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Friday, May 30, 2008

Harold Perrineau upset Michael went 'Kablooie!'

Plenty more "Lost" speculation to come, but one of the more interesting developments following last night's two-hour finale comes from Harold Perrineau's exit interview with TV Guide.

As "Lost" fans well know, Perrineau's Michael Dawson character left the show after a Season Two killing spree that felled Tallie two-some Ana Lucia and Libby in unexpected fashion. The swerve was part of a betrayal storyline that gave Michael and his enigmatic son Walt access to a boat which would take them back home. Following a third season, "Lost" creators uncharacteristically leaked Michael's return at ComicCon, which essentially killed the buzz about who Ben's "mysterious man on the freighter" was in a mid-Season Four storyline.

Anyway, Mr. Dawson re-appeared as "Kevin Johnson: freighter saboteur" in a slightly interesting storyline, if only because it was revealed that the island wouldn't let a tormented Michael kill himself, even as he placed a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. With that baggage on the freedom freighter, Michael was finally given his "release" by Ghost Dad Shephard in last night's episode. Lest you think he might re-appear -- as most suspect Jin eventually will -- Perrineau confirms he's done with the show. He also doesn't hold back his displeasure at the Michael storyline in the TV Guide interview.

"It's like, what the hell? I came back for that? ... I'm disappointed, mostly because I wanted Michael and Walt to have a happy ending. I was hoping Michael would get it together and actually want to be a father to his kid and try to figure out a way to get back [home]. But this is [the producers'] story. If I were writing it, I would write it differently."

It's important to note that Michael did redeem himself in some capacity -- if his selflessness upon returning to the freighter wasn't obvious enough, he later told Jin to head for the chopper so he could "be a dad." Of course, Jin didn't make it ... but hey, the effort was there. That the advice came from Michael, who had his own paternal issues with Walt, seemed somewhat significant, though let's be honest, his redemptive arc wasn't nearly as triumphant or moving as Charlie's. When you consider how he betrayed his island mates in Season Two, Perrineau believes there was an underhanded motive to bringing Michael back.

"I thought it was disappointing and a waste to come back, only to get beat up a few times and then killed. I felt like it was sort of pandering to some fans who wanted to see Michael punished because he betrayed people.

"Listen, if I'm being really candid, there are all these questions about how they respond to black people on the show. Sayid gets to meet Nadia again, and Desmond and Penny hook up again, but a little black boy and his father hooking up, that wasn't interesting? Instead, Walt just winds up being another fatherless child. It plays into a really big, weird stereotype and, being a black person myself, that wasn't so interesting."

"Lost" co-creator Carlton Cuse responded by saying, "We pride ourselves on having a very racially diverse cast. It's painful when any actor's storyline ends on the show. Harold is a fantastic actor whose presence added enormously to 'Lost.'"

Does Perrineau have a legitimate gripe? "Lost" is certainly known for bringing dead people back for cameos, and it would seem that Walt (or children before they hit their growth spurt ...) is supposed to be a significant part of the island's mythology as the remaining season's play out.

But Michael? Alas, he is now a million scattered pieces in the crystal blue ocean ...

Finally, check out this footage from "Good Morning America" revealing alternate coffin endings so the Locke-Bentham secret couldn't leak. It was supposed to be Vincent!

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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An inevitable (arrested) development?

Rumors have been swirling -- here and elsewhere -- about a possible "Arrested Development" movie. It's an interesting wrinkle for a show that never found an audience on Fox even though it had some awards cachet and was critically revered to the point of exhaustion.

So what would the movie premise be? Well, according to the caged wisdom of Jeffrey Tambor, who played George Bluth Sr., the script hasn't been written. But it appears all cast members are just waiting for the green light to start working.

According to an interview with the AV Club:

"There are rumors that it's going to be done, and everyone just seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm ready, and everyone's on board, so I hope it really happens. Everybody I talk to is very excited about it. When I talk to people that decry that we're not on, I say, "You know, there are rumors, heavy rumors going around that there's going to be a movie." And they go crazy. A lot of "hurrahs" going on. But I know it's not written. Right now, it's just pure intention. But I think it will happen if the good people at Fox and everybody else just gets their act together."

You hear that? HEAVY rumors! C'mon good people at Fox! Now that "American Idol" is over, you have nothing better to do. Make it happen.

So, any ideas on what the Bluth family should do on the big screen? George Sr. building homes for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Steve Holt takes up the family trade and becomes a magician, sorry, illusionist? How about just airing Les Cousins Dangereux in its uncensored, scandalous form?

Man, I need me a trip to the Big Yellow Joint ...

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pack your parka: It's initial "Lost" ramblings!

We all knew it was coming. From the moment "There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 and 3" kicked off with the follow-up scene to last season's "We have to go back!" game changer, we knew Grizzly Jack would end up back at Hoffs Drawlar funeral parlor.

I'm sure if you listen close enough, you can hear keyboards frantically typing in unison as "Lost" fans light up message boards and blogs with their season finale observations. It'll be no different here at 10:58 p.m., with a few thoughts hopefully spurring more conversation as the TV season takes another breather and we look forward to a summer of "Wipeout" and "Celebrity Circus."

We have to go back a few weeks! We have to go back!

In all seriousness, the office pool had Locke as coffin man in a landslide. I'm just sayin' ... the Jeremy Bentham (another philosopher's name) business probably didn't throw anyone off, and once Hurley let it slip that JB was an alias, Locke was the logical choice. Kudos to Team Darlton for delivering on the coffin reveal, but it wasn't the "We have to go back" game changer of last season. Maybe if Locke had a beard ...

A few things stuck out from tonight's two hour "Lost"-a-palooza. The Desmond-Penny drama would seem to tie a nice neat bow on their love re-connection. Seriously, did anyone see that coming so soon? But inevitably, we'll be seeing Desmond in another life, brutha. After all, Ben is thirsty for revenge, so you have to imagine Penny will be in his crosshairs. Ben is too good (and judging by his stabbing outburst on Keamy, a little miffed) to let Sweet Miss Widmore slip by him. Maybe it'll mean a few well-placed cameos from Des, but as long as he's part of the show's fabric somehow, I'll be happy. If they really want to re-establish Ben as a villain, he'll succeed in killing Penny and completely destroy Desmond's world. Not that I want to see it happen, but plot-wise ...

Speaking of Ben as supreme villain, was that a Dick Cheney shout-out with the ever so flippant, "so" response to Locke saying everyone on the freighter was going to die?

OK, so the island finally moved. We knew it was coming, but it was still kinda cool to see it evaporate as the chopper flew overhead. It's strange to have an idea of how the time traveling manipulation actually works and then see the show take a very literal turn of the wheel with it. Does it ruin the magic a bit? Well, was it disappointing to learn how David Copperfield made the Orient Express dining car disappear back in the day? Wait ... David Copperfield didn't make the Orient Express actually disappear?

Anyway, I'm still thoroughly confused about the island's overall purpose (can anyone draw conclusions on this one?), but the wormhole business we've previously discussed on Channel Surfing seems to be a working reality. In some crazy capacity, at least. After all, Ben's trip to the island freezer was pretty ... weird. We know he ends up in Tunisia busting some Bedouin heads following his spin on the wheel of fate. Plus, has it now been confirmed that polar bears have been moving the island all along?

A lot of drawn out drama in tonight's episode. Keamy's reappearance (you gotta shoot him in the head, fools!) was completely unnecessary. The boat explosion was even a bit lackluster because I'm almost certain not actually seeing Jin die means he's, well, not actually dead. Michael ... he's probably a goner. The island, or just Christian Shephard, appears to be "done" with him. Redemption for giving Jin the "go be a dad" speech? You'd think Sawyer's time would be up soon since he's also playing the role of selfless savior lately. It's probably why the entire Oceanic Six needs to go back. While Ben and Locke certainly knew that there could be consequences to letting them leave, they have to WANT to stay. Not sure why, but the redemptive arc requires it. And we all know Pill Popper Jack has some serious flaws ("Who were you talking to?") in the real world.

So ... where does "Lost" go from here? Well, in four seasons, the show has gone from "We have to leave the island" to "We have to get back to the island." It's strange for the shoe to be on the other foot, but there's clearly a lot left to explain -- I'll be re-visiting my Top 10 "Lost" questions before the season opener sometime soon -- but it has potential to be even more riveting. Now that the split has officially occurred, the show has to work on both levels -- showing the damage Jack "left behind" on the island, and the Ben-Jack tandem trying to bring the Oceanic Six back thanks to some "new ideas." Meanwhile, Sayid will just keep killing people.

Just picture this though: Jack returning to the island with a Red Sox cap and Sawyer revealing that only like, four days have passed in his world since the good Doc grew his grizz-tastic beard and saw Locke's face pop up in the coffin. Boom.

I'm sure Adam will connect some dots tomorrow, and after a few more viewings this weekend, expect some more coverage and speculation into next week. In the meantime, leave a comment with any thoughts that can get those theories a-spinning ...

Seriously. You don't want me to have to start blogging about "The Mole," do you?

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Commercial interruption: Lisa lives to suck another day on 'Top Chef'

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). With a certain unspeakable eyebrow-pierced lesbian still on the show, it is up to chef fans Sara Boyd, Malavika Jagannathan and, newcomer to the "Top Chef" blogging, Adam Reinhard to find out what recipe the judges are following for the final four. Yes, we've replaced Mr. Thomas Rozwadowski, who apparently is too busy with home repairs to come to work. Slacker.

Sara: My worst fears have come true. With She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (but whose name rhymes with Meesa) heading to Puerto Rico for the Final Four, my efforts of screaming at the TV begging the judges to ax her bandana-ass like a Tomahawk Chop have completely failed. I mean, Spike clearly deserved to pack his fedoras and leave ("No soup for you!" sorry, had to) but the fact that "the lesbian who cried sabotage" has been in the bottom for the last FIVE challenges, as the judges brought up, clearly means she does not deserve a chance at the finale.

Malavika: I know the judges focused on You-Know-Who's "palate" and her "lack of technique," but did it escape them that she just plain sucks? The fact that she is in the finale, supposedly the cream of the crop, is making me violently ill (or perhaps that's just the cold shrimp and undercooked rice...). It's been suggested that "Top Chef" producers want more female faces in the final four -- all of its past three winners are men -- but why pick the double-chinned cross-armed wonder? I hate to say it, but it almost makes me want Blue-Tinted-Glasses-Chick back. Almost.

Sara: You bite your tongue. As bad as crossed-arm suckface is, Blue-Tinted Glasses Chick couldn't even make pasta and she specialized in Italian food. I know you said "almost," but even "almost" gets my gag reflex going. Also, if the "Top Chef" producers truly want a chick-heavy finale, then why would they include a chef who can't cook, sucks at life and ahem, does not look like a woman?! Heck, Spike with his hat obsession and questionable man-love with former chefs would've been more feminine! At least he can make soup!

Adam, as a newcomer to the "Top Chef" blogging, what were your thoughts of last night's disaster?

Adam: All I can say is, sweetbread sure looks tasty. I couldn't care less about the back-stabbing, arm-folding, rice-burning interplay of the contestants -- bring on the thymus glands!

It's true, I've only been watching "TC" for a few weeks now, but I've become genuinely fascinated by it. And not just by the blatant product placement ("Here's a boatload of Glad products you're going to be using!") or the lingering, near-pornographic shots of the GE stoves. Mostly it's this Lisa person who has me hooked. From what I can tell, her cooking abilities are vastly inferior to the other contestants. (Although my own cooking abilities strain at peanut butter on toast, so who am I to judge.) But she has the most jarring, abrasive personality of the remaining four, which makes her a great villain. And what TV show doesn't need a good villain? I mean, yeah, that Dale guy (who got booted last week) was no peach, but Lisa? She makes Gordon Ramsay look like Gordon from "Sesame Street."

Yes, she should have been cut long ago. And yes, I can't help but feel the producers know keeping her around creates controversy and perhaps higher ratings. But as long as she's there, glowering under that doo-rag and mishandling shrimp, I'll be at the table, fork and knife in hand.

Malavika: OK, OK, I take back my suggestion that Blue-Tinted-Glasses-Chick would have been a better choice. I was clearly under the influence of my anger and blinded by the glare from the GE Monogrammed stoves.

Yes, Lisa is a great villain, but "Top Chef" has produced villains in the past (Hung, the winner from last season, and Marcel from the previous season) who were both talented AND giant jackasses. Dale had villain-ish qualities, so why settle for You-Know-Who's pathetic attempts at arm-crossing and rice-making. Seriously, I think homegirl would screw up Uncle Ben's minute rice, given the chance.

In the end, though, I think she's going to look stupid on the finale stage. Really it's a three-way contest at this point. Richard, Antonia and Stephanie will outshine her, and she will go home in an undercooked rice, shrimp-laden fury.

In conclusion, I'd like to echo a hilarious comment from fellow "Top Chef" fan Eric: I hope Richard and Stephanie kill her and use her in a dish of disgustingness.

-- Sara Boyd, , Malavika Jagannathan,, Adam Reinhard,

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Remote Controlled: Q&A with Bruce McCulloch

It's a "Kids in the Hall" heavy day at Channel Surfing, but that's the kind of red carpet treatment you get when you're one of the greatest sketch comedy troupes of all time.

When asked last week which "Kid" I wanted to talk to by phone for a show preview, I found myself in a truly enviable position. You mean ... I get to pick? (I imagined this being like choosing between children, you know, if I had children to pit against one another so they could fight for my love ...)

While popular vote might have resulted in the choice of Dave Foley (yes, he was awesome on "NewsRadio"), for me, Bruce McCulloch was the Kid who always made the show tick. Also, he primarily considered himself a writer and "idea guy," and well, the more I thought about which sketches always made me laugh hardest, the common factor seemed to be Bruce's warped sense of humor. Plus, I just thought he'd be an incredibly fun interview.

Anyway, this Q&A was conducted last week while he was lounging in an Orlando hotel room. We chatted about a number of topics and he seemed really enthused about coming to Green Bay. Here's hoping that the Weidner Center crowd doesn't let him down Sunday. (I'm sure our city will be well represented at Carlos Mencia, though .... ugh.)

This will be the third city you’ll play in Wisconsin (Madison and Milwaukee), your first time in Green Bay. Is it because we’re close enough to Canada that your sensibility rubs off on us?

“Yeah, I know, we’re really pounding it out in Wisconsin. (Laughs.) Green Bay is one place we’ve obviously never been. I mean, we were actually in Nashville (last week), which is another great city we’ve never been able to play, and it was really, really fun. You know, that’s part of what we’re doing now. Obviously we go to New York and L.A., but this tour is also about playing places we haven’t played, like, ‘How come we’ve never been to Portland?’ It’s a function of touring, you sort of move with the wind a little bit. But that was certainly a part of it this time. And here we are.”

Does this feel like less of a classic “reunion” tour because you’ve been on the road a few times since the TV show aired?

“I think when we went out in 2000, there was sort of internal and external pressure there, (says dejectedly) ‘Oh, we should go on tour at some point.’ And then again in 2002, though we did enjoy it in 2000. But I think this time we just did it for us, and I don’t think we ever expected to go on the road again. We don’t sit around and talk about going on the road. We’re not like Coca-Cola where we’re in a board meeting. Every so often our energy gathers, and especially on this tour, we’re particularly proud of what we’re doing because we haven’t been around for awhile, and we got together and wrote essentially a new show. Just because we want to be together.”

Does it just take one phone call? You to Dave, or Mark talks to Kevin and you’re ready to go?

“You’re talking to the guy. I actually e-mailed these guys, ‘Hey, you want to get together and start writing?’ We tried to do what we did before, the routine that even pre-dated the TV show. We’d get together on Sunday and just write a bunch of stuff and had it ready for a tiny, secret theater for Thursday. So we did that just to see if it’d be fun again, throw some stuff out, put it out fast. We didn’t have a grand plan for the material. We just did a few things at a time. Then it became, ‘What are we going to do with this?’ and then we sculpted it for what’s on the tour now.”

So sometimes it’s just in the air, huh?

“Yeah, we sort of gather like the weather. We don’t have a logic to it, like, ‘Well, we haven’t been out in six years’ or something like that. We’re not on TV anymore, so we’re pretty excited that people still know us, that 2,500 people in Nashville or wherever come out to see us. It’s great. I think we’re at that point where we’re kind of humbled, and we’re friends with the Black Crowes, and they were at (the Nashville) show and said, ‘Yeah, all the fights you go through in your youth. You go through all that to appreciate this point.’”

Is the show all new material?

“Essentially it’s like 86 percent new. A couple of things are old, old things we re-did, or put in for balance. But yes, it’s essentially a new show.”

Was there an urge to do another ‘greatest hits’ style show knowing that it would draw big laughs?

“Not really. I mean, everybody comes up after a show and says, ‘Why didn’t you do blank?’ But the fact that it’s live and we do reference the old characters, I mean, we have scenes, updated not consciously, but you know, ‘This is a great scene for the Kathy’s,’ so we write one for that. It isn’t like we’ve thrown away all of our characters. We’re just not doing our classic sketches. It’s more fun to do a new scene that you’re only going to do a few times because you’re on tour with it. It’s a whole new experience. So I think it’s kind of the best of both worlds. That’s our theory. And I think people have liked this more than any of our other tours because it really feels alive, or maybe we’re just experiencing it that way.”

Did you worry that fans would just shout out the old skits and characters?

“They get enough of what they like. We’ll use Headcrusher in a kind of ironic way, stuff like that. We get to do it our way. And you know, we’re not very smart. When we did our film (1996’s “Brain Candy,”) we didn’t use any of our characters. We don’t have a business plan. We’re just kind of making it up instinctively. We can’t help ourselves.

Any plans to develop another TV show or a film based on the work you’re doing now?

“Well, we’re talking about maybe doing a little low budget film, some very limited TV thing. We have a few shorts in the show that are also on the Internet right now. Friends of mine, the Russo brothers who did 'Arrested Development,' we’ve sort of been talking to them about a movie. I think we may do something. We’ve been talking about it for awhile. It feels like there’s a new life to the troupe, so we’ll see.”

As you were constructing the TV show, did you think that this would be a natural career progression, that even if you went onto different projects, you could come back and regroup as the Kids?

“It’s not like we didn’t imagine doing it. We just didn’t imagine our future. When you’re so young, it’s more about, you know, just bursting. And when the show was over, everyone ran to what they felt was the thing they wanted to do next. And just as time goes on, you sort of go, ‘Man, those were the funniest guys I’ve ever worked with. I like being one of the Kids in the Hall.’ I like writing the TV and movie stuff, but I’m probably more 'Kids in the Hall' than anything.

"This troupe really exemplifies all of our senses of humor, so there is really some comfort in that. We never had a business plan. Ever. You know, I wanted to get us on TV. And once you get on TV, you want to stay on TV. That was it. We did a film because Lorne (Michaels) thought we should do a film, so there was sort of external pressure to do one. But we really didn’t have an idea we liked. So we haven’t really helped ourselves. I always say, we’re five pretty smart guys, but together, the troupe is one dumb guy.”

It would appear you’re in a good position now to be able to tour when you want and not have to milk it for financial reasons or because it’s the only work you can find.

“Absolutely. All have us have our own different careers, so we don’t look to each other to agree on where to go with the rest of our lives. We can come together at this career stage and you know, that’s the fun of it. We can have fun together, but not have to live together, that kind of thing.”

Does age and experience frame the comedy differently?

“Yes and no. All of our ideas are silly, weird and dirty as ever. We always write stuff that reflects our lives. So 10 or 15 years ago, I’d be writing about my girlfriend, but now that I have kids, one of our opening scenes is about the World’s Most Horrible Baby. The sense of humor is exactly the same, it’s just that invariably, the touchstones – ‘Ah, that’d be funny!’ – are a little bit different.”

Dave Foley had mentioned in a recent interview that he didn’t want to play Hecubus anymore because it wasn’t appealing at his age to wear the tight black costume. Does that affect certain characters you write for, like, say Gavin?

“I do Gavin in the show. But it’s instinctive. Like (in Nashville) someone asked where was my rocker guy, Bobby Terrance. And you know, I’m not going to be a (bleepin’) old guy in a rock bit. So it’s instinctive for everybody. Sometimes the idea, like, we’ll have a wild idea that we think the Kathy's would be great in, so we don’t really write from the character, ‘Oh, we’ve gotta find something for this person,’ whatever. That’s kind of hacky. Maybe we did that sometimes in the show, ‘Let’s write another Gavin,’ but I don’t think we do that now. To have something in the tour, you have to really want to do it.”

Some comedy troupes are adamant about not repeating characters or building their brand through topical humor. Did the Kids always plan to feature recurring characters?

“I personally started at a place where anyone who repeated a) a character or b) a scene, they were considered a hack. It almost killed us, because we’d literally be writing a new show from scratch every week. Honestly, we were crazy. But for different people, there’s this idea that you can believe in a character. They live. They pay rent somewhere. And they’re part of your sensibilities. Some characters more than others. Now it’s not like I walk around thinking about myself as the Flying Pig, but like, Kathy, that might be more in line with my sensibility.

“I wrote for Saturday Night Live prior to the 'Kids in the Hall,' and it was the year they did the (Jon Lovitz character) the Liar. And it was like, ‘What are we going to make the Liar lie about this week?’ And I was writing (bleepin’) Liar jokes every week. So for (the Kids) no, we didn’t want to do that. From our point of view, characters had to earn their way back into the show.”

Was it easy to avoid giving into the pressure of getting easy laughs from a popular character?

“Well, we were all about pleasing each other. If I brought in a weak Gavin scene, someone might be like, ‘Oh, that’s good.’ But you want to bring in something that’s more, ‘(Bleep), that’s so funny! You gotta do it!’ We competed with each other, tried to energize each other. That was a big part of it.”

Did that give and take mean you had to be hard on each other’s work? Be each other’s worst critics?

“Yeah, but it was more like, ‘Is that your best idea? Really?’ Dave and I wrote jokes more than others, so if we needed a joke somewhere, we’d put it in. And the others would say, we need to cut this, it’s not working. So we would go at each other’s stuff, but I don’t think we do that with the ferocity that we used to, just because I’ve learned that you make a suggestion to someone once, and you’ve said your piece. I realize that now. It was probably until I was 30 before I realized that other guys have ideas. (Laughs.) But that’s why we have a really good show now.”

I assume the egos aren’t as fragile either.

“When you’re 26, you try to find yourself in every joke and idea. Now it’s just about a great show. And you can have both.”

Do you have favorite characters to play or write for?

“I’m an idea guy. A weird idea, a weird phrase, it’s just as interesting to me. ‘30 Helens Agree’ is just as important to me than any character as a surrealist, arbitrary thing.”

Were most of your ideas based on something real, or did say, “the Eradicator” or the “My Pen!” sketches just evolve from something that struck you as funny in your head?

“Everything … I don’t know, the hardest question to answer is where do you get your ideas from? It could have just popped in my head, you know? Like, we do a piece now, a surreal dance piece that I literally wrote in my brain in 40 seconds. It doesn’t really make sense (laughs) but it’s one that people love. I don’t know why.”

How about the music numbers then? “Daves I Know” and “The Terrier Song” had to have more structure to them as ideas.

“They just seemed arbitrary. I don’t know where ‘Daves' would come from. That’s sort of the funny thing now, because in Hollywood writing on TV and writing features and stuff, I’m always explaining why something is going to be funny. I can’t imagine that, you know, ‘I’m going to sing a song about a bunch of guys named Dave and it’s going to be really repetitive, but funny ...’ I wouldn’t know (the answer) myself. It sort of takes the magic out of it. Why is something funny? It just is.”

So you’re not big on breaking down comedy as an individual or a group, dissecting why a joke works?

“The theory of comedy, we don’t really do it. We know our craft though. But we don’t (bleepin’) care. We’re not structuralists or anything. We just want everything to be as funny as it can be.”

You’ve mentioned in the past that you like writing more than performing.

“I work a lot with Mark, and I’m happy to give him really good jokes that I write. The other guys perform in their lives. That’s the bulk of their lives. I’ve done the odd thing, the one-person show sometimes. But I’m not an actor for hire. I’m an acquired taste (laughs.). I’m not the guy who plays the crazy neighbor. It’s not interesting to me. It’s boring to me. So maybe that’s why I’m loving the tour, because I don’t perform as much.”

You enjoy performing, it’s just not your first choice?

“Yeah, I’m loving it, but not because I’m trying to do a five-day part in a Jim Carrey film where I’m waiting in trailers all day, and some people know me, some don’t. I don’t really enjoy that.”

As you move forward with new material, do you get caught up in the Kids’ legacy?

“At this point in our lives, yeah, we get asked a lot, ‘Did you get your due? What about your influence on young people?’ I’m just happy we had a TV show. It’s just that simple. We’ve been selling out tour stops, and you know, it might not be every seat, but there’s like-minded people that have found us, even after all this time. And that’s why I got into it.”

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Sketchy characters: Best of "Kids"

It could be because they’re comedy geniuses. It may be they’re out of their minds. It could even be the fact they’re Canadian. But the boys behind “Kids in the Hall” gave life to some of the most bizarre, ridiculous, yet endearing characters in all of sketch comedy.

Here are our top five favorites. If you disagree, prepare yourself for a head crushing, you flathead.

5. Cabbage Head

A sexist, cigar-chomping Lothario — who just happened to have a cabbage leaf where his hair should be — the aptly named Cabbage Head didn’t let his deformity interfere with his libido. Embodied with full sleazy glee by Bruce McCulloch, the majority of Cabbage Head’s sketches revolved around his never-say-die approach to hooking up with women. Parodying both the macho chauvinism of the '80s and the more sensitive guys of the '90s, Cabbage Head would crack demeaning one-liners at potential dates; then when rebuked, sullenly accuse them of disparaging his cabbage head. Neither tactic ever worked, of course, because that would have meant the end of the character.

4. Simon Milligan and Hecubus

The stars of a not-even-remotely-scary basic cable horror show, Sir Simon Milligan (Kevin McDonald) and his sunken-eyed, body-suit wearing man-servant Hecubus (Dave Foley) were constantly trying to prove their demon-y worth. Milligan once bellowed, "Yes, I have walked along the path of evil many times. It's a twisting curving path that ... actually leads to a charming block garden ... but beyond that EVIL!" Far more wicked was “loyal” Hecubus, who took far more delight in antagonizing his master than following orders. This annoyed Milligan only briefly, as he used the insurrection as evidence of their immoral ways, pointing at Hecubus and yelling “Evil! Evil!” to the audience.

3. The Chicken Lady

Originally conceived as the punch line to a circus-freak sketch, Mark McKinney’s Chicken Lady was half-chicken, half-woman, all sex-drive. Decked out in a Dolly Parton wig and a witch nose, McKinney strutted from sketch to sketch, as the Chicken Lady looked for love completely oblivious to how much she repulsed people. Whether it was her shrieking voice — “Gravels and grubs! I love to eat my gravels and grubs!” — or her tendency toward explosive molting when aroused, Chicken Lady never really got a break with the men-folk. Luckily, she was often joined by her sister-in-freakiness, the alcoholic, chain-smoking Bearded Lady (McDonald).

2. Buddy Cole

Likely the Kids’ most controversial character, Buddy Cole (Scott Thompson) is a flamboyantly gay gadabout known for his rambling monologues about his personal exploits and the homosexual community in general. Perched upon a barstool, martini in hand, Buddy would recount his adventures with famous celebrities, with whom he claimed deep, personal friendships. As the series went on, Buddy became a more active character, coaching a militant feminist softball team, hobnobbing with the queen, and venturing to a North Pole nightclub with his uncle, Rip Taylor. While some decried the character of Buddy as a harmful gay stereotype, Thompson, who is gay himself, defended his creation, saying he knows many gay men like Buddy, and that the idea of him being a “terrible throwback” is unfortunate.

1. Mr. Tyzik (The Headcrusher)

Even if you have never seen “Kids in the Hall,” chances are good that you, or someone you know, has had their head crushed. You can thank McKinney for that, and the popularity of his Mr. Tyzik, a.k.a. The Headcrusher. Disgruntled and passive-aggressive to the core, Tyzik delights in setting up his lawn chair in the financial district of town and “crrrrrushing” the heads of the businessmen and yuppies. This was accomplished by the use of only his thumb and index finger, and some forced camera perspective. With his vaguely Eastern European accent, Tyzik would pass instant, unsympathetic judgment on his victims, and inspire legions of “Kids” fans to follow his example.

-- Adam Reinhard,

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

Kids and the Hall are coming to the Weidner Center on Sunday night. No matter how many times I say or type that, I still have a hard time believing it. But hey, Elvis Costello played at Oneida Casino a few years back, so with enough patience, good things do happen to this area.

On a personal note, of the myriad pop culture influences in my life, the Canadian comedy quintet is probably in my all-time top five. I simply turned on Comedy Central as a teen, heard that killer intro music by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and I've had a craving for some salty ham ever since.

Ask any Kids fan and they'll tell you the show's sketches resonate for different reasons. Some were so surreal (“Love and Sausages”) they could have given David Lynch a run for his money. Others took a simple premise ("It was 'Citizen Kane!'" or "I distinctly heard hoopla") and spun comedy gold out of a killer one-liner. And unlike Lorne Michaels’ "other" project, "Saturday Night Live," the show rarely ripped its material from the headlines or ran celebrity impressions into the ground. That alone has kept the groundbreaking sketches fresh as ever – even if Dave Foley probably can’t pull off that Hecubus costume these days.

In honor of the Kids' arrival Sunday, I've searched high and low on YouTube for some of my all-time favorites. I couldn't find them all -- no "Bruce's Answering Machine Message" or the sweetly simple "Do Re Mi" -- but there were quite a few available. Also, I tried to keep it clean so I could post them here -- no "Running (You Know Who)," "Kevin's Restraining Order Against Himself" or "The Dinner Party Where Scott Unfastens His Pants" -- so let's just consider these indisputable classics a nice refresher before Sunday's show.

Headcrusher vs. Facepincher: Sitting in a lawn chair and crushing people’s heads from a distance, the Headcrusher was a champion for all those beaten down by “flatheads” of the world. And when the Facepincher was introduced as the Headcrusher’s nemesis, well, everybody needs a little competition.

My Pen: Even before Milton had his stapler on “Office Space,” Bruce McCulloch had his pen. The dramatic effect is enough to make you never let someone borrow your engraved ball point again.

Can I Keep Him?: Hilarious, but also incredibly touching (well, for a comedy sketch) when Kevin McDonald places his tie around a tear-soaked and convincingly young McCulloch.

The Beard: If only for the line, "No, the beard stays. You go!"

The Eradicator: If only for the line, "Let the carnage begin!" But seeing a beaten down Eradicator ask McDonald if he wants to unmask him ("It's your right.") is "Kids" at its finest.

The Bill: The grown up, agitated Gavin? Incredulous Bruce's squeaky voice is trumped only by Mark McKinney's absurd faces and Dave Foley's stoned laughing fit. Oh, and "I never got my water ..."

These Are The Daves I Know: Once upon a time in New Zealand, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie heard this catchy little number and picked up guitars ...

The French Trappers: Let's just agree that whenever Kevin dons a beard, classic comedy ensues.

Seven Things To Do: "Look, if you don't shaddup, this is gonna happen to you."

The Doors Fan: "Greatest Hits albums are for housewives and little girls." "Was that a Frampton reference in my store?" "Jim (bleepin') Morrison told me!" "Viva la Doors!" Perhaps the most quotable "Kids" sketch ever ... or maybe I'm just a big music nerd.

Did I miss yours? Share a favorite below.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The wait is over

For "Sex and the City" fans, it's been a long, loooong four years. While the 2004 season finale wrapped everything up nicely in a Chanel bow, I couldn't help but wonder ... is this really the end? Then a few years ago, the show's producers dangled the idea of a movie in front of our sex-hungry faces, and just like that it was out like last season's Manolo's (with rumors our favorite foursome couldn't agree on how to bring sexy back, in the city).

But now, the wait is finally over. "Sex and the City" hits the big screen Friday (with midnight premieres at select theaters) and the anticipation is four years in the making. The sequel to the six glorious seasons of "love gained, love lost, girlfriends remain" could have the potential to either leave fans with an everlasting appreciation of the show at its best, or wish the last thought of our fabulous four would've been walking out of the coffee shop per the HBO hit's finale.

Whatever the outcome, the expectations are high and the anticipation great. A movie more or less four years in the making deserves a true preview of all of the glitz, the glam, the fashion, the sex and, of course, the city.

When we last left the girls, Carrie and Mr. Big (aka: John) were back together (Big declares Carrie as "the one"), Miranda was settling in to her new life in Brooklyn (which includes life with Steve's mother), Charlotte was finally becoming a mother (anticipating picking up her new baby girl from China) and Samantha realized monogamy isn't such a bad thing after all. The movie takes place, appropriately so, four years later.

While the show itself has gone through a few transitions (remember in the beginning when they used to talk to the camera? Awful!), it's important that the core remains the same in this film -- the core being that true love may not be what you pictured it to be, life is full of surprises and at the end, if you don't have your true friends by your side, you don't have anything.

Since the first day the film began shooting, rumors started to fly on what was going to happen. Will Carrie and Big truly tie the knot or will it become the millionth and harshest break-up of all? Will Samantha stay faithful or fall to her old ways? Is Miranda's seemingly happy family in Brooklyn as strong as it appears? Is Charlotte's lifelong quest for the perfect, fairytale ending finally here?

Though bloggers (damn them!) and entertainment mags alike have already splashed movie spoilers throughout the web, I'm hoping to be able to hold out on knowing any details until I see it for myself. But it seems that may be nearly impossible. Through the promotions of this film, I've already learned far more than I wanted. And that's just from watching trailers. But I'm confident in the show's brilliant writers and that whatever has already been revealed is just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm hoping for surprises, laughs and of course, what would the final chapter of a "Sex and the City" book be without a few tears. When the show started it was edgy, racy and controversial because of its content, its nudity and of course, its constant storyline between the sheets. But what the show has become is so much more. Women, and men (I know a few who admit it), have found a presence of Mecca through the show in its high standards for friendship, high-class fashion and never-fading freedom to discuss any and everything seen as forbidden in the public realm.

Fans of the show characterize themselves with the four friends, describing themselves as a bold and daring "Samantha" or a prim and proper "Charlotte." Supporting characters like Manolo Blahnik shoes, cosmopolitans or flower accessories have become societal icons thanks to the shows obsession with all three.

Thanks to in-depth coverage of the show's past, present and movie's future by Entertainment Weekly (see here), we know that fashion icons of Carrie's past and present are in full fashionista mode. Precious tributes to some of Carrie's best looks (and arguably what is sometimes most memorable from certain shows) make a cameo in the movie, including the infamous tu-tu of the show's opening and flower pins of great proportions.

However there are new faces and new journeys to be explored as the show tackles a 148-minute extended version on the silver screen. Jennifer Hudson jumps on board to play Carrie Bradshaw's love-hungry assistant, Samantha and Smith try to adjust to sex in another city - Los Angeles - and Carrie leaves her famous studio apartment for a much needed upgrade to a downtown penthouse.

There's plenty in store for even the non-fan to potentially enjoy. But for this fan, in true "Sex and the City" fashion, I'm making a night of the long-awaited viewing. I, along with fellow fans - including fellow Channel Surfer Malavika Jagannathan, are taking in the experience with high-class dining (well for Green Bay, anyway), cosmos and our best "Sex and the City"-like couture.

Catch the "Sex and the City" movie in theaters Friday, then log back on to Channel Surfing on Monday to hear our thoughts on the "Big" show.

-- Sara Boyd,

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Monday, May 26, 2008

The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate: Dick Martin, 1922-2008

It's difficult, watching it now, to appreciate just what a watershed television show "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" truly was when it premiered back in '68. Viewers today -- ironic to the core -- would mostly groan at the show's cornball antics, go-go dancers, nonstop puns, vaudevillian overtones, Richard Nixon; all of which get rolled into a big ball of nostalgia, easily overlooked and forgotten.

Yet take a look at what came before "Laugh-In," and then what followed it, and you see its importance. "Laugh-In" broke down the rigid formatting of what a television show had to look like. "Laugh-In" wasn't a stage show that just happened to be broadcast -- it utilized innovative camera and editing techniques. In fact it was one of the first places America's teenagers could see something called a "music video," as hot songs of the day ("Incense and Peppermints," anyone?) would play over clips of dancing cast members. It was one of the first to do a fake newscast (Laugh-In Looks At the News), which would be duplicated later by "Saturday Night Live" (Lorne Michaels was actually a "Laugh-In" writer) and "The Daily Show." Yes, there was the now somewhat lame "Sock it to me" bits, with its strained slapstick, and all those corny characters ("Here come de' judge!") but at the time, it was all so fresh and exciting, you can see why it became of the 60s top-rated shows.

Amidst all of this were two guys, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, the straight one and the dumb one, frantically trying to corral their hippy-dippy band of circus freaks. Martin passed away Saturday, at age 86. And even if you can't find much to laugh at with "Laugh-In" -- you jaded hipster, you -- you can at least appreciate Martin's dopey grin, killer timing, sharp ear for social satire, and gosh-darn nice-guy attitude. A true TV pioneer, Martin's contributions to the medium will never be forgotten, even if his pioneering show sometimes is.

"C'mon, Dick, let's go the party..."

-- Adam Reinhard,


Friday, May 23, 2008

what's wrong with this guy?

Last night's premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance" lived up to its promises, showcasing the talented, the not-so-talented and the mentally insane.

While many got the ticket straight to the next round in Las Vegas, others had to work to show they were worthy and all aimed to entertain.

Whether you're a first-time watcher or longtime fan of the show, you had to be impressed with the ridiculously crazy moves of a popper from Los Angeles. The show truly saved the best for last and without further ado, here's Robert Muraine, doing what he does best:

Catch "So You Think You Can Dance" Thursdays at 7 p.m. on FOX.

-- Sara Boyd,

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Commercial Interruption: This means WAR "Top Chef" judges!

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). With the "Top Chef" judges having lost their minds, it is up to culinary fans Sara Boyd, Thomas Rozwadowski and Malavika Jagannathan to follow this crazy recipe for disaster Padma and the gang are using to get to the finale. Or perhaps we'll just shun the show completely.

Sara: Holy freaking hell. I'm at a total loss. After week after week of sucking it in the kitchen, Lisa (aka: the crossed-armed lesbian) is still standing strong. Can someone please tell me how this makes any sense?! Not only does she consistently find herself at the judges' table, but everytime she's on the bottom she gets defensive, doesn't take the criticism and, ahem, DOES NOT IMPROVE. Last night's episode -- "Restaurant Wars" -- clearly separates the winners from the losers, and even though she served the judges bonfire smoked noodles and "baby vomit," she did not have to pack her knives and go. Instead Dale, who has been consistent, was sent packing. Sure, he can only make Asian food and the caramel scallops weren't a good call, but c'mon!

Tom, do you have any idea what the judges are thinking?

Thomas: If I can put my anger on the shelf for a second, I have to admit that "Restaurant Wars" was the best episode of the season. It also might be the last one I ever watch.

Here's the thing: any reason you could possibly give for Dale getting sliced and diced off the show last night, you can double, NAY, triple it for Lisa. At the very least, it should have been a double elimination and the final four could have been given two weeks to prepare for the grand finale -- though realistically, we all know Slacker Spike, the soup-maker extraordinaire, doesn't belong either and it's a three-horse race with Antonia a distant third.

After watching the Quickfire, my wife and I both said, "Man, could it be Dale again?" He just always seems to win. And if he doesn't, at least he's being considered. And that's the thing about him: yes, he probably needs some anger management classes, but when given the opportunity to work by himself or with other talented chefs (see the improv challenge with Richard), he's "Top Chef" material. So yeah, while a total blowhard (and if you go back and read our previous "Top Chef" entries, I HATED Dale at the beginning), he's also a talented one, and whether it's real-life or reality TV, I can deal with constant jackassery as long as someone is backing it up with actual skills to pay the bills. The guy won me over.

OK, the flash of rage is back. So please Sara, explain to me why I should give this show any more of my time now that they unfairly booted off a legit final four contestant for ... ugh, I can't even write her name again.

Sara: I wish I could give you one reason to give the show another chance, but I'm afraid the show has failed me. First, the judges keep stupid, bratty Zoi (pronounced Zoy) for FAR too long and I dealt with it. Then blue-tinted glasses chick (aka: Nikki) stays for episode after episode even though her only talent, if you can call it that, is making really crappy pasta. I stayed around and kept my faith in the judges. But now, this is just too much.

The fact that Spike was saved because he stayed out of the kitchen and didn't do anything is complete garbage. The "chef who shall not be named" continues to think people are out to get her and I can't remember the last time she made something that was appetizing to the judges. (With the exception of the wedding cake that tasted good but looked like a pyramid of poo.) Why they continually slip through the cracks? I can no longer cook up an answer.

Dale's sincere farewell, although yes, he can be an ass to fellow chefs, was really sad. I really think he was given an unfair cut and it wasn't his time. With this kind of decision making by the judges I fear if rockstar, pink crocs Richard were to slip up, the judges could send him packing even though he's the clear standout.

I will end my rant with this:

Dear Judges and "Top Chef" Executives,
Go to hell.

So, T-Roz, what can be said of how the finale is brewing for this unpredictably ludicrous show?

Thomas: I think Stephanie has worked through her rough patch and is legit competition for Richard. Honestly, both are worth rooting for. They make great food. Carry themselves well. And while Richard has a take-charge personality that befits a "Top Chef" (at least according to what the criteria I thought the judges valued), Stephanie owns her own restaurant so she isn't over her head. Antonia is in the conversation, but I don't think she's capable of blowing anyone away with her creations. She usually wins challenges based on simplistic dishes -- cooking for your family, etc. -- and if she were up against Richard and Stephanie while forced to think outside the box, she'd look like an amateur. And heck, if anyone has to replicate a wedding cake for the finale, Stephanie's got this one in the bag.

We don't need to talk about Spike, who is basically like a football player who does everything in his power not to hit someone on the field. The guy can't even make chicken salad, for chrissakes. I wouldn't trust him with my Eggo waffles in the morning. I can't even look forward to the next two weeks because I'm seriously still stunned that Dale was sent home. I mean, really. I feel incredibly foolish for getting that worked up about a reality TV show, and I think that's in part because EVERYONE wants Chef Who Shall Not Be Named to go, and the move feels like shock value for the sake of a cheap ratings spike.

So while I certainly thought Anthony Bourdain was entertaining last night as guest head judge, I'm really struggling with the rationale for sending Dale home. If it's the butterscotch scallops abomination, Chef Who Shall Not Be Named screwed up TWO dishes. And if you put all the responsibility on Dale's shoulders as executive chef, when you don't get to pick your team and you're forced to work with two hacks, well, I guess Spike's path of least resistance means you survive in the kitchen. Silly me, I always thought it was about eating good food.

MJ, care to chime in? Please, no curse words.

Malavika: Here's my reaction from last night: AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

I think Dale's tears -- yes, he cried! -- were enough to tell you what a shock it was for EVERYONE that he and not She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named/You-Know-Who was canned.

"Top Chef" is seriously letting me down, though. It has always billed itself as a show that rewards talent, but there's no dish crappy enough to warrant such a blatant oversight on the judge's part to pick the guy who's won more challenges as the loser. I'm so angry, I want to eat everything with butterscotch as a giant middle finger to the judges. In part blame Bourdain (although anyone who knows me, knows I love me some "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations"), but if Chef Tom had been there instead of at a fundraiser, he would have seen through Lisa's diffidence and useless excuses.

There is a movement on the "Top Chef" Web Site to make Dale the fan favorite -- I mean, the least the dude deserves is $10,000 and the knowledge that everyone thinks he got screwed. (You can vote here.)

What's the verdict on a potential boycott of "Top Chef" next week?

Sara: Well said. I think we've all sufficiently given the judges a swift kick in the pants, but when such idiotic decisions are made, I can't help but analyze each judge and what preposterous reasoning they could have.

What I've concluded is this. Yes, Padma is gorgeous but girl needs to zip the lip when it comes to analyzing the dishes. She's a model and everyone knows models don't eat, so really, what credibility can she lend? For her to be a deciding factor at times is just ridiculous. I can't help but feel for the chefs who have to sit there and listen to her criticism on how the dish should've been made better, clearly based on her years of experience as ... ?? Exactly.

I say the mere fact that God forbid, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named could survive another episode and holy Lord even make it to the finals ... well that's enough for me to begin my shun and start searching for a new 9 p.m. Wednesday show.

Thomas: The reason I started watching "Top Chef" -- for reasons other than Malavika giving it some mad props -- is that like "Amazing Race," I wanted it to be a reality show about the best rising to the, well, top. I feel cheated now.

Not that Dale was going to beat Richard or Stephanie, but he could have, and the idea behind that is important to me. Next week, I'd just be watching to get more infuriated at Frowny Pants Chef Who Shall Not Be Named and Crosses Her Arms Because She Can't Take Criticism and Make Freakin' Rice. But nothing else is on TV these days and I've gone this far. I'll probably give in.

MJ, you have last word.

Malavika: Listen, there's no better reason to watch the show beyond my recommendation. But in a way, I feel like I've let y'all down by promising a clean show that goes by talent, not by dramatic content.

I still argue "Top Chef" beats a lot of TV out there. We've got two if not three solid contestants, including perhaps one of the strongest female finalists since season one. As much as I like Richard, I'm pulling for Stephanie.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,, Sara Boyd,, and Thomas Rozwadowski,

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wow, who knew?

Apparently Simon did. After waiting and suffering through the two-hour finale of "American Idol," it was finally announced. (At approximately 8:59 p.m., of course -- seriously, how many washed-up musicians can you pack in one show? Did they get a two-for-one deal?) David Cook has been named the new American Idol.

When metrosexual king Ryan Seacrest announced the winner had won by nearly 12 million votes, I thought for sure it was going to be David Archuleta. But to my surprise and delight -- and many others across the nation -- Mr. Cook took the crown. While I predicted it was going to be Archuleta and was still thinking it would be at 8:57 p.m., one person seemed to have known who the winner would be.

Simon Cowell, spawn of Satan, took the final minutes before the big announcement to "apologize" to Cook for calling Tuesday's night performance a landslide win for Archuleta. He then explained that he no longer thought it was as close of a race as he had predicted and was sorry for being rude and disrespectful. (Everyone all together now: "Awwww.") Just when America thought Simon might actually have a soul, Cook was named the chosen one and everyone's left scratching their heads. "Did Simon know? Was he trying a last-ditch effort to save face? Is Simon a psychic for Miss Cleo?," America asked itself, while being fat and inactive.

No one truly knows, but Simon does have some explaining to do. Clearly having just denounced Cook as being the obvious loser, Simon was in jeopardy of losing his already flailing judging credibility or being a shameless promoter of how marketable Archuleta would be as an Idol. Which is worse to the Englishman? Who knows? But either way, he should be ashamed of himself for trying to take the high road. Silly Simon, Trix are for kids.

The point is, David Cook proves "American Idol" does look for a true performer -- one who has the talent, can work the crowd and actually talk when spoken to. And that almost makes up for the fact they made me sit through a ZZ Top and George Michael performance. Actually, no, it doesn't even come close. Shame on you, "American Idol."

-- Sara Boyd,

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Funny like Ha, Ha?

I know pop culture list-making is writer's code for, "Man, we're really low on ideas and just need to stir up some drama in easy-to-digest fashion." But I found Entertainment Weekly's latest gallery ranking the "25 Funniest People in America" somewhat interesting.

No cast of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?" No Flight of the Conchords? Really, EW? And since Ricky Gervais is on the list, clearly you don't have to be American to be funny in, well, America. Diablo Cody at No. 20? I mean, "Juno" was good for a few heartfelt laughs, but was "honest to blog" really a knee-slappingly hilarious addition to the public lexicon? And Craig Ferguson? What, was Jim Belushi not eligible for the list?

Carell, Colbert, Stewart, Ferrell, Fey ... OK, the usual suspects are there. And while I don't have an issue with the cheap "Judd Apatow and gang" selection (that's a pretty big net to cast, E-Dub) for No. 1, having just watched "Superbad," I can't help but think that Apatow needs Paul Feig to re-enter the picture as the little devil on his shoulder.

Having struggled for years to find mass appeal on any number of critically-revered projects, I'm really happy that Apatow is making serious bank in the world of raunchy teen comedies. But as much as I enjoyed specific moments in "40 Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," it appears -- at least to me -- that Feig, the other creative force behind my all-time favorite TV comedy, "Freaks and Geeks," was the grounded figure in that partnership.

Granted, "Freaks" was made for network TV, so who knows, maybe if they were on HBO they would have ramped up the raunch factor for Daniel Desario and Co. But there was also something sweetly sadistic about Sam Weir running naked in the hallway with a blue dot over his naughty bits, or Sam, Neal and Bill having a PG-13, not R-rated, discussion about French kissing girls for the first time. I think that's where the warmth of those characters comes from -- that they were innocently and naively having mature first-time discussions, and much of what could potentially cross the line was left to the imagination. They weren't just teens with raging hard ... er, let's just say they weren't easy excitable and in a position to know everything about the opposite sex.

I mean, the awkwardness of Nick Andopolis (as played by Jason Segel) is a perfect example. If his perversion had moved beyond just being slightly creepy, would his lovestruck stoner persona have been as endearing to the "Freaks" viewership? Let's just say "Lady L" hit the right chords for that show. He didn't need to dry-hump a pie to prove a point about his desperation. Having watched the "Superbad's" of the world (and enjoyed them for the most part) I think Feig was a big part of striking that comedic balance. Not everything should be a dirty joke, you know?

It's like the infamous porn episode of "Freaks," with Sam getting grossed out by mature acts he's not quite prepared to see as an uninitiated freshman. Even in comedy, restraint can be a good thing.

Anyone agree with me, or at 28, am I just not in a position to find (rhymes with stick) jokes all that funny?

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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So you think you can resist?

Once every year there comes a show that kicks all other shows' boo-tay. It's not a smart show, nor a respectable show, but it is a brilliantly addictive piece of television gold. That show is "So You Think You Can Dance?"

Mock all you want and call me an idiot, but watch one episode and try to disagree. The show truly has everything and can easily point its finger at wanna-be dance shows and laugh. "Dancing with the Stars" is nothing more than washed up celebrities making fools of themselves to cheesy music while wearing drag queen garments. "Step It Up and Dance" is still on? Call it a dance show if you will, but with Jessie Spano at the helm, all I can think of is stripping does Broadway.

If you want a dance show that does reality TV brilliance to a T, "So You Think You Can Dance?" is the right show for you. Not only does it provide true talent and attractive dancers, it broadens the scope of dance to all interpretations and styles. In the past three seasons, single dances have been able to make judges shed a tear, stand up and "woo!" and feel the heat between a steamy couple. Only a select few have been invited on the "hot tamale train," but all thrive to entertain.

The show's formula is classic and just adds to the beauty of reality TV at its best. Start with a British host named Cat Deeley who says things like "jidges" (aka: judges) and add a sometimes mean British judge, a hip-hop expert and a crazy, drunk-on-life ballroom expert and you've got amazing television. Mary Murphy alone is worth tuning in for. Think drunk embarrassing aunt meets high-strung ballroom instructor.

In similar fashion to "American Idol" (the show's producers are one in the same), the show searches across America to find the nation's best dancers. Some get the ticket to Las Vegas to try to be in the ultimate Top 20 contenders, and others get the high-kicking boot. Once the Top 20 are selected, they're paired up to show America their moves. Each pair must choose a dance style randomly from a hat, learn the choreography in just a few days and perform their routine on the center stage. America votes for their favorite pairs and the bottom three couples must perform solos to "dance for their life." Ballroom dancers will be challenged to learn hip-hop, break dancers will do their best at contemporary and salsa dancers will try their skills at krumping. The one dancer who proves that yes, they can dance walks away with $250,000.

Still not convinced? Just tune in for the first episode where you get to see people at their most vulnerable - trying to dance on national television. It's the best of all worlds. You get the star performers mixed in with the mentally challenged. Those that throw down crazy moves and those that just fall down. Spandex and leotards to stripper-wear and feather boas. I'm telling you, this show has everything.

Catch the two-hour season premiere starting at 7 p.m. Thursday on FOX.

-- Sara Boyd,

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This ... is the end of American Idol

Finally, "American Idol" is coming to an end. Once again, it has been a season of bad song choices, Randy Jackson-ism's and of course, teeny boppers at spastic levels. But it all ends tonight.

It's been coined as the battle of the David's, but really, everyone should call it what it really is, the battle of who's more marketable. The judges freaked out about David Archuleta last night, from Simon saying it was a "knock out" to Randy Jackson citing, "he could sing the phone book and it would be good." Yes, David Archuleta has some pipes on him for a breathy 17-year-old, but I can't help but wonder if the judges are trying to pull some kind of conspiracy. Archuleta would clearly be more marketable - he has the young boy looks that attract 7-year-olds to 20-year-olds, he's got the "What? Me? I'm not good at all" so-called modest charm that attracts the old ladies, and let's be honest, his face would just look better on a Trapper Keeper. (What? They don't make those any more? Man, I'm old.)

Whoever sells more records, T-shirts, posters, etc. clearly is going to help "American Idol" (and therefore the judges) cash in on the big bucks. When it comes to buying every bit of "American Idol" memorabilia humanly possible, the young, spoiled 'tweens are all about it. Are you following me here? Judges blatantly declare Archuleta the winner, braces-toting juniors vote like crazy and crown Archuleta as champion. Immediately warehouses start shipping boxes and boxes of crap with the lip-licker's face pasted on it and Simon takes a swim in his mountain of gold coins. Who do these people think they are?

As much as I would like to see Cook win, I can't help but think the ratio of voters may be against him. There are a lot more teeny boppers that vote than say, old rock fans and bar wenches that would enjoy his music and call up "American Idol" to say so. Plus Cook chooses songs in the rock/alternative genre, and while I think it's better music, it's not the crowd who will probably race to the music stores and buy posters for their bedroom ceilings.

Whoever ends up being crowned tonight, I just hope, more than anything, they cry like a baby. And since David Archuleta was near tears already last night, I wouldn't mind if he won since he'll probably be a blubbering mess. Plus, then his dad will probably start selling his son's baby teeth on eBay and openly scolding anyone who doesn't give his boy a standing ovation. And really, that's just good TV.

Catch the finale of American Idol at 7 p.m. tonight on FOX.

-- Sara Boyd,

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Scrubbing back in?

Encouraging news for "Scrubs" fans who've either given up on the show (ahem) or just don't have it in them to get excited about a full season pick-up on a new network.

Creator Bill Lawrence recently talked with TV Guide about re-inventing the show for its final (and first) season on ABC. Lawrence doesn't pull any punches about the show's creative rut these past few years ("When you've been writing this show for seven years, it's so easy to get into these patterns of writing the same jokes over and over: J.D. loves Turk, J.D. wants Dr. Cox's approval, Elliot's whiny and neurotic. But this year the stuff is really (bleepin') good. I think our old stand-by fans are really going to dig these shows") and his fractured relationship with NBC, which led to a disastrous, out-of-order finale on the network.

The best interview excerpts are below, the full rundown here. Also, in some encouraging news for the show's last hurrah, Aziz Ansari of "Human Giant" -- the racist fruit vendor on "Flight of the Conchords" -- and Eliza Coupe -- Lisa, the "Delta Force" operative who wanted to sleep with Bret on "Conchords" -- are joining the cast as interns.

Stealing from "Conchords." I'd say that's pretty good comedy progress ...

From TV Guide:

I was under the impression NBC was willing to give you one episode to finish things off. No?

Well, here's the thing. When the strike ended, NBC said, "You can shoot an hour-long finale, but we'll only pay for half of it." They wanted (ABC Studios) to suck up all the expenses, and ABC said that was unacceptable. And it felt especially harsh because "Scrubs" was pulling in better (ratings) than "30 Rock" and "My Name is Earl" — even though I love those two shows — and they were encouraged to do as many (bleepin') episodes as they can after the strike. And after seven years, I ask for three episodes to wrap up the series and they say, "Tough(bleep)."

How do you go from three episodes on NBC to 18 on ABC?

It was weird, man. I was thinking we'd put these last six episodes on DVD, just so we can wrap the show up and be proud of it, but the head of ABC Studios, Mark Pedowitz, said, "Bill, if you can make the show a little cheaper, I can probably get us a full season on ABC." I didn't answer right away. The first thing I did was call the cast and the writers together and I said, "Look, if we're going to do this, we have to get back to something we creatively can all be excited about." Because, personally, I felt like this past season we were less than inspired comedically. So I said to them, "This means you guys working harder. It means having emotional stakes and losing all the goofy, broad stuff that I think is easy to write… " And everyone said they were on board for one more season.

Will the show still be a comedy?

It's still a comedy, but when we first did the show, it was a drama with elements of comedy and lots of stupid sound effects. But some of the strongest episodes in the second and third year had character comedy. You can still do things like kill Brendan Fraser and have the lady that loved musical theater die and then sing a song at the end. This became a very Simpsons-esque show with incredibly broad, unrealistic moments and fantasies that were both in reality and not in reality.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


"The Paper" exposes seedy underbelly of high school journalism

It's hard for me to be objective about MTV's latest reality show "The Paper" because it hits pretty close to home. (It may come as no shock, but I was of those kids in high school who put their nerdiness to work in the cuthroat world of high school newspaper journalism).

But that's not the only reason why I love this show. If you're not watching, you should be, because MTV is finally reflecting a demographic that can't be found on "The Hills" or "My Super Sweet 16" -- the power-hungry pseudo nerd -- and it makes for compellingly awkward television. Nerds are the new cool, anyway, what with the rise of Judd Apatow's nerd herd and the success of shows like "The Office." It was only a matter of time someone seized on the golden opportunity to translate that to reality television, and who better than MTV?

Six episodes into the eight-episode arc and tensions are raging between editor-in-chief Amanda Lorber and her clique-happy subordinates at the award-winning "The Circuit" that serves Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla. There's open talk of a mutiny. Amanda has been reduced to asking her dog for advice and the staff's advisor, Mrs. Weiss, to instituting a new seating arrangement. It's the high school newspaper equivalent of an organizational meltdown. (Laugh, if you must, but I can tell you tales about the great mutiny of '98 that rocked the foundations of my school newspaper. They're not pretty).

Hate her or love her, Amanda is the finest hero-villain of her age, a 17-year-old Dr. Gregory House-in-the-making. She's ambitious, ruthless and, quite frankly, weird as all hell. Props to the producers for recognizing that making her the focus of the show gives it a driving, dramatic force without scripting it.

Opinions about the show range from those who wonder if the show can save journalism's sagging reputation to those whose relief at "The Paper's" lack of sex and booze is obvious. Whether your motivation is to figure out if Amanda, Alex, Adam, Giana and the gang become the next Woodward and Bernstein or who's been badmouthing whom, "The Paper" has enough drama to appeal to all our inner nerds.

"The Paper" airs on Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on MTV. Full episodes are available on the Web site.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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