Monday, May 22, 2006
MOVIE REVIEW: THE DA VINCI CODE
Believe it or not, but I am actually one of the few people who has not read THE DA VINCI CODE. I was also raised Methodist by parents who were not religiously strict. So for me, it was a bit challenging understanding what was going on in THE DA VINCI CODE. Religious symbols and mythology aside, I felt THE DA VINCI CODE worked on a movie thriller basis, and I enjoyed Ron Howard's direction of Tom Hanks. The film has been getting mixed reviews (as has Tom's hair), but I feel the movie (and Tom's hair) is just fine. Sure, the movie is slow in some parts, but I will take this film ANY DAY over more POSEIDON's. I also LOVVVVVVVVVED Ian McKellan. What a great career this man is having (including genre fare X-MEN and LORD OF THE RINGS). He is a nice add to the film. Still, for me, a truly great summer movie is still to premiere. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III (B+) got things started, POSEIDON (D+) sank things back down a bit, THE DA VINCI CODE (B) has brought things back up, and hopefully next week's X-MEN: THE LAST STAND will break on through to the Grade-A playing field.
Friday, May 19, 2006
NETWORK TV UPFRONTS: THE CW
The last of the broadcast networks has announced it's fall TV line-up. The merging of The WB and UPN into The CW for Fall has a Best Of both former networks approach to the new season. Only 2 new shows join the fold for this innaugural line-up:...Mondays see the surprise return of 7TH HEAVEN, followed by newcomer RUNAWAY. 7TH HEAVEN was The WBs most popular show, so it's return should provide some nice ratings for launching RUNAWAY. But going into it's 11th season, it's hard to know how long the publice will continue to support 7TH...Tuesdays see the return of GILMORE GIRLS paired with one of my favorite shows on the air, VERONICA MARS. I REALLY hope GILMORE will provide VERONICA with the ratings the show so dearly deserves. If it doesn't, I am afraid this will be the last we will see of VERONICA MARS...Wednesday's give us the HUGE AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL and the little seen ONE TREE HILL. I tuned Tyra out after Cycle 4, but the reality model show still delivered big for UPN last year....Thursdays find SMALLVILLE and SUPERNATURAL. If SUPERMAN RETURNS is a huge hit this summer at the box office, look for a ratings bump for SMALLVILLE. I didnt get a chance to see SUPERNATURAL last year on The WB, but if a DVD of Season 1 comes out before the second season starts on The CW, I will be watching. My only fear for SUPERNATURAL is the super tough competition the show faces: CSI on CBS, GREY'S ANATOMY on ABC, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP on NBC and THE O.C. on FOX. As a rule, one of these shows will bite the dust by December. I sure hope it's not STUDIO 60 or SUPERNATURAL.... Fridays serve up FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN...The CW doesnt broadcast on Saturdays...On Sundays The CW brings to the table a 2 hour comedy block: critical darling EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, ALL OF US, GIRLFRIENDS, and GIRLFRIENDS spin-off THE GAME....Of the scheduled shows, I will be TiVoing two: VERONICA MARS and SUPERNATURAL
The WILL & GRACE Finale
After 8 years, NBC has benched WILL & GRACE. I am curious as to how some of you felt about it. For me, I enjoyed the finale IMMENSELY. Having the characters end the series at a peaceful place in their lives was a refreshing change from all the bickering the foursome had engaged in during the show's run. It was great to see Jack play the piano and sing in a very poignant duet with Karen. What was nice was to see, at 20 years later, Jack was incredibly talented, and Karen was calm and not all drugged out. Then to have Will and Grace both in happy 20+ year relationships was comforting, especially since neither character could seem to hold onto a partner for longer than a season during the show's run. Also, the character of Beverly Leslie had a hilarious exit off his New York apartment balcony. For me, the wrap up was enjoyable and satisfying. And yes, I know the series probably should have closed shop 3 years ago, but a part of me WILL miss these guys. With QUEER AS FOLK gone on the gay drama front, and now WILL & GRACE gone on the gay comedy front, it truly does feel like significant chapters of my gay pop culture experience is finished.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
TOP TEN NEW SHOWS
Now that the fall schedules have been announced, here are the ten new shows I am most looking forward to in the fall......1. STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (NBC)......2. THE CLASS (CBS).....3. 30 ROCK (NBC)......4. BETTY THE UGLY (ABC)......5. HEROES (NBC).....6. 20 GOOD YEARS (NBC)......7. HELP ME HELP YOU (ABC)......8. BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC).....9. LET'S ROB.... (ABC) ...10. JERICHO (CBS).
NETWORK TV UPFRONTS: FOX
For the last 3 years FOX has had a brutal bashing in the ratings in the Fall, only to beat the crap out of the competition in the Spring with the arrival of AMERICAN IDOL. ...Things shouldnt change this coming year either.....Lets look at the Fall lineup first: Mondays start with buzz-worthy PRISON BREAK and end with VANISHED, a new drama. PRISON started out with a bang last summer, then cooled in its recent spring run. I predict the public won't be as into the series in season 2 as it was last year. Thus giving VANISHED a short-lived run...Tuesdays start with STANDOFF and finish with HOUSE. HOUSE has shown it has legs when AMERICAN IDOL preceded it. But on its own, it doesnt have the same ratings impact, and STANDOFF won't even provide a third of the ratings magic of AMERICAN IDOL...BONES kicks things off on Wednesdays, with the newbie JUSTICE following it. Sorry, but JUSTICE will be an early candidate for cancellation, and BONES won't pick up speed until the Spring...Thursday nights see two possible sleeper hit comedies in the form of 'TIL DEATH starring former RAYMOND brother Brad Garrett and HAPPY HOUR, a comedy revolving around friends in a Chicago bar (FRIENDS meets CHEERS must have been the pitch). Unfortunately, THE O.C. follows, and given the harsh competition at this hour (GREY'S ANATOMY, CSI and STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP), don't expect any ratings miracles for THE O.C. in season 4....Fridays serve NANNY 911 and TRADING SPOUSES (ugh)...Saturdays continue with the Fox staples COPS and AMERICA'S MOST WANTED...On Sundays, Fox has had ratings success with its comedy block of THE SIMPSONS, AMERICAN DAD and FAMILY GUY, with THE WAR AT HOME returning for (WHY????) second season....OKAY, so that is the bland Fox Fall. But in the Spring, things come to life for Fox when AMERICAN IDOL returns. This past year was IDOL's most popular, and I see no reason why the ratings won't be near the same next year. Fox will jumble its schedule, assuming the new shows last it this long: On MOndays, STANDOFF moves to this night taking over PRISON BREAK's slot, and the return of 24 follows. Something tells me that 24 won't seem as fresh anymore when it finally returns....AMERICAN IDOL returns on Tuesdays, giving HOUSE after it a HUGE ratings jolt...JUSTICE will move up an hour on Wednesdays, followed by the AMERICAN IDOL results show, then the surprise return of THE LOOP, which was a critical hit last season. THE LOOP should post some better numbers next year with having AI as a lead-in...The Thursday hour stays the same (again, assuming there are no series casualties...and NEVER ASSUME in this business)...Fridays jetison the reality block of NANNY 911 and TRADING SPOUSES in favor of BONES and newcomer THE WEDDING ALBUM...Saturdays remain the same, and the only addition to Sundays is the return of KING OF THE HILL....Looking over the Fox schedule, nothing really excites me. I burned out on AMERICAN IDOL after the Carrie Underwood/Bo Bice season, so I doubt I will be around to see the next year, and none of the new comedies or dramas appeal to me. The only show I may check out is HAPPY HOUR, and if that show doesn't make me happy for its half an hour, then FOX won't be on my TiVo at all next year.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
NETWORK TV UPFRONTS: CBS
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.... CBS had little new to offer today when it announced only 4 new shows to its fall schedule. The biggest surprise, if you can call it that, was moving WITHOUT A TRACE from Thursday to Sunday. The CBS network has made a number one name for itself by focusing on a multitude of procedural shows (in fact, every night of its schedule is filled with at least one procedural show). I am in the minority, but I LOATHE crime shows that continue to out-gore one another for ratings dominance. So CBS is one network that I am not excited to be watching in the fall. The only hour I will take in will be the kickoff hour on Mondays. Its here that HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER returns, followed by newcomer THE CLASS - starring my fave JOEY performer Andrea Anders. The comedy continue with TWO AND A HALF MEN and the unfunny THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE. CSI: MIAMI finishes the night....TUESDAYS see the returns of NCIS and THE UNIT, followed by new drama SMITH starring Ray Liotta....WEDNESDAYS kick off with the new JERICHO, then finish with returning dramas CRIMINAL MINDS and CSI: NY...Thursdays begin with the slowly-fading SURVIVOR, followed by the number show CSI, and the night ends with newcomer SHARK, a new legal drama...Fridays stay the same: GHOST WHISPERER, CLOSE TO HOME and NUMB3RS...Saturdays start with two repeat hours of crime shows followed by 48 HOURS: MYSTERY...Sundays find the newly relocated AMAZING RACE and WITHOUT A TRACE, with COLD CASE sandwiched between the two.... It's a safe schedule overall, and should give CBS another solid year at number one....But once America grows tired of procedurals, CBS may wake up one year and see it's ratings plummet....At least that's wishful thinking on my part.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
NETWORK TV UPFRONTS: ABC
ABC announced their 2006-2007 Fall TV schedule today. My overall reaction to the line-up is 'interesting'. One complaint I have is that the network is relying too much on reality television - I can understand why the high-rated DANCING WITH THE STARS is back, but why ABC is returning THE BACHELOR is a huge mystery to me. I think Monday night looks extremely weak for the network, and the decision to not move GREY'S ANATOMY here [instead of the Thursday parking spot] is a mistake. So let's begin with Monday Night: As I just mentioned, this is a HUGE weak spot. First, the middling-rated WIFE SWAP will kick things off. That show is then followed by the - YAWWWWNNNN - umpteenth cycle of THE BACHELOR. Finishing the night off is the ratings-challenged WHAT ABOUT BRIAN, a show that should have been canned. But since JJ ABRAMS (of LOST) is the force behind the show, maybe ABC is giving the series a second chance to keep the peace with the producer. What REALLY would have helped BRIAN is if GREYS ANATOMY had moved into the BACHELOR spot. That would have insured BRIAN some good ratings. ...TUESDAYS look a little better for ABC, provided that America hasn't burned out yet on the DANCING WITH THE STARS phenomenon. If that show is still a hit, then the payoff will be good for new comedies LET'S ROB... and HELP ME HELP YOU that follow it. LET'S ROB...is an interesting high-concept com about a group of misfits who are targeting to rob Mick Jagger's penthouse in New York. It's sorta of like PRISON BREAK without the Prison or the break-out or the drama. As for HELP ME HELP YOU, Ted Danson returns to TV comedy as a therapist. Let's hope this one is funnier than BECKER. BOSTON LEGAL keeps the legal profession BARELY still alive on network TV. But I have to wonder how a has-been show like BOSTON LEGAL can do any ratings justice for ABC anymore.... Wednesday night is a draw for the network. Things begin with the DANCING WITH THE STARS results show. Again, if the joy of DANCING is gone, there won't be much celebrating for LOST and newcomer THE NINE. LOST saw a ratings slide this past season, and the now-cancelled INVASION that followed it only retained half of LOST's ratings. I don't see how THE NINE will do any better than INVASION did unless THE NINE is a riveting series. The plot of THE NINE revolves around the victims of a bank robbery and how they deal with the post-traumatic stress of the event. To me, it sounds like a hard series to keep the creativing up on. Plus, there just seems to be too many season-long crisis shows on the networks lately (24, PRISON BREAK, KIDNAPPED, THE HEIST, etc). ...Thursdays will be an interesting night for ABC - and for all networks. The 9 PM EST hour is shaping up to be BRUTAL now that ABC has moved GREY'S ANATOMY to this night and time. It will go up against NBC's top pick of the season STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP and TV's top drama CSI. It won't help GREYS having a weak comedy hour leading into it: BIG DAY and NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY or a new drama in SIX DEGREES after it. GREYS has been doing great on SUndays following DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, but to move it to brutal Thursday with no established hits before or after it is a HUGE gamble. IF the gamble is good, ABC will be heroic for the season. But if it flops out, the net will be hurting - and moving GREYS to Monday at 9 PM will be the best recourse the network would then have to take....The new ABC show that I am most excited about kicks off Friday night: BETTY THE UGLY, which is a comedy about a corporate climber set inside the world of high fashion. This show should do well, especially if the summer flick THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA succeeds. BETTY's biggest competition will be DEAL OR NEW DEAL on NBC, as well as CBS's THE GHOST WHISPERER (assuming CBS keeps that series where it currently is). Also not in BETTY's favor is the weak line-up following it: MEN IN TREES at 9 and 20/20 at 10. Honestly, I think BETTY THE UGLY would have shone best following the coveted post-DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES slot on Sunday nights....ABC will have ABC SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on Saturdays...And on Sundays, things kick off with AMERICAS FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS followed by EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION. DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES will continue to thrive for the net at 9 PM and should allow great things to happen for new series BROTHERS & SISTERS following it. BROTHERS & SISTERS is a family drama with soapy elements. If the show is off-beat and quirky like HOUSEWIVES, ABC could have another major hit on it's hands. I just think the current title of this new show is very weak.
Monday, May 15, 2006
NETWORK TV UPFRONTS: NBC
The NBC Television Network was the first of Big Five (downsized by one with the CW merging of UPN and the WB, ABC, CBS and FOX) to unveil it's 2006-2007 Fall Television schedule to advertisers in New York City today. And upon looking at it's schedule I have to applaud NBC for showing its hungery side. Having shown a DISASTROUS year this past year, I REALLY think NBC will provide some challenges to FOX and ABC next year. CBS will still be the network to beat, but I think NBC will be one of the few networks to show increases in viewers with its just-announced line-up. [Go to www.zap2it.com for full schedule and professional insiders' points of view to the line-up; I have not read any professional views on the NBC line-up, so I may be way off base in my predictions. The pro's may in fact hate the NBC line-up, but I LOVE it]....I am also kind of biased. I have been a fan of the NBC network since the CHEERS and FAMILY TIES days. Last year I really pitied the network for it's weak line-up of THE APPRENTICE and MARTHA STEWART and BIGGEST LOSER reality staples. THIS year, only BIGGEST LOSER remains (with THE APPRENTICE probably popping up mid-season).... Okay, here are my reasons why NBC will improve: 1) FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL! Personally, I am not a football freak, but it can't be ignored that football equals ratings, and Sunday Night Football (with FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA immediately preceding it) will provide ratings - as well as a great launching pad to adverstise other NBC shows - ESPECIALLY the football series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. 2) One of the biggest Happy Surprises for NBC last year was the cult success of DEAL OR NO DEAL. Now, it's hard to know when the bottom will eventually drop from the buzz this show is bringing to the table, but NBC is wise to milk it for all its worth with two weekly airings next season - Monday and Friday nights. On Mondays, DEAL will be a GREAT lead-in to the new show HEROES, which is a drama about a group of people realizing they have super powers. HEROES is one of the 4 new NBC shows that I am most looking forward to seeing. 3) The SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE factor. Believe it or not, but SNL has been not ready for primetime for NBC since 1975. It's one of my all-time favorite shows, and I never miss a TiVo-ed episode. So you can imagine how OFF THE WALL happy I was when I found out that NBC was picking up TWO shows based on the behind the scenes workings of an SNL-like show. Prior to the upfronts, it was assumed that only STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP would see air-time. But today Weekend Update and SNL head writer Tina Fey's sitcom 30 ROCK also made the sked. What 30 ROCK will mean to the future of Tina Fey and 30 ROCK co-star Rachel Dratch remains to be seen. Former SNL vet Tracy Morgan is also in the cast.....MEDIUM returns for a 3rd season on Monday nights, following HEROES. If HEROES can hang on to DEAL OR NO DEAL: MONDAY's ratings, then MEDIUM should see it's ratings spike over this past season's middling numbers... FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, with the push in exposure from SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, should kick Tuesday's off to a nice start - I mean, it can't get any worse than what this year brought - JOEY? SCRUBS? TEACHERS? MOST OUTRAGEOUS MOMENTS?. So if FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is a hit, then the season-long unfolding of KIDNAPPED could- and should - pay off. With PRISON BREAK and 24 as hot ticket shows that use their entire season to unfold a single-themed event, KIDNAPPED could be a surprise hit. Then again - look how fast HEIST flopped. Probably the best news for KIDNAPPED is that it will precede LAW & ORDER: SVU - the most popular of NBC's LAW & ORDER franchise....Wednesday's will be admittedly tough for NBC. THE BIGGEST LOSER kicks things off, and last year's edition wasn't exactly a smash. There is also the possibility that people just don't care any more about reality TV as much as they used to (AMERICAN IDOL and SURVIVOR aside). This weak lead-in could spell trouble for newcomers 20 GOOD YEARS and 30 ROCK after it. Further, ABC will likely be keeping LOST at this time, which isn't a show to mess around with. So, even though I WILL BE watching NBC's two comedies at this hour, it doesnt sound like the popular vote for the rest of America. The venerable LAW & ORDER shuts out the evening...On Thursdays, MY NAME IS EARL and THE OFFICE kick off the night. Both comedies were bright spots in the NBC schedule this last year, but a late-season ratings weakening of both shows may spill over into this season. But then again, WILL & GRACE and JOEY/FOUR KINGS weren't exactly great lead-ins for EARL and OFFICE. Now, these two shows will lead in to the MUCH ANTICIPATED new Aaron 'WEST WING' Sorkin created/Matthew 'Friends' Perry-starring dramedy STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP. Sure, the show will be going up against CSI, and no, STUDIO 60 won't be a ratings smash, but it IS hard to ignore the buzz and excitement surrounding this IT show, and if the people show up to watch it, and the creators have created an exciting hour, then perhaps NBC's woes on Thursday nights might be in a state of turn-around...Finishing out the night is ER for the first half of the season and newcomer THE BLACK DONNELLYS premieiring in January. The buzz behind DONNELLYS is that it is created by the extraordinary Paul Haggis (MILLION DOLLAR BABY and CRASH)...Friday nights will provide NBC with another night to see its ratings go up. DEAL OR NO DEAL: FRIDAY kicks things off, which will help out LAS VEGAS. LAS VEGAS normally might be a show to see its last legs, but having it sandwiched between DEAL OR NO DEAL and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT might just give it another patch of ratings glory. Still, I dont see LAS VEGAS being on NBC's schedule too much longer...Saturday nights will see a DATELINE NBC: SATURDAY and then Drama Series Encores.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
MOVIE REVIEW: POSEIDON
SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know what I think of this movie, then read on. None of the film's plot is revealed, so you are safe in that department. ....Every year ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY puts out its annual summer movie preview issue, and every year I choose the top 15 movies I want to see, in order. This year POSEIDON topped my list. But terrible reviews this week began tainting the desire in me to see the big P. I still wasn't going to let the waterlogged reviews stop me from seeing the film, and early today I did get to experience the remake to Irwin Allen's disasterpiece. ....Other than a hyped-up killer wave tumbling the ship upside down, Wolfgang Petersen's remake IS a disaster. I had high hopes for this PERFECT STORM auteur, but other than a few intense scenes, the flick was beyond cheesey. I still have the original SPecial Edition version of the original shrink-wrapped and waiting to be seen - with all 9 deleted scenes and bonus features aplenty. For me, that will be the comfort viewing that I so hoped that the remake would have provided. Since the movie is full of stunts and CGI, I wont spoil any of the plot developments for anyone still wanting to see the movie. RUN TO THEATERS AND SEE IT NOW or WAIT FOR THE DVD: This one is a little tricky. I really didnt like the movie, so I dont recommend seeing it in theaters, but then again, if you ARE going to see the movie, it does deserve to be seen on the big screen for all of the spectacle of explosions and other disasters. I'll just say, skip it entirely. D+
Monday, May 08, 2006
MOVIE REVIEW: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3
To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to seeing this latest Tom Cruise-MI flick. I hadn't seen the first two, and with Cruise's on-going train wreck of an off-camera PR nightmare, I wasn't jumping off the couch waiting to see Part 3. But my friends really wanted to see it, and they convinced me to go with them. To prepare, I went out and bought Mission Impossible 1 and 2 on DVD. I only had a chance to see Mission 1 before it was time to see Mission 3, and I have to admit that Mission 1 put me to sleep. I only caught the opening of Mission 2 before we had to head out the door to see 3, but I did think the stylish vision of John Woo of 2 will be interesting to watch. DePalma's 1 had it's moments (all 3 of them), but overall it hasn't held up over time (it was released in 1996). So that brings us to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3. This JJ ABRAMS directed flick was filled with energy and action from start to finish. I love JJ's stuff on LOST, but never saw any of his ALIAS stuff, so I am not an expert on his TV spy talents. But between MISSION 1 and MISSION 3 , I have to give MISSION 3 the B- and MISSION 1 a C. The highlights to MISSION 3 is the Vatican-set scene involving the amazingly talented PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (Mr CAPOTE), the skyscraper-bouncing that Tom Cruise does in Shanghai, and the rescue of FELICITY star Kerri Russell in the helicopter-krazed Belgium scene. .....SEE IT AT THE CINEPLEX or WAIT FOR IT ON DVD: DEFINITELY SEE IT AT THE CINEPLEX. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3: B-
MOVIE REVIEW: ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN
SPOILER ALERT: As with all movies that I will be reviewing, readers should note that some important plot points might get revealed in the course of the review........ With ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN I was pleasantly surprised with the overall film. The addition of Queen Latifah as a woolly mammoth gave the franchise a nice jolt of excitement. The original voices behind the main characters are all back. And in many ways, this movie was more adventurous and exciting than the original, though I think the original had more of a heart. It's a toss up as to which movie is better. In fact, I would have to give them an even split at B-. The CGI is not the quality that we have grown to expect from other recent hits like THE INCREDIBLES and SHREK 2, but the comedic story is what really sells ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN. .....SEE IT AT THE CINEPLEX OR WAIT FOR THE DVD: SEE IT AT THE CINEPLEX. B-