Monday, April 30, 2007

1:00 AM - 2:00 AM

This week's recap goes for the record number of "characters frozen in boxes."

Doyle tries talking to Audrey, but he doesn't speak Crazy Bitch.

Nadia's talking about perimeters! That's at least one drink, maybe two!

All these helicopters for flying people back to CTU... where were they five minutes ago?

The writers shoehorn a line about "Mexican border security" into Daniels' mouth to throw a bone to 24's conservative audience that got all pissy about the "Muslims are our friends" stuff earlier this season.

Look who's showed up to go through Lisa Miller's gate.

He's totally gonna open her iris.

While the teleconference room isn't in use, all the geeks are fighting for time to play their First Person Shooters on that triple-screen spread.

Wait a minute... there's a leak in the White House or CTU? No way!

So, Lisa's squeeze-on-the-side is evil? I wasn't sure without the glowing eyes.

Morris tells Chloe: "Working with you is becoming uncomfortable." How is that different from her working relationship with everybody?

Audrey's got chicken pox.

The only bastards bigger than the ones from Denver are the ones from Division.

Lennox's reaction to learning about the relationship between Daniels and Miller is so brilliantly awkward, I'm almost expecting his nose to start whistling as he starts hearing Barry White.

Jack doesn't make it look nearly as "good" for Doyle as he does when he whales on the white shirt outside the door. (White is the new red, by the way.)

Is it true that when you break the keycard reader on the inside of a door that the outside won't work, either? Even if it is, I think I'm tired of seeing that cliche.

Nadia can't get into the room. "Dammit!" Drink!

When Cheng called Jack, he was "within an hour" of that hotel. Drink! (We could be in trouble here...)

Nadia's got the earpiece/microphone thing going now. She's Miss Yassir, if you're nasty.

Yes, throw Jack back in holding. We can't have him be driving the plot for so long at one stretch!

Lisa's back at the White House. And she smells like Egypt.

Good thing Daddy Heller was in L.A.

Jack, just listen to Heller. Ditch Audrey and go be happy with your brother's wife and son-we-know-but-don't-know-is-your-son.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Babylon

If you're a fan of Babylon 5, you'll be interested to know (if you don't already) that a direct-to-DVD movie is being released at the end of July. I haven't yet decided what to make of this (though whatever I come up with, it probably won't stop me from buying it).

On the one hand, I have a pretty pristine memory of how brilliant Babylon 5 ended up being, once the whole story was told. I'm not sure I need or want another chapter in the story.

On the other hand, I did actually read some of the novels that were published after the close of the show, based on outlines provided by the creator of the series himself. They were actually very good stories (not just good "licensed fiction"), and added quite a lot to the universe. They showed that more could be a good thing.

On another hand (yes, I'm over my limit of hands at this point), not all of Babylon 5 was that great. Someone at my office has been trying to get into the show recently, and has been trudging his way through season one on DVD. And even though I love the series, I can remember back on how relatively lackluster that first season was. I find myself constantly "apologizing" for the show -- assuring this guy that if he just sticks through the rough stuff, Babylon 5 will be a really rewarding experience down the road. Though it does make me sometimes wonder how it ever survived beyond year one, with some of the real stinkers from that first season.

Particularly dreadful were the "TV movies" already made for Babylon 5. As I recall, those were about as bad as Babylon 5 got. Watching Martin Sheen ham it up as a Soul Hunter in "The River of Souls" made me grateful the performance didn't interfere with him not long after being cast in The West Wing. And the spinoff movie attempted a few years back, The Legend of the Rangers? Ugh.

In short, I find myself in an interesting state of mind. I loved Babylon 5, and yet I'm really nervous -- not excited -- at the prospect of seeing more of it. And that coupled with recently having to defend season one of the show so much, it almost has me wondering... was the show really as good as I remember? Or am I remembering it more fondly that it actually was, just because it was really the first show to execute a long "story arc" as is so much more commonplace on television today?

Maybe over the summer, when all the shows are off the air or in reruns, I'll work my way through the series again on DVD and find out whether there are rose-colored glasses over my memory of Babylon 5.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


This past Wednesday was the final movie in this spring's "Flashback Series" at Denver's Continental theater. And they went out on a high, with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I actually did catch this one on the big screen back when it was brand new. (And was traumatized by the "worms in the ear," I think...) But I was very much looking forward to the chance to see it again in a theater.

This print looked like it might actually have come from one of the original screenings in 1982, for the condition it was in. Half the color was drained away. Whole seconds were missing at the splices between reels. Some chunks were so full of static marks that the sound cut out. The film actually left the "II" off the title when it appeared on screen: "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan." I'm telling you, this print was old.

But the crowd was the most lively of any of the screenings I'd attended in this series. They applauded when the title appeared on screen. They cheered William Shatner's name. Leonard Nimoy's. The went completely nuts at Ricardo Montalban's. When Kirk screams into the communicator in the second act of the movie, half the auditorium screamed right along with him: "Khaaaaaaan!!!!!" The rest were too busy just cheering.

This is by far the best of the Star Trek movies, and it illustrates a point that the writers of the Voyager and Enterprise television series really never got. You don't have to have a fantastic sci-fi idea at the core of your story. And you sure as hell don't have to have technobabbley explanations all worked out. You just need a strong, emotional and personal drama at the core of it all.

I mean, when you stop to think about some of the actual plot points of Wrath of Khan, it completely unravels. Starfleet is scouring the galaxy (and having a hard time) finding just one planet with no life on it, where they can test the Genesis Device? A starship is unable to use its sensors to detect that an entire planet has gone missing from the Ceti Alpha system? And that's the tip of the iceberg.

But it doesn't matter, because we're far too caught up in the actual drama. Kirk feeling the press of old age, realizing his life has taken turns he didn't want. The deeply personal feud between Kirk and Khan. And of course, the great sacrifice made by Spock at the conclusion of the movie. (I try to put myself in the frame of mind of the pre-Star Trek III crowd. What if that really had been it for Spock? Damn, that's a powerful ending!)

It was another great night at the movies, and I'm looking forward to this flashback series starting up again in August.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Baddest of the Bad

The movie review web site Rotten Tomatoes recently posted a list of the 100 Worst-Reviewed Movies of All Time.

This is a little bit of an anomaly as far as these "100 Lists" go. From a certain point of view it's not subjective. The folks at the site put together a mathematical formula to determine an exact score for a movie, and then presented the 100 worst results. Of course, since this is the aggregate of the opinions of hundreds and hundreds of critics, it's ultimately quite subjective -- these results are just what some people think. And it's just the worst reviewed movies, which is not the same thing as saying they're the worst movies.

Though that said, I feel like the contents of this list are mostly awful. I was somewhat relieved to find that I'd only actually seen 7 of the films. Relieved on two levels, actually. Going in, I expected I might peg the meter pretty high, because I've seen quite a few horror films, and those generally get eviscerated by the critics. And then secondly, when I was going through the list one by one, I found I'd seen three movies ranked in the 80s alone. I figured at that rate, I was hosed!

Fortunately, things tapered off. These were the only entries it turned out I'd actually wasted my time on:

8) Twisted
9) The Master of Disguise
14) Battlefield Earth
57) I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
82) The Skulls
87) Darkness Falls
88) White Noise

Of all these movies, I feel Battlefield Earth deserves a bit of an explanation. Someone I knew was really itching to see this movie, for some reason. I said, "sorry, I have no desire whatsoever to see this movie." He says, "I have no one to go with." I say, "man, I can't do it." He says, "I'll pay for it."

I shouldn't have broken down so easily.

How many of these stinkers have you seen?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I found tonight's episode of Lost good, but not exceptional. The pattern with Sun/Jin episodes holds for me once again -- each time the writers focus on them, it's never a bad episode. I chalk it up to the very rich emotional content of their backstory. It's a backstory that actually got a little more deep tonight, as we learned that Sun not only knows the truth about Jin's father, she knows more of his mother than he does.

I found it particularly interesting to learn that Sun's actions are actually what directly led to Jin working for her father. At least, her father made her believe that. So now we know that among all the other feelings Sun had about leaving Jin, she also had guilt that she was responsible for transforming Jin into the "monster" he'd become working for her father. Powerful stuff.

Meanwhile, the plot on The Island took a couple baby steps forward. (Pun not intended.) Actually, several new bits of information were revealed to us, though no explanations of any of them were given.

The Russian Other that we thought had died in fact did not. What was the ruse of his death supposed to accomplish? Is the other Other (heh) that he shot not actually dead as well?

Juliet is gathering intel on the women at camp for Ben. I'm not sure why they couldn't have obtained samples from Kate during the time the Others had her in captivity... unless it is specifically samples of pregnant women they want, and that Kate is also now pregnant with Sawyer's baby. Which she wasn't while she was a prisoner of the Others. (If you're a "S/kate" 'shipper, you think that's great. If you like Jack, you think that sucks. If you're not into the love triangle, then you're probably indifferent.)

But the big news came right at the end of the episode. The wreckage of Flight 815 was apparently found, and all people aboard were dead. I'm not going to spend too much time speculating on the meaning of this, other than to say that two theories I've heard "out there" years ago both could explain this.

One -- the Island is purgatory, and all our castaways are dealing with leftover emotional baggage from life they have to resolve before they "move on" to the afterlife. The creators of the show have specifically refuted this notion in interviews, though -- and I think we've now had enough off-Island interaction, what with Juliet's flashbacks, glimpses of Desmond's honey, and so forth, to know that's not right.

Two -- part of getting these castaways to the Island was deliberately making everyone in the real world think they were dead, by planting fake plane wreckage for seachers to find. Now, part of this theory also put forth that the time was not really when the castaways think it is... that they were all somehow put in a form of stasis for an indeterminate period of time, then awakened later on the beach, with planted fake wreckage, made to think it was still September in 2004 when it was in fact a good while later. Of course, I think that piece of the theory is also pretty well refuted by what we know of Desmond, Ben, and Juliet. But hey, at least the "fake plane wreckage" part is looking to be true.

You can see why I try not to get too deeply involved in this aspect of watching the show. These theories will make you crazy. Bottom line, I liked the character components of tonight's episode, and thought it was pretty good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Two-Star Motel

Sunday was actually a double feature at the movies for me -- after I saw Fracture, I went to see Vacancy.

Unlike Fracture, I'd seen a trailer for this movie ahead of time. And it had made the movie look like it could be pretty good. But it also left me wondering if there could really be an entire film sustained by the simple gimmick -- a couple finds themselves in a sleazy motel room stocked with snuff tapes of other people murdered in the very same room, and proceeds to be terrorized themselves.

Well, one way they dealt with that concern was by keeping the movie very short, under an hour-and-a-half, in fact. Another way they freshened things up was to break with some of the elements that have now become "tradition" in these types of movies:

Instead of a young couple of high school or college students (or older actors pretending to be such) shown happily living it up, this movie focused on an older couple on the brink of a divorce.

Instead of casting Kate Beckinsale in another of her long string of "kicking serious ass" roles, she plays "the helpless woman" in this film (and does it fairly well). So while the character adhered rather closely to type, the casting of it was very much against type.

MINOR SPOILER ON THIS ONE. Skip this paragraph if you want to avoid it. At the conclusion of the film, the filmmakers pass by a few opportunities to put in the "one last scare" moment that always pops up in slasher movies.

In all, the movie comes off a little like a version of Hostel, but done better. More focused, more realistic, more stylized, more about the terror than the gore.

But... it's not that much better a version of Hostel. Because while they improved on the "slasher thriller" genre in ways like I mentioned above, they fell into just as many traps. Selectively dumb heroes. Universally dumber villains. Logic problems in the story that just seem to multiply when you start to pick at them.

Despite having better ingredients than some other similar films, it still just isn't that entertaining. I rate it a C+.

Monday, April 23, 2007

12:00 AM - 1:00 AM

This episode opens on Mike Doyle playing Grand Theft Auto.

Chloe and Morris could be one of those bickering couples on The Amazing Race.

I'd say Lennox and Daniels were having a heart to heart, but there's little evidence to suggest either of them has one.

Jack's very lucky this abandoned motel he knows about wasn't actually demolished during the 20 months he spent in China.

Is there anything else Daniels needs from Lisa? Just that she take a new position on the Presidential staff.

Why is the Justice Department making such a big deal out of catching Fayed and letting him go? CTU catches and loses people all the time!

"Mea culpa." That's Weasel for "my bad."

Morris wants out of comm. Usually, the way people get out of there is to be exposed as a double agent.

Did Buchanan have to leave right then? Maybe not, but it's after midnight, he's had another one of those killer 18-hour-plus days... he's ready to go home.

Of course, leave the woman who was under suspicion of terrorism a few hours ago in charge.

CTU didn't know exactly where Jack was, granted. But they knew he was reasonably close to Doyle's location. Yet only 50 minutes after Jack separated from Doyle did they decide it would be a good idea to move more teams to Doyle's location.

Hang on a second... Cheng is an official representative of China -- we know this because he's the one who handed Jack over at the start of the day. So isn't him having a CTU helicopter shot down pretty much an act of war against the U.S.?

Audrey's having MSG withdraw jitters.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Performance Art

This afternoon, I went to see the movie Fracture. I first became aware of this movie a couple months ago, when I walked out of a theater after seeing something else, and saw the very simple poster for Fracture (pictured at the left). Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. Two guys who can both really act. I didn't know a thing about the movie, and in the weeks that would follow, I never even saw a trailer for it. I did eventually see a second Fracture poster featuring just Hopkins, with "I Shot My Wife" emblazoned broadly across the top. Still more intriguing, to be sure, but I never really got more than "there's a movie coming with two guys who can really act."

Which is fortunate, because having now seen it, I feel that's really the thing going for it -- the one thing to really trumpet about the movie. Fracture is a tale you've seen in many incarnations before, of a cold and calculating killer who has committed the "perfect crime," and his opponent trying to keep him from getting away with it. It's built on methodical pacing and mind games between the characters, very much trying to be a Hitchcock kind of thriller.

In particular, it takes one very specific page from Hitchcock's playbook -- it gives the audience more information than the characters have, in an effort to build suspense. It's been paraphrased many ways, but Hitchcock is well known to have said something to this effect: a bomb goes off suddenly, and that's surprise; we see a bomb ticking under a table, that's suspense. In Fracture, we know what tricky twist Hopkins' character is going to spring on Gosling's character of the prosecuting attorney... a good 30 minutes ahead of time.

The trouble is, this doesn't play like suspense at all. It more feels like we're just marking time until the real movie starts. Gosling's character thinks he has a slam dunk case, and we all know it's not going to be that simple. But until he catches up to us, we're just waiting for the real drama to begin.

In fact, the only thing the writing does keep masked from the audience is one specific detail of how Hopkins' character hid the evidence that would actually prove his crime. At least, it tries to. I think. If it was trying to hide it, it did a damn poor job. I had it figured out very early on in the movie, as did all three of the people who went with me to see it.

Now, one could argue that the story is really in the head games between the two main characters, and not the particulars of the plot. But in my opinion, figuring out the key "twist" to the mystery in advance made the entire movie feel much like that first 30 minutes "wait." The entire movie was just a long wait for the twist to be exposed, so that the inevitable conclusion could follow.

Having said all that, you probably now have the idea that I really didn't like the movie. But remember what I said at the outset -- my only expectation going in was to see the performances of two actors who can really act. And that's exactly what I got. Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling really bolstered this subpar material with very focused and strong performances. Sure, Hopkins was lifting more than a few pages from the Hannibal Lecter playbook, but the man did win an Oscar for that role (deservedly so), and it's pretty much what we all as an audience want to see.

I figure it all works out to about a B-, though it's not a movie that would suffer in any way if you waited to see it later on DVD.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Indy Film

This past Wednesday's "flashback movie" at the Continental was Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'd never actually managed to see it on the big screen before, despite how relatively often it seems to pop in theaters. It's almost old hat, as far as retro movies go. Yet even though just about everyone I know had seen it on a movie screen at some point or another, it drew the biggest crowd of any movie Continental has ever done for this series.

Of course I have seen the movie at home more times than I can count. Seeing it in the theater became something of a game, waiting for the big stunts and big laughs to come, and trying to guess what would get the biggest reactions from the crowd. It actually wasn't as live a crowd as some other "flashback movies" have drawn, but it still produced some good audience moments.

Biggest laugh of the movie? When Marion smacks Indy with the rotating mirror.

Second biggest laugh? The moment when the fly lands on Belloq's chin and crawls inside his mouth. (During the scene near the end, when Indy threatens to destroy the Ark.)

Applause? Surprisingly, only as the end credits rolled, really. One or two people clapped when the plane took off at the conclusion of the film's opening sequence, but otherwise the reactions were limited purely to laughs. The comedy seemed to hit home more than the action for this crowd.

Before the movie started, I overheard a lot of conversations in the audience. People were really talking with an enthusiasm that would make you think the new Indy film was coming out this summer rather than next summer. I don't know about you, but I don't think I can keep my enthusiasm up that long. So I'm gonna wait a while before I start looking forward to it.

Though it's maybe not too early to start hoping that, like the other Indy films, they bear Speilberg's influence more than George Lucas'.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Some Like It Hot

Tonight, I went to see Hot Fuzz, the action comedy "From the Makers of Shaun of the Dead" (as they say on all the posters and commercials). And it was a really wonderful experience.

The movie targets a few "buddy cop" and "ridiculous action" movies in particular, but really it's an effective send-up of the entire genre. But as with Shaun of the Dead, it executes its parody in the context of a coherent story that stands completely on its own (as opposed to a skeleton for gags like, say, Airplane -- an equally valid, but different approach to parody).

In fact, the writing of the film is particularly commendable. The first half so expertly sets up the second half, would-be screen writers should study it. (More than a few working screen writers, too.) It's like the set-ups for dozens (maybe hundreds!) of jokes are told in acts one and two, and then act three is a relentless delivery of the punchlines. Which is not to say there aren't several good laughs in the first part of the movie, too. There are other aspects of the story I'd particularly praise, but I find it hard to do so without giving anything away.

It was not completely flawless. The last act was maybe just a bit overstuffed with action. Not that it wasn't laugh out loud hysterical. But it reminded me -- just a little bit, mind you -- of the ridiculous conclusion of the slasher movie Hostel, where out of nowhere, everyone who'd ever wronged the hero just lined up randomly for the slaughter. It was just a little too much. But at least this movie was trying to be funny. Trying, and succeeding.

I give it an A-. It's great for fans of action movies (the dumber, the better), British comedies, and yes, especially fans of Shaun of the Dead. In short, virtually everyone I know who likes movies would probably like this.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Darkness Returns

So, my Stephen King lovin' friend was Googling about for stuff on the Dark Tower, and stumbled across this by accident -- a flash version of the board game Dark Tower. Of course, "board game" is a loose term here. There wasn't really a board involved in this, just a strange electronic gizmo with random number generation abilities and flashy lights. And it was barely a game, unless you define game as "determine at random who is the winner when you begin to play -- but wait 45 to 90 minutes for the aforementioned electronic gizmo to reveal to you who that is."

In other words, as you might have guessed, man did I not like the Dark Tower game. But I know a few people for whom this was a cornerstone "cool thing" from the 80s.

To each his own.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I found this week's Lost episode a well-intentioned misfire. There may have been some momentum in the ongoing story, but the emotional component of the episode didn't really work for me, and as a result the whole fell flat in my view.

The flashbacks of Desmond's failed attempt to become a monk didn't really offer any further insight into his character that we weren't well aware of before. He was a lost soul until he found Penny. (And since we know that even that too didn't work out in his favor, there's even less to see here.)

The dramatic matter in the present was whether Desmond would sacrifice Charlie in the hopes of reuniting with Penny. But I just never believed it could happen, which made his dilemma uninteresting.

There was a little bit of fun back at camp between Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, but I didn't find it enough to boost up an "A plot" that I found lacking.

At least the fans who are struggling to piece everything together got thrown a bone tonight... we saw a photo on the desk of the monk who dismissed Desmond. It pictured the monk and the woman from the jewelry store in Desmond's last flashback episode, the one who appeared in Desmond's vision following the hatch explosion and told him his destiny was to go to The Island.

I don't always notice details like that, which I guess goes to show how little I was engaged in the actual drama of this episode; my attention was wandering around to things like photos on desks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tales from the Internets 3

Year three of Heimlich Maneuvers has officially begun! Instead of the "year in review" retrospective I offered last year for my anniversary, I thought it time for another entry in the continuing series of looks at the crazy Google searches that bring people into my neck of the net.

freebird expert helo - I understand, what with all the Guitar Hero and Battlestar Galactica posts, how this search led here. What I don't understand is how the two are connected.

Sara and Michael Fictional Stories(Prison Break) - Ah, 'shipper fic. This really ought to get my web hits way up: "Mulder and Scully romance," "Buffy's true love: Angel or Spike?", "Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter kiss," "Roslin and Adama after hours," "Jack Kate Sawyer Juliet love rhombus," "Kirk and Spock slash fiction," "Frodo makes eyes at Sam," "Londo on G'Kar," "Michael Knight and KITT sex."

Where'd you park the DeLorean? - 1985.

video clips how to make a musical instument for children in school about year five - How to tell if someone doesn't really know how to phrase a Google search.

"Mark Rosewater" brilliant - Looks like he was Googling himself again.

sat on face and farted - You know, just for kicks, I just tried that search myself. I skimmed through the first 100 hits -- none of them my blog. How much does this guy love "sat on face and farted" to survey that many entries and more before arriving here?

heimlich "witness stand" - I plead the Fifth.

audrey raines brain damage - Who her, or the 24 fans tired of watching her?

photos of poltergeist clown - Though I've mentioned that freaky ass clown doll in passing, I never before had a picture of it here on the blog. But now that I know there's a demand...

was death proof a flashback? - If only it was all in your mind.

pics of fathers giving sons the heimlich - Let's be very clear. This is not that kind of blog.

Here's to year three!

Monday, April 16, 2007

11:00 PM - 12:00 AM

Jack has cracked ribs and who knows what-all, but with that injection he'll be as right as Raines.

I hope those poor set people put that Oval Office set in storage instead of the garbage, cause we're coming out of the bunker, folks!

All these "good job, everyone!" moments are the sort of thing we don't usually get to see when crises resolve normally at the end of a season.

Finally, it's just like old times -- Jack's going to Chloe to sneak around the Powers That Be.

Chloe says "dammit!" That's a drink. But don't metabolize.

Wayne looks at his brother's photo, from back in the days when the country was "in good hands."

Why there aren't keystroke monitors on every computer at CTU all the time is beyond me, but hooray for Morris.

Chloe goes to confess to Buchanan just as Jack steps into action. For Jack's sake, Chloe had better talk slow. For once.

Ah, the old "I'm reporting you!" bluff. But Jack plays it so well.

Doyle's had to "subdue" Jack. Yeah, like he could do that if Jack didn't want to be subdued.

As if C-4 could blow up Jack Bauer.

Jack needs help with Audrey's "extraction," so Doyle's just become the designated dental hygienist.

How long is Chloe going to hold that incident over Morris' head? Another six hours and 20 minutes, give or take a few seconds.

Daniels says that at least after he resigns, he'll have more time to spend with Lisa. Meanwhile she's thinking, "well, see, I only really liked you when you had the power to nuke things."

Palmer gives his press conference, and then opens it up to questions. The press then behaves so passively and orderly, given the circumstances, that they must all be on tranquilizers.

Daniels' first order of business? Burn that letter!

Ha! That wacky prat fall of Wayne's was so funny, let's see it again on the television in the background of the Oval Office. Twice!

Daniels takes the entirely rational position that taking a chance on handing sensitive Russian technology over to the Chinese is unacceptable. So rational a position it is, in fact, that it makes this a completely out-of-character action for him, of course. (Seriously, what's wrong about pissing off the Russians that's not so bad about pissing off Unnamedistan and nearly all of the Middle East?)

Doyle tries to be sly, but when it Raines, Jack pours... liquid whoop-ass.

Grab the fence! Damn, it wasn't electrified.

Drive Shaft

Just a quick update to say that tonight's third hour of Drive completely hooked me. Lots of solid character elements clicked into place, giving the series that list bit of juice it didn't quite have in last night's premiere. The biggest and most interesting revelation was that Nathan Fillion's character Tully has a secret evil badass lurking inside him, details to be fleshed out later.

Of course, now that I'm committed, the bad news must come. The ratings from last night's premiere were awful, and fell every half hour through the two-hour broadcast. There hasn't been any sort of press release about it yet, but there doesn't need to be to see the writing on this wall.

At this point, I've already lost any hope this show will make it, even as I've decided I really like it. At this point, I'm just hoping for a loaded up DVD release -- maybe in time for Christmas.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Driving

Tonight was the series premiere of the new show Drive on FOX. I'll be direct; my expectations of this show were probably higher than was reasonable.

First of all, it's a mistake to get attached to any new show starting on FOX. They mow down almost everything that's not aimed at a fifth grade level audience (hey, they even put that in the title of one of their latest!), cancelling more good shows that deserve a long life than any other network.

Secondly, the pedigree of this show was setting my hopes too high. It stars Nathan Fillion, who has showed his brilliance in Firefly, the movie Slither, a brief but memorable guest spot on Lost, and that's just to name a few. And it was co-created by Tim Minear, one of the creative forces behind Firefly and Wonderfalls.

So, like I said... expectations way too high for something that's obviously meant to be a more visceral and non-intellectual thrill. Because it seems like this show has aspirations to be only slightly headier than a blending of Death Race 2000 and The Amazing Race. Probably with stronger characterization and emotion, of course, though that is still unfolding as of these first two hours.

I was largely entertained by the premiere tonight. Plenty of great one-liners. Some good action sequences. An interesting set of mysteries to be revealed as the story progresses. And some intriguing characters with clear motivations right out of the gate.

Although there does seem to be a problem baked right into this concept that could really hamper the show after even just a few episodes. There are plenty of characters to present in various relationships -- 10 or 11 just in the opening credits, and a few other recurring ones besides. But they're all in a cross-country car race, paired off and separated from their competition. So it seems to me that in each episode, we're just going to see the same relationships between the same pairs of characters. I mean, I'm sure there can be some depths to mine in the relationships between characters A and B, C and D, E and F, and so forth. But it seems like character A is never going to be able to interact with any character but B, because all those other people are in different cars. So won't the possibilities for great character interaction (a hallmark of those shows I mentioned that pulled me to sample Drive in the first place) be enormously limited?

Of course, that's assuming that Drive even gets to run more than a few episodes, which on FOX....? We'll see. But the first sample tonight was fun enough that I'll check it out again tomorrow before the new hour of 24.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

It's All Crap to Me

To me, this is pretty much what all Japanese animation feels like:

(For the non-embedded crowd.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Force Is With Me

Thanks to Shocho, I recently learned that I am a force to be reckoned with. Which, when you're staring down those crazy equations, may not seem that cool, but when you look at it this way...

...(which you can in more technical detail here), seems considerably more exciting.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cinema Gold

This week's "flashback movie" on the local giant screen movie theater was one you don't usually see in rotation: Goldfinger. I've seen every James Bond film in the theater released since I was old enough to go to the movies on my own, and not a one on the big screen that was released before that -- that's how rare I think it is to see an old Bond film playing on a big screen. It had been a while since I'd seen this particular Bond film, and I was really struck by two things about it.

First, it's actually a very entertaining movie. Far superior, in my view, to the two Bond films that preceded it, Dr No and From Russia With Love. The story moves along at a better pace. The situations are more exciting. Bond comes into conflict with the villain almost immediately in Goldfinger, and the entire movie is a clash between them. The "heist" at the heart of it all -- to irradiate the gold in Fort Knox rather than steal it -- still holds up as unconventional and interesting today.

But second, Goldfinger is very much a movie of its time. The editing is loose and uncrisp. The staging of the action scenes is completely ridiculous. (When waves of soldiers are supposed to be succumbing to nerve gas, it looks more like they're all going, "I'm just going to lie down now.") It's really the sort of movie that makes me understand why remakes are all the rage in Hollywood. Not that I'm suggesting anyone should remake Goldfinger. But I feel like I can enjoy the movie, yet still see why some people would be put off by the conventions of 40 year old filmmaking and not see the good stuff. I wonder a bit if the story of Goldfinger were filmed today, would a lot more people be able to appreciate it than can appreciate the original?

In any case, it was another fun night at the "flashback series." With a notable footnote. There are only two more weeks left in the current run (Raiders of the Lost Ark next Wednesday, Star Trek II to wrap it up), and then no more such movie screenings until August. But after each show until the end of this run, they are asking people to fill out comment cards suggesting what movies they'd like to see up on the big screen this fall.

So, let me throw that question out to you. If you had the chance to see any movie on an enormous, four-story high screen, with an auditorium full of like-minded fans just as excited to see the movie as you... what would you pick?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

One of Us

A pretty solid episode of Lost tonight. Its greatest strength, I think, was the strong emotional content of Juliet's flashback. From the previous Juliet episode, we'd already learned that she'd left a pregnant sister behind, but this episode showed us just how extreme the emotional roller coaster surrounding that was. Finding out her cancer had returned... and then been cured... except apparently not... but in truth it was! Juliet's been through hell.

And yet for all Ben has put her through, he still apparently has some carrot to dangle in front of her to get her to work for him against our castaways -- an interesting revelation to conclude the episode. I had sensed that something was amiss; I'd found it dreadfully convenient that Claire got sick just as Juliet was returning. But I hadn't had quite a suspicious enough mind to suss out that Juliet was playing them all, instead chalking it up to... well, bad writing, I suppose. There's been an unfortunate amount of that on and off throughout this season.

We got a few more colors in the paint-by-number that is the Island mystery of healing and pregnancy, but we're still shy of a complete picture. A clear allusion was made to the fact that Sun is now pregnant, however. And Ben did say in one of the flashbacks that they're out to find more pregnant women. So could Juliet's ultimate mission, that will apparently only take a week, have something to do with Sun? I suppose we'll find out rather soon, though a week of Island time at the rate time has passed this season puts it somewhere in the season finale range, by my reckoning.

In any case, my "on again, disapointed again" relationship (but no, never "off again") with Lost is back "on again" for the moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why, God, Why?!

It's been a while since Whose Line Is It Anyway went off the air. Longer still since the original British incarnation of that show. And Drew Carey's Green Screen Show of a couple years back never really took off. In short, I was very interested to sample the new improv comedy show NBC debuted last night (ripped off from a foreign country, of course), Thank God You're Here.

I must regretably say that this is a poor substitute for any of those shows I named. It's not the fault of the "headlining" guest performers. In the debut episodes last night, Wayne Knight, Bryan Cranston, and Edie McClurg were particularly good, and nearly all the guests had good moments. No, the flaw was in the recurring performers, and the core premise of the show itself.

The key to good improv is to banish the word "no." That's the simple way of stating the principle at the heart of it all -- the good improv performers never reject something their fellow performers add to a scene, they incorporate it and continue to build the scene from there.

Well, Thank God You're Here may feature four guest actors every episode who are making things up as they go along, but the "regular performers" that populate all their scenes are rigidly on the rails. The producers/writers of the show concoct a laborious scenario for each one of the guests, and sprinkle it with touchstones that are not deviated from. If a performer introduces something funny, it will be bowled over and discarded by those playing from the "script" if it doesn't fit the destination for the scene. Again and again and again, the stock players on this "improv" show would tell the star performer "no," both figuratively and literally.

Edie McClurg, what incident is your husband alluding to in this couples therapy session? No, I think he means your affair with the gardener.

Richard Kind, what's your radio DJ name? No, actually it isn't.

Mo'Nique, please introduce the contestants on this game show you're co-hosting. No, actually, you got them completely wrong.

Jennifer Coolidge, tell us about the things you as a beauty pageant contestant would hope to accomplish if you won the title... but, of course you "mentioned earlier" that one of them had to do with nuclear proliferation.

Utter crap. It's an overused but apt metaphor to say that good acting is like a tennis match where the ball is expertly being volleyed back and forth between two people of amazing skill, and that's especially true in improv performances. Each guest actor on Thank God You're Here is facing off against a ball-serving machine. No matter how perfectly he returns the serve, it just comes to rest somewhere on the far side of the court, to be ignored as the next serve comes in.

The show occasionally rose to moments of comedy despite the ill-conceived set-up, but that is only a testament to how incredible some of the performers really are, and made me just sad to imagine how well they would have done in a real improvisational comedy performance.

Monday, April 09, 2007

10:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Gredenko doesn't even have the decency to drop dead during his portion of the re-cap. He has to crowd out Fayed one last time.

Wayne Palmer looks steady as a rock. But he shoots with that hand.

Fayed made Jack hurt his punching hand. Now Jack will be really mad.

Doyle attempts to goad Fayed by telling him that people aren't going to think he was as good a villain as the guys from season one... or two... or...

Jack says now we're gonna have fun. We're gonna sell tickets to Spider-Man 3 during the commercial!

We come back from the break to what might be the worst written scene ever on 24. (Sorry, David Fury -- loved ya on Buffy, Angel, and Lost!) We start with ridiculously wooden exposition about Sandra going to see Walid. We transition into a complete glossing over of what possible reason there was not to let Lennox and Karen in on the little ruse Palmer and the Joint (smokin') Chiefs cooked up. And we close with a public service announcement about the nature of war in the modern world. At least when the agony finally ends, Lennox has a great exit line: "I'm here to inform you, and also protect you. Sometimes, those jobs don't work in combination."

Fayed is "rescued" -- another ruse. If you were fooled twice, shame on you.

Palmer is slowly transforming into Frankenstein's monster. First, he has the lovely stitching on his face. Now he's walking with the stagger. Next, he'll get little bolts installed on the sides of his neck.

In case you didn't understand what this terrorist General is needed for when Jack explained it to Buchanan, or when Buchanan explained it to the president, we're going to go over it again by having Palmer explain it to the foreign ambassador.

Threatening the General's family would seem a lot more messed up if we hadn't already seen Jack do it to a terrorist back in season two.

We're starting to need a flow chart for who's covering for who in CTU. Chloe was covering for Morris, until Morris' problem with alcohol was exposed. But now Morris seems to be have Nadia's back in case Milo gets out of hand with jealousy over Nadia covering for Doyle covering for Milo. Everybody got that?

Fayed's General partner-in-crime is on the phone. Does anyone think maybe this General guy is in a "flank two position"?

Why is Wayne falling down? There hasn't been a single "perimeter," "within the hour," or "dammit" this entire episode!

Thankfully, Nadia has seen season five, so was able to figure out the whole duress code thing. Time to tell the agents in the van with Fayed.

Let me get this straight. During the life of this series, we've seen cell phones and video feeds work in helicopters, near radiation zones, and through the walls of underground bunkers, but drive through a 120 foot tunnel and then they go out?!

Somebody get Jack a bullwhip and a fedora!

"Dammit!" (At last! A drink!)

Jack came on the right vehicle to go taking out the garbage.

Jack was right. Now we are going to have some fun...

Nukes are safe, Fayed's done. That just leaves Daddy Bauer still on the loose...

And then millions of voices cried out in terror. Or just Dave Berry's. That loudly.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Experiencing the Dream

Though I first found out about Stephen Colbert's new ice cream flavor months ago (and have been reminded of it every time he mentions it on his show -- which is frequently), I wasn't able to track any down until today. I tried every grocery store chain in the Denver area, but as we've learned from 24, people from Denver are bastards, and this extends to whoever does the ordering at the local Safeways and so forth.

So determined was I to track down and sample this flavor, that I did the unthinkable. I went to Wal-Mart. Ugh. I feel dirty. But sure enough, they had several pints of Americone Dream. It seems appropriate somehow that since Colbert himself gave up his own ice cream for lent (a running gag on his show), that it was Easter when I finally sampled some myself.

Bottom line, it's good. But it's not a new addiction or anything. Caramel swirl in vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone bits. All the pieces are great. But they don't combine together into a sensation unlike anything you've ever tasted. It pretty much tastes like eating a sundae out of a waffle cone. Which is delicious, of course. But I didn't really need to scour Denver to find that.

I sure as hell didn't need to go to Wal-Mart.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Full House

Early this afternoon, I saw Grindhouse, and I've been wondering how I should review it all day.

This "double feature" is intended as an homage to cheesy cinema of the 70s, and thus a certain style and quality was being aimed for. So first, you have to ask yourself, if someone deliberately sets out to make a bad movie, and successfully achieves that, does that make it a good movie? To judge by the generally enthusiastic praises being heaped on this movie by critics, it would seem the answer is yes.

Me, I'm not so sure. I've seen movies as stupidly plotted, woodenly dialogued, and mindlessly visceral as the two films that make up Grindhouse, and in those past cases, I've pretty much panned the movie unless it really kept me on the edge of my seat. Why then should this movie deserve cheers for its deficiencies? To me, this is sort of a "were Marcelle Duchamp and/or Jackson Pollack really artists?" sort of debate. But I myself have reviewed many movies in the past from a standpoint of "it's pretty good for what it is" -- a good fluffy horror movie, a good mindless action flick, and so forth. So, for the sake of argument, let's say that yes, one can call Grindhouse a good movie if it captures its intended mood.

On that score, the first movie, Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, is pretty damn good. With a plot held together by duct tape and bailing wire (little more than a framework for delivering trailer-worthy one liners), it delivers one crazy, over-the-top thrill after another. It zips along at a quick pace, and the actors really suck you into the experience despite the fact they're all playing caricatures more than characters. On its own, I'd probably give it a B+.

Then there are the fake movie trailers, one at the beginning of Grindhouse, and three between the two films. Three of these are outstanding -- the highlight of the entire experience. Machete sets the tone for Grindhouse right from the top, and is a fun tip of the hat for fans of Rodriguez's other films. Don't, from the makers of Shaun of the Dead, delivers the biggest laughs. And Thanksgiving is absolutely perfect in that it's beyond outrageous, but when you stop to think about it, only takes things a small notch farther than most slasher films today do anyway. As for the other trailer, Werewolf Women of the SS? Total flop. Makes me nervous about Rob Zombie's upcoming Halloween remake.

But it was not as big a flop as Quentin Tarantino's piece of Grindhouse, the second movie, Death Proof. It's like he didn't get the memo of what the whole experience was supposed to be about: relentless, over-the-top, visceral thrills. Instead, he seems to have come up with a single idea: a car chase which has someone riding on the hood of one of the cars the entire time, like a T.J. Hooker marathon. But that only amounts to about 15 minutes of film, and he had 90 to fill. Yet rather than fill it up with the kind of escapist fun like in Planet Terror, he put in 75 minutes of his usual dialogue-centric prattle.

Now, you either love this stuff, or you hate this stuff. Me, I think it's pretty lame that every character in a Quentin Tarantino movie has speech patterns just like Quentin Tarantino himself. But even if you do love that stuff, I think you have to admit that this sort of verbal tennis is not at all in keeping with the style of Planet Terror or any of the Grindhouse trailers.

In short, I think Tarantino made a really bad movie, and because it doesn't fit the tone of the other intentionally bad pieces I've "agreed" to evaluate on that basis, it can't even get the benefit of the doubt. There are a few exciting moments in the car chase that caps the movie, but it takes an eternity to get there. Death Proof is a D-. There are any number of better "road rage" movies out there, from the surprisingly good Joyride to the TV movie that was one of Steven Spielberg's first efforts, Duel.

B+ and D- would average out to C, but I'm going to tip the scale upward a bit in favor of the truly great previews, and give Grindhouse a C+ overall. But in my opinion, if you walk about after the Thanksgiving trailer, and before Death Proof starts, you'll have an A- experience.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Binary Daydreams

It may be time for you to accept you new Robotic Overlords, before this machine invents both said Overlords and some sort of fiendish device to punish you for not bowing to its will early enough. Thomas Edison may have had his "invention factory," but John Koza has invented the "invention machine."

Kinda scary and cool at the same time, if you ask me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Clear View

Recently, my work moved into a great new office in downtown Denver. In just about every way I could conceive of, it blows our old location out of the water.

Just about.

I don't know what makes the outside windows of a multi-story office building in a metropolitan area get dirty, but the managers of our building seem to think that Denver has a lot of it. Because there's a window washing crew with a heavy-duty spray hose outside our windows at least every other day. I think they've been out there every day this week, blasting away at the windows just inches from our desks.

It's like Lady Macbeth is out there on the scaffolding, convinced that no matter how much these windows get washed, they'll never, ever be clean again.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Left Behind

Tonight was sort of a "go nowhere, tell nothing" episode of Lost, but a far more entertaining one than some of the episodes this season I'd put in that category.

Kate's flashback didn't really offer much on her past we didn't know. The fact that she met up with the woman Sawyer conned is another fun connection for the "flow chart" fans, but not particularly illuminating. At least the flashback did have strong resonance with the current Island story -- on two levels, in fact. On the superficial level, it was a chapter from Kate's past where she teamed up with a woman to work towards a common goal, echoing her situation with Juliet. On the deeper level, it was a tale to parallel her current storyline with Jack, a time when she'd realized how badly she'd hurt someone she thought she was helping.

Juliet's been "cast out" by the Others, apparently in favor of taking in Locke. Within the context of this episode, it didn't really mean anything. But it should provide some interesting material down the road.

A fleeting encounter with the monster didn't really tell us anything we didn't already know, since we can't really trust what Juliet said, nor can we trust that she was told everything that the rest of the Others (Ben in particular) know.

Then there was the fun B-story of Hurley running a "con" on Sawyer, to get him to be nice. Of course, I think everyone was completely clear Hurley was lying to Sawyer from the very first scene between them. But even though the destination was known, the journey was still fun for the awkward scene with Claire and the eloquence of Hurley's point at the end.

So, despite a general lack of forward momentum, we had a particularly resonant and emotional flashback, and entertaining B-story, and the promise of good dramatic possibilities to come when Juliet is taken back to the survivor's camp. In all, it made for a fairly good episode, despite the relative lack of plot momentum.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You Can't Handle the Truth

If you know me even a little, you know I don't really care about sports. Any sport. But on rare occasion, I have been known to go out to a baseball game. And tonight, I had the opportunity to go a Rockies game and sit in a suite.

The Rockies did what they could not on opening day, and defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3 in the 11th inning. And it was generally a good time. But the real fun came in the last 3 minutes that decided the game. Having gone into extra innings tied at 2 (which triggered a mass exodus of fans), Arizona scored once in the top of the 11th (triggering another mass exodus). But the Rockies took it back when Arizona right-fielder Eric Byrnes bungled a catch that allowed the tying run -- when there were two outs against the Rockies.

Someone in our suite remarked that Byrnes would be getting towel-snapped in the locker room for sure. (And he knew it, too, the way he was walking off the field.) But leave it to my friend "Paladon" to take it one notch farther (or maybe five). He said somebody would be breaking out the soap and a sock.

When I pointed out it's only baseball, not prison, he suggested that somebody should be ordering the "Code Red."

Monday, April 02, 2007

9:00 PM - 10:00 PM

I have no idea how long it takes to set up a cabinet meeting in real life. I hope it happens this quickly, but I rather doubt it.

Daniels and Palmer have a brief handshaking contest.

Time for another riveting 25th Amendment constitutional legal drama, just like in the one dull episode from season two.

Lennox explains how Palmer was in a temporary coma. Very temporary.

Milo and Nadia's discussion of "the other thing" is starting to sound a little like Jerry and Elaine working out their friends-with-benefits contract on Seinfeld.

The cabinet vote is in, and Palmer kinda-sorta wins in a similar way to how Rocky Balboa kinda-sorta didn't lose the first time he fought Apollo Creed.

They think they're going to be able to wake up all those old people on the Supreme Court at 12:30 in the morning (East Coast, remember) and get them in to rule on this challenge?

Not one of the dozens of people at CTU notices Nadia -- who was in a holding cell not long ago -- using Milo's computer.

Doyle's trying to show the unbastardly side of people from Denver.

Nadia tells Milo she was reviewing Doyle's data sets. That S-E-T-S, people!

Fayed wants to meet at the Santa Monica Pier. He wants to ride the ferris wheel or something.

The Supreme Court wants case notes in writing in 10 minutes? Is it okay if they're scrawled on a cocktail napkin?

We have a brief moment of "oh right, Sandra's a lawyer."

Daniels has had his finger practically on the button for hours, but he actually spends a few seconds believing that perjury is going too far.

Lennox grows a pair! And there was much rejoicing!

Notice how when it's a terrorist receiving text messages or pictures or what-not, there's no Sprint product placement.

We now interrupt this week's 24 commentary for a "Gredenko's severed arm" Joke-a-thon:

  • Gredenko really had to lend Fayed a hand.
  • Will Gredenko and Chase Edmunds from season three bump into each other at the same prosthetic limbs shop?
  • Gredenko really knows how to focus on the axe at hand.
  • Man, that terrorist severance package really sucks.
  • Next step in Gredenko's plan? Killing Richard Kimble's wife.
  • I don't think that's what they meant by "arming the nukes."

10 minutes after Doyle was "20 minutes out," he's still 20 minutes out. But at least when he gets there, he's going to "set up a perimeter." (Drink!)

Gredenko pulls a fantastic double-cross on Fayed, and CTU ends up trading one terrorist for another. Well, maybe 7/8ths of a terrorist for one terrorist.

Gredenko's about to fall over, so what better place to drop dead than under the pier? (Or maybe he's hiding from Darth Vader?)

Karen and Lennox agree to drop the threats and intimidation. "So, Tom, why did the Vice President back down?" Oh.... threats and intimidation.

Apparently, that doctor shot Palmer full of the same crazy juice Daniels has been taking.


So here we are, at the end of another season of Prison Break. Not much in the way of closure tonight -- everything was definitely setting up for season three. But let's review the good news.

Sara was indeed exonerated by Kellerman's testimony. And as everyone expected (including him), he ended up dead for it. He committed suicide after all, just with a more noble purpose.

Lincoln has been exonerated at last. Huge! Now... why Sara seemed so convinced Michael would be let off the hook as well, I don't quite understand. The fact is, Michael did still discharge a firearm during a bank robbery. And he broke out of prison while serving a lawfully-prescribed sentence. And in doing so, he let a crime boss and a serial murderer back out onto the streets (among other criminals). I don't see how Michael doesn't wind up going back to prison. (Well.... sure enough, he does! But more on that in a second.)

That's it for the closure, though. Sucre passes out on the street before he can learn anything to save Maricruz. Bellick is dragged off to some unrevealed location. T-Bag is left behind in his holding cell. It seems likely that all three of them will continue as characters on the show next season. (It seems we are indeed done with C-Note, though -- and that's probably for the best.)

So then there's Michael. What do I know about the law in Panama, so having him unable to argue the shooting was self defense? Why not. And having him end up in the same prison as Mahone? Not remotely the biggest stretch this show has asked us to go along with. It seems like more than a fair trade for the plot setup next season seems to be -- Mahone and Michael applying their fiendish minds together to break out of prison. It's a little funny that after all the false starts throughout the season, where it looked like maybe Bellick or C-Note or Sara would have to break out of prison, that it's in fact Michael who has to now do it all over again. But appropriate.

That Panamanian prison makes Fox River look palacial, though, doesn't it?

It seems the conspiracy wanted Michael put there, and wants him to break out again. My best guess is there's someone else already in the prison they want to have broken out with Michael? Is this really the best plan they could come up with? Did they have no other strings to pull?

Well, I'm getting waaaaaay ahead of the game here. We'll see what's really afoot a few months down the road.

Until then, Prison Break fans!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Revisiting Rock Ridge

Every now and then, as frustrated as I get with the whole movie-going experience (the talking patrons, the ringing cell phones, the endless commercials before the film starts), I have a completely contradictory experience that "renews the faith," as it were. And usually, it's one of those "flashback" movie nights at Denver's Continental theater.

This past week, the film was Blazing Saddles, and the auditorium was more full than for any other Wednesday night flashback film I've yet attended. Blazing Saddles is, of course, the perfect film to not watch on television, edited and sanitized to pointlessness. And as a comedy, it's perfect to be viewed with an audience in any case -- especially this case, as it's not just any comedy, but a parody and mean social satire to boot.

The crowd was absolutely live. People were giggling at the starts of scenes, before the jokes even came -- and laughing hard when eventually they did. Madeline Kahn had yet to speak a single word in her ridiculous accent; the moment the name "Lili Von Shtupp" was spoken, a knowing laugh washed through the audience.

And the movie is still just great. To my mind, this movie was The Producers, done right. (I refer to the original Producers, not the more recent musical interpretation -- which I actually did like, but I didn't think it worked its "message" as hard as the original.) The Producers put an uncomfortable topic front and center and said, "Look! Not only should we not avoid this subject, but it can be funny." It's just that to my mind, no matter how laudable the message, the movie itself wasn't really that good. (The characters and situation were so far over the top, that's ultimately why I think it worked better as a musical.)

Subtitute Nazis for racism, and sharpen the biting social commentary to a much finer edge, and you get Blazing Saddles. For raw belly laughs, I think History of the World, Part I is Mel Brooks' best movie. But his most important film, most deserving of praise, most deserving to stand the test of time for decades to come? It's gotta be Blazing Saddles.

And thanks to a great audience, I got to enjoy it as never before, on the big screen.