Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Andromeda Strain Miniseries – Deadly Bad

Remakes always worry me, especially when someone tries to remake a classic. The original 1971 movie “The Andromeda Strain,’ based on Michael Crichton’s novel – was a classic sci-fi thriller. It was understated, it focused on the science, but it was a believable story that drew you in.

I wish I could say the same for the remake miniseries that aired on A&E this week. The previews looked interesting, and as it was produced by Ridley and Tony Scott one would hope it would pack a powerful punch. Sadly, the remake was a total bore and threw in so many unbelievable things above and beyond the original movie that it was laughable.

The story opens, with a completely wasted family scene with Dr. Jeremy Stone (Benjamin Bratt) and his nutty wife and his kid. This whole scenario should have been avoided because it really played no part in the overall story. Then, following a similar pattern to the premise of the original film, a satellite crashes and is discovered by people in a small town, who are promptly killed when the Andromeda virus is unleashed. The Wildfire team of super brainy scientists is then assembled. Way too much time was spent on the introduction of the team, and the related military and political supporting players.

The one thing about the original movie is that they went through a very extreme, yet completely believable scenario of obtaining the satellite, recovering the survivors, and gaining entry into the depths of the Wildfire facility. In the remake, it was as if they were trying very hard to rush through this portion of the story, the most laughable being a simple dousing with liquids while in uniform, and then with foamy soap and water on their bodies. It was like they thought a simple car wash would clean off any trace of not only the virus but any other bacteria of microbes they may have on them that could contaminate their research.

As they race through the discovery of Andromeda – and they did race through it – we are getting an insight into reporter Jack Nash (Eric McCormack), a person with a chemical dependency problem, who stumbles onto the Andromeda story and gets pulled into it. Again, this whole story line was another waste, as it really didn’t add much to the drama of the story and really meant zilch as far as the big picture and the virus itself.

Where the story gets wacky is when they start throwing in every new little thing they can think of, like the nanotech shield of carbon "Bucky Balls” which hide a secret code and the virus being able to communicate with itself. Then there is the wormhole (?!) angle – maybe the virus came from the future! - and the whole story with the vent drilling. It seemed like they took a very simple, yet intense storyline from the original and just complicated it for no reason. Don’t forget during all this drama (?!) that Jeremy Stone talks about his regrets with his love for fellow scientist Dr. Angela Noyce, played unconvincingly by Christa Miller.

They try to weave a complex story of politics, conspiracy, and cover up, and in the process, they lose what made the original successful – which was a completely believable story. This remake had no trace of credibility.

What I found ludicrous is after Andromeda mutates to begin to kill other wildlife such as fish, and then to kill plant life, when the Wildfire finds the magic bullet to kill Andromeda, it seems that they show all the dead water and plant life coming back again. Tell me, how do brown, DEAD trees come back to life and become green and alive again?

The entire cast is flat and one-dimensional. It is hard to care for any of them, and when two of them meet their deaths, it’s almost a relief.

So this remake of the Andromeda Strain gets low marks from me. Don’t waste the four hours to watch it – and if you must, record it and watch it later like I did. A&E was really heavy on the commercial breaks. But, you’d be much better off renting the original 1971 movie. It still stands the test of time.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sex And The City Movie: Here’s One Chick Who Won’t See This Flick

Photo from Vogue
I’m not going to see the Sex And The City Movie. Why? Because I never liked the show. It seemed so horribly shallow and, in my opinion, didn’t represent the type of woman that I always aspired to be. No, that doesn’t mean I wanted to be a nun, it means that I always wanted to be respected for my brains and not for my physical assets, clothes, shoes, etc.

I had watched the show a few times, years ago when it was on HBO, and I couldn’t understand why some people seemed so enamored with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) Samantha (Kim Cattrall) Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). Yes I did get why some people were enamored with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) – being a die-hard Law & Order fan I thought that Chris was the best thing that happened to crime shows. But the ladies all seemed to be devoid of any real intelligence and frankly, seemed unattractive as human beings.

The SATC women seem to personify the word bimbo. At least, that’s the impression that I got. And I get amused when I see pictures of Sarah Jessica Parker in a photograph where she’s posed to look beautiful – and she really isn’t. I think I would have found the show more real if Carrie wasn’t so enamored with herself. And as far as Chris Noth, well, even he can’t draw me to see this movie. I think it’s the Elvis -“I just colored my hair with black shoe polish”- look to his hair. There’s just something so wrong with how he’s starting to look. Granted, since I haven’t seen the movie I can’t tell if they’re aging him a little with some gray hair, but with all the promotional photos for the movie that I see, all I can see is that fake, too-black hair.

I also wonder how well this movie will do at the box office, since most men won’t be caught dead seeing it. Well, not unless they are forced to by their wife/girlfriend/significant other.

The guys may be right. This movie, like the TV series, may be best avoided.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

X-Files “I Want to Believe” Is Coming

All Images from Fox

The X-Files movie, “The X-Files: I Want to Believe,” is scheduled for release on July 25th. And I want to believe that it will be a great addition to the whole X-Files story and mythology. It stars the two linchpins of the series, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. But since Chris Carter is being very tight lipped about the premise of the movie, it’s hard to know whether it covers a part of the X-Files TV story that interests me. All 20th Century Fox has said is that "the supernatural thriller is a stand-alone story in the tradition of some of the show's most acclaimed and beloved episodes, and takes the always-complicated relationship between Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) in unexpected directions."

The trailer can be viewed below, and also on the official movie web site, here. Take a look. I am sure die hard fans of the X-Files TV series will not want to miss the new film.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Law & Order ‘Excalibur”: Watch Your Back, Jack

Watch your back, Jack

The Law & Order season finale, “Excalibur,” posed an unusual situation for Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston). He tries to do the right thing, and instead he winds up getting himself into deep trouble with the Governor.

The episode involves what seems to be your average, everyday murder, but it leads to the Governor’s involvement in a prostitution ring, coupled with the Feds wanting to take the Governor down for corruption. Think of the Eliot Spitzer story with a few twists. McCoy, out of loyalty and possibly respect, gives the Governor a heads up. The Governor (not credibly portrayed by Tom Everett Scott) repays Jack for his trouble by planting a story about McCoy taking a personal trip on the DA’s office’s dime (it’s not true). It gets worse when McCoy is forced to list the Governor as a witness in the murder trial, and he and McCoy quarrel. Even the Governor’s wife puts the pressure on McCoy, but he stands firm. Still, the Governor – and/or his wife – finds a way to throw a wrench into the case, ending with a plea bargain, and resulting in the Governor not needing to testify. His secret is safe – for now.

McCoy now has a new enemy, a situation that could cause repercussions next season.

This was a great ending to the season for Law & Order. Some say the show is getting a little long in the tooth, many say that it hasn’t quite recovered from Jerry Orbach leaving the show years ago. Even more risky this season was virtually a completely new cast. Both Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) are new, with Anderson just joining the show within the last few episodes. While McCoy was bumped up to top dog in the DA’s office, he has a new Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) with ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) in her second season. Sisto and Anderson seem to work well together. Sisto needs to speak up a little and work on his diction; Anderson has possibilities for injecting the sarcastic comic relief that has been sadly missing from the show since Jerry left. (No one will ever really be able to replace Jerry and his character of Lennie Briscoe.) And there have been sparks – both good and bad – between Cutter and Rubirosa, just enough to make one wonder how much of it is sexual tension and how much of it is annoyance. And while this is De La Garza’s second season, it’s almost like she’s a new person. They’ve softened her look, and they’ve made her a woman who can stand up for herself and not hide behind her boss.

But the real change is with Jack McCoy. While one may think he’s the same Jack that he was when he was the EADA, he now seems less impulsive, yet somehow more determined. The passion for his work is still there, he just seems to be pacing himself and is a little more selective on the battles he chooses. But when he chooses his battle, that’s when the old Jack reappears. In the case of “Excalibur,” Jack’s self-righteous streak re-appears, but with good reason. Jack has never been one to tolerate corruption, much less in elected officials. While I hoped that Jack would be victorious in taking down the Governor, his failure adds a new slant to whether Jack will continue to be an effective District Attorney next season, considering he now may have a very powerful enemy.

Comparing Law & Order to one of its sister shows, Law & Order SVU, it seems evident to me that Law & Order is working well while it reinvents itself, while SVU seems to be caught in a bit of a downward trend. It’s not that SVU needs a cast shakeup, it’s more that SVU needs more work in developing the characters it has into character that viewers can see grow and develop. They failed when they added Detective Chester Lake (Adam Beach) to the mix, destroying the chemistry with the squad. They seem to have Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) in a rut. With Law & Order, cast changes have almost become routine, but they also seem to know how to take popular, established characters and improve them. Jack McCoy is the perfect example – his character may be even more interesting now that he’s in a new position. SVU should take some lessons from “the mothership” show and reinvent their key characters.

So what’s on the horizon for Jack McCoy? Probably more trouble. That could mean that viewers could be in for some fireworks next season. You can bet I’ll be watching.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dancing with the CSI Miami Stars, Part 2

You asked for it…you got it. It’s Part 2 of "Dancing with the CSI Miami Stars." It features all of your favorite CSI Miami characters: Horatio Caine, Calleigh Duquense, Ryan Wolfe , Eric Delko, Natalia Boa Vista, and Frank Tripp.

My sincerest apologies to Rex Linn.

Part 1 can be found here.

Dancing with the CSI Miami Stars, Part 2

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NCIS: Judgment Day Shakeup

Photos CBS

Well, never in the history of television have I been so thrilled over a main character’s death. In the case of NCIS, it’s the death of "Madame" Director, Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly). In my blog entry for April 16 (here) I hoped it would be her, but since the buzz on the season finale “Judgment Day (Part 1 & 2)” was supposed to have some major death that would change NCIS forever, I assumed it wouldn’t be her, because I just didn’t think her death would have that kind of impact on the show. I’m so glad that they jettisoned this character – and Lauren Holly with it – because she just annoyed the living daylights out of me. Maybe now we won’t be forced to endure one of the most uninteresting story arcs out there involving “The Frog, AKA La Grenouille”. It was overly confusing, it was complicated, it was just a story line that didn’t connect. It may have been the show’s attempt to have a story arc that spanned several episodes to build interest, as many crime procedurals seem to be trying to do these days. It just didn't work. One thing that was missing from that story arc that is very important - that is, if you want viewers to be drawn in and want to watch more - is that viewers have to CARE about the people involved. In the case of Jenny Shepard, I could have cared less about her past and her inner demons. My opinion is there were a lot of other viewers out there like me, and there was probably mass cheering when Jenny’s body was discovered.

During this two-part episode, it becomes evident that NCIS Asst. Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) will be here to stay for a while. While the death of Jenny is being investigated by Vance, and also by Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team, it is clear that the team doesn’t trust Vance, and they don't trust him. As Vance tries to find out the identity of the mystery person present at the shooting at the diner where Jenny was killed, Gibbs works just as hard to cover up that it was his long time colleague, Mike Franks (Muse Watson). It plays out in a typical NCIS way: Gibbs does his own thing, while his team is caught between helping him and helping Vance. All the while we see Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly) get snippy, Ducky (David McCallum) muse over the events, Abby (Pauley Perrette) have an emotional breakdown, McGee (Sean Murray) magically find the needed information, and Ziva (Cote de Pablo) trying to smack some sense into Dinozzo. It was all horribly predictable.

While Vance is trying to have Mike Franks stopped at the Mexican border, he discovers Mike is one step ahead of him and has recovered the file that is supposed to be the “insurance policy” hidden by the original murder victim that started this whole thing, William Decker.

Gibbs, meanwhile, has gone to Jenny’s home, looking for information and then eventually waiting for the mystery woman who has a connection to the original case that Jenny and Jethro worked on years ago. Apparently Jenny did not properly handle her assignment, which has now come back to haunt Gibbs. Snore. It seems like this show always tried to make such a big deal about Jenny and Jethro’s past when they worked together years ago, but I never seemed to care about the whole thing. It’s probably because I never really cared for Jenny, period.

The mystery woman - Natasha Lenkov (Kathleen Gati) – confronts Gibbs at Jenny’s home, and lucky for Gibbs, Mike Franks is waiting in the wings and shoots her. We later see Gibbs and Franks walking away from Jenny’s burning home, a fire they clearly started to cover up the body. I have major issues with this. First of all, by starting a fire of that nature, they endangered the lives and homes of the people who leaved nearby. This was reckless. It also seemed odd that Vance, who was determined to get to the bottom of Shepard’s death, was quick to help cover up everything. The normal response would be for him to have Gibbs' head, not to help perpetuate hiding the truth. But, it does give him an excuse for shaking up the NCIS team – well, for everyone except Ducky and Abby. Ziva’s liaison position is eliminated and she’s sent packing, McGee is transferred to cyber crimes, Dinozzo is reassigned to the USS Ronald Reagan, and Gibbs is told he’s getting a new team.

I suppose we are to think that this shakeup will change the show forever. Well, if that means that the first few episodes will mean that we’ll see how Gibbs works with a new team while the old team works from the periphery, I think this plot device has been used before for other shows. The most recent that comes to mind is Fox’s “House”, where, for different reasons, House gets a new diagnostic team, while the old team still hangs on. It really didn’t seem to help that show, seeing that viewership in “House” has dropped off. Sometimes it is not good to mess with a formula, or a cast, that works well. I am not sure how NCIS will quite pull this off, but I can’t imagine that they would relegate their core cast to minor players. Bottom line is that I am not buying in to what was billed as a shocking twist. In all honesty, Gibbs should have been fired, but that would mean that Vance would have to expose Jenny’s murder and all the events before it and after it.

The show also seems to be trying again to create a spark with Tony and Ziva. I’m honestly on the fence about these two. When Ziva came to the show, Tony was still acting like a juvenile and their banter was filled with silly, immature sexual innuendo. They seem to have downplayed that a bit, and the two seemed to have better chemistry. In this episode, they have Tony returning to his juvenile ways (photographing Ziva in her bikini), and it seems like they are trying to make Ziva present a more attractive image. At the same time, they try to make Ziva out to be the voice of reason and common sense, somewhat of a “ying” to Tony’s “yang.” It just does not work for me, and I think it is an error for them to try to put these two together in any other way that just close working colleagues.

NCIS is somewhat of an enigma to me. I like the chemistry between the characters, yet I also find the dialog sometimes very forced and predictable. Some of the characters seem to be falling into a rut, where they become flat, two-dimensional characters without depth. Worse yet, I don’t feel much attachment to many of them, and I admit that I am becoming bored with Gibbs and his angst. He is actually becoming somewhat of an annoyance, which is not a good thing, considering he is the star of the show.

Let’s hope, however they play out this shakeup, that maybe it will bring some new life to Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CSI Miami Going Ballistic: Caine’s Sunglasses a Casualty

All Photos CBS

Actually, this episode of CSI Miami was rather good, if you could look past some of the corniest lines of the season, the complicated storyline, the appearance of Horatio's son and his mother, etc.

The story begins with the death of Manny Ortega (Jay Tavare) who appears to have fallen from a high floor of a building. While inspecting the body, brand new medical examiner Shannon Higgins (Allison McAtee) thinks that Ortega is still alive when she hears him breathe. She calls out for assistance, shots are fired, and the whole crime scene is sprayed with bullets, everyone scattering for cover. Sadly, the new ME is shot dead, along with the already dead Manny Ortega. Of course, even though she’s an experienced ME, Eric seems to think she didn’t know the difference between a breath, and a death rattle. We also get introduced to the replacement of the replacement ME, Thomas Wellner (Kurt Long), a funny last name for someone who deals with the dead.

In an obvious scene that screams “I’m involved in the crime,” Manny’s brother Juan Ortega (Jose Zuniga) comes to see the body and immediately asks for Manny’s belongings. Later, they discover that Manny dropped from a nearby building and locate blood at the scene, which traces to ETF Agent Evan Caldwell (David Keith), and to a case he’s working on involving illegal ammunition sales. As Caldwell explains himself to Horatio Caine (David Caruso), we get this dialog:

Caine: Am I…supposed to be satisfied by this?
Caldwell: I guess you’ll have to be.
Caine: Not for long…agent. Beat it.
Caldwell: Toodaloo.

Beat it? Toodaloo? Wow, those are fierce fighting words.

Later it’s discovered that the shots came from a nearby parking garage, which apparently the team was completely blinded to because of the sun. Personally, I would think a wide-open parking garage should have been one of the first places they checked for a sniper. They also believe that the ammo misfired and that someone probably got injured, leading them to Ron Saris (Kim Coastes), who is in a relationship with Julia Winston (Elizabeth Berkley), Horatio’s old flame and the brat’s – I mean Kyle Harmon’s (Evan Ellingson) mother. Of course, Ho and Ron verbally spar, with Ron making veiled threats to Horatio.

Later, getting prints off the casing leads them to a company selling ammunition, run by Brad Gower (Steve Braun) who denies any involvement. Calleigh (Emily Procter), while studying the bullet, gets distracted by a phone call and the bullet rolls off the table and discharges, firing into the ceiling and causing an explosion and fire. So much for her refresher proficiency training. Of course it’s not her fault, seeing that the bullet was old and defective. (It's never her fault, you know. She's perfect!)

But, Eric finds one magic bullet undamaged in the rubble, and traces it back to Brad Gower. We find out he’s very involved in moving old ammunition, and while carting him away, Brad gets shot by a sniper. Calleigh later questions EFT Agent Caldwell and gets more information and a list of people he has been investigating. One of them is, of course, Ron Saris. Ron claims he has an alibi, that he was marrying Julia at the time, and again levels a few threats at Horatio. Horatio has nothing of it, saying Ron will be dead by father’s day. Horatio then talks with Julia and asks her to meet him at the airstrip afterwards with Kyle so he can whisk them to safety. She agrees but Kyle is unhappy.

Meanwhile, the CSIs continue to track the second sniper and thanks to Bluetooth – which strangely sounded like an ad for Bluetooth in the scene – they trace the car back to Colin Madison (Lyriq Bent) who worked for Brad. During questioning of Brad, Ryan excuses himself, saying he is late for something and will explain later. Colin admits to the killing, but says he was forced into it by Juan Ortega. Of course, when they go after Juan, they finally put together that he wanted his brother’s belongings because he was concerned there was evidence implicating him in the ammunition deals.

Juliet also excuses herself from the brat – I mean Kyle – and says she has to take care of something, and leaves. I’d like to take this moment to say that I find Elizabeth Berkley extremely scary looking. We then see Juan in custody, calling someone to tell them to take out Caine, and then see Kyle loading a gun. Clearly, trouble will ensue.

As Horatio Caine waits patiently on the super black glossy airstrip, which appeared to be newly waxed or something, the jet revs its engines. Horatio removes his sunglasses and we hear gunfire – and Horatio drops to the shiny ground, his sunglasses sporting a hole in the lense. While Horatio seems to twitch from injury, Ryan is getting a text message telling him “It’s done,” which we are probably supposed to think it’s Horatio’s shooting and it probably really is something stupid like it’s his dry cleaning that’s finished.

Horatio on the super glossy tarmack

Of course, we get the long pullback through the fatally shattered Sunglasses Of Justice, with Horatio’s face seen through the lens as he lay on the shiny, mirror-like ground.


Of course, since we know that drama queen David Caruso is the whole reason why this show exists (he may think it’s why the WORLD exists), it is doubtful he’s dead. Just the fact that the sunglasses were not on his face, we only heard ONE gunshot, and the hole is in his glasses, that Horatio is either just injured or maybe even faking being dead. What I find amusing is that the best acting Caruso has done in years is when he’s shot and apparently dying.

As everyone in law enforcement outside of Caine’s department are bad people, I am sure that Agent Caldwell will turn out to be evil and involved. And I am sure that the whole text message with Ryan is a red herring and it’s only his dry cleaning that’s done.

Still, despite the badness with this show, one just has to watch. Despite being compellingly bad, this season finale sets up a whole world of possibilities for next season for even more badness.

And I am sure right now many of the top sunglasses companies are vying to be Horatio’s new shades of choice. The drama…I almost can’t take it!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Law & Order SVU: The Viewers are the Special Victims

Back in November last year, I wrote about how Law & Order SVU hit rock bottom. The season is now over and I think SVU hasn’t risen from the depths since the start of the season. The season finale is the prime example of how low this show has gone.

For starters, after all these years, Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) appears not to have grown beyond being a hotheaded, impulsive jerk. Not only is he still a bit of a loose canon, he also seems to have forgotten that there are other people on the SVU team besides Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). In the season finale (“Cold”), Stabler shows his mistrust by pulling phone records on Fin (Ice-T) instead of simply asking him for the information he needs. He is also quick to assume that Detective Chester Lake (Adam Beach) is a guilty man. Unless Elliot grows past his childish, self-centered behavior, this show will continue to lose its edge. An example of a team that has grown and developed can be seen watching the season finale of CSI, where the CSIs take all steps possible to prove that one of their own is not a cold blooded murderer.

Olivia Benson has made more judgment errors than I care to count this season, the worst being in the episode “Authority” where she finds herself going from a position of control to being taken hostage by nutball Merrick Rook (Robin Williams). Olivia approaches him without her partner present, and seemingly makes no move to restrain him. Soon he has the upper hand and she’s held hostage.

The show also really messed with the chemistry of the entire SVU team by bringing in Detective Chester Lake (Adam Beach) to the group, totally messing up the great partnership between Fin (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer). Thankfully Beach is now gone from the show, his exit in the season finale strange and almost out of character for the character of Chester Lake.

The only character in the show who seemed steady and consistent was Captain Cragen (Dann Florek).

And the storylines were...weird. I don’t know how else to put it. They seemed to be taking such great pains to highlight Hargitay and Meloni, all that was missing was a billboard in every scene saying “give me an Emmy.” It was pathetic.

They also never seemed to get a good feel for the legal side of the show. It was hard to figure out exactly what kind of ADA that Casey Novak (Diane Neal) was trying to be. In the last several episodes, they appeared to dumb her down to the point that she may as well have been working for the defense. I don’t know if the problems were from the writers, or Neal, or both, but it seemed clear towards the last few episodes that somebody just didn’t want Diane Neal around any more. I think she could have done much better if the writers could have found a consistent persona for her.

The one big thing that was missing was the drama. I am a huge fan of all the Law & Order shows, but I found myself almost dreading SVU. The only drama I could see was in my DVR time indicator, which would tell me how much more of the show that I had to force myself to watch. Some of the episodes were almost an insult to my intelligence, and I found myself laughing at how bad they were. And it’s not like watching CSI Miami and laughing, because one almost expects CSI Miami to be comedy because it’s always been a bit of a joke. But the types of crimes that SVU deals with shouldn’t be making one laugh.

Here’s hoping that next season they somehow get the squad back in order and get the chemistry restored, and find a way to put the edge back into the show. I think if they can stop the obvious begging for Emmys for Hargitay and Meloni they may be able to do it.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

CSI “For Gedda” Is Unforgettable

Photo CBS

The season ending episode for CSI – “For Gedda” – was probably one of THE best season finales for any TV show that I’ve seen in a long time.

Unlike the Law & Order SVU season finale (“Cold” ), where it seems the detectives seem to turn against themselves (mostly Elliot Stabler - played by Chris Meloni), the Las Vegas CSI team rally around one of their own who is in trouble, in order to clear his name.

When a second body is discovered in a casket that is about to be interred, it is identified as a private investigator that Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) knows. It also leads to trouble for Warrick as he is soon found standing over the tortured and dead body of Lou Gedda (John Capodice), a notorious local crime figure. Gedda has also created problems for Warrick in the past, setting Warrick up for the murder of one of Gedda’s female employees.

Warrick can’t recall what happened. Internal Affairs is ready to skewer him, but the rest of the CSI team finds a way to work within their restrictions against working on the case, and they find enough evidence to clear Warrick. Grissom (William Petersen) tells Warrick, though, that he must be demoted from his job as a CSI, but he still HAS a job. A grateful Warrick is later seen having breakfast with the team, and one may think that the show will end on a happy note.

Somehow, though, I didn’t have that happy feeling. The bad feelings got stronger as Warrick walked to his car in the alley. I admit I fully expected that his car would explode when he started it, but instead, Warrick is interrupted by someone outside, and rolls down his window to find Undersheriff McKeen (Conor O'Farrell) standing there. OK, now I have a really bad feeling. You see, since there had been speculation that there was someone working inside Las Vegas law enforcement for Lou Gedda, it was assumed that they had found the cop that was the insider. But seeing the Undersheriff standing at Warrick’s car made me very uneasy. I was made even more so when the Undersherrif casualy questions Warrick about his resolve with the case, and Warrick gives what is probably the wrong answer – he isn’t backing down.

The Undersheriff pulls a gun, and fatally shoots Warrick Brown.

While I fully expected Warrick to die in this episode, I certainly didn’t it expect to happen in that manner, and by someone so high up in the law enforcement chain. It could only mean one thing – this show could really get interesting next year if they continues to pursue this story. And that’s what makes this season finale so great – it was a shocking farewell to a major character, but sets up suspense for the coming year.

So even with this being the completion of the eighth season for CSI, it certainly indicates that the show has a lot of life and excitement left. I am impressed with the way that the show seems to take risks with storylines, and seems to reinvent itself with every episode.

So here’s one viewer who is really looking forward to next season with CSI. It could be a thrilling one.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bones Sets Up the Season Finale

The episode “A Wannabe In The Weeds” (aired Monday May 12), which was pretty good all on it’s own, carries the suspense through to the season finale, “The Pain in the Heart.” In “Wannabe”, an amateur singer is found dead in a grassy location, and the investigation sends Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) to the restaurant/bar where the singer tried out on open mic nights. The case is interesting enough, but in this case this episode seems to dwell less on the science and more on chemistry – that is, the chemistry between Booth, Bones, and the other major characters. This is the one strong thing that this show has had from day one – the great working relationship between Booth and Bones. Right now, they could be the most intriguing couple on TV these days. It is reminiscent of the great chemistry between Skully and Mulder on the X-Files, only in this case, Booth and Bones seem more real and livelier.

The episode "Wannabe" ends with Bones performing on the stage at the restaurant, and with the appearance of Booth’s stalker, who shoots Booth out of jealousy. What was really interesting about this scene was the expert way that Bones handled the gun she always was so keen to carry.

“Wannabe” ends with the fate of Booth still unknown, but we all have to believe that there is no way they would kill off the one person who is such a linchpin for the show. The next episode, which is the season finale, should answer that question but should open up some new problems. (Warning, some spoilers!) It seems that a human jawbone shows up at the Jeffersonian, and the team concludes that the Gormogon serial killer has struck again. An explosion in the lab sends Zack (Eric Millegan) to the hospital, Gormogon’s silver skeleton goes missing from the vault, and all the Jeffersonian employees become potential suspects. Could one of these people actually be working with this serial killer? The video below contains some spoilers.

I wrote about Bones this past March (here) and how I think this show can grow on you. The more I watch it, the more I like it. It’s not so much about the crimes as much as it’s about Booth and Bones exploring the differences between themselves – how they work, how they relate to others. Sometimes Booth can be too goofy, sometimes Bones too clinical. Still, even when they go to extremes, they seem to balance each other well.

So if you’ve been following this show, make sure you catch the season finale, which will air on Monday, May 19. And if you haven’t watched the show, it still may be a good time to start. It looks like this season ending could be interesting!

Video from TV Guide – Spoiler Alert!

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Monday, May 12, 2008

CNBC: The Dullest Network on Television

Let me start off by saying that my husband is home from work today. He’s on vacation for the week. This only means one thing for my morning television viewing: I will have to watch a lot of CNBC. And watching this channel is like watching paint dry. No wait, it’s like watching paint PEEL. I think my husband isn't really even watching it, it's like a white noise in the background as he works on other stuff or reads the paper.

Can there be anything more boring than watching a bunch of lifeless talking heads cover the dull world of business? No matter how you cut it, it’s still a dull topic. There isn’t much, except for the occasional business scandal or huge merger or acquisition that could make this channel even remotely interesting.

“Squawk Box,” their morning segment, involves a group of talking heads sitting around a large counter-like desk, sitting with their computers close by where they can pull up charts for any company that they discuss. It looks like watching a few hours of an EKG chart being displayed, with jagged lines up and down, depending on how the stock in question has moved. Occasionally, they attempt witty banter, which comes across as forced or condescending. Most annoying is Joe Kernen, who every time I seem to watch the show, he seemed focused more on himself than the business world.

At 9:00 before the market opens, Mark Haines, who used to be on Squawk Box, now wisely has moved away from the snooty Squawk Box group into the more interactive segments on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It makes for a more interesting backdrop, but still fails at attempts to make the dull world of business seem exhilarating. Even worse is the omnipresent Erin Burnett, who seems to be the golden girl of CNBC, as she seems to show up frequently on The Today Show and the NBC Nightly News. I am not sure why they are so enamored with her as she seems to lack any real substance.

Thankfully, my husband changed the channel, becoming bored himself. CNBC won’t go back on in this household again until 6:00 PM, when Jim Cramer starts his show, Mad Money. At first, I really didn’t care for Jim Cramer that much. But, it grew on me a bit, and I wrote about it last November (here) that it’s part business show, part sideshow. And I think that’s what makes the show work. Jim is unconventional, he uses props and a sound effects board to bring home his point. He also just doesn’t spout his opinions on stocks, he teaches people how to invest. My husband has almost all of his books, and I’ve actually read some of them myself. I believe that Jim may be one of the most down to earth, realistic, and educational business anchors on television today. In fact, I think that he may be the one person who continues to draw more viewers to CNBC. Now, mind you, I don’t make any promises or predictions on his accuracy. I think there are a few websites out there who track his performance and he has made some mistakes. But, Jim admits those mistakes himself, and often warns people to make sure they do their own homework and make their own choices.

I’m not saying that the rest of CNBC should look like Cramer’s Mad Money, but they do need to do something to the old “talking heads around a desk” format. It’s old, it’s dated, it just doesn’t really inform. It’s just…there. I can’t think of one thing on this show that would even remotely draw in viewers who aren’t already tuned in to the boring world of stock charts. Even more puzzling is Fox must think there are a lot of casual business news viewers because they started their Fox Business Channel several months ago in direct competition with CNBC. You know, that channel COULD actually be worse than CNBC, but I consider CNBC the worst because they’ve been around longer and they should have already found a way to make the business world intriguing.

So if you want to learn more about buying stocks, start with Jim Cramer’s show Mad Money. You may actually learn something. And unless you want to be bored to tears, avoid “Squawk Box” at all costs. You likely will be asleep before the market opens.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

CSI Miami: Caruso and Procter Video Interview

David Caruso and Emily Procter talk about their CSI Miami roles, the show, and this season's finale in this video. Enjoy!

I can't seem to get the video to embed here, so you can access it via this link to the video on CBS’s web site.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

CSI Miami : Alexx Bids A Saccharine Goodbye


Last night’s episode of CSI Miami, “Rock and a Hard Place,” is where Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander) bids goodbye to her job as medical examiner for the Miami Dade Police Department. After watching her use poor judgment in this episode, the only surprise is that Horatio (David Caruso) didn’t fire her beforehand.

The story begins with what looks like a jet skiing accident, and turns out to be murder. A piece of unusually colored flagstone is found at the murder site and it is believed it was thrown off the bridge at the victim. While doing further work on the crime scene, Ryan (Jonathan Togo) finds a pill on the top of the bridge and picks it up. The shot of the pill is laughable, as the proportions are way off. What looked like a small pill on the bridge now looks like a tablet the size of a hockey puck between Ryan’s thumb and fingers.

Alexx of course is doing the autopsy on the body, but takes a break and checks out what Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) is working on. She recognizes the flagstone and the writing on the back, which has her daughter Jamie’s name scribbled on it. She knows that flagstone came from her property, but tells NO ONE. In my opinion, this was a mistake that should have triggered her termination when it was discovered. But of course this is CSI Miami so nothing goes as it would in reality. Alexx tries to contact her husband to find out if he knows anything. Her son visits her at the lab, and she asks him if he knows anything but he avoids implicating himself. Still Alexx knows this is stone from her property and tells no one – even after her son informs her that Horatio was at her home. This should have been her first clue to come forward, but no, she still goes on her merry way.

Soon afterwards, her son is calling her to come to a warehouse and that he needs her help, and she drops everything and goes there. She finds him standing over one of the original suspects, Trey Holt (Toby Hemingway), with a bloody knife in his hand. Of course, she must call for an ambulance, and does so, hanging up before she even gives them a location or address. I guess the Miami Dade EMS people are mind readers, too. She tells her son to wait in the car, and he flees instead.

Alexx asks Eric to withhold checking out fingerprints but says it’s OK to check the blood for DNA. Eric cuts her some slack and says he’ll hold on the prints. He should have told her that she needed to clue in Horatio to the problem. Still, she does not.

To make a long story short, the murder was orchestrated by Agent Brad Sylvestri (Jack McGee) and under the searing scrutiny of Horatio Caine, he folds like it’s laundry day.


Alexx of course decides that she’s spent too much time with dead bodies and resigns, wanting to focus on her family. Then, creepily, she begins an autopsy, saying that “you are my last one,” as the camera lingers on her over the top handling of the body, that hinted at sensuality. Ick.

As if to torture the viewers, we get what seems like an eternity of sappy, seemingly wordless goodbyes with her colleagues. I was so glad when it was over.

What I found amusing about this episode is again it seems like someone in the wardrobe department decided this would be their “green” episode. There were many people wearing something that included green: Frank’s tie, Mary the jet-skier’s suit, Ryan’s tie and shirt, Valera’s blouse, Callie, Trey’s shirt, and Alexx’s son Brian’s shirt. Either the wardrobe people are very simple minded and can only think of one color at a time, or they get batches of clothes on clearance and they decide to use it all at once. It seems lazy to me.

What I really didn’t like about the episode was the complete lack of drama. It would have been much better if Alexx was fired for not revealing her connection to the case, or impeding an investigation, etc. Instead, Horatio lets it all slide. The show missed an opportunity for a serious, maybe credible exit for a character, and instead we get something that is so watered down that it’s almost and insult to Khandi Alexander. I was on the fence about her leaving, now I am hoping that maybe they will bring someone in that will give the writers a chance for a new direction. Seeing what past history with CSI Miami has been, and the lack of credible scenarios in this show, I won’t be holding my breath.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

CSI NY and CSI (LV) Highly Watchable; CSI Miami Highly Laughable

Last December, I called CSI NY ”the weak sibling.” I’ve also been indifferent, ok , maybe happy, with Jorja Fox leaving leaving CSI quite some time ago.

But now I’d like to go on record to say that I don’t think CSI NY is the weak sibling any more, and I think with Jorja Fox leaving CSI, the show has become stronger than ever.

Starting with the “original recipe” CSI, they’ve been turning out some really interesting episodes as of late. Grissom’s Divine Comedy which aired in April was an excellent episode, with fantastic acting from everyone including the guest star, and a story that provided a challenging case for a change. And the episode that just aired on May 1, “The Theory of Everything” was light and comedic, and actually somewhat believable. The chemistry between characters seems solid, and more and more I find myself enjoying the interaction between Hodges (Wallace Langham) and Grissom (William Petersen), and Grissom's feeling of being “stalked” by him. To me, Grissom has much better chemistry with Hodges than any other character on the show, maybe because they are alike in many ways?

Now, on to CSI NY. I take back everything I said about the show when I wrote about it here last December. Maybe because the 333 stalker is gone, maybe because they seem to be focusing less on personal relationships, but the show just seems more compelling now. I actually find myself caring about what happens to the characters, and yes, I am even starting to think that Gary Sinise is doing a good job in his role. Maybe it’s better because the new on-going storyline with the cab killer is more interesting and a better fit for the show, and seems, at least for now, a little less personally tied to any one of the characters. It seems to be adding more suspense to the show, something that I think has been lacking for a while.

Now, since I mention two shows in the CSI franchise, I can’t leave this topic without mentioning CSI Miami. It’s horrific, it’s campy, it has scenery-chewer and drama queen David Caruso in it. It’s probably the laughing stock of serious drama. But, I watch it every single week. I know the show has a huge following world wide, and I know Caruso probably has the most rabid fan base – ranging from stalkers to haters – out there, probably more so than any other actor. (Well, Vincent D’Onofrio could fit that same description, but I digress.) Every week, as I watch the show, I poke holes in their forensics, their acting, their clothes, their stories – everything. Yet. I. Still. Watch. It is probably an illness of some sort, I know. But maybe it’s because I know it’s so bad that makes me feel OK with continuing on. So I now proclaim CSI Miami as the weak sibling. I also find myself wondering if they ever brought this show to the level of storylines and acting in the other two CSI franchise shows, this show could really kill.

And how to do that is certainly a mystery, maybe even worthy of Horatio Caine.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

American Idol Needs Improvement

American Idol is one of those shows that I watch, but only after they’ve gone through the process of eliminating the people who can’t sing. Well, at least one hopes they did. It seems that after they clear out the ones that have zero talent, we’re still left with a group of 12 contestants, some of which really aren’t all that great. I always find it hard to believe that after auditioning many thousands of people, that the group of 12 left is the best they can do.

Inevitably as the process moves along, the singer’s weaknesses and talents become more obvious. This season, the clear star seems to be David Cook, who even if he were to not win, should have a stellar career. The man is clearly talented and a versatile singer, with the style that seems relevant and intriguing to all ages. (I’m in my early 50s and have really enjoyed his performance.) As far as I am concerned, everyone else pales by comparison, but the judges seem to clearly be pumping up the status of a few marginal contestants – and tearing down others - to at least make it seem interesting.

This seemed to backfire on them when, late week, Carly Smithson was voted off the show. Granted, I don’t think Carly could have gone the distance and won, but I think she had a much more solid singing voice than does the breathy Jason Castro. But, Simon Cowell seemed to voice to many concerns about Carly – and he and the rest of the judges (Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul) didn’t work hard enough to be seriously critical of Castro. So here we are, left with Jason Castro in the top 4, and he has shown virtually no growth, range, or depth in his breathy, wispy singing style.

Raising the question of the judgment of the judges was flung into the spotlight when, this past week, Paula Abdul, while providing a brief critique of Jason Castro, commented on a performance that he hadn’t even done yet. Randy tried to explain it away, Ryan Seacrest tried to joke around it, but it sat there like a giant elephant. The next day, Paula tried to explain it away again, and Ryan Seacrest said on the show, “Just for the record: The rumors -- they're not true. She's part of our family, and we love her." Of course, he never said what those rumors were, but I assume that it was either that she was getting fired or she has some sort of chemical dependency problem.

The situation has, in my opinion, intensified the need for this show to undergo some changes. Nothing radical, mind you, just something to bring new life into it.

First, they do need to get rid of Paula Abdul. It’s getting to be embarrassing and even uncomfortable watching here, every week, blather nonsense to the contestants, rarely offering any serious criticism. She seems to frequently say things like “you are you” or “you show who you are” etc., and I find myself scratching my head wondering just what she is trying to telling them. And for her to get so confused to rate a performance that didn’t even happen not only shows how bubble-headed she is, but was an insult to the performer and probably grossly unfair to him as well. Granted, Jason Castro is awful but he doesn’t deserve to be humiliated in such a fashion.

Second, they need to change the judging a bit. My suggestion is that until they get to the final 4, the judges should have some sort of veto power over the popular vote. I’m thinking that of the bottom two vote getters, if the judges think that the voters got the one with the least votes wrong, they should be able to take, for example, the second to the bottom and eliminate them instead. Something like this could have saved Chris Daughtry in a previous season. It could have saved Carly Smithson this season, after all Brook White and Jason Castro were far worse than her.

Bottom line is American Idol is getting a little tiresome and a little too complacent. I’ve read reports (LA Times Article example) that viewship, while still strong and impressive for American Idol, is dipping down. The show is still a huge draw, but clearly it is showing a slow leak. I assume that AI's core demographic is the 18-49 age group, but it seems like the voting is coming from the 11-16 year old age group (considering Jason Castro and David Archuleta are still there). Either they need to find another way for people to vote (via Internet maybe) or they need to raise the level of talent so more adults will participate. The show may be losing the older viewers who may not be inclined to vote via phone, or who may be becoming disgusted with the immature talent. AI also needs to work harder to find the best talent and get it to the top. I think America’s disillusionment is also showing in lackluster record sales for many of the winners, some being dropped by record labels as soon as they can legally do so. The show needs to do something to plug the hole and bring some respectability, and credibility to the show.

And firing Paula Abdul may be the first step to that process.

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