Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm Back: GeekSpeak From a Lost Week

I've been slacking my responsibilities of late- especially last week. I had a lot going on. Here's my (futile?) attempt to catch up...

A quick straw poll of fellow fans revealed I was alone in my ardent love of the episode’s second season (“Join the Club”). Granted, if I never see another Sopranos dream sequence, it’ll be too soon, but I loved getting a peek into the brewing turf war and hearing AJ’s plan to go all Michael Corleone on “Mummy Head” Uncle Junior. Last night’s third episode (“Mayham”) seemed better received by the masses. I thought the two episodes would probably work better back to back, especially with the dream sequence payoff last night.

The acting extremes continue in this episode: while Edie Falco continues to shine, the storyline’s emphasis on secondary characters (and, apparently, actors) leaves something to be desired. Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) is only passable because he consistently gets the best lines, while Joseph Gannascoli (Vito)’s lack of heft as an actor continues to dwarve his physical weight. Little Steven won’t ever sniff an Emmy nod, while Robert Iler (AJ) seems destined for a VH-1 Celebreality series of your choosing when the show finally passes.

Surprisingly, the perpetually irritating Jamie Lynn Sigler is somewhat palatable this season- and I’m not just talking about her suddenly smokin’ bod. Who said eating disorders were all bad?

Who Needs A New Boss: While I was shirking my GeekSpeaking responsibilities, everyone’s favorite train-wreck talk show host, Tony Danza, finally earned his long-awaited and much deserved cancellation. Time-slot filler at best, dreck at worst, The Tony Danza Show offered nothing, except an incomprehensible host, C-level guests and reinforcement of scads of Italian stereotypes (including pizza tossing contests and dancing with a giant salami). The show should have been yanked the second his cooking segments gained sponsorship from The Olive Garden. What self respecting Italian would stand for that?

Possible replacement for Tony: a View-style talker with Patricia Heaton and three other women, discussing homelife instead of news. Oddsmakers are already taking bets which will be worse: this one or the new Megan Mullally yakker. Both may launch this fall.

The Shield: After, in my opinion, a lackluster fourth season (Glenn Close didn’t do it for me), Chiklis and Co. really got back to basics for this year’s The Shield. Forest Whittaker’s performance was Emmy-worthy. Since I just got FX and had to obtain the episodes in another fashion (*cough* *cough* bittorrent *cough*), I watched the entire 11 episode season over a single 24 hour clip. Still completely unrealistic- but fantastic.

24: Will anyone be left alive at the end of this season?

Chef’s Salad: Isaac Hayes leaves South Park, pissed that the show pokes fun at Scientology. Less than a week later, Parker and Stone kill him off, using previously recorded lines from Hayes. Possibly the most topical animated series ever.

Sons and Daughters: ABC’s brilliant new quasi-improv laugher is tanking in the ratings. No surprise. It’s TV’s smartest comedy since Arrested Development, so, naturally, people would rather watch anything else. Will ABC have the stones to renew this underperformer? Given how quickly they pulled the Heather Graham kumquat Emily’s Reasons Why Not, it’s shocking (and wonderful) that it’s even still on the air.

NBC Ready to Cook: Alan Thicke and Sandra Lee have signed on to host NBC’s upcoming Celebrity Cooking Showdown. Rapper Ja Rule, Kansas City Chiefs star Tony Gonzalez, model Naomi Campbell and Tom Arnold will be among the starved-for-attention stars to slap on aprons. Hey, networks: the reality thing is over. Stop the madness!

Election on Lifetime: Has a single member of Lifetime’s audience ever heard of James Carville or Mary Matalin? So why would the channel buy a reality show starring these two political motormouths? This would have been a better fit almost anywhere else. They should stick to what they know best: making Delta Burke movies.

Uncle Buster's Sportztyme! March Madness

A moniker symbolic of not only the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, but the fervor and interest surrounding it from the most casual sports fans to the biggest hoops zealots on the planet. It includes all: from people who can’t tell Adam Morrison from Jim Morrison all the way to folks who know each man’s shoe size and favorite flavor of Life Savers.

And I’m changing the name.

It’s now known as March Wrongness, for all the prognosticators and experts- paid and unpaid- who think they have any insight whatsoever into this three week orgy of upsets and upset stomachs. That loud ripping noise you heard last night was millions of illegal office pool brackets across the country being shredded by the likes of George Mason, the little Patriots that could, after they pulled off what’s being called the biggest upset in tournament history. GMU knocked off UCONN in overtime to become just the second 11th seeded team to ever make the Final Four, this being a UCONN team that many (including myself) thought would win the whole thing.

But the Wrongness doesn’t end there. Way back on Selection Sunday, CBS talking heads Jim Nantz and Billy Packer, each of whom are paid handsomely to share their thoughts and insights into this tournament, skewered the chairman of the men’s basketball committee, Craig Littlepage, for including George Mason in the tournament at all. The Patriots did not win their conference title, but in the committee’s opinion, had played well enough during their regular season to warrant an invite to the Big Dance.

Littlepage defended his committee’s choice, but no words on that day could prove his point more than the play of the Patriots over the next four games. They subsequently knocked off three former tournament champions in Michigan St., North Carolina, and UCONN, were never a favorite in any game, and now have become the first team from their conference to make it this far, and the first team from the entire state of Virginia to get to the Final Four in 22 years.

And the Wrongness doesn’t end there either. So many people thought that teams like Duke and Gonzaga were so worthy of a spot in the game’s ultimate party that they were penciling in the Blue Devils and Zags for a spot in Indianapolis before the first jump ball. Neither team will play on the final weekend, mostly because their two superstars, J.J. Redick of Duke and the aforementioned Morrison of Gonzaga, never bothered to show up for their teams at crunch time. Well, that’s a little harsh of Morrison, at least he made some shots for his team, more shots than trips to the barber. And let’s face it: no player who fashions his coif after the incredibly fugly Christianne Amanpour of CNN should be allowed to play a major college sport well.

But Redick has no excuse. He was in line for the national scoring title and countless player of the year honors, then went out and had one of his worst games ever; shooting just 3 for 18 and scoring just 11 points. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 11 more than myself and the Geek-In-Chief scored. Hardly the production of a worthy Player Of The Year candidate. Oh, and the crying as he left the court didn’t do much for me either. Yo J.J.? If you want to feel better about yourself, maybe you shouldn’t miss 83% OF YOUR FRIGGIN SHOTS IN THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE YEAR!!!!!!

So, for the first time since 1986, and just the second time ever since this tournament expanded to 64 teams, all four number one seeds will sit home and watch the championship game from their living rooms. The number one seeds were predicted to be the best four teams in the tournament before it began. You know what predictions like that are called? Wrong.