In a measure of full disclosure, I do not subscribe to Showtime, so I will not be watching the show I’m about to describe basically because I have no desire to subscribe to any premium channels because I’ll just waste all the hours in my day watching every single movie just to get my money’s worth. With that said, the kind people over at Showtime were nice enough to give me an advanced screening of their latest attempt to crack HBO’s dominance in original programming.
Being that this is a premium channel, Dexter is definitely something you would never see on network television and you really won’t be able to edit out all the profanities to get into syndication. The show follows Michael C. Hall (from the equally morbid Six Feet Under where he was nominated for an Emmy) in the title character role that works forensics for the Miami Police Department’s homicide division and moonlights as a serial killer. Before you start to think the guy is completely evil, he only kills other killers, the ones that the cops can’t nail. But to keep him from being totally redeemable, we become well aware that he enjoys the hunt and the kill a little too much. In the first episode they dig deep into his back story to help explain how he became who he is today and makes Dexter completely believable as a guy who puts on the charade for strangers yet is empty inside.
But Dexter isn’t completely cut off from society as his foster sister played by Jennifer Carpenter (don’t think less of her for her appearance in White Chicks) works Vice in the police department, insert your own Crockett and Tubbs joke here. Surprisingly Dexter is in a long term relationship with Julie Benz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who seems as much emotionally challenged as Dexter thanks to her crack head ex-husband. The rest of Dexter’s coworkers seem to be their basically for comic relief including the Lieutenant that constantly hits on him and a sergeant that is the only one that correctly pegs Dexter’s creepy demeanor but acts like something out of a blaxploitation film.
In the first episode, we watch Dexter do his thing on two criminals that the cops couldn’t keep their charges to stick. On top of that it looks like we are introduced what seems to be a season long arc focusing on another serial killer. If I were a betting man, I would put money on the other serial killer turning out to be Dexter’s real father who was never mentioned here in the first episode, but Dexter’s foster parent, who also worked for the police department, didn’t seemed to phased after finding out hid kid’s penchant for blood. But even if the mystery is that easy, Hall is still able to carry the show balancing his cheerful façade with his disturbingly creepy inner-monologue.
Verdict: If you already have Showtime this may be worth checking out if you have the stomach for. If you don’t, much like every other show, it’s not worth subscribing to check it out but could be worth buying or renting when (or if) it is released on DVD if you are a fan of horror or suspense. But if you are like me and are not a Showtime subscriber, you can check presumably the first two episodes during Showtime’s free preview October 6th thru the 13th. For those with Showtime, you can check out the premiere of Dexter on October 1st at 10:00.
Friday, September 29, 2006
There is nothing I hate more than cliffhangers. Yeah they are interesting the week after the season premiere and the week before the next season’s premiere, but the waiting in-between is just annoying. And there was no more annoying cliffhanger in recent memory than that of Supernatural. The season finally was going along; looking like the Winchester family was going to get their revenge on the shiny demon that took thee life of the family matriarch (as well of one’s girlfriend) only for it to get away in the last minute and causing a car crash leaving the viewers wonder all summer which of the protagonist would survive. After spending all season watching the boys hunt down the shiny demon only to fail left such a bad taste in my mouth I was ready to jump ship, and would have had Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (See my First Impressions) stayed at the originally announced timeslot against Supernatural. But since Studio 60 moved to Mondays and nothing else worth watching at that timeslot (well aside from watching what I tape out of Survivor, Smallville, and My Name Is Earl) I decided to give it another chance.
The season naturally started where the show left off at the scene of the accident with Sam being the lone conscious one. Apparently the demon that hit them wasn’t the Big Bad anyways. Oh well. At the hospital, Daddy dearest also makes it out okay, but Dean got hit so hard by the truck, it knocked his soul out of his body which gave him the opportunity to hunt down death that borderlined on complete rip-off of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where Buffy spent the night in the hospital. At least Supernatual had the sense to make death extremely hot. I don’t think I’d give up much of a fight if death looked like that when it was my time to go.
Back on the corporeal plain, Sam and daddy fight to save Dean in their own ways, with daddy being the one that is able to do so as he surprisingly makes a deal with a devil. Not surprisingly the other thing the demon asked for asides from the colt and the final bullet was for his own life. We will have to see his he had something else up his sleeve that the shiny demon wasn’t expecting plus there were his last words he whispered to Dean. The shiny demon said that daddy dearest knew something about Sam that he didn’t tell him, was that what he told Dean? I’m sure we’ll have to wait awhile to find out.
Verdict: Buffy rip-offs asides, the show looks to be on track with daddy gone, although did I see killer clowns in the preview for next week? Oh and some news for Veronica Mars fans, you may want to turn into the killer clown episode next week as my sources tell me none other than the dearly departed Meg Manning will make an appearance (hopefully not as a killer clown). If she sticks around than I will undoubtedly will too, and let’s face it, the show could benefit from more familiar faces from week to week.
Speaking of cliffhangers, none are more dramatic than those of Smallville. At the end of every season, all the townspeople of the farm town are in imminent danger, yet come the following year, everything is back to normal by the start of the second episode. We left off with Zod taking over Lex’s body with Lana at his side, Lionel and Chloe were being trampled in a riot after being pulled out of his limousine, Lois and Martha were in a plane that was going down somewhere in the artic, and Clark was banished to the Phantom Zone. Naturally by the end of the episode, Clark, Lois, and Martha made it back to Smallville, Zod was cast out of Lex’s body, Lionel and Chloe made it out with barely a scratched, and Lana did her usual stand around and look hot thing, not that there is anything wrong with that.
The big new of the season was Lois finally got rid of those tacky bangs with the ugly highlights. I remember seeing her on the CW promo, not recognizing her, and thinking “she must be part of the new show’s cast” only to realize it was her since she was next to Clark. In other big new, Troy Vandergraff (looks like next Thursday will be a Veronica Mars day on the CW) show up as Jimmy Olsen and somehow has the ability to make Chloe totally forget about the future Superman. But how soon will it be until Jimmy starts pining after Lois which we all know will become the basis of the Jimmy Olsen's Blues.
Verdict: Just your typical Smallville premiere, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I got to wonder what is left for Lana this season. I still think her death will be the straw that finally turns Lex into the supervillian we all know he will become. As for the rest of the season, it just a matter of guess which superpowers Clark discovers and which superfriends will show up next (that’s if you don’t know already).
On a related note, nowhere on the CW Thursday did I see one of the revolutionary commercial “pods”. Did they give up on them already or are they just on certain days?
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Two years ago, not only were Lost and Veronica Mars the two best new show of the season, they were the best two shows on television, period. Of course the TV Gods thought it would be funny to have the two shows air opposite of each going into their sophomore season which spawned my Toss Up series. But even though this year they are back to a day apart, I will continue to bring you the weekly Toss Up every Thursday (as long as they air new episodes) to see which show comes out on top. Now I am aware that they are a few Lost fans that haven’t yet caught Veronica Mars that check out the Toss Ups, well now here’s your chance to get into the show by heading over to MSN to see the first episode of the new season. I’ve seen it myself, and really the slate has be wiped clean so you don’t need to see the first two season to jump in (but that doesn’t mean you can’t go back and check them out on DVD later). So if you have forty-five minutes go check that out. Now onto the season two Toss Up:
Lost: The Token Hot Chick, Ana Lucia, Libby, Henry Gale (the real one), Goodwin, Nathan, Kate’s dad, Eko’s brother
Veronica Mars: Evil Beaver, Meg, Mayor Goodwood, Aaron Echols, Felix, Not-so-Lucky, Cervando, Peter Ferrer, Marcos Olivares, Betina
Winner: Veronica Mars
Lost: Kate wished her dad left her alone
Veronica Mars: Jackie wished her dad was there more
Winner: Veronica Mars
Obligatory Psychotic Jackass Bootie Call
Lost: Sawyer got down and dirty in the jungle with Ana Lucia
Veronica Mars: Logan had essentially a high price hooker Not-Kendall
4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42
Lost: What has to be typed into a computer ever 108 minutes.
Veronica Mars: True Love Stories Never Have Endings
Winner: Veronica Mars
Lost: Sun by, um, yet to be determined
Veronica Mars: Meg by Duncan
Winner: Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars: Not-Kendall
Lost: Charlie is a one hit wonder and sings to anyone who wants to hear
Veronica Mars: Veronica was serenaded her namesake’s song title by the dude from Spoon
Winner: Veronica Mars
Lost: Deserted island jungle
Veronica Mars: Urban jungle
Lost: Passengers of 815 vs. the Others
Veronica Mars: 09’ers vs. the PCH’ers vs. the Fitzpatricks
Winner: Veronica Mars
Lost: Carol Vessey, Peggy Bundy, Zelda Spellman
Veronica Mars: Silent Bob, Joss Whedon, Zena the Warrior Princess, the chick from Laguna Beach
Winner: Veronica Mars
Doctor with a Problem
Lost: Jack’s dad with alcohol
Veronica Mars: Hannah’s dad with coke
Winner: Veronica Mars
Hot Dead Blonde
Veronica Mars: Meg
Lost: Jin (maybe)
Veronica Mars: Lucky
Veronica Mars: Ronnie
On the Lamb
Lost: Kate before the plane crashed
Veronica Mars: Madison Sinclair
Winner: Veronica Mars
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye…
Lost: Michael and Walt
Veronica Mars: Duncan and Jackie
On the Internet
Lost: You can download the season two finale on iTunes for free (while supplies last)
Veronica Mars: You can stream the season three premiere at MSN a week before it airs
By the End of the Season We Learned
Lost: What happens when the button isn’t pushed
Veronica Mars: Who crashed the bus
Winner: Veronica Mars
Lost: What will happen to Kate, Jack, Sawyer, Eko, Locke, Desmond?
Veronica Mars: What was in Not-Kendall’s briefcase?
So there you have it broken down numerically, Veronica Mars just eeks Lost out to have the better second season but be sure to check back every Thursday to see who wins that week. Veronica Mars premieres Tuesday, October 3rd at 9:00 on the CW. Lost premieres Wednesday, October 4th at 9:00 on ABC. And don’t forget to check out the Veronica Mars press conference transcripts - Chatting with Rob Thomas and Tina Majorino.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
As a hip-hop purist, I believe that the art form should only be preformed by young black men from New York City. There are very few exceptions to this rule including the Beastie Boys and Kanye West. The latter from Chicago, a city that is poised to become an exception to the rule by itself as Chi-Town has also brought us Common and Rhymefest. The latest from the Windy City is Lupe Fiasco who made a name for himself last year jumping on West’s Touch the Sky. West then returned the favor by producing The Cool off of Lupe’s debut album, Food & Liquor.
The album itself breaks two of the most annoying rap clichés of recent years one of which is rapper no longer seem able to holds it down for complete albums instead bringing in guests for more than half their album. But on Food & Liquor, the newly un-retired Jay-Z, who tried to sign Lupe to Def Jam, is the lone marquee name. The other cliché Fiasco avoids is the content as it is refreshing to hear a rap album that doesn’t rely on stories of gangbanging, drugs, or denigrating women all of which Lupe avoids thanks to his strict Muslim upbringing.
But there are a few major names behind the scenes. Aside from Kanye, The Neptunes produced the standout track I Gotcha. Then Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame handles the boards for The Instrumental that have a very LP feel thanks to the chorus by Jonah Matranga (Lupe and Jonah both made guest appearances on Shinoda’s side project’s, Fort Minor, album). But for the most of the album Fiasco is on his own developing his own style. The sound of the album is diverse melting pot of musical sounds from the rock of Real, to the horns of the skateboard anthem Kick, Push, to the staccato piano of I Gotcha to the sixties R&B of Daydreamin’ featuring Jill Scott, and one of the few samples is one of Burt Bacharach on He Said She Said.
But the problem with the album is that it is missing that one big track. I Gotcha can pull you in, but there really isn’t anything that will keep the casual fan around. And you can completely skip the ten-plus minute track where Fiasco is basically reading his thank you page from his liner notes. But Lupe really needs to hook up with a producer that can better mold his sound much like underground legend Common did on his latest album when he brought Kanye West. Once that happens, Lupe will be a rapper that we can look forward to listen to for years to come.
Song to Download - I Gotcha
Food & Liquor gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Last night I participating in another Veronica Mars press conference this time Tina Majorino (Mac) joined creator Rob Thomas (see No, Not That Rob Thomas if you’re thinking the dude from Matchbox Twenty). Much like the last one, I got two questions in so here are the transcripts of my questions. Now there are some very minor spoilers so proceed with caution if you completely avoid all spoilers. I also sprinkled some pictures from the season premiere which you can watch right now on MSN unfortunately Tuesdays are bad for me so I’ll may have to wait until tomorrow to watch).
Scooter McGavin: One of the things I really like about the show is how some of the characters show up again and again, like with Mac, for instance you saw her one time and she would come back. I was just wondering going into college, are we going to see any other of Neptune Alum show up at Hearst College and along those lines for Tina would you like to see the Mac-Butters relationship continue into college?
Rob Thomas: Butter is supposed to be still in high school, he was a junior last year, he won’t be in college, no plans on bring Butters back right now. We are finding that whenever there is somebody we really like we just keep using them and using them again and again. Last year in one of the episodes when Veronica and Wallace visited Hearst College we met the president of the Phi Sig fraternity Chip Diller and he’s in a bunch of episodes this year. We just cast a couple of guys, one plays an expert on everything dating [I think that’s what he said] in college that we’re really digging using so I have a feeling he’ll pop up from time to time. The best example of it would be Ryan Hansen who plays Dick Casablancas, he was guy who had one word in the pilot which was, “Logan” and then two words in his next episode which were, “all fours,” and we just fell in love with the guy and now he’s a very key player on the show. When we find an actor character we like we tend to just go back to them.
Tina Majorino: As far as Butters goes, I think it was really fun to play with the actor who plays Butters. But think they way that Mac feels about Butters that he is very strange and annoying (Rob laughs) so I don’t think that that relationship will work out but I think that there was a lot of good comedy with Butters [something inaudible].
SM: I remember from last season Logan was interest in having Tom Welling [from Smallville] play him in the Aaron Echols Story. I was just wondering now that you are on the same network would you be interested in giving him a call to do a guest spot?
RT: Well it’s interesting because Diane Ruggiero since the CW, who’s one of the writers here and now the only female left on the writing staff, has been begging for that crossover since we had the CW launch party and she saw him in person and I’m not sure she started breathing again. It would be so tough to do; it would be like someone asking Kristen Bell to guest star on their show. We work Kristen so hard and her free time is so valuable to her I imagine the same is true for Tom. The network would love it, they would adore it but I don’t think they would go to Tom as say, “please do Veronica Mars” just because they know just how hard he has to work on his own show. My wife and Al Gough’s [Smallville creator/producer/writer] wife are friends we actually have dinner from time to time and I may actually send a test buoy out on that particular question because I think it would be great for us. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.
SM: As a follow up, Tom Welling aside, if the CW came to you and you could have a pick of the litter of any actors on any show to do a cross-over, who would you pick?
RT: For me, it would be personally mercenary, who would get the most people watching our show? If we could get Lorelai (Lauren Graham) from Gilmore Girls on our show, that would be fantastic. That would be a crossover I would bend backwards to happen.
TM: I like her too, she’s fantastic.
SM: Would you be willing to send your actors out, like you like to see Lamb and Logan go at it in a steel cage match on Smackdown?
RT: (Laughs) Well I would love that, I would absolutely love that.
Some other comments of note:
- The friendship with Veronica is one of Tina’s favorite part of the whole show.
- Once again Ducky wanted to know if more gay homosexuals would be worked into the show. I’m beginning to think that what he really wants to know if the would incorporate a gay dude who goes by the name of Ducky into the show.
- Rob mentioned that fans ripped apart Deputy Leo and Hannah, but I have to say, Leo is my favorite Ronnie beau, c’mon, he picked her up while dressed like Crokett and their first dance was to the Spandau Ballet’s True. Ad Hannah was just the cutest thing ever.
- When asked about more bands being on the show Rob, said “Right now I’m writing the episode nine, there is definitely a space for a band. I’’m gonna direct the episode as well and should I try and get a “name” band? If you get too big of a band like you have Radiohead play a frat part at Hearst College it doesn’t make sense. Having a band adds five shooting hours, which really slows us down in an already jam packed already. Last year we wanted to do it a lot more, that plan was to have over twenty-two episodes, six different artists and have them do karaoke but what we found is that it so production down so much we really couldn’t afford to do it.”
- The Tube-Talk Girl asked about the three story arcs and if he had planned them out yet to which Rob replied, “We do know what the three mysteries are going to be. I can tell you that they’re all three going to have a different feel. I think most people know because I’ve been willing to share the first one is the ongoing mystery of the Hearst serial rapist. I want the second one to surprise people. You’ll get introduced to the second mystery in the last episode of the first mystery. I’ll tell you a little about the inspiration for, which will only make sense if you see what it is. But Steven Soderbergh did a low budget digital video murder mystery called Bubble. There are pieces of it, a way that’s it’s set up that I really like. I wanted to have a mystery, in which for the first time on Veronica Mars where we start seeing the build-up to it, as opposed to being introduced to the crime after it.
- The good people over at GMMR asked Tina about the difference between TV and film, Tina responded, “Working on TV, you get a chance to be so much closer to everyone that’s been working on the show because you’re working with them for a whole nine months; you get to see everyone everyday and you get a little more familiar with them. With film it’s 3 months and then it’s over with. It’s also nice knowing that you get to go to work everyday it’s a little more consistent. It’s nice to know where I’ll be going each day.”
- The TV Addict asked about if Rob was consciously changing things because of the new network and the Gilmore Girls lead-in, Rob had to say, “In the first episode I will freely admit that I think the first episode is Veronica Mars for beginners. The case is pretty straight ahead it’s not high incident case, it’s a case used largely to meet our new characters. I’ve tried to really front load the episodes with fun breezy banter that would play nicely with the Gilmore Girls audience, and sort of inviting them into the show. The episode starts feeling more like our show in the final five minutes; it’s not a huge departure for the first forty. The second episode which honestly ranks with some of our best ever, is Veronica Mars at its best.
- Tina will continue to guest on Big Love in its next season.
- Siklilgrl asked if Rob checked out Gilmore Girls yet, which he hasn’t just because his wife says it’s too girly for him but saw a chunk of one when the GG’s Logan was filming an episode of VM.
- The CW execs are thrilled by what they have filmed so far according to Rob.
- As for the music he picks for specific scenes, Rob explained, “The studio/network hates when I talk about it. One of the reasons we didn’t do a soundtrack this year is that when we’re over budget, the first place we have to make a cut is in music. In year one we were getting in 4 or 5 songs per episode, this year the number went down to 2 or 3. There’s been less music in the show which is something I’m not happy about. I tend to write with songs in mind. I sit there with iTunes open, as I’m writing and songs are occurring to me I put them in a playlist for that episode and keep that on play for hours while I write. I write to music a lot I think I’m the only writer here who does that and the post-production people always know when it’s my script because I’ve written all my songs into it. For the episodes I don’t write the editors tend to temp music that I will sometimes replace. One of our editors has just fantastic musical tastes; maybe it’s not fantastic maybe I think it is because it is kind of the same as mine. When he places music it tends to stay in the show. We also have a great music supervisor from Warner Bros. where I can say ‘I need a song for a sorority party what are the kids dancing to at sorority parties these days’ and she’ll send me a disk with fifteen songs of new artists who are breaking and fit the budget and I’ll drive along in my car for a few days and pick the songs that way.”
So there you have it, again if you want to check out the first episode of the season head over to MSN to do so or just turn into the CW next Tuesday at 9:00. I’ll be doing both. And since both Veronica Mars and Lost start op next week, next Thursday will be my first Toss Up of the season, but before that, make sure to check back Thursday for a season two Toss Up of the show to gear up for their third season premieres.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Runaway has a lot to live up to; first it’s one of only two new shows, and the only new drama, on the inaugural season of the CW. Second it’s from the guy that brought us Sex in the City (and by us, I mean not me because I never saw a second) but couldn’t be more different. Third the show is partly the reason Everwood is no longer on the air, along with its lead-in 7th Heaven. The show itself is basically The Fugitive with a dude trying to clear his name of a crime he didn’t commit but this time with the whole family in tow.
The dad in question is Marky Mark’s older brother and crappy music maker in his own right Donnie Wahlberg. I try to avoid how old it makes me feel that one of the New Kids on the Block is old enough now to have fake teenagers. But on the bright side, at least he isn’t old enough that he insists that he be called “Donald” Walhberg. The matriarch of the family is Leslie Hope who ironically showed up on Everwood last season looking like she would be a love interest for Dr. Brown only to disappear suddenly without a mention.
The younger members of the family include eldest son played by Dustin Milligan who has Final Destination 3 and The Butterfly Effect 2 on his resume, two movies I didn’t even know had sequels. Playing the middle child once again is Sarah Ramos, best know for her role as Patty Pryor on American Dreams, and seems to be playing basically the same character only forty years later, with slutter clothes (you got to get with the times), and that whole on the lamb thing (she would have the cops crawling all over her). The family is rounded out by youngster Nathan Gamble in his first major role.
The show actually starts twenty-four days after daddy dearest jumped bail from a murder rap that it looked like he would be unable to beat. After almost a month of living out of motels, it’s time for the family to rent a house out in the middle of nowhere. It is still to be seen how long the in this town or how often they will have to move around. Runaway is actually much better than I expected even though it’s bogged down in some clichés like the dad who needs a life altering event to spend more time with his family. Then the crime itself looks to be your run of the mill dude has some extra-curricular activates with his apprentice and she turns up dead and his prints turns up on the murder weapon. But the fun in the show could be trying to figure who messes up first. Eldest brother already called his left behind girlfriend twice and the youngest doesn’t seem to totally remember his story. But my money is on Patty Prior who will let something slip while trying to impress a boy.
Verdict: I really wasn’t expecting the show to be watch able, so it may be a toss-up between Runaway and it’s timeslot rival Heroes, a show that seems to be on almost just as many “Best of the Season” lists as it’s on “worst of” ones. Runaway premieres tonight at 9:00 on the CW but if you decide to watch Heroes instead you can catch an encore tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9:00 in Veronica Mars’s usual timeslot. Speaking of Veronica Mars, starting tomorrow you should be able to watch the third season premiere on MSN a week before it airs.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I’ve decided to go with a set title when I do these video round ups as I’m just to lazy to come up a new title every time and I’ve realized that sometimes I waste a good title on a video post that would have made a good title for an album review, so Don’t Download these Videos with become the official title (unless someone can send me a better idea). There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I though I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form so here they are courtesy of YouTube. I advise you to watch them before you read my reviews if you don’t want me to spoil things. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available, if not the link goes to YouTube where you can watch the video in full screen). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.