Friday, December 05, 2008

The Top 100 Shows of All Time: The Comments, Part 1

(Thanks for your great ideas, everybody. I'll get up the Mad Men review, some Oscar predictions and a few posts on Christmas entertainment over the next couple of weeks, along with some of your other suggestions. -- ed.)

Back when I did the top 100 TV shows posts, I really thought I was going to come back after a week's hiatus and respond to all of the great comments I got. But I was working then as an actual TV critic at an actual newspaper, and I found less and less time to do the blog (particularly as I had to devote most of my first-run reviews to the paper). So the whole thing kind of languished there for a while, which meant the comments posts never got done. What better time to do them, I thought, than a whole year later! Yay! Follow me below the jump to travel back in time as we respond to comments from the first 12 posts in the series.

From Supplemental List #1: 10 Shows I Loved As a Kid That Don't Hold Up at All:

Occasional SDD blogger Carrie said:

I also watched all of these terrible sitcoms you listed here, and LOVED THEM. Now I have such a hard time with sitcoms, and I wonder how my parents sat through those shows with me without wanting to stab themselves in the eyeballs. Perfect Strangers was oh so awesome, though. Seriously, I loved that show with all my heart.

Um, I also loved Punky Brewster. Her clothes were so cool! She had a dog! She was an orphan! Cherry almost died in a tragic refrigerator accident! I'm sure if I saw it now I would just cringe at the terribleness.

I watched all of Party of Five but can't remember most of it. That's not a good sign for the quality of the show.

Great lists so far!

Carrie's referring to the TGIF sitcoms I talked about in the post. Strangely, I was never that into Perfect Strangers (Libby really was), though it might have been the BEST show in the classic TGIF lineup, all things considered. I also never really got into Punky Brewster, and all attempts to watch more than a handful of episodes as an adult have ended disastrously.

I disagree on Party of Five, though. A fair run of the show is up now at Hulu (which has inexplicably stopped alphabetizing its "browse" list), and I'm surprised by how much of it holds up. Yeah, most everything after season three gradually dragged down into the muck, but there was a lot of really good stuff in there, really incisive, small-scale family drama that you just don't see on TV anymore. The Intervention episode still packs a big punch, particularly if you know the characters. Po5 has largely been forgotten because it was so overshadowed by some of the shows that came immediately before and after it (everything from My So-Called Life to Dawson's Creek), but I now think it's underrated enough that I wish I had slipped it onto the lower rungs of the list somewhere.

From Swimming in Memory: Or, Bad TV, Young Kids, and How a Generation Fetishized Itself -- An Introductory Essay (how about that title?!):

Carrie (again) said:

Great analysis, Todd. I can't wait for the list.

As much TV as I watched growing up (and I watched a lot) I don't think I fully understood what good TV was until I saw the pilot for ER. That's when the light clicked on and I thought "this can be more than I thought." I've been hooked on quality dramas (and unfortunately still hooked on dreck like what I used to watch) ever since.

For me, the point where I "got it" was with Picket Fences, a show I can barely stand today, but one that I used to carve out an hour a week to watch. To a degree, my politics owe themselves to that show. From there, I moved on to the similar, but much weirder, The X-Files, and I was set. I was a quality TV junkie from there on out.

(This is not to ignore the many, many nights I spent parked in front of Nick at Nite, absorbing the whole of sitcom history, which I felt a pressing need to do for some reason. It's the reason I've seen so many sitcoms that are now sparsely seen, though I'm sure I've only seen the syndication cuts.)

From #100-91:

Filipe Furtado wrote:

I'm almost surprised that you made anthologies elegible, given how hard is to compare them to regular shows.

For all the praise it usually got there were one major flaw in Veronica Mars that always made me rate it a little bit lower than most people: with few execeptions the show was always awful with the stand alone mysteries. And as wonderful as the characters were, the fact that the show was driven by larger investigations made storytelling more central to it than something like Pushing Daisies. All this rambling is to justify my opinion that not only season 2 is stronger than the first one, it's far stronger. It's more confusing with too mny parallel arcs and it sort of loses itself when during the half dozen eps where the focus shift to what's going on with Duncan, but it has far fewer episodes were the main focus was not in one of the larger arcs that the show did so well. As often happens on great or near-great first seasons, a lot of the praise seems to exclude the minor flaws that were already there, so the great first season of Veronica Mars ignores how often the episodes had a weak main storyline with a lame plot but good character bits, a more amusing Keith plot whose subplot status help it to get away on characterization alone and a compelling C-plot that get something to do with Lily's murder.

I didn't really see a way around ignoring anthologies, which were such a substantial part of American TV history. If I had excluded them, I likely would have had to exclude The Twilight Zone, which ended up in the top ten. And as the list went on, I pulled in variety shows, reality shows and talk shows, which are all very hard to compare to, say, a serialized drama. Still, I've probably seen too few anthologies and could stand to see more.

As far as Veronica Mars goes, I do agree that season two has been rather underrated. The episodes are definitely stronger on an episode-by-episode basis, but the overarching story is just not as compelling. That's a real pitfall of serialized storytelling. I actually have always rather liked Lost, season two, as well, but that's another season where a bunch of strong episodes didn't necessarily add up to a comprehensive whole that felt like it was going anywhere. It was just an enjoyable string of episodes, which is not the end of the world, but sure felt like it to fans at the time. The writers clearly learned their lessons, as seasons three and four have more narrative momentum. I'm not sure the writers on Veronica did, as season three is a little too discombobulated to work, though much of the best stuff about the show was still there. Jamie Weinman has pointed out over and over that many of the characters on Veronica Mars were specifically conceived of to play a role in the "Who killed Lily Kane?" mystery, and when that mystery was over, there was really no reason to keep them in the storyline, so that led to a lot of moving chess pieces around in season two. You could see the show starting to try to build a cast that made sense in season three, but the rug was pulled out from under them.

Carrie (how I miss her) mostly responded to Felipe and talked about Adult Swim, but she also said:

It's interesting that Joss asked Staite to gain weight. If only he would have done the same when Sarah Michelle Gellar lost all of her weight in seasons two/three of Buffy. Although I doubt that would have gone over well with SMG.

I, in general, agree. Seasons one and two Sarah Michelle Gellar is much hotter than seasons three through seven SMG, who just got scrawnier and scrawnier. The huge preponderance of stick-thin women is one of those things I'll never get about TV. I think one of the things that's so great about Mad Men is just how differently proportioned its women are.

From Supplemental List #2: Ten Cable Networks That Changed Everything:

Dan wrote:

If you want to know why so many people don't like Americans, just watch FOX News. Awful, awful, awful. The fact it's popular is just... a sad indictment of the US culture.

Outside of the US, it's the BBC that most country's watch -- because, y'know, it's less inflammatory, better researched, as neutral as you can be within reason, etc, etc. Proper journalism.

Fucking sports-news style news???

I saw a clip of that O'Reilly guy totally berating a muslim guy whose dad had died in the WTC attacks. Psychologically kicked the shit out of him because he still didn't think the War On Terror was right.

TV bullying from so-called "authority figures" on a country's news service, I couldn't believe it.

CNN is deservedly #1, but even that pales compared to BBC.

Oddly enough, I got an e-mail from family after posting this list asking how I could put something so biased as CNN atop the list. The ranking wasn't intended to be anything other than my conception of what the most important cable networks were historically, and CNN, to a large degree, recreated the way we understand the world around us, something Fox didn't really do (it simply took the CNN template and remade it in a blatantly conservative image).

I've done a lot of thinking about media bias in this year of 24-hour political coverage seemingly everywhere (and, actually, I think media bias as a THREAT TO THE REPUBLIC is rather overrated). I plan on doing a post on this at some point, but I DO think that the U.S. is VERY different from other countries in that our state-funded media (which doesn't even qualify as state-sponsored) is relatively weak. NPR and PBS have their partisans, but, by and large, most of our populace gets its news from commercial entities. This seems terrifying to people from other countries, simply because commercial media mostly focuses on what Americans want to hear about, which tends to be a mix of jingoism and celebrity news and incorporates very few international stories. I'm not convinced this is an EVIL thing or anything, but it does give the impression that, say, Fox News is an official organ of the Republican party, when it's ALSO now attempting to skew a bit leftward in the wake of Obama's election. It will always be the most right wing of the news networks, but what it and the other networks are primarily chasing is ad dollars. Hence the endless specials about Obama, which generally draw very good ratings for things that are pretty cheap to produce.

From #90-81:

Carrie again:

Everwood. How I love that show. More distressing than the fact that they aren't planning on releasing any more DVD sets (due to weak sales) is the fact that ABC Family bought the syndication rights, ran the entire series only one time, and then replaced it with 7th Heaven. I keep my ABCF Tivo season pass for that fateful day they bring the reruns back, but I'm not holding my breath. It's been over a year. :(

And, hey, look it's a year later, and you can watch Everwood online at The WB and the second season DVD is coming! Good things come to those who wait! I'm more convinced than ever that an Everwood-ESQUE show needs to be on the airwaves, and yet none seem to be forthcoming. Oh well.

I actually responded to the large number of comments in the thread on the Supplemental List #3: Specials, Made-for-TV Movies and Miniseries. But I'll reiterate that I'd like to see a remake of V, and one is apparently happening.

I ALSO responded in-thread to most of the comments on #80-71, but I guess that I'll again say that I think M*A*S*H is probably the most overrated series of all time. I respect it, but only grudgingly. It DOES feel like something I should probably buy on DVD and plow through over a month or so, but I thought so much of the late stuff was SO AWFUL that I can't imagine deciding it was better all of a sudden. That said, I ALSO think the series finale is pretty awful, maudlin in a way even the worst episodes of the show rarely were.

I responded to a lot of the comments on Supplemental List #4: Series from other shores, including a spirited discussion about Spaced and Corner Gas (which I still kinda think Myles is underrating -- it's a lot better than NCIS, dude), but I never got around to responding to this one from Jason Mittell (whose excellent and too-infrequently-updated blog is a must-read):

I'm enjoying this list as well (although catching up a bit late). While it's true that Canada & the UK are the prime importers to the US, there are some other imports that bear mentioning - besides a number of anime titles that you could grapple with, I think Iron Chef deserves a spot on any list of greatest imports.

And I'd quibble with your characterizing Robert Thompson as one of the foremost TV historians (in another post) - he's foremost in his ability to give good soundbite, but not actually write & research TV history...

I can't believe I forgot Iron Chef! It's such a fun show, and one of the few where its pronounced "foreignness" was central to the show's success (the American remake mostly sucked). I could watch that show for hour after hour.

I was going to respond to you by asking if you'd submit to interviews for my various feature pieces the way Thompson would, but, clearly, I'm no longer doing that so much anymore, so I guess the request is moot.

There was a spirited conversation in #70-61, also, which I think I responded to most of, but I'll just say that the relative terribleness of 24: Redemption (or whatever that was called) makes me feel even smarter about what I said about the show in this list. I know everyone said season six was terrible, but most people thought it could be rebounded from. I never did.

There were no comments on Supplemental List #5 (the one about new-ish shows I liked), but I totally called Chuck there (OK, Sepinwall did too).

I was going to respond to the two posts on #60-51, but they're kind of self-explanatory, though I appreciate the shout-out from Bianca Reagan (who I hope hasn't left us forever) to KDOC, which has one of the goofiest and greatest lineups in the LA area, resurrecting all sorts of old sitcoms and stuff.

We'll wrap this up tomorrow!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Blogger block

So, as it turns out, I just have no idea what to blog about (I've been hoping to do a follow-up to last year's Top 100 TV Shows list, but I simply haven't had the time to prepare sufficiently, so it may have to wait until next year sometime). I'm throwing it out to you: What would you like more of? TV show episode reviews? TV season reviews? Film or book reviews (please don't ask me to do album reviews; my taste in music is famously very non-diverse)? Posts on TV history? Something about cultural theory? I've got a long percolating post on the future of the media industry that will come out sometime soon, and I'm going to spend tomorrow and Friday responding to the comments from last year's Top 100 list for lack of anything else to do, but I want to know what you want to see from SDD, because I aim to please.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"It's A Wonderful Lie" - Gossip Girl, episode 2.12

Time constraints prevented me from posting a recap of GG last night, and with some time to think about it I don't know that there's really much to say about this winter-themed installment of GG.

Everyone is preparing for the Snowflake Ball, but who will Blair and Chuck be taking. This week turns the heat down quite a bit on the would-be couple (Would the tabloids call them Bluck or Chair?). Since they've all but acknowledged their mutual attraction and the difficulties it would present for their social lives, there's no way that Bass and Waldorf can attend the ball together. A wager is devised; Blair and Chuck must each come up with a date for the other and if Chuck actually likes his date then Blair will get use of the Bass limo for a month. Chuck's prize is the services of Blair's maid Dorota, and I think we're all glad that didn't happen. In a twist that reminds me of the episode of Friends where Rachel goes out with a look-alike after breaking up with Ross, the dates selected are clones of Blair and Chuck. The two fall for each other, leaving B. and C. ruefully admitting that the whole thing was bound to fail. It's pleasant to see these two be a little lighter with each other, but not much new ground was covered here.

In previous weeks I've expressed utter indifference to the character of Serena's new boyfriend Aaron, who is too obviously a place holder until things heat up with Dan again. Tonight finds Serena and Dan engaged in a discussion about the importance of "meaning" in sex, since Serena has planned to sleep with Aaron for the first time after the ball. Dan meanwhile has caught the eye of Aaron's ex Lexi, who is some kind of serial first-date fornicator. (Memo to Josh Schwartz: Serious, thoughtful discussions about teen sexual behavior are best saved for your next show) But the one point that seems to emerge from all of this is that both Serena and Dan agree that their time together had meaning. Foreshadowing anyone?

How is Vanessa supposed to crash Manhattan society if people keep playing tricks on her? Perhaps the second half of the season will find Vanessa and Jenny banded together to defeat Upper East Side snobs through the power of music and art, or at least maybe they'll find a guy more worth fighting over than Nate. Since something bad happened to Bart at the end, I'll save my thoughts on the adults for next week. There's nothing like Chuck Bass with a score to settle.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trailer Curmudgeons, Vol. 8: Meryl Streep, Rorschach and a MOUNTAIN-CRESTING TIDAL WAVE

We've been out of commission for Thanksgiving and my birthday, which came right on top of each other, so here's FAN FAVORITE Trailer Curmudgeons to kick us off again.

Doubt (Dec. 12)


Todd: So it was while watching the trailer for this, which takes the mostly excellent and mostly somber stage play and apparently turns it into Notes on a Scandal 2: The Nunnening, that I realized the play is actually an Iraq War allegory? However, I'm apparently the last person to figure this out, so you can all just ignore me. Since Meryl Streep is obviously George W. Bush, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Saddam Hussein, does that make Amy Adams Colin Powell? And Viola Davis the U.N.? I guess God kind of plays the same role in both (well, He IS pretty typecast). Somehow, Meryl Streep is both overplaying and underplaying the lead role, which results in a performance that, judging from the trailer (which, yes, one should never do), uncomfortably bounces between two poles like some sort of manic-depressive she devil. Which, incidentally, is one of the few films Streep DIDN'T get an Oscar nomination for.

Libby: Please. All she needs is a Snidely Whiplash mustache and a cape. This is ridiculous.

The Reader (Dec. 12)


Todd: Maybe this country keeps starting wars because it knows we're running out of good stories to tell about World War II? I mean, let's be honest here, most of our other wars are depressing or dreadfully uncinematic or too expensive to mount movies about (which is why The Patriot had all of that, like, CGI cannonball action). So we keep going back to World War II, in the hopes that something new and original will jar itself loose this time. Doesn't look like they succeeded with this one, which boils elements of Apt Pupil (only they totally have Teh Sex), Judgment at Nuremberg and Schindler's List (it's always Schindler's List) into a film about, like, some guy telling his story to some lady and then she's shocked and questions everything she believes. I believe that's also the plot of Bull Durham.

Libby: Say this phrase aloud: "Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Cuba Gooding Jr." OK. Now say this phrase aloud: "Oscar nominees Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes." That's all I got.

Todd: I just want Winslet to win one so she can stop trying and make, like, a hi-larious comedy where she farts a lot or something.

Libby: Or ends up with Jack Black!

The Yes Man (Dec. 19)


Todd: I realize that Jim Carrey is always a, let's say, broad actor when he's doing crowd-pleasing comedy, but it looks like he was just so desperate for a hit (after things like The Number 23) that he just turned on the LAUGH MACHINE for this one, and it looks a little frightening. I keep expecting Bradley Cooper to start chortling throatily, hit a gong and yell, "Hey-o!" every time Carrey does anything. Still, the American public has spoken, and it wants to see wacky, over-the-top Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty) or mid-range, just looking for a paycheck Jim Carrey (Fun with Dick and Jane, which was a huge hit because I guess everyone just wanted to see something misanthropic that Christmas?) than quiet, "I'm a good actor!" Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon, etc.). But, ugh, Murray from Flight of the Conchords and hipster goddess Zooey Deschanel are in this, and it's directed by one of the more underrated mainstream directors out there, Peyton Reed, so I suppose I'll see it, which is probably what everyone in America is saying right now for vastly different reasons.

Libby: I, for one, am glad that Jim Carrey's dad is getting work. I'm sure he's been out there struggling as an actor for ... wait. What?

Frost/Nixon (Dec. 26)


Todd: I like that Ron Howard and company have taken a pivotal moment in '70s pseudo-journalism and apparently turned it into a feel-good, nostalgic sports movie about a team of scrappy underdogs that takes on the ultimate foe (and wins! *SPOILER ALERT*), complete with The Who on the soundtrack and, like, a full fleet of character actors. Maybe Ron Howard was really in hot pursuit of the Bad News Bears remake and when Richard Linklater got it, he had a good cry and poured all of those dreams into this?

Libby: Todd told me this was a romantic comedy. I don't think this is a romantic comedy.

Watchmen (March 6)


Todd: Like all good nerds, I love Watchmen (especially the final chapter and that chapter where we learn Dr. Manhattan's backstory in piecemeal fashion and -- Libby is insisting I say this -- the Ghost Pirates), but I can't imagine America sitting through this and not being completely baffled. "Didn't they already do most of this on Heroes?" your mom will say, and you'll be so surprised she watches Heroes (she only does because she thinks Adrian Pasdar is sexy) that you'll miss, like, I don't know, Nite Owl hitting a guy or something. I want to be optimistic about this, since the cast is pretty great (and Jackie Earle Haley appears to just be giving us the greatest version of Rorschach ever from some other movie), but the Zack Snyder (sorry ... VISIONARY DIRECTOR Zack Snyder) gives me pause. His Dawn of the Dead was a lot of fun, but his 300 indicated that he doesn't really think much about the material he's given beyond, "What would be cool?" Which is a problem for this particular project. Just sayin'. Oh, and there's a lot of Big Blue Weenis in this movie. Your mom's going to find that particularly baffling. Or arousing. Depends on your mom.

Libby: I used to spend a lot of time trying to picture a movie created specifically to NOT appeal to me. Who would score it. What it would feature. Subject matter. It's nice that I don't have to think about that anymore. This is just pretentious nerd porn.

Todd: Like our marriage!

*drum riff*

Duplicity (March 20)


(Since Libby is such a huge fan of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson, we will reverse our usual repartee.)

Todd: I have seen the ads for this before! It is called Leverage, and it begins airing in a couple of weeks on TNT.

Libby: Once I thought that it would be such a good idea if they took Ocean's 11 and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and a bunch of other movies and made it into one movie and cast all of my favorite people in it, and they're all so pretty, and I don't care what they're saying because they're all so pretty and we're gonna go see this like 60 times in the theaters. Also, HUGE Tony Gilroy fan. Huge.

Star Trek (May 8)


Todd: There was a brief time when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was my favorite movie of all time because I was not allowed to consume science fiction until very recently before I saw it so just the very idea of ALIENS?! WHAT?! blew my mind, despite the fact that it was fairly derivative and was just an excuse to give William Shatner a ski weekend, I think. That said, I'm pretty interested to see this, if only because I want to see if my hypothesis about J.J. Abrams (namely, that he really doesn't create characters, just types) is correct. If it is, this movie could be pretty awesome, because Kirk, Spock and McCoy aren't CHARACTERS, per se, they're just awesome dudes in space. And there's nothing wrong with that. Still, Abrams never met a character building moment he couldn't turn into DRIVING A CAR OFF THE GRAND CANYON, so this could end very poorly indeed.

Libby: Y'know, I used to spend a lot of time trying to picture a SECOND movie created specifically to NOT appeal to me. Who would score it. What it would feature. Subject matter. It's nice that I don't have to think about that anymore.

Todd: But what about the BIG RED MONSTER?!

Libby: Does Bugs Bunny do his nails?

Todd: No.


Up (May 29)


Todd: I have no idea why Pixar always opens its trailers with "DO YOU REMEMBER ALL OF THESE MOVIES WE MADE THAT YOU LIKED? WELL, WE'VE MADE ANOTHER MOVIE, AND PERHAPS YOU WOULD LIKE IT AS MUCH AS THOSE, BUT MAYBE NOT. OH, LOOK, THERE'S FINDING NEMO. HURRAH!" but they seem to feel as though they need to remind us of their pedigree when they're one of the few reliable brand names LEFT anymore. This is like if McDonald's was constantly saying, "Remember how much you liked the Big Mac? And the Egg McMuffin? Well, here's a fried goat's ear on a bun." Or something. Maybe Pixar has a giant inferiority complex, since they've mostly ceded the box office crown to the pop culture quotin' wackadoos over at Dreamworks (though I hear Kung Fu Panda was fun). At any rate, I also like how they apparently choose some new object to render in an insane amount of detail with every movie. Monsters Inc.: Fur. Finding Nemo: Water. WALL-E: Grime. With this, it appears that John Lasseter just threw up his hands and said, "You know what they haven't seen? Balloons!" and everyone just shrugged and said OK, because who doesn't like balloons? That said, you ever notice how the insanely detailed special features on Pixar DVDs make everyone an expert on what it's difficult to do in computer animation? Like, I don't think I've seen a review of this trailer where someone didn't nod sagely and say, "It must have been MURDER to render those balloons," as though they've ever used their computer for rendering, much less figured out where the hell they hid Spider Solitaire. But, yes, I will see this. Opening night. Because, dammit, I love balloons.

Libby: I guess I just spend most of my time rendering meat.

(Obligatory Gran Torino joke. Two jokes for the price of one!)

Libby: If I knew how to render my computer graphics, I would totally put Clint Eastwood from Gran Torino into the Up trailer. "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

2012 (July 10)


Todd: Do you suppose Roland Emmerich is really irritating to go on vacation with? Like, as his wife and kids are enjoying the sights of downtown New York or an ancient monastery or, I don't know, John Cusack's villa, is he just sitting there and saying, "I wonder what this would look like if you flooded it with a giant wave of water?" Whatever works, I guess. Anyway, he's finally made a movie geared almost entirely to the listening audience of Coast to Coast AM (which is apropos, since The Day After Tomorrow was actually BASED ON A BOOK BY ART BELL), which is constantly freaking out about how the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. My theory on this: They were going to keep making their calendar, but they were exterminated. Probably by Roland Emmerich. Also, more trailers should end with a plaintive cry that their titles should, nay, MUST be Googled for us to get the full import of what's going on. And it appears that the studio Google-bombed the term 2012 so that the first three results you get are the Wikipedia page (which screams in the summary, "a great year of spiritual transformation (or alternatively an apocalypse)," which describes so, so much of my life) and the studio Web site for 2012 and a site about how to SURVIVE 2012. This reminds me of when I used to haunt peak oil survivalist Web sites and there was a kid who liked to bow hunt and talked with some fervor about how when the end came, he would kill and eat the neighbor's dog. I wonder what he's up to nowadays?

Libby: Really? REALLY? No.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17)


Todd: I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was the only non-Prisoner of Azkaban Potter that was worth anything (Chris Columbus' first two movies tried too hard to shove everything into one picture, and Mike Newell's Goblet of Fire never was able to find a consistent throughline for one of the best books in the series). David Yates jumped up straight from TV to do some nicely moody work, which appears to have continued on this. He's going to need all the luck he can get though because the first three-quarters of this book are an awkward blend of romcom and the world's longest infodump ever (as Harry goes back into the past to see literally every formative event in the life of Voldemort). Of course, no one remembers that because J.K. Rowling killed off a major character at the end (can I spoil now? I'll play it safe), and that made Libby stay up all night to read and then cry the rest of the night, even though my sister was IN THE NEXT ROOM, and we had to go to the beach that day. They also haven't apparently fixed the whole thing where Emma Watson has more chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe than the constantly mugging, clean-shaven red tree sloth they've gussied up to play Ron.

Libby: I think I'm getting old. I just watched that trailer, and I thought, "Oh, look at how grown up those kids are. I remember when they were just yea-high!" I'm gonna go drink.

(Hey, did you guys know Clint Eastwood is SINGING in his new movie, Gran Torino?! No, really! It's the best thing since he sang in Paint Your Wagon (gonna paint it good). Go here and scroll down to Gran Torino and click Play. Enjoy!)