Friday, June 27, 2008

The Law & Order Universe Welcomes Two New Stars

The New Kids on the Law & Order Block: McManus & Goldblum

The Law & Order franchise universe is a little bit like the weather in Cleveland, Ohio: just wait a few minutes and it will change.

This past week, one replacement was announced for Law & Order SVU, and one change and replacement were made for Law & Order Criminal Intent.

For SVU, a replacement was named for Diane Neal, who played ADA Casey Novak. The new ADA, yet to have a name, will be played by Michaela McManus. Michaela had a recurring role on "One Tree Hill,” a show that I never watched and know absolutely nothing about. This is a good thing for me, because I’ll be watching her performance starting with a clean slate.

And, for Law & Order Criminal Intent, it was reported yesterday by many sources that Chris Noth will be leaving the show, and be replaced by Jeff Goldblum. This isn’t the first time that Noth has taken his leave of the franchise, and one can only wonder if they’ve planned an exit for him that will make it certain he can’t come back. Chris seems to be in the media a lot lately, with the recent successful release of the “Sex and the City Movie.” As a result, I find myself wondering, has Chris caught the “David Caruso Syndrome,” where he leaves TV because he thinks movies will be his big ticket? Needless to say, while Chris is much older than Caruso when Caruso snubbed his nose at TV, Chris may have a slightly better chance at having a movie career. But, with Noth seemingly typecast as the handsome leading man, I am not sure if he can milk this for too much longer, seeing that he seems to be getting a little rough around the edges.

Goldblum, on the other hand, may be a good spark for Criminal Intent. While CI seems to be making interesting and compelling story lines for the Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathyrn Erbe half, the Noth/Wheeler half has been stagnant. Personally, I think they never had quite the right feel for Mike Logan. Goldblum may be a bit of a risky bet, as some seem to either love him or hate him. I admit that I am on the fence about him, and keep reminding myself of the good movies he’s been in, and try to forget the bad. My only hope is that they create an interesting character for him.

Of course, the “original recipe” Law & Order underwent a huge cast shakeup last year, and I hope no more are planned for a while. It also goes without saying that the franchise needs to protect those stars that fans consider “THE FRANCHISE,” which are Sam Waterston, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chris Meloni, and Mariska Hargitay. Having one of those people leave any of those shows would be the equivalent of a supernova explosion in the Law & Order universe, one that I am not sure shows – or the fans -could survive.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to Survive a Japanese Game Show – Don’t Watch

Pass on This Show
Summer television has always brought out some of the worst in television. One show that I won’t be watching is ABC’s “I Survived a Japanese Game Show.” The premise of the show is simple: 10 (foolish) Americans are taken to Japan to compete in what is described as "the ultimate Japanese game show." To win, contestants must adapt to both the wacky challenges and the Japanese culture and traditions around them.

Translate: If you enjoy the humiliation of others, this show is for you.

Looking at the ABC commercials for this new show, it’s obvious it is not anything new. It’s already been done on cable TV under the names “MXC” and the "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge," which was a redubbing of the Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle, which aired from 1986 to 1989 (clip below).

I remember seeing MXC once, and laughing at the dubbing over of the hosts and the background commentary. It was somewhat reminiscent of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000, " which took old movies and dubbed over “audience’" commentary (now that show was truly funny). But MXC, and the new ABC show “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” appear to have a heavy humiliation component, and also a high injury component. After a while, you can only watch people get embarassed and hurt in so many ways. It gets boring and isn’t really funny at all.

While I know the networks have to provide new content in the summer to get viewers, and I know that the writers’ strike put them all behind the eight ball, I hoped it would mean a newer approach. Wouldn’t it be great if the networks decided to show more educational programming rather than reality shows? There are tons of shows airing on channels like PBS, National Geographic, The Science Channel, Discovery, and a host of others, that would be much more interesting and challenging to the mind. After all, with all the major networks broadcasting in HD, there are a lot more HD nature programs that could be shown which would not only make viewers think, but would also be visually appealing.

My suggestion is to pass on ABC’s “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” and other summer reality fill in shows. Maybe if we don’t watch, the networks will get the message and we will see something better in the future. After all, isn’t it time to stop dumbing down the programming?

A clip from MXC

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Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Remembered

Comedians just aren’t the same like they were when I was young. I grew up on comedians such as George Carlin , Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Robert Klein, and a host of others. Some of them, like Cosby, took real life and made it seem hilarious. Pryor was known for his colorful and often profanity-ridden routines. But Carlin was just a little edgier than most. With his death yesterday, everyone seems to be talking about the “7 dirty words” that one could never utter on TV (I won’t utter them here either, I want to keep it clean). But what I remember him for is his “Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weatherman, ” and his portrayal of the “Wonderful WINO” radio station. It was creative, funny, and related to the times. I didn’t enjoy his comedy as much later on, but he still kept his edge and kept it relevant to the times.

Comedy these days is still funny, but rather than get it in monologues as in the past, we seem to get it in movies instead. It still makes one laugh, you just have to pay more for the privilege. It seems that many comedians have been relegated to the TV talk shows, like the View, and Ellen, and late night TV shows with the likes of Leno, Conan, etc. It's still somewhat homogenized to some extent as far as TV is concerned. But Carlin, and others like him of his time, may have very well opened the door for more risque comedy that maybe even someone like Lennie Bruce could never get away with. They probably set the stage for talk show shock jocks, who use comedy to shock listeners.

So here, just to remember some of Carlin’s early stuff, here is a performance of his when he was on the Hollywood Palace in 1966, and an audio of his "newscast" featuring “Al Sleet.” Enjoy!

One of his “Newscasts” with Al Sleet

From the Hollywood Palace

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

David Caruso, Forward Thinker, Starts On-Line Company

David Caruso wants to be more than just Horatio Caine from CSI Miami. He’s started a new company called “Lexicon Digital Communications” which will provide instant access to videos and live feeds on demand. Lexicon was conceived and put together by Nils Lahr, co-founder of iBEAM and Vxtreme, Frank Nein, a former consultant for Bell Atlantic/Verizon and for various webcasting events, and Caruso. The idea is to make more content - and new kinds of content - readily available to consumers on a global scale.

Hard to believe? Well, read for yourself. Here’s the article from Streaming Media, which explains the whole concept and provides some insight from Caruso himself.

P.S. Sunglasses not included.

A Whole New Lexicon: David Caruso Launches Online Video Company

CSI: Miami actor David Caruso has joined forces with two streaming industry veterans, Nils Lahr—one of the original architects of Windows Media—and Frank Nein, to launch a new online video initiative, Lexicon Digital.
by Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen

The history of streaming media—indeed, the history of technology since the industrial revolution—is littered with innovators who never found the right business model for their technologies and skilled publicity manipulators who didn’t have the goods to deliver on their promises. So when a new company shows up on the scene promising to change not only online video but the entire entertainment industry as we know it, a healthy dose of skepticism is in order, especially when its founders say unabashedly that they’re hoping to achieve not just television-sized audience numbers but CSI-sized audience numbers.

Then again, when those founders include not only an original member of the Windows Media team but the lead actor from CSI: Miami and a 15-year veteran of both the streaming and telco industries, well, you also have to figure they just might be able to pull it off.

Meet Lexicon Digital Communications, a startup put together by Nils Lahr, co-founder of iBEAM and VXtreme (whose original codec specs would later become part of the MPEG-4 standard) and one of the architects of Microsoft’s Windows Media platform; David Caruso, who plays Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami and formerly starred in NYPD Blue; and Frank Nein, whose resume includes a long-term consulting stint with Bell Atlantic/Verizon and webcasting events with everyone from Titanic director James Cameron to Arnold Schwarzenegger, back when he was still best-known as a bodybuilder.

Caruso is no mere figurehead or celebrity spokesperson for the company; he’s the founder, chairman, and CEO, while Lahr is co-founder and CTO and Nein is SVP of business development and marketing communications for the trio, which Caruso calls “the Dreamworks of digital media.”

And if you think that’s hubris, brace yourself. “David said to me, ‘MySpace has 230 million members. If CSI: Miami had only 230 million viewers over the course of a year, I’d be out of a job,’” says Lahr. “Our goal is a billion people per week in a truly new medium. Anything short of that is going to end up as a YouTube wannabe.”

If that statement came from Nein or Caruso—marketer and actor, respectively—it’d be easy to dismiss. But when it comes from Lahr, whose achievements are as impressive as he is soft-spoken, it’s worth paying attention.

“My gut instinct has been incredibly accurate,” says Lahr, who was senior engineer at CNNfn, one of the first broadcast organizations to deliver its content online on a regular basis. He is also the co-founder of Synergy Sports Technology, which offers a solution that quickly captures, edits, and logs video for several NBA teams. “I do have some trouble articulating the consumer perspective, though, and David is that mouthpiece. He’s not speculating; he knows his fan base. I’ve met a lot of high-powered Hollywood people who don’t really know why they’re popular and are just happy to collect their checks. But David knows, and he can articulate it.”

“When we walked into NAB [the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas] this year, Nils turned to me and said, ‘Streaming is back,’” says Nein. But Lexicon Digital hopes to use streaming to enable levels of interactivity unseen in online video’s current form.

Interactivity as the Foundation
With all the emphasis on computers in the CSI shows—creator and executive producer Anthony Zuiker makes regular visits to Microsoft and in turn gets to show off gadgets long before they come to the consumer market—it might seem like a natural for one of its biggest stars to take an interest in technology. But it’s not the technology itself that interests Caruso; it’s the desire to reach more people, which of course hopefully translates into more revenue.

Caruso said he was doing some promotional work in Japan and realized that people there were watching season 3, while the show was gearing up for its 7th season in the U.S. People in Pakistan might be watching season 2, while people in Australia might be watching season 4, he said, so why not look at ways to bridge the gaps among those different markets? “If we could organize the world of content and shrink it, imagine the monetization on all the different variations of content that we could pursue,” he says. He began to think of ways to break up individual pieces of the CSI franchise, all the way down to the level of individual shots, and to give viewers across the globe access to that material to not just watch but interact with.

“The coming generation isn’t interested in traditional entertainment,” Caruso says. “I’ve been pretty clear about that and shared my thoughts with CSI creators and CBS that in order to begin the preparation for the coming generation, interactivity has to be the basis and the foundation.” Examples of what he has in mind include adding live webcasts of rehearsals and scene shootings (with that footage later available on demand for viewers to mash up as they desire), allowing the audience to cast guest stars, and—most radically—giving viewers access to the entirety of CSI, broken up into individual shots, soundtrack elements, and images, and allowing users to create what is essentially their own version of the show. For instance, one might create an entire season of 24 shot only from the point of view of Kiefer Sutherland’s character, and with an emphasis on action rather than exposition.

“If viewers were able to do that, would they not then be more likely to show up on a Monday evening in a way that they wouldn’t now be interested in?” Caruso says. And, from a monetization standpoint, he sees value in each of those individual elements. “A signature Horatio Caine shot has a different monetary value than a more pedestrian shot, a more mundane shot.”

Caruso acknowledges that viewers are already creating mashups and radical re-edits of TV shows and movies, but he sees value in established entertainment brands providing viewers with many more options than they have now in exchange for a subscription fee.

Caruso and Lahr say that CBS, and particularly CEO Les Moonves, has been supportive of the move toward interactivity but that changes aren’t going to happen overnight. “It’s one thing to say ‘interactivity is important,’ but they’re still making millions off of the old format,” Caruso says. “So we have to take things very slowly before they’re going to change anything. We’re not scaring everyone by saying we’re going to have the Google Earth version of the show next Monday night.”

Caruso met Nein via a mutual acquaintance, and the two started talking about the future. “Within 15 minutes I couldn’t see him as a television star,” Nein says. “I could only see him as an entrepeneur. I asked him how much control he wanted, and he said was interested in controlling a company and talked about patents and trademarks. I said he had to have a top engineer as a CTO, and that’s what brought us to Nils.”

Breaking the Rules
So what, exactly, is Lexicon Digital’s value proposition? If you look at the company description on its website (, you’re not likely to come away with any clear answer, as it’s a litany of technologies and media, from IPTV to mobile media to teleconferencing, from object-oriented streaming media to “real-time postproduction, layering, redirection, and editing.”

Because the company is still in stealth mode, Lahr can only get slightly more specific. “We don’t believe that any amount of technology surrounding linear content on the internet will be competitive,” Lahr says. “As soon as you say ‘frames per second,’ you’ve boxed your world; you’re living in a bubble that says all you can do is frames per second. And those frames themselves live in their own world, and don’t interact with anything else.”

Lexicon is working closely with Tom Honeybone and the rest of the Silverlight business development team at Microsoft; it’s already a licensed Silverlight vendor. “Silverlight is one of the first times I’ve been reinvigorated with what they’ve been doing since I left there 8 years ago,” he says. “No other company is better positioned to take advantage of where the market is going than Microsoft.”

But he also says that too much emphasis has been put on formats, which he describes as a way to “monopolize the next generation. All formats do is let them hold the keys, and right now the only companies that hold the streaming keys are Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe. They’re wrongly using the format and the monopoly and holding back the experience.”

Clearly, one of Lexicon’s primary goals is to make the postproduction process more streamlined and economical. He says it takes about $4 million to create an episode of CSI, and that includes an immense amount of video that never actually makes it into the TV show. “If you were to create another two or three or eight mini-episodes using that footage, you’d incur another $2 to $3 million in production costs,” Lahr says, claiming that Lexicon has created a digital workflow that allows for that to be done for 10% of the current costs. Pressed for more specifics, he says that part of the solution involves the ability to perform two-way digital editing of high-definition footage over a 1MB connection. “If you take postproduction and match it with Lexicon’s technology, you put postproduction after distribution.”

As a small example of what Lexicon is capable of, Lahr created for Microsoft (and demonstrated for Streamng Media) what he calls a real-time, software-only “YouTube Slingbox” that allows a user to access YouTube video on nearly any mobile phone or device regardless of whether it supports Flash. The solution allows for instant access of any video on demand or live feed from any video source on the internet and rebroadcasts via a personalized channel. “The result is the first ever streaming social experience allowing a group of friends to all tune into a single live internet broadcast, device and OS-independent, and sling video from any source into the live feed allowing everyone turned in to view and experience the same video at the exact same time together,” says Lahr.

The ability to watch select YouTube clips is one of the iPhone’s most appealing features, as YouTube’s standard Flash format is supported only on devices that have Flash, which must be licensed from Adobe. “No other solution can convert YouTube videos in real time so there is instant gratification,” Lahr says. “Lexicon's transcoding solution empowers the consumer by breaking down the corporate walls created by a format war which only serves to cause consumers pain. At the moment nearly 93% of the cell phones in the world do not support Flash, while the iPhone itself does not support Windows Media. For phones that support streaming video, the Lexicon solution would enable Flash streaming on any phone and, amazingly, Windows Media streaming to the iPhone.”

Lexicon also promises to make content easier to find. Caruso emphasizes the need to both globalize and simplify access to content. “If I’m a Seinfeld fan, and I’m in Singapore, I just want to be able to watch the show,” he says. “I don’t want to think about different devices and connections. We want to create a solution that takes everything you need and delivers it to you.”

The Last Word
So what’s the endgame for Lexicon? Lahr comes back to Caruso’s emphasis on interactivity, but takes it one step further. “Media is not only about video, it’s about immersion,” he says, pointing to Second Life as a step in the direction he and the company are headed. He also says that, despite the degree of choice and randomization offered by the internet, truly successful media depends on people sharing the experiences. “You can’t lose the immediacy,” he says, referring to the communal aspect of watching an entertainment event like the final episode of The Sopranos, “but you have to increase the ‘access anytime, anywhere’ feeling. How can you stick a foot in both worlds?”

Lahr and Lexicon Digital Communications claim to have the answer. They began slowly unveiling the company publicly at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, through interviews with CNET, G4 TV, and others, with Caruso and Lahr as the public faces and Nein, the self-described “mule” of the group, doing much of the legwork. They’ve also begun assembling an advisory board that includes Robert Raciti, senior VP of the media, communications, and entertainment division of GE Capital, who says that Lexicon can deliver “highly interactive niche content to individuals without the pain of searching and trying to find it.” He sees the pairing of Lahr and Caruso as a way to leverage an established brand to advance what he calls a “phenomenal technology.”

Which brings us back to where we started. Does Lexicon Digital Communications have all of the elements—technology, content, and business model—necessary to succeed where so many others have failed? “Sooner or later we’ll have to stand by our product,” Caruso says, although he won’t say when that product will come to market. “We’ll have to say what we have, and what it costs. And then we’ll have to deliver.”

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CSI Dethrones CSI Miami as #1 In The World

Number One Show
It’s official. David Caruso’s eyeglass-wearing, sideways-posing Horatio Caine and CSI Miami has been knocked off the top of the list of the most popular shows in THE WORLD. The news is enough to crack Horatio’s sunglasses, or at least create a minor earthquake in David Caruso’s me-niverse.

Who’s number 1? Well, it’s the “original recipe” CSI, starring William Petersen as the super-intelligent, but low key, Gil Grissom. Gil, by the way, doesn’t seem to wear sunglasses that often. Could this be the defining difference?

Not Number One
Don’t believe it's true? Here’s the story from the New York Post:


'CSI" is officially the most popular TV show on the planet.

According to a new study, nearly 84 million viewers around the globe watched the CBS crime drama in 2007.

It beat out its sequel, "CSI: Miami," and "House," according to the ratings firm Eurodata, which ranks shows by their worldwide ratings.

With 61.5 million viewers, "Desperate Housewives" snagged the title of top comedy, while "The Bold and the Beautiful" was dubbed the most-watched soap in the world (26.2 million viewers).

The biggest show in the US, "American Idol," did not place because different versions of it are seen in different countries.

"CSI" debuted in 2000 and has been renewed for a ninth season. It follows a group of Las Vegas crime scene investigators who use science and high-tech gizmos to solve grisly murders.

It has spawned two popular spinoffs so far, "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: New York."

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Translating TV Teases and Promos

You know how annoying those promo clips and teases for TV shows can be. The networks want you to watch, so they use all kinds of special words and phrases to catch your attention and hopefully tune in. Television advertising thrives on exaggeration.

After seeing probably thousands of teases and promos over the years, I decided to prepare a definitive translation guide for what those promo words and phrases REALLY mean. So in case you haven’t already figured these out on your own, here is my Translation Guide for TV Teases and Promos:

“A very special…” Somebody will set sick, die, or have some sort of accident that is an attempt to make viewers cry. Expect a sob story.

“A show that everyone is talking about.” This is a show that hardly anybody is talking about, they are just trying to drum up some buzz of their own. Or, it can also mean that everybody is talking about the show…about how BAD it is.

“An unforgettable….” This is an episode that will contain a role for one of the lead actors that is hoped will garner an Emmy nomination. This can often be paired with “A very special...” One most often thinks of Law & Order SVU and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay).

“A groundbreaking….” This means that a show is going to capitalize on a theme or story that the rest of the world has already caught on to, but now television wants to get in on the action.

“A special edition of…” These are usually used for news-type shows, and it means that they will spend the next hour or two boring you to tears on one subject.

“With limited commercial interruptions.” You will have some commercials front-loaded and maybe a brief one in the middle. This only means that the advertiser had to pay a lot more for the ads. Usually this is the one tease or promo that is relatively truthful. Of course, since people don’t normally count the number of commercials in a given show, it’s hard to define how many commercials make up a “limited” number of interruptions.

“Don’t miss the last five minutes….” Their main advertiser is paying big money for the ad showing right before that last five minutes of the show. It also means that something happens in the last minutes of the show that you already figured out was going to happen anyway. Sometimes it can mean that something unexpected happens, but it just raises more questions, as for shows like “Lost.” Also see “A revealing…”

“A revealing…” The only thing that gets revealed are more questions. You almost never get any big answers revealed when they tease a show this way. Shows like “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica” are examples.

“A shocking…” Most of the times, nobody is really shocked.

“An explosive…” This doesn’t mean a literal explosion. Often it means one of the stars of the show gets enraged and has an emotional blow up or breakdown.

“Emmy nominated…” It didn’t WIN an Emmy, but was nominated with probably about 50 other shows for one category or another.

“Emmy winner…” The show will milk this for all they can. If someone wins an Emmy for the show, or the show itself wins an Emmy, you’ll never hear the end of it, even when the show has long lost its luster.

“Starring Oscar winner..” They are hoping that someone who won an Oscar and who can’t get hired for another movie will draw you into seeing a dog of a show. Example: Holly Hunter in “Saving Grace.”

“At a special day and time…” It’s usually a rerun, or it’s a new show where they just can't figure out where to put it so someone will actually watch it.

“ A thrilling…” This episode will be filled with lots of dark, scary background music and dark scenes to try to make it look more intense.

“A special appearance by…” or “guest starring” : This can vary by show. For medical shows, the special guest usually is the one to get sick or die in fashion to hopefully get an Emmy nomination. For crime shows, the guest star usually is the criminal, but in the case of the Law & Order franchise, it means different things: for women, it means some aging actor has been brought out of the mothballs to serve as a lawyer; for men, they are usually either the criminal or the cagey defense attorney. Regardless of the type of show, sometimes, albeit rarely, the guest star really can add to the story. Many times the star only makes a brief cameo appearance. This tease can be a real toss-up. Watch at your own risk!

"The out of context scene" Be wary of the promotional tease that shows one of the main characters doing something or saying something that seems shocking or risqué. Usually these are taken completely out of context and when you see the actual episode the scene doesn’t look as it did in the promo.

Well, this is just a start. I know there are more out there, and I am sure you know them too. If you have some you’d like to share, add them to the comments below so everyone can be forewarned and prepared. Just take TV teases and promos with a grain of salt, watch at your own risk and …stay tuned!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Reveals a Big Frakkin Bummer!

All pictures from

I take back all the bad things I previously said about Battlestar Galactica. It seems that this season, Battlestar Galactica seems to have found its way, not just back to earth, but also to the viewers. They got back on track for their quest for earth, and spent a lot less time on the inner anguish of its key players as it did last season. It all led up to a fantastic mid-season finale.

How do I know this? I know it because SciFi’s web site is streaming the mid-season finale episode – “Revelations” - on its web site today, before it airs on their network tonight. And that’s something that a TV junkie like me really enjoys.

Last week’s episode left viewers hanging with President Roslin (Mary McDonnell), and Baltar (James Callis) and other Galactica pilots on a Cylon Base ship when the Base ship “jumps” away. D’Anna (Lucy Lawless) has been reactivated and brought to the president in the hopes she’ll reveal the final five; Baltar is injured while Roslin struggles with a confession he made, and the Base ship jumps back to an area where Adama ( Edward James Olmos) dad is waiting.

So, do you want to know what happens next? I sure did, which I why I am glued to the computer screen watching the episode. Be wary because if you're waiting until tonight to see the episode, there are big spoilers here.

In "Revelations", Apollo (Jamie Bamber) is the acting president, and D’Anna decides to hold everyone hostage on the Base ship until four of the final five are turned over to her, and she knows they are on Galactica. She also wants Adama to go to Galactica with her to get them. Meanwhile on Galactica, Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani) gets a signal that the Cylon base ship has returned to Galactica’s air space. When D’Anna and Adama arrive, Apollo is happy to see them, but some on the ship – the secret Cylons – may not be so happy. Tory - who we know is one of the final five - says she needs to go the Base ship to give Roslin her meds. Apollo is not so sure about this, but Adama sees the chance of her being a hostage not a big risk at this point.

Apollo, Adama, and Tigh (Michael Hogan) are mulling over what to do next, but it’s generally agreed that if they lose the four Cylons, they lose the Base ship and earth along with it.

Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), Boomer (Grace Park), Apollo, Tigh and Adama discuss the next steps. Meanwhile on the Base Ship, D’Anna, who has recognized Tory (Rekha Sharma) as one of the final five, introduces her to the other Cylons. And Roslin is finishing her patch up of Baltar after almost leaving him to die in the last episode.

Tory comes in with Roslin’s meds, and say she came back to be with “her people.” Roslin is stunned, but rationally appeals to Tory to try to convince D’Anna to back down.

D’Anna tells Apollo she just executed one of the hostages and will continue to kill more if they don’t cooperate and turn over the rest of the Cylons. Apollo tells Adama to go on with the rescue mission, but if it fails, destroy the Base ship. In the ship’s bay, Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) is hearing loud buzzing/humming noises, and so do Tigh and Anders (Michael Trucco) . Tory also hears the noise on the base star.

Tyrol, Tigh, and Anders converge on the viper that Kara flew on her alleged trip to earth and think a clue to Earth or the answer is there. Tigh then goes to Adama and tells him to scrub the rescue mission, and when Adama asks for options, Tigh tells him that the music he heard long ago was a signal – a Cylon signal – that switched him on and he can’t turn it off. He says he’s one of the five. Adama objects, “Quit frakkin with me.” Since he’s known Tigh for so long, after all, Tigh has aged and Cylons don’t. Adama thinks Tigh is deluded, maybe from a chip implanted in his head when he was held captive. Tigh seems to think that D’Anna will back down if Adama threatens to eject Tigh out of an airlock.

As Tigh is being led away, Adama has a major meltdown in his office, full of drink and destruction. Apollo comes to help and console him, telling him NO ONE suspected Tigh. Apollo tells Adama to pull it together, but also says he’ll take care of it. His "taking care of it" is to punch Tigh, and demands to know the identity of the others. D'Anna’s call interrupts him, telling him he’s running out of time. He counters by telling her that he’s going to flush Tigh out the launch tube. Apparently Tigh tells Apollo the identity of the others, as the military come to get Tyrol and Anders. Anders tells Kara it’s true, but also tells her to keep checking that viper to find something to help them find Earth. Tigh, Anders, and Tyrol are joined together in the launch tube, and Apollo asks for the Base ship on line. Meanwhile, Kara continues checking out the viper, looking for something, some clue, anything that would help them find Earth.

Roslin is told D'Anna is going to execute more hostages, but Baltar says he’s the one to go to her to try to talk her out of it. D’Anna wants to use the Base ship nukes to help “convince” Apollo. But Baltar presses the point that Apollo is not one to be toyed with. Apollo clears the tube of everyone but Tigh. Baltar continues to work on D’Anna to no avail, she’s determined to use the nukes. Apollo also has his hand on the air lock key, but Starbuck runs in and stops him from going through with opening the air lock, saying that the three Cylons just gave them earth.

Starbuck shows Apollo the signal she found on the viper, but Apollo is skeptical that this leads to Earth, and also doubts Starbuck’s feeling that a higher power is orchestrating this whole thing.

In a show of trust, Apollo brings over D’Anna and shares the information with her. Apollo reminds D’Anna all the 4 have been granted amnesty and they can stay or go – but where does everyone go from here? She agrees to release the crew, and they will all go to Earth together.

Apollo has the projected course, and asks Adama for orders to take them to their new home. But Adama is still not sure of himself and Roslin presses him. This is it – she says – it’s everything they’ve been working for. She wants to see him pick up that first fistful of earth. As Adama walks away, Apollo tells Roslin he’s had the shortest presidency ever, but she reminds him of how he is still needed. When Adama comes back, he seems to have a new resolve to make things work, and decides to go ahead and “roll the hard six” and all go together as fast as they can to the Earth coordinates.
So, as Roslin gives the order, the ships in the fleet jump to what they hope are the coordinates for Earth. And, as everyone arrives at the destination it looks like they HAVE arrived on Earth.

Adama addresses the fleet, and says they journey is at end and they have arrived at earth. There is much celebrating, everyone doing so in his or her own way.

The joy ends, though, as we see Adama grab a handful of earth on Earth…it looks black and lifeless. As the view widens, it appears that the Earth to which they have arrived is one that looks like it has been completely obliterated of all life. It appears there was a large city, now there are only the remains of twisted metal.
Major bummer.

Seriously though, this episode took all the past season of this series, and, while spending a season or so in the doldrums, have now really cranked things up a notch. Yes, they got to Earth – but the Earth of what time? It appears to be in our future – but is it also Galactica’s future as well? Was there a time component missing from those precious coordinates? Or, has so much time passed from when Galactica founding tribes went off and found Earth that we here on Earth have just blown it all to hell?

I had almost given up on this series with last season, and was somewhat skeptical as this season started out. But, they seems to have gotten themselves in gear, and realizing that the end was near for the series, decided to finally bring some closure to the Earth issue and the issue of conflict with the Cylons. Or – has another door just been opened and will there be new conflict and new challenges? Either way, I am now back on the Battlestar Galactica love train, and am really looking forward to the finish of this season. And I’m very happy with these “Revelations”

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Criminal Intent Stirs Things Up

Goren and Eames in Happier Times
I wrote a recap and review of the recent episode on Law & Order Criminal Intent – “Purgatory” - on one of my Law & Order blogs (here). But now, after thinking about this episode for a few more days, I think I like it even more and have a lot more to say about it.

First, to bring people up to speed who haven’t seen the episode – or haven’t read my blog – Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) goes undercover in order to catch a drug dealer. Goren, on a 6-month suspension for going undercover without approval, hopes that his work in the new case will get him reinstated. It does, but it costs him his relationship with his work partner Eames (Kathryn Erbe) and makes him personae non grata with possibly others at One Police Plaza.

Earlier this season (season 7), and part of last season (6), the show has slowly been making Goren seem more unhinged and unbalanced. His personal life, which was always mysterious and hidden in the Law & Order universe, began to rear its ugly head. His mother Frances (Rita Moreno), who had mental problems of her own and with whom he seemed to have a somewhat pained relationship, passed away. Making matters worse, Goren discovers that imprisoned serial killer Mark Ford Brady (Roy Scheider) is likely his biological father. His brother Frank (Tony Goldwyn) is a drug addict and all out loser, and he lays the guilt on Goren to the point where Goren undertakes the unsanctioned undercover job to help Frank’s son. It is this undercover operation (in the Emmy-worthy episode "Untethered” that gets Goren suspended.

Long time viewers of Criminal Intent know the series began with the image of Goren as a quirky, intense genius who has an uncanny way of solving crimes, both by finding evidence and with psychological trickery. Now, the cocoon protecting Goren’s inner person is opening, and we are seeing a Robert Goren who takes dangerous risks, who is detaching himself from others close to him, and who seems to put his job above all else. Will this make him a better detective? Will it help him focus back on himself and HIS life, and begin to wipe away the problems with his mother, brother, and parentage?

While I’d like to have the Goren persona that we saw in the earlier years of the show, things could get a lot more interesting since his partner Eames has put him on notice. In “Purgatory,” all the aggravation she’s had with Goren – and all the hurt – boiled to the top and she let lose a verbal smackdown. It was a long time coming, but now, what will it mean to them going forward? I’m very interested to see how the dynamic with these two will play out, and my only hope is that they don’t just let them do the proverbial “kiss and make up” too quickly. Eames was burned just too deeply this time, and just like a physical bad burn, mental bad burns take a long time to heal and often leave scars. Those two may never be the same again. This could be one of the best things that happened to the show – even a slight ripple in the Goren/Eames space-time continuum could add a huge spark to the show.

Of course, the scene with the dead rat in Goren’s desk opens up another can of worms for Goren. Who will be working against him? Will paranoia get the better of him? Is Eames friend or foe? Will Goren crack under the pressure?

All these questions about the show and the characters mean only one thing – that a spark has ignited with Law & Order Criminal Intent, and the show could be on fire as this season 7 finishes and season 8 begins. Let’s hope the writers can keep up the pace, and keep up expectations. Not to do so would be…criminal.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

CSI Dream Interpretation Guide

For one of my Law & Order blogs, I put together a Law & Order Dream Interpretation Guide to help fans make sense of what it means when they dream of a Law & Order character.

Since there are millions of CSI fans out there, it made perfect sense to do the same thing for the CSI franchise shows. So here’s your handy guide to the CSI Dream Interpretation Guide. Don’t go to sleep without it!

Gil Grissom (William Petersen): Gil represents detachment. If you a man dreaming of Gil, it means that you just want to be left alone. If you’re a woman dreaming of Gil, it means you just want to be left alone, too. If you have a hobby and you dream of Gil, be careful your hobby doesn't become an obsession.

Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan): Dreaming of Warrick means that you are taking chances or gambling with someone or something important to you. Be very careful before proceeding. Oh, and remember, trust no one.

Nick Stokes (George Eads) You are having some serious concerns about your hair. If you’re a woman, you may not know how to style it. If you’re a man, you think you are losing it too fast. Seek help from a professional hair stylist.

Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger): Did you wear something to work or a party that was too revealing? Probably so. If Catherine appears in your dream, it means that your wardrobe may be completely inappropriate for the work you do or the life you lead.

Captain Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle): You have done something very, very bad and it will catch up with you someday. If you are sure you haven’t done anything wrong, then seeing Jim Brass in a dream will make you sure that you never will.

Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda): No mater what you seem to do with your appearance, people think you’re a bit of a nerd. Oh wait, you ARE a nerd.

Dr. Al Robbins (Robert David Hall): You have a habit of doing or saying completely inappropriate things in the wrong places. Still, no one seems to mind because deep down they think you are hilarious. Either that, or you or you are dead.

Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox): You are sucking the life force out of everyone around you. You could be depressed. Seek professional help immediately, or leave town ASAP so as not to bring down those around you!

Dave Phillips (David Berman) : For some reason, you’re just feeling “super.”

David Hodges (Wallace Langham): You believe that you are smart and that you exude confidence. Truth is, you annoy the living daylights out of everyone around you, probably because they just don’t really understand you. You want very much to be liked, but you may be trying too hard.


Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise): You may be taking life too seriously. Lighten up and let loose! If you are dreaming Mac has lost his legs, you’re afraid that you’ve done something in your life that people will never, never let you forget.

Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes): If you’re a woman dreaming of Stella, it could represent that you spend way too much time styling your hair. If you’re a man, you just want to keep dreaming.

Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo): You are overly emotional and have a short fuse. You may also be unintentionally playing around with the emotions of those around you. Be mindful of the feelings of others.

Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper): You feel the need to make a career change. Either that, or you may feel that you need to improve your health because it may prevent you from reaching the morgue too soon.

Detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill): If you are a woman, you don’t want to wake up right away. If you’re a man, you don’t want to wake up right away either because he is just

Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap): If you a woman, you may be a little too naïve. If you’re a man, you could be feeling guilty for a relationship gone bad.

Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy): Time to get some new eyewear. Maybe a pair of glasses that split at the middle? Either that, or you might be dead.

CSI Miami
Lieutenant Horatio Caine (David Caruso): If you are a man, dreaming of Horatio means you could be showing tendencies of megalomania. And, for some reason, you think some people just don’t like you and are talking and writing nasty things about you behind your back. Seek professional help immediately. Better yet, go out and buy yourself a good pair of sunglasses, they’ll make you feel more powerful. If you are a woman dreaming of Horatio, wake up, it’s a nightmare!

Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez): Dreaming of Delko may mean that your brain is feeling taxed and overworked. Don’t worry about it, because you probably won’t remember the dream when you wake.

Dr. Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander): You are afraid you are going to lose your job. Either that, or you might be dead.

Detective Frank Tripp (Rex Linn): You are getting tired of playing second banana. Stand up for yourself!

Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo): You have a feeling that people think that you really don’t serve much of a purpose or that you are worthless. They could be right.

Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter): Did someone turn on the air conditioner? You are feeling awfully cold.

Yelina Salas (Sofia Milos): If you are a woman, people perceive you as a user and manipulator. If you’re a man, someone is using YOU. Be especially wary of an in-law.

Tim Speedle (Rory Cochrane): Someone is trying to give you a message from the grave. Pay attention to what they are telling you.

Natalia Boa Vista (Eva La Rue): If you are dreaming of Natalia, it could mean that you overslept. Your brain is trying to explain the bright orange glow of the sun shining on your eyes. Wake up!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Whoopi Goldberg: A Balanced View


Back in December, I wrote in this blog (here) about my take on how the View was progressing with Whoopi Goldberg as host. I was a little skeptical about her hosting the show since her guest spots weren’t great, but she seemed to settle in and fit in quickly.

Now, several months later, I’ve come to the conclusion that Whoopi may be the best thing that has happened to this show since its inception.

The rest of the panel seems to be stuck in predictable ruts. Joy Behar continues to be caustic and cutting, and is no longer funny anymore. She comes across as an angry, bitter woman. Sherri Shepherd, while providing some glimmers of genuine comedy, sometimes wears the dumb act a little thin. Elisabeth Hasselbeck epitomizes the one-track mind, sometimes continuing to belabor a point long after she made the point and everyone else has moved on. And Barbara remains as full of herself as ever.

But Whoopi continues to bring a balance and rationality to the show that seems to smooth out everyone else’s flaws. She’s found a way to stifle Elizabeth and her rants, while still allowing Elizabeth to be heard. She questions Joy and Sherri when either of them says something that’s either idiotic or misguided. There are times when she even tries to bring Barbara down to earth, although I’m not sure there is any human being out there that can stop Barbara from being so self-absorbed.

With politics being a recurring hot topic, I’ve found it interesting that Whoopi at times changes her mind about candidates, and speaks her mind about all candidates, not just those that she may favorite. It really is refreshing to hear her opinions about what is happening in the political scene. It’s much more engaging than previous host Rosie O’Donnell, who had the habit of bullying others into agreeing with her supreme opinion.

I am not sure about the ratings for The View and if they have improved with Whoopi, but I can tell you that I am more interested in watching the show now for the interesting dialog than I was when Rosie was on and I watched for her daily meltdown. Whoopi brings credibility to the show and that probably pleases the viewers AND the advertisers who buy air time.

I’m actually looking forward to this show as it moves into the final stages of the 2008 presidential election. And I think Whoopi will continue to excel at the helm!

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Monday, June 2, 2008

David Caruso Vs. Vincent D’Onofrio: Who Has the Craziest Fans?

Being a fan of both Law & Order Criminal Intent and CSI Miami, I’ve been exposed to some of the fan sites – and antifan sites – for both shows. It never ceases to amaze the number of sites that discuss the stars of both shows: Vincent D’Onofrio and David Caruso. There seems to be a lot of passion out there about these two, not all of it good. Let's take a look at the situation.

First of all, my opinions on both actors.

Vincent D’Onofrio has appeared in several films before he got the Criminal Intent gig. One of those films, Full Metal Jacket, had legendary director Stanley Kubrick at the helm. D’Onofrio gained 70 pounds for the role of Private “Pyle” in order to play the role most convincingly. It could very well have been the defining role for D’Onofrio. He went on to play various serious movie roles and some not so serious, such as playing Robert Howard in “The Whole Wide World,” to Edgar the weird alien bug-creature in Men In Black. While I think that D’Onofrio has fallen into a somewhat predictable pattern of angst-ridden, maybe overly edgy roles, he still seems to put his entire being into his roles and attempts to make them as convincing as possible. He seems to have found his soulmate in Detective Robert Goren on Criminal Intent, yet he continues to do movies.

David Caruso first made his name in television, appearing in TV roles here and there before he appeared in several episodes for Hill Street Blues. It wasn’t until he landed the role of Detective John Kelly in NYPD Blue that he got any real notice. But, he left this plum role to try to make the big leap to the big screen, an effort that seemed to have dismal results and gained Caruso a reputation of being, well, full of himself. It wasn’t until he got the role of Horatio Caine in CSI Miami that he seemed to be back in the good graces of television viewers. But, Caruso continued to develop the role of Caine until it became a joke, yet the show became the most popular TV show in the world. While I find myself being amused at Caruso’s over-the-top portrayal of Horatio Caine, I have to admit that considering the show in its entirety, there’s really no other way to play Horatio.

OK, now to the fans.

Over many years, I’ve seen quite a few fan site for Vincent D’Onofrio. And I stress that these are FAN sites. Sure, some of them are deluded fan sites, with lots of dreaming of D’Onofrio romance, fan art, fan fiction, etc. Those fans are not for me, but at least these are sites where the love and interest for Vincent is expressed openly and often. There are a few very serious fan sites that report of relevant news and happening with Vincent and his TV shows and movies, or his family, and some of those are surprisingly good and interesting. I could mention them here, but if you’re a Vincent fan who found yourself on my blog, you probably already know of every conceivable D’Onofrio site out there. They are hard to miss. Again, the D'Onofrio sites are strong fan sites – none are dedicated to any ill towards D’Onofrio, or his family. There is one gossip site out there where every now and then the topic of Vincent comes up, and it does seem to spur a bit of a love/hate war that can go on for days, subside for a while, and then resurface again. My opinion is that this particular gossip forum discussion is probably only populated by a handful of people, who like to stoke the fire both ways just to keep the discussion going. A lot of it centers on D’Onofrio’s weight gain, which even the die-hard fan has to admit is cause for concern. Bottom line is that there is lots of love out there for Vincent D’Onofrio, and virtually no intense dislike.

David Caruso, however, seems to have the most polar opposite fan sites. There are quite a few out there that love him, and an almost equal number that despise him. Even worse, Caruso has a stalker who has made threats to him and his family, and who is currently “on the lam” after failing to appear for a court date where she was to be tried for her stalking. In fact, someone from a Caruso fan site tipped me off that the stalker had probably visited this blog, a suspicion I was able to verify by checking my site traffic records. This stalker woman has one blog, maybe more, expressing her clear hatred for Caruso and anyone else with which Caruso is involved. There are also a few other antifan sites for David that frankly scare the living daylights out of me. Personally, while I don’t think too much of David’s acting and often poke fun of it, it amazes me that some people take their dislike of David – either of his acting or him as a person – to such an extreme as to make personal threats. And, to make matters more confusing for Caruso fans, there are anti-antifan sites, who essentially keep eye on the stalker and her internet movements in order to bring forward the Caruso-hater’s insanity.

I feel sorry for Caruso. Clearly, he has the craziest fans. While D’Onofrio has his share of deluded fans, I don’t think there are any out there whose goal in life is to spread D’Onofrio hatred. Is it because D’Onofrio is deep down a nice guy and Caruso is not? I don’t know either of these men, and I venture to say that I think most people who run the fan and antifan web sites probably don’t know them that well, either. Yet, there is something about Caruso that seems to bring out the worst in some people, but in my opinion the problem is not with Caruso, it’s with the “fan.”

So here’s a message to all the antifans out there whose life work appears to be making David Caruso look bad, or worse yet, spew non-stop hatred about the guy – seek psychiatric help immediately. No person on earth is worth that kind of negative dedication.

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