Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The dead can Twitter on The Colbert Report

Just a brief note to say that once again The Colbert Report best sums up what is going on in the world right now, after the celebrity deaths last week of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett the blogosphere has gone a bit celebrity death crazy with reports of Jeff Goldblum, George Clooney, Natalie Portman and Harrison Ford all surfacing and being debunked by their publicists, Britney Spears even had her Twitter account hacked with a message saying that she had died. With the speed that information can be distributed through social networking and other internet sites it is an unfortunate by-product that many false rumours can spread fast and as this clip demonstrates that these fake stories can even end up on TV as real stories.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jeff Goldblum Will Be Missed
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Pacific

Yesterday the first promo for the new HBO miniseries ‘The Pacific’ hit the internet and it looks like it will be pretty spectacular. Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks once again team up to tell a tale of war in the 1940s and this time as the title states it will be focusing on the war in the Pacific against the Japanese. This is an area of World War II that I know very little about with most of my knowledge being of the European side so this will hopefully fill in some of my historical gaps. Also if it is even half the show of what Band of Brothers was then it will be a good watch. Having seen the trailer (see below) I already get the impression that I will love it, it gave me goose bumps which is always a good sign and once again features actors that I have liked in other roles but who aren’t big names to dominate away from the story. A friend pointed out Joseph Mazzello who played the kid in Jurassic Park is in it as what would appear to be the inexperienced and scared soldier, and a 24 favourite of mine James Badge Dale (played Chase in season 3) plays the hardened soldier who has seen some action. From the trailer it also appears that there are more women in this than Band of Brothers including Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’s Isabel Lucas.

The Pacific will be airing early next year and with a budget of reportedly $200 million dollars the producers have definitely attempted to rival the scope of Band of Brothers. This is one show that I am definitely anticipating and here is the promo for you to check out:

The Office Season 4

Yesterday I finished watching season 4 of The Office and I must say that I really did enjoy it, despite some reviews I had read saying it wasn’t as strong as previous seasons I would have to disagree with this and say that it was consistently funny throughout and the only draw back was that it was cut short due to the writers strike. I will be discussing this season in detail so spoiler alert for any one who hasn’t seen this season. I am now very much looking forward to season 5 coming out on DVD in September.

Highlights of the season in no particular order include:

- Jim and Pam staying on Dwight’s beet farm and the return of Mose (The Office writer/co-executive producer Michael Schur). This episode (‘Money’) was particularly melancholy with Michael’s money problems and Dwight’s pain over Angela breaking up with him, but even in the saddest situations the show still finds room for comedy such as the interaction between Michael and Ryan regarding the PowerPoint.

- That the first four episodes of the season were double the usual running time, I was unaware this was the case, so was pleasantly surprised when watching these that they ran longer, it makes up a little for the 14 episode long season.

- The fun run and how each of the characters completed the course, whether by taxi, stopping via a garage sale, almost not completing it or the horrible but very funny sight of Andy’s bleeding nipples (this was matched by his blister covered hands in ‘Job Fair’)

- Ryan’s hideous beard and his evolution into a massive douche and his subsequent fall into fraud; can’t wait to see if he is in jail in season 5.

- All things Creed

- The impressive attempts to cover up Angela’s real life pregnant belly with carefully positioned desks, cubicles and bags.

- Pam and her glasses.

- The trip to Utica in ‘Branch Wars’ to prank Karen’s Dunder Mifflin branch after she attempts to poach Stanley.

- The super uncomfortable but equally funny dinner party at Michael and Jan’s house.

- Andy’s hideous blue trousers (as seen in the picture above)

- Pam and Jim, it is always a concern when a show gets the will they/won’t they couple together but I think it has been handled and executed brilliantly on this show, particularly in ‘Job Fair’ when Jim closes the deal.

- Michael and his GPS

- The directors cut of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton advert

- Dwight and Angela hooking back up, unfortunately I was spoiled for this but it was still pretty funny regardless.

- Stanley and Michael sorting out their issues in an adult way that was actually quite touching.

- That Pam may become more than just a receptionist.

- Any Kelly monologue.

- The introduction of Amy Ryan.

So I will leave it at that particularly long list, I am sure that I have missed many more moments but these are the ones that stuck with me. Also the DVD has some pretty good special features which I haven’t managed to consume all of yet, the blooper reel is an episode long and it makes The Office set seem like an awesome place to work. Other features include a lengthy writers panel which is both insightful and amusing as well as the usual collection of deleted scenes and commentaries which is the ones that I haven’t got round to yet. I would definitely recommend this boxset despite it being a shorter season they do make up for it will content.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Friday Night Lights

I got asked by a friend a few days ago ‘What’s so good about Friday Night Lights?’, he has not seen the show before and so instead of just telling him why this show is brilliant I figured I would write about it instead, as I think I could talk for hours on this show and I might be a tad more articulate if I air these reasons on this blog. I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible so not to ruin the show for newcomers as this really is a show that should be watched by more people. I am also super happy that it has been renewed for two more seasons so there won’t be the fear of cancellation that has happened after each of the three previous seasons.

So in no particular order, the reasons why I believe this to be one of the best programmes on TV and of the past few years:

  • The setting: the fact that FNL is filmed on location in Austin, Texas means that there is an authentic quality that would not occur if it was shot on some studio lot in LA. The place is important to this show as it is about a small town in Texas and how much the high school football team provides for the town and its inhabitants. It makes the show believable and in turn makes you route for these characters as the scenarios that face the different families are ones that the audience will be familiar with.
  • The cast: yes like most US shows the cast is incredibly good looking, however they are also a talented bunch who are aided by the style that FNL is shot in, with multiple cameras on them at all times the actors are sometimes not sure of what coverage that they are getting so they have to be on the ball at all times. It has been said that the script will often act like a general outline and that the actors have the freedom for improvisation which gives a fluidity that further adds to the authenticity that the show features.
  • Eric and Tami Taylor: The coach and his wife are the heart of the show and are my favourite TV married couple. Their relationship isn’t perfect (is anybodies?), they disagree but fundamentally they are a couple who respect each other and love each other and are so important to their own child and the guys on the team. Once again, they seem so natural together and it is the chemistry between Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that makes this union so believable.
  • The music: if you check out my previous post I have already written about the brilliance of the music in FNL. I will reiterate that not only is the use of Explosions in the Sky in the three seasons so far been excellent, but that the diversity of the other music makes this one of my favourite shows for how well songs fit the tone of the scenes. My only gripe being that due to what must be licensing reasons certain songs have changed from the Direct TV versions of season 3 to the NBC/DVD versions of the episodes.
  • It will surprise you: as far as story lines go this show has surprised me in the directions it takes, almost always for the better (except for a certain season 2 story arc that seemed out of character for the show). I can’t go in to much detail without divulging spoilers but there have been many occasions that I have been watching it expecting things to go one way and they do the opposite.
  • You don’t have to like or know about American football: before I started watching my knowledge was pretty much zero (it is still pretty low), however the football game sequences are so involving that they are some of my favourites in the show.
  • It is not your typical high school show: despite the setting and that most of the characters are high school students this show feels very different to any other high school show that I have seen. I think it is due to many of the elements that I have mentioned already, like the setting and the cast but even though this show deals with many issues that are common on teen shows (eg. sex, drinking, getting in to college) the overall feel is of a drama about the whole town and not just the high school.

I hope that this overview of what makes Friday Night Lights excellent to me touches on what a special show it is; here is the season 1 promo video:

‘Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose’

Friday, 5 June 2009

TV Show Music

    I like soundtracks, for both film and TV, which I think stems from my love of making mix tapes/CDs, but I often find it frustrating when you are watching something and a song sounds great but you just don’t know who it is. In the past it would quite often take me a while to find out who it was, usually by searching online. However, a couple of days ago when searching for songs that I had heard on Friday Night Lights I discovered a superb website called TV Show Music. It has both past and present shows on there, including The OC, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gossip Girl, Friday Night Lights and even reality shows such as The Hills, as well as many others. The aspect of this site that I really liked was that it not only has track listings for episodes but also what scene the song is played in, as well as links to where you can download the tracks and a player to hear the track (the downfall of this feature is that it is for US only users).

    So now that I have finally found a site that will help me find the tracks that I hear and love on TV, I wanted to write a little on the shows that have featured great music that has expanded my CD collection a little more and why certain shows have soundtracks that enhance the viewing pleasure. First off I need to unburden myself with the potential original source for my love of TV soundtracks which comes I think from Dawson’s Creek (and yes I owned both CDs), the teen drama is a usual source of new music and as I will review is a trend that is prevalent today;


The OC/Gossip Girl: Josh Schwartz has made it his ‘thing’ it would seem to associate his programming with new and exciting music. This works on several levels, it means that his shows that are about young and trendy teenagers also have external elements that feature this criteria but it also allows outside product synergy that, from a commercial aspect benefits both the shows and the bands on the CDs. Once again I own both shows albums, and both have led me to new bands, although I must admit I got a band opinion of Phantom Planet from the OC theme song, as it is a song I don’t really like, however after hearing other Phantom Planet tracks on Gossip Girl (primarily Raise the Dead in ‘The Serena Also Rises’) I have fallen in love with their music.


Chuck: Yes another Josh Schwartz show but one that doesn’t necessarily use music as a promotional aspect of the programme, primarily because it is a different age range of characters and the setting is not focused on the lifestyles of the rich. However out of the three Schwartz helmed shows it is Chuck that has me often looking up the artists who feature in the songs that are played. It also blends music that is both current and other songs that deserve their place in pop culture history (‘Hip to be Square’, ‘Once in a Lifetime’ and the songs performed by Jeffster: ‘Africa’ and ‘Mr Roboto’). Also Bon Iver has been used beautifully in several episodes in season 2 that made me fall in love again with ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. Chuck also introduced to The Thermals who I think are awesome.


Friday Night Lights: Just to reiterate it is FNL that led me to find TVshowmusic.com, and I must say that the range of tracks that this programme uses is both impressive and important in creating the world of Dillon, Texas. The music of Explosions in the Sky is perhaps the key to this example as they have been used throughout the three seasons of the show and it personifies the feelings of the town through the beautiful and hopeful instrumental music. The other music that is used throughout is contemporary, and it ranges from acoustic guitar music to more hip hop related songs. As it is set in a small town in Texas there has also been some more traditional county music performance particularly at the wedding at the end of season 3 which demonstrates why this show has been hailed for its realism, by using real Texan performers in a real Texan setting.


Alias/ Lost/ Fringe: Most of the music in these three JJ Abrams associated shows is by composer Michael Giacchino, who creates music that fits so perfectly with the tone of these shows. It is rare for a television show to be scored by a live orchestra but Giacchino does just this and it is this quality that makes his music an important feature of these shows. With Lost he says that he won’t read the scripts, he just reacts musically to what it happening on screen and it is this organic work method that I think makes the music in Lost the dramatic and often tense sounding what it is. That he also used parts of the plane that was used in the pilot episode as percussion instruments also shows how the music is a part of the show.


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Summer watching and reading

So with the summer officially here the amount of TV shows that I watch has dwindled, it is lucky then that I have several shows that I would like to catch up on and that I also have a stack of books to get through, so here is my must list of shows/books that I would like to get through this summer:

  • Friday Night Lights season 3: this arrived on DVD a few days ago and I only have three episodes left, it sucks that it is such a short season but I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have seen so far and will blog more on this when I have finished it (which will probably be by tomorrow).
  • The Office seasons 4 and 5: so as I wrote about previously I finally got round to watching this show and have fallen in love with it. I’ve heard that these two seasons are not as good as the second and third but I am looking forward to seeing how the coupling of Pam and Jim will affect the shows dynamic.
  • I need to catch up on Dexter season 3 and so will get it on DVD when it comes out in August, also in August the return of Mad Men to the small screen which I am also super excited about.
  • I am weirdly tempted to get the new 90210 on DVD when it comes out this summer, good or bad decision? I do like teen shows such as The OC and Gossip Girl, but not ones like One Tree Hill and from what I have seen it does seem to fall in to the first category, and it has a Bluth in it.
  • Speaking of teen drama, yesterday I started reading a Gossip Girl book, the prequel to be exact just to see how the TV show has evolved and deviated from the original source material. So far it is ok, not great, although I was surprised by the extreme attention to detail, but I guess it is this attention to materialistic items that the TV show can do in one shot that a book unfortunately needs sometimes excessive words to describe.
  • On the book issue, I’m also considering reading a Kathy Reichs Bones book to see how different this is from the show. I also got extremely cheaply a Bones adapted novel not by Kathy Reichs but in the style of the show, so that will be intriguing (and potentially bad). I will write more on these when I get round to reading them.
  • I also have the second volume of the Heroes graphic novel to read, I enjoyed the first volume so hopefully this second one will be just as good and perhaps fare better than the show has done of late.
  • Also, thanks to Doc Jensen’s suggestion over at Entertainment Weekly for Lost inspired summer reading I am also tempted to read ‘Replay’ by Ken Grimwood.
  • Other TV ideas that have been suggested include; over on Alan Sepinwall’s blog to rewatch Band Of Brothers which is by far one of my favourite programmes ever to appear on TV and over on Chucktv.net to watch Chuck from the start to keep focus on the show whilst it is on a long hiatus. I’m also going to start watching Lost from the beginning so to fill the Lost void that it the next eight or so months.


So this is my summer viewing/reading plan so far which I’m sure will adapt and have things added to it.