lost a friend

A friend and collaborator of mine apparently died in his sleep last night.

Rusty Haller was a talented artist, but the things he was good at weren’t the things that the field was valuing. He did enjoyable work on books like ALF, DangerMouse, and did the best art I ever saw on Flintstones comics.And in the later years,

He and I first worked together about 15 years ago, on an Eek! the Cat comic book. And he still had one of my scripts to illustrate when he passed away. He was a dreamer, in a good and bad ways. But in the end, he may not have been a success, but in the greater scheme of things, he drew comics, which is what he wanted to do.

He was also only about a year older than I am. And yes, that is resting heavily on me.

Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kirby post updated

I have been adding additional answers to my post about the Kirby/Marvel copyright situation. So if you care, and only read the original version, go and read the last few answers.

Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

FlashForward

The concept of FlashForward seems like something I might have written — I love subjecting everyone to one alteration of reality and see how they react. In this case, everyone gets to see a little slice of their lives several months in the future. That seems like the source for a lot of drama.

Problem is, there’s a lot of “why” behind it, a lot of “what’s really going on?” This is a mythology show. Despite the drama that they set up, they don’t play much forward in the pilot. And that’s a mistake. There have been a lot of attempts to build mythology shows since Lost, and the more they disappear, the harder is to invest one’s self in another mythology show… you’re far too likely to never get the mysteries explained. And here’s the kicker: it’s not a mistake Lost itself made. Yes, yes, there was a lot of mysterious thing going on from day one, but there was also a lot of playing-out drama from the very first episode.

I’ll probably try the second episode to see if the drama is any more fleshed out, but I’ve seen too many mythology shows dissolve in recent years to put myself out for something that isn’t giving me more story.

Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brothers

Don Reo is the creator of Brothers. He’s done some good ones in the past, notably The John Laroquette Show and Blossom… and those two shows have something strong in common: they were both pretty dark. Laroquette, about a recovering alcoholic, started out pretty darn dark… and then got lighter, worse, and generally higher ratings as seasons went on. And Blossom — well, if you think you knew Blossom without seeing it, then you don’t know Blossom. It was about a family where the mom abandoned them, and the eldest son had an ongoing drug problem; these things weren’t background in the show.

For Brothers, Reo brings back some of the folks he worked with on those shows. Ted Wass, who played that dad on Blossom and took over as main director on the death of previous director Bill Bixby, directs and is one of a number of credited producers. Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, who first came to my attention during Laroquette, plays one of the two titular brothers, both who had football talent when younger, one who went on to the big leagues, the other who ended up in a wheelchair. (If you know Chill, then you know which he is. And if you know anything about his co-star, Michael Strahan, you know which part he has. We’re not talking surprise casting here.)

The wheelchairedness is not the interesting dark part of this for me. The brothers are living with their parents, played by CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers… and the dad is clearly moving down the Alzheimers path. Its clear that this is a tragedy, but they aren’t afraid to play it for laughs. They earn it.

Overall, the script is pretty good – perhaps some problematic plot points, but well-wrought dialogue. Unfortunately, the acting didn’t live up to it. Pounder didn’t sell her role, coming across as stiff and stagy. Chill has previously generally done supporting roles that don’t need much range, getting by on a simple set of ascerbic attitude tics… but in a lead role like this, all it does is makes him unlikable. There’s a sense that the at-odds brothers are supposed to be equally flawed, but Strahan has a likability that just puts you on his side.

It’s worth sampling, I suppose, but I have trouble seeing it getting past its weaknesses. If Chill were a new face, I’d think otherwise, but he’s not, so I’m not so hopeful.

Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Good Wife

The title and concept simply scream Lifetime Original Movie. The Good Wife is the woman who stands by her politician husband during a sex scandal.

But in this case, they jump quickly past the initial disgrace, on to six months last when she returns to her career as a lawyer. Now, I’m not a specialist in lawyers, but… well, I think the folks who wrote this aren’t either. It appears to be one of those big law firms that specializes in corporate law. Oh, and criminal law. And they expect a given lawyer within their ranks to handle both. And they take on pro bono work. Not doing legal work for charities, or fighting to turn over some ruling where someone wsa wrong. No, they represent an accused and apparently guilty murderer, for no visible reason except that, well, if they didn’t do it, then the accused might be represented by a public defender… you know, someone who specializes in criminal law, not corporate law.

But when the good wife takes on the case, she ends up getting the accused freed… not through being a good lawyer (she actually comes across as a rather lousy one) but through being a detective.

It seems to want to be treated as a serious drama, but there’s not a minute of this that can be taken seriously. And it’s frustrating, because it’s full of people I like. I don’t care much one way or the other about lead Juliana Marguiles, but… Josh Charles of SportsNight. Christine Baranski. David Paymer.  A great cast waiting for a good show to come along.

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

I have failed you

Any hope I had of reviewing all the new fiction shows this season got shot down when The CW’s The Beautiful Life got the ax after only two episodes… and before I knew that the show existed. (I may have seen it on the listings and assumed it was a reality show.)

Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Advertisers… with benefits

According to the New York Times Census Bureau is using product placement to put a census employee character into a Telemundo telenovella:

In addition to the typical public service announcements and advertisements, the Census Bureau is helping to compose a remarkable story line featuring the Perla Beltrán character on the telenovela, amid the genre’s usual tales of sex scandals, unspeakable illnesses and implausible villains.

The goal is to get Latinos to let themselves be counted… which has quite an upshot for Telemundo, as the Nielsens rating calculations use the census figures in their models. More Latinos being counted automatically means higher ratings for Telemundo, and thus higher ad revenues.

We’ll see how much longer Fox News airs folks suggesting that you avoid being counted… and what argument they’ll make for answering the census being your way of sticking it to the insidious oligarchy socialistic communistic hedonistic government forces.

Published in: on September 26, 2009 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

our favorite non-descript customers

Doing a blog search, I stumbled across a blog entry for Brilliant Earth, apparently a company that specializes in “ethical diamonds” (presumably not blood diamonds, mined via low-impact methods, and organic). They were listing their favorite quotes from their customers about how great they are. Check out entry #2:

  • 2. I proposed to Alyssa on Friday, and she said yes! She was absolutely floored by the ring, and was even happier with it than I could have imagined. I just wanted to say thank you for your excellent service, advice, and responsiveness. I will definitely recommend Brilliant Earth to any friends in the market for an engagement ring. Thanks! Leif, New York, NY – September, 2009 anything better than this – this is a bit non-descript.

Tip: part of the goal of editing is to not leave any signs of editing.

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Desperate Housewitches

When ABC decided to turn a John Updike tale (via a movie) into a TV series, I didn’t suspect that what they were really trying to do was make Desperate Housewives 2. But thirty seconds into Eastwick, you know that’s what it is. The voice-over narration, the style of music, it’s not at all subtle about what it wants to be.

It’s about three women in varying situations: a perceived-as-ditzy no-longer-married artist with a teen daughter played by Teri Hatcher… er Rebecca Romijn, a gal married to a shmuck, and a gal in love from affair who would just be pretty if she lost the glasses and let her hair down (well, actually, she looks more interesting before she does.) They have their love goals, their career goals, their awkward gambits to do what they want.

And oh, yes, there’s a devil, played with disappointing blandness by the normally-great, I-expected-more-from-him Paul Gross. A dark man of mystery comes in and changes everyone’s lives, for no perceptable reason. In the movie, they could get to the point quickly; in the show, it’s not clear there is a point.

It’s not as fun as it wants to be, and it’s not fresh enough for that to be forgiven. But 2/3s of the female leads basically work, there could be something that emerges. Tell me if it happens.

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Cougar Talk

In Cougar Town, Courtney Cox doesn’t speak. Oh, don’t get me wrong – she has lines. But she shouts them, whines them, screeches them, burbles them, blabs then, and just generally finds the most grating way of saying anything.

The story is about a newly-single mom in a town apparently laden with same, with a willing eye toward younger man, an embarrassible son, a libidinous younger friend (actually well played by Busy Phillips of Freaks & Geeks fame), and a sarcastic married friend (played by Christa Miller, playing basically the same character that she played on Scrubs, another series also created by her husband.) It feels like it wants to be audacious, but the pilot episode is merely grating, less “I can’t believe that they said that!” and more “why’d they bother?”

Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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