Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Undercovers and Lonestar

Having had a quick look at the offerings from NBC and Fox at this years upfronts the two shows that I am most anticipating are Undercovers and Lonestar. Undercovers is the new spy caper from JJ Abrams that mixes romance, action and comedy, as I have previously said the Abrams stamp on a show will at least mean that I will watch the pilot and will most likely mean that I will fall in love with the show:

Lonestar will air on Fox and tells the story of a con man, which Fox exec Kevin Reilly referred to as being 'a modern day Dallas'. It stars Jon Voight as the head of a multi-million dollar company whose daughter (played by Friday Night Lights' Adrianne Palicki) is married to Bob Allen, the con man of the piece who leads a double life. This does look like it could be a bit soapy, something that I normally watch shows like Gossip Girl for but I was definitely drawn in by the promo:

Fox mid season will be launching the sci-fi adventure Terra Nova that has Steven Spielberg at the helm and may or may not be starring Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) as the father of a family who travel back to prehistoric times. This was referred to as being "one of the most ambitious shows ever created for television" so I am looking forward to what might come from this, after all I will need something to fill the giant Lost hole that will be created at the end of this Sunday.

Chuck finale promo

Before I go on holiday I just wanted to post a quick couple of things, first up the Chuck season 3 finale promo. This looks set to be quite a double episode and it will be even better knowing that Chuck will be returning this autumn for a fourth season. I am glad to see that Ellie is finally getting involved more even if she is inadvertently screwing everything up and it will be interesting to see what kind of cliffhanger/game changer that will occur to mark the end of this season:

Monday, 17 May 2010

True Blood season 3 promo

HBO are now in full swing with their True Blood season 3 campaign, from minisodes to the twelve promo posters that are getting released until the June 13th start date. After all the teasers proclaiming that 'Waiting Sucks' a full length promo has been released that looks set to amp the interest toward this third season. This has definitely worked for me as after seeing this I am definitely looking forward to seeing this season and I am glad that there looks like there will be an interesting Jessica story, werewolves are coming to Bon Temps, developments between Sookie and Eric and where is Bill? Who is the guy with Tara? And many more flashes of what looks to be an action filled season:

Friday, 14 May 2010

Chuck renewal and other TV news

So this is a super busy week in TV land with finales, pick ups, renewals and cancellations happening all over the place, the one cancellation that I have been worried about as I was last year was Chuck, but word is that NBC are renewing it for a fourth season! The official word from NBC has not been stated though sources say that there has been an initial order for 13 episodes, this is all coming exclusively from Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello and many of the other TV websites have all but confirmed this, including my very own favourite (and huge Chuck fan) Alan Sepinwall. The official word will likely come on Sunday when NBC announces their schedule for the autumn.
Sepinwall has suggested that the best pairing for Chuck this year would be the new JJ Abrams spy show Undercovers which is one of the new series that I am most looking forward to as I am a sucker for anything with the Abrams stamp on it. This is also the first pilot that Abrams has directed since Lost and considering how much I love Alias I am confident that this will be another good show. Fox have picked up the other show  that I am excited for is the comedy Running Wilde which stars Will Arnett and Keri Russel with Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz attached as well. This looks promising so lets hope it is a success and isn't cancelled too early like the aforementioned Arrested Development which also aired on Fox, lightening can strike twice just ask Joss Whedon.
The slew of cancellations this week has gone up, with ABC announcing yesterday that Flashforward is a goner. Out of all the other cancellations this is the only one that I watch and whilst I thought the show was kinda stupid it has definitely had its moments and I really like the cast. I expect that because they have wrapped before this cancellation that it will be left pretty open ended which I'm sure will be irritating. Where will the cast of Lost and British actors in Hollywood now go? ABC also ditched Scrubs and Better Off Ted, the latter being a show that I quite wanted to see after hearing nothing but good stuff, the former really should have just ended last year. The big cancellation rumour yesterday came courtesy of the peacock with word coming down that the twenty season long Law and Order was ending, no official word on this though, this is the longest running drama on TV so will be weird if it is over, I'm sure there will be reruns forever though. For any updates the best place to go is to Michael Ausiello's 'Renewal Scorecard' page as he is always up to date and a good source for exclusives.
Other than that I just finished watching The Vampire Diaries finale which was so so good and needs an entire post of it's own which will be up later. Bones this week was also a strong lead in to next weeks finale with the Gravedigger going to trial and I'm just about to settle down with part one of the Fringe finale, hoping that it continues the streak of excellence.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lost props Auction

Swan/Pearl Station Computer

Want to own a piece of Lost history? Well you can, for a price. This summer there will be a huge auction of props from the six seasons of Lost, ranging from passports, to weapons, to jewellery to Dharma equipment as well as many more props. There is a preview of a hundred of these items up at the Profiles in History auction site and it really is a treasure trove, and going through the pages there were many things big and small that I would love to own, highlights include:

Ben's Swiss and Canadian Dean Moriarty passport:

 Ben's Swiss and Canadian

Charlie's acoustic guitar:

Charlie’s Acoustic Guitar

Desmond's photograph of himself and Penny:

Desmond’s Photograph of Himself and Penny

Locke's Backgammon Set:

Locke's Hero Backgammon Set

Sawyer's Letter and Penny's Letter:

Sawyer’s Letter           Penny's Letter

Dharma Beer:

Collection of 32 DHARMA Beer Cans in Varied Condition

There are many, many other items that are on there which I would love, this is just a snap shot, now where to find all the money for these. What piece of Lost history would you like to own?

Lost fan art for sale

A while back I wrote about an artist Ty Mattson and his collection of Lost fan art, the good news is that these prints will be available for purchase on the ABC website, the first design to go on sale is the smoke monster:

Lost Poster 04

There is a variety of merchandise available for each design, ranging from screen prints to t-shirts and mugs. This is really exciting and I am very pleased for Ty Mattson as these designs really do evoke what the show is about. If you want to check out more of his work head to his site.
I still think that a book should be produced to demonstrate the impressive volume of work that some Lost fans have put in regarding artistic renderings of their interpretations of the show, if this would be possible I would be first on board with buying as this site has shown that the work of fans has been truly brilliant and extensive. Would copyright infringement be a huge issue or could we get ABC on board?

True Blood promo poster 8

HBO have released poster 8 and this time things are getting hairy:

Werewolves have been mentioned before on the show and this is suggesting that we will be getting to see some this season, wonder how they will get on with the rest of our characters?

Hurley and six seasons of 'dude'

The good folks over at Jezebel have compiled a video of all the many times that Hurley has said 'dude' in the six seasons of Lost, it's a pretty extensive video and it is pretty cool to see the 6 seasons in this montage and all the different occasions that 'dude' has been used. Hurley is probably my overall favourite character from the entire run and I am looking forward to how he will feature in the final two episodes. As I have done before I will do so again but I urge all big Lost fans to listen to his podcast which he produces every week with his girlfriend Bethany Shady, check it out here at Geronimo Jack's Beard. I must warn you that if you listen to it in public you may get some strange looks as I did as it is hard not to laugh too load whilst listening and I just ended up looking like a smirking idiot, but it's worth it all the same.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Lost: 'Across the Sea' and the issue of answers

Click to view full size image

Last night's episode of Lost seems to have provoked a heated debate on several of the message boards that I frequent (Television Without Pity, Entertainment Weekly and Hit Fix) with fans ranging from loving 'Across the Sea' to just as many crying foul on the Jacob/Man in Black origins story. I fall mainly in to the first camp as  I really liked the episode but I do understand that there were issues and I think that it could have come at an earlier point in the season.  This is the third from last episode and I like many others would have enjoyed spending it more with the characters we have known for the last six years, though it was a ballsy move to have this instalment here with none of the regular cast. As I have said I did enjoyed the episode as a whole but it has definitely left me with the 'something missing' feeling that was being expressed by several viewers on Twitter last night. One thing that wasn't missing for me which seems to have pissed off quite a few people is not knowing Man in Blacks name, at this point for me I think whatever name he is given will be a disappointment, much in the same way that when it was revealed what Big's name was in Sex and the City it was such a non exciting reveal, I'm fine with Man in Black.
What this episode got me thinking about was whether this season has been provoking a different reaction in the audience because we know that this is the final season? The simple answer to this is yes, of course episodes are viewed differently knowing that the end is in sight, but is this preventing some from enjoying this season as a whole and will there be more enjoyment when it can be watched back as a whole without the worry of what will happen at the end? This is another trend that I have been seeing recently is fear of what the final episode will bring, that to have spent six years invested in a show like this will not bring about a resolution that is satisfactory and there will be disappointment. What will be satisfactory any way? There are different parts of the show that viewers enjoy, some are rabid about the mythology side, others prefer the more character based stories and I'm sure there are some out there who just want to know who Kate will end up, once again I am a little of all of these (not so bothered about the Kate/Sawyer/Jack triangle, I'm all about Penny and Desmond), so I figure that I will be quite easily satisfied with the resolution.
There are obviously those who have the ending of the show written already in their mind and I don't think that they will ever be satisfied with whatever Lindelof and Cuse comes up with, in fact as they have already acknowledged there will be people that won't be satisfied. Should this give people cause for concern? What I think would be best would be to just go will the flow, enjoy these last 3 and a half hours of television and then either rejoice or bitch about it afterwards.
Lost as well seems to provoke such a strong reaction from it's audience, more so than many other TV shows and I find it hard to believe that people are crying 'Jump the Shark' and proclaiming that they are no longer fans of the show this late in the game (I have seen these sentiments on the various message boards today). The fact that people have spent so much time with this show and with these characters, whether it is watching them on TV or theorising online it is not surprising that there is such a strong reaction, passion is not in short supply when it comes to Lost fandom. This is a good quality to have, but could this passion in turn be ruining this season for some with a preoccupation as to how the show will end, what questions will be asked, what does it all mean? Is there too much pressure on this aspect of the show that some fans are finding this season hard to enjoy?
What I am trying to say really is this, there is still time for satisfaction, this season has produced some excellent episodes and it will interesting to see how people view 'Across the Sea' when it all ends, if it had aired where 'Ab Aeterno' was for example would there be this bother over this episode? I'm sure there would still be an unhappy contingent but timing definitely seems to be one of the issues, pacing being another problem that some have suggested with this episode.
To cool down from this polarising episode check out this sketch from last night's Jimmy Kimmel which features a very funny appearance from Jacob and Man in Black:

Fringe: longer season finale promo

A longer promo has been released by Fox for Thursday's Fringe which is part 1 of the season finale, this will air over 2 weeks, rather than in one two hour block. I am really excited for this finale and this promo makes the whole thing seem very movie like, it really does look like it is going to be very ambitious as we finally will be spending much time on the other side and will get to see that there is more than one of everything (well almost everything). I'm also looking forward to how the other world will differ from our world, like in last seasons finale there were small touches such as seeing that JFK was still alive via the newspaper and big touches such as the World Trade Centre still standing. In the promo we can see some of these differences and I will let you see for yourself, I think this latter half of the season has been particularly strong and I think that this finale looks like it will hold up to this standard:

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Even more Lost fan art.

Here are some more Lost posters from gideonslife that I thought were so good that I needed to share and if you check his flickr stream daily there are always new additions:

Season 5: The Little Prince

The Little Prince by gideonslife.

Season 5: The Incident

The Incident by gideonslife.

Season 6: Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After by gideonslife.

Newsweek and the debate about gay actors playing straight

Right after I wrote a piece praising Newsweek and looking at the decline of print journalism I saw the story that has lit up the blogosphere about whether the issue of gay actors playing straight characters. This piece appeared as an online exclusive on April 26th and has received much attention, especially after actress Kristin Chenoweth defended her co-star Sean Hayes (who the article referred to) and denounced the article which was written by Ramin Setoodeh  on Friday 7th. What comes as a surprise is that the author of this article is himself a gay man and that the writing seems to be homophobic in suggesting that a straight man can easily play a gay man but when it comes to a gay person playing straight he believes that so far there have been no credible cases.The main argument from Setoodeh article (which is entitled 'Straight Jacket') regarding Hayes is that his character plays "like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is". This assumption that because of his real life sexual orientation he cannot play straight and make an audience believe it seems utterly preposterous, I can name many examples of other actors and incidents in their real lives that don't distract me from their performance, one would be the recent stories of David Boreanaz's infidelity which don't then make me think that his character in Bones is a cheat as well, as a viewer I can distinguish between the real world and the fictitious world and I'm sure that most other people can as well. There are probably some that this might be an issue for but really in the 21st Century should we be playing to the mind set of the bigoted? In her reply to this article Chenoweth succinctly wrote that
 "Audiences aren't giving a darn about who a person is sleeping with or his personal life. Give me a break! We're actors first, whether we're playing prostitutes, baseball players or the Lion King."
Another incredulous point in this article is that the examples he gives of gay actors who play straight characters is that they playing broad caricatures and so don't seem to matter in this debate, here he is talking about Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development, Better Off Ted). This point is absurd because even though these characters are part of comedy shows and some of their actions and storylines could be considered exaggerations their portrayals deserve to be counted (the writer counters with the examples of Up in the Air and The Proposal as such solid non-caricature portrayals, think of that what you will). Surely one of Barney's main attributes is his womanising and at no point do I ever think that his actions aren't believable. In this argument does he think that Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf or Magneto doesn't count as believable because they are characters who are in the realm of science fiction and fantasy?

There are many other examples of openly gay actors playing straight parts in film, television and on the stage and surely the issue should not be about whether some one is gay or straight as to whether they can play a role, but it should be about the quality of the acting, surely that is the benchmark. Maybe Setoodah just thought that Hayes' performance was bad and just decided to make it a question of sexuality rather than just acting. This antiquated idea of openly gay actors having trouble convincing an audience that they can play straight may be a reason why there are supposedly so many actors still in the closet and articles like this one really do not help with the idea that they can come out and be comfortable with their sexuality and who they are which in 2010 seems like such a ridiculous idea but really still is an issue. I will leave it Krisitn Chenoweth to sum this up:
"Lastly, as someone who's been proudly advocating for equal rights and supporting GLBT causes for as long as I can remember, I know how much it means to young people struggling with their sexuality to see out & proud actors like Sean Hayes, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Cynthia Nixon succeeding in their work without having to keep their sexuality a secret. No one needs to see a bigoted, factually inaccurate article that tells people who deviate from heterosexual norms that they can't be open about who they are and still achieve their dreams. I am told on good authority that Mr. Setoodeh is a gay man himself and I would hope, as the author of this article, he would at least understand that. I encourage Newsweek to embrace stories which promote acceptance, love, unity and singing and dancing for all!"


Monday, 10 May 2010

The decline of the print media, can it be saved?

This is something slightly different to what I normally write about, but is something that I am also passionate about, inspired by The Daily Show interview with John Meacham.

iphonephotos045.jpg picture by emskilou

I love magazines. I love newspapers. My love for print media is not reflected in sales which have been in decline for some time in this age of instant news making some publications seem irrelevant in this digital era. After seeing Newsweek editor John Meacham on The Daily Show last week on the day that it was announced that the 71 year old magazine was for sale it is clear that this is an issue that will not go away. He spoke of how the magazine needed to refocus the style of its content, to use the Newsweek website as the main focus for the output of stories with the magazine being an accumulation of those weeks stories so for anyone who would still like the magazine it is available but so is the web content. There was an overhaul of the style of Newsweek a year ago to combat the problems that digital media presents. He also spoke of the problem that people no longer want to pay for their news which will be reflected in the quality of this news; the decline of the print media will in theory show a decline in the quality of the content.
In this era of Twitter, Facebook and blogs where everybody can have an opinion that can instantly be accessed by millions it is easy to see why print media is having such problems.  Reporters are still needed to report the news for people to have something to comment on, which is important, though with these social networking sites, unpaid people rather than reporters can report the news first and have photos and video instantly uploaded on to the web to show what is going on. I have a blog, a Twitter and a Facebook account, though I would not call myself a journalist. I have a Masters degree and I am still trying to find my footing in this environment that I would like to work in and because of blogs and Twitter my voice can be heard by a larger audience. However, if this means that this will lead to the decline of the print media it is not a good evolution for the dispatch of information. It is somewhat of a catch 22, the advances of online writing are leading to the decline of the print media but is there a way that the two can be happy bedfellows?
The introduction of the iPad is being touted as the saviour of the magazine industry by some as magazine content will be available for a price to be read on the iPad (there are iPhone apps available for several magazines at the moment as well). However not all commentators believe this to be the case; detractors such as Paul Michelman for the Harvard Business Review claim that this is far from a reality as they don’t seem to be thinking of the reader but looking only to serve a business model which will look like circulation numbers are improving. By ignoring the reader the numbers will surely only improve to a certain amount and then will no doubt see a downturn again.
I’m not sure what can save the print media, I don’t know if I am archaic for wanting the physical item; magazines, newspapers, books, DVDs, CDs I want the actual thing, not a copy on my computer. I want to hold it, have the case, look at the art work, flick through the pages. It is because of this that I still buy and subscribe to magazines such as Entertainment Weekly (thought the nightmare that I have had with the delivery of this subscription is severely testing my patience- another story to be told one day), Vanity Fair, Vogue, Marie Claire and many others. I like looking at the adverts and reading from cover to cover so I would not be satisfied with a digital copy, but am I that common in this respect, would most just like the digital version?
I think what needs to be done and is definitely being explored by those currently working in this industry is a marriage between the two, so each kind of reader can get what they want, so the quality writers behind publications such as Newsweek can still produce excellent work and so the regular people on Twitter can also have their say. I sincerely hope that Newsweek gets a buyer soon and as Meacham said on The Daily Show, they are still open for business, the magazines doors are still open and I hope that this remains the case for this magazine and many others that are also struggling.

The Pacific: approaching the conclusion

Last night part 9 of The Pacific aired and whilst I really didn't think that it was possible for this mini series to visit darker and more brutal territory it once again raised the bar for the hell that was witnessed and suffered in this war for both those fighting it and those civilians caught in the crossfire. I have not written much about this mini series which is no reflection as to how I feel about it, in fact I intended to write about the completed version of the show, however after yet another superb instalment I feel that it is fair that I begin my appreciation of this extensive series now.
Band of Brothers it is isn't which is not a bad thing. With Band of Brothers we were taken on the tour of Europe with the same company of men throughout and this worked with the type of story they were telling for that show, Band of Brothers is one of my favourite all time programmes so I really did not want The Pacific to be a redraft of this in a South Pacific setting as it would not have done service to those who had fought in this war to rehash the same story twice. Instead we have been shown the journeys of three very different men and how this war was for them and this method of storytelling has been successful overall. At times at the start of the series it felt perhaps too fragmented, especially when Sledge was still at home in Alabama, however with this minor gripe aside I thought this narrative device worked. Where the first half of the series belonged primarily to Leckie (James Badge Dale), the latter half has mostly been Sledge's and this has been exemplified by strong performances by Joseph Mazello as Sledge and his partner in battle Remi Malek as Snafu who week by week have delved in to the madness and desperation of war with utter conviction.
The final instalment looks like it will be focusing on what happens to the men who fought and lived when the war is over, was Sledge's father right to think that his 'soul would be ripped out' by everything that he would see? 


Photo courtesy of HBO

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Lost finale news

Click to view full size image

No finale spoilers here of leaked pages, just the awesome news that the finale is now a whopping 2 and a half hours. This with a pre show 'previously on Lost' plus the post show Jimmy Kimmel special 'Aloha to Lost' means that Sunday the 23rd on ABC is going to be an all Lost night. I'm going to be watching at friends in Baltimore area and I'm very excited for this night (though I am sad that I'm not going to be watching the show with my usual Lost friends as I will be on holiday on the East Coast of the US) but I think that it will be a great night and I am looking forward to the group festivities. Lost for me has always been a show that I watch with friends and the few occasions that I have watched the show solo have never been as good as when a group is together. But it's almost over now and after the heartbreak of this weeks episode and next weeks 'Across the Sea' being an episode that will apparently be very special (that is all I know and want to know at this point) I am very excited (and sad) as to how it will end.
Also kudos to Lost for making Jack really likeable this season, I really did not think that was possible. You lose points for all the casualties this week, even if it was inevitable that some of the majors were going to bite it.

True Blood promo poster 7: Vamp Stamp

Poster number 7 has been unveiled:


This poster campaign has been spot on so far, exploring many facets of the show and those characters that inhabit this world, this time looking at the so called 'fang bangers'. Though I'm not sure if that plaster would be all that effective with a vampire wound, might need something a bit bigger.

Photo courtesy of HBO.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Twitter and Lost

A few weeks back I wrote about how Twitter has had an impact on television and how the writers of shows now have another platform to communicate with fans. This is no more evident than last night when both Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse tweeted in regards to the Lost finale:

I've not much to say on this other than thanks to outlets such as Twitter there is now a way for information to be passed between the creative forces behind these TV shows and those people that watch in a way that has not existed before. Also this tweet has made the end of Lost feel as close as this is; in under three weeks it will be done. Can't believe it will be over soon. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Conan on 60 minutes

Last night Conan O'Brien appeared on TV for the first time since he left The Tonight Show back in January. The interview took place on CBS's 60 minutes and can be viewed in full below. It is both the portrait of a man who is still deeply hurt by the whole affair and of someone who is aware that his situation though bad wasn't the worst thing that could have happened and unlike his audience who believe that he was screwed over by Jay Leno he doesn't see it this way (though his reaction to the notion that Leno thought they were both screwed over is priceless). It is good to see him back on TV, showing both humility and comedic thoughts about what went on at NBC during this period of change and that he still is not a cynical man. I look forward to when he is back on television in November on TBS.