Kid Notorious

I just realized I didn’t blog a review of Kid Notorious, the new animated series on Comedy Central.
Years ago, I wrote a “behind the scenes” comic book story about the crazy wackiness of writing comics and, in part, about the efforts of the poor beleaguered artist who had to deal with the writer. The artist of the piece pointed out that it was part of a long tradition of such things, and that the writer always made themselves the wacky madmen unconcerned with what we place on others, and the artists are the long-suffering ones. And he was right that that was uneven and unfair and an exercise in ego.
In Kid Notorious, famed producer Robert Evans does much the same thing. He makes himself that bad-ass, bad-driving, self-deluded, over-medicated pain in the butt who nonetheless rises to the top, and everyone who has to deal with him is suffering for it.
But at least my story was funny.

Published in: on October 30, 2003 at 5:29 pm  Comments Off  

Is TV becoming a meritocracy?

Maybe it’s just a reaction to last year, when so many of the shows I felt worth watching were cancelled so quickly, but I’m taking some joy in the renewal of some of this year’s shows. Already the standout Joan of Arcadaia, the best comedy of a weak season Two-and-a-Half Men, and the slickly made quickly-shorn-of-any-depth guilty pleasure Las Vegas have been picked up for a full season. And what new series have been dropped? The Mullets. Luis. The Brotherhood Of Poland, New Hampshire. Dreck.

This isn’t to say that it’s been a season of solely perfect programming choices (“perfect” meaning “directed to my tastes”, of course!). Last season’s standout Boomtown is missing, presumed dead. Hope & Faith is a relative hit. But I’ll notice that the glass is three-quarters full, just for now.

Published in: on October 28, 2003 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Simpsons versus Baseball

The first half-hour long The Simpsons to air was a Christmas special, one which aired several times in its first year, as strong word of mouth spread about it. Since then, however, they have made Halloween their holiday, with a new special Halloween episode every year.

Only, they don’t call it the Halloween special, which turns out to be wise. Ever since Fox got the major league baseball deal, they have run the “Treehouse of Horror” episode after Halloween, when everyone has already had their fill of spookiness. With the World Series not going to Game 7, they managed to run a “Treehouse of Horror” tonight — but not a new one. They ran last year’s. “Treehouse of Horror XIV” won’t air until next Sunday, in the usual Simpsons slot.

Sports trumps everything. (sigh.)

Published in: on October 26, 2003 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fire Status

For those of you who know where I live and have been watching the news: yes, I’m fairly near one of the currently-raging California wildfires. Specifically, I’m near the Simi Valley one. Not in-danger close, at least not now, but close enough that the skies have been filled with smoke and ash is scattering down on our dwelling. It is unlikely but not unthinkable that sometime in the next few days, we will be asked to evacuate. (Weather patterns suggest that the worst of it will be over on Wednesday.)

Published in: on October 26, 2003 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

R.I.P. Jack Elam

Jack Elam, a character actor whose misaligned eyes helped make him memorable in many westerns, has passed away. Initially established as a villain, I remember his fine comedic presence best from the James Garner films Support Your Local Sheriff! and Support Your Local Gunfighter (not, by the way, a sequel, but merely a wise packaging for a second film with some of the same stars and the same director) and from a short-lived sitcom called Easy Street. That amiable show featured Loni Anderson (late of The Mullets) as a Vegas showgirl who marries into money, only to have her husband die. She brings two old poor men into the mansion, much to the revulsion of her rich in-laws who live there (well-played by Dana Ivey and James Cromwell.) This isn’t a lost masterpiece, but it was a nice little show. Its one season was rerun on Lifetime (I believe it was) a few years back, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it popped up from time to time. The series was created by Hugh Wilson, best known for WKRP in Cincinatti. Hugh’s work is rarely perfect (once you get past WKRP, The Famous Teddy Z, and the movie Guarding Tess, you’ll find works with some serious bald spots to balance their charms), but it always has a lot of heart.

Published in: on October 22, 2003 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  

We have a loser!

Yes, the first of this year’s review series to get cut from the network schedule is: The Mullets!!! Now, I’m not one to cheer cancellation even of bad shows, but I will admit that I’m not going to miss this one.

Published in: on October 22, 2003 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Skin

Skin, Monday night’s new Fox drama about the conflict between a superstar porn producer and a district attourney, had been getting a lot of good comment from all those legit reviewers who get to see things ahead of time. Having seen the first episode, it certainly is watchable. Ron Silver has long been a good choice to do a little scenery chewing on TV drama, and the central storyline about the children of the two families falling in love is fun to watch.

But it’s pretty clear that at best this is going to be a guilty-pleasure series. The handling of all sides, of the porn king and the politician who wants to take him down, is so over the top that I can’t invest myself in it as any reflection of reality or exploration of real issues. (Just as well, because if it were exploring reality, I come down on the side of the porn producer as a freedom thing quite quickly.) And despite the prurient topic, there were only a couple moments that serve as cheap thrills for the hetrosexual male; far less than one will find in, say, Las Vegas or even Karen Sisco.

So this one will get a couple viewings, but it’s not on my gotta-not-miss list.

Published in: on October 22, 2003 at 10:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Trick-or-Cheese!

Have you decided yet what you’re giving the kids for Halloween? Have you considered macaroni and cheese?

Published in: on October 20, 2003 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bloggy mood

I’m in a bloggy mood today, dealing with a lot of silliness and feeling the need to point it out.

And my first message goes out to the folks running the Dilbert Mystery Cartoonist event, who say that "For the week of October 20th through the 25th, in stellar weasel-like fashion, Scott Adams convinced five top cartoonists to draw and write Dilbert in his place. Each day of the week, a new strip by one of these Mystery Artists will be on display here.". Boy, won’t they be surprised when they reach the 25th and discover that they only have 5 strips for six days…

(Oddly, I found identifying the artist of the first strip very easy, because I’m working from a slow dial-up connection and saw the top half of the strip first. The lettering was blatant; had I seen the whole strip at once, I might have lost some time in the detail of the art — which is still enough to identify the artist, but less immediately so.)

Published in: on October 20, 2003 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

SNL: not just the usual problems

There are better seasons of SNL, and there are lesser ones, and there are constantly views that it ain’t as good as it used to be, which generally means that we’re comparing it to the edited-down versions of the better seasons. As such, there’s no great surprise in me or anyone saying that thus far, we’re in a particularly weak and laugh-free seasons.

However, this week’s show with Halle Berry went beyond merely being unfunny. It was racist, not just in a single slip of taste that one might see from time to time on the show, but in a repetitive way that made it clear that folks there really don’t care. Had the skit about loud, ignorant black women violating the quiet enclosures of a Benihana restaurants been the only item of concern, I’d have just shrugged it off as a character choice…. but follow it up with Weekend Update bits built around how American Indians are out of touch with the larger culture and Chinese folks are only good as acrobats and a pattern emerged, and a sad pattern it is.

Add to the racism an opening skit built around an actual rape trial, multiple attempts to belittle folks for not being as famous as they used to be (hey guys, Joey Lawrence is the lead in a new sitcom; how many of you will be able to say that in ten years?), and a general desperation, and you have signs of a show that, if not on its last legs (never count SNL out), is at least in need of same major new energy.

(Side note: this was the first time I realized that one of the new cast members is Kenan, of Kenan & Kel. I hope they manage to make good use out of his amiable presence.)

Published in: on October 20, 2003 at 8:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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