Sponsored by:
Green Bay Press-Gazette

Friday, February 29, 2008

Day after "Lost" ramblings

I love "Lost" You love "Lost." Let's dive right into the weekly tradition of paying too much attention to things like Penny Widmore's street address and Daniel Faraday's flowing locks of "I Love the 90s" hair.

What the heck is going on, brutha?

"The Constant" was a Desmond episode, so right there, we should have figured all bets were off with structure and (ahem) time. All I know is that "Back to the Future" never made my head hurt this much.

Desmond's body apparently isn't traveling back to 1996. Instead, only his mind is making the trip from Christmas Eve 2004, thereby influencing Desmond David Hume, 1996 military man -- which eventually leads to his meet-and-greets with 1996 Daniel "Fabio" Faraday and 1996 Penny "Un-break My Heart" Widmore.

How are we supposed to explain Desmond's time travel in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" then? Was that a mind warp, too, because I always thought he was involved in some "Quantum Leap'-like shenanigans? As you can see, I'm thoroughly confused by the intimate details, though based on my notes, it seems that radiation (as Faraday experienced in his Oxford lab) or electro-magnetism (Desmond with the fail-safe) plus travel off the island triggers bizarre flashtime episodes.

Perhaps we can also safely assume that Rousseau's people were killed by the same "sickness" that caused Minkowski's (Where's Johnny Five? Ah, we'll miss you Fisher Stevens!) nose to bleed and his brain to fry like Eloise the rat. Desmond found his constant (or what's necessary in both spaces of time to keep your brain from overloading due to the rapid back-and-forth jumps) in Penny, so he should be OK moving forward. Similarly, Faraday is going to use Desmond as a constant -- though his emotional past-self watching Oceanic 815 crash footage is aware that something bad happens to the island folk. So has Faraday already traveled in time and warned himself of island events? Man, I really need to watch this episode again.

Anyway, I jotted down more notes and links to past episodes (Widmore and the Black Rock ledger, Jacob being trapped by the gray ash, the island creating parallel timeflashes in the form of "flashbacks") but realized they weren't worth probing without the greater question of Desmond/Faraday's mindwarps answered, or even adequately explained. In a stroke of sheer luck, though, I slipped on a patch of ice this morning and momentarily blacked out in my driveway. Amazingly, my mind traveled back to speak with my 1996 self -- then a sophomore in high school -- and what follows is everything I remember from the conversation.

1996 self: "Man, Green Bay blows. I hope I'm not living in this cold, desolate wasteland in 12 years."

2008 self: "Dude, this is your 2008 self speaking. Stop griping about the weather and listen to me. I have some important news about a TV show you'll start watching in 2004."

1996 self: "Wait, I'm experiencing a weird flash in my head. That seems pretty messed up. Maybe I should question -- albeit briefly -- what it's telling me to do. After all, if I'm cognizant of the fact that I'm a high school student and can still recognize the people around me, I must be able to still control some parts of my brain, and might not want to act in haste."

2008 self: "Well, just accept my influence for the sake of this experiment. If you question why something is happening, well, it'll drag out the expository elements way too long ... you know, like if this were playing out on a primetime TV show. It's better to just go with the flow and do what the vision -- in this case, me, your 2008 self -- tells you to do. I'd also like to write about it on a blog."

1996 self: "Wait, what's a blog?"

2008 self: "Well, it's shorthand for web log ... dude, nevermind. So about 'Lost." Don't start watching this show. It's compelling stuff, don't get me wrong. But seriously, it'll consume your life. You could be doing so many more productive things in 2008 than obsessively combing Web sites for the latest information on scientific wormholes."

1996 self: "Wait, I don't follow. It's a really good show, but you don't want me to watch it?"

2008 self: "Exactly. It makes your head hurt. It's all you think about at night. Stick with the puppy dog simplicity of 'Saved by the Bell.' Screech never travels in time. The Zack-Kelly-Slater love triangle isn't as convoluted as the Jack-Kate-Sawyer one. Plus, Mr. Belding is always good for a timely one-liner."

1996 self: "Dude, I never grew out of watching 'Saved by the Bell?' That's kinda depressing. So who's in this 'Lost' show that I'm not supposed to watch?"

2008 self: "Um, Matthew Fox?"

1996 self: "That Charlie dude from 'Party of Five?'"

2008 self: "Yeah, he's actually pretty good in it."

1996 self: "Interesting. So is that all you have to report from 2008? Is the future pretty cool? Is Brett Favre still playing for the Packers?"

2008 self: "Yeah, his decision making gets to be incredibly long winded, so he's still in the process of deciding whether or not he wants to come back for another season. You know Peyton Manning, that dopey-looking quarterback at the University of Tennessee? His snot-nosed little brother, Eli, actually beats Favre in the NFC Championship game in '08. When it's, like, minus 30 degrees! At Lambeau! Google his name ... oh wait, you only have a ridiculously slow dial-up connection right now."

1996 self: "Goo-what? I have no idea what you're talking about. Um, anything else I should know?"

2008 self: "Yeah, definitely don't watch the Packers-Broncos Super Bowl. It'll only make you violent and angry. And stop wearing baggy, expensive clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch. I know it's 'in-style' and all, but you'll totally be embarrassed by your conformity when you go to college. Oh, and don't ask (name withheld) to Junior Prom. It'll save you some grief."

1996 self: "Awesome. I also noticed I say dude a lot in the future. But if that's everything, I'm gonna go listen to that killer new Bush album, you know, "Razorblade Suitcase." Gavin Rossdale will rule forever!"

2008 self: "Dude, you have so much to learn."

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"I am crrrrrrushing your head!"

30 Helens Agree. The Eradicator. Cabbage Head. The Chicken Lady. "He's Hip, He's Cool, He's 45." Rod Torfulson's Armada featuring Herman Menderchuk.

Once upon a time, you could turn Comedy Central on at any hour of the day and catch a hilarious repeat of "Kids in the Hall." The Canadian sketch comedy show was produced by Lorne Michaels of "Saturday Night Live" fame, but was never as accessible as its American counterpart. In fact, "SNL" isn't even a proper point of comparison for what the "Kids" -- Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson, Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald -- pulled off in six seasons (1988-1994) of brilliance. The show took more of its oddball cues from "Monty Python," and ultimately set the stage for more subversive, tangential sketch comedy from "Mr. Show," "Upright Citizens Brigade," and perhaps most recently, "Human Giant."

This isn't a post about pure nostalgia, though. Following a successful reunion across North America in 2000, the five original "Kids" are embarking on another live tour, with an April 5th stop listed at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. A Montreal comedy festival reunion in 2007 debuted more than 90-minutes of new material, and eight years ago, the live shows (many of which sold-out) featured classic skits like "Head Crusher vs. Face Pincher," "Sir Simon Milligan & Hecubus In: The Pit of Ultimate Darkness ," "Gavin Paints a Chair," and "Bloody, Salty Ham."

Just typing those words makes me giggle like a school girl. "Kids" tickets ($35) are up for pre-sale at noon Friday.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


All hail Jack McBrayer!

After going so long without a new "30 Rock" episode, do you know which character I miss most? No, it's not Liz Lemon and her acerbic wit. (Heck, I couldn't even be bothered to watch Tina Fey host the ho-hum-phant return of "Saturday Night Live" last week.) It's not Tracy Jordan, who, aside from his hilariously unsuccessful foray into dog fighting, hasn't had much to do this season. It's not even Alec Baldwin's bulldog boss, Jack Donaghy, whose now-defunct romance with a liberal Vermont congresswoman provided the season's best storyline, as well as its best visual gag. ("It turned the children orange!")

Instead I find myself longing to see the smiling face and sharp blue jacket of NBC page and fervent TV-aholic Kenneth Ellen Parcell, played by the equally ebullient Jack McBrayer. I say this, knowing full-well that if I ever met someone like Kenneth, someone so joyfully optimistic, so naively sweet, so aw-shucks good-natured, I'd want to give him a sock in the jaw.

But safe behind his glass TV screen, Kenneth delights me. And thankfully, "30 Rock" is not the only place to catch McBrayer's Southern charm. (He really is from Georgia, and yes, he really does talk like that.) Just this week, McBrayer popped up somewhere so unlikely, it makes perfect sense: Mariah Carey's new music video.

Caution: With Carey skanking it up in lingerie and various other skimpy clothes, video may be unsafe for work.

Jack plays a Geek-Squad-like tech nerd, summoned to Carey's house to fix her computer, show her how to turn it on, etc. It plays out like oh-so-many dirty movies, where the gorgeous, lonely woman greets the pizza boy/delivery boy/Jehovah's Witness boy at the front door, dressed in lingerie and a robe. Mariah gets Jack feelin' emotions, if you catch my drift, and the video seques into a dream sequence. Jack pillow-fights Mariah wearing a Viking helmet and bow tie, Jack and Mariah play laser tag, Mariah takes her pet unicorn for a stroll. (There's probably some symbolism there, but I'm still scratching my head.) Jack, channeling George McFly, is hystercial throughout. And Mariah, channeling 1990s-era Mariah Carey, holds her own, even if the song itself is absolute garbage.

Thankfully, there's even more McBrayer action coming our way, courtesy of the new Judd Apatow comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Starring fellow TV alums Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars") and Jason Segel ("Freaks and Geeks," "How I Met Your Mother"), Jack plays a newlywed honeymooning in Hawaii, whose bride turns out to be ... kinkier ... than he expected. McBrayer is an old hand in the Apatowverse by now, having popped up in the director/producer's "Talladega Nights" and "Walk Hard."

And for even more Jack McBrayer, the guy has tested the waters of the Intertubes, producing a couple of online videos for comedy site Funny Or Die. Entitled "Living 'Neath the Law," the shorts play on Jack's nice-guy persona by having him dish out advice on how to live like a thug. After lamenting on the viewers' need for prescription drugs and delivering my new personal catchphrase, "That ain't no way to live!", Jack demonstrates the proper way to get crack from a dealer, then cut him and leave him for dead in a Dumpster. You can find the videos here and here, but again, be warned, for there is some naughty language.

Until "30 Rock" makes its way back to TV on April 10, these short bursts of McBrayer McGenius will have to suffice.

- Adam Reinhard,

Labels: ,

More like "Quarterdeath." New NBC show axed.

Malavika wrote about the network debut of "Quarterlife" earlier this week, a series that started online before being given a chance on NBC. Well, at least the potential "My So Called Life" comparison is accurate on one end. "Quarterlife" has already been cancelled.

Since I haven't watched the show, I can't comment on whether the short leash is fair or not. I'll leave it to Malavika -- who didn't seem to have a forceful opinion either way -- to defend or decry the decision. Adam called the show boring (among other things), so I'm pretty sure I know where he stands. Bottom line: the Tuesday debut only pulled in 3.1 million viewers, and when "Quarterlife" was picked up, the writers were still on strike.

Here's part of a statement released by co-creator Marshall Herskovitz, who also owns the show, which means he can shop it around to cable -- better known as a wonderful place where ratings aren't the only thing that matter.

"It is important to remember that 'Quarterlife' has already proved itself as a successful online series and social network with millions of enthusiastic fans. We live in a media world today where many shows are considered successful on cable networks with audiences that are a fraction of those on the Big Four. I’m confident that 'Quarterlife' will find the right home on television as well.”

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


"Lost" in thought: Reading between the lines

Tonight's Desmond-centric episode, "The Constant," pledges to use the "Lost" time-travel plot device in a similar way to "Flashes Before Your Eyes" from Season Three. A lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo also seems to be making the rounds following a somewhat disappointing "Eggtown" episode, though perhaps tonight's enhanced offering will add a few useful nuggets to the ever-evolving conversation. Either way, it's a Desmond episode. And who doesn't love that Scottish monk turned boat-race crash survivor?

From a USA Today interview with Henry Ian Cusick:

Q: The last time we saw Desmond, he and Sayid were being taken by helicopter to the freighter, but it had been taking an unusually long time to arrive. What's up with that?

A: There's a reason for that, and you'll find that out in this episode. And you'll find out why it's so difficult to get to the island.

Q: With whom do we see Desmond interact?

A: You will see (Desmond's love) Penny and her father, Charles Widmore. You will also see Desmond back in the military. And you'll also meet a whole new bunch of guys on the freighter, who have been a whole lot of fun to work with.

Q: We are learning one by one who make up the Oceanic Six, so far revealed to be Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Kate and maybe (the show's not confirming) baby Aaron. Since Desmond was never on Flight 815, can we assume he does not turn out to be one of the six?

A: That's what all of us were trying to figure out when we were receiving the scripts. I think it suddenly dawned on us that you had to be an original passenger on the plane that went down to be an Oceanic Six.

Q: So tell us. Who is Ben's man on the freighter?

A: You find out, but not for a few episodes.

Other interesting links:

Who you gonna call? Miles the Ghostbuster: Worth checking out is the DocArzt blog, which recaps a deleted scene from an advanced viewing of "The Economist" featuring Miles, Kate and Sayid at the dreaded security fence. More confirmation that Miles has some interesting powers ...

She blinded me with science: Entertainment Weekly is knee-deep in talk about wormholes, with this passage particularly interesting:

"If you're a sci-fi nut, you know all about wormholes, a theoretical phenomenon in space-time that can connect one point in time to another. (Igor) Novikov speculated that wormholes could mature into ''natural time machines.'' If the Island is basically ground zero for a small, localized wormhole, then it's very possible that Dharma was to create a kind of quantum switchboard, connecting calls between Island present and the future or the past. I wonder if the name ''Miles Straum'' is another clue nodding in the direction of wormhole theory. The producers say ''Miles Straum'' was meant to sound like ''maelstrom,'' which is a massive, monstrous whirlpool in the middle of an ocean. Not a bad analogy for a wormhole in the South Pacific, eh?"

Take a look, it's in a book: Can you imagine taking a college course that discussed all the parallels between literature and "Lost"? This awesome, occassionally long-winded Powells book blog is essentially what it would be like.

Terry O'Quinn is a bit of a bad-ass: Finally, this AP interview with our favorite bald-headed rebel is somewhat revealing. Though it would be expected that not everyone in the"Lost" cast would be hanging out off-camera in Hawaii, O'Quinn seems to have deliberately avoided mentioning Matthew Fox among his list of cast faves. Hmmm? A dedicated attempt by O'Quinn to stay in character as John Locke? Or is real friction part of what makes the character dynamics extra interesting on the show? Heck, maybe Fox is just a total diva. Or maybe he just reminds Locke of his drunk Uncle Bob. You decide.

AP: You've said you found Locke's button-pushing phase in the hatch frustrating. What's it like playing the character now?

O'Quinn: I like the present situation somewhat more. Although in the next few episodes people are about to see he sort of stalls again. But he has this - it seems to be his pattern. He finds something, it activates him, he goes until he hits a roadblock and he stalls and he waits for something to happen, he gets frustrated, he gets angry and then something happens and he runs along for a while. They've always kept it interesting - well, sometimes not, sometimes frustrating - but that's what happens with the character.

AP: You've had other disagreements with the writers.

O'Quinn: At the end of Season 3 Locke throws a knife into Naomi's back and I said, 'This really hurts me, It's so not typical and it's so out of character and it seemed gratuitous.' I made the biggest stink I ever made with (executive producers) Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and they said, 'Look, Locke believes he was doing the right thing. His life was saved, he's been told, he's been instructed. He believes that this is the most dangerous person in the world right now and he does what he does. Do it.' I said, 'Well, you know, if I stab her in the back couldn't I at least shoot Jack in the knee or something?'

AP: What's it like working with such a large cast?

O'Quinn: One of the nice things about this cast, this size of cast, you get a new episode and you go, 'Oh great, now I get to work this little arc with Michael Emerson. We have a lot together. Or with Josh Holloway or Evangeline Lily and it's almost always a pleasure to find out who you're working with. Almost.

AP: Are there some you aren't pleased to work with?

O'Quinn: There've been some rough times but it's very familial in that way. It's like the holidays when you go, 'Oh God, uncle Bob's going to get drunk and abuse my cousin. But we'll get through it.'

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Project Runway": It's Almost Sew Time!

For four months - as long as the life of this blog - I've been ranting and raving about "Project Runway." Well, that's all about to end. (Cue "Hallelujah" music if you desire).

With four (technically three) contestants left, it's down to the wire, but it may not be that much of a surprise to dedicated watchers of the show. Unlike in season 3, when the winner was as a surprise to most, there's a clear frontrunner this season with Christian - love him or hate him.

If you watched the reunion show or the pre-Bryant Park episode, you know this so far: Sweet P is gone, and tonight Chris and Rami will duke it out for the final spot in the top three. Also, by a landslide, Christian - and not Kevin who was unjustly auf-ed - took home fan favorite. (Editors note: every time I tried to vote on for the fan favorite, the Web site would kick me off, leaving me disenfranchised).

As talented as Christian is, I do think the judges are blinded by his "fierceness" to some of his faults - can you remember the last time he used any color? From the looks of things, he’s regurgitating the beige-gray-black palette for his final collection in what Entertainment Weekly aptly described as a 17th century Dutch funeral theme. But I think he stands the best chance to take home the final prize and it will be well deserved (For purposes of transparency: I'm still waiting on him to become my "friend" on the Facebook).

Here are my odds.

Christian: 3 to 1 odds
Jillian: 5 to 1
Rami: 7 to 1
Chris: too many to 1 (it's doubtful he'll win the Rami-Chris showdown).

Tonight's episode is part one of the season finale with guest judge Victoria "Posh" Beckham airs at 9 p.m. on Bravo.

"Project Runway" will also have a post-finale special ("It's Sew Not Over") in which 12 of the 15 original contestents will compete for $10,000. Vote for who you'd like to see.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Did I really think "The Gauntlet" was worth posting about each week?

Karma, Beth. Karma. A week after Channel Surfing posted Rob Demovsky's story about Beth pulling the "Don't you know who I am?" card during her college days, the Beastly One from Ohio University was shown the door by her own team. Setting Beth up for a Gauntlet against another chronic complainer, Coral, was a risky move on the surface. After all, Beth had won previous eliminations due to her size and leverage (see the above picture), but in a third straight Ball Brawl confrontation for the ladies, Coral managed to survive despite some heavy body blows in the sand. Beth bowed out gracefully -- and with a decent fight -- but unlike older has-beens who've moved on with their post-"Real World" lives to become productive members of society, the Beast probably won't be going away anytime soon. Anyone who posts that many pictures of herself on MySpace is clearly disillusioned about their sense of "celebrity," though I've just devoted a paragraph about her exit from a horrible reality show while writing this post from home in my pajamas. Hmmm ...

As last week's recap implied, the Veteran guys held everything back in a pyramid building challenge, setting up the all-star female Gauntlet between Coral and Beth. The guys pulled the tank job in ridiculous fashion, and at one point, Roid Rage Danny did nothing but run around in circles to prove how oblivous the girls were to their manipulation. Mission accomplished. The Vets "cut the fat," as CT so callously said, and in the literal case of Beth, well ... we try to avoid obvious jokes in this space.

For a third straight week, the male Gauntlet proved terribly disappointing, with the Vets dominating the "Walk the Plank" challenge before stepping on the Rooks' neck for good. In a brilliant strategic move, the Vets tossed in their opposition's strongest player, Derek (at right), figuring that for two straight eliminations, physical prowess hadn't been part of the equation. They guessed right again, with the Rookies' sacrifice of Ryan a moot point since he and Derek were set to face off in the ultimate equalizer for small, wimpy dudes -- a puzzle challenge. David beat Goliath, and the Rookies watched as their strongest male left for home thanks to his lack of mental muscle. Again, "Gauntlet" producers set up Derek's demise by showing footage of his hook-ups with Anorexic Paula. Yawn. This show is becoming painfully, painfully boring, and I can no longer justify a Power Poll to cover it.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Is this "My So-Called Life" for a new generation?

As a writer, there's nothing more that I love than some good old-fashioned irony.

Exhibit A: Writers and producers butt heads over rights to multimedia content on the Internet. Even before the strike cripples their spring lineup, NBC orders episodes of a show that began as a Web-only product. The show is about how the Internet shapes the lives of twentysomethings.

"Quarterlife" - the latest project from the two guys who were responsible for "My So-Called Life," "thirtysomething" and "Once and Again" - aired first on as eight-minute webisodes before its debut on the small screen tonight at 9 p.m. It's a risky move, sure, but it's also fitting given that the main characters spend an inordinate amount of time on the Web, blogging their most intimate thoughts in the form of web-diaries.

Reviews are mixed. Some critics like USA Today's Robert Bianco write off the show as yet another example of the narcissistic "Look at Me" generation, while others see central character Dylan Kruger as the Angela Chase of the Youtube/Facebook generation. Despite the Friends-ish premise - six friends in Los Angeles - "Quarterlife" is often uncomfortable in its realism. After watching the first eight webisodes, I admit feeling somewhat ambivalent myself to characters who are supposedly my contemporaries.

In the same way that "thirtysomething" was a seminal show about the Baby Boomer generation, there's some potential that "Quarterlife" can be an honest look at a generation that's wired and connected. While that premise may turn off older viewers, it could attract younger ones who find something they can relate to amidst the angst-ridden confessionals. Relatability isn't often something high on the list for most TV producers because, let's be honest, most TV viewers want to forget their mediocre lives (yes, I have often wondered what it would be like to have a laughter track in my life and/or kill robots from the future). Still once in a while, a show like "My So-Called Life" or "Freaks and Geeks" can resonate with viewers by reviving those uncomfortable parts of our lives we'd really rather forget.

Don't have time to catch the show tonight? Watch all the webisodes here. These are basically condensed into hour-long episodes for television.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

Labels: ,

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar highlight: Irish eyes are smiling

Tough-guy Colin Farrell probably cried in the audience, so I don't feel so embarrassed for cheering aloud when "Once" picked up the Best Song award at last night's Oscars.

I had been looking forward to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova performing "Falling Slowly" for quite some time. I love "Once." Love as in it's one of my top ten movies of all-time, which is a big distinction for a list guy like me. I got a taste of Hansard's performance chops at Austin City Limits Festival three years ago during an afternoon slot by his full-time band, the Frames. Since then, I'd been intrigued by his music, but it wasn't until his Swell Season collaboration with Irglova that I went completely numb for the pair's phenomenal chemistry.

Then came the movie. Then came the Oscar nod. Then came the win -- in the face of three Best Song nominations for "Enchanted" -- last night.

It's a stunning story, for all the reasons Hansard's red-faced, shaky hand acceptance speech hit on. The movie was made for less than $200,000. It's an Irish musical. Hansard and Irglova are musicians, not actors. The two characters in the movie don't even have names. They're just Guy and Girl.

So a live performance from both would have been highlight enough. But after Hansard ended his speech with an accent-heavy "Make art! Make art! Tanks," Irglova leaned into the microphone, only to be interrupted by an ill-timed orchestral cue. So they shuffled off stage and the show cut to commercial. Upon returning, host Jon Stewart asked Irglova to finish her speech, which led to heartfelt thanks and a shout-out for independent artists from the 19-year-old Czech pianist. It was one of the classiest moves I've ever seen on an awards show, and I'm not surprised that Stewart was the man behind it.

In case you missed it, the Oscars clip is below. "Once" fans will also want to tune in Thursday to Ovation TV's, "The Artist's Den," for a performance from both. The concert, shot at Good Shepherd Center Chapel in Seattle, airs at 7 p.m., and has several repeat showings after. I've already watched Josh Ritter and Crowded House in the "Den," so I can vouch for it being an awesome showcase for a diverse set of musicians.

Finally, Hansard and Irglova are taking their tunes on the road May 8th at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. Pre-sale started today at noon, and as someone who already grabbed tickets online, it was selling fast. Oscar buzz will do that everytime.

UDPATE! UPDATE! Due to high demand, the Milwaukee show has been moved to the Riverside. Pre-sale restarts Wednesday at noon; public sale Friday at the same time.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Next year, "Seacrest out!'' on the red carpet, PLEASE

A few day-after Oscar Night awards from the train wreck that was the pre-show red carpet coverage:

Don't These People Do Any Research Award: To TV Guide Channel's Lisa Rinna, who apparently knew less about Amy Ryan than you and I. Strike 1: "I know you come from Boston ...'' Nope. Ryan said she's a New Yorker. Strike 2: "You're a presenter and a nominee ...'' Um, just a nominee, Ryan said. Yikes, and we used to think Joan Rivers was unprepared.

Leave The Toy Box at Home Award: To Ryan Seacrest, who felt the need to further cheese up his already cheeseball presence by breaking out all kinds of goofy props as the celebs were forced by on the red carpet for E! For Patrick Dempsey, a Patrick Dempsey doll. For Katherine Heigl, a china plate with his photo on it. For Amy Adams, grabbing her tiny mesh purse and using it to cover his privates. For the dead space between celeb encounters, a photo of Helen Mirren in Javier Bardem's "man bob'' from "No Country for Old Men.'' Classy, Seacrest. It was Oscar Night, not the MTV Awards.

Dumbest Question of the Night Award: It's a tie: Ryan Seacrest and Ryan Seacrest and Ryan Seacrest! Shocking, we know. He first asked George Clooney and his girlfriend Sarah Larson about how they were walking on Malibu Beach on Valentine's Day when she spotted a house she absolutely loved and Clooney went up and knocked on the door and said he'd buy it for her. One problem: None of it was true. "I've never heard that story in my life,'' said Clooney, who if he wasn't such an amiable guy, probably would've bopped him. Then came this head scratcher for John Travolta: "Are you excited to be here at the Oscars?'' Would've been riveting ... IF Travolta had said no. But for crass, it's hard to beat asking a pregnant Jessica Alba if she plans to breastfeed.

Best Weirdo Moment Award: To Gary Busey, who heckled Ryan Seacrest on the carpet as he was trying to interview Laura Linney and Jennifer Garner. Taking a page from the Glenn Close "Fatal Attraction'' handbook -- "I'm not gonna be ignored, Ryan!'' -- he then lunged into the camera frame to greet both actresses, laying a particuarly vigorous hair-crushing hug and kiss on a terrorized Garner, who was Affleck-less. Busey's apparently going for the Lifetime Achievement Award in this category.

Next Year Put Him Even Farther Away From the Red Carpet Award: To Joey Fatone, who, fortunately, was relegated to a platform away from the red carpet as Lisa Rinna's co-host for TV Guide. The guy would be lethal any closer. His summation of Jennifer Garner's look made mention that she "popped out a baby a while ago'' but now looks "a little skinnier, a little sexier.'' Charming. Leave it to Fatone to describe the freshest face of the night, 21-year-old "Juno'' star Ellen Page, as "a little tired.''

ABC Finally Did Something Right Award: For getting rid of Uber Dull What's His Name as one of three red carpet commentators for the 30-minute celeb feeding frenzy immediately before the start of the ceremony and replacing him with Regis Philbin. At least Reege looked happy to be there and offset the Shaun Robinson/Samantha Harris plasticness with a touch of old Hollywood class and some actual personality. When he called Miley Cyrus "kiddo'' and told George Clooney he'd see him in Italy, it worked, because everyone knows Reege is connected.

Shameless Plugs Award: In case you missed the 56 times Sean Combs mentioned it every time someone stuck a mic in his direction, he stars in "A Raisin in the Sun'' tonight on ABC. Honorable mention to ABC for working in a shot of future "Dancing with the Stars'' contestants Steve Guttenberg and Marlee Matlin on the red carpet, amongst heavy hitters like Zellweger, Kidman, Clooney and other A-listers. Not exactly subtle.


Friday, February 22, 2008

There will be Oscars ... but will there be viewers?

UPDATE! According to early estimates, only 32 million people watched the awards Sunday night, the least-watched Oscars telecast ever. I bet more would have tuned in if they had known Jon Stewart was going to be playing Wii Tennis on a two-story-tall screen, but what are you gonna do?

The Oscars will air, with writing staff intact, Sunday night, and like every year there are a few sure bets. Daniel Day-Lewis is the odds-on favorite as Best Actor for "There Will Be Blood." The Coen Brothers will likely walk away with their first directing Oscar for "No Country For Old Men." And if "Norbit" doesn't win for Best Makeup, there is no God.

The big question still up in the air, however, is will anybody be watching? Academy Award audiences have been on steady decline for years now: Only about 40 million people tuned in last year, and 39 million the year before that. Compare that with the 97.5 million who watched the New York Giants drink up Tom Brady's milkshake earlier this month in the Super Bowl. (Draaaainage!)

OK, that may be an unfair example, but the Oscars are still in trouble, Nielsen-wise, and it's not hard to guess why. (In fact, you don't have to guess, you can just read this Reuters article.) Many feel that Oscar has lost touch with the average movie-goer, and this is reflected in the kinds of movies it nominates for top prizes. Of the five movies nominated for Best Picture this year, only one, "Juno," made more than $100 million at the box office.

(The reverse of that, of course, is that last year's top-grossing movies sucked majorly. "Spider-Man 3"? Venom? More like vomit. "Transformers"? Why couldn't that movie shape-shift into something not crappy?)

Oscar has also had a knack lately for picking the absolute wrong winners. Just look at this century alone: "Crash," "A Beautiful Mind," "Gladiator," "Chicago." Does ANYONE remember these movies, let alone still watch them? Last year, when "The Departed" won, ratings saw an uptick, because people at large enjoyed the hell out of that movie, even if it's wasn't "great" in the strictest sense. Likewise, affection for "Juno" could draw viewers back this year.

A major factor in viewership will be the resolved writers strike, accompanied by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's brightest who now don't have to worry about crossing pesky picket lines. The strike turned January's Golden Globes into a dried-out press conference, watched by a paltry 5.8 million people, who obviously had nothing better to do that night. Those viewers who crave that red-carpet pageantry, and live or die by who Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry are wearing, will likely tune in Sunday night in droves.

I know I'll be watching, if only to see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform Best Song nominee "Falling Slowly" from should-have-been-nominated-Best-Picture "Once." But what about you? Planning on watching Hollywood's big night? Got any predictions on winners? Gripes about your favorite movie getting snubbed? Share my loathing for "Transformers," which received three, count 'em THREE, nominations?

Until the big night, here's host Jon Stewart, discussing the show and the strike on "Larry King Live," admitting that he and his writers are definitely in crunch time trying to pull this off. You can do it, Jonny-boy! We believe in you!

-- Adam Reinhard,


Day after "Lost" ramblings

I love "Lost" You love "Lost." Let's dive right into the weekly tradition of paying too much attention to things like the hidden meaning of cheesy Olivia Newton-John movies and savory boxes of Dharma red wine.

Aaron? AARON?

Despite backing off from theorizing in a previous "Lost" post, some kudos are due to Mr. Andy Behrendt for at least picking a baby as Kate's "he" in the airport scene with Jack. Now, we don't know for sure Aaron is the "he" Kate vaguely referred to, but these days, it's about as safe an assumption as you can make with this show. So while, yes, it didn't turn out to be Sweet Baby James (Ford), it did turn out to be a tiny guy with blonde hair. Andy just chose the non-existent baby based on conventional wisdom. All I know is that I almost said out loud, "Hey, he has Sawyer's blonde hair!" before the bombshell. And I also thought it might be Jack's kid about five minutes prior. Wow. O-fer-2.

Anyway, until the twist ending, this episode was easily the weakest of the first four. The closing seconds with Aaron as Kate's "kid" was a masterful stroke, and the water-cooler reverberations, subsequent guesswork will certainly make up for a pretty dull flash-forward on Miss Austen's behalf. Most frustrating of all, the signs for Aaron's reveal were right there. Claire and Kate's little "I don't know how you play mommy" pow-wow at the clothesline. Kate flat-out saying she wasn't preggers to Sawyer. The fact that Kate had zero sympathy for her dying mom's request to see her "blood-related" grandson.

So what does it all mean? Well, my mind, as usual, is racing like mad. I give you exhibits A, B, C, D and E.

A) Claire is going to die. She's not around to take care of Aaron in a post-island world where Hurley is smacked by dead Charlie, Jack has a crazy beard and Sayid is an assassin for Ben. Safe money is that someone perishes during the season, and to be honest, without Charlie around, there isn't much for Claire to do these days. Her death (more speculation to come) could serve as a decisive plot point and rallying cry in the island battle between good and evil.

One thing we do know: Claire will not be dying of grief for Charlie. C'mon, "Lost" writers! Give her a moment of deep, tear-stained mourning for our favorite Drive Shaft rocker! She could at least lead a tribute sing-along of "You allllllllll, everybody!"

B) Desmond had a vision of Claire and Aaron getting on a helicopter -- the entire impetus for Charlie taking the long, slow, salty drink of death. We're going to assume that the writers aren't lazy enough to chalk that one up to a "psychic misstep" on Des' part. Something has to happen between the helicopter ride and the Oceanic Six's return home. Something -- dun, dun, DUN! -- dramatic.

C) Jack has an issue with seeing Aaron, and knowing Doc Savior, it's likely guilt-related. The episode wanted you to think Jack's baby phobia would be a result of Daddy Sawyer's eyes staring back at him. Turns out it's something else -- something Kate has accepted, but still gives Jack the heebie-jeebies. It's also odd considering Jack and Claire are related, so you'd think he would want to be "there" for his nephew. Unless of course ...

D) Jack feels responsible for Claire's death at the hands of the Freighter Folk by calling them in the first place. The exact line from last night's scene with Kate and Jack: "I know why you don't want to see the baby, Jack. But until you do. Until you want to ..."

After all, the baddies control the helicopter. While we're at it, let's just toss Ben's not-so-subtle "think with your heart" jab into the mix from last week and wildly suggest that Sayid might be responsible for Claire's actual death. It stands to reason that the death of someone as innocent as Claire would prove to Sayid that those on the "list" are worth gunning down. We at least know that they're even worse than Ben.

E) Regardless of how/if Claire dies, Aaron is part of the Oceanic Six lie. Not necessarily as Kate's biological child, but at least to have helped make her hero of the plane crash and provide cover for her litany of crimes. I don't know how it connects with the Oceanic Six -- especially considering the four we know of are spread out at this point -- or how time factors in. Aaron was a big boy at the end. But we've talked about deals in this space before, and everyone needs to be on the same page.

Also, Jack did say on the stand that "eight survived" as part of the perpetuated media lie, one Kate said Jack was repeating so often, he probably believes it by now. Is it Oceanic Six plus Claire and Aaron? Claire died on the island, so Aaron is "adopted" by Kate? Whatever the case may be, can we all agree that Claire is not going to make it past this season?

Other highlights:

* The episode was called "Eggtown," which according to Lostpedia refers to bartering lingo used during the Great Depression. To arrive at an "eggtown" meant to accept a bad deal because eggs were readily available and perishable. The episode literally started with eggs -- Locke giving Ben the last two for breakfast before throwing them against a wall. Locke also killed a chicken (no more eggs), and doesn't appear willing to deal with anyone as part of his not-quite, kinda-is dictatorship. Either way, two big deals overwhelmed this episode: Miles' 3.2 million dollar extortion ploy with Ben, and Kate accepting 10 years probation with no out-of-state travel. Whose deal will end up backfiring, thus leaving them with egg on their face? Sorry, I had to do it.

* "He invited us all over for dinner." Claire's in the mood for Stove Top stuffing. Plus, I just loved the domesticated touch of Locke hosting a dinner party. Please tell me a "Kiss the Cook" apron was somehow going to be involved.

* How awesome are Hurley and Sawyer as roommates? I mean, who wouldn't want to watch that "Lost" spin-off? "Bosom Buddies II?" Two and a Half Sweaty Men?" "James and the Fat Man?" I should really be in pitch meetings.

* "Do not treat me like I'm one of them!" Miles is bold and brazen, but appears to be biting off more than he can chew with Ben. Oh, and of course, Locke's grenade. Man, I'm on fire today!

* I noticed during the pop-up repeat that Faraday had an uncomfortable sign of recognition when Lapidus looked his way upon hearing Desmond ask for Penny Widmore. Here's to Charles, Penny's father, being the architect (and perhaps economist) behind Matthew Abaddon's mission.

* The Faraday memory experiment -- or the card test with Charlotte -- will likely be more important that any of us know. After all, it isn't coincidence that the pop-up episode two weeks ago made it a point to tell us that Faraday was under someone else's care when he saw the Oceanic crash footage on TV. Something isn't working right in the ol' noggin.

Line of the night: "I'm responsible for the well-being of the island" -- John Locke to Miles. Not the people, mind you. The island.

Quip of the night: "You just totally Scooby Doo'd me" -- Hurley "Montezuma" Reyes

Some great comments for last week's episode. Let's keep it up and bring more "Lost" fans into the fold, because it's always more fun when people are not only reading, but trying to figure out the puzzle together. Though I just noticed that I basically replicated one of Andy's observations from this morning. Maybe we're both having the same Desmond-like visions? Or maybe we're both gluttons for punishment and like being dead wrong 90 percent of the time?

That's it for me. I'm off to watch my VHS copy of "Satan's Doom."

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More cowbell? The Trib's "SNL" tourney begins.

March Madness has arrived early for the folks who run RedEye at the Chicago Tribune. Excited about this weekend's return of "Saturday Night Live" -- hey, we love Tina Fey, too, but we're not clearing our schedule for it -- the site put together a "Best SNL Cast Member of All-Time" tournament to be voted on by the public.

It's a fun idea, and we'll gladly make our picks. First round voting ends Tuesday at 2 p.m.

It would appear the top seeds -- at least according to first round match-ups and placement on the list -- are Bill Murray, Will Ferrell, Chris Farley and Mike Myers. Number two seeds seem to be Phil Hartman, Eddie Murphy, Gilda Radner and John Belushi.

Thirty-two cast members were placed in four regions named after recurring hosts Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, John Goodman and Alec Baldwin. Familiar names who didn't make the cut include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Nealon, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Tim Meadows, Jimmy Fallon and Andy Samberg.

Also, Adam and I discussed prospects today and agreed that an "SNL" character tournament would have been a much better idea. Then again, no one really stood a chance against Phil Hartman's Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, did they?

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm just a caveman. I fell in some ice and later got thawed out by your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me. Sometimes the honking horns of your traffic make me want to get out of my BMW and run off into the hills or whatever. Sometimes when I get a message on my fax machine, did little demons get inside and type it? I don't know. My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts."

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


"Lost" in thought: Reading between the lines

Since my second viewing experiment is on the shelf because I plan to watch the "pop-up" repeat each week, I'll try to find cool links to spur some excitement heading into new episodes. All I can say is that it's a great pick-me-up to know that on Thursday, "Lost" is not only back, but really at the top of its game.

Also, now that "Cane" might be officially axed, let's hope Nestor Carbonell (the ageless Richard Alpert) comes back with a vengeance. Or at least a beard.

Anyway, Entertainment Weekly just posted a great, in-depth interview with "Lost" executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. It's a five-pager, so we'll do a little Cliffs Notes version for anyone who doesn't have time to follow the preceding link because of, you know, work and stuff.

Definitely worth reading in its entirety, but here are some potential "conversation starters" in the comments section.

From writer Jeff Jensen: "If I had to sum up tonight's episode in one word, it would be 'Kate.' If I had to choose two, it would be 'Dharma bums.' Three words? They would be 'Deals with devils.'

From Lindelof and Cuse: "Nothing precludes (Ben) from being a member of the Oceanic 6 — other than he wasn't on the plane."

"By the end of the seventh episode, the audience will now know who the Oceanic 6 are.''

"There is no connective tissue. Sometimes a bracelet is just a bracelet. We just thought it would be a cool emotional touchstone for Sayid; Elsa's bracelet reminds him of Naomi. But some people interpreted that, ''Is there something more there?'' We might need to address that."

"We're not going to tell you that we're against bending the time/space continuum. We are very for it. Carlton and I are PRO time-space continuum bending! But we're ANTI-paradox. Paradox creates issues ... For example, the fifth episode of the season [airing next week] deals with time travel and operates in different time periods. It was a tough story to break. But we adhere to our rule: no paradox."

"We definitely have to show who was in the coffin. That's the primary super-structure of the season. As a result of that, certain thematic elements — the element of fate or supernatural elements as they relate to the monster and Jacob — are certainly in play but not as interesting to us this season as these questions: Why do some of the characters leave? How do they leave? What are the circumstances under which they leave? Why do some stay? Is it a choice? Is it an accident? Both?"

"The act of taking a plane, filling it with dead bodies and putting it at the bottom of the ocean connotes a group that is pretty freakin' powerful. You should be worried about the people involved in either scenario capable of doing something like that. "

"Episode eight delivers a huge bombshell when Boone, Charlie, Libby and Arzt are found to be alive and protecting a run-down amusement park on an undiscovered part of the island. They're all in tremendous health, but refuse to speak of the events following their supposed death on the island because of a mind-control device implanted by Ben. Locke concludes that the "Tunnel of Love" is actually a portal to another dimension, but before he can warn his group, Charles Widmore teleports onto the island and shoots him in the chest. Locke's soul leaves his body in the form of black mist and ominously utters the phrase, "Rosebud."

OK, I totally made that last one up ...

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's worse: Jerry Springer or Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire?

With my DVD player on the fritz, I've been reduced to watching actual television all week - gasp - and it hasn't been pretty.

Then I saw this EW list of the 20 most appalling shows and, sadly, noted that I had watched not one - but at least two of the highlighted shows over the last week, including the much maligned "Moment of Truth." (Out of curiosity, I promise!) In fact, several of the shows we've written about here at Channel Surfing appear on the list, which begs the question - what exactly makes a show "appalling?"

Is it the show's sub-human premise (as in the case of "Temptation Island") or the participants' lack of anything resembling human decency?

EW doesn't quite explain the methodology behind the listing, although they say they were inspired by Fox's "Moment of Truth" to "look back at new lows in broadcasting." You can vote on the appalling-ness of each, show, by the way. If you're counting, MTV ran away with 80 percent voting a number of its shows including "Room Raiders," "A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila," and "Date My Mom" as "con queso (too cheesy to count)."

Although EW has clearly stuck to its guns with reality television at its most shameful, I think a few other non-reality shows deserve to be added to the list: "According to Jim," "Baywatch," "She's the Sheriff" and "Saved by the Bell: The College Years."

Any thoughts on other appalling programs that deserve to be highlighted?

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

Labels: , ,

Mark your calendars: Return dates galore!

The strike is over. You still have a month or so to wait before things return to normal ... well, at least as it applies to being unproductive while watching TV.

It looks like April at best for the return of your favorite shows, with most of the major networks releasing schedules with firm return dates. Of course, VH1 will already have cycled through any number of washed-up musicians and sitcom stars during that time, so it's not as if you'll be working without a safety net.

Here's a rundown of shows that are either extremely popular or that we've been known to watch/cover at Channel Surfing:

24: Season 7 postponed until January '09.
30 Rock: Expected to shoot 5 new episodes to begin airing on April 10.
Brothers & Sisters: Expected to shoot 4 new episodes to air beginning April 20.
Chuck: No new episodes until fall.
CSI: Expected to shoot 6 new episodes to begin airing on April 3.
CSI: Miami: Expected to shoot 8 new episodes to begin airing on March 24.
CSI: NY: Expected to shoot 7 new episodes to begin airing on April 2.
Desperate Housewives: Expected to shoot 6 new episodes (including a two-hour finale) to air beginning April 13.
Dirty Sexy Money: No new episodes until fall; three remaining pre-strike episodes will undergo some tweaking and kick off fall run.
ER: Expected to shoot 6 new episodes to begin airing on April 10.
Friday Night Lights: No new episodes expected for this season. Future unknown.
Gossip Girl: Expected to shoot 5 new episodes to begin airing on April 21.
Grey's Anatomy: Expected to shoot 5 new episodes to air beginning April 24.
Heroes: No new episodes expected until fall.
House: Expected to shoot 4 new episodes to begin airing in its new Monday time slot on April 28.
How I Met Your Mother: Expected to shoot 9 new episodes to begin airing on March 17.
Law & Order: Expected to shoot 5 additional episodes to begin airing on April 23.
Law & Order: CI: Expected to shoot an indeterminate number of episodes to air in spring.
Law & Order: SVU: Expected to shoot 5 new episodes to begin airing on April 15.
Lost: Five pre-strike episodes remain. Expected to shoot 5 additional episodes to air beginning April 24.
My Name Is Earl: Expected to shoot 9 new episodes to begin airing on April 3.
The Office: Expected to shoot 6 new episodes to begin airing on April 10.
Pushing Daisies: No new episodes until fall.
Saturday Night Live: Returns Saturday with Tina Fey as host.
Scrubs: Five pre-strike episodes remain and will begin airing on April 10. Up to four additional episodes may be shot; unclear whether they'll air on NBC or go straight to DVD.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Three pre-strike episodes remain. Future unknown.
Ugly Betty: Expected to shoot 5 new episodes to air beginning April 24.

And finally, The Wire, one of the few shows unaffected by the strike, has three episodes remaining. Ever. Expect lavish praise from yours truly in the coming weeks.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A "Gauntlet" addendum: "Real World" Beth is kind of, not really, a celebrity

If there's anyone whose journalistic veracity we respect at the Press-Gazette, it's award-winning Packers beat writer, Rob Demovsky. While his affection for "A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila" would seem to disqualify him from such a distinction on our TV blog, Rob walked in on a conversation between myself and prep sports reporter Scott Venci earlier today. Scott -- whose last name I use to describe "Gauntlet" contestant Kenny, because, well, they're both Italian and prone to ridiculous behavior -- is also a fan of the show, and to the best of my knowledge, is the only person who actually cares about my recaps here. Hey, one fan is better than none. Unless that fan is the manly-looking chick stalking Bob Uecker. But I digress.

Anyway, Rob pulled the "I went to college with someone from the 'Real World' " card during our conversation, and left that bit of information dangling in the air before Scott and I were able to determine it was renowned "Gauntlet" villain, Beth. A veteran of six -- count 'em! -- six spinoff challenges, Beth has earned a reputation as quite the (ahem) witch, on the reality TV circuit. Prior to her newfound challenge fame, she was best known for goading Tami into a bogus rape claim against Crazy David on "Real World: Los Angeles," leading to his dramatic eviction. She also seems to have a weird skin rash that we can only imagine looks very, very scary on high-def TV.

Anyway, Rob shared with Channel Surfing an exclusive story about Beth from their shared days at Ohio (not State) University in Athens. This was during the '90s, you know, when Hammer was big and people on the "Real World" fought about stuff like peanut butter instead of having threesomes in hot tubs. Rob's kinda old.

"A bunch of us were in line to get into a bar called the Crystal Casino, which by the way contained neither crystalware nor casino gaming. It's located in the heart of Court Street, in Athens, not far from the Ohio University campus. There were probably a dozen, maybe 15 people in line, waiting patiently, when Beth comes bopping up. She attempts to cut right to the front, and the bouncer dude gets up off his stool and says: 'Excuse me, there's a line.'

To which Beth replies: "But I'm Beth, from the 'Real World.'"

And the bouncer says: "Well, in the real world (and he makes the quotation-mark sign with his fingers) the line starts at the back."

So Beth leaves in a huff and everyone else busts up laughing."

It's a great story. We believe it's true. It's chronicled here because we've always wanted to play "Six Degrees of 'Real World' Separation."

For the record, here's our ranking of the most notable students in Ohio (not State) University history:

1. Matt Lauer, co-host of "Today"
2. Richard Dean Anderson, "MacGyver" (didn't graduate)
3. Mike Schmidt, Hall of Fame baseball player
4. Ed O'Neill, Al Bundy on "Married with Children" (attended, then transferred)
5. Beth from "The Real World"
6. Peter King, Sports Illustrated writer
7. Rob Demovsky, Press-Gazette writer and principal member of "The Insiders"
8. Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson (attended, then transferred)
9. Arsenio Hall, actor, former talk show host
10. Jay Mariotti, Chicago Sun-Times sports writer, professional windbag

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Running the Gauntlet: Week Four Power Poll

Each Monday (ahem, other than President's Day), I'll be providing a quick and dirty rundown of the previous week's "Gauntlet III," or quite simply, television's guiltiest pleasure for the slow-witted "Real World/Road Rules" generation. The show airs at 9 p.m., Wednesdays on MTV.

Well, my prediction that I'd never get a Power Poll showdown wrong didn't even last a week. Thanks, Janelle. Anyway, the Onion AV Club's "Hater" recently dubbed "Gauntlet III" the worst show in television history. Over "My Super Sweet 16" or "Hannity and Colmes?" Wow. And I thought I felt dirty before.

I did, however, redeem myself by forecasting MJ's appearance on the rookie team. The former college football player immediately lifted the spirits of his dejected squad, though by the end of the episode, he didn't prove himself to be as valuable as originally thought. Maybe the guy had a long flight or something.

If anything, this week's "Gauntlet" proved that while its contestants may not be members of the worst TV show in history, surely they qualify as some of the stupidest. The Veterans are winning every challenge in a cakewalk, but also shooting themselves in the foot thanks to this year's wrinkle that only contestants who make it to the final challenge get a sniff of prize money. That means the more players who make it to the end, the more ways they have to divvy the pot. Plus, as past challenges have proven, less is always more because you don't want to drag your best athletes down by having them carry weaker females on their backs during the grueling final round. Yes, it's a gender thing.

That rationale leads Evan and Kenny Venci to begin strategizing ways of throwing female "Gauntlet" days so they can start shedding some of their dead weight. Of course, it would have been nice to think of that BEFORE the "Push It" challenge -- which involved pushing a car on a series of wood slats that had to be moved each time the vehicle inched forward -- which the Rookies were handily winning until the Vets decided to forgo the "road" and make one big thrust through the sand. It was legal. It worked. They won. They were also stupid for not eating that challenge and finally sending a weak female to the "Gauntlet."

A win's a win, though, and adding injury to insult for the Rookies, Melinda took a wicked shot to the head when she accidentally walked into a swinging board. The good news? She was able to sit out the elimination round due to a concussion. The bad news? She milked the injury in the subsequent challenge and looked weak in the process. Either way, for the third straight episode, the Rookies sent Little Jillian to the Gauntlet after the Vets voted Janelle in, supposedly one of the team's strongest players. This caused her love interest, Frank (at right), to rightfully protest, but he was quickly put in his place by the team's requisite loudmouths. Jillian ended up running circles around an arrogant "I'm bigger and stronger" Janelle in "Ball Brawl," with Frank frantically cheerleading from the sidelines like Will Ferrell in those old "SNL" skits. The Rooks collectively hung their head and didn't bother to congratulate Jillian on her upset victory, giving new meaning to the phrase "team unity." Even newcomer MJ called Frank a "frickin' dork" for rooting so heavily. Yeah, way to support your girlfriend, dude. Staying silent totally would have gotten you laid.

The male end of things wasn't as intense this week, with the Vets winning again in the rope burn heavy "Man Overboard" challenge. CT, again, carried the day, with his team's lightning-fast round putting MJ's huffing and puffing to shame. The time difference cost the Rooks a win, allowing the Vets to send Frank into the Gauntlet. From a strategic standpoint, it was a foolish move considering Frank's divisive presence, but we've already established that we're not dealing with Mensa members here. The Rooks countered with Zack, whose claim to fame on the show was getting his head shaved during a night of drunken revelry. In a disappointing turn, the male Gauntlet proved to be another puzzle challenge. As someone who isn't afraid to claim a bloodthirsty desire to see the very worst in testosterone-fueled buffoonery on the male end, the show's brain teasers really kill my adrenaline buzz. I mean, Frank was wearing glasses during the Gauntlet, for chrissakes!

In the end, Zack was sent home, and had perhaps the dumbest good-bye quote ever by claiming the Rookies wouldn't win because he was their best shot at the grand prize. Yeah, losers are always good about making empty threats when they can't win in their lone Gauntlet appearance. Have fun watching the remaining rejects on TV, buddy. You know, like me.

The Puck Treatment
Pretty Boy Alex
Lesbian Come Lately Brooke
Johnny Bananas

The Aneesa Ferreira Division
25. Airhead Casey
24. Low Self-Esteem Johanna

Not quite bottom-feeders
23. Rambo Rachel
22. Ryan

May die because of health reasons
21. Fat Eric

Eight shades of crazy and proud of it
20. Bipolar Katie

Rising fast but not built for the long haul
19. Adam

Unequivocally overrated
18. Melinda
17. Robin
16. Roid Rage Danny

Dark Horses
15. Robot Frank
14. MJ
13. Anorexic Paula
12. Beauty Queen Tori
11. "The Italian Stallion" Kenny Venci
10. Coral
9. Beastly Beth
8. Diem

Sleeper Du'Jour
7. Jillian

Serious contenders
6. Nehemiah
5. Evelyn DeGeneres
4. Derek
3. Meatball Brad

The Big Dogs
2. Evan Almighty
1. Loose Cannon CT

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Elvis' ex tops the list of next "Dancing'' stars

If you sat through the two-hour finale of "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann'' last night, your well-earned reward was the announcement of the next round of celebs to don the sequins for the sixth season of "Dancing with the Stars,'' which kicks off March 17 on ABC.

We're not that foolish, er, patient, so we just TiVo'd the whole drawn-out affair to get to the good stuff. Here they are, in order of who we think sounds the most intriguing (although we must say, the whole lot seems a little disappointing):

Priscilla Presley: Elvis Presley's ex? Yeah, we'll tune in to watch that! After all these years, the woman is still kind of a mystery. Consider her this year's Marie Osmond, but with overly-injected lips and less potential to be annoying as the weeks go on.

Kristi Yamaguchi: Who doesn't love the 1992 Olympic Gold medalist? Plus, we like the odds that come with being a figure skater.

Mario: Sexy, 21 and confident. Let's file the R&B singer under this season's male version of last season's young hot-shot threat, Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan.

Jason Taylor: Football players and the mambo don't exactly seem like a natural fit, but previous champ Emmitt Smith proved otherwise. Let's see how light on his feet the 6-foot-6, 255-pound defensive end for the Miami Dolphins is.

Monica Seles: The 34-year-old tennis champ has fierce competitor written all over her. But the bigger questions: Will she grunt loudly while doing the samba? Will she use her punishing backhand on Len Goodman if she doesn't like her score?

Adam Carolla: Anyone who can hang with Jimmy Kimmel ("The Man Show'') and Dr. Drew ("Loveline'') is OK by us. A guy's guy with good potential to be a darkhorse -- and funny, too.

Cristian de la Fuente: One of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People'' and the first guy to ever make the cover of Cosmopolitan en Espanol. Pair him with Edyta or Julianne and it could be "hot, hot, hot!''

Marlee Matlin: Can't argue with an Oscar winner on the roster. We've penciled her in to step into Jane Seymour's heels as this year's classy, elegant lady.

Marissa Jaret Winokur: She was the original Tracy Turnblad in Broadway's "Hairspray,'' so she has to be a hoofer, right?

Penn Jillette: Half of Las Vegas illusionist team Penn & Teller -- luckily, the half who talks.

Shannon Elizabeth: Models don't have a great track record on the show (see Josie Moran and Albert Reed, Season 5).

Steve Guttenberg: Yawn. If this revives his career to the glory days of "Three Men and a Baby,'' we'll eat our words.

-- Kendra Meinert,

Labels: ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Day after "Lost" ramblings

I love "Lost" You love "Lost." Let's dive right into the weekly tradition of paying too much attention to things like Naomi's bracelet inscription ("N, I'll always be with you, R.G.") or Locke's tray of delicious iced tea.

Last week, a reader asked what the chalkboard drawing behind Hurley was during the sitdown with Matthew Abaddon in the Season Four premiere. It's an island palm tree, a boat on some waves, and a shining sun. There's also a shark in the upper right corner who may or may not be trying to eat the sun. (No, I don't interpret this to mean Pregnant Sun will be subjected to a shark attack during a water birth. Or do I?)

First things first: The enhanced "pop-up video" style repeat ABC is showing before each new episode is actually kinda cool. Sure, they don't reveal a whole lot of "new" information that isn't readily available on the 'Net. But I did learn that during Daniel Faraday's crying fit last week, the woman who asks if he's OK is his caretaker, not his wife. That would seem to indicate some type of "issue" if we're to believe that he's having mental -- perhaps deja vu related -- problems post-island, which of course, is my assumption. Then again, I spontaneously began to cry last week when I watched a disgustingly sad TV promo of "The Hottie and the Nottie."

This week's episode had a much different feel than the first two. The pace was slower and more secretive during Sayid's flash-forward (it reminded me of how plodding latter season flashbacks were) but when the second half hit, man, was it information overload! That cold-blooded golf course shooting of Mr. Avellino was pretty sweet, too.

In a refreshing move, the show is making a concerted effort to address (but not answer) some common sense questions floating out there. Locke did it with the "What's the monster?" query to Ben last week. Sayid pointed out that Miles wasn't the least bit surprised Oceanic survivors had been picking berries on the island all this time. Last night's Sawyer-Kate scene followed a similar string of logic with Mr. Ford asking Fugitive Freckles what she's so eager to get back to upon rescue. Ben needled Jack in a similar manner during the Season Three finale, but ol' Purple Face, while he had a point, was just twisting a dagger in the good Doc. Sawyer actually broached the subject with deep concern, and perhaps most important, a sense of optimism that a Little House on the Island might not be so bad for two rebels without a cause. The strong connection (next week, it looks like they get sweaty ... again) between both also leads me to believe Mr. Andy Behrendt's theory that the "he" Kate is referring to in last season's dramatic airport scene is indeed Sawyer Jr.

My biggest gripe since the Freighter Four touched down on the island: Where's the urgency from Jack, Kate and the like? Why are the beach folk just hanging around and waiting for salvation to come to them? Desmond was the only one who showed any forceful signs of wanting answers and jumping on the chopper. You'd think they might demand that the new intruders submit to their time constraints and plight, especially since Sayid has a gun and they all already know the island terrain. C'mon, Losties! You've been there 100 days! Show some passion for going home! I mean, Jack missed the Red Sox winning the Series, for chrissakes!

Also in the minor gripe department: Why did it take forever for anyone to traverse the gigantic island and find ANYTHING remotely interesting, yet it only takes Sayid and Co. like, three minutes to find the barracks again? Does the dude have Dharma MapQuest?

Faraday's experiment was a chilling, revealing scene. It's tough to interpret after only one viewing, but clearly there's a space-time lull, that at least according to the payload arrival, isn't tremendously drastic (31 minutes, 18 seconds to be exact). It exists, though, and the space-time issue has been teased for a long while without any concrete proof that island life moves at a different speed. But as Faraday noted while watching the way light reflected in the jungle, there's something crazy going on, and he'll obviously be the key in analyzing such heady scientific data. I keep thinking of "The Truman Show" bubble as I write this, but I don't want to.

The secret Ben bookshelf really kicked some doors down, didn't it? We know Ben is getting off the island frequently (how, who knows?) and has an impressive passport and Banana Republic shirt collection. It was pretty obvious, at least to me, that he was going to be the doc to fix up Sayid in the final scene with the caged animals. Why a dimly lit vet's office for cover? In Berlin? Again, who freakin' knows? I do know that when Oceanic Six member Sayid was revealed to be a post-island assassin, my "Ben is going to die" theory also got capped. But at least during the episode I had a hunch Sayid would turn to Ben for help with the bullet. That still doesn't explain "the list" (maybe Ben is like Nixon, except he actually murders his enemies, doesn't just break into hotels or tap phones), Ben's ominous reminder to Sayid about the last time he "followed (his) heart instead of (his) gun," and the importance of the pager-using Economist being hunted. Man, just when you think you have some clarity on a show's potential direction ...

Elsa shooting Sayid was an unexpected touch. Same with Hurley's double-cross, which I totally fell for, but think is a sign that he and Locke will continue to have tension -- all leading to Hugo's apology to Jack back home. Naveen Andrews did a great job of tapping into Sayid's emotional side during Elsa's good-bye, though. The man has seen a lot of death as both torturer, island dweller and now assassin, but refuses to treat anyone as just another body. Well, except maybe the dude whose neck he snapped with that breakdancing move on the beach.

More big questions: Is Elsa wearing the same bracelet as Naomi? Why is Faraday supposed to hang up the phone if Minkowski answers? Why is the helicopter able to take off without difficulty even though it had so many instrument problems when landing? Does Sayid's newly revealed alliance with Ben make him a more likely candidate to be the "man in the coffin?"

Line of the night: "The day I trust Ben is the day I've sold my soul." So says the man working for Mr. Linus in the future.

Quip of the night: Sawyer's Gizmo nickname for Ben was his best yet. Absolutely hysterical.

Finally, Jacob's mystery cabin takes on special significance in a third straight episode, this time by NOT showing up. Does it have something to do with night hours, or is it just that one must be "summoned" to see, which means too many eyes is a no-no for the invisible shapeshifter. Ben's line to Locke that he's "looking to be told" what to do next was another great smart-alec jab. I know some national TV critics believe Locke's crew should have killed Ben by now, but even if that's the more realistic route, I tend to disagree. The guy is far too all-knowing to dispose of, even if he's a threat to kill everyone else first. Plus, Ben has been on fire this season. I'd miss his witty commentary.

That's all I got. You?

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Labels: ,

Hey, we can post again!

You'll probably notice that two posts from yesterday finally showed up on our blog. Well, Blogger has some splainin' to do ... but it seems like everything is working again. Which is good, because there's a need for some "Lost" rambling later today ...

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will it be curtains for Kathy on tonight's "Survivor''?

It's Week No. 2 tonight for Kathleen Sleckman, our Manitowoc native survivor, and let's hope things go better for her than they did last week. Only Jonny Fairplay played a worse game in the "Survivor: Micronesia'' season opener, getting himself voted out at Tribal Council after basically asking his tribemates to let him go home to his pregnant girlfriend in some tearfully scripted cheeseball stunt that felt like it was in his contract from the beginning.

But we digress ....

Kathy -- or "Big Bird'' and the "Crazy Lady'' as she was quickley dubbed by her tribemates last week -- managed to put her foot in her mouth more than once. Lucky for her she grabbed the immunity idol and Airai was spared a trip to Tribal Council, because word around camp was she would be the first to go.

"I'm sure I got off on the wrong foot,'' she told the cameras. "I guess sometimes it pays to keep your mouth shut, but I can't help myself.'' Yeah, we pretty much picked up on that during her awkward exchange with Chet about his sexuality.

While folks in Northeastern Wisconsin might be pulling for Kathy, who now lives in Glen Ellyn, Ill., and works as a golf course vendor, host Jeff Probst said in the Feb. 8 issue of Entertainment Weekly that she's not exactly his favorite.

"There are a couple of casting choices on the Fans that I wasn't a big fan of. Kathleen -- I'm not sure why she's on,'' he told the mag. "She just doesn't fit. If she's not the first off I will tip my hat to her, because she will have to do a masterful job not to be the first off.''

We, however, are standing by her, even though she's 45 and still wearing her hair in two pigtails.

-- Kendra Meinert,

Labels: ,

Love is an island battlefield.

It's "Lost" night, but unfortunately, I was unable to fit in a second viewing of the show this week. So, I'll be going into tonight's episode just as confused and wide-eyed as before, which could be a good thing.

That said, I wasn't about to let those minor details prevent me from posting something about the show.

It's Valentine's Day, and the castaways have e-greetings that are far more heartfelt than stale candy hearts with messages like "Fax Me."

My favorites? Sayid's "Life Without You Is Torture," Desmond's "I See Love In Your Future," Creepy Ben's "You're Not Like the Others. You're Different" and Sawyer's "You Need Me to Make You a Mix Tape?"

You can also send e-cards from "Grey's Anatomy" and "Ugly Betty." I'd post a picture, but Blogger isn't cooperating. Go here for them all.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Geek girl overload!

It might not have the same "wow" factor as the days of Phil Hartman and Mike Myers, but it's an election season and "Saturday Night Live" always seems to step up its game when there are candidates to skewer.

The last of the late night shows to return, "SNL" comes back Feb. 23 with Tina Fey as host. This should be an easy post-strike transition seeing as how Fey was a head writer and performer before bolting to "30 Rock." Plus, it's always fun when alumni return, and who knows, maybe Alec Baldwin or Jack McBrayer will show up in a guest role. Also announced: snarky "it girl" Ellen Page of "Juno" hosts March 1. No word on musical guests, though we're crossing our fingers that Michael Cera makes the trip for an acoustic performance of "Anyone Else But You."

(Also, because I'm mentioning "Juno" here, check out this interesting backlash article from Slate.)

The New York Times is also reporting that “SNL” plans to produce shows for four straight weeks. It's an unusual move for the series, "which rarely runs for more than three weeks without a break" But Ben "No one watches 'Friday Night Lights'" Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, told the Times that, “It’s a political year, so we want to jam it with ‘SNL.’ We hope to have as many as six or eight more this season.”

Quick thought: Do they have anyone to play Barack Obama? Please don't tell me it's going to be the dude from "Fat Albert" ...

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,