With all due respect to Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before New Year’s, and all thru my loft
Not a TV was stirring; the shows are all off.
Buffy ornaments hung from my fake Target tree
Except for the ones that were shipped late (but free).

I turned on the TV, without too much hope
I flipped to the guide, all the time thinking “nope.”
When, what to my TiVo-ing eyes should appear
But a brand new OC, all about the New Year!

Thank you, o FOX, you most maverick of networks
For a holiday way for OC fans to get perks.

They already had a great Chrismukkah show
A New Year’s Eve ep? I had assumed no.

It starts with the stars stuck at a gas station
With a pregnancy test… is there an incubation?
Seth, Summer, Ryan and Taylor in trouble –
Let’s find out what happened; flashback on the double!

New Year’s was looking like kind of a bummer
‘Cause Seth didn’t plan a fun evening for Summer.
But Ryan’s en route to Las Vegas with Taylor
Assuming Sin City is where he will nail her.

So Seth horns his way in on Ryan’s big plans
We catch up with the kids on the road in their van.
Back to the test – maybe Summer is late, and
Before we find out, the plot shifts to Kaitlin.

Miss Jailbait’s back home, going shopping with Bullitt
For a dress for her mother, who he’s trying to hit.
And speaking of Julie, her business is booming
'Cause instead of dates, clients pay her for zooming.

And Bullitt’s hired Frank to put her books in order

Unaware Julie’s turned into a whorer.
At the party they host, Kirsten tries to remember
If the dates they set up were this “May-December.”

Back on the road, the kids try their best
To track down a chick who stole Summer’s test.

They arrive at a rave, and wouldn’t you know

Seth runs into a fan, dressed up as "Kid Chino."

At home, Creepy Frank tells Julie he knows
That the strapping young men at the party are hos.
She sneaks out to meet him at his hotel suite
Buying his silence with “between the sheets.”

Seth actually makes Summer feel even worse
About the pregger test in the missing purse.
She steals Ryan’s keys and drives into the night
While Seth finds the purse and tries to set things right.

To catch up with the girls, the guys get a lift

From Seth’s superfan. But how to heal the rift?
Ryan asks Seth if the pregger test matters

If life without Summer would be left in tatters.

Seth knows Ryan’s right, as he comes to his senses
And starts on the process of mending the fences.
Well, Summer’s not pregnant, but now here’s the thing –
Seth pledges his love and busts out a ring!

And meanwhile Sandy is researching Frank,
‘Cause something about him jarred his memory bank.
He figures it out, and the hammer comes down

Frank’s not who he says… Ryan’s dad has hit town!


Right back where we started from

California, here I come, as I head out west for Christmas. Have a good holiday, and I hope to see the readers that I know and meet the ones that I don't on the 29th at the Lago.


Eh-ragon or Star of the Ring Wars

Mash-ups are pretty popular, and like most trends, it’s aged down to kid level. Yesterday’s Grey Album has become today’s Nickelodeon Mash Machine. So I guess it’s not terribly surprising that Eragon plays as if you took all the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars discs, shoved ‘em in the same DVD player and hit fast-forward.

It was based on a hugely successful book written by a 15-year old, but the movie plays even younger than that. It hurtles thru story beats at breakneck speed, perhaps in hopes that you won’t notice you’ve seen them before. Young farmboy discovering his far greater destiny? Check. Wizened mentor who fought in the first war? Check. Plucky elven maiden and rouge-ish sidekick? Check and check. On and on, the movie plays like a greatest hits compilation, like “Now That’s What I Call a Fantasy Movie #42.”

That said, its heart is in the right place and it certainly works for kids, given that things like texture and character development aren’t terribly high on their lists. The dragon looks great, the movie’s pleasant overall – think of it as Lord of the Rings Lite and you’ll have an ok time.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

TV shows are either holiday-themed or on holiday break. Fortunately these two didn't disappoint.
The Office: Was frankly a tad worried about this one; hour-long eps of sitcoms have a tendency to be half an hour of funny and half an hour of filler. This, tho, was effing brilliant. A terrifically solid hour full of humor, heartbreak and holiday-centric racial confusion. Harold Ramis directed – it’s prolly the best thing he’s done since Groundhog Day.
The OC: Was even more concerned about this one, as the “scenes from next week’s episode” showed they were going the It’s a Wonderful Life route. But my fears were unfounded – this Chrismukkah was crazy good. The alternate universe take on the town was tons of fun, we FINALLY put Marissa to bed, and Ryan & Taylor got a couple steps closer.


Quick Catchup

The impending holidays have made the TV schedule (and mine, frankly) a little scattershot, so here are a few highlights from the past week or so, Mile-a-Minute style - 60 words per show.Battlestar Galactica: Had high hopes for this ep, as it’s from a killer Buffy scribe, Jane Espenson. Check out her blog if you’re interested in Buffy, writing or Los Angeles lunch locales. Anyway, she didn’t disappoint, as the death of a fairly major character made us grapple with her feats and flaws. Kind of like what makes this show rock every week.
Saturday Night Live: A start-to-finish failure. Sketches generally less funny than the ones on Studio 60. Weekend Update went by without a laugh. While amusing, the re-edit of the Apocalypto trailer was swinging at a softball (Mel Gibson Jewish jokes are getting pretty gamey). The one funny thing was Gwen Stefani’s parody of a pop song. Mashing yodeling and rapping? Hilarious! Oh, wait…
Friday Night Lights: Wherein the broken record continues, droning on and on about how damn good this show is. And how no one’s watching. However, NBC’s moving it to Wednesday starting Jan. 10 – which is good, as the perpetual motion machine called American Idol hits Jan. 16, sure to destroy everything in its path. Anyway, last night’s Lyla-centric ep was another standout. Watch!
Top Chef: Note to Mia and future reality show contestants who volunteer to quit to save another team member: don’t. Despite what your stuck-in-a-kitchen-for-weeks or stranded-on-an-island-for-months or whatever-the-next-public-humiliation-is addled mind might think, it isn’t noble sacrifice. It’s losing. After a profane rant about selling drugs at age 11 and that’s why her canap├ęs sucked, Mia quit to spare Elia. Whatever… loser. Bye.


I've got my Sprite...

...I've been tagged again. Thanks, Chris, altho you may know how the story goes. My Junior High and High School crushes were the 1-2 punch of Regan Kuehnle and Marlene Haegele. A striking brunette and willowy blonde, respectively. Hoo boy. Had a few pseudo-dates with each which, in hindsight, I prolly could have turned into real ones had I been a bit more self-aware. Ah well.

However, given the theme of this blog, I’ll concentrate on my big-time college crush: Kristy Swanson. Stumbled across her in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was instantly smitten. Classic California beach blonde, and she spent much of the movie in cheerleader attire. Seriously.

So I found her in magazines, put up her posters, tracked down VHS tapes from her rather checkered film career, etc. Revisited her as Simone, the girl who said “Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.” Suffered thru Mannequin 2: On the Move. Realized she was the chick Duckie ended up with at the end of Pretty in Pink.

Given that I often drew Duckie comparisons at the time, I suppose it’s no surprise that I decided to push this crush beyond your garden-variety celebrity obsession. Perhaps it was Xmas fever, perhaps it was too much egg nog, but I decided to invite her to my agency’s holiday party – I was a senior at USC at the time, interning at Ogilvy & Mather Direct.

So I skimmed through one of (the many ;) articles I had on her and figured out who her publicist was. Wrote a witty yet sincere invitation and faxed it off on company letterhead. Very professional. I don't believe I mentioned I was a college intern. At that point, I assumed this little lark was over, but a small spark wondered “What if…”

Turns out that question was answered later in the day, when a number I didn’t recognize popped up on the Caller ID on my cubicle phone. Trying to sound far more mature than I was, I picked it up to find myself talking to the aforementioned publicist. She explained that she’d shown the invite to Kristy, who thought it was the nicest thing, and she would have said yes… but had to decline, as she currently had a boyfriend.

I said I understood.

Her boyfriend at the time, I believe, was Chad Lowe. So I was saying this thru clenched teeth. I mean, I’m no superstar, but I could have taken Chad Lowe. This was even before he got all weepy at The Oscars.


Mooby Review

DVD Weekend: Clerks IIWhile I didn’t get all internet fanboy about it, I was one of the Legion of Concerned on this one. Have been very up and down on Kevin Smith (not as dirty as it sounds). Loved Clerks, Mallrats not so much, Chasing Amy’s terrific, Dogma’s interesting but doesn’t totally work, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was a mess, Jersey Girl was surprisingly good for being so maligned, etc. Going back to the well seemed both a terrific and terrible idea – was it Smith successfully returning to his roots or would it be just a collection of dick and fart jokes from the cutting room floor of five other flicks?

It might be his best movie ever.

The beginning’s a bit rough – while not quite “I’m still not supposed to be here today!” it takes a little time to advance past “they’re back.” Dante and Randal are in fine form, they’ve got a new foil in Elias, Jay & Silent Bob have stepped back to the sidelines, etc… it’s fun, but feels a little irrelevant. Once Rosario Dawson walks thru the door, tho, it’s a whole different movie.

Her relationship with Dante, and the complications it causes with his relationship with Randal, are about the most real Smith has put on film. Amidst a bunch of fast-food humor and a donkey show, of course. Dawson’s a revelation – witty and winning – but the real achievement is honest and raw emotion. Smith’s known for filthy fun dialogue, and it’s here in spades, but what makes this a move and not just a series of sketches is how much you end up caring about these Clerks by the time the credits roll.

Netflix it if you just wanna see the flick, but buy it if you want to gleefully kill an entire weekend. As with all View Askew DVDs, this one’s loaded – Smith’s second to perhaps Peter Jackson in terms of comprehensive packages. 3 commentaries, a 90-minute documentary, 10 behind-the-scenes video journals, deleted scenes you actually want to see and a half-hour gag reel.

So catch up with the Clerks 10ish years later – it’s been a long trip back to the Quick Stop, but it’s well worth it.


No More Asian Bore-er

DVD Review: PulseBoy, I hope the Asian Horror trend is dead. Distinguished primarily by long awkward pauses and disconnected creepy imagery, these American imports of Japanese horror films have been uniformly dull.

Pulse, unfortunately, is no exception. I’m a big Veronica Mars fan, but even Kristen Bell can’t save this mess, a hodgepodge of gobbledygook about the dead taking over the world’s cities by infiltrating our wireless networks and convincing people to let themselves dissolve into CGI ash.

It hits all the pitfalls of the genre, including empty grungy high-rise apartments, indistinct ghouls walking on their backs and an overwhelming sense of everything being shot thru a sad blue filter. Plus the obligatory bleak ending – the DVD has an alternate one, which is actually the greater of two evils.

In the film, red duct tape prevents the undead from getting to you – I’d suggest you use it to wrap the DVD case closed and keep it that way. Pulse = pass.


I'm it!

Bunso brings me my first blog tag – thanks, Valerie! On with the show:
Popcorn or Candy?
Mostly neither, but Sno-Caps when I do. I have also had that weird
insta-pizza that heats up in a special crisper dish. Ok in a pinch.

Name a movie you've been meaning to see forever.

Bottle Rocket. I'm a huge Rushmore fan, and assume that Rocket is fun Wes Anderson stuff before he got all Royal Tenenbaums-y.

Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe.

Already stole Freddy Krueger’s for our local production of “A Nightmare in
Elmhurst,” so that’s out. Um… how about Indiana Jones? When he's not undercover as a Nazi.

Your favorite film franchise is:

One Ring to rule them all…

Invite five movie people over for dinner. Who are they? Why'd you invite
them? What do you feed them?
Assuming that some otherworldly power compels them to attend:
  1. Kristy Swanson, since she rejected the invite to my company Christmas party
  2. Kevin Smith, because I, too, enjoy dick jokes
  3. Rosario Dawson, as I sorta fell for her in Clerks II and she’d help me get my comic geek on
  4. Jon Stewart – hey, Death to Smoochy counts
  5. Carrie Fisher, for tales of script doctoring, seedy Hollywood underbelly, and, well, Slave Leia’s belly
And we'd get pizza from various regions of the country to spark some instant debate. Chicago- vs. New York-style, Hawaiian or no, that sort of thing.

What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the
movie theater?
Prying their mouth open, ripping out their tongue, then wrenching their jaw apart in opposite directions a la King Kong vs. the V-Rex. Have fun texting for the rest of your life.

Choose a female bodyguard

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The TV one. Hands down.

What's the scariest thing you've ever seen in a movie

Creepy twins from The Shining’s been taken, so I'm gonna go with the reveal of the killers in the first Scream. Not who they were, per se, but why they did it – because they were amoral and cruel. Unlike, say, deformed campers who are so evil they never die, those people actually exist.

Your favorite genre (excluding "comedy" and "drama") is...

Science fiction, as long as it’s action and not weird futuristic
navel-gazing introspection, so… Science Faction?

You are given the power to greenlight movies at a major studio for one
year. How do you wield this power?
For me: My script, Background Art, gets made.
For the fanboys (and me): Peter Jackson and crew get to make The Hobbit.
For the good of the nation: Whoopi Goldberg, John Travolta, Michael
Rapaport, Giovanni Ribisi, Nicolas Cage, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Jeff
Goldblum, Luis Guzman, James Spader and Richard Dreyfuss… surprise! You all get a year off!

Bonnie or Clyde?



Have Hat, Will Rabbit

Monday was all NBC, thanks to Prison Break's fall finale, and they pulled out all the stops. My next stop? Mile-a-Minute Comments.
Heroes: Now that’s how to hang a cliff, kids. Was worried that they’d fallen into the trap of spoiling the “one of these Heroes will lose their life” shocker via scenes from next week, but they pulled it out by killing one and putting another in serious jeopardy. All while teasing big battles to come. Well done – can’t wait ‘til Jan.
Studio 60: Curse you, Bradley Whitford. A 4.1 quake taking down the 10 is nonsense. The ongoing Matt & Harriet saga is toothless. Fighting the FCC was beyond random. And yet… when Danny tells Jordan that he loves her and if that makes her wanna run, she better get a head start because he’s coming for her, the whole damn thing worked.


God Bless the Internets

Thanks to nbc.com, iTunes and BitTorrent, I was able to track down the shows I missed last Thursday when Comcast decided it was afraid of snow. So here're the Mile-a-Minute Comments, 60 words or so per show:
The Office: Sorta polarizing episode. Was written by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant and it shows – very reminiscent of the original Office. No British accent, but less overt jokeyness and more overt awkwardness. Being a fan of both, I found this fusion version completely successful. Also worth noting is the continued integration of the Stamford office, which has spiced up the show.
30 Rock: Nice to see that it’s found its sea legs, as after a few shaky episodes, it’s turned into a reliably loony workplace lark. Less nice to see its new timeslot, as after only a few episodes, it’ll likely turn into an unfortunately canceled workplace lark. Even with the Must See Comedy strategy, this show can’t stand up to Grey’s Anatomy.
The OC: Thanks to new regulars Autumn Reeser and Willa Holland in addition to the showrunners’ refocus on fun, this show’s singing like it did the first season. So why’s no one watching? Oh, right – Grey’s Anatomy. The OC’s rebounded so strongly, it’d be a shame to see it get canceled. Better find it a new time slot, stat.


1-2 Punch

Quick catchup on a couple of weekend shows, Mile-a-Minute style – 60 words or so for each.
Battlestar Galactica: Given how many shows have gone all Fight Club this season (this one, The OC, Bones, etc.), I’m surprised there’s not a sequel in the works. Anyway, President Roslin learns that the first and second rules of any good secret fight society are true, while D and Anders learn that what happens on New Caprica doesn’t stay on New Caprica.
Saturday Night Live: You know how the best hosts are often the least funny? How comedians can try too hard (Robin Williams), but straight men prove their comic chops (Alec Baldwin)? This was not one of those times. Matthew Fox seemed to be having fun, but didn’t prove to be funny. Tenacious D is reliably awesome, but was neutered by the freakin’ FCC.


Two Strikes and No Balls

TBS launched a couple new comedies Tuesday. Sort of an odd time, missing both fall and midseason. Does that bode well? Read on for my Pilot Opinion of My Boys.
Lemme get this out of the way: I don’t like sitcoms. At least in the traditional, multicamera, jackassy-family-sitting-on-the-couch-trading- wisecracks kinda way. 22 minutes of rapid-fire punchlines is only somewhat more pleasant than lining up to get punched for 22 minutes.

But I don’t miss The Office, loved Arrested Development, like 30 Rock so far, and am a fairly big fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. So is it a single-camera thing? The discomfort comedy trend? Some combination thereof? Should I stop asking questions? Prolly yes to all of the above.

Unfortunately, the new TBS comedy My Boys proves that a single camera isn’t a silver bullet. It is not, despite being billed as such, “veryfunny.” It is, however, mildly ok. Maybe. Cleared The Pilot Hurdle by the narrowest of margins, primarily due to laughing out loud at today’s “Quote of the Night.”

The “My” is P.J. Franklin, a Sun-Times sportswriter who cannot stop acting like a guy or voiceovering everything with strained baseball metaphors. The “Boys” are her Central Casting friends who apparently do little else aside from come to her house to play poker.

The show takes place in Faux Chicago; the kind featuring random shots of Oak Street Beach runners and characters who locale-drop like they’re from Fodor’s. Lots of “what I like about the Billy Goat is” and “the traffic on Lake Shore Drive.” Fortunately no one said “Da Bears,” but I’m sure it’s not far off.

And therein lies the problem with My Boys – the whole thing feels fake. Plot, premise, performance… all of it labors under an air of unreality. The overall conceit is that P.J. is too much “one of the guys” to actually land one. A major plot point in the first two episodes is that the guy she’s into won’t sleep with her… because she’s not protesting enough. Apparently rejection is “hot.”

Complete and utter nonsense. P.J. is, in fact, a guy’s wet dream. A rockstar cute girl who looks great in a softball uni and can not only talk sports, but get you a press pass? Oh, and loves beer? Come on. One might be able to get some mileage out of plots concerning a new guy being put off by her familiarity with other guys, but as it stands, it’s another show that takes place in Bizarro world.

Can it be salvaged? Dunno. Despite the shaky characterization, Jordana Spiro is quite winning as P.J. Her boys need to evolve from a set of stock poker-playing buffoons into actual people – but the actors have decent comic timing. So far the writing’s hit and miss: solid laughs are scattered among obvious jokes, and it’s past time to lose the metaphorical baseball/love narration. We’ve heard it before – and better – in Bull Durham.

And the show’s sort of toothless. Set in a world of sports and guys, it needs to man up and push the comedy a bit. I’ll give it another week, but as the subject said – it’s not looking good.


Punch-drunk Love

Theme of the night seemed to be "dealing with issues through violence." Read on for my Mile-a-Minute take on a hit-and-hit Tuesday.
Veronica Mars: OK conclusion to the campus rape case. Altho it provide a bravura revenge moment for Logan, I’d love to see these things wrap up without resorting to putting Veronica in peril. And in peril from pretty minor characters, to boot. Next up – who shot Ed Begley, JR? Hard to imagine, but that sentence does actually refer to an unfortunate event.
Friday Night Lights: Was Friday Night Fights again, as Saracen and Smash almost went at it, we finally got Riggins vs. Riggins, and Street came out swinging in Murderball and took on Herc, Lyla plus Riggins (tough week). It’s always good, but this ep was kinda mixed – great date stuff, but the steroid subplot feels a bit been there.


Monday's my Funday

Actually, it's worlds better than Sunday. Take that, Bangles. Tuesday's turning into a bit of an "I do have to Runday," so here're some quick Mile-a-Minute Comments:
Prison Break: The “Fall Finale” delivered, although the more time the show spends on the shadowy conspiracy, the weaker it gets. The dramatic reveal of the guy behind the guy behind the guy was sorta “eh.” Just stick to the guys trying to get away. And sending Bellick back to Fox River was fun; jailhouse rape is guaranteed comedy gold.
Heroes: It’s a classic book trick: start with your second chapter. Catch up with your characters in the thick of the action, rather than belabor their beginnings. Works wonders, particularly for origin stories. This ep showed the Heroes discovering their powers (and limitations – poor doomed Google Girl) plus we learned how (and why) Sylar’s taking them. Truly riveting television.
Studio 60: Hey, look at this – take that comedy, toss in some conflict and you’ve got a show. Best ep yet. Few things, tho – don’t tease a “shocker” that’s already a heavily-covered cast pregnancy. Also, we already saw Corinne Bailey Rae on SNL; don’t waste your 44 minutes of screen time on musical guests. And don’t waste any time on Howie Mandel.


Heartbreaker, dreammaker, love-taker...

...don't you mess around with me. Fortunately, even with the holiday, ABC soldiered on with some new TV. I'm thankful – least I can do is give 'em 60 words or so per show, with Mile-a-Minute Comments:Grey’s Anatomy: The fit finally hit the shan. An episode that lived up to its billing without lotsa gimmicks. Well, yes, there was someone with a giant glass shard in her heart, but that’s par for the course at Seattle Grace. This show, while prone to fits of whimsy (seriously!) has evolved into one of the more honestly emotional ones on TV.Day Break: After the pilot, the next two eps were titled What if They Run and What if He Lets Her Go. Given the huge ratings dropoff, my question is What if Nobody Watches? I think the show’s got some style and flair, although it could use a little more fun. Here’s hoping it gets to at least complete the 13-episode run.


Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?

Friday Night Lights was dark, so only one Mile-a-Minute Comment for Tuesday.
Veronica Mars: Getting picked up for only 20 episodes seems like the last gasp. I keep wanting to urge people to watch this show, but it’s not built with good jumping-on points. Last night’s ep was terrific, with campus rape case revelations and more issues in Veronica’s relationship. But I’d say wait ‘til after next week, when the case gets wrapped up.


Hit and Miss... and Miss

Not a banner Monday, but hitting one out of three would put you in the hall of fame, so I guess we shouldn't complain. But I still will, 60 words at a time, with Mile-a-Minute Comments:
Prison Break: What the hell? At first, Michael believes his father beat and locked him in a dark closet, but a helpful flashback changes everyone’s mind. Mourning his dying father, he buries him in a classic TV frontier grave (rocks and a cross of sticks). Because you wouldn’t worry about leaving a trail when you've, you know, Broken out of Prison. Hah?
Heroes: Turns out “the answers we’ve been waiting for” will come in the 2nd half of a two-parter. Ah well – sweeps, right? So, slightly underwhelming, but still a hell of an episode, as The Cheerleader starts to step up and deal with her destiny. And thanks for wrapping up the return of Mohinder – overly drawn out and decidely undramatic.
Studio 60: This show operates in some sort of Bizarro world, where not only would the general public tolerate two identical sketch comedy shows airing on back-to-back nights, but a real network would be willing to hire an entire staff of writers from one of those shows to spinoff a character called Peripheral Vision Man into a sitcom. Two words: thin ice.


No Deal. Please.

So to get ready for tonight’s big Heroes, I tuned to NBC early, unwittingly watching about half of Deal or No Deal.

Ho. Lee. Crap.It’s the classic trainwreck, except the passengers are 26 passably attractive clones being driven by a preening bald jester in a disco undertaker outfit. Oh, and on the side of the tracks, shrieking like feral schoolchildren, are a seething throng of lowest common denominators.

Deal or No Deal purports to be a game show, but the only talents involved are shouting numbers and trying not to be creeped out by Howie Mandel. Each number corresponds to a case with a monetary amount inside. The “point” of the show is to open as many cases as possible without eliminating the big money. As the cases disappear, a mysterious Banker calls with offers to stop playing, at which point Howie struts around, presses his palms together and spits out the show’s version of “final answer,” which goes “Deal…

…or No Deal?”

The contestant can either take the money or go for more. A throng of hysterical jackals, some the contestant’s friends and family, urge him or her to go on.

At the point that I stumbled across the show, a woman who apparently loved everything lime green took the Deal of trading her case for a lime green Escalade, while her shrewish family screeched “No Deal!” through a torrent of tears. The Escalade was, perhaps, the ugliest vehicle ever created, unless someone defecated on an Edsel at some point.

She was replaced by Jim, who jaunted up on stage, executed the first of several double pounds with the grinning specter of Death – sorry, Howie – and said he wanted to act like a “big shot.” Being a big shot would, in his estimation, involve taking his family on a cruise and giving money away to a stranger. At one point, he was given $1000 to distribute to strangers in the audience, who responded to these hundred dollar bills like a heart transplant seconds away from expiration. Also, the Banker sent his Messenger out with a stepstool to prove that Jim was too short to be a big shot.

As the show ended, Jim was down to a few cases and several hundred thousand dollars. The followup Thanksgiving episode promises the the train actually wrecking, plus pie, turkey and special guest Celine Dion. Sounds like there's another train on the track.


If at Faust you don't succeed

Didn't quite have to sell my soul, but did dabble in BitTorrent to track down the latest ep of Supernatural. Mile-a-Minute Comments, ahoy.
Supernatural: The Winchester boys revisit the Robert Johnson legend in an episode reminiscent of the movie Crossroads, except no Ralph Macchio. Which, really, is ok. This is a surprisingly good show – there are a million ways it could go wrong, but has a nice loose feel to it, good chemistry between the leads, and some of the better music cues on TV.

NBC bad, ABC good

Thanks to the Friday night repeat, here's a Mile-a-Minute Comment on Grey's Anatomy.
Grey’s Anatomy: Geo liked this episode, including the patient who referred to himself in the third person. Geo loved the story regarding George’s dad’s increasingly anguished health problems, save for the belabored metaphor Callie used to explain cancer to George’s Tweedle Dee and Dum brothers. Geo anxiously await next week’s extra-long big-hitter episode, particularly as it won’t cause DVR conflicts.


Super Size Free

Note to NBC: making extended cuts of The Office available for viewing online? Fantastic. Airing “supersized” versions of The Office and 30 Rock at random times like 7:36 and 8:22, thereby screwing up any chance to successfully DVR everything? Not so much. Having missed Grey’s Anatomy and Supernatural due to the aforementioned schedule snafu, I move on to Mile-a-Minute Commentary, offering 60 words or so per show through gritted teeth…
The Office: Really terrific episode. Featured everything this show does well, from the off-kilter comedy of the Andy/Dwight war to the crushingly awkward moments of trying to hoist heavy Tony onto a table and Pam adjusting to Jim’s… adjustments. Staples’ product placement was a bit much, tho – particularly the big red logo featured on the on-air shredder. Staples, right… got it.
30 Rock: New night, same ratings. It’s too bad, really – the show has finally found its comfort zone and consistently delivers laughs. The first few episodes smacked of standard sitcom, but it’s broken free from the same ol’ setup-punchline paradigm. After a conspicuous absence, Jane Krakowski shone in this ep, too – if the show succeeds, they should find more uses for her.
Smallville: Completely schizo episode. On one hand, you’ve got a Horn-Rimmed Glasses guy ripped off from Heroes in a plot that culminates with Lex proposing to Lana. On the other, Clark randomly goes to Seattle to track down another Phantom Zone escapee, only to get his ass kicked and then saved by an even more random Martian Manhunter cameo. Umm… huh?
The OC: Hard to believe, but this show is all the way back – best ep in a long while. Perfect balance of angst and action, heartache and humor. And “parent plots” that were actually fun – Julie looking for a May/December hookup, Sandy searching for a guy buddy. Stories that work on the kid and adult level make a good teen show great.


Groundhog Daybreak

Pilot Opinion: Day BreakLet me explain what I call the Pilot Hurdle Principle: a series premiere always has too much weight to bear. Gotta introduce all the characters, all the conflicts, set the style and tone of the show, tell a story that’s powerful enough to hook you but still basically ground zero for where the show’s gonna go, etc.

Basically, there’s too much to do in 44 minutes, so pilots are mostly a mess. Jack of all trades, master of none, that sort of thing. So all a pilot needs to do is make me willing to watch the next episode. A bunch of the new season invariably fails this test miserably. Justice. Vanished. Standoff. Some succeed initially, but fall a few weeks later. Jericho. Smith. Runaway.

Day Break clears the pilot hurdle with reservations. Taye Diggs stars as a cop who wakes up to the worst day of his life… again and again and again. He’s framed for murder, his girlfriend gets killed, his partner betrays him, his dog chews up a shoe – the list of indignities is long and varied. When he survives the day, he wakes up the next morning as the clock ticks 6:18, back in the same place he started.

So it’s Groundhog Day, but you know, not funny. More Groundhog Day meets 24 meets… the way network executives assemble high concept shows. As Diggs repeatedly relives the day, he accumulates clues (and injuries) that will, presumably, help him to prevent all the horrible events.

That’s where the reservations – and potential – lie. Day Break seems a prime candidate for Laura Palmer Syndrome, where it’s hard to see how to sustain a whole season out of this premise, much less several. There’s an attempt to create a catchphrase – “Decision. Consequence.” that's a far cry from “Save the Cheerleader, save the world." Also, some of the digital clock close-ups smack of 24 too much.

But even in the slightly problematic pilot, there are glimpses of where the show can go. On the “first” day, he saves a woman from getting crushed by a bus; the second time around, he runs into her in the hospital, having followed a different path. By the third time, he sees her hurt again and mutters “gotta get better at that” to himself. Could be interesting to see them play the plot out further and further.

The show itself is eminently watchable – great production values, Diggs is always good, Mitch Pileggi plays sort of an evil spin on his X-Files character, and it’s nicely paced and directed. So I’m there, so far – beats Lost reruns, regardless.