Happy Halloween...

...from everyone's favorite vampire with a soul turned supernatural private eye turned heroic champion turned puppet avenger turned sequel comic. Whew.

Monday Night Fights

Lotsa damage inflicted tonight – physical, emotional and supernatural. Here's my Mile-a-Minute Comments take on it, in 60 words or so per show...
Prison Break: Give it credit for not succumbing Who Killed Laura Palmer Syndrome. Shows hung on one central mystery tend to die when said mystery is solved, (see: Twin Peaks). But being on the run from Fox River prison is proving as exciting as trying to break out of it. Bonus points for killing off major characters, too – keeps the stakes high. Heroes: While most new shows are finding their rhythm by this point in the season, Heroes is surprisingly well paced. Just like its comic inspirations, each ep has a nice tight plot, a bit of overall arc, and a Stan Lee-level cliffhanger. Terrific one this week, although we probably haven’t seen the last of Bad Niki, given the whole space-time-continuum-bending thing.
Friday Night Lights: See? I told you they couldn’t lose, what with the clear eyes, full hearts and all. Or it may be that the star fullback is sleeping with his paralyzed best friend’s girlfriend. Hard to say. Anyway, hoping this special Monday Night Football edition pulled better ratings before this show goes the way of Studio 60.


Saturday Night Half-Life

In addition to being all right for fighting, Saturday's ok for a Mile-a-Minute Comment:
Might still be too much credit, but at least SNL was hit and miss, as opposed to miss and really, really miss. For every extended fart joke there was a decent sketch about the Queen’s hotel room demands that require … ah… discretion. The host had some real involvement with the show, too – Hugh Laurie’s protest song was a highlight.


What the Hell, Boy?

Movie Review – Hellboy: Sword of Storms
"Oh, crap."

Not exactly a normal catchphrase, but Hellboy's not exactly a normal hero. Teleported here from Hell by the Nazis, this demon has a heart of gold and a right hand of stone, and he's made the trip from comics to cartoons with Hellboy: Sword of Storms, the first of a series of animated films.

And it's good. Damn good, actually.

Hellboy and the other agents of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, including a merman named Ape Sapien and a (literal) hot little number named Liz Sherman, must track a mystical sword that contains the spirits of Thunder and Lightning. Their journey spans Mayan ruins, feudal Japan and a handful of spirit dimensions thrown in for good measure; along the way they'll fight dragons, demons and disembodied heads. As Hellboy himself might say, "Oh crap."

A word on crap – it's refreshing to see an animated film with a PG-13 sensibility. Hellboy's gun shoots bullets, as opposed to, say, those strange red and blue rays the GI Joe guys wield. Characters caught in a shower of glass emerge with scars. Along with the aforementioned crap, characters drop a few hells and damns. Not that those things make the show, but the tone helps elevate Hellboy above standard kiddie fare.

As does the visual style – while some of the animation is inconsistent (the sporadic CGI integration is rough), the overall look is striking. Hellboy's been streamlined from his comic origins, but retains the effect of creator Mike Mignola's original design. Abe looks great, and Liz lights up the screen... particularly when she's on fire.

Hellboy: Sword of Storms is airing on Cartoon Network, but it's worth waiting for the DVD to see – it wasn't made with commercial interruptions in mind. Smart script, compelling characters and pretty pictures. If you haven't been to Hell, it's time to take a trip.

6 Angry Capricans

Given Friday's anemic TV schedule, let's call this Mile-a-Minute Comment:
Battlestar Galactica: Gods, is this show good. Never settles for simplicity; after last week’s “Exodus” from being enslaved by Cylons, this ep featured the crew confronting former collaborators – and what to do with them. All the choices are shades of gray; paints a picture of war that’s far from rah-rah… but inspiring nonetheless. Pretty rich site, too.


Does The CW Hate Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet, Too?

Light TV night tonight, thanks to the World Series. Ah well. On to Mile-a-Minute Comments, 60 words or so about what there was to watch...
Smallville: Flashback to Lex at Excelsior Academy; the Stan Lee shout-out is a bit misplaced in a DC show, but appreciate the effort. Good Green Arrow episode – when the show goes more toward the Junior Justice League, it's super. Clark and Lois as lil’ reporters is fun, too, but when it's mired in the absurd Lex/Lana saga... somebody save me.
Supernatural: I’m a fan of “S-Files,” where two 20-something Mulders wisecrack their way across the country in search of the demon (unfortunately known as The Demon) that killed their parents. Although instead of using Mulder’s disarming wit, they disarm bad guys with hatchets. Anyway, this one featured dueling mind-controlling twins and Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge.” Can’t be all bad.


Don't Fall for Me, Agents Dharma

More Mile-a-Minute Comments, 60 words or less about the TV of the day...
30 Rock: Physical comedy? Not Tina Fey's thing. 2 choking jokes and a pratfall. Wow, is this show uneven. Alec Baldwin's unrelentingly terrific. Tracy Morgan's operating at about 11. Fey's got some great lines... plus 2 choking jokes and a pratfall. And apparently a network showrunner doesn't make much more than a network page, or they just went for some really stale single woman jokes.

Lost: Sure this show is light on answers, but knowing everything would be like seeing Sipowicz' ass. People complain about how "no one on TV really looks like that," but when you put real people on TV, they look like... that. So let's just enjoy the fact that it's 2004 in Lost-land, which means the Sox will win next year.
The Nine: As in "out of 10?" It's early, but maybe. Given the serial mystery structure, there's some potential for the aforementioned Sipowicz' Ass Syndrome, and it could run into Prison Break Problems, where the show needs to reinvent after the central issue is solved, but so far, this Party of Nine has me hooked.
Top Chef: Padma Lakshmi ousted last season's Katie Lee Joel as hostess. What she lacks in trophy wife cred, she makes up for with... talent. This ep's you-can't-fire-me-I-quit lychee controversy was a bit overblown, but any show that features fire, knives and time pressure is worth a watch. Just not on an empy stomach.

Football and Frat's Balls

Had to work crazy late before attacking tonight's DVR. Could go on about why work blew, but it'd bore even me. Know what's more fun? That's right- sweet, sweet TV! On to tonight's Mile-a-Minute Comments. And fortunately, for the first show, I don't even need 60 words, just 6:
Friday Night Lights: Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

Veronica Mars: One of those shows that's so damn good I should beg you to watch. Legitimate plot twists! Actual character development! And it's on the bubble; Season 3 only got 13 episodes. But it's on the intricate side; Netflix the DVDs and torrent these episodes until the next jumping-on point, when the sorority serial rape case wraps up (more fun than it sounds).


The Boomtown Rats Were Wrong

I watch a lot of TV. I'd say religiously, aside from, you know, 7th Heaven and shows about religion. Current roster stands at 18 appointment shows a week. "Real" reviews of all of them would be a bit much (to write or read, frankly), so introducing... Mile-a-Minute Commentary. My take on TV in 60 words or less per show, give or take a few "an"s and "the"s.

Prison Break: Fun to see the guys on the run, but let's stay away from the Kim Bauer-style subplots, hmm? Kim stuck in a bear trap, Sucre wedged under a tree trunk... not exactly inspired. However, Michael trying to move said tree with a stick the size of Mr. Eko's, tho – now you're cookin' with gas!
Heroes: "Save the cheerleader, save the world." And the "secret knock" to a million fanboy meetups is created. Anyway, Hayden Panettiere continues carving out her unique space in Hollywood as the go-to Cheerleader-for-Hire. Bonus points for the "Fly By Night" T-shirt Nathan Petrelli buys – and this show's got the best subtitles in the business.
Studio 60: "Superman's Dome of Pleasure." Best line of the show. Too bad it happened at 9:01. Amanda Peet makes an adorable drunk, but the Steadicam pseudo-history of Studio 60 culminating with the accusation that Nate Corddry's time would be better served in the middle of Afghanistan – LIKE YOUR LITTLE BROTHER!!!! – was kind of a "hah?" I mean, have you seen Nate Corddry?


Saturday Night Dead

Old joke, but if the casket fits...

John C. Reilly hosted SNL this week. He introduced My Chemical Romance wearing plain white T-shirts with anti-war sayings, the second of which stated "Act Now." The effect was somewhat diminished by the fact that he also wore a porkpie hat.

Will there be Shriners in Go-Karts?

Given that I'm still in the intro stage of this blog, I'm going to come clean about something – unlike many of my friends, I have little to no musical taste. With that, I proudly state that I would like to join The Black Parade. Except for, as far as I can tell, I'd be dead.

Actually, the video doesn't do a great sell job on joining The Black Parade. Some of it has a fun Corpse Bride meets Dia De Los Muertos vibe, the rest leans more toward a heroin torture chic.

Anyway, it's prolly not a great song. It may not even be a good song. But given my predilection for power pop, it's been playing for four straight hours on my desktop and I'm not quite sick of it yet. Though I bet the guy who works next to me is. Particularly because I was meeting in a conference room for about 3 and a half of those hours.

Regardless, if I need one this Halloween, I've found my costume. See you in Hell.


2B R NT 2B

Even in this IM/text messaging generation, that is still the question. Upon careful viewing, I've found a crippling inaccuracy in The Trilogy. And I'm not referring to the much-maligned prequels. I fear I must report the oversight lies within the classic Trilogy – Bring it On, Bring it On Again, and Bring it On: All or Nothing.

The issue appears first in the founding film, Bring it On. Just moments after Torrance ascends to the throne of Head Cheerleader, her authority is questioned during auditions. When subserviant nepotist attempts a coup by throwing support behind her unqualified sister, Torrance re-establishes her rule by clearly stating, "This is not a Democracy – this is a Cheer-ocracy."

This is a Cheer-ocracy. More fateful words were never uttered.

The underling retreats, allowing Torrance to place her ally, Missy, at her right hand. While Rancho Carne places second at nationals, they live to fight another day, and the chain of command is intact. The Cheer-ocracy remains unchallenged in Bring it On Again, where the similarly-named Whittier strives to survive under Tina's tyrannical rule.

In Bring it On: All or Nothing, however, the rules appear to have been rewritten.

During a pivotal moment of her racial integration into an inner-city squad, Britney, a former Head Cheerleader who was displaced from her privileged suburban school, opines to Camille that they incorporate crumpin' into their routine. This will, of course, attract the attention of pop star Rihanna (noted for her acumen at judging cheerleader prowess), guaranteeing the Crenshaw Heights squad an appearance in her latest video and computers for their underfunded education department.

However, Camille, presented with a callback opportunity from the seminal film, tells Britney that... "This is not a Cheer-ocracy." Yet, despite this proclamation, she dismisses Britney's suggestion without hesitation. Clearly Camille is exercising the rights of a Head Cheerleader – rights established with a Cheer-ocracy. Not a Cheer-ocracy? What, then, would you call it?

The question stands unanswered.

Exhaustive examination of the DVDs deleted scenes offered no solution to what has come to be known as the "Is/Is Not Cheer-ocracy Conundrum." The included commentary? Nothing. And with no news of future installments in the Bring it On saga, I fear that the dream of a clearly defined state of Cheer-ocracy will remain just that... a dream.


60 = 14:59

Studio 60 is flailing, and it's not just because they stuck Nate Corddry in a lobster suit for most of the last episode. The show's got lighting like West Wing, a setting like SportsNight, the walk-and-talks of both, but the emotion of neither. It's a bit like Entourage at this point – fun and sizzly, but without much at stake.

SportsNight's short, great run was all about saving the show; Matt & Danny did it in one episode. Apparently just by showing up. Life at the poorly-named NBS network suffers some small hiccups, but everything's fine when big green clock ticks down to showtime.

And speaking of showtime, is the actual Studio 60 show-within-the-show supposed to be good? Because it's not. The pilot centered around needing a cold open to relaunch the show... and they resorted to a song and dance number, a crutch SNL's leaned on for years. It's possible that Studio is criticizing while it's celebrating, but at the pace people keep saying "great show!" I doubt it.

It's still worth watching, with its flashy cast and Sorkin-speak, but Studio 60 needs some saving... just like, well, Studio 60 did.