Known Johnson

January 2, 2008

It’s on

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 3:43 pm

Look! New TV is on tonight – okay, fine, talk shows, but they’re new. The writer’s strike drags on, but the main talk shows will be back tonight. David Letterman made his deal with the writer’s guild and so will basically go back on the air as usual, but Jay Leno and basically anyone else not under Letterman’s Worldwide Pants is writer-less, which makes me ask what seems to be the obvious question: why bother watching Letterman? You know what you’re going to get there. Every other show is going to be where the fun – and possibly the horrible, awful, cringe-inducing awfulness (and therefore: fun) – is going to be. I mean, what is Jay Leno going to do for his allotted 43 minutes of air time with no pre-written segments? A whole lot of Headlines? Or Jaywalking pieces? Because his interviews are easily the worst part of the show. There’s always been only one reason I tune into Leno and that’s to watch the segment following his terrible monologue – which, on a good night, is something like “things we found on Ebay” or stuff they bought at the dollar store. You know, things that are genuinely funny because he has to rely on the actual items to be funny and not dumb jokes. On a bad night . . . well, it’s pretty dire. Watch the writer-less shows – it’ll be WAY more interesting.

Possibly the highlight of my day – and this may be a bit pathetic, but it is the first day back at work – has been seeing a release date (March 25) for season 3 of Sci-Fi channel’s new incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. As I just started watching season 2 last night, this is good news. If I time it right, I should be able to watch all of that just in time. And for those who, like me, got the BSG movie Razor for Christmas but haven’t seen season 3, it’s apparently safe to go ahead and watch after season 2. The events occur in the timeline following season 2 and before season 3, with what I read is one line of dialog from a season 3 episode appearing in the movie that doesn’t spoil anything and will only function as foreshadowing to those who have no watched season 3. That’s a relief – I was really annoyed at the thought of having to wait until after watching season 3.

Is anyone else not really missing new TV all that much? I know I have a backlog of DVDs to go through, but really, was there that much great stuff on TV to miss? Other than a tiny handful of shows, my schedule has changed only slightly. The networks had better hope most people are not like me – that they’re desperate for their shows to return, or we might all be turning to things they don’t want us to (other cable channels, books, games . . . each other.)

December 20, 2007

No coal – DVDs Santa should bring me

Filed under: Music,TV — Tom @ 2:13 pm


What am I hoping Creepy Claus has in his bag this year? He’s going to need a big bag ‘cuz I got a big list . . .


It’s almost all about DVDs, especially TV-on-DVD, this year, a real rarity for me.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Special Edition) – Absolute must-have after receiving the “special edition” treatment this year. Quite possibly my favorite movie of all time, and the fact that this version has extras makes it even better. GOT

The Shining (Special Edition) – Besides Misery, this is probably the best Stephen King film adaptation ever, and also equally the best book. It doesn’t follow said book so closely toward the end, and maybe you could argue with the choice of the already maniacal Jack Nicholson in the role of a man who is supposed to gradually go insane, but with a movie this great, those are minor gripes. GOT

A Clockwork Orange (Special Edition) – With this recent “special editionizing” I find it hard to resist yet another Kubrick classic. GOT

In fact, when the box came out a couple months back, it made just as much sense to buy that instead and get 3 extra films (Eyes Wide Shut, Full Metal Jacket, and the Kubrick documentary, A Life In Pictures) for just a few dollars more on Amazon than buying the above three separately. (I also have to admit that am slightly embarassed to say I’ve never actually seen Full Metal Jacket. Eyes Wide Shut was actually not a bad film at all, just misunderstood. And it also had Nicole Kidman at the peak of her icy hotness.)

Northern Exposure (Complete Series) – This is one of those shows that I fell in love with back when it aired in the early 90s, and I’ve been eying the individual season sets for a couple years now (and I’ll ignore the whole “original music has been replaced issue” – it’s just the way things are going to be with some series. Life goes on.) Now that the whole series is in one place, it makes a lot more sense to just buy them all together, even though you do get that dreary final season where Rob Morrow decided he was a really hot actor right on the verge of a huge film career and abandoned the show mid-season. Boy did he learn.

Dr. Katz Professional Therapist – I never watched this while it was on, but caught a few episodes in repeats and loved what I saw. I saw that seasons 1 and 2 had come out on DVD and then . . . nothing else. Now they’ve issued the whole series together rather than the rest as individual sets, which is understandably pissing off those who bought the first two seasons. And, frankly, it makes it a bit hard for those of us who would rather just buy a set at a time to get into. We aren’t given the choice, and it’s either boycott or give in. I give in, unless Santa boycotts for me, which is always a very real possibility given the price.

30 Rock (Season 1) – Maybe I was still smarting from losing Arrested Development, I don’t know. I skipped out on this show figuring it wasn’t going to make it – why get attached knowing yet another show was going to be dumped? Well, it made it, and I watched a few episodes here and there from last season and fell in love this season. Now I need to see all of last season. GOT

Home Movies (Seasons 2, 3, and 4) – One of my favorite Adult Swim offerings, I somehow only have season 1 on DVD. Kind of a “cartoon about nothing,” just three kids who like to make their own movies, talking about anything and everything, done in such a casual manner that it sounds like they don’t even script the show (maybe they don’t.)


Flight of the Conchords – We caught an episode of this on HBO in our hotel room in San Diego a few months ago. That was enough to convince me that I needed to see this show in its entirety. Very low-key comedy focusing on the music of a song-writing duo that just can’t seem to get anywhere. GOT

Extras (Season 2) – I’ve seen about two minutes of this show, to be honest. It’s Ricky Gervais, the mastermind of the original BBC version of The Office, so season 1 of this was on my list last year (and I got it.) Unfortunately, I still have yet to actually watch it yet, but that’s not stopping me from putting season 2 on my list. GOT

The Office (Season 3) – I want The Office sets almost as much for the outtakes and extras as for the show itself, regardless of the fact that it’s a can’t-miss show every week.

The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition) – Another “favorite of all time,” and it’s hard to believe it’s 20 years old, this one comes with a bonus disc filled with bonus features, some of which were on last year’s edition (which warrants a mild boo – two editions in a year?!) One of the most consistently funny movies of all time. It never gets old.

Music DVDs

Not much explanation needed, right?

Paul McCartney – The McCartney Years – Videos and concert footage from throughout “the cute Beatle’s” entire solo career. It’s not as comprehensive as you might hope – the concert portion especially, but some of this stuff may never get a full release due to label apathy. GOT

Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same – Remastered and all that, I’ve developed a bit of nostalgia for this goofy concert film with fantasy segments thrown in. The newly expanded live album is astounding, and is probably all I need, but it’s nice to have things like this for those time when you just want to experience it again. I won’t be at all crushed if it’s not under the tree.

The Beatles – Help!
– Quaint and charmingly humorous, I saw most of this one night a while back but missed finding out how – or if – Ringo got that ring off his finger and escaped sacrifice at the hands of gypsies, or whatever they were. Strange premise. GOT

Queen – Rock Montreal + Live Aid – Kinda obvious, isn’t it? GOT

Queen – On Fire At The Bowl – Again, another concert DVD, like the above. GOT

Up next: music and after that books I think Santa wants me to have.

December 5, 2007

Quall now!

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 8:08 am


August 17, 2007

“A little monkey comes out . . . “

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 8:19 am

For absolutely no reason other than it’s funny as hell:


Here’s the story behind this outtake:

Tim Conway: Well there was this time we were doing this sketch where the last line was “elephant”. The director said, “Now, Tim, we’re short on time so I just want you to say ‘elephant’ and that’s it.” So the first take I told this story about these two Siamese twin elephants that were joined at the trunk. And it was really sad because they couldn’t make any noise, because when one blew his trunk it blew the other one’s brains out. Now this was about a two minute bit. So the next take, the director said, “Now, Tim, I mean it this time. At the end of the skit I just want you to say, ‘elephant’ that’s all!” So, of course the next time the bit got longer and longer and it involved monkeys doing the Merengue on the elephants’ trunks and . . .

(stolen from Aisle Say)

July 19, 2007

Whose Price is it Anyway?

Filed under: News,TV — Tom @ 8:04 am

I could get behind Drew Carey hosting The Price is Right. I can’t think of a better personality to take over for Bob Barker, actually – Drew has the kind of goofy charm that would work really well on a personality-driven game show like Price.

This begs the question, if Carey gets the job, will Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Greg Proops will be regular contestants?

I have to post this somewhere: quite possibly the funniest 6 minutes of Whose Line is it Anyway? history, when Richard Simmons is piece of all-too-willing “living scenery” for the comedians. If you manage to not be in tears from laughing throughout this, well, you’re just dead inside:


And the nominees are . . .

Filed under: News,TV — Tom @ 7:46 am

Emmy nominations are out today, and if there were somehow one for “most obvious title,” I might be in the running. But since this is writing and Emmy is all about TV, that’s not going to happen.

I’m only here to complain: Lost got almost completely snubbed, with only Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn being nominated for Best Supporting Actor. And I entirely agree about these two – of the entire cast, these two characters are the ones that keep people talking and keep the show spinning. Emerson’s “Ben Linus,” leader of The Others, has been fascinating since we first met him back in season 2, and has never once let us down. O’Quinn’s “John Locke” has been simultaneously intriguing and frustrating as hell, flip-flopping from being a sort of near-spiritual leader to one of the most selfish, annoying characters you’ll find on TV – but he’s the kind of character that you have to tune in again to see just what he’s going to do next, and that’s why he’s great. But the show deserved a nomination itself – season 3 was incredible TV. After the first 6 episodes, which got us out of the mess started in season 2, nothing was predictable and there were few letdowns (okay, that episode centering around Nikki and Paolo was a complete waste of time, but ignore that.) It was some of the best TV on TV, period, and the season finale upped the ante considerably. How this show got snubbed while other shows got nominated (I’m looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy) is beyond me. Popularity does not equal quality, Emmy nominators.

And, come on, what is with Grey’s Anatomy getting so damned many nominations? I’ve seen about 5 minutes of this awful crap and it’s nothing more than a daytime soap opera, with bit more going on upstairs, in prime-time. It’s still terrible TV.

May 22, 2007

Goodbye, Veronica Mars

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 10:44 pm

A good season finale does a couple of things: it winds up whatever loose ends have been whipping around all season long, usually with a satisfyingly involving episode that leaves viewers wanting more, and it often leaves one little new nugget at the end to be addressed in the following season. We all know those as cliffhangers, those aggravatingly intense final moments of the episode that leaves one vital clue out and leaves us viewers dangling for months wondering how it will be resolved. A good series finale, on the other hand, has a slightly different job to fulfill – not only does it need to tie up those loose ends, it also needs to tie everything down with some gravity. That’s not to say everything needs to be tied up tight – the best season finales feel like great episodes that happen to answer just the right questions and leave dangling only ones the answers to which are obvious. A series needs to end in such a way that viewers walk away from their favorite series’ with a sense that things have finished, that life on that show carries on in some fashion, that nothing new has been introduced that whets their appetites. And this is where the series finale of Veronica Mars failed.

For an otherwise fantastic finale, viewers were left with a tremendous let down at the end. I won’t bother to try to sum up this entire episode because, as anyone who knows the show would know, this is a very complicated show and we simply don’t have time for that (try Wikipedia for that.) Suffice it to say that things were brought to an exciting head and then the loose ends were very well tied off. The problem is that the end left us viewers hanging – and here’s a warning for those who have not seen this finale yet and plan on doing so: I will spoil everything right . . . now – when, on the eve of the elections, Veronica’s father, Sheriff Keith, is exposed as having destroyed evidence against her in order to protect her. This is one of those sweetly realistic moments on the show – a father taking the extra step to protect his daughter even when she’s done something very wrong, even if her actions ultimately freed an innocent man – and is an example of the kind of writing that will be sadly missed next season. What is upsetting is that we are left knowing that Keith must lose the election to slimy fellow private investigator Vinny Van Lowe, and we instinctively want to know what happens to the town of Neptune under his rule, or lack thereof.

Therein lies the rub. Series creator Rob Thomas knew going into this finale that there was a very good chance that Mars would either not be coming back at all or would be coming back in a drastically different format, one where Veronica’s college years were skipped past in order to follow her in her FBI training afterward. Yet he went a head and gave us an ending that left us gasping for a follow-up season watching Sheriff Vinnie destroy Neptune while Keith returned to his duties as a P.I., shamed once again out of the limelight, once again because of his daughter. Now, of course, we’ll never know anything else about Veronica and Keith Mars’ futures, and for that I’m just plain upset. Shows like this don’t come along very often, and now another one has just disappeared.

May 17, 2007

CW: Veronica Mars shall investigate no more

Filed under: News,TV — Tom @ 7:22 pm

Ever since the painful death of my beloved Arrested Development a couple years back, I’ve found it hard to get behind the campaigns to keep TV shows alive. I’m a dad now – I don’t quite have the time to devote to campaigns like that, nor the energy. Besides, it seems that once a network decides a show is no longer in favor, that’s it – a decision has already been made and it’s only a matter of time before the ax falls. So, as those who’ve been reading here for a while know, I’ve made a few pleas to watch one of TV’s best, most under-watched shows, Veronica Mars, but I didn’t go on quite the crusade that I did for AD. It was probably because I knew today would come no matter my efforts: Veronica Mars has officially been canceled.

It’s not just the cancellation that’s so insulting. It’s what the CW has opted to pick up in its place: a dating show about a farmer looking for a new wife, another about things happening online, and a “news” show along the lines of Entertainment Tonight – because we need more of those. My guess is that all of these will be canceled in short order. Granted, Veronica Mars struggled with its ratings, but CW wasn’t exactly supportive. More supportive of it than, say, Fox was of Arrested Development, but that’s not saying much, especially given that practically no one watches the CW to begin with.

Veronica Mars was fertile ground from which to grow a very strong, dedicated following, just like the one that claimed Gilmore Girls as their own. On a network this small – and new – it simply needed more time and support, but when your network is focused solely on the fickle, attention-deficient whims of an audience in the 14-24 year old market, an intelligent show like Veronica Mars simply isn’t going to work. I should have known to be prepared for today, and yet I found myself angry and let down just the same. I know some will think this is silly, getting upset over a TV show. It’s “just” a TV show and yet, is it just a TV show? Aren’t these things we reward ourselves with and look forward to? I guess, in the case of Veronica Mars, not any longer.

May 9, 2007

Idol observations: Bee Gees night

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 8:26 am

Well, first, Bee Gees . . . eh. And two songs by each performer . . . eh. I wondered how they were going to fill the time. Okay, so it wasn’t all disco, thankfully, but it wasn’t a particularly great bunch of songs, either. I just have to ask – why did Barry Gibb have to point out, seemingly surprised, when the singers chose songs with falsetto? Aren’t most of his vocals falsetto? Did they have that much choice?

Melinda turned in her usual solid performances – nothing stunning, nothing bad, but I felt like the whole thing was a nightclub performance. Blake . . . man, what the hell? First he chose to actually do the falsetto on “You Should Be Dancing” for the whole damn song, which is just not his strong suit as we’ve seen before, then he adds in his damned beat-boxing every chance he gets, and then he chooses some completely unknown Bee Gees song, “This Is Where I Come In” and rearranges it to make it even more unknown. Blake, dude, it’s unknown by most for a reason. Lakisha slows down “Stayin’ Alive” a bit in an attempt to make it more soulful or something, then nearly blows out her voice on a high note at the end of “Run To Me,” which otherwise was pretty solid. Jordin, coming in with video of Barry saying something ridiculous to the effect of him having heard hundreds of versions of this song before but never one as great as hers, does a very good job of “To Love Somebody,” which winds up sounding like a modern country song (which is to say, not very “country,” but you know what I mean.) Her second song is the song that Barbra Streisand made famous, “Woman In Love,” and while the judges found it “pitchy” in spots, I thought it was pretty powerfully sung.

Going home: Lakisha. Blake had a worse night, but Lakisha has lost her support, I’m afraid. I just wish she could take his beat-boxing with her.

Space Week for space geeks

Filed under: TV — Tom @ 8:10 am

Just a heads up for those few space geeks out there like me – the Discovery Science channel is running a bunch of new space-related stuff this week for the cleverly titled “Space Week.” Not all of it’s new, however (I believe one show a night is), but last night they ran a really interesting (read: completely dorky for normal people) documentary about the production of NASA’s new Orion space capsule. I’m sure it’ll be on again, so if you’re at all into real space stuff, not sci-fi, be sure and catch this because this is the future of our space program and what we’ll be hearing about for a long, long time starting in about 7 years.

New fact I learned about Orion last night: it will land on land, unlike the Apollo capsules, which landed in the ocean. Neat.

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