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Jericho, Episode 13: Winter Comes, Heather Goes

Well, now that they’ve gotten the flashback episode out of the way, “Jericho” has gotten back into that whole “Little House on the Prairie” mindset a little bit, a tendency that made so many earlier episodes less than thrilling…but while not every major character in town got a decent amount of screen time this week, the ones who did appear tended to have some pretty good stuff in their respective scenes.

Winter’s bad in Jericho, and after Gray Anderson paints the bleakest possible picture of what things will be like over the course of the next couple of months (“Where are the dancing girls?” asked an annoyed Johnston), the townfolk are looking for fuel alternatives…and it’s interesting that when the time comes to send out an exploratory party to a trading post of sorts at a nearby fairground, everyone literally turns to look at Jake. The fact that Jake’s group ends up consisting of his dad as well as Heather and Dale makes for an interesting dynamic that we haven’t seen before, and their expedition was easily the most interesting thing going on in this episode. It’s a decidedly dark moment when the gang realizes that they ain’t kidding around at the trading post about stringin’ up folks who misbehave. Heather finds someone she knew back in the day, and they give them a tour of the joint. The news tower is a cool concept, as are the various constantly-updated lists of what items are most in demand. They’re realizing that the suspects on the list of who bombed the US are shrinking…even as, apparently, the number of US Presidents is growing. (We’re up to six now, it seems.) There seems to be some sort of slavery operation going on at the place, but we didn’t get much of a look at it before Dale pulled his jackass stunt of stealing the machinery they’d been trying to work out a deal for. At first, it struck me as a bit odd that this friend of Heather’s would leap to the cause of our team as quickly as they did…but, then, it WAS a pretty shady operation; maybe they were just waiting for an opportunity, and it finally presented itself. Heather’s departure with her friends led to a decidedly schmaltzy speech – followed, of course, by a sweet embrace between her and Jake – but it was, at least, surprising that she opted to leave like she did.

In other news, Robert Hawkins is dealing with the sudden reappearance of his old partner, who’s observed that Hawkins is in possession of a package of some sort; it seems as though the two of them are on approximately the same wavelength as to their feelings on the organization to which they formerly belonged. Fortunately, we get a surprisingly successful division between the emotional turmoil on Hawkins’ family and the drama with the goings-on with their former employer. Gail Green is still royally pissed off at her son’s new lady friend, Mary, but they finally sit down and talk…which, surprisingly for a show that so often leans toward sentimentality, doesn’t immediately result in a happy ending; the reveal of Gail’s note at the end of the episode was actually rather a sweet moment. Emily Sullivan and her husband got just enough time in the episode to make me twitch; I have absolutely no idea what the hell to make of this revelation that her husband claims to have been taken by a light during his absence.

Still interested. Still coming back next week.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Madonna: “Do as I say, not as I do”

In a recent interview, the Material Girl expressed concern about her daughter Lourdes’s tendency to wear jeans that are “so tight she can’t bend her knees,” and that are a bit too revealing in the rear whenever little Lola bends over.
That’s right: Madonna is worried about her daughter dressing a bit too much “Boy Toy” and not enough like the Virgin Mary.

Of course, whenever Madonna brings up issues of appropriate attire with her daughter, Lourdes simply laughs, hands her mother a copy of Madonna’s “Sex” photo spread, and asks if she can borrow Mom’s cone-shaped bra.

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American Idol: Them Dudes Are Scared

Last night on “American Idol” the 10 remaining guys performed, and you could tell that most of them were terrified of the fact that the ladies pretty much blew them away last week. They would have to step up their game or face elimination, if not in the next two weeks, then surely when it’s just six and six left.

It’s always refreshing when the contestants take the judges’ advice and try to improve. Last night several of these guys came out of the gate and tried to wow America the same way that Lakisha, Stephanie and Sabrina did last Wednesday. Did they succeed? Some did, some were way off the mark, but most were somewhere in the middle.

Here is how it went down…..

THE GOOD

Phil Stacy kicked things off with John Waite’s “Missing You” and showed everyone that he has one of the best voices out of the remaining guys. It wasn’t flashy, but in a singing competition it was a good vocal performance. Randy said it was hot, Paula said Phil had great tone, and Simon said it was unoriginal but that Phil would sail through because he’s popular. My take? I think Simon secretly wishes he could sport the chrome dome the same way Phil and Chris Daughtry do.

Chris Sligh sang Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble” and for my money this kid is THE best male singer of the group. His awesome performance wasn’t a surprise, but the fact that dude has a cute wife probably threw America for a loop. Randy said Chris has a “big voice,” Paula said she liked it, and Simon said that Chris is a “very good singer.” This dude is going nowhere anytime soon.

Chris Richardson also came in prepared. He sang Jason Mraz’ “Geek in the Pink,” and quite honestly, he was better than Jason Mraz. Randy put it best, saying Chris was “in it to win it.” Simon even said it was the best performance of the night “by a mile.” Yeah, dude was entertaining, and did just enough vocally. Label this kid another dark horse.

THE IN-BETWEEN

AJ was off-key a bit and had this kind of feminine quality that I think just didn’t work. But again, this is a singing competition and dude did way better than last week. Randy admitted as much, and Simon said it was “nearly very good.” That’s about right.

Nick Pedro did a version of “Fever,” and it was more his style than what he sang last week. It was a little pitchy in spots, and Randy even said so, but it wasn’t too bad. Paula said she loves Nick’s tone, and Simon said it was a good vocal performance but that Nick lacked charisma.

Blake Lewis added his beat box/scat thing back into his performance this week, taking on Jamiroquai.
Randy said it was cool that Blake returned to his form, Paula said it was a good song choice, but Simon said it was off key in spots and not really original. He wasn’t bad, but Blake can do much better and everyone knows it.

Sundance Head brought down the house last night with his rendition of “Mustang Sally.” Dude showed why he made it this far, because he really does have a big voice. Randy and Paula said something to the effect of “Sundance is back,” but Simon admitted that he thinks Sundance can do even better. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t get on this guy’s bandwagon. Plus, that song is one of the most played out in wedding band/hotel lounge history.

THE BAD

Jared Cotter wasn’t the worst of the bunch, but two of these guys have to go home on Thursday. He sang Marvin Gaye and was slightly boring and really just okay. Paula said Jared is a good looking kid, and that might keep him around, but Simon summed it up by saying it was like a “Love Boat” performance.

Sunjaya dressed like Michael Jackson and sang “All Dressed Up.” I think it may have been one of the worst performances ever on this show, period. Randy said Sunjaya is a nice kid, but that this was like a bad high school talent show. Simon said it was “ghastly” and used the words “weak” and “weird.” If this kid doesn’t go home this week, then our great nation has a serious problem evaluating talent.

Brandon Rogers, I thought you would go far in this competition. But I can’t give you props for that very mediocre version of “Time After Time.” I mean, that song is almost as played out as “Mustang Sally” and it sure as hell didn’t show your vocal range. The judges said as much, and Simon said he needs to come out and “wow” everyone if he wants to stick around. I have a feeling he may not.

So that’s it, the ladies sing tonight and, surprisingly, Antonella is still in this competition even though all kinds of naughty photos of her are circulating around the Internet. She must have a good attorney.
But she won’t last long with that vocal ability or lack thereof anyway.

As for the guys, I’m going with Sunjaya and Brandon to exit on Thursday…I don’t think Brandon should go but he may have done just poorly enough last night. Other possibilities are Jared, AJ and Nick.

See you all tomorrow….

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DVD shuffle: 02/27/07

New on DVD this week:

1) Stranger Than Fiction – RENT: Will Ferrell really can act. It’s just too bad that no one cares.

2) Tenacious D in ‘The Pick of Destiny’ – RENT: Fans of the musical duo will absolutely love their big screen debut, but anyone else should approach the film with extreme caution.

3) A Good Year – PASS: If you really must see a movie about spoiled protagonist who learns a big life lesson while on a vacation to vineyard country, watch “Under the Tuscan Sun” instead.

4) Tideland – PASS: We all thought Terry Gilliam was batshit crazy, but this is the proof.

Also out this week is another Sarah Michelle Gellar horror flick (“The Return”), another DVD edition of “Alexander” (it’s third, to be exact), and the girl’s high school basketball documentary, “The Heart of the Game.”

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Bullz-Eye for the Kiddies, Vol. 2

It’s been awhile, but we’re back with a new volume of Bullz-Eye for the Kiddies. These children- and family-oriented discs don’t come in at a rapid pace, so we sometimes have to wait a little while to stockpile enough for another column. Sorry, we know how much you’ve been waiting for this – we’ve gotten all of your E-mails – but, at least, your patience has paid off!

Jakers! – Sheep on the Loose: It’s gotten to the point where I actually look forward to this show when my daughter’s watching PBS Sprout on cable. And, really, what’s not to like? Computer-animated Farm animals talking in Irish accents…? C’mon, people, get behind me on this! Seriously, though, it’s a show that’s full of lessons and morals, but the writing is fantastic, particularly in the way it tackles serious subjects without getting too morose about it. “Waking Thor” finds Ferny the cow dealing with the death of his goldfish, Thor, and it’s handled in an exemplary manner, indicating that loss is loss if you love the person who dies, whether it’s a goldfish or a parent. There’s a particularly great line when Piggley’s dad asks the kids if they’ve considered a wake for Thor, and Piggley responds, “Oh, there’s no wakin’ him, Da. We’ve seen him; he’s done.” This episode also has a running subplot where Wiley the sheep – voiced by Mel Brooks – is bored out of his mind; another sheep suggests a rousing game of cricket, to which Wiley responds, “What, are you kidding? That’s the same as being bored!” Definitely one of the best animated shows that PBS has to offer.

The Fox and the Hound 2: You know, if we all team up and go over to the Disney studios en masse, at least one of us ought to be able to make it through security, into the corporate offices, and punch somebody – preferably an executive – in the face for greenlighting all of these fucking straight-to-video sequels, prequels, and “mid-quels” to classic films. What’s a “mid-quel”? It’s where they invent a new story and claim that it occurred off-camera at some point during the original flick…and that’s what this story is. Tod the fox and Copper the bloodhound are still in their youth when Copper, who feels as though he can’t do anything right, discovers that he can howl pretty darned well, which leads him to join a traveling band of singing dogs who are performing at the county fair. Tod gets jealous, of course, and by the end of the film, Copper returns home and the status quo is reinstated…but not before we’ve heard a few tunes from Reba McEntire, who voices one of the singing dogs. If you remember the sweet story of the original “Fox and the Hound,” stay away from this completely unnecessary flick that does nothing but try to scrape a few more bucks into the Magic Kingdom’s bank vault.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Heroes, Week 17: “Just a paper salesman,” my ASS!

First things first: how freaking weird was it to see H.R.G. before he wore the glasses that resulted in his acronymic nickname? He looks like a cross between Bruce Campbell and Henry Rollins. Surely a sweeps guest spot with one or the other as H.R.G.’s brother is must-do…!

Okay, so a decent amount of this week’s episode was spent in flashback…but, y’know, who doesn’t enjoy a good flashback? Am I right? It’s a device that keeps “Lost” consistently interesting, and the use of one on “Jericho” last week resulted in considerable reinvigoration for the show. With “Heroes,” however, we really haven’t done much traveling into the past – Hiro not withstanding – to get answers, so this was a nice change of pace…and make no mistake, these were damned good flashbacks, aided by the creative decision to do them in black and white, which gave them a decidedly noir feel.

Within the first few moments of the first flashback, we not only get an appearance by Eric Roberts as H.R.G’s sinister supervisor but also the line of the week, courtesy of H.R.G.: “I’m comfortable with ‘morally grey.’”

So H.R.G. used to work with Doctor Invisible…and not only has Hiro’s dad has been connected to these events since long before his son first tapped into his ability to manipulate the space-time continuum, but he’s way more deeply involved that we ever would’ve expected based on his initial pair of appearances. (Count on seeing more of George Takei on future Monday nights.) And, okay, I don’t think this is just me: did they or did they not do some computer adjustments to make the baby look like Claire…? Anyway, other historical highlights were the fact that Li’l Brother Voodoo actually managed to look creepier 14 years ago than he does now and the fact that Claire was responsible for selecting her adopted father’s trademark eyewear.

The present-day events move along at a nice, rapid clip. Every time Radioactive Man lit up like a neon sign, all I could think was, “Whether he blows his stack or not, these people are going to be dead of radiation poisoning within the week.” As ever, Greg Grunberg plays Matt with the perfect frantic edge, but, seriously, Jack Coleman really needs to win a Best Actor Emmy for his performance this year; I realize it’s as much to do with the scripts as it is his acting, but, still, you’re constantly fighting between wanting to distrust his every move and hoping to God you can actually believe what he’s saying…and at the conclusion of this episode, for the first time, we unabashedly and unreservedly can feel certain it’s the latter.

OR IS IT…?!?!?

Nah, I’m just kidding. For once, I’m pretty sure it is.

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24, Hour 11: “Hi, my name’s Morris.” “Hi, Morris.” “And my ex-wife is a bloody nutcase.”

Man, I wish I were blogging “Heroes” instead. That show rules. My wife and I always watch that first, and not just because I have to sit down and write the “24” blog after watching each night’s episode. We watch “Heroes” first because we’re emotionally involved in it…and God, how can you not be involved in an episode like the one they showed tonight? Poor Claire. Hasn’t she suffered enough?

Oh, right, CTU. Sigh.

Jack sends Heidi Petrelli and Jack Jack back to CTU, and the first thought I had was, “They’re going to get ambushed.” Man, I hope I’m wrong about that, but this show is all about the ambush (Teri and Kim, Audrey Raines and her father, etc.). Jack and Heidi share a tender moment away from Jack Jack, and Jack tells Heidi, “He reminds me of you.” Afterward, I swear I heard Jack mutter under his breath, “But mostly me.”

There’s a power struggle taking place at CTU, with Nadia becoming highly suspicious of Morris and his binge drinking. That’s an interesting choice for a girl whose rights were recently restricted because of her race, but hey, we’re not ones to judge. Is the fact that Milo gave her his clearance ever going to come back into play? You don’t write something like that into the story without following up on it.

One quick note on Chloe’s obsession with proving Morris’ guilt, however justified it may be: they have to stop with this whole bait-and-switch thing. They set up Morris as guilty from the first frame, only to turn it on Chloe in the end when she bursts into the men’s room to accuse him. That trick is all well and good, but don’t go to the well too often. And by too often, I mean every single opportunity. See my ambush comment above.

The subplot involving President Buck Buck Brawwwwwwk, so far, is a dud. He’s a reformed man, or so he says, and yet he’s fingering a strait-laced Russian as an ‘in’ (an ‘in’ that’s also a convenient, untraceable back door) to Miss Gredenko and the nukes. The fact that the line he quotes in the mirror is also highlighted in his Bible, however, is a sign that there is far greater significance to everything, a la Michael Scofield’s taped message to Sara in “Prison Break.” Is Logan tired of house arrest and his Hussein-style beard, and hopes that the Ruskies will bust him loose? That’s a gutsy move, but then again, they have already set it up so that the US has no sovereign power at the meeting place, which could facilitate Logan’s escape rather well. Wouldn’t he miss his beloved First Lady of Crazy? Or did he have her fed to rabid dogs before he struck his deal? You just never know with that man.

Which brings us to the White House, where all the killing is taking place. Mr. Swank is dumber than he would care to admit, and not because he tried to take out Assad without hurting the President: he’s dumb because forensics will examine the scene and conclude that the man who brought in the tape recorder is the one who made the bomb, and the record will show that that man was brought into the bunker by…Mr. Swank. The Biscuit, meanwhile, is trying to foil the plan by causing a pressure surge on some pipe or other in the seemingly off-the-grid pipe room, and all I could think was him thinking to himself, “Damn…these…stumpy…legs!” The hit man warns him, “You try that again, I’ll kill you.” Pansy. Any contract killer worth his salt would have killed the Biscuit right then and there, and dealt with the consequences later.

The President was badly injured in the blast (curiously, they mentioned nothing about Assad’s condition, even though he was in between the bomb and the President), which appears to be paving the way for Senator Roark to assume control and lock all the coloreds up once and for all. And this all might make for interesting television but…

…why is it that I want Jack Bauer to die?

Kiefer Sutherland himself said two or three seasons ago that no one should be untouchable on this show, not even Jack. I think it’s high time they play that card, since a cat only has nine lives after all. The only problem is that they haven’t set up anyone to take his place, and anyone they could have groomed for the role during the show’s run is now either dead (Curtis) or missing a forearm (Chase Edmunds). Damn, I knew they killed Nina Myers too early.

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Prison Break: “Wash”

Really? We’re going to have this huge buildup to the Magical Tape that can make everything right in the world, but we don’t even get to hear what’s on it? I spent the rest of the hour recovering from the letdown.

This episode did move pretty well, and touched on all of the storylines. Of course, the whole Cooper Green switcheroo was pretty silly. I can’t find the actor’s name, but the guy who played the fake Green always plays a bad guy, so my spidey sense was tingling from the get go. Moreover, the “my inhaler is in my jacket” and the “my cell phone is running out of juice” bits were also pretty lame, but at least the boys hooked up with the real Cooper before the episode’s end, which sent the series off in another direction. On a side note, Mahone once again displayed some superior policing skills when he figured out how all the sight lines in the park led to the hotel. I wouldn’t want that dude chasing me – no way, no how.

Was anyone surprised to see a rope when C-Note opened up the package? I guess the background music was meant to reflect his personal shock, but the only thing surprising about the rope was that it was already tied into a noose. On that note – no pun intended – we didn’t exactly see C-Note die. He just stepped off the bed when the episode ended; so don’t count him out just yet.

T-Bag seems to be finally getting down to the business of being a multi-millionaire, and his haste to get out of Alabama (to Bangkok) somehow has him on a flight to Mexico. Wait a second, it’s the same flight as Bellick? I’m confused. Quick, honey, press the button. No, the one that says, “Suspend Disbelief.” Ah, yes, that’s much better, thanks. Moving on…

Am I crazy or was T-Bag intending to take three million dollars in cash through security? The bundles of hundreds are literally spilling out of the bag, but this deviously intelligent individual plans to take it through airport security! Honey! Honey! Yeah, I need you to press it again! No, I really can’t reach it!

Thanks, babe.

What were we talking about?

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Can Jimmy Fallon fill Conan O’Brien’s shoes?

“The Barry Gibb Talk Show” may soon be a permanent feature on NBC’s late-night lineup…at least if Jimmy Fallon gets his way.

The former SNL star is reportedly in talks with NBC to take over Conan O’Brien’s 12:30 a.m. time slot in 2009, once O’Brien takes over for Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” However, no deal has been completed as yet, and NBC’s current 1:30 a.m. host Carson Daly has gone on record as saying that he too would be more than happy to take over for Conan.

While Fallon is certainly no Conan, he definitely brings more personality to the table than former TRL host Daly. And, while it’s true that the limited track record of former SNL cast members as late-night talk show hosts is less than stellar (Chevy Chase, we’re looking in your direction…), in this instance the overall humor equation would appear to work in NBC’s favor, as outlined below by our crack mathemeticians over at Laughington University:

If CHIN=bland, desperately unfunny, lowest-common denominator “Tonight Show” host; and
RED=bitingly clever former “Simpsons” writer and recent Emmys host who’s more than ready for a more high-profile gig; and
BEDHEAD=Coiffure-challenged SNL cast member who represented one-half of one of the strongest “Weekend Update” anchor pairings in the show’s history; and
SNORF=the total humor value of NBC’s late-night schedule…

Then SNORF [CURRENT LINEUP-CHIN+RED+BEDHEAD] > SNORF [CURRENT LINEUP]

There you have it, scientifically proven by the experts: Leno sucks. Whatever NBC decides to do with its late-night lineup will be an improvement as long as The Chin Man is sent packing.

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Mike Rowe cooks

Before “Dirty Jobs,” Mike Rowe was doing other things on TV, including selling crap on QVC. In this clip, well…just watch it and find out.

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