Category Archives: tv

Sweet Dreams

So apparently, Faith No More have reunited and are touring Europe…  There’s even talk of playing dates in the U.S. I’m not too familiar with their oeuvre, though I do recall being something of a fan of Epic – I liked the song and found lead-singer Mike Patton to be quite easy on the eyes…

What I had not known was that the band used to perform this rather amazing song, “Sweet Dreams” – and, no, it’s not the one popularized by Eurhythmics – though I suspect it will be recognizable to most…

And just in case you don’t remember it, here’s the source… Though be warned: if you click through to watch it, the tune will be stuck in your head for at least the rest of the day…

Gli uomini matti

If you’re not already watching Mad Men on AMC, you’re an idiot.  Season 3 is amazing so far – each week’s episode better than the last. Oh, and if you are watching but aren’t caught up, stop reading – a couple of spoilers coming.

First things first. When Betty walked into the bakery last week for coffee with Henry, I gasped aloud.  Seriously – look at that dress.  It is gorgeous.  And those sunglasses? Perfection.  But really, look at the entire shot below: the old-fashioned gingham curtains on the door playing against modern print of her frock, the silhouette of Betty’s hand through her lacy glove,  the gumballs echoing the colors in her dress, the ghostly apparition of the wedding cake in the window, the sunlight suffusing the whole scene with a glow and keeping your eyes focused like a laser beam on Betty. The composition of this shot is masterful – like pretty much every scene, a key part of the genius of this show.

betty2

Of course, things only got better this week, when Betty decides at the last minute to join Don on his two-day business trip to Rome.  And she reinvents herself, if only for these few days…  When she showed up on screen with this new hair-do (after calling the front desk at the Hilton and, in perfect Italian, requesting a hairdressing appointment), I believe my exact words were “OH MY FUCKING GOD!”

roma

Betty was delightful in Rome – confident, flirty, carefree.  When she and Don returned home to the ‘burbs, she almost immediately lapsed back into her frosty and distant self.  It made me a little weepy – because I totally understand that feeling after a trip abroad.  Traveling to a foreign country is like stepping into another life – everything is new and exciting and different…  Coming back home can be bittersweet – and in Betty’s case, mostly bitter, as she returns to her dreary suburban life, expected to be a devoted wife and doting mother, an existence she clearly finds unfulfilling and stultifying – though I suspect she’s not sure why…  Paging Betty Friedan!

Whenever I read online recaps of an episode of Mad Men, many people seem to really dislike Betty’s character. They complain that she’s cruel, self-centered and uncaring – and she has certainly exhibited all of those characteristics.  She is no dummy – yet she is expected to be satisfied with the quotidian life of Tarrytown, picking up dry-cleaning in her station wagon, looking after the kids and keeping dinner warm for her philandering husband. I think she envisioned a life for herself much different than the one she is leading…  And the trip to Rome was a rather stinging reminder of that.

Anyway, I love Betty – I suppose because I see a lot of myself in her… especially some of the less attractive parts of her character.  Though in my case, I’m sort of the opposite – I’d love to be able to stay home, join the Junior League, take riding lessons, have lunch, pick up the dry-cleaning, cook elaborate dinners…  But no kids, please – they’re so selfish…  What with the crying, the demanding to be fed and have their diapers changed – what about my needs? But I digress…

Oh, and as long as I’m singing the praises of the show, can I just reach a bit further back to mention this?

Watching this scene as a gay man, it was a flashback to my own first kiss with another man – and I’m guessing for many other gays of a (ahem) certain age.  For me, the experience really was a case of the veil being lifted from my  eyes, all in a split second. Hindsight immediately became twenty-twenty…  All the things that made me feel “different” from the time I was little boy suddenly made sense.  And just the physical sensation of touching a boy instead of a girl – so different, so right, so magical…  Anyway, I don’t want to get too graphic (my family reads this blog – I’m sure they’re already grossed out) – but this was an amazing scene.

And damn that fire alarm!  At least I didn’t have to deal with that when I had my first kiss with a guy…  Of course, mine wasn’t as hot at that bellhop – and he drove a Camaro and wore British Sterling cologne.  Yikes…  Trips down memory lane can be hazardous…

South Pacific

Well, it’s been a week since Chris and I saw South Pacific in NYC…  And every day since, I still find myself humming (or more often singing) “Some Enchanted Evening” or “Bali Hai.”  I’ve been lucky enough during my life so far to see many fine and memorable shows performed on Broadway and in San Francisco.  But I don’t recall ever spending a night at the theater as magical as last Friday.  This production was perfection: the cast, the orchestra, the set, the venue, the costumes, Lt. Cable’s bare chest (but I digress…).  And of course the music and lyrics are as lovely as ever.  An enchanted evening indeed and a night I shall remember forever.

When I first thought about a trip to NYC to see a bunch of shows, I brought it up to Chris over dinner – asking if we could maybe go to NYC for my birthday.  His response?  “Sure, let’s go.”  To quote Nellie Forbush, I’m in love with a wonderful guy…

Here’s a little taste of what we got to see – though needless to say, seeing the entire production at Lincoln Center is beyond compare.  Nonetheless, I challenge you not to get the shivers (or if you’re anything like me, the weepies…) when Paulo Szot sings…

R.I.P. Mollie Sugden

Mollie Sugden – who portrayed Mrs. Slocombe on “Are You Being Served? – has died at age 86.  May she and her pussy rest in peace…

from joemygod

The future is here…

The transition to digital TV has finally happened.  In an effort to be servicey, here’s a handy chart from Gizmodo for anyone (*cough*Mom*cough-cough*) who ran into any difficulties with their over-the-air channels.

dtv

from Gizmodo

1980

OMG – I cannot wait until it’s 1980!  So cool…

Seriously though – am I the only one who remembers the show “UFO” from the early ’70s? It’s from the same folks who brought us “Thunderbirds” and “Space 1999” (another favorite of mine).  I loved it as a kid and just seeing the opening sequence again has me tempted to purchased the DVD box set.  Not sure whether I should be embarrassed or proud – but I still have my Dinky die-cast SHADO Interceptor (with launching missile).  And if you don’t know what a SHADO Interceptor is (but then really, who doesn’t?), here they are in action.  For reals, why couldn’t 1980 have been more like this..?

At any rate, apparently a movie version is in the works.  Please don’t ruin my childhood memories of this super-groovy show…

from io9

Watch “Kings”

Apparently, the premiere on Sunday did horribly in the ratings, so the show is likely doomed. But if you haven’t tuned in, I heartily endorse this program. The concept is weird (bible-retelling-meets-Dynasty-meets-alternative-future-sci-fi-meets-Shakespeare) – but the cast is rather amazing, the story compelling and the cinematography is genius.

You can catch the full 2-hour premiere on Hulu.  And here’s a great review from Heather Havrilesky on Salon ( be warned – the review does contain spoilers).

Would you stop playing with that TV? I’m trying to get some sleep.

from Gizmodo

Notes From a Shut-in

I spent the last five days lying prone on the sofa, my fever raging and my thumb planted weakly but resolutely on the “channel up” button of the remote.  And boy does daytime TV suck.  Though it’s certainly no wonder that the still-compelling “The Price is Right” remains on the air.  Honestly, I only had to be tuned in for about thirty seconds before I was yelling out prices (OK, it was more like “raspily croaking”) and grinning (i.e. grimacing wanly) like an idiot when some schlub won a new car.

But when did they start giving away Christian Louboutin shoes and Calvin Klein dresses?  Not to mention calling groovy little tattooed hipster boys to “come on down”?  Of course they also still give away plenty of hideous Broyhill bedroom sets.  And the studio audience remains for the most part decidedly non-hip…

clock-game-4And I’d forgotten how much I hate contestants who get on the show but are unfamiliar with the various games.  Some broad just lost the Clock Game – that’s right, the Clock Game!  It’s one of the few games on the show that is a guaranteed win if the contestant has an even basic understanding of how it works…  Jeez! And don’t get me started on the many lame bidding strategies going on in contestant’s row.

Daytime TV is not only lousy – it’s depressing.  The shows are bad enough – gab fests featuring C-list celebrities I’ve never heard of, the countless courtroom shows (none of which hold a candle to Judge Judy – and even her shtick is getting a little long in the tooth), the soaps.  Ugh, a vast wasteland indeed – a wasteland with 300 channels.  Thank God for HGTV and Food Network – there’s always an episode of House Hunters or Good Eats showing…

But worse than the shows are the commercials.  What a sorry lot we shut-ins apparently are as a demographic.  Ads  for Hot Pockets and Pop-tarts, immediately followed by Marie Osmond or some other low-wattage celebrity shilling for weight loss regimens and fat-burning potions. Depressingly earnest spots for laxatives and stool softeners, the actors doing their best “I’m suffering from constipation during this important business meeting” routines. Lawyers clamoring for the custom of victims of asbestos or renal-failure-inducing enemas (I shit you not – no pun intended). Insurance policies to cover one’s “final costs” pitched by folksy, washed-up TV personalities.  Check cashing and “payday advance” establishments touting their convenience while never mentioning their usurious rates and fees. Car insurance come-ons (“DUI OK!”) with the worst production values ever (I’m looking at you Dashers and The General).  Prescription drugs with frightening and bizarre side effects, despite the relatively mild ailments they claim to alleviate.

hoveroundAnd don’t even get me started on the Hoverounds, Larks, Lil’ Rascals and all the other motorized scooters being hawked.  I’ve always hated those scooters – I simple can’t get past my view that wheelchairs are for the crippled, scooters are for the lazy.  If one actually has some sort of affliction that makes walking impossible, then one gets a wheelchair.  But a scooter?  It’s for the slothful and the obese.  Don’t believe me?  Just head to Disney World.  The place is crawling (or should I say “lumbering”?) with scooters piloted  by fatties,  turkey leg in one hand and a gallon of Coke in the cupholder, maneuvering up to the funnel cake stand.

I’ve also been watching CNN, which is pretty much exclusively covering the ditching of USAir flight 1549 – or the “Miracle on the Hudson” as it’s already been dubbed. Quite an amazing story – though I cringe at the use of the term “miracle”.  It’s as if God’s hand was actually visible to the naked eye as it gently guided the plane to a smooth landing in the middle of the river.  But then why did He make those geese fly into the engines in the first place?  Or were they devil geese?

And frankly, “miracle” takes away from the extraordinary performance of the crew of the aircraft.  Pilots and flight attendants are trained and retrained in responding to emergencies – and, as is so often the case, this training saved many, many lives.  And I’ll wager that whenever we finally do hear from the crew, they’ll all deny being heroes and point out that they were simply doing the jobs they were trained to do.

The winner of Gawker's headline comptition.

The winner of Gawker's headline comptition.

Of course, with no deaths, the story isn’t really sexy enough for the news.  So the anchors and reporters fill in the gap by spouting gory and horrifying hypothetical situations.  “Well, if this had happened next week, there would’ve been ice in the river – which could have ripped open the planes fuselage, causing the aircraft to erupt into a fiery ball of death as it cartwheeled down the Hudson, incinerating everything in its path, the passengers’ screams  clearly audible in mid-town Manhattan as they were burned alive.  And anyone who survived the deadly inferno would likely have been devoured by the many man-eating sharks that populate the Hudson River.  Coming up next: what would have happened if swarms of bees had filled he cabin during the crash landing? We’ll talk to bee expert Henry “Buzz” Collins after the break.”

Eh, I suppose I should be grateful for the varied though largely sub-par offerings on my TV.  There’s not really a whole lot else to do when one is stricken with the plague (which I’m pretty sure is what I’ve had all week…  the buboes seem to be clearing up nicely though).  Reading was out of the question, as it required me to both open and move my eyes, a painful and overly-vigorous task.  Online activity was excrutiatingly interactive.  Staring slit-eyed and slack-jawed at bad TV shows while shivering and downing codeine and Vitamin Water seemed about the only activity that I could engage in…  Well, other than longing for the Grim Reaper’s cold and clammy embrace.

I always wondered what the “D” stood for…

Apparently, this ad was banned by ABC and CBS, after numerous complaints about its “profane” language. Jesus, what a bunch of goddamn motherfucking assholes…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

from Gawker

Quote of the Day

tina_feyTina Fey at the Television Critics Association awards:

Thank you guys for making ’30 Rock’ the most successful cable show on broadcast television. It’s a great time to be in broadcast television, isn’t it? It’s exciting! It’s like being in vaudeville in the ’60s!

from NYTimes

The Price Is Right – Really, Really Right

Wow! Only $494 away from the actual retail price…  But: FAIL!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

from Best Week Ever via Dlisted

Swifter, Higher, Stronger, Fatter

Is it just me or is this McDonald’s ad especially offensive?

There’s something particularly unsavory (hah!) about what appears to be a bunch of aspiring Olympians turning out to be McDonalds customers eagerly awaiting the introduction the of the company’s latest fat-and-carb delivery system delicious sandwich.  And I’m sorry, but six-pack abs are not a typical byproduct of consuming McDonald’s Southern Chicken Sandwiches…  (though they really do look kind of delicious… or so says your shame-faced Jack In The Box eating blogger).

I mean, I get it – it’s advertising, the goal of which is to sell me something.  But the juxtaposition of the perfect physical specimens cast as athletes in the commercial and their their subsequent ingestion of this fried “chicken” sandwich is horrifying – it seems to suggest that this new sandwich is part of a healthful diet; that it may actually encourage, rather than inhibit, the development of the aforementioned six-pack abs.  Had there been a little humor, maybe it wouldn’t have been so awful – but the message seems to be completely earnest and free of irony…  Bleh.  Though I guess the fact that McD’s is an official sponsor of the Olympics is pretty gross in and of itself…

Oh well – I don’t suppose as a wine-guzzling, Whole-Foods-shopping, trans-fat-eschewing, locally-sourced-overpriced-produce-buying pretentious foodie that I’m one of McD’s key demographics.

And, in a sidenote, kudos to McDonalds for being down with the gays.  But can you please cut it out with the Olympians scarfing down junk?  So not lovin’ it…

Haute Couture au Bateau d’Amour

Judging from the cast featured in the opening credits, this appears to have been one of the finest episodes ever in the Love Boat oeuvre.  And you just know there was a big charity fashion show finale…

And can anyone tell me whatever happened to Camilla Sparv?  I remember not long after her moving portrayal of “Joanne Atkins” in this chapter of the Love Boat, she gave a tour-de-force performance as “Maria von Förster” in an episode of Airwolf… But since then, we’ve barely heard from her….