushed.  One of the successes of the British original was their willingness to linger on scenes, at both their beginning and end of scenes.  This version cuts to the chase too much.  And even the main content of many of the scenes seems like it’s being rushed through. 
The script for the pilot episode was pretty good, but it ultimately fails because it doesn’t make the boss character (I forget the character’s name in this version, but the David Brent character) vulgar and desperate enough.  Too, he is portrayed more as a simpleton buffoon, whereas the BBC character was a buffoon, but not a simpleton.  I think what makes David Brent such a compelling asshole is that you get a sense that, deep down he knows exactly how pathetic he is.  I didn’t get that feeling at all with this version.  Steve Carrell (formerly of The Daily Show) plays him a bit too much (not much, but a bit too not much) like his simpleton character from Anchorman.  He is completely oblivious to how much an asshole he is (and, actually, the script doesn’t allow him to be enough of an asshole).
The acting:  The acting is so close to being good.  But they just can’t quite seem convincing enough that they are the characters they’re portraying and not in fact, actors playing these characters.  There is very little suggestion of history between the characters, not much chemistry.

It’s not fair to compare the two series, especially when the BBC version got it perfect, but it can’t be helped.  Still, there are all kinds of North Americans who haven’t seen the original and who will come to this version with fresh eyes.  What will they think of it?
Well, there’s no laugh track, so that will confuse America, and there are no joke-jokes, really, so America won’t know what to laugh at, specifically.  An essential element of the show seems to be missing – that being the need to allow the uncomfortableness in scenes to breathe.

This show will not be allowed to last.

Globi Dorati, Globes d’Or, 金地球, Gouden Bollen

See, it’s Foreign Press, so the title needs to be Foreign Languages.  I’d hug my cleverness, but I can’t get my arms around it, it’s so huge!

So, here are my predictions for the Golden Globes. And remember, this is the only place on this blog where you can get such a quality of prognostication.

Red Carpet:
Pam Dawber is in a stunning red dress, and…
…onto the awarding:


Best Motion Picture –

The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Hotel Rwanda
Million Dollar Baby
     Winner: Million Dollar

Best Actrass in Motion
Picture – Drama

Scarlett Johansson – A
Love Song For Bobby Long
Nicole Kidman – Birth
Imelda Staunton – Vera
Hilary Swank – Million
Dollar Baby
Uma Thurman – Kill Bill
     Winner: Imelda Staunton

Best Actor in Motion
Picture – Drama

Javier Bardem – The Sea
Don Cheadle – Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp – Finding
Leonardo DiCaprio – The
Liam Neeson – Kinsey
     Winner: Don Cheadle

Best Motion Picture –
Musical or Comedy

Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind
The Incredibles
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The
Phantom of the Opera
     Winner: The

Best Actress in Musical or

Annette Bening – Being
Ashley Judd – De-Lovely
Emmy Rossum – Andrew Lloyd
Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera
Kate Winslet – Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Renee Zellweger – Bridget
Jones: The Shittier of the Two
    Winner: Annette Bening

Best Actor in Musical or

Jim Carrey – Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jamie Foxx – Ray
Paul Giamatti – Sideways
Kevin Kline – De-Lovely
Kevin Spacey – Beyond the
     Winner: Paul Giamatti

Best Foreign Language Film
The Chorus (Les Choristes)
House of Flying Daggers
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Sea Inside
A Very Long Engagement
     Winner: A Very Long

 Best Supporting Actress in
Motion Picture

Cate Blanchett – The
Laura Linney – Kinsey
Virginia Madsen – Sideways
Natalie Portman – Closer
Meryl Streep – The
Manchurian Candidate
     Winner: Natalie

Best Supporting Actor in
Motion Picture

David Carradine – Kill
Bill Vol.2
Thomas Hayden Church –
Jamie Foxx – Collateral
Morgan Freeman – Million
Dollar Baby
Clive Owen – Closer
     Winner: Jamie Foxx

Best Director – Motion

Clint Eastwood – Million
Dollar Baby
Marc Forster – Finding
Mike Nichols – Closer
Alexander Payne – Sideways
Martin Scorsese – The
     Winner: Clint Eastwood

Best Screenplay – Motion

Charlie Kaufman – Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
John Logan – The Aviator
David Magee – Finding
Patrick Marber – Closer
Alexander Payne & Jim
Taylor – Sideways
    Winner: Charlie

Best Original Score –
Motion Picture

Clint Eastwood – Million
Dollar Baby
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek –
Finding Neverland
Rolfe Kent – Sideways
Howard Shore – The Aviator
Hans Zimmer – Spanglish
     Winner: Howard Shore

Best Original Song –
Motion Picture

“Accidentally In Love” – Shrek 2
“Believe” – The Polar Express
“Learn To Be Lonely” – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
“Million Voices” – Hotel Rwanda
“Old Habits Die Hard” – Alfie
     Winner: Million Voices

Best Television Series –

The Sopranos
    Winner: (toughest call)… The Sopranos

Best Actress – TV Series –

Edie Falco – The Sopranos
Jennifer Garner – Alias
Mariska Hargitay – Law
& Order: Special Victims Unit
Christine Lahti – Jack
& Bobby
Joely Richardson –
    Winner: Edie Falco

Best Actor – TV Series –

Michael Chiklis – The
Denis Leary – Rescue Me
Julian McMahon – Nip/Tuck
Ian McShane – Deadwood
James Spader – Boston
    Winner: Ian McShane

Best TV Series – Musical
or Comedy

Arrested Development
Desperate Housewives
Sex and the City
Will & Grace
    Winner: Arrested

Best Actress – TV series –
Musical or Comedy

Marcia Cross – Desperate
Teri Hatcher – Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman –
Desperate Housewives
Debra Messing – Will &
Sarah Jessica Parker – Sex
and the City
    Winner: Felicity

 Best Actor – TV series –
Musical or Comedy

Jason Bateman – Arrested
Zach Braff – Scrubs
Larry David – Curb Your
Matt Leblanc – Joey
Tony Shalhoub – Monk
Charlie Sheen – Two and a
Half Men
    Winner: Jason Bateman

Best Mini-series or Motion
Picture for TV

American Family – Journey
of Dreams
Iron Jawed Angels
The Life and Death of
Peter Sellers
The Lion In Winter
Something The Lord Made
    Winner: The Lion In

Best Actress – TV
Mini-series or Motion Picture

Glenn Close – The Liion In
Blythe Danner – Back When
We Were Grown-ups
Julianna Margulies – The
Miranda Richardson – The
Lost Prince
Hilary Swank – Iron Jawed
    Winner: Glenn Close

Best Actor – TV
Mini-series or Motion Picture

Mos Def – Something The
Lord Made
Jamie Foxx – Redemption
William H. Macy – The Wool
Geoffrey Rush – The Life
and Death of Peter Sellers
Patrick Stewart – The Lion
In Winter
    Winner: Geoffrey Rush

Best Supporting Actress –
TV Series, Mini-series or Motion Picture

Drea De Matteo – The
Anjelica Huston – Iron
Jawed Angels
Nicollette Sheridan –
Desperate Housewives
Charlize Theron – The Life
and Death of Peter Sellers
Emily Watson – The Life
and Death of Peter Sellers
    Winner: Drea De Matteo

Best Supporting Actor – TV
Series, Mini-series or Motion Picture

Sean Hayes – Will &
Michael Imperioli – The
Jeremy Piven – Entourage
Oliver Platt – Huff
William Shatner – Boston

    Winner:  Michael Imperioli

It’s Been An Amazing Race

I don’t know if anybody who reads this has been watching the best reality show on television this season, but Amazing Race 5 has had some great moments so far this year. Whatever show would have a commonplace sceneario like this: start the episode in New Zealand, where a contestant has to climb (for safety, tethered to a rope themselves) a 70 foot rope ladder hanging under a bridge across a river. Once done, traverse across a couple of steel girders under same bridge, then throw themselves off the bridge to the boat waiting below. Then scurry off to Manila where you have to decorate a specialized vehicle, then take that vehicle to a farm where you must use an ox and plow to search for a clue tied to a rope. Finally, race to the ‘pit stop’ where you may or may not be eliminated.

And it’s like that every episode. Fantastic.

Early on in the season, L’il Churna and Smirnoff, the midget and motormouth, were the team you loves to hate. So happy to see them go, so sorry to not have them around anymore to hate (fortunately, someone took their place on the hate plate). There are not many opportunities on television for “little people” to be represented as something other than circus performers or oddities (Kramer’s friend on Seinfeld was the only other example I could think of), so it was nice to see Smurna (don’t remember her name) being so “normal”. Too bad she was saddled with such a bitchy-bitch. Spurna the Taller was an awful person and the little one was seen as awful mostly by association. Get her on a team with a more civilised person and she’d be loved by all, I’m sure. I loved when the cripple-creek brothers yelled “Bitch” in one episode as the devil and her minion drove by. Cut to their car: “Did someone just call me a bitch?!” Priceless.

Now there are four teams remaining as the 2 hour finale looms next week. Last night’s episode had me hooting and hollering for joy at the television as perhaps the most ignorant, mean, selfish, petulant reality show player ever finally got a bit of comeuppance. “Oh my god…I hate you” exhaled Colin, defeated, to an ox and/or his mentally abused (and rather useless) girlfriend. To see him trudging through the mud, screaming and lost and desperate and psychotic…that was a wonderful few moments of television. The episode where he almost got arrested because he (wrongly) (arrogantly) refuesed to pay a cabbie the moeny he agreed was classic. I hope they don’t win. He is a Total Asshole.

As awful as Colin is, humanity’s redemption is shown in the presence of Chip. He’s gotta be the perfect reality show contestant. He’s a good player of the game, but his (wonderful) personality keeps getting in the way of his success. Kind and generous to a fault, smart, fun, entertaining, empathetic, it’s obvious he fully understands what is important in his life, and he won’t (can’t) let the game ruin his outlook. More than any other contestant, he is taking full advantage of the wonderful opportunities this game provides him. He is respectful of his surroundings and is genuinely thrilled to be wherever he is. His wife Kim seems to have a nice outlook as well, but she’s a useless tit as far as her participation in the team effort. I hope they win.

The Bowling Moms, as they’re called, are inexplicably still in contention. They are, without question, the most boring team going. I still have no idea who or what they are. They are Fly-Under-The-Radar people, I guess. They’re the “oh, are you still here” people at a party. They are vacant of personality, unless you define personality as shrieks and whines and bemoaning of their poor lot in the game. To get to the final four, they haven’t so much succeeded as they’ve not failed as much as the teams that have lost before them. I hope they don’t win. If they do, it will most likely be by default, rather than by anything special they do.

The Christian models are a puzzle. They seem genuinely nice, but their faith in the lord really bugs me. I don’t understand the logic of someone who claims they’ll succeed because God has given them the tools to succeed. Are they saying God gave you the tools, but not Chip and Kim? Why did He refuse those tools to Chip and Kim, or to the Moms? I also got angry at their vanity a couple of weeks ago when they refused (even though it meant they’d likely lose the game) to get their hair cut off. Are you kidding? Still, they’re likable enough and if Chip and Kim don’t win, I hope they do. Let’s pray that they do, shall we?.

I expect Colin and Christie (Miss Christie, you make good victim) will win. But I so don’t want them to.

What a great show.