Wednesday, September 27, 2006

We Could Be Heroes, if We Weren't So Sloppy With Plot Development

Unlike Jeanette, I am free to trash NBC up and down Broadway (and other popular thoroughfares.) I can tell you that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a self-important snore, a masturbatory tribute to TV-making, fraught with typical Aaron Sorkin non-humor. Example: the cutesy dialogue between Matthew "Oxycontin" Perry and Bradley "Wha...? Zzzz..." Whitford in the second episode, "The Cold Open." Brad asks Matt if he still loves some chick named Harriet, and Matt's like nah, I just appreciate her talent, and her convictions, and her legs. Brad's like, Oh man, you're in trouble, and Matt's like, yeah I know. HILARIOUS RIGHT?

So that blows. And NBC's most popular show still involves people yelling at girls with bad boob jobs to open suitcases. HOWEVER. I caught Heroes the other night, and like the suckiest of suckers, I was sold. The show may rip off X-Men shamelessly with a little bit of Lost thrown in, but it managed to hook me despite some cheese. Let's compare the good with the dairy-based:

* Several genuine moments of surprise. Par example: at the end of the pilot, we learn that a main heroine's father is also the creep pursuing a different protagonist for his possibly revolutionary scientific theories.
* Unpredictable reactions to discovery of superpowers. Por ejemplo: aforementioned cheerleader is appalled to discover she is indestructible. This makes her a socially-unacceptable freak, she reasons. Yeah, because broken bones are the new black.
* Diverse cast includes East Asian, South Asian, and drug addict characters. Oh wait, that's Lost. * OK, we'll let that go because the East Asian character is hilarious!
* And the South Asian is HOT! What's up with me and the subcontinent lately?
* It takes place in New York.
* Ensemble cast guarantees you'll like at least some of them.
* Special effects look quite promising so far. If the show can keep up a hefty budget, viewers have some neat sci-fi tricks to look out for.

* Thus far the show leans heavily on the ever-popular "serendipitous encounters" motif.
* Writers show a propensity for dialogue of the anvils raining from the heavens variety. People, how many workshops do you need before you grasp the "Show, Don't Tell" rule? There are ways to provide backstory that don't involve dialogue like, "Well, good thing I'm a politician and our mom is dead and you were always such a dreamer!"
* Why is everyone's power cool except for the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold character, who has a terrifying, evil doppelganger? OK, that's not cheesy, but it's a plot wrinkle.
* I mean, this is VERY X-Men. I hope the showrunners decide to wriggle out of the formula a bit. Lost did new and exciting things, like break TV's language barrier and use flashback in innovative ways. Heroes needs to find its own schtick if it plans to stick around.

Or Hugh Jackman could join the cast as Wolverine, in which case I would gladly watch each week. Jeanette says that Hugh Jackman is too fruity to crush on, but come on. Jeanette likes Ewan MacGregor, who starred in two of the queerest films ever made: Moulin Rouge and Velvet Goldmine. He should make a sequel, Velvet Rouge, which concludes with Ewan spontaneously combusting into a pile of glitter and old Liza Minelli CDs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jill's in the Dawg Pound!

Sure it's easy to sit back on our Ikea couch that we dragged in from the street, watch tv on a 13 inch screen, and throw occasional insults at the screen in between mouthfuls of the inexpensive, frozen delicacies that make up our dinner hour...and then waste even more time writing about it on the internet. That's why I am proposing that BoobTubers be more proactive about resolving the topics of our kvetching (SP? Help me out, Juden). Starting now, the BoobTubers will bear the burden of finding the FUTURE TALENT OF TELVISION vision vision vision (see what I did there?).

Let's start with a plug for my former co-worker and friend Jill's appearance on yesterday's episode of Martha Stewart. She sang for guest Randy Jackson, in the hopes of being swooped up for the next season of American Idol to save viewers and listeners from travesties like Bucky Covington. Blech.

Anyway, check Jill out! Click the link and go to the first Randy Jackson/spaghetti squash segment. Even if you don't like curly headed crooners, you can learn a great autumnal recipe. MMMM.

Insert George Michael Pun Here

Fox's recent announcement that it will launch a division dedicated to films with Christian themes reveals that the network best known for feeding people cow eyeballs is tapping into a significant but much-overlooked market. We at the Boob Tubers can only hope that this project will be such a success that Fox will also create new TV programming dedicated to the J-Man (that's Jesus, for you uninitiated heathens.) Here are some titles we think would be appropriate for a hypothetical channel that is ALL CHRISTIAN! ALL THE TIME!

* Fear of God Factor
* Hell's Kitchen (Is Where Jews Go When They Die)
* House of the Lord, M.D.
* The JC
* King of the Sacristy
* So You Think You Can Recite Scripture
* Trading Chapels: Meet Your New (and More Ungodly) Sect
* The Passion of the Christ: The Series

Any other shows we might look forward to?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Fifth Character

In the spring of 2005, shortly after I finished my college thesis (which was not, you’ll note, written on Sex and the City) I found enough spare time to immerse myself in S&TC DVD extras. Somewhere in the requisite cast and crew interviews the costume designer argued that New York truly was "the fifth character" in the series.

The implication is that New York framed the show as much as any of the characters. I’ll buy that to a point. But the truth is that New York is a much better character than any of them. It has everything they don’t: nuance, grit, at least one set of size C breasts, and a genuine (if subtle) humility.

If you ask me, the series tragically under-exploited New York (I’m including all five boroughs). For Carrie and the gang, "New York" meant SoHo, the Village, Chelsea, Midtown, and the Uppers. But where was the "Carrie Goes to Brownsville" episode? You don’t think she could’ve had colorful adventures making love at the peak of Fort Tryon Park or getting wasted at the beer garden in Astoria? Tell me Samantha wouldn’t have learned some valuable life lessons from blowing a crack addict in Mott Haven.

On rare occasions when the show deigns to include an outer borough, it is presented as faceless and depressing. Miranda and Steve move to Park Slope without an acknowledgement of the neighborhood’s name. And moving there was presented as some huge compromise for her. Park Slope?! It's Carnegie Hill without the three Hispanic people.

Sorry, but Manhattan snobbery died forty years ago when Manhattan stopped being worth being snobbish about. The city’s intrigue is found on the fringes of the island and in the nooks and crannies of the outer boroughs, where authenticity comes naturally and there’s more to nightlife than $10 mixed drinks and trying to find Kate Hudson playing beer pong.

It has become a cliché to bemoan Manhattan’s abundance of luxury condos and Starbuckses, but that isn’t even really the problem. The problem is that the family-owned coffee shop the Starbucks replaced wasn’t that good to begin with. The ethnic enclaves were always more real and more interesting outside Manhattan. Manhattan had glamour, maybe, but glamour is elusive. Perhaps there have been periods of time in Manhattan’s history when it was genuinely glamorous. This ain’t one of them.

In some ways Sex and the City gets that exactly right. Carrie’s disappointment at the hollowness of club openings and Manhattan’s suffocating insularity comes through from time to time. But mostly we get a fantasy Manhattan, as bubbly and one dimensional as the ladies themselves.

I voted in the Democratic primary yesterday at a cramped, under-funded Brooklyn elementary school. The kids were screaming, and the incompetent poll workers couldn’t find my name in the book even after I pointed to it. But there were free blintzes and coffee available to all. That’s New York as she should be, and it doesn’t take three apple-tinis and a $400 pair of shoes to make her worth the while.

Only the Lonely(girl15)

Many critics have been saying that we are currently in the midst of a golden age of television. (To which I say, And where does Survivor: Third Reich fit into that?) But those well-versed in this Internet I've been hearing so much about know that YouTube is where it's at. And the recent revelation about Lonelygirl15 proves that compelling, new forms of entertainment media are on the rise.

For those of you who don't have the time to creepily fixate on jailbait with video blogs, I'll get you all caught up on the Lonelygirl15 saga. LG15 purports to be Bree, a 16-year-old home-schooled kid. She's bright, fresh-faced, and a little sheltered, carrying on a clandestine romance with her awkward video editor, Daniel. Bree is engaging and believable (though not so believable is the flawless quality of her videos. No camgirl was ever so perfectly lit.) Her family is into some vague religion that creeps Daniel out. Recently, viewers noticed a framed photo of Alistair Crowley in Bree's room that led them to question... could it be Satan???

Little clues like these add to the intrigue, but LG15's sweet, innocent demeanor and overall ridiculous cuteness are what draw thousands of readers to her videos every week. Of course, many suspected that this was an elaborate hoax, and the above article reveals that they were right- sort of. The LG15 project was intended to introduce folks to an episodic version of a movie created by novice filmmakers. These clever guys caught on to the power of YouTube, which has already sent networks scrambling (see NBC frantically pulling SNL skits left and right from the site) and has producer types unnerved about the meteoric rise of home movie appeal among the 18-34 demographic.

And why not? Bree is a character whose everyday mini-dramas young people can relate to (oh, except for that devil worship part). Watching her show is free, and there are no plugs, advertisements, or censors weighing it down (though the nagging sense that Bree is just a promotional tool has turned off some.) With daily videos functioning as amateur, mini soap-operas, Lonelygirl15's episodes seem like something anyone can do - but no one else has yet.

The question is whether viewers will continue to tune in to LG15, now that the jig is up. I'm betting they will, and that other filmmakers will quickly follow suit. It's a highly effective and cheap marketing tool, and the Artist Formerly Known as Bree (actually a Kiwi named Jessica Rose) could easily move to larger screens now, bringing an army a loyal fans with her.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


This Monday, the five year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, CNN Pipeline will air CNN's original television coverage of that day in real time. Anyone else think this is, like, the worst idea ever?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

House 9/5/06: How Many Times Are They Going to Use That Rolling Stones Song?

Last night on House: The doctor who singlehandedly increased the appearance of the word "curmudgeon" in entertainment mags triplefold appears all healed up from last season's gunshot wound / ketamine coma. See Greg run! See Greg skateboard (badly)! See Greg remain Vicodin's bitch! House and the House-ettes tackle two patients this week, one of whom has scurvy, the other of whom has... brain damage? Addison's disease? Pituitary gland problems? I still don't really know. I do know that Cuddy follows House's hunch and cures the guy, and Wilson doesn't want his BFF to know or his head will get too big. As if House's head could get any bigger.

Oh, the joy that filled our vermin-infested abode last night. Our #1 TV hottie of all time returned to our small (read: 13 inch) screen last night, radiating hotness powerful enough to defeat all the world's mice.

The episode was far from the best House, continuing an awkward season premiere tradition in which the actors wrestle with clunky, exposition-heavy dialogue, as though to say, "Welcome, new viewers! Let me get you all caught up on the 48 episodes you missed! No wait, don't change the channel to 7th Heaven reruns!" It also saw the recycling of the classic tune "You Can't Always Get What You Want" over the ending credits, as though to say "The rights to this cost a fortune! We better milk Mick Jagger for all he's worth! No wait, don't change the channel to Anderson Cooper 360!"

The Patient(s) of the Week plotlines were confusing, but the crux of the episode seemed to be House wrestling with his emotions (or lack thereof.) Now that he's as limber as Christina Aguilera and drug-free, Greggy-poo can't block out all those pesky human feelings with Vicodin. He takes on non-interesting patients because he wants to help, and then becomes so uncomfortable with this that he subjects them to a barrage of painful tests just to spice things up. It's kind of like what would happen if Spock stopped being whatever he was (OK, I never watched Star Trek) only funnier. By episode's end, House is forging Wilson's signature on a prescription for his trusty Vicodin. Must... defeat... the kindness...

Jeanette and I related to this theme perfectly. We both pride ourselves on having no souls (we even have the script memorized for our imaginary program, "The We Have No Souls Show") but of late we've found ourselves inexplicably moved by... well, the types of things ordinary folks find poignant. For instance, we both... cried... over summer reading. It's really weird - is this a hormonal, twenty-something thing? Or delayed reactions after years of repressing things without the aid of prescription drugs, but with the sheer willpower that must wear off at some point?

I hope it doesn't last, for us or for House.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some thoughts on the television day, 9/5/06

So Rosie's View Debut was today. I have always been a huge fan of Rosie. My mother will tell you how I bullied her into getting tickets to be in the studio audience of The Rosie O'Donnell show as soon as it was physically possible. Even when she seems to be completely bonkers/an insane bitch, there's just something I love about Rosie's ability to keep it real. Let this serve as enough background to prove that I was pulling for her. Anyway, as moderator Rosie may be expected to have more voice than her co-hosts, even the ever-degenerating Baba Wawa. But, in typical Rosie fashion, Rosie couldn't seem to keep her mouth shut, or as she might write on her own blog:

i couldnt shut the
pie hole
got spit in bab's eye
but its just day 1
im still a lesbian mom

Anyway, I can see Ro working out, but I hope she tones it down a bit in the future. I barely heard Joy Behar's voice this episode. And Joy Behar's voice is like a lullaby. A sweet, sweet lullaby to get me through the 11 AM hour.
Boss' nanny out of commission today = boss bringing kids to work = Jeanette using her college degree to babysit = Jeanette's view into the fascinating pop culture world of 4-7 year olds.

What I discovered today was...fascinating. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it and really couldn use your help, blog land. Please enjoy this promotional music video for the Disney Channel's Handy Manny. Despite what the video may tell you, Wilmer Valderama is not only Manny's friend and customer, but also the voice of Manny. Who knew that the logical step in show business went from talking about banging Ashlee Simpson and Mandy Moore on Howard Stern's show to children's television?!

ANNNND Tag, Alanna! Come back soon to see my fellow boob tuber's thoughts on tonight's highly anticipated premiere of House!

Friday, September 01, 2006

My Telitinerary for Fall 2006

Because the Boob Tubers are undeniable experts in their arena, it’s natural that you will want to base your Fall 2006 TV viewing habits completely on ours. I know Alanna was dying for me to write about my feelings on “Survivor: Third Reich,” but instead I want to first fill you in on what I will (and will not) be watching this upcoming season.

Note: Some schools of thought believe the week, particularly the television-viewing week, begins with Monday. As a young girl, I was introduced to this fact in a rather brutal matter. While attending some sort of children’s program at my local public library, Mrs. Cunningham, the then children’s librarian, led us in some sort of song regarding teddy bears and their daily habits that we were to recite with her. When all the children began the chant with Monday, I said Sunday. Mrs. Cunningham corrected me, telling me to say Monday, but I told her no, the week begins with Sunday. She said sometimes people just start with Monday, particularly in regards to teddy bears. I was devastated, and therefore now I insist on starting my weekly run down with Sunday.

Anyway, Sunday.
There is really nothing on the network side that interests me about Sunday nights. I am staunchly anti Desperate Housewives, and I have seen Brothers & Sisters, which ABC has bestowed the beloved former Grey’s Anatomy time slot on, and it blows. Therefore, I believe I will be a casual Family Guy Viewer at 9 PM EST on Fox, and leave myself open for when HBO sends some new Sunday night goodies our way (particularly more Sopranos and Big Love come spring).

8 PM ABC- Wife Swap. I’m a sucker for reality guilty pleasures, and this is one of my favorites. Check out the season premiere featuring a family that embraces all things pirate.
9 PM NBC- Heroes. I’ve seen the pilot and it is…not bad. This will easily fill your desire for network fantasy if Lost is too ‘out there’ for you. (Polar bears on a tropical island? I will believe it when I see snakes on a plane). While the first plot line is a little melodramatic, I see this show gaining some good footing once all the heroes become aware and accepting of their powers. Plus, cut me off a piece of Milo Ventimiglia!

10 PM NBC- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The first episodes of Studio 60 is very industry heavy in lingo and plot content, but the show runners have learned their lesson, and this should turn into a great display of chemistry between Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. My one complaint is I LOVED Jud Hirsch in the pilot and am bummed that this is a cameo that doesn’t look to be a recurring one.

8 PM Fox- House. Oh. My. God. Cannot wait for this Tuesday.
DVRing 8 PM CW- Gilmore Girls. I am nervous to see what this season will bring since brilliant show runner and creator Amy Sherman Paladino (and husband Dan) have called it quits on Gilmore. I am hoping that the show has gained enough of a voice by now that the crackerjack writing team can give us one more season for Rory to dump Logan and for Laurelai to marry Luke!
10 PM CBS- Smith. Unfortunately, all I can say for this pilot is that it wasn’t horrible. It has peaked my curiosity enough to watch this band of criminals, especially because it seems to succeed where earlier this year, NBC’s Heist failed. Also, Ray Liotta is a fine actor and human being. Actually, I know nothing about him as a person.
DON’T WATCH 9:30 PM ABC- Help Me Help You. Ted Danson is no stranger to television, successful television at that. Neither is Jane Kaczmarek. But this comedy shot on film about a group therapist that needs help on his own brings the concept cliché to new cliché levels. What a waste of an above average cast.

8 PM NBC- 30 Rock. Sentimental value and Tina Fey allegiance will make me a regular viewer. This was by far the most promising half hour comedy of the new season, with some laugh out loud moments in the pilot. I just hope they don’t cut poor Rachel Dratch out completely before they're through…
DON’T WATCH 9 PM ABC- Lost. No matter what Alanna tells you, just don’t do it!

8 PM ABC- Ugly Betty. This hour-long comedy is not for thinkers. Also, watching the pilot tied up enough loose ends to make you feel like you were watching a movie. Also, watching the pilot made you feel like you were watching The Devil Wears Prada. But it was cute. I will probably channel surf between this and My Name is Earl on NBC for the first half…but switch to
8:30 PM NBC- The Office. This show deserved its Emmy. Even if my heart still remains with Ricky Gervais, this is the best comedy on network television.

DON’T WATCH 9 PM ABC- Men in Trees. Anne Heche looked like she was WASTING AWAY in the pilot, which is enough for me to boycott. This show follows Heche as a down and out motivational speaker making a fresh start in Alaska, living in a town populated mostly by men. It’s hard to buy any show that gets a Friday night time slot, even though CBS’ Ghost Whisperer is a modest returning success after premiering on this night, but its especially hard to invest in this predictable show that feels more like a Nora Ephron piece gone wrong.

Wow, look at this crap. I guess I’d better learn to like college football. However, keep your eyes open for the return of…
8 PM NBC- Dateline. Particularly Dateline predators. Nothing brings more satisfaction in life than watching a shoeless, toothless Floridian with the screen name “HardForBritney69” convince a Dateline correspondent that is visiting a little girl who is home alone to fix her roller skates.

Keep in mind that this schedule doesn’t mean I won’t be watching, oh I don’t know, everything else ever. But if quality is your middle name like it is mine (and by quality I mean Kathryn) check these shows out. Wow, I just felt like one of those three kids reviewing a book on an episode of Reading Rainbow.

100% customer satisfaction

TV, it is a-changing in the Boob Tubers' household (and by household I mean shoebox-sized, mouse-ridden, pre-war apartment wedged between a happy ending massage parlor and a drug rehab center.) Jeanette and Viv decided to get DVR, and along with that magical recording device we also gained about 100 new channels. So far we've taped such gems as Buffy reruns, every episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, and a Cosby Show episode that plays like propaganda for Bill's idea of the model black American citizen.

The most interesting product of our increasingly ludicrous cable package, though, is Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days. The show plays less like reality TV and more like serial documentary, with the ever-genuine Spurlock presenting us with thirty perspective-altering days in the life of himself or someone else. One episode featured a man whose job had been outsourced traveling to India to meet the people who now work for his former company. Another has an atheist mom live with a devout Christian family for a month. Spurlock avoids the sensationalist trappings of other such switcheroo programs (I'm looking at you, Wife Swap) and instead presents his subjects as nuanced individuals without the predictable stereotypes.

In the episode the Boob Tubers watched last night, Spurlock submitted himself to thirty days in a county prison. He roomed with convicted felons, ate in the prison cafeteria, and even volunteered to do 72 hours in solitary confinement. Spurlock is nothing if not an extremist, regularly inserting himself into deeply unpleasant situations, as in his somewhat obvious doc, Super Size Me.

This 30 Days piece was more effective than his anti-fast food film, though. We see Spurlock socializing with a series of men who clearly do not belong in prison: a schizophrenic dependent on the goodwill of another inmate, a young man detoxing from heroin, several good-natured guys who have never committed a violent crime. We learn about a system that not only fails to rehabilitate, but seems to instill behaviors that will only land these people in prison over and over again. And it drains millions of dollars from taxpayers. It's unsurprising, then, when we learn that the friends Spurlock made are back on drugs or in jail.

It's rare that the Boob Tubers will have a legitimate discussion about a TV show once it's over. A typical discussion begins and ends with "J.T. York is totally my Degrassi little brother!" or "What exactly does 'Danity Kane' mean?" But last night we actually talked about the prison system, addiction, and mental illness. 30 Days distinguishes the often-sleazy FX from the big networks in that it presents high-quality reality TV - who knew it was possible?

And on the topic of reality TV, tune in soon for Jeanette's take on Survivor's embrace of old-school segregation this upcoming season!