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.