Monthly Archives: September 2009

FlashForward – “There are no more good days.”

EXT. DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – DAY

A typical summer morning. Birds chirping. People on their way to work. Widen to reveal —

Four Hours Earlier

A typical summer morning. Birds chirping. People on their way to work. Mexicans trimming the trees and mowing the grass. Mark Benford kisses his wife Olivia before leaving for the day. Aaron Stark trims his beard. Bryce Varely sticks a gun to his head. The hot chick who was on Mad Men is taking her clothes off. Business as usual, right? WRONG. Today’s the day everything changes. Boom. Roasted.

FBI agent Mark and his sidekick Hikaru Sulu are chasing some stock terror suspect who will turn out to be central to the show’s plot halfway through the season when suddenly–!

For 2 minutes and 17 seconds, the entire world blacks out. No one’s sure what’s going on, but it’s like one of those Yellow Submarine things where even though it’s like one big acid trip, the music’s still pretty good so I just went with it. And then my aunt walked in and I was so high I hit on her, and she touched me in my swimsuit area.

When everyone wakes up LA is on fire. Sulu takes the helm while Mark tries to help all the people who are freaking out. Over at the hospital, Olivia is dealing with the same thing. Back at their house, Nicole the nanny pushes her boyfriend off of her long enough to make sure Charlie isn’t dead. She’s awake, clutching her teddy bear.

Nicole: Are you alright, sweety?

Charlie: I had a bad dream.

Nicole: What did you do?

Charlie: The malice of the act was base and I loved it–that is to say I loved my own undoing, I loved the evil in me–not the thing for which I did the evil, simply the evil: my soul was depraved, and hurled itself down from security in You into utter destruction, seeking no profit from wickedness but only to be wicked.

Nicole: Maybe I should call your mom.

Olivia’s got her own problems.

Later, at FBI headquarters, Mark and a stock task force gather in a conference room to figure out what’s happened. From what they know, the blackouts affected everyone on the planet.

Mark: No. It was more than a blackout. It was like a memory… of the future!

Everyone. At the Exact Same F’ing Time: You mean…a flash-forward?

Seth MacFarlane: Giggity.

Mark tells Demetri they need to figure out a way to see what everyone saw during the flashforward. They’re on it, and a plan comes together surprisingly fast.

Demetri: We’ll make a website!

Girl: And a TV show!

They take the idea to Stan, who’s quick to jump onboard.

Stan: Good job, guys. But let’s keep all this blackout business under wraps for now. We can’t let the public find out about this.

Mark: Uh, you realize the world knows, right?

Stan: Keep up the good work.

That night, Mark’s talking to Nicole. Ever since the blackout, she hasn’t been able to stop crying.

Nicole: I’ve been watching the news all day, except for when I was…nevermind. I just don’t know what to think, you know? I’m scared. I’m horny.

Mark: You really should go. I’m already a recovering alcoholic, I don’t need–you know. That other stuff coming up.

Nicole: What other stuff?

Mark: Please leave.

And she’s not the only one acting strange. Mark told Olivia what he saw during his blackout, but Olivia’s kept quiet.

Mark: What did you see, babe?

Olivia: I don’t want to talk about it.

Mark: But–

Olivia: He made me feel like a real woman!

Back in the office, whatshername calls Demetri over. She points to her computer.

Girl: Did you know every security camera in the world feeds into the FBI database?

Demetri: Really?

Girl: Yeah. I just finished looking through it. Check out what I found!

Demetri: That wasn’t taken during the blackout. It’s an Astros game. But it’s kind of cool that you found such a huge clue so quickly.

Girl: I know, right?

What does it all mean? Who’s the mysterious Suspect 0? What role will the kangaroo play? Was my Astros joke topical? More importantly, will FlashForward be as commercially viable as Lost? Tune in next week!

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Cougar Town, “Pilot”: Pow!

“Maybe what really drives you nuts is that you couldn’t bag a young stud if you tried,” Josh Hopkins tells Courtney Cox in Cougar Town’s pilot episode. “You don’t think I could?” asks Cox, right before calling out to a kid riding by on his bike. “Pow!” She pulls open her robe, and the kid, who will be telling this story to his friends well into college, plows head-on into a parked car.

I just watched the pilot again and I’m still cleaning up the Dr. Pepper I spit all over my TV. I’m not sure what ABC did to deserve it, but as far as good TV goes, their cup runneth over this season.

Cougar Town stars Courtney Cox as Jules Cobb, a 40-year old single mom who’s trying to jump back in to the dating scene. Being single, being 40 with a 17-year old son, she’s (understandably) a little anxious. There to push her into the deep end is her best friend Laurie, played by Busy Phillips. After working some kinks out at the local discotheque, Jules hooks up with Matt. After moving things back to her place, they’re interrupted by Jule’s ex-husband Bobby and her son Travis.

Jules getting caught doing that thing she always told Bobby she hated but really doesn’t sums up a lot of show. It’s that, “Oh s**t. I’m doing this and people can see me,” feeling that makes Jules so hesitant to start dating again. Bobby and Travis aren’t making it any easier for her. Bobby looks on, amused, while Travis — the teenager who’s still getting picked on at school — can only watch in horror, especially after his dad gets a job at his school…cutting the grass.

The show was created by Scrubs alums (or as I call them, Scrubs Scribes) Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel, so fans of that show will definitely recognize the humor, although it’s a bit more reined in here. Reined in, but every bit as funny. We all knew Courtney Cox could do comedy, but this seems like a role she was almost born to, especially when you consider what all of the ex-Friends have gone on to do after that show completed its run.

Structurally, the show’s still working out a few kinks. I think it’s something all sitcoms go through in their first few episodes, and I don’t think the show is going to have any problems settling into its own rhythm. It’s a great premise, and while Cox is clearly the star, she’s got some talent backing her up. Brian Van Holt as Cox’s absent-minded ex-husband provides some of the show’s laugh-out-loud moments, as do Christa Miller and Ian Gomez, Cox’s neighbors who have settled into a life of utterly predictable marital bliss.

On the Working Title TV-Meter, we give Cougar Town–just kidding. Could you imagine something so ridiculous? Anyway, on the Working Title TV-Meter we give Cougar Town a B++, which is basically an A. I just hesitate giving any show an A right out of the gate, even though this one really had me laughing. Anyway, on Wednesday nights ABC is definitely the place to be. Cougar Town and the network’s other freshman comedy, Modern Family, seem to be a good pair. Considering the ratings, they’re both off to a good start. Hopefully that’ll keep up. I’d hate to buy a DVD next year that said Cougar Town: The Complete Series.

SNL is back this Saturday night…live. *cough*

If the Weekend Update Thursdays they’ve had on these past couple of weeks aren’t satisfying your SNL jones, you’ll be happy to know the show will be back with new episodes this Saturday. Jennifer’s Body star and future Jennifer’s Body 2 star Megan Fox will be hosting. I’m sure she’ll be really funny, and we’ll all feel bad for laughing at those Transformers letters. Anyway. In other news, Fox is currently in talks to star in the next Batman film. Rumor has it she’ll be playing an STD. (zing!)

Things We Like #5: Jeff Goldblum

Now, I can understand it if you don’t like Jeff Goldblum. Sure I do. Some people like him and some people are idiots. If you still haven’t made the leap, go rent The Life Aquatic. By the time those crooked f**kers break into his sealab, you’ll understand.

The 61st Primetime Emmy Winners

Another Emmy ceremony is behind us. Tonight’s show managed to throw us a couple of curveballs. Toni Collette beat out Tina Fey for best actress in a comedy series. Bryan Cranston took home best actor in a drama. But when it came down to the two biggies – best drama and comedy – the awards went to 30 Rock and Mad Men, who probably wouldn’t win so much if they weren’t the best shows on TV.

In any awards show — that is, the Emmys, the Golden Globes, and the Oscars — there are plenty of failed jokes and awkward moments, but all in all, tonight’s show was pretty good. I thought Neil Patrick Harris did a solid job as host. Maybe I’m still comparing everything to that big pile of crap they put on last year, hosted by Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Jeff Probst, Ryan Seacrest, and Howie Mandel. Ugh… I cringe.

Some of tonight’s more memorable moments:

  • Sarah Silverman’s mustache.
  • Ricky Gervais saying things.
  • Jimmy Fallon’s bit with the auto-tuner.
  • Bob Newhart. Seriously, is there anyone who doesn’t like that guy?
  • Finally, Kate Walsh letting her hair grow back out. Yes Kate, I’ll marry you. We can live with my mother.

Anyway, if you didn’t watch the show, none of this will mean anything to you, so here’s the full list of winners…

Outstanding Drama Series
“Mad Men” (AMC)

Outstanding Comedy Series
“30 Rock” (NBC)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” (AMC)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Glenn Glose, “Damages” (FX)

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Kater Gordon and Matthew Weiner, “Meditations in an Emergency,” “Mad Men” (AMC)

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Rod Holcomb, “And in the End,” “ER” (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Cherry Jones, “24” (Fox)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Michael Emerson, “Lost” (Fox)

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics
“Hugh Jackman Opening Number,” The 81st Annual Academy Awards (ABC)

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Directing for Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Bruce Gowers, “American Idol” (Fox)

Outstanding Miniseries
“Little Dorrit” (PBS)

Outstanding Made for TV Movie
“Grey Gardens” (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange, “Grey Gardens” (HBO)

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Dearbhla Walsh, “Little Dorrit” (PBS)

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Andrew Davies, “Little Dorrit” (PBS)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Brendan Gleeson, “Into the Storm” (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Ken Howard, “Grey Gardens” (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Sajida in “House of Saddam” (HBO)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)

Outstanding Host for a Reality or a Reality Competition Program
Jeff Probst, “Survivor” (CBS)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock” (NBC)

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Jeffery Blitz, “Stress Relief,” “The Office” (NBC)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Toni Collette, “United States of Tara” (Showtime)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Matt Hubbard, “Reunion,” “30 Rock” (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Kristin Chenoweth, “Pushing Daisies” (ABC)

“Corn goes in one end and profit comes out the other.”

I’ve always wondered what people 50 or 60 years ago would think of movies today. Back then it seemed like when a movie was released, it was an event. It was done up. Now, all kinds of stuff is thrown out there. And all the time, too. There are new movies coming out every week. Are there people around today who were alive 50 or 60 years ago who I could ask about that? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t want to know.

If I were releasing a movie, I’d want to do it old school. I’d want it to be an event. If the movie were like a story I was telling a friend, I’d say something like, “Dude! I HAVE to show you something!” The Informant! wasn’t that sort of movie. It was more like telling your friend, “Oh yeah. This funny thing happened and it reminded me of you.” Does any of that make sense? No? I understand.

In the film, Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a vice president at agriculture business giant Archer Daniels Midland. Whitacre turns whistleblower (or Informant!) and confesses to the FBI that ADM is involved in a price-fixing scheme with the food additive lysine. Now this is where things get weird. Whitacre suffers from bipolar disorder and there’s plenty he’s not sharing with anyone. Slowly, the FBI discovers what that is as Whitacre works to gather evidence against ADM over the next three years.

To start off, I’ll say that trailers for The Informant! are lying to you. They make the movie look funny, which it is, but they also make it look lighthearted, which in end I didn’t think it was. The movie isn’t doom and gloom or anything like that, but once it’s over you feel like there’s something that isn’t sitting right with you, and you realize it’s because you went into the movie with different expectations. What were you expecting? You’re not sure of that either, you just know it was something different.

Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre is a lot of fun to watch. A piece of me did feel like he was shoehorning himself into the role just a little bit, although I think that may have had something to do with his makeup. I saw George Clooney gain weight for Syriana and I thought to myself, “Yeah. That’s believable.” There’s something that wouldn’t let me do that for Damon. The hairstyle and mustache and bad ties are all great, but throughout the movie I kept thinking, “Man, if that guy got a haircut and lost about 30 pounds he’d look just like…Matt Damon.” For me it was kind of like he was playing dress up and not necessarily a character that came naturally to him.

While most of the movie shows just how bumbling and unaware of himself Whitacre is, the ending brings in some emotion and really changes the film’s tone. Damon shines through the whole thing. Whitacre playing secret agent during his high-level meetings with ADM execs are the most fun to watch, but his interactions with Scott Bakula and Joel McHale — Whitacre’s FBI handlers — are great fun too. The no-nonsense authority figures who only become more exasperated as the film goes on make perfect foils for the seemingly absent-minded Whitacre. Other appearances from Tony Hale, Scott Adsit, and Patton Oswalt, among others really make you keep your eyes peeled. I think putting those names in smaller roles helped bring the movie together in a way it might not have done otherwise.

Visually, the film is great. Its look is matched up with the soundtrack in a way that reminded me a lot of Ocean’s 13. I guess it’s just Steven Soderbergh’s style. With The Girlfriend Experience and Che being among his most recently completed films, It looks like that almost hyperreal look is something he’s only beginning to venture into. I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes with it.

If you’ve got to head out and catch something in the theaters, this is probably your safest bet, but you won’t be missing anything if you hold out and wait for the DVD. This is a good movie, but I have a feeling that the entire story will make more sense if you just read the book. B-

So You Think You Can Dance: The Bloodletting, pt. 2

Without a doubt, the most exciting part of Wednesday’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance was the teaser for next week’s episode. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re only showing one episode a week. Maybe it’s that there aren’t enough Sexs and Dancin’ Ds for us to feel sorry for. A much more likely culprit is the fact that every time the show breaks for commercials they act like when they come back, they’re going to be showing all the big explosions and people getting shot up in True Lies. Of course it’s just a bunch of spooky music and creative editing.

Some highlight’s from Wednesday’s episode…

Hyperactive Black Kid Who’s Name I Can’t Remember. He seemed like a really nice guy. Excited to be getting his fifteen minutes. Hats off to Nigel and the other judges for letting him into choreography. But when that commercial break came, everything went to slow-mo and they started with that music again. We saw EMTs working over his limp body. We saw an oxygen mask, and was that a defibrillator?! But five minutes later he’s back up, laughing and jumping into his dad’s car! I paid for blood dammit!

Jonathan Perez. The judges said he was the best b-boy they had ever seen. He was fast, and that thing he did where he walked across the stage on his hands was pretty nifty, but other than that…cough. He was nowhere near as good as Hawk from season 3, or as original as Phillip from last season.

Allison Becker. I really did enjoy watching her audition. I have to be honest though, anytime I see someone who’s handicapped audition for a reality competition, I cringe a little. The judges smile and I’m sure they’re sincere in their admiration, but then the realities of producing a television show set in, and the contestant is sent home. You see it especially with overweight people. Why put fat people in shows like So You Think You Can Dance or America’s Next Top Model when we can really capitalize on them with shows like Dance Your Ass Off and More to Love? Maybe I’m just angry because I weigh 700 pounds, and am writing this from the bed I haven’t left in five years. Oh, life.