Category Archives: Television

TVstuff: Reaper is not Journeyman

While writing yesterday’s post about scheduling conflicts between SciFi’s Eureka, FOX’s House and NBC’s Journeyman I overlooked one minor (yet arguably important) detail: there is no such conflict. House and Eureka are both on Tuesday night, but Journeyman is (as I discovered yesterday) on Monday night.

The CW’s Reaper, on the other hand, is on Tuesday night and its schedule does conflict with the other, previously mentioned Tuesday primetime shows.

Reaper

L-R: Bret Harrison, Ray Wise and Tyler Labine

On the bright side, several savvy readers have already suggested a solution to my scheduling woes; a solution that does not involve replacing my dual-LNB DirecTV dish and adding another DirecTivo receiver (and television) to the International House of Johnson.

See, if there’s one thing The SciFi Channel is good at (apart from cranking out schlocky monster-of-the-week movies and calling them science fiction), it’s replaying everything on their schedule over and over again. This has allowed me to catch the occasional missed Saturday night movie later in the week—even if the argument could be made that I’m usually better off missing those movies—and will also allow me to record Reaper at 9:00 and Eureka three hours later.

Unfortunately, a quick glance at the upcoming SciFi listings reveals that the replay time for Eureka isn’t consistent week to week: tonight it’s on at midnight and next week it replays at 12:30; and TiVo, for all its magical powers, apparently lacks a single-click “record the later showing” function. We are, it seems, doomed to learn that our heroes are flawed.

As for Journeyman, I watched the premiere in the wee hours of this morning while sitting with my young insomniac. They managed to get a good hook into me, and if NBC cancels the show before we learn why (and how) Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd, Rome) is traveling through time, I’m going to write at least one very indignant blog post about it. That’s right, NBC; consider yourself warned. You don’t want the kind of heat that I bring to the party.

TVstuff: No Journeyman for me?

The cast of Journeyman
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I finally got around to setting up the new Season Passes on the TiVo last night and it appears that I won’t be watching Journeyman after all. Seems some bonehead decided to schedule it at the same time as two shows we’re already recording: House and Eureka. I could cancel the Season Pass for House…if I want to spend autumn sleeping under the deck; it’s one of Laura’s shows (okay, I watch it, too) and it’s hardly fair to ask her to sacrifice something so consistently good for Journeyman, which is definitely an unknown quantity right now.

Ditto for Eureka. I’m probably in the definite minority when I say Eureka is the best series SciFi has right now, even better than Battlestar Galactica. ((I like Battlestar Galactica and all, but to paraphrase Sam Chupp, I need to get a prescription for Zoloft before I watch it.)) Knowing SciFi, the Eureka season finale is probably two or three weeks away, at which point I may be able to replace it with Journeyman (assuming the latter hasn’t been canceled by then).

Journeyman centers around San Francisco newspaper reporter Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd), who inexplicably begins to travel through time. ((I hate it when that happens.)) Like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, Vasser is able to change people’s lives when he is out-of-time; unlike Beckett, Vasser regularly returns to his own time. In the course of his temporal wandering, Dan is reunited with his former fiance, Livia (Moon Bloodgood ((Yes, really. Best. Name. Ever.))), which could complicate things with his real-time wife, Katie (Gretchen Egolf).

Sounds like it could be interesting. Perhaps it’s time for me to break down and finally make use of the sub-etha antennaKudos to again to Sam Chupp. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go listen to The Round Table’s discussion of British vs. American televisions. that I’ve successfully avoided since upgrading the IHoJ to broadband. Hell, I’d be willing to pay two bucks to download the Journeyman premiere from iTunes, if only NBC hadn’t decided to pull the plug on their deal with Apple. Or maybe NBC will have their new series available for free on their new on-demand video site, Hulu, but I’ve got to believe that any flavor of “free” on Hulu is going to come with strings attached.

TVstuff: Fall Season 2007

Get those TiVos warmed up, kids, it’s time for some new stuff on the teevee! Here’s a list of what I’m watching or will be watching this fall.

Doctor Who (SciFi) has been running for several weeks alreadyUnless you’re in the UK, in which case I believe the series has already wrapped. and will probably be wrapping up its third season (or series, for the UK audience) in the next few weeks. I haven’t been terribly impressed by this season, but it’s good enough to keep me watching.

Who Wants to be a Superhero? (SciFi) has already wrapped up its second season, but I’ve only watched the first episode. Once I’ve watched the whole thing, I’m sure I’ll have something to say about it.

Eureka (SciFi) isn’t really a Fall show and I’m not sure how long the season will be (10 episodes? 13? 22? I wish.), but the second season has been pretty good so far. It’s the story of, Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), a U.S. Marshall who moves to a small, Oregon town (from which the show gets its title) that’s really top-secret, government-funded think tank and becomes the new sheriff. Eureka has a Quantum Leap-style “Oh, boy” sense of humor, with Carter consistently in over his head week after week as he must deal with some high-tech experiment gone horribly awry. A couple of plot threads—all somehow connected to the mysterious artifact stored in an uber-high-security level of Eureka’s main underground lab facility—run throughout the episodes, creating an intriguing and enticing storyarc. Good stuff.

Torchwood (SciFi) premiered on BBCAmerica on Saturday, but I haven’t watched it yet. I know it’s a Doctor Who spinoff featuring Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) as a former time traveller who becomes a member of The Torchwood Institute, a sort of poor man’s BPRDsee Hellboy.

iCarly (Nickelodeon) stars Miranda Cosgrove (Drake & Josh, School of Rock) as a 14-year-old girl who starts a web show with her friend, Sam (Jennette McCurdy). I’m not really planning on watching it regularlyWell, probably not. I mean, I might., but I watched the premiere and talked about it on Volcanicast this week so I thought I’d give it a mention.

Now on to the shows that haven’t premiered yet.

Journeyman looks like a Quantum Leap clone, but I’m going to tune in to see how Kevin McKidd does, as I’ve heard rumors that he’s going to be in the upcoming Thor movie. I have no idea why McKidd’s character, Dan Vassar, is traveling through time helping people—perhaps his high school guidance counselor suggested it as a vocation—but it’s a tough job and the guys who do it don’t get enough credit.

Bionic Woman (NBC) is a remake of the 1976 series (starring Lindsay Wagner), which was a spinoff of The Six Million Dollar ManAt one point, there was talk of remaking The Six Million Dollar Man as a comedy film with Jim Carrey in the title role, but that idea seems to have evaporated.. Michelle Ryan, a British actress, plays an upgraded Jaime Sommers, who is bionicized by Miguel Ferrer following a terrible automobile accident. Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff also has a recurring role as an evil Bionic Woman, which should lead to some interesting cat fights battles.

Moonlight (CBS) is this year’s Blade (or perhaps Kindred: The Embraced); a vampire show that will last one season if it’s lucky. Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) is a vampire private investigator and…that’s all I know. Word on the street is that Moonlight sucks (ha!) and will a poor substitute for the late, lamented The Dresden FilesCome on, SciFi Channel, get your heads out of your collective recta and bring this show back!.

Reaper (ABC) is a comedy about a guy whose parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born. This is not only questionable from a legal and ethical standpoint, but a total (to quote The Monarch) “dick move”. When he turns 21, Sam (Andrew Airlie) is contractually obligated to become The Devil’s bounty hunter. Much flap has been made about the fact that Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jersey Girl) directed the pilot, but I’m kind of jazzed about Ray Wise (Swamp Thing, Robocop) playing Satan.

Heroes and Heroes: Origins (NBC). The second season of Heroes begins on 24 September 2007, and the spinoff series, Heroes: Origins, will apparently be shown during the Spring hiatus.We hates the hiatus, doesn’t we, precious? We hates it! While Heroes will apparently pick up where it left off last season, Origins is a six-episode mini-series that will feature the origin story of a different character each week. Oh, and hey! Kevin Smith is writing and directing the first episode! Maybe it’ll be about a guy has the uncanny ability to not even supposed to be here today.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles (ABC) doesn’t premiere until early 2008, if Wikipedia is to be believed. The spinoff of the Terminator movies stars Lena Headey (300) in the title role and Summer Glau (Serenity, Mammoth) as the latest Terminator sent back in time to protect Connor’s son, John (Thomas Dekker). The series is treading on some tricky terrain, as it seems poised to directly contradict events from T2: Judgment Day and/or T3: Something About Erect Machines.

And that about does it, unless I’m overlooking something. Oh, I also plan to catch Tin Man, a mini-series premiering in December on SciFi. It’s a retelling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz starring Zooey Deschanel (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) as DG, Dorothy Gale; Alan Cumming (X2: X-Men United) as Glitch, the scarecrow; Raoul Trujillo (FrankenfishTimeline) as Cain, the titular tin man. SciFi appears to be giving Tin Man the same type of treatment they gave their Dune mini-series, rather than treating it like one of their schlocky Saturday movies, so it could be pretty good.

Non Sequitur: Vuelva a la Biblioteca!

I’m back in good graces with my local library, so I’ve been a multimedia fiend for the past couple of weeks. Here’s a list of the audio, video and printified goodness that I’ve enjoyed recently or will be enjoying shortly:

  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Read by Lenny Henry. Gaiman’s follow up to American Gods focuses on African and West Indian deities. Anansi Boys has a much more sympathetic main character (Fat Charlie), and the world felt much more fleshed out than the stark landscapes of American Gods. Top-notch narration by British comedian Lenny Henry adds even more flavor to the rich story.
  • Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. Read by Lee Adams. I’m a little over halfway through this quirky tale of lust, revenge and the general decline of basic civility, but I’m enjoying it quite a lot. The main character is a bit of a nutjob, which makes her difficult to sympathize with at times.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Read by Simon Prebble. This will take a good chunk of time to get through, and it doesn’t help that it was Laura, not me, who checked it out of the library. I haven’t started listening to Jonathan Strange just yet; I’ll begin as soon as I finish Nature Girl, if Laura will let me.
  • M:I:III, also known as Mission: Impossible III, starring the actor formerly known as Mr. Nicole Kidman. I heard rumors that Tom’s talkshow antics really hurt this movie’s box office performance. I’d dismiss those rumors as whiny excuse-making, except for one thing: M:I:III is the best of the series. It’s got tons of over-the-top action, lots of super-cool spy gadgetry, and Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a damn good villain. I only wish I’d had the option to get a widescreen copy, as the pan-and-scan on the fullscreen version is practically painful at times.
  • The first season of Sledge Hammer! starring David Rasche. Sometimes the things that we thought were funny and cool two decades ago should be relegated to fond memories and not revisited on DVD. Sledge Hammer! doesn’t seem anywhere near as funny today as I remember it being. I got a few chuckles out of it, but the show feels incredibly dated today.
  • Date Movie starring Alyson Hannigan. Date Movie — along with its even more inane cousin, Epic Movie — are proof-positive that the writers (or some subset of the writers) of Scary Movie have shot their collective wad. Alyson Hannigan barely (and I do mean barely) makes this unfunny parody worth watching.
  • Smokin’ Aces starring a whole bunch of folks.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman. The only ink-and-paper title on the list. I’m only a few pages into this tale of heroes and villains of the super variety. I like what I’ve read so far.

TV Stuff: Censorship Gone Wild

I just witnessed what may be the dumbest bleep in the history of bleeps.

The show: Comedy Central Presents.

The comedienne: Megan Mooney.

The joke: Dad calls Megan and her sister “ladies”. “Thanks a lot, coach,” Megan says.

The bleep: “You just earned yourself another clipboard for Father’s Day, a-<bleep>.”

Now, I want to point out that Megan did not say “ass”; she said “a”. A-hole. She censored her own joke.

And they bleeped the “hole”.

Geekstuff: Superheroes in the News

My finger is, as always, on the pulse of entertainment newsTechnically, my RSS feed reader is on the pulse., especially where it pertains to all things superheroic. A couple of things have recently caught my eye:

Stan Lee has signed on to create superheroes for Disney. I love Stan Lee as much as the next guySo long as the next guy is a huge superhero geek., but I’m wondering if Disney has taken a good look at some of Stan’s more recent creations. Mosaic was decent, but Lightspeed (starring Jason Connery) was positively abysmal. I haven’t seen The Condor yet, but the trailers prominently feature a half-pipe and Tony Hawkish skateboarding sounds, all of which reminds me of Night Thrasher from the New Warriors, and that’s not a good thing (sorry Night Thrasher).

City of Heroes

Tom DeSanto (producer of the upcoming Transformers movie) is reportedly working on a live-action City of Heroes movie. City of Heroes is the MMORPG that sucked up massive quantities of my time a couple of years ago until upgrades to the game surpassed the capabilities of my computer and puny dial-up Internet connectionI’ve switched to a cable Internet connection, but my computer is still only barely capable of running the game.. One of the things I really liked about the game was the massive backstory NCSoft built around Paragon City and the surrounding area. Quotes from DeSanto lead me to believe that the movie will cover the alien invasion that takes place before the game begins. Color me interested.

Soon I Will Be Invincible @ Amazon.com

Soon I Will Be Invincible is Austin Grossman’s first novel, and there are already rumors that it is being adapted to film. Grossman is a game design consultant who has worked on two of my favorite video game franchises: Thief and Deus Ex. According to the official site, Invincible is “[a] wildly entertaining first novel, brimming with attitude and humor, featuring a cast of dozens of super-heroes and super-villains…” The buzz I’m hearing is very good, perhaps even good enough to make me break my “no hardcovers” rule.

5 o’ Clock Shadow: Spectacles

5 o' Clock Shadow - 12 April 2007

One of the things I like about The Colbert Report is how Stephen Colbert handles his glasses. It’s easy enough to add dramatic emphasis by whipping off one’s glasses and gesticulating angrily, but what I really enjoy is the way Stephen pushes his glasses up on his nose. It’s a simple motion, but Colbert does it very deliberately and with an air of dignity.

As a spectacle-wearer, I’m all too familiar with the tendency of eyewear to slide down the bridge of the nose. Short of nailing the silicone pads in place, there’s little that can be done to prevent the friction-reducing effects of moisture and skin oils from allowing gravity to dragging my glasses inexorably toward the center of the Earth.

Over the past twenty (!) years, I’ve developed a technique for pushing my glasses up on my nose, but since The Colbert Report premiered I realized that my method — thumb and forefinger placed on either side of the nose, drawn upward and coming together at the bridge, bringing the glasses up with them — is inelegant, if not downright Cro-Magnon.

Colbert employs two methods when adjusting his glasses. The first, which I am demonstrating in today’s five o’ clock shadow photo is to grasp the top and bottom of one lens and lift the glasses into their preferred position. This method, done properly, is powerful and effective, exuding confidence, style and class. Executed poorly, it makes you look like the mutant superhero Cyclops (fear my eye beams!), who even the most die-hard X-Men fan will admit is a complete tool.

The second method Colbert uses—pushing directly on the bridge with his middle finger, his index finger curled toward his palm but his ring and little fingers splayed apart. This method is more emphatic and deliberate than the first, but positioning hand and wrist in front of the face makes it somewhat less dignified. This method works best during a dramatic pause, while the frame-adjust method can be executed at any time.

Regardless of the method, I admire Colbert’s ability to inject drama and even gravitas into the simplest of activities, and use it to enhance the character he has created for The Colbert Report. Don’t ever switch to contacts, Stephen.

Television: Coming in March

The first item on my television radar for March is Robin Hood, a new series from BBC America, which premieres this Saturday, 03 March. As is the trend today, this Hood (played by Jonas Armstrong) is a bit younger than previous incarnations, as are many of his allies and nemeses. Maid Marian is played by Lucy Griffiths, who has only two other television apperances and not movie credits, but is still nice to look at. All in all, I’m thinking Dawson’s Creek runs through Sherwood Forest.

Hellboy Animated Production Diaries

Hellboy: Blood and Iron premieres Saturday, 17 March on Cartoon Network. I enjoyed the first Hellboy animated movie (Sword of Storms), but it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I thought the animation was excellent, but it seemed like Ron Perlman and company were sleepwalking through some of the dialog. Still, Sword of Storms was good enough that I’d like to pick up the DVD (which looks to have some good bonus features) and I’m looking forward to Blood and Iron.

Last but not least, IFC is showing This Film is Not Yet Rated — a documentary that delves into censorship and the convoluted, seemingly arbitrary MPAA film ratings system — on Saturday, 31 March. I’d say more about this, but the [CENSORED] at the [CENSORED] won’t let me [CENSORED] my [CENSORED].

Adstuff: Old Spice

Contrary to popular belief, TiVo has not completely eradicated television advertising in the International House of Johnson. Every once in a while, we neglect to fast-forward through advertising blocks when watching a recorded program; occasionally, we watch live television, ads and all.

A couple of nights ago, a new Old Spice commercial caught my eye, and I did something almost unheard of: I rewound to watch the ad again. And again.

The ad begins in a locker room, where a well-built, shirtless fellow has a confession to make:

I used to think it didn’t matter what deodorant I chose. Dumb.

What follows is a side-by-side comparison of Old Spice and another brand of deodorant. Immediately after the Old Spice is applied to the skin, hair sprouts up in its wake, confirming that Old Spice is, indeed, manly.

Shirtless Fellow continues to expound upon the virtues of Old Spice:

Old Spice performs in real man situations, like basketball, recon and Frenching.

Aw, yeah. Now Ol’ Shirtless is speaking my language; but he’s not quite done:

Try Old Spice, and if you still don’t think it’s awesome, call 1-800-PROVE-IT and they’ll buy you a stick of something that smells like wildflowers and shame.

I don’t know what shame smells like, but I know what Old Spice smells like: my dad. There’s nothing wrong with the way my dad smells; in fact, the scent of Old Spice always reminds me of getting ready to go out with my entire family when I was a young boy. I like the scent, but I don’t wear it.

See, I’ve been a Mitchum man for going on ten years. Robert Mitchum may have had nothing to do with Mitchum deodorant and anti-perspirant, but I firmly believe that his essence makes my deodorant “so effective [I] could skip a day”. I also live in fear that if I should so much as consider switching to another brand, Robert Mitchum would kick my ass from beyond the grave.

So kudos to Old Spice for making me laugh. Unfortunately, even your sweaty, shirtless spokesman isn’t enough to make me tempt the wrath of Robert Mitchum. Better luck next time.

Cartoon Network: The Venture Brothers

The Venture BrothersThe second season of The Venture Brothers came to a close on Sunday, and it seems like only yesterday that we learned the fate of young Dean and Hank Venture after their brush—or perhaps slow-dance—with death at the end of the first season.

If I have a list of Favorite Animated Television Series, you can be sure that The Venture Brothers sits comfortably in the coveted top slot, above even Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy and timeless classics such as The Simpsons and The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.

Dr. Jonas Venture was a well-known, respected and successful scientist/adventurer. Unfortunately, he disappeared years ago, leaving his son, Rusty, a very big lab coat to fill. To say that Rusty hasn’t lived up to his potential may be unfair (perhaps he just didn’t have all that much potential), but it would certainly seem that Jonas’ genius, passion and charisma skipped a generation.

Or maybe two.

Hank and Dean Venture are Rusty’s teenaged sons, and what they lack in common sense and intelligence they make up for with enthusiasm. Always on the lookout for adventure and mystery, the boys frequently find themselves in a life-threatening jam. They are almost invariably rescued by the family bodyguard, Brock Samson (voiced by the awesome Patrick Warburton), or Dr. Byron Orpheus, the Doctor Strange knockoff who rents a spare lab at the Venture Compound.

Threats to the Venture clan come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of competence. Without question the most tenacious and obsessive of Dr. Venture’s nemeses is The Monarch, a butterfly-themed villain who operates from a hidden cocoon base and employs a cadre of expendable and far-from-elite henchmen. The Monarch’s rage can only be quenched by two things: the utter destruction of Dr. Venture and the tender ministrations of Dr. Girlfriend, the buxom, basso beauty (voiced by series co-creator, Doc Hammer) who hopes to one day become Dr. Mrs. Monarch.

Each episode of The Venture Brothers is an all-out pop culture assault, peppered with bizarre mythological and historical references to boot. One episode in the second season—titled “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II”—threw the audience into the middle of a time-travel story involving Caligula, Edgar Allen Poe, Dr. Sigmund Freud and Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge. Though the episode begins with several scenes from “Last week on The Venture Bros.“, there is no “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part I”, nor is there—despite an unresolved storyline and a post-credits scene from the “next” episode that spoofs The Empire Strikes Back—an “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part III”.

It should be noted that The Venture Bros. is not suitable for children (hence its 10:30pm Adult Swim timeslot). Dr. Venture seems to be addicted to prescription diet pills, and will go to great lengths to procure them (including a visit to Mexico in season one’s “Dia de los Dangerous!”). Brock Samson has been described as Venture’s “Swedish murder machine,” and with good reason; he often kills The Monarch’s henchmen by the dozens. Meanwhile, Dr. Orpheus’ mysterious Master takes the guise of Catherine the Great’s horse in order to teach the mystic a lesson about “biting off more than [he] can chew.” Oh, and The Monarch has a bit of a potty mouth.

Finally, it should also be noted that—at the time of this writing—I do not yet own the first season of The Venture Brothers on DVD. If you don’t believe me, check my DVD collection on Squirl; the complete lack of the two-disc set is like a hole in the heart of the database.