Thoughts, notes, observations on the everyday nonsense of American Pop Culture from one of the most not-hip people on the face of the planet...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Unplugged all over again

For those of you that haven't heard, MTV is bringing back "MTV Unplugged" in a Sept. 23 segment featuring Alicia Keys.

And for those of you who are retarded, "MTV Unplugged" has only brought us some of the best live music ever, including performances (and later - CDs) by Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Alanis Morisette, Jay Z and Nirvana. It went off the air in 2002, presumably so that MTV could devote more time to reality TV and crappy pop-punk.

Keys performance promises to be quite the event, featuring Mos Def, Common and that guy from Maroon 5 as guests.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Saving syndicated cable

There’s talk out there that because of the staggering lack of quality (or even successful suck-ass) network television, the big, bad world of syndication is getting thinner all of the time. Need evidence? Note that they show “Will & Grace” in syndication…I mean, c’mon, that show shouldn’t have even gotten a second season, let alone syndication. This trend means that syndication networks (like FX, TBS, TNT, WB, UON, etc.) do not have any new shows to buy, so they will keep on playing “Friends”, “Seinfeld”, “The Simpsons”, “Everybody Loves Raymond” (gag) and such until someone cries “uncle” or something new gets tossed their way.

First of all, this leads to the obvious question: Will there ever be a day when we don’t want to watch these shows anymore? I’m afraid there may be, and I weep for the day that I roll my eyes when someone turns on the sixth ‘Seinfeld” episode of the day on basic cable. I want to always love some of these shows and I fear that without new shows to watch in the middle of the afternoon (when iI’m trying to avoid the sun and exercise) I may overdose on past comedy.

So what can they do? I have a few ideas…

1. I think TBS had the right idea: Go after shows that network TV hasn’t had before. TBS made a deal with HBO to get toned-down episodes of “Sex and the City” on its network. If its more shows the syndicates want, why not grab them from premium channels in a similar fashion? “Six Feet Under” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” are current shows that could be repackaged for basic cable. Or why not grab some of that old HBO goldmine and get a deal to air “Mr. Show” or “The Larry Sanders Show”?

2. Don’t be so snobby. Take a look at past basic cable shows that weren’t as mainstream. “Dawson’s Creek” just went into complete series syndication last week and I can bet that it will draw a big audience (like this girl right here who regarded it as a secret guilty pleasure). Why not extend that idea to include “My So-Called Life”, “Charmed”, “Melrose Place”, “Beverly Hills 90210”, “Beavis and Butthead” and “In Living Color”?

3. TV did not begin in 1994. Take a clue from Nick at Night, which (along with its extended cable addition TV Land) is the syndicated haven for shows from pre-1990 (imagine that! old TV!). The problem is that there’s so much good TV in there that it has to frequently remove shows from the rotation to mix it up a little. They have everything in their vaults, but not everything can be shown on Nick stations. Why not use other syndicate networks to bring back former Nick classics such as “Perfect Strangers”, “A Different World”, “Lavern & Shirley”, “Mork & Mindy”, “Welcome Back Kotter”, “Bewitched”, “Beverly Hillbillies”….and so on and so on. I *heart* old TV...we need more of it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Advertising rants

It’s summer, which always seems to bring mindless, stupid advertisig to the TV, to movie theaters and even to the world of print. There is so much out there in the wild, woolly world of advertising right now that just makes me shake my head (and occasionally my fist) in frustration…

- The commercials for NBC’s upcoming “My Name is Earl” are so bad that even when I read the title in print I throw up a little in the back of my mouth. The commercials are constant, neverending and always end with Lee saying “my name is Earl.” As if that’s a selling point for a show. I love Jason Lee and I think he’d be great for TV, but this constant barrage of stupid ads that essentially make fun of rural folk have completely turned me off of any possibility of seeing this pilot. I don’t even know what its about…and I don’t care to find out.

- I love that it has become both acceptable and fashionable to rag on the Fantanas from those brain-numbing Fanta commercials. Entertainment Weekly as been all over the Fanta gals of late, mostly for ruining pre-movie entertainment everywhere they pop up. I know the little song is supposed to make us think positive thoughts whenever we see a Fanta in a gas station’s cooler…but it’s had quite the opposite effect. Every time I see a Fanta, I want to destroy personal property.

- Boy, you know you’ve fallen far when you have to resort to doing Hanes Her Way ads. Jennifer Love Hewitt has become such a non-player in Hollywood that I even had to ask for a moment “Is that someone famous?” when I saw her in my latest EW. Remember how she was the It girl because she made some crappy horror films and starred in a Fox sitcom? Well since then, apparently she only gets ad work. I found the Hanes ad amusing because it’s supposed to be a “hey look, we have a celebrity in our ad!” sort of ad campaign…but most people would see it and say “she looks vaguely familiar…isn’t she in a Noxema ad?” Whose next in the Hanes campaign? Sarah Michelle Gellar? Brandy?

- And does anyone else think Jared has overstayed his welcome? Subway, it’s time to move on. Take a hint from BK and get something scary and animatronic instead of scary and annoying.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Go for the montage - stay for the boobs

The montage sequence is one of those 80s movie hallmarks that cause much eye-rolling in the film snob community. But we’re allowed to be wrong sometimes.

Though Roger Ebert apparently disliked Wedding Crashers, he too admitted the opening montage of this golden summer funfest was awesome. I’d daresay it is the best montage sequence in the history of montage sequences as it so perfectly sets the audience up for exactly who the main characters are and what they’re about.

Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) and John (Owen Wilson) are, of course, about the chicks. The montage (set to wedding staple/Animal House throwback “Shout”) features our protagonists crashing every manner of wedding – Asian, Jewish, Hindu, Greek, Catholic – and becoming the life of the party at each one (and bedding plenty of gorgeous women along the way). Never before has a montage sequence had so much booze and boobs…and that’s what makes it so damn great. From that point on, you can no longer despise or even doubt Jeremy and John for being such lotharios because you wish you could be them.

The plot sets itself up in a typical summer comedy fashion, with the protagonists taking on a “big job” – in this case, that means crashing the high-society wedding of Treasury Secretary Cleary’s eldest daughter. Yes, they go. Yes, they find women – Jeremy goes after youngest sister Gloria (Isla Fisher) and John tries wooing beautiful middle child Claire (Rachel McAdams) - and madness ensues. But that madness, I think, moves beyond the American Pie formula because of absolutely superb casting.

Christopher Walken plays the Robert De Niro role as the snooty Secretary Cleary, Jane Seymour (yes, that’s Dr. Quinn) plays his horny lush of a Mrs. Robinson-style wife to much hilarity. You have the old lady from The Wedding Singer as the token funny old lady…and “Jack & Bobby” hottie Bradley Cooper as the token asshole. The real find, though, is the absolutely hysterical fisher as batshit-crazy Gloria. As predictable as the buddy comedy plot can be, Vaughn and Wilson carry the film along in such a fashion that you can’t believe this is their first pairing (Vaughn’s more of a buddy to the other Wilson).

In short, if you’re looking for high-brow, head over to the indie theater. But if you prefer a laughfest complete with jokes about boobs, bodily functions and S&M – hit up the multiplex for the heir to Old School.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I'm here today to say goodbye to a friend. We have known each other for less than a year, but we got so close so fast. I never thought I'd have to say goodbye. So when my DVR died last night, I at first was in a state of denial, thinking maybe - just maybe- I'd wake up today and see that it'd recovered life. But I was wrong. Now I sit here in shock after the Time Warner operator has officially declared my DVR lifeless.

Oh DVR, I feel you knew me better than I know myself. You knew to record only the 1 am showing of "Family Guy" (not the 10:00) and remembered every day to record "X-Men". You brought me "30 Days" and "Over There", shows I likely would not have watched if not for your recording services. You kept the entire season of "Jack and Bobby" safe for my future viewing pleasure. And your constant supply of "Robot Chicken", "Crank Yankers" and "Shorties Watching Shorties" insured I’d never have to sit here and be bored by bad daytime TV. But now all of these shows are gone with you.

Sure, tomorrow morning a Time Warner technician will take your carcass away and provide me with a new DVR box…but it just won’t be the same. This one will have to be told to record every new episode of "The Daily Show". This one won’t have 37 episodes of "X-Men" of Dave Chappelle's "Killn' 'Em Softly." I’ll have to actually remember what time my shows are on just to set the new DVR up to mimic you. I’ll have to build a collection of great television all over again. It just isn’t fair.

I know now that I shouldn’t have taken you for granted. I should have made efforts to watch all of the shows you so lovingly recorded for me right away. Now I have to live with the fact that you died before I could watch Sunday’s "American Dad" or last Thursday’s "Daily Show". I feel horrible.

Tomorrow I’ll weep and rail against the technician as he hauls you away. I know eventually (likely by Friday) I’ll have accepted your fate (and the loss of my shows). But tonight, when I perch on my couch after work, I’ll be forced to watch the pure crap that is live television at 2 am. And I’ll miss you.