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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thursday 99 Word Review: The OC

Irina D's hot-and-cold love affair with The OC continues. Here's her latest 99 Word Review.

I've stated in this space previously that I love "The OC." And- after a shaky start this season- I truly do.

Yes, Mischa Barton is the worst actress since- well, since any inanimate object or creepy anthropomorphic baby. Yes, it's essentially a present-day "90210," especially the lame "Bait Shack," which is just the "Peach Pit" with hipster bands.

But the adults are all actually well developed characters, especially the wonderful Peter Gallagher. Melinda Clarke as Julie Cooper is the best villainess on television. And, best of all, it has the adorable Adam Brody, who seriously couldn't be cuter.

TVGeekspeak rating: 3 out of 4 test patterns

Related Link: Irina D's Love/Hate: Mischa Barton (TVGeekspeak)

Reviewers Go Full Tilt

ESPN's new poker series Tilt premieres tonight, and, to use a poker term, the reviewing it is clearly a game of "hi-lo."

Several Geeks will weigh in here with their opinions tomorrow (we play poker, too). Meanwhile, take a gander at what the mainstream press has been saying.

Hollywood Reporter: Tilt: "No Soul"
Seattle PI: Tilt: "Throwaway Hands"
Chicago Tribune: "Tilt a winner"
Boston.com: "Tilt plays it close to the vest"
USA Today: "Madsen breathes fresh life into a very old story"
NYTimes: A cable version of "Las Vegas."
NY Daily News: ★★★ Tilt "sucks us in"
NY Post: Tilt is a "gratuitously vile, sloppy mess"

Related link:
TVGeekSpeak: Sportztyme! ESPN Goes Hollywood

Ali G-had

Sasha Baron Cohen, the creator of Da Ali G Show, almost found himself hog-tied at an American rodeo over the weekend.

He appeared at the event as his character, Borat from Kazakhstan. Before singing a mangled Star Spangled Banner, "Borat" told the crowd he supported America's war on terrorism, hoping Americans "kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards... and may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq." This turned the red-state crowd extremely ornery, and Cohen & Co. were immediately escorted off the premises.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had no comment.

You Will Never See This Show Again

Alert the next of kin. CBS' The Will is, in a word, dead.

The Saturday reality series, which inherited just 4.2 million viewers for its premiere, has been axed- after only one episode! We're in girlsclub territory here, people.

But who will get the ranch?

Fat Actress Digs The F-Word

Kirstie Alley knows where her bread is buttered- literally.

The rotund, rolly-polly star of the upcoming Showtime flabfest Fat Actress replaced a line from the show's pilot episode in which she negatively refers to her other new employer, Jenny Craig, using a phrase that would be at home on the prison drama Oz.

Since she's become a spokeswoman for the weight loss company, she says she's lost 10 pounds. Great Job, Kirstie! Only 245 to go!

¡Ay, Carumba!

Will Marge Simpson lose her voice?

Well, maybe in Mexico. Union actors who dub The Simpsons into Spanish may get axed in in a labor dispute. The Mexico's National Actors Association has accused a Mexican contractor of attempting to hire too many non-union voices. If an agreement isn't reached, the actors fear the company will hire new voices, changing the cartoon's Spanish voices throughout Latin America.

Blah, blah. This won't really affect American Simpsons fans, but I found it interesting that the Spanish voice of Homer Simpson says he makes only about $55 per episode. That's about 4,000 times LESS than the estimated quarter-mill Dan Castellenata pulls down.

Ratings Notes: Alias Strong; Law & Order Ties CSI:NY

Wednesdays are becoming quite the unpredictable battleground.

In its second week back, Alias scored impressive ratings, holding a huge chunk of its Lost lead-in to easily win its time slot.

At 10 p.m. CBS' CSI: NY and NBC’s Law & Order were deadlocked in an A18-49 tie.

News Roundup

The cops from the FX drama The Shield have a new boss, to be played by Glenn Close. The new season premieres March 15... Bill O'Reilly has agreed to take George Clooney up on his offer and appear on Saturday's NBC Tsunami telethon. There's no love lost between the two, who have a history of public bickering... CNN Headline News will launch Headline Prime, a prime-time block of three hour-long feature-type news shows. The lineup includes Showbiz Tonight, an entertainment show; Nancy Grace, a legal talk show; and Headline Prime News, offering in-depth analysis of the day's events... Showtime has cancelled Queer As Folk, but has renewed The "L" Word.

"Is This Because I'm A Lesbian?"

Branch's response should have been: "Lesbian? We thought you were just experimenting!"

Seriously, though. Nice curveball from Dick Wolf on Law and Order last night. In case you missed it, ADA Serena Sotherlyn (Elisabeth Rohm) was axed for being too sympathetic to the people her office was trying to prosecute. Her reaction: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?"

Since you rarely find out any backstory on Law and Order's characters, it was a real stunner. Of course, maybe if the program had established that fact earlier, the wooden Rohm would have had a more interesting character to portray. Just a thought.

Tonight's Tube

Am I skipping the season premiere of North Shore? Sure! Especially when the brand-new ESPN poker show Tilt is begging for a look-see. I'm all in!

Wiggin' Out! with Sydney Bristow: Week Two

Welcome to the second edition of Wiggin' Out! with Sydney Bristow, the only place on the 'net counting Jennifer Garner's Alias wigs. Let's get it on!

Episode 4 x 03: The Awful Truth

9:03: This episode immediately out-wigs the last one, as J-Gar struts out in a teased, streaked, permy-lookin' number (#4). The cheezy blue eye shadow adds a hott touch of 80's trash.

9:19: Syd may be inside a burning car, hanging upside down, but the space-age polymer she's using on her pretty little head deftly secures the long, blonde-black dye-job lookin’ wig (#5) she sports for much of the rest of the episode.

The Awful Truth total: 2 wigs

Season total:
5 wigs

99 Word Law Review: Law & Order, Wednesday 1/12

Another new feature here on TVGeekSpeak: the 99 Word Law Review. Written by actual lawyer Dawn Summers (lawyers watch TV? Who knew?), her weekly piece will analyze one hand-picked legal drama for its accuracy in portraying the law. This week, she puts Elisabeth Rohm's final Law & Order on trial.

I only have 99 words, so let's get to the six most important: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" With that, Law & Order viewers saw the first on-air canning of a series regular since Mike Logan's exile to Staten Island. When a rap protégé is accused of killing his mentor, Serena believes he's covering for a friend from the 'hood and fights against prosecuting him for murder. But legally, if you help someone cover up a murder, you're an accomplice. So Branch was right to fire her, not because she's gay, but because she got the law wrong.

Dawn Summers' 99 Word Law Review will appear every week. Naturally, she's billing us for her time by the hour.

Thursday Trivia: Gilligan's Island, Redux

Which of the following guest stars NEVER landed on Gilligan’s Island?

A) Don Rickles
B) Kurt Russell
C) Phil Silvers
D) Eva Gabor

Answers tomorrow.

Wednesday Trivia Solved: Gilligan's Island

Which of the following statements about Gilligan’s Island is all fake and shit?

1) Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker on All In the Family) auditioned for the role of the skipper.
2) Dabney Coleman (Buffalo Bob) tested for the role of the professor.
3) Gilligan was the only character that never had his full name mentioned on the show.
4) Tina Louise competed for the 1960 Miss America title as Miss Nevada.

The answer is 4). Dawn Wells actually competed as Miss Nevada.

Sportztyme!: ESPN Goes Hollywood

Sports and TV: they go together like peas and carrots. But every marriage has its bumpy spots, and that's where our own Uncle Buster comes in with his new column. Ladies and gentlemen... it's Sportztyme!

ESPN bills itself as "The Worldwide Leader In Sports," which is a completely apt description. No single network has so revolutionized sports coverage over the past 25 years. Much like MTV before it, ESPN has evolved into its own societal island. But, also like MTV, what made ESPN singular and exemplary isn't good enough anymore. Now they delve into reality and drama programming to fatten their ratings- and their coffers.

This approach has produced some hits- and misses. In their made-for-TV movies, 3, the life story of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, was an inspired if hurried look at a man who changed his sport and its fans forever. A Season On The Brink, based on John Feinstein's best-selling book, put a relentless full court press on Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight. But the movie was so different from what the book intended that Feinstein once told me he'll never let ESPN adapt another of his novels.

As for series, ESPN attempted to dramatize the NFL with Playmakers, a behind-the-scenes account of a fictitious pro football team. On some levels, it worked. But when you see the star running back snorting cocaine in some back corner of the stadium at halftime, I had to throw a penalty flag. I've covered the NFL for over a decade, and while the players have their share of shortcomings, I can promise you there isn't the time, nor the privacy to do something like that during a game.

I won't discuss Dream Job, the reality competition show that gives some schmuck off the street an $80K gig to work as an anchor. As someone who toiled for less than minimum wage in God-forsaken markets you''ve never heard of to gain a foothold in sports broadcasting, I find the entire concept a disrespectful slap in the face to our entire profession.

Now, they attempt to capitalize on the TV poker phenomenon with Tilt, their new drama about card players. If you've seen 5 minutes of ESPN over the last month, you've seen at least 2 promos for this new show. From the spots, it doesn't look all that promising, and this is coming from a fan of poker. But, give ESPN credit for taking the chance.

And if only 3 of their 10 shows and movies work, they are still batting .300. That's good enough to get you in the Hall of Fame, isn't it?

Related Link: USA Today: ESPN playing on wider field

Uncle Buster's Sportztyme! appears every Thursday.