Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files is about to premiere on the SciFi Channel--the first episode will be airing 1-21, paired with the return of Battlestar Galactica in its new Sunday night timeslot.

Having read a few of the books in the Jim Butcher series, I'm looking forward to this show. Paul Blackthorne is surprisingly close to what I pictured for Harry when I was reading the books (although it does state he has long hair--but hey, this guy's kinda hot so let's give him a break), and it sounds like they've done a reasonably good job adapting the stories. Jim Butcher has said he's happy with what they're doing, and that's a good sign.

This week's TV Guide says of the show, "A mildly entertaining concoction of humor and horror...this supernatural procedural is an agreeably escapist hour to help launch Sci Fi's Sunday schedule." Entertainment Weekly is less generous, saying, "'s an uneven fantasy series that's not eerie enough to be a culty favorite (The X-Files) or goofy enough to be a guilty pleasure (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)."

If you haven't read any of these books, well, why not? Check them out at, or scour your local library. If, like me, you like audiobooks, Buzzy Multimedia offers the first four in both CD and mp3 format. The books are narrated by James Marsters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, and he does a good job with them. They're fun books, and I hope the show proves to be equally entertaining.

For more information on The Dresden Files, check out the official homepage at Or drop by the official Jim Butcher website, where there's a forum dedicated to the show.

Bones Return Bumped Again—and Why I Don't Like American Idol

Well, it's official. Bones, which for a while appeared to be returning next Wednesday, 1/24, is not not coming back to grace our screens with Boreanaz shoulders until 1/31. Excuse me while I go weep into my oatmeal.

Okay, I'm back.

All this shuffling, of course, has to do with the premiere of this year's American Idol. I do not like American Idol. I probably should in some way, because it's probably helped Bones pull decent ratings. But as a show, I don't like it. And yes, before you take me to task, I have watched it a few times. My kids like it, so I'm forced to, much as I was forced to endure nearly 18 straight hours of Hannah Montana over New Year's.

Why do I not like it? First and foremost, Simon. He's mean. I fail to understand why watching somebody verbally abuse another person is entertaining. Maybe we should just go back to the old Roman gladiator days and have people literally flayed with knives on TV. I think it'd be easier to watch. And Simon's recent dissing of Bob Dylan makes me respect him even less. Not only is he nasty for no good reason, he has no real concept of musical genius. Poor Bob would be viciously mocked right out of the audition room.

Which leads me to the second reason I don't like AI. When I was in college, my sister belonged to a theater troupe (a really good one, by the way). They did a lot of musicals, and all their folks were coached by the same voice trainer. He got some fantastic results out of a lot of people who hadn't ever sung before, but in the end everybody came out sounding kind of alike. Same use of head versus chest voice, same applications of vibrato, same kind of tonality and vocal quality. That's what seems to me to happen on AI. You start out with some people with some nicely distinctive voices, then by the end, after they've run the gauntlet of vocal coaching with the AI team, you can barely tell Fantasia from Clay Aiken. I can't identify Kelly Clarkson on the radio by her voice—she sounds just like any number of full-voiced female crooners currently cluttering our airwaves. (In fact, the only way I know it's Kelly is that my daughter will start singing along, cause she LOVES Kelly Clarkson.) And she's not bad, really. She's just...generic. The same goes for Carrie Underwood. Although I do like "Before He Cheats." Go, Carrie! Key that car!

Anyway, that's why I don't like American Idol—because Simon is a not-nice person, and because the show contributes to the overall genericizing (genericization? Is that a word?) of American pop culture. That, plus it's making me have to wait another week to see Boreanaz shoulders, and that makes me cranky.

Friday, January 12, 2007


A 2005 direct-to-DVD movie starring Jensen Ackles, Devour (or, as it says at amazon, DeVour) is...well, let's just say if you're not a die-hard Jensen Ackles fan, you might want to skip this one.

If you are a die-hard Jensen Ackles fan, Devour delivers on the Looking at Jensen Being Pretty front. However, on the Having a Good Plot front, it's not so satisfying. Ackles plays Jake Gray, a normal sort of college student who works repairing computers. For his birthday, he's gifted with membership to an online game called the Pathway. Havoc ensues as the Pathway proves to be not just a game, but more of a, um...cultish kind of Satanic um... something or other. (Yes, I watched the movie. No, it's not clear at all.) His friends meet horrible fates, per the expectations of the horror genre. Not that their fates really make a great deal of sense within the context of the movie, but they're certainly horrible. Anyway, it appears the Pathway is ultimately geared toward guiding Jake to his final destiny and the truth about his past, none of which is well set up or foreshadowed in any way. The final reveal of what this destiny is provides a far from satisfying conclusion.

In short, I can't recommend this movie to anyone who isn't there just for Ackles, because if you're not appreciating the pretty, there's not much left to appreciate in this muddled storyline.

A bit of trivia--Jensen's father Alan Ackles appears in this movie as Paul Kilton.

Rated R for violence, language, random office chair sex, much smoking of pot, and confusing the viewing audience.

Speaking of Quantum Leap...

According to Sci Fi Wire, NBC has just issued a pilot order for a show by Kevin Falls (The West Wing) called Journeyman, in which the protagonist travels back in time to "tweak" history to help folks who are in trouble. Um... Didn't NBC do this already? And treat it like crap and then cancel it?

Everything old is new again? Or are the networks really this strapped for ideas?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


First—I love that the CW is using a Johnny Cash song (God's Gonna Cut You Down) to promote Supernatural. Because I love Johnny Cash. And I love that song, and I love this show, so there you go. The great Trifecta of Love...

Ahem. On to the show.

With this episode, Raelle Tucker has completely redeemed herself for "Children Shoudln't Play With Dead Things." (I typed that "Children Shouldn't Play With Dean Things" the first time. What does that mean?) Also, tonight's director was a woman. Whatever complaints some people may have about the lack of female characters on this show, they certainly have a lot of ladies behind the scenes. (Not Kim Manners, though. He's a boy. I only mention this because I sat through nearly all nine seasons of The X-Files without knowing that. Go ahead. Mock freely.)

So...did tonight's episode live up to the online hype. Wait. Let me think about it yes. It did.

While regular viewers of this show undoubtedly had a good idea what the reveal would prove to be, based on how Sam's story has developed through the last two seasons, knowing more or less what was coming didn't detract at all from the impact of Dean's confession to Sam that his father asked him to protect Sam. To save him. And if he can't save him... he might have to kill him. Ackles' performance here was spot on—Dean was gutted by this, gutted because he's been carrying it around with him, gutted because he's broken his promise to his father, gutted because his greatest fear has been spoken aloud, and he has marching orders he's not sure he'll be able to carry out. Gordon (Sterling K. Brown) rubs his nose in this later, telling Dean he's not the man his father was, because in the end, John would have been able to kill Sam if it came down to it.

Speaking of Gordon... Having him in this episode created a perfect foil for Dean's struggles. Dean has been very black and white this season. Witness "Croatoan," when he was willing to shoot first, run viral cultures later. Until Sam stepped in. Gordon doesn't have a Sam to pull him back from that edge, and he's already passed judgment on Sam. Sam is one of the "children" being driven by the Yellow Eyed Demon, and Gordon's information, however dubiously obtained, has told him the Demon is gathering an army. The "children" are his soldiers. Thus Sam is on the wrong side, and has to die. Gordon has already brutally murdered one of the "children," a young man named Scott who could electrocute things. At the time of his death, he was seeking therapy, but hadn't killed anyone other than Mr. Tinkles, the neighbor's cat. But Gordon took him down.

In addition to Gordon, we have another new character, Ava Wilson (Katharine Isabelle), who dreams Sam's horrific demise (surprisingly horrific, given this is network TV). Ava is a neat character, and I like her. She holds up well against Sam's strong personality, and there was a lot more chemistry there than there was between, say, Sam and Jo. Or Jo and Dean. Or Jo and the wall, for that matter. Okay, I don't hate Jo. But I like Ava a lot more. Well, unless the ending of this episode is as it seems. But is anything on this show ever as it seems?

Then there was Ellen's appearance tonight, which added a few more layers of mystery. What really did happen between John and her husband? And who is the traitor at the Roadhouse? Undoubtedly, time will tell.

In the meantime, this was a really solid episode, and a great start to the second half of the season. It looks like Season Two will carry a similar arc to Season One, in that the "mythology" stories will start to really kick in and drive the second half. I'm very much looking forward to what happens next.

Is it next Thursday yet?

It's Thursday!!

...and there's a new Supernatural tonight!

To say I'm looking forward to this episode would be an understatement. The show's creators have promised a big reveal tonight. Breaking his word to his father, Dean will finally reveal to Sam what John told him in "In My Time of Dying," right before John traded himself to the Yellow Eyed Demon in his bargain to save Dean's life.

The promos involve Gordon, the slightly off-balance hunter we met in "Bloodlust," seeming to tell Dean that he's hunting Sam, because Sam is a danger. What exactly is Sam? I'm sure this is at the root of the reveal. The Yellow Eyed Demon is obviously using--or attempting to use--the children of the Mom's Flambéed on the Ceiling crew, probably for some nefarious purpose. The question is, what kind of purpose. Has John kept his sons away from the company of hunters to protect Sam? And to protect Sam from what? From learning more about his destiny, or from being slaughtered offhand by those who know, or think they know, what Sam is and what his powers mean? There are lots of questions to be answered here. I doubt all of them will be revealed tonight--we'll probably get one good-sized morsel to hold us out until later in the season, since Kripke has said in various interviews that there'll be more major reveals.

Over at the TV Guide website, Bardicvoice has a blog with a series of essays, some of which address speculation regarding Sam, some of which are just great character and meta analysis of the show. I highly recommend a stop here to take a look at these well-thought-out pieces.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Where Have All The Writers Gone?

It's interesting to note how many writers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and/or Firefly, all shows I loved with a crazed and unreasonable passion, have gone on to other shows I've enjoyed or am now watching regularly.

Let's take a look...

Drew Goddard, after a stint on Alias, which I haven't watched since its series premiere, is now a supervising producer on Lost.

Drew Z. Greenberg is now a producer on Dexter.

David Greenwalt is now a consulting producer on Eureka.

The incomparable Jane Espenson has penned two episodes of Battlestar Galactica, which I watch but don't blog regularly (for reasons I might blather about in a separate post), and also was a co-executive producer on Tru Calling, where Douglas Petrie also served for a while as co-executive producer.

Ben Edlund is now working on Supernatural, where he penned the fabulous "Simon Said." He's joined there by many folks who were involved in another long-term obsession of mine, The X-Files.

Jeffrey Bell spent some time on the unfortunately cancelled Day Break, along with several other X-Files alumni.

And that's just the writers. Many of the actors, too, have moved on to do excellent work on other series. But that's a post for another day...

CBS Greenlights Jackman Pilot

Here's a bit of news I haven't seen on the usual sources.

According to Hollywood Reporter (via MovieWeb), CBS "has given a pilot order to "Viva Laughlin!" — a musical from 'Huff' creator Bob Lowry and Hugh Jackman based on the BBC miniseries 'Viva Blackpool!'" Apparently it's a musical, and Jackman will not only produce, but also appear on the show, though not as a regular cast member.

I love Hugh. Sometimes, though, I wonder if he's cloned himself, because he's SO busy. And if he's cloned himself, why is there not a Hugh Jackman clone in my house? Right now? It's questions like this that keep me up at night.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

House--Words and Deeds

Tonight's House double-header featured a rerun of "Merry Little Christmas," the last episode aired before the holiday break. In all the bustle of the holidays I managed to not review this episode, but it was an interesting one, featuring House detoxing while he diagnoses a little girl afflicted with dwarfism. Wilson, recanting on his decision to testify against House, is pushed farther into a corner by Tritter, who continues his crusade. At the end, House finally approaches Tritter, telling him he's ready to take the deal. But Tritter has, once again, changed the rules.

On to "Words and Deeds." The case for the night is a firefighter who displays erratic behavior after emerging from a burning building. In the meantime, House appears in court, where it seems he has little chance of staying out of jail. (His lawyer, interestingly enough, is played by Kadeem Hardison. Anybody remember A Different World?)

As a last resort, House throws himself on the mercy of Tritter and offers an apology, which Tritter rejects as insincere. Distracted by his predicament, House seems uninterested in the week's medical mystery, and decides to check himself into rehab.

Chase, Cameron and Foreman are left to make the diagnosis on their own, while House attempts to endure rehab. They still consult with him, and House suggests an unorthodox treatment for the firefighter (there's a shocker--literally this time).

Tritter visits House in rehab. He still refuses to bend, even in the face of House's sincere effort to kick his Vicodin habit. House goes off on him. But rehab must be getting to him, because he offers Wilson a sincere apology.

During the hearing, House gets a call regarding the patient's allotted major plot twist, and walks out to return to the hospital. When he returns, Cuddy presents a piece of evidence that changes the course of the hearing.

I think the thing that has bothered me the most about this story arc is that it's so similar to the first season story arc with Chi McBride, even down to the story beats. House and the team face powerful opponent, one of the team turns traitor, everyone is backed up against the wall, House caves, but when he caves the powerful opponent changes the rules to maintain the power balance on his side. Watching the Season One DVD set at the same time as the current season made the similarities seem even stronger, to the detriment of the Tritter arc. Also much like the Vogler arc, the conclusion here is rather unrealistic and not entirely satisfactory.

Vyto Ruginis, the prosecuting attorney, played Russell Winters in the pilot episode of Angel.
The song at the end of the episode is "Season of the Witch," by Donovan

In other House news, Jennifer Morrison (Cameron) and Jesse Spencer (Chase) got engaged over the weekend in Paris. (Why Paris? Why not someplace fun, like Detroit?) I wish them a future full of health, happiness, and few if any undiagnosable ailments.

Drive News

According to, Drive will begin airing on Fox on Thursday, March 1 at 9 pm. Foxnow, mentioned in the article, confirms the day but not the timeslot. I hope it's not in the 9 pm slot, unless they mean 9 pm central, because that would put it opposite Supernatural. But if that's the right time, then thank God once again for the DVR.

Drive has also landed a full-page preview article in the latest Entertainment Weekly, in their Winter TV Preview section. In the article, Minear states that Drive is "two parts Cannonball Run and one part The Game. And four parts Magnolia, too." That's a lot of parts, Tim...

The original opening of the show, which I saw this fall at the Creative Screenwriting Expo in LA, is also mentioned. "[The pilot] began with a continuous, four-minute shot--utilizing cutting-edge F/X seen in Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds--that introduced the 12 main characters by zooming in and out of their vehicles." But in the final version: "That epic opening sequence? Now just a minute." That's too bad, because it was a great piece of TV.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Mr. Fix It

This isn't technically TV, but it's a direct-to-DVD movie starring David Boreanaz, so I think I'll talk about it, anyway.

Between the cancellation of Angel and the pick-up of Bones, David Boreanaz was a busy man. During that time period, he worked on These Girls, The Hard Easy, and Mr. Fix It. These Girls saw theatrical release in Canada and a DVD release in the US, The Hard Easy, with Nick Lachey, has yet to surface, and Mr. Fix It came out just after Christmas as a direct-to-DVD release.

I truthfully wasn't expecting a great deal from this movie, and as a result I was pleasantly surprised. Boreanaz plays Lance Valenteen, aka Mr. Fix It. Convinced he's incapable of true love himself, Valenteen helps mend broken relationships by dating women who've dumped pining men and behaving so obnoxiously that the women rush back to their exes, realizing they weren't so bad after all (the opening sequence, showcasing several of Valenteen's targets, is quite amusing). But after the manner of the romantic comedy, Valenteen finally faces a case he can't bring himself to close because, contrary to all his expectations, he's fallen for the woman in question.

Boreanaz puts in a decent, if sometimes over the top, performance here, very different from what we're used to seeing in his TV roles. The story itself is fun, if predictable, and moves along at a good pace. Some of the jokes are a bit strained, and the ending is a bit pat, but no more so than in many other recent romantic comedies I've seen. And the sub-plot with Valenteen's retiree friends is charming. Overall, I found Mr. Fix It to be an enjoyable romp.

One thing I don't understand is the R rating. While several of the jokes are off color, there's almost no bad language in this movie, and the single sex scene features no nudity at all, more's the pity. (Boreanaz should have a clause in every contract requiring gratuitous nudity. Just sayin'.) It almost seems to me that the MPAA rates direct-to-DVD movies more strictly than theatrical releases.

Some personal favorite moments:
The promotional cartoons of Valenteen, pointy hair and all, are hysterical. The blue shirt he wears in the live-action portions of the promotional video is the opposite of hysterical, in that it made me nearly slide off my chaise lounge in amazement at Boreanaz's gigantic shoulders.

The dance scene, in which Sophia (Alana De La Garza) divests Valenteen of his shirt. Yes, I am shallow. Did you want to make something of it?

Rated R for horny dog action, fully clothed sex, and some crude jokes.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Good TV Writing

In my other life--or one of my other lives--I think I have four or five now--I write fiction and screenplays. So part of the purpose of this blog is to give me a reason to watch scads of TV and then write about it and hopefully learn by osmosis and discussion the hows and whys of good TV writing.

So I'm going to mention something I saw last night while catching up with Jericho. At the end of episode two, "Fallout," Hawkins is shown acquiring a piece of information via radio about the extent of the nuclear holocaust that has befallen the US. We don't know exactly what he's found out. But at the very end, Hawkins is shown in his house/fallout shelter in front of a large map of the US. He pulls out a red pin from a drawer and sticks it in Denver. Okay, we knew about Denver. Then he pulls out a pin and sticks it in Atlanta. We knew about Atlanta, too. Then...

A pin goes into Chicago. Then Philadelphia. Then a pin hovers over LA before moving down to stick into San Diego. Then the camera focuses solely on the drawer as Hawkins pulls out pin after pin...after pin...after pin...

That struck me as a really nice piece of writing. Some information given, some withheld--and in an arrestingly visual way that made us happy to go along with the reveal and the take away. And that's going into the mental file on Good TV Writing.

By the way, I'm watching this show via the full episode streaming video offered at CBS's Innertube. So far I'm pretty happy with the interface.

More on Jericho later.