Saturday, October 06, 2007

First Impressions: Friday Night Lights 2.x


The cast of Friday Night LightsAs great as the first season of Friday Night Lights was (it ranked in at number two of the Best Shows of 2006-7), I had some seriously reservations of where the show looked to be heading at the end of last year. First off I am always worried about babies being introduced into the show. Then Coach Taylor taking the TMU job seemed like a lose-lose situation. If he stays at TMU, he will spend most of the season away from the rest of the cast. And if he quits, it seems like a cheap out not too mention there already is a new coach in Dillon so unless he goes all Charlie Weis and lose the first six games, that job isn’t open so what is he going to do, work for Buddy Garrity? (Okay, that may be entertaining.)

But at least for one episode the show is still as good as it has ever been. I spent the first five minutes wondering if what I was watching was some sort of dream sequence as the show seemed to be mocking other token high school dramas with their gratuitous slow motions shots of all the females in their swimwear complete with Julie giving a come hither look while Trya biting into a phallic symbol. But intertwined were Saracen and Landry in classic form taking about nonsense. I have to disqualify Friday Night Lights from this week’s quote of the week competition just so I wouldn’t be tempted to retype the whole pool scene (seriously, WWTRD). Then our last slo-mo of the scene being a very pregnant Tami much to the distain of her daughter.

Landry getting his rub onThis of course gets Coach Taylor back in Dillon so we don’t yet get to see how the show functions without him being around. Certainly he is great with anyone, but I still much rather see him still interact with the people of Dillon. And this is highlighted in this episode with his confrontations with Julie (I especially liked him asking about the Swede) and hanging out with Buddy (who hilariously got kick out of practice). And the scene before he left to visit Buddy is just another reason why the Emmys have no credibility.

Unfortunately it didn’t get much play, but Lyla’s new found faith could be a season highlight for me at least because really, there is nothing more attractive than a religious zealot. Not too mention how entertaining it would be if she makes it her mission to help Riggins find God. (Apparently what Tim Riggins would do over summer break are twins.) And luckily her born again status hasn’t kept her from wearing low cut tops.

Tyra all wetBut I had to save the best and worst for last: Tandry (or should I say Lyra). Landry was on top of a very long list of what is so great about the show to the point I created the top ten best Landry moments last spring (see Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can’t Lose). And if added the pool and bathroom scenes would rank high on that list. And Coach Taylor not being around to see Lance try out for the team is just another reason having Coach leaving is looking like a bad decision.

It looks like Tandry have stayed fairly close over the summer even if Matt still doesn’t think Landry has much of a chance. And it was telling that when Tyra heard noises that she didn’t call Riggins, whom she knows would have showed up, but instead called the much less imitating Landry (although where mom and sis were, who knows). But the whole death plotline just comes out of left field which is pretty untypical of Friday Night Lights. I could have lived with Landry injuring the guy or possibly even have him die in the hospital, but dumping the body in the river (which looked suspiciously wear Lyla got baptized) was just a little overboard. And by a little I mean a lot.

Trya: I'd hit thatI’m a little worried that Landry this season will not be the Landry we came to know and love last season because killing a man will really changes a person (um, or so I’m told, not that I know from experience or anything, okay, let’s move on please). Granted I had the same qualms about Dick Casablancas last season and he was back to token Dick by the third episode until his dad came back at the end of the season. And also Dick didn’t have potential jail time added onto the guilt.

Verdict: The two major complaints aside, Friday Night Lights came into the season the best show on television and hasn’t done anything to lose that title just yet. It should be an interesting race between the show and Pushing Daisies in terms of quality television this year. Friday Night Lights airs Fridays at 9:00 on NBC. You can stream the episodes after they air (including all of last season) over at NBC.com. You can also download the show on Amazon Unbox (see below).



Friday, October 05, 2007

I Want My Music Television vol. VI


There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I though I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form so here they are courtesy of YouTube. I advise you to watch them before you read my reviews if you don’t want me to spoil things. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available, if not the link goes to YouTube where you can watch the video in full screen). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.


Gimme More - Britney Spears



Let’s just get this out of the way quick, the song sucks massively, the video looks like a fan video version they uploaded to YouTube until you see a couple bad wigs and realize it is the official video, and is Exhibit T that will keep her from ever having custody of her kids ever again. And to those that made Gimme More the number one song on iTunes for the last week; you are the reason why the terrorists hate us. Okay, let’s move on to real music.


Dumb it Down - Lupe Fiasco



Last year, Lupe Fiasco rode a wave of hype to the release of his debut album, Food and Liquor, which ended up as a let down. The flow was there but the beats were just too recycled to get mass appeal. Lupe finally lives up to the hype with the release of his new single Dumb it Down with a beat that sounds classic Neptunes and lyrics that definitely don't take the advise of the title. Hopefully the rest of the album, The Cool out December 18th, is more of the same. But as the video goes, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get cast as the corny white dude. Oh well.

Tears Dry on their Own - Amy Winehouse



Say what you want about the personal life of Amy Winehouse while office pools across the nation bet on what month she will kick the bucket (I got March 2011), but the music is scandal proof. This song, built around Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, is just another instant classic from her album. The video is surprisingly dull considering it was directed by David LaChapelle.


Foundations - Kate Nash



For those of you wondering who will be next in the line of British songstress to take America by storm but without the threat of not reaching the age of thirty, look no further than Kate Nash. Nash, much like Lily Allen and Winehouse before her conquered her native country before anyone state stateside, but unlike the two doesn’t have Mark Ronson creating Motown inspired backing tracks for instead going with a Regina Spektor influenced piano based sound, but she still retains Allen’s attitude. But we will have to wait until early next year before we get the whole album stateside.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

First Impressions: Pushing Daisies


Rarely does anything live up to the hype. This is one of the many reasons I don’t watch Battlestar Galactica besides if I did watch it I’d have to start kicking my own butt. And every time I hear someone tell me I must watch it makes it want to watch it even less. Plus how am I supposed to take television recommendation from people who also list The Hills as part of about twenty other shows as must see television at any given time. This is why I don’t try to overhype thing here at the 9th Green. In fact in over a year and a half years writing there are only four albums that have gotten the coveted Severe rating on my Terror Alert Scale.

The cast of Pushing DaisiesWith all that said, you must watch Pushing Daisies. For those that missed the premiere, do yourself a favor and tune in this Friday at 8:00 on ABC when they re-air the first episode (or stream it anytime over at ABC.com). Then of course switch over to NBC at 9:00 to check out the season premiere of Friday Night Lights which would be enough to keep anyone in on Friday nights it were the case every week. And for those of us that have lives, this is the reason why God gave us the VCR (or Tivo for you pretentious type). Back to Pushing Daisies, one of the reasons why I hate when people tell me I have to watch something is because it is rarely ever followed up with a why. So here are the top five reasons why you should watch Pushing Daisies:

1. Brian Fuller: The guy behind the show who also created Wonderfalls (which also stared Lee Pace, the lead of Pushing Daisies), which just so happened to be the number one reason why I no longer watch Fox. Here is a guy that is great at creating a fantasy worlds and the one he did for Pushing Daisies is no exception where he mixes the macabre and the whimsical perfectly. And I don’t think it is a coincidence that he wrote the best episode of Heroes so far, Company Man.

Kristen Chenoweth: I'd like a piece of that pie2. Chi McBride: Loved him in Boston Public (the number five reason why I no longer watch Fox) and he is even better as Emerson, the shady detective that abuses Ned’s ability for profit. He also gets some of the best lines of the Pilot especially the one when he learns that when Ned tells him that someone else in proximity drops dead if he doesn’t retouch the dead in under a minute.

3. Kristen Chenoweth: Seriously, is there anything she isn’t great in? I’m not talking just good but great. And her overly sunshiny disposition will no doubt fit well in this world. Hopefully she gets more of a spotlight as Ned’s obsessed employee. Start getting your pie jokes and innuendos ready now.

4. The Look: Even after watching the promos, YouTube videos and had an expectation of the look of the show, I was still in shock on just amazing everything looked. As long as this show is on the air, the Emmys might as well not even bother nominating any other show for Best Art Direction.

Anna Friel: not too shabby for a dead chick5. Anna Friel: An amazing mix of naïveté and sexiness that the roll of Chuck really needs. I first (and only) remember her from the short-lived The Jury (reason number nine of why I don’t watch Fox). My only complaint about her was the bad hair. Yeah you should give a girl a break on account that she was dead and all, but it seems like chicks’ hair across the board have been bad this television season. Was there a hairdresser strike that I don’t know about? The only female that doesn’t seem affected is the Token Hot Chick and her pigtails on Chuck (more on her Sunday).

With that said, as good as the first episode was, it will only get better as it suffered a little from Pilotitis where they have to spend too much time explaining the show before they can get into an interesting plot as well as seeing a few of the scene thanks to seeing the promos one too many times all summer long (at least there were no, “Mom you smell different” moments). With those out of the way the next episode should prove much more enjoyable thanks to the reasons above.

Verdict: Pushing Daisies not only has the potential of being the best new show of the year (it already is by a very long shot) but could possibly end up being in the discussion of the best of the decade. Thank God it isn’t on Fox or they may have already canceled it by their reputation. Now ABC, you jerked me around last year by poorly treating Let’s Rob Mick Jagger, don’t let the same thing happen to this show. Pushing Daisies airs Wednesdays at 8:00 on ABC. You can also stream the episodes over at ABC.com.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Press Releases: Discover Channel and Weather Channel


A couple of press releases have come across my desk recently (and by desk I mean in my e-mail box) for a pair of show that look interesting. First premiering this Sunday October 7th on the Discovery Channel at 9:00 is Koppel on Discover: Breaking Point where Ted Koppel looks at our current incarceration system and what need to get fixed because lets face it, housing costs per inmate is growing higher, not to mention the amount of inmates, and the rehabilitation in its current state isn’t working because people keep on going back in again and again.

The other item is a much lighter fair with the Weather Channel launching a high definition channel with a new and returning program. Seriously, how cool would watching a hurricane or tornado in high-def be? Not that I would be able to find out because I’m not cool enough to have a HDTV. One show is Epic Conditions now in its second season which also has its own broadband channel which you can find at http://www.weather.com/epic1. The new show is Weatherventure. Both shows start October 1 (oops, a little late on this) airing every weeknight from 7-8 p.m. ET and will re-air in the 11 p.m. – 112 a.m. ET hour.

Here are the press releases and some videos for each show (and if you only watch one video, I highly recommend the third):

DISCOVERY CHANNEL AND TED KOPPEL PRESENT
“KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY: BREAKING POINT”
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE OVERLOADED AND UNDERSTAFFED CALIFORNIA PRISON SYSTEM

What does the California prison system have in common with Harvard University? It costs precisely as much to house, feed and guard one prisoner for one year in a California state prison as tuition, meals and housing cost for a student enrolled for one academic year at Harvard. As far as California taxpayers are concerned, it gets even worse. Their prison system is so overcrowded that it’s reached a breaking point. Either the state finds a long-term solution, or the federal courts have warned that they’ll begin ordering the release of inmates, just to ease the crush.

In this two-hour broadcast, Ted Koppel examines how California got to this point and presents an inside view of the crisis through in-depth interviews with inmates, guards and prison officials at California State Prison Solano in Vacaville. Koppel on Discovery: Breaking Point premieres on Discovery Channel on Sunday, October 7 at 9 PM (ET/PT).

Designed to accommodate no more than 100,000 inmates, California’s prisons now hold 173,000, each at an annual cost of $43,000. How did things get so out of control? Mandatory sentencing is a big part of the answer. When California voters threw their support behind a get-tough-on-crime bill that came to be known as “three strikes and you’re out,” the state prison system filled up and is now overflowing.

While shooting this latest installment of KOPPEL ON DISCOVERY, Koppel spent a number of days among the general population at Solano. His reporting focuses on the inhabitants of H dorm, where inmates are stacked in triple-deck bunk beds on an old indoor basketball court. Correctional officers are so badly outnumbered that prison officials keep inmates segregated by race and gang affiliation in a desperate effort to avoid friction and maintain control. Even so, Solano still sees three to four race riots a year. Using smuggled cell phones, gang bosses continue running criminal operations on the street from behind prison walls. At the same time, they’re running drug and prostitution rings inside Solano.

Koppel will introduce viewers to many of Solano’s inmates, including Travis Tippets, Joseph Mason and Brian O’Neal. Having completed a 6-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon, Tippets is being released from Solano and sits for a brief “exit interview” with Koppel. The last time he was paroled, it took Tippets less than a day to get arrested and sent back. Knowing that a third strike could land him back in prison for life, Tippets finds out how hard it is to get a job with no skills and a criminal record. Joseph Mason is a third-striker. He’s been arrested and convicted three times for non-violent burglaries, and he won’t be eligible for parole until 2019; the ultimate irony is that he voted for the Three Strikes Law. Brian O’Neal is also a non-violent repeat offender. He has been to prison 11 times, and nine of those sentences were for violating parole. Koppel’s cameras track O’Neal’s 11th release from prison as his pregnant girlfriend picks him up and the two drive out of Solano. Within weeks, O’Neal is arrested again for violating his parole.

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New HD programming GIVEs viewers a true weather experience
The Weather Channel® Announces New Program and New Episodes of Popular Epic Conditions

ATLANTA – September 10, 2007 – Backcountry snowboarding where only helicopters can reach the summit, ice climbing some of the most difficult routes in existence, jumping out of a plane to skydive to the ground below. Weather impacts them all, and if these are viewers’ normal weekend hobbies or if they just want to experience the vicarious thrills of these exciting activities, the new HD lineup from The Weather Channel (TWC) is made for them.

The second season of Epic Conditions features those perfect moments when the right weather creates dynamic sports opportunities, and a new series, Weatherventures, travels to the most dramatic climates in North America to showcase playgrounds of all types. Starting October 1, the two series will air every weeknight from 7-8 p.m. ET and will re-air in the 11 p.m.-12 a.m. ET hour.

“These series showcase the perfect content for high definition programming,” said Kaye Zusmann, VP of programming strategy and development at TWC. “The dramatic scenic photography and spectacular action will give viewers their daily shot of weather adrenaline.”

Epic Conditions, which will air at 7 p.m. ET, is produced by Warren Miller Productions, known for jaw-dropping visuals in the extreme sports arena. The new episodes follow world class athletes and acclaimed scientists as their worlds converge, wherever “epic conditions” occur.

In another series merging weather, geography and activity, Weatherventures offers viewers a chance to explore the most iconic landscapes in America while learning how weather has shaped them, people have been impacted by them, and nature has adapted to them. Airing at 7:30 p.m. ET and hosted by TWC meteorologist Jeff Mielcarz, the show is sponsored exclusively by Nissan during the month of October. Produced by Horizon Entertainment, Weatherventures will visit the Florida Everglades, Colorado Rockies, Grand Canyon and Catalina Island, among others.

Along with the new shows, The Weather Channel Interactive will re-launch the Epic broadband site at www.weather.com/epic in mid September. The site will include features such as video clips from each episode, some original content and an online episode guide with links to full episodes. Also available on the Epic site will be an interactive map called “Epic Escapes” charting all of the episodes’ locations and their current weather conditions as well as more information on each extreme sport. Weatherventures video will be available on weather.com®.

New Epic Conditions episodes on Ouray, CO, ice climbing, Alaska Heli-snowboarding, and freeride mountain biking in Canada, among others, will join in the programming lineup along with exhilarating episodes from last year, including Steamboat skiing, Chesapeake Bay sailing, Hawaii big wave surfing and more.

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FACT SHEET:
NEW EPISODES OF EPIC CONDITIONS

Big Mountain Skiing in Sierra Nevada, California
Living up to its name, which is Spanish for Snowy Range, California’s Sierra Nevada receives 450 inches of annual snowfall. Resorts such as Heavenly offer up big mountain skiing with legendary cliffs and chutes. However, epic snowfalls and steep terrain raise the risk of avalanches. One Tahoe local knows this all too well as he survived being buried in an avalanche. (First airing: Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. ET)

Ice Climbing in Ouray, Colorado
Ouray has been nicknamed the “Ice Climbing Capital of North America” in part due to the hugely popular Ouray Ice Park. Aside from this man-made ice climbing playground in downtown Ouray, ice climbers can find even more epic, naturally formed climbs in the surrounding San Juan Range. The 900-foot Stairway to Heaven route is one of the area’s most famous climbs with a moderately difficult WI 4 rating (out of 7). (First airing: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. ET)

Surfing in Mavericks, California
The legendary paddle-in surf spot known as Mavericks breaks one-half mile off of the coast of Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Surfers use their bare hands to paddle into this fierce wave, which consistently reaches heights of 20 feet during the winter months. Its speed and steepness in addition to its size make Mavericks an exhilarating ride, but also a dangerous one. Cold water, strong currents and sharp rocks are some of the hazards surfers face at Mavericks. In 1994, legendary big wave surfer Mark Foo drowned at Mavericks. (First airing: Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. ET)

Heli Snowboarding in Valdez, Alaska
Some of the most epic snowboarding conditions in the world can be found in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains outside of the port town of Valdez. Positioned along the Gulf of Alaska, the Chugach Mountains receive over 600 inches of high-quality powder snow. These amazing 3,000 to 4,000 vertical runs are only accessible by helicopter. Some of the best snowboarders in the world ride helicopters to the top of these jagged summits to ride acres and acres of untouched powder. (First airing: Monday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. ET)

Skydiving in Arizona
Arizona is home to the largest skydiving center in the world, Skydive Arizona. With over 340 days of prime flying conditions, the desert location offers a perfect drop zone year round. As weather plays a prominent role in their safety, Arizona has suitable conditions where clear skies and low breeze levels occur on a regular basis. Top athletes and novices alike use Arizona as a training ground because of its supreme year-round conditions. (First airing: Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET)

Whitewater Kayaking in Montana
Montana is home to countless creeks and rivers for world class kayakers to explore. Free-flowing rivers in Montana, such as the Yellowstone, are not controlled by manmade obstructions and rely solely on the weather. There are many hazards, including log jams, huge boulders and floating debris, on Montana’s wild rivers. One mistake could lead to being sucked into holes or swimming in frigid water. (First airing: Monday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. ET)

Rock Climbing in El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California
For many climbers, El Capitan is the ultimate big-wall climb. Located in Yosemite National Park, this 3,000-foot granite monolith tests climbers with dozens of long and difficult routes. Climbing has inherent risks including loose rocks, gear failure and rapidly changing weather conditions. The park service conducts 15-25 climbing rescues out of more than 100 climbing accidents in Yosemite each year. (First airing: Monday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. ET)

Mountain Biking in Whistler, Canada
In the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Whistler Mountain is home to one of the first – and best – mountain bike parks in the world. British Columbia is recognized as the birthplace of “freeriding” – a discipline of mountain biking that combines the skills of downhilling, jumps and stunts. Weather conditions in the North Shore Mountains can vary drastically from the usually mild weather of nearby Vancouver, so mountain bikers must come prepared. (First airing: Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. ET)

Windsurfing in Hood River, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge has become a mecca for windsurfing, and the town of Hood River is the center of all of the action. With over 30 popular launch sites within minutes of Hood River and a 50-mile stretch of sailable riverfront, it’s a windsurfer’s dream. With daytime temperatures averaging in the mid to upper 80s and water temperatures in the 70s, windsurfing conditions here are ideal. (Air date TBD)

Kiteboarding in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Kiteboarding is a water sport that involves using a power kite to pull a rider through the water on a small kiteboard. Kiteboarders are fully dependent on reliable and strong winds, and Cape Hatteras is one of the best places in the country to find such conditions. Cape Hatteras has been noted for its susceptibility to hurricanes, which tempt the most extreme kiteboarders to brave incredible winds generated by impending storms. (Air date TBD)

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FACT SHEET:
WEATHERVENTURES EPISODE LIST

The Rockies, Colorado
From northwestern Canada to New Mexico, the Continental Divide creates a unique weather environment in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The Rockies boast dueling weather personalities – east versus west. Weather can change rapidly here, and weather prediction is nearly impossible. Elevation, strong winds and an average snowfall of 150 inches in some areas can aid in creating avalanche conditions. Ride the highest chairlift in North America, snow shoe with a ranger, ski jore with dogs and snow kite across the terrain. (First airing: Friday, October 5, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

The Everglades, Florida
The Everglades, a subtropical river of grass that is part of a large watershed near Orlanda, FL, is a truly wild landscape. Weatherventures visits the rugged area to celebrate its natural heritage, recreational activities and unique weather. An airboat tour on Lake Trafford, the lake with the state’s highest density population of alligators, covers the Everglades’ ecology and wildlife as well as the wet and dry seasons. Visit “the Orchid Capital of North America” among a cypress tree canopy and learn about alligator wrestling at the Miccosukee Indian Village. Enjoy kayak fishing, stone crabbing and shelling. (First airing: Tuesday, October 2, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The well known U.S. landscape landmark showcases a natural intersection of weather and geology. Weather impacts the area – and the people who come here – but the area also affects the weather. Weather conditions here include monsoon and flash floods, thermals, lightning, rock falls, and heat and temperature gradients. One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Grand Canyon continues to evolve as weather and the forces of erosion constantly shape it. Take a mule ride, watch as California condors soar through the canyon, learn about the intoxicating smell of “desert rain,” and meet the “Lightning Lady.” (First airing: Wednesday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

The San Juan Islands, Washington
The San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest boast “247 days of sunshine and half the rain of Seattle,” thanks to a rain shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains to the south. Learn about weather conditions on both the wet side and the dry side of Olympic National Park, fly with a sea plane pilot, stroll through an alpaca farm, and visit a rare lavender farm to see the effects of weather on the area. The environment supports the endangered Marbled Murrelet bird species as well as culinary truffle hunting. (First airing: Monday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

Denali National Park and Alaska
Alaska is truly a climate of extremes. At more than 20,000 feet, Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park creates its own weather conditions. Climbing the peak requires battling extreme elements and preparing for danger. Discover glaciers in the state’s coastal region while taking a glacier hike, canoeing in a glacier lake, and surfing on the waves created by bore tides. With the sun staying up nearly all summer, interior Alaska boasts giant vegetables, rivers of salmon and hot air balloon rides under the midnight sun. (First airing: Wednesday, October 24, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

Catalina Island, California
During this trip to Catalina Island, host Jeff Meilcarz takes an Eco Tour of the island to discover the island’s “near-perfect” climate and why it’s considered a “geographic anomaly.” Enjoy this island paradise’s pastimes of diving, kiteboarding and whale watching and visit an underwater kelp forest. (First airing: Thursday, October 4, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

Mackinac Island/Great Lakes, Michigan
The Great Lakes have a big influence on the climate. Acting as a giant heat sink, the lakes moderate the temperatures of the surrounding land, cooling the summers and warming the winters. The shores of Lake Superior are prone to "lake effect" snow and have recorded up to 350 inches of snow in a single year. Dive and scour some of the area’s thousands of shipwrecks, take a bike tour, go on a horse and buggy ride and sail Lake Huron. In addition to visiting the ferry that is one of the only ways to reach the island, learn about “The Mighty Mac” suspension bridge and the foreseeing power of chipmunks. (First airing: Thursday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

The Big Island, Hawaii
Tourists and meteorologists alike universally describe Hawaii’s weather as “nearly perfect all year round.” With sunshine, ample rain, gentle breezes and moderate temperatures, it’s easy to understand why. A helicopter tour takes in the vast landscape that is home to 11 of the world’s 13 different climate zones, ranging from tropical rainforest to desert lava-scapes to snowy peaks. Learn how volcanoes impact climate on the island, why Hilo is famous for breathtaking waterfalls and expansive rainbows, and who the cowboys of Hawaii are. (First airing: Monday, October 22, at 7:30 p.m. ET)

The Badlands/Great Plains, South Dakota
With 130 degree temperature swings, extremely high winds and no shade for miles, the Great Plains can be an unforgiving, yet intriguing landscape. The episode will focus on weather’s impact on the Badlands, including the effect on excavated fossils at the Big Pig Dig and on the collection of fairburn agates, South Dakota’s state stone. Discover small burrowing mammals, go on a prairie hike, tour tunnels in Wind Cave National Park, and meet local tornado chasers. (First airing: TBD)

The White Mountains, New Hampshire
The climate in the White Mountains is known for its unpredictability. But despite its variable conditions, four distinct seasons are responsible for producing the region’s characteristic charm. The landscape inspires hikers, rock climbers, and even zip liners. Host Jeff Meilcarz explores weather’s impact on the famous fall foliage, maple syrup production and New Hampshire’s loon population. Sites visited include the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather” on Mt. Washington, Huntington Ravine and Lake Winnipesaukee. (First airing: TBD)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Just Want to Feel Some Rhythm


Magic - Bruce Springsteen

After releasing two widely forgotten albums on the same day, yet not as a double album, Bruce Springsteen disbanded the E Street Band and released only the sober Ghost of Tom Joad over the next decade. Then September 11th happened and America needed their leading voice and The Boss was happy to oblige getting the E Street Band back together for the uplifting The Rising and subsequence tour with concerts reaching the three hour mark. Bruce went back to the folk rock of Joad on Devils and Dust, and then went full on old time folk when rounding of a new band for The Seeger Sessions.

Luckily for those of us that love when Bruce goes full on rock and roll with the E Street Band, we didn’t have to wait another decade for the next rock opus, just half a decade this time. Foe the album Magic, Brendan O’Brien (fun fact: before producing for the likes of Pearl Jam, O’Brien was a member of The Georgia Satellites) is back as producer as he was on The Rising, again giving the songs a blend of classic rock that still sounds up to date.

Magic starts off with Radio Nowhere, granted not as great as Born to Run of Born in the U.S.A., but what could be, is still up there with the groups best in the terms of bombast rock where The Boss takes aim at the state of radio today, “I want a thousand guitars, I want pounding drums.” You may not find them on your radio dial these days, but Bruce and the boys happy to bring them to you on the song and throughout the album.

The rest of the album doesn’t rock as hard as the opener, but there is plenty to listen to. Livin’ in the Future, a song that could have easily fit on the Born in the U.S.A. album, should become a concert staple on the proceeding tour complete with a great sing-a-long ending. Girls in their Summer Clothes will be the song that will get people dancing in the aisles. Then at the end of the album, Devil’s Arcade is a slow building gem that is a great way to cap the album (well before you get to the bonus track which sounds like something left over from The Seeger Sessions).

Where Bruce decidedly didn’t take sides when assessing the damage of 9/11 on The Rising, there are shades of political overtones directed at the subsequent policy that came from that day and towards those who came up with it on the new album. You can’t help but wonder if the line, “Woke up election day, sky’s gunpowder and shades of grey” (Livin’ in the Future) is directed at our election back in 2004 or any Iraqi one since the war began. And you don’t have to read between the lines to figure out what the line, “Who'll be the last to die for a mistake?” (Last to Die) is about.

But for the most part Springsteen sticks to the tried and true lyrical content of love (I’ll Work for Your Love) and loss (the bonus track Terry’s Song, about the Bruce’s long time assistant). And anyways, it is the sound of the music that really counts, and the E Street Band was firing on all cylinders for the album, especially Clarence Clemmons sax solo which sound to be getting better with age. Hopefully it isn’t another five years until the next time Bruce rounds up the boys for another album.

Song to Download - Livin’ in the Future

Magic gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.



Monday, October 01, 2007

You See This? This Is My Boomstick


Army of Darkness

With the leaves falling, and Halloween inching closer and closer, people will be breaking out their scary movies to watch with friends and family. Being that I’m not the biggest fan of gore or slasher flick, I rather go with a more comedic fair like Ghostbusters or this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, Army of Darkness.

Many of you may recognize the name Sam Raimi as the directory of the Spider-Man films. But long before he was at the helm of major studio movies, made a dirt cheap horror flick, The Evil Dead with his friends. That led to the bigger budget, but not by much sequel Evil Dead II which then landed him major studio backing for Darkman. He then parlayed his clout as director of Darkman to make a big budget sequel to the Evil Dead franchise renamed Army of Darkness as Evil Dead III may have discouraged people from seeing it since they hadn’t seen the first two.

The movie was the first in the Evil Dead series I ever saw and you definitely don’t need to see the previous two before watching Army of Darkness thanks to a nice recap at the beginning of the movie. Even without the recap, the movie could really just stand alone, they even change some plot points from Evil Dead II to Army of Darkness.

Bruce Campbell (The Adventures of Brisco Country Jr.) plays the ubiquitous Ash, complete with shotgun in one hand and the other replaced by a chainsaw, is transported back into medieval times in the middle of a war of the English and the Deadites, an army of the undead. The English mistake him as a savior who will help them vanquish the Deadites. The only problem with this is that Ash is lazy and self-absorbed. But thanks to a lovely lady and the promise from the town wizard that he will help him get back to present day, Ash agrees, but in true Ash fashion, things don’t really go as planned.

The movie is chalk full of great liners, delivered just right by Campbell and his perfect dry wit, here are some of my favorites:

- Ok you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick!

- Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things: Jack and (expletive deleted)... and Jack just left town.

- Gimme some sugar, baby.

- Alright. Who wants some?

- Say hello to the twenty-first century!

- Honey, you got reeeal ugly!

- Hail to the king, baby.

And long before every television show and movie had semi-ironic slackers work at parodies of big chain-stores, Ash worked at S-Mart. “That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.” Also working at S-Mart, Bridget Fonda.

There were some rumors after the Freddy vs. Jason (New Line Platinum Series) movie there would be a Freddie vs. Jason vs. Ash movie but that film seems to be shot down by Raimi, although Campbell is on the record as being up for it. But the big rumor now is that Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash will eventually see the light of day as a six part comic book. For those of us that can’t get enough of Ash, look out for My Name Is Bruce, a film in which Campbell plays himself who is mistaken for his character Ash and kidnapped to help vanquish a monster in their hometown which may be coming to DVD soon.



Sunday, September 30, 2007

57 Channels and Only This Is On vol. I


Quote of the Week: Who else thinks the Civil War ain’t over, it’s just half-time? (Earl, My Name Is Earl)

Song of the Week: Look After You - The Fray (Journeyman)

Big News of the Week: New CW Shows Tank: Congratulations The CW you just spent millions of dollars promoting a show in Reaper, including paying off critics to make people believe the show was worth watching, only for it to debut with numbers worse than Veronica Mars scored in its first week last year in the same timeslot; a show you promoted with about as much money as you found in your couch cushion. Then to add more insult to injury, your other “show that will bring viewers to The CW,” Gossip Girl almost scored almost a full million less viewer in its first week with any competition this week too compared to that Veronica Mars premiere. So The CW, you may want to get on the phone as soon as possible and beg Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell to get Veronica Mars: The FBI Years ready for the 2008 season and hope all the bridges you burned for canceling the show the first time will be rebuilt by then. Because if you are going to put on shows that get low rating, at least put on one with a loyal fan base that doesn’t cost you as much money. (Full Disclosure: The Nielsen Rating are a sham and I tend not to believe any of the numbers used to make the argument above, but since The CW are stupid enough to think the numbers are accurate it works in the aurgument.)

Speaking of Nielsen, as I mentioned earlier this week, I am up for their TV Blogger of the Year Award despite actually being a TV blog. It was somewhat prestigious when they first made me award of the award being one of about ten blog including actual credible blogs like Television Without Pity and Brilliant But Canceled (okay, I missed how either were actual blogs themselves, but that would be like the story of the kettle and the pot), but now the contest has ballooned up to about a hundred. Yawn. And I realized their whole voting system is pretty hard to figure out. And their website, which was interesting when I had an exclusive beta invitation, has just turned into a place for spammers for their favorite crappy shows. But if you have too much time on you hand, or have already signed up for the site, feel free to head over and give me a pity vote (I have pretty much given up on winning a t-shirt). Also don’t forget to check out my contest where you can win the fourth season of Nip/Tuck on DVD.


Vote Scooter McGavin's 9th Green Win Nip/Tuck Season 4 DVD


How I Met Your Mother: Better than most of the second season, but something just felt off. Maybe it was the recycling of the lower back tattoo that played out two years ago. Maybe it was they didn’t spend enough time with the special guest stars Mandy Moore and Enrique Iglesias (who shouldn’t quit his day job). Of course maybe it was because they totally stole my break-up beard routine. Granted I typically demoted my beard from goatee to fu Manchu to Charlie Chaplin moustache before going bare. And I don’t want to seem as obsessed with hair as Tony Kornheiser, but what was with both of the female’s hair. It is time to fire the show’s stylist. But we are one step closer to meeting the mother, although it was a little insulting to the intelligence to end the show with all black umbrellas with one lone yellow umbrella(ella, ella, eh,eh,eh). Check out the latest episode over at Innertube. The show also showed up in iTunes this week and you can download the last two episodes from last season for free as I write this, but be warned, those were two of the worst episodes in the series history.


Heroes: Darn you Heroes for once again teasing me that you killed off Absorbing Guy just to reveal once again that he wasn’t in fact dead like everyone think. For the love of good acting, the next time you kill him off make sure he stays dead. Of course it would be pretty apropos if Kristen Bell is the one that finally does the deed having one of the best actors today kill off one of the worst. But anyways.

Horrible acting aside, I could also complain how uninteresting the Spanish people are or how they have created so many Heroes that they have already started to recycling abilities (flight) but I want to talk about how funny the premiere was. No seriously, I think I laughed more during Heroes that I did How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Chuck combined. First, despite starting to be grating during the end of last season, Hero meeting his hero, who just happened to be a drunk British guy. Yeah the premise sounds like a cheesy blockbuster film that should star Martin Laurence or Tom Cruise, yet somehow the actor somehow made it work. Then there was Noah’s boss whom I hope turns out to be a hero himself and much like Samson have his powers being drawn from his moustache. And I’m not even sure why I found it funny but the Bennet family dinner, complete with Mr. Muggles, was so inane I just busted out laughing the whole scene. Check out the latest episode over at NBC.com.


My Name Is Earl: A strong start and it was nice to see that Earl could still cross off things on his list while in prison. But I still prefer my sitcoms in half hour portions and some of the jokes started to get stretched too long. At least the new guy at NBC said he was getting rid of those stupid Supersized episodes, so we don’t have to worry with those anymore. The best part of the episode though was Joy taking in Randy and trying to teach him how to fend for himself. Check out the latest episode over at NBC.com.


Survivor: Wow, I can’t believe they actually let the wrestler get voted off, but I guess when someone goes unanimously, it is hard to swing some votes to keep her on. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring back the castoff survivors like they did in the Panama season. We also get to see the big twist this season with the winning reward challenge tribe getting to kidnap an opposing tribe member who in part gets to give a hint to the not so hidden immunity idol. Should be interesting who tells who about what is going down. And I am beginning to think that my prediction of the one tribe never winning anything is actually going to come true. Check out the latest episode over at Innertube.


Survivor on iTunes



Smallville: Nobody does season finale/premieres quite like Smallville. In the finales almost every character is in some dire situation and everything is somehow back to normal by the end of the finale. We even had two deaths in the finale, and both were seen alive and kicking by the final scene of the premiere. Of course if you actually thought Lana was dead, you weren’t paying attention (and I not just taking about her still being in the credits); let take the time machine back to May 20th, “Lana who actually got in the van that passed by preventing Lionel (who may or may not be in on it) to reach her, and then remotely blew up the car to fake her own death.”


Also check out my First Impressions of these shows:

Chuck (where you can also check out a Bloggers Must Watch Guide at the bottom)

The Big Bang Theory

Journeyman

Bionic Woman

Life

You can also check out my season review of Dexter: In the Blood (everyone got the Better than Ezra reference right? Anybody? Anybody at all?)


Promo of the Week:





Next Week’s Pick: Friday Night Lights, Friday 9:00 on NBC: A new day for last year’s best new show. I still have avoided temptation from watching the premiere episode on Yahoo, but from the promo above, you can tell at least one of Dillion’s finest who will be showing up in swimwear in the premiere. I would be remised if I also didn’t mention Pushing Daisies which has its series premiere on Wednesday at 8:00 on ABC. Let’s hope that it lives up to the hype.


Check out some of the shows mentioned above on Amazon Unbox which you can transfer to you Tivo (if you are one of those pretencious types, everyone else will have to watch on theor computer; also notice how How I Met Your Mother is currently 0.00 which all the math classes I have taken in taken in my life would have me believe that makes the show free for download):