Friday, October 20, 2006

Random thoughts

I'm going away for the weekend, and I don't know if I'll have a chance to post while away (the laptop is spotty at best), so I'll put something up tonight.

First, if you didn't notice, my latest BSG recap is here (and I just saw a long, long comment I should really respond to), and a TV column is here. Check 'em out.

And now. . .some thoughts on the week just passed (and, if you have shows you wish we would cover, throw 'em in comments or in an e-mail).

This, poorly structured, overly expositional and all, was my favorite Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip so far. I still don't give a crap about the Matt/Harriet relationship (and, honestly, for a supposedly very strong Christian, she's a little blase about all the pre-marital sex she's had -- wouldn't it be more interesting if she wouldn't sleep with anyone and everyone wanted to?), but the episode made me almost want to. And by giving the characters some depth and background (mostly through talking to the Christine Lahti character), it became somewhat easier to care about them. It also helped that the sketches were slightly funnier and Aaron Sorkin felt a little less self-important (though, apparently, sleeping with Kristin Chenoweth means that he somehow solved the red-state/blue-state divide singlehandedly). All in all, the show's taking steps in the right direction. I'm not sure that it can ever be one of the all-time great dramas like The West Wing was for a couple of seasons and change, but it can at least be entertaining.

Still, I hope that when NBC moves Friday Night Lights to the Studio 60 slot for one night only (after Heroes), the show catches on. I was waffling for a while, but this is, hands down, the best new drama and an indelible portrait of small town life.

You can read more about it at the column linked to above, but 30 Rock is pretty funny. If it were a bigger hit, Alec Baldwin would win the Emmy until we were sick of him.

I think Desperate Housewives is better this season, but I'm not sure I'm willing to follow it all year. It was nice that when Mike woke up, he still thought it was 2004. It was a fine sort of meta-commentary on the show's attempts to get back to its zeitgeist-y days when it was a phenomenon instead of just one of the biggest shows on television. Still, the amnesia plotline BY DEFAULT is pretty stupid.

Criminal Minds is sneaking up on Lost (the preliminary numbers had it beating Lost this week until the final numbers showed Lost with a narrow lead). I haven't watched the show in a while, but I always found it dreadfully grim, pretentious and uninteresting. It's roughly everything I feared Dexter would be and then some. I haven't watched it yet this season. Should I be keeping an eye on it? I've got a spare slot in that time slot.

Speaking of Lost, I really admire the attempts to get back to the season one dynamic the show had, even if it feels as though it might be impossible to do so. Was there a better visual signifier of this than the Hatch having been turned into a massive, gaping hole in the ground?

Heroes is stupid, but it's good stupid so far, not bad stupid. It's a fine line, though, Kring. A fine line.

Fox has to be completely unthrilled that it got a World Series between the Cardinals and Tigers instead of the Yankees and Dodgers. Still, I'm looking forward to it, for what that's worth.

And, as a final note, I'm glad that The Office has figured out a way to keep Jim and Pam apart that, furthermore, makes me think they might never get together AND makes me sort of okay with that. Clearly, this makes me a heartless monster.

See you next week or this weekend if I can make the laptop jack charge long enough to get it working.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It was a blockbuster summer

Minnesota's own The Hold Steady are on tour right now, and everything you've heard at your favorite music blog about the band's live shows is true -- and then some. While the band's CDs come achingly close to greatness, only to miss it by a few tracks, the live show is the real deal -- the reincarnation of the fabled raucous bar bands of the '70s writ large by a bunch of dorky rockers.

I've read comparisons of the act to Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band before that band hit the big-time with Born to Run (the band's live shows at small Jersey clubs are now the stuff of legend), and the only thing that's different between the two is that the E-Streeters would often play three-to-four-hour shows. While The Hold Steady doesn't quite have that large of a catalog yet, the band's relentless energy gives you your money's worth.

When I was a little kid, the older brothers and sisters of my schoolmates would go to concerts in the big city (usually for some 80s trash act like Poison or White Snake) and return with stories of just how insane and debaucherous those concerts were. We would all listen wide-eyed at these tales, amazed that such acts could happen without police interference. While Craig Finn never pees all over the audience (as the older brother of a friend assured us the lead singer of Warrant did during Cherry Pie) then drags a girl up onstage just to molest her (he's too politely Midwestern and power-of-positive-thinking-y), the show does feel almost like too much of a good time.

Go now, before they're the next big thing, playing arenas and whatnot.

Edit: This video doesn't quite convey the whole experience, but it will give some of you something of an idea of what it's like.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Corrections

A reader writes to inform me, as I should have known, that American Idol is quite popular with families. And of course it is. The family audience will return to network TV from cable if they think the show is worth watching (though I have never been able to fathom why American Idol commands this sort of respect). The reality boom of a few years ago was partially driven by families (though it was also driven by twentysomethings watching things like Joe Millionaire and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancee). Still, the demographics of reality are creeping older and older (outside of Idol), and Dancing with the Stars, in particular, is a phenomenon with the over-40s out there, not necessarily their kids.

Sorry for the slow couple of days. Been busy here at SDD-central. More posting over the next week.

But for now, enjoy Cat-Head Theatre.

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