This is a strange time for top-ten lists – usually people do them around the holidays. But here’s yet another list for your pleasure. Britain’s Empire magazine has chosen the 50 best TV shows ever made. Many good, respectable shows listed here, and a few gems completely shunned. We’ll post links to similar lists shortly. What do you think are the best TV shows?
Continue reading “Best TV shows of all time”
Can you believe it’s been so long? 30 years ago William Shatner was the coolest cat around. He can still show us a glimpse of that brilliance on Boston Legal. Enjoy this little trip back in time.
Continue reading “30 years ago – Shatner Rocketman”
The writers’ strike is beginning to affect the current shows. There are the basics – November is normally a sweeps month, so most of the shows have many episodes in the bank, already written and completed. Because December and January are typically slow – holidays and reruns – a few networks complete at least half of the season before the end of November. In other words, these shows can have enough new episodes to last into February. Many new shows still don’t have a full-season order, therefore, no new shows scripted or produces, and they are going to run out of new shows pretty soon. Here’s the tally so far, across the networks. We fully support the writers, but take a look at this list and beware – your faves are going into reruns pretty quickly. You may not notice it over the holiday season, but come January – you might as well start going to sports arenas and opera houses.
Continue reading “WGA strike update – affected shows”
Transformers came out on DVD a few weeks ago, and I was reminded that this past summer, this movie fell through the cracks, and the review was never posted. Here’s the movie review, a little brief, but better late than never. Given all the marketing and ego-power that went into this project (Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg) this could easily have been a really big disappointed. Instead, Transformers turned out to be a better movie than our depressed expectations, and a good blockbuster to fill a summer weekend. Of course, now that we’re nearing the holiday season, and the film is out of theaters, perhaps it will make a good gift.
Continue reading “Transformers (2007)”
Oh, what hopes have been dashed by this flimsy ‘Desperate Housewives’ rip-off. Oh, how I’ve waited to see Christopher Titus back on television. You remember him, from the short-lived (ok, 3 seasons is not that short) sitcom Titus – about a hilariously dysfunctional family. You probably remember all the male leads from all kinds of recent shows – Joshua Malina from West Wing and Sports Night; Michael Vartan from Alias and of course, the ever-getting-younger-looking heart-throb Dylan McDermott from The Practice. This was a dream male cast, perfectly suited to play powerful CEOs with familiar, identifiable personal issues. Why, oh why did ABC decide to go cartoony on such a solid premise?
Continue reading “Big Shots (ABC, Thursdays)”
Now that the show has premiered, and the insane media spin is slowly fading out, let’s talk about it. Frankly. It’s bad enough this show reminds me of just how wonderful Alias was, and how quickly it was sabotaged by its own creators and network (thanks, ABC and JJ Abrams), Chuck also shows how easily a show can be appealing to wider audience, and still remain smart and engaging. I spotted these things, did you? Here’s hoping the show can find its tracks fast, because all the elements are there, just mix them in proper order, and you’ll have a runaway hit.
Continue reading “Chuck (NBC, Mondays)”
Jason Reitman has another unusual hit on his hands with ‘Juno’. Why unusual? Because his last film, ‘Thank You For Smoking’ was a hilarious, biting satire about the tobacco business. And it’s not an easy task to be satirical and likable about such a topic. Jason got plenty of flak from people who thought he was supporting the tobacco industry. Yes, satire is hard to do these days – people tend to get upset by the face value of it before they ‘get’ the in-between-the-lines message. ‘Juno’ uses sorta the same idea – except completely different. It also deals with a delicate subject with reason, and with understanding. Not really picking sides, but rather exploring the human nature of a finicky situation. This time, the subject is unplanned teen pregnancy, and the approach is somewhat different. No cynicism, no satire. But so much love, and so much diffusing humour that you can’t help but roar with laughter, even though the characters are going through some tough times.
Continue reading “Juno (2007)”
I’ve been waiting for this movie for eight years. Subconsciously, that is. Let’s face it – ‘Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen’ was not begging for a sequel. Sure, it was left open-ended, but it was a solid, finished story all by itself. The reason I was anticipating this sequel is simple. Back in 1998, director Shekar Kapur managed to reinvent a period piece genre – with more intrigue, politics, religion, medieval marriage, all kinds of hot issues thrown in. The film was great, but chronologically it only covered Elizabeth becoming the queen. The credits rolled after her coronation. I wanted to go back to that world, there was so much to mine there. So many conflicts, factual and ‘added for dramatic effects’. I fell in love with Kapur’s visual palette, his use of camera. And yes, I fell in love with Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Elizabeth and Geoffrey Rush as her advisor. And now they’re back. Right off the bat, you can tell the movie’s budget is bigger this time. Is it a good thing for a period piece?
Continue reading “Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)”
Here’s a fantastic movie that, even if it gets picked up for wide distribution, will be doomed. Even if the film gets an ideal release time (it’s about Holocaust, gotta be a Christmas release, for all the award considerations), and the best marketing team to promote it, I’m afraid it will bomb. Well, how would you promote a Holocaust movie that’s really not about Holocaust? How do you bring people into theaters if the book is based on a non-linear, rather lyrical novel of a Canadian writer? Don’t you know if it doesn’t rhyme with ‘Larry Shmoetter’ it won’t sell, paper or film. How do you explain to people that wars have affected more lives than were listed as mere casualties, and how do you illuminate that those who don’t know their history will repeat it, hence other wars, other bloodshed. Regardless of whether the affected people speak Yiddish or Tutsi or Russian or Chinese. The stories of survival are universal, and Fugitive Pieces demonstrates it with style, pride and a lot of local history.
Continue reading “Fugitive pieces (2007)”
How do you re-invent a tired genre? Quite simple, really: treat the film as if this particular plot was never done before; create three-dimensional characters, put them into realistic situations, and give them just enough screen time to shine without taking away from the story. And finally, if your characters start going through familiar motions (i.e. cliches), treat them with a straight face, giving each of these actions solid motive and reason. Then an old tale will be fresh again. Such is the case with 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of a typical Western movie, which at first glance has nothing new to offer. OK, maybe two things – Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. But only at a first glance. A few minutes into the movie, you know that this is something different, something intelligent, something engaging.
Continue reading “3:10 to Yuma (2007)”