Tag Archives: television

Non Sequitur: Badges, DVRs and More Badges

The Secret Lair: KrisCheck out my official Overlord Badge for The Secret Lair! It’s another fantastic creation from Natalie Metzger, Secretary of Artistic Propaganda. There’s more (and not just from Natalie), but I don’t want to unveil it all at once. You may not be able to make out the details, but that writing implement in my shirt pocket is an official Dungeons & Dragons 30th Anniversary mechanical pencil. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

In other news, my beloved DirecTiVo died over the weekend; one of the tuners decided that its alignment was Chaotic Good and channels above the 200 mark were made of Evil. When we attempted to watch one of these channels on Tuner 2, the response would be anything from a lost signal to a warm reboot.

DirecTV gave me a couple of options: lease one of their branded DVRs or get another DirecTiVo receiver. The former required a two-year commitment to the DirecTV service and a $20 shipping charge, while the latter would cost me $350.00 out of pocket. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of giving up my TiVo service, but every man has his price and mine happens to be right around $350.00.

When I got home from work today, the new receiver was waiting for me. One not-so-quick call to DirecTV customer service ((Seriously, you’d think these customer service reps would perform these activations so often they could do them with their eyes closed. Yeah, you’d think that. But you’d be wrong, baby. So very, very wrong.)) and I was up and running. The new ((Okay, refurbished.)) DVR has about three times the capacity the old one did, but I’m already disappointed in the “universal” remote that came with it. Funny how we take little things like the ability to turn off both the television and the audio receiver with a single press of a button for granted.

Now my young apprentice and I are watching Max and Ruby on Noggin and (in theory) Scrubs is recording on the other tuner. Ruby is trying to get yet another damn Bunny Scout merit badge while Dr. Dorian and the rest of the gang at Sacred Heart are undoubtedly involved in some wacky shenaniganery that is (again, in theory) being preserved in all its digital glory for my enjoyment at a later time. Max wants a popsicle, but Ruby is too busy putting splints on dolls to pay attention to her younger brother; I swear, if there’s a Bunny Scout merit badge for being a good elder sibling, Ruby doesn’t have it.

TVstuff: Return of Fall Season 2007

It’s been a couple of weeks and I have (in theory) had a chance to watch many of the shows I was looking forward to in early September.

Doctor Who. I think the season may have wrapped up, but I could be wrong. There are a couple of episodes waiting for me on the TiVo but I haven’t gotten around to watching them yet.

Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Hoo, boy. Five episodes on the TiVo and watching them is feeling more and more like a chore, so I think I’m just going to delete them and move on. The first episode of the second season was way too much like the latter half of the first season for me, so I’m inclined to ditch this turkey.

Eureka continues to be the best show on SciFi. Excellent premise, awesome cast, decent special effects and consistently entertaining scientific blunders make it an enjoyable experience all around.

Torchwood. Yeah. I watched the first episode and it totally failed to grab me, so I didn’t even bother setting up a season pass. Sorry, John Wheelbarrow fans, I’m not joining your ranks anytime soon.

iCarly. I haven’t watched any more of this show. Really.

Journeyman started off with an excellent premiere; maybe a bit slow right at the beginning, but sticking through the entire episode was well worth it. There was a very nice twist in the last third of the show that goes a long way to distancing Journeyman from Quantum Leap, a comparison that everyone (including me) was making in advance of the premiere.

Bionic Woman wasn’t too bad. I’m still a little worried about whether Michelle Ryan has enough presence to carry the show and the first fight sequence felt a bit herky-jerky to me—not to mention way off balance; Sarah (Katee Sackhoff) should have handily kicked Jamie’s (Michelle Ryan) ass up and down those rooftops—but I’ll stick with it a couple more episodes to see what happens.

Moonlight. I haven’t watched the premiere yet, and as of last night there should be a second episode waiting for me. More to come.

Reaper was pretty good. The interplay between Sam (Andrew Airlie) and Sock (Tyler Labine) is a little too Kevin Smith for my taste (it felt an awful lot like Dante and Randall in Clerks) but I did enjoy Ray Wise as the devil and there was a nice Ghostbusters flavor to the final battle with the arsonist whose soul had escaped from Hell.

Heroes. I should really watch this; I don’t know why I’ve been putting it off.

Tvstuff: The Wonder Pets

One of my many responsibilities as a parent is ensuring that the television programs my young apprentice watches are educational, wholesome, enriching and appropriate for his age (currently 20 months). As a public service, I present the first in a series of informative reviews of television programs geared toward preschoolers.

The Wonder Pets
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The Wonder Pets is one of Kyle’s favorite programs, and it’s not hard to see why: there’s plenty of music, oodles of cute animals and more music. Parents (and corporate managers) will undoubtedly appreciate the core message the show consistently delivers: that cooperation and teamwork are essential in any problem-solving effort. On the surface, it seems like the perfect show for young children. A closer examination, however, reveals that The Wonder Pets is one unfortunate example after another of parental negligence.

Each episode begins with Linny (a guinea pig), Tuck (a turtle) and Ming-Ming (a duckling) relaxing in their schoolhouse home after all the children have left for the day. Their leisure time is interrupted by the phone (“the phone is ringing!”), a can-and-string contraption that alerts the trio to a baby animal in peril. Donning capes and hats and assembling the flyboat (a vehicle constructed from a Frisbee, some markers and various other bits), The Wonder Pets race to rescue the youngling from some horrible situation using (“what’s gonna work?”) teamwork and music.

Once the chick, kit, fawn, foal, cub, joey or calf has been rescued, the irresponsible parents arrive on the scene, probably returning from the local watering hole, brothel or cock-fighting ring. Oh, sure, there’s the requisite gushing over how brave and amazing The Wonder Pets are, but rarely is there an explanation from the reprehenible parents as to why the children were left unattended in the first place. The best thing Linny, Tuck and Ming-Ming (too) could do to help the baby animals in trouble is contact the local Department of Children’s Services.

Coming soon: an intrepid explorer, a singing moose and a whiny turtle.

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”.

Random Stuff for Tuesday, 20 March

Test sites for WordPress themes display several standard elements so theme hunters can see how things like images and bulleted lists look on the page. As it happens, I’m in the process of tweaking the Blue Zinfandel theme and I’ve got a few random things that I wanted to talk about, giving me the perfect opportunity to put the theme through its paces and solicit additional feedback.

  1. I picked up a copy of Fool Moon today, the second book in Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy series, The Dresden Files. I tore through the first book, Blood Moon Storm FrontEDIT: Blood Moon? Where the hell did that come from?, over about two days when I was on vacation in Michigan, so I’m going to start Fool Moon as soon as I finish Eragon, which I’m about two-thirds of the way through.Liar, liar, pants on fire. Technically, I started reading Fool Moon while I was waiting for my General Tso’s Chicken at the China Express.
  2. My father was featured in a documentary that has (I’m told) aired twice in Finland. Laura and I got a copy of the 50-minute DVD in the mail yesterday. I think I’ll talk about it a little more once I’ve had a chance to watch it again.
  3. Laura’s birthday was Sunday. If you’ve been paying attention to My Twitter, you’ll know that my gift to her was food poisoning. I also got her some foul-tasting (but pretty) tea, a birthday card that looked familiar because I gave her the exact same one sometime in the past couple of years, flowers that were supposed to be a surprise but were anything but, and a couple of movies on DVD.
  4. Who’s the Man?
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    Kyle was sick a couple of weeks ago, but he’s feeling much better now. Actually, the entire Johnson household was under the weather; Kyle was the only one who didn’t seem to realize that he was sick. He had a cough and a runny nose, but was acting for the most part like nothing was out of the ordinary. If Laura and I were too slow with the tissues, Kyle would wind up wiping snot all over his face. Bleah.
  5. I didn’t watch the entire premiere of The Riches on FX, but I did see the second episode last night. Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver are both very good, and the show has a dark side that didn’t come across in the ads that drew me to it in the first place. I like what I’ve seen so far, though.
  6. On the topic of new shows, I also enjoyed the premiere of Raines starring Jeff Goldblum. The show has a very cool concept (cop talks to the victim of the homicide he’s trying to solve) and I really like the way Goldblum plays the character; Michael Raines has all of the quirks I associate with Jeff Goldblum, but he’s definitely more ruthless and edgy than I expected him to be. I appreciate that.
  7. Rae promises that Robin Hood will get better with the next episode. The first three episodes weren’t bad, but they could certainly have been better.
  8. I don’t think I like the default styling for ordered lists. Expect tweaks.
  9. It’s Game Night. I’m hoping to play Arkham Horror, but I’ll be happy playing pretty much anything.

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].