Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Now Available for Your Viewing Pleasure: First Edition

Who doesn't remember this great show about a guy who gets the newspaper a day early? I still watch it on syndication on late night network television. It is a show about a man who gets tomorrow's newspaper a day early and attempts to prevent the bad stuff from happening that was printed in the next day's paper. There was also that cat that always hung around the newspaper, but I never understood why. It was probably the guardian of the crazy newspaper. Anyways, Gary Hobson, the man who receives the early paper, is played by our favorite football coach from Permian, Texas, aka football coach from Friday Night Lights. Kyle Chandler was a great actor on this show, as he is on Friday Night Lights, but the Emmys won't recognize that. Oh well. I always liked this show when it was on the air, and now the first season is finally out on dvd, so check it out.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crappy Ways to Die

Dead Like Me style

Flaming toilet seat:
Wouldn't it be crappy if you died on your lunch break, while eating a burrito, and when a flaming toilet seat de-orbiting from the Mir space station in space comes barreling down toward you causing your entire body to disintegrate? Yea, George thought the same thing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

SNL Digital Short

Whose ready for a Superhero summer? well here's a hero song

Friday, June 20, 2008

Once a teenager, not always a teenager?

As much as I hated my four years in high school, I have always had an obsession with teen melodrama television. There are the unique and creative shows like Buffy and there are the unoriginal redundant rich teens, like...well mostly every other show. Apparently there needs to be the existence of rich kids with lots of money to spend to keep viewers interested. Well I know I need them. Well what makes a great teen melodrama, first and foremost you need great characters. Depth to the characters doesn't really matter cocnerning success of the show, but I normally like depth to my rich spoiled "teen" characters. Here is a list of my top 10 favorite teen melodramas.

10. Gossip Girl
This is the newest show on the list. It is the only show still on the air with actual high school characters. Gossip Girl has it all, rich kids, with rich parents, with lots of drama. From the writing genius of Josh Schwartz of OC fame, Gossip Girl is the OC and Beverly Hills 90210 in the mecca of the rich: Upper East Side New York City. Based on the best selling teen book series by Cecily Von Zeigler, the television show only borrows the names of the characters and the location. They are all beautiful, they are all rich, and they are all full of drama dram drama. What separates this show from the rest is its great cinematography.

9. One Tree Hill
Two brothers, the same father, different mothers. The concept pulled me in right from the start. The brother from the other side of the tracks and the brother in the huge house. What brings these two obviously different characters together: basketball, oh and Nathan's suddent interest in Lucas' best friend Haley. One of the greatest showcests in teen melodrama existence. Nathan started off dating Peyton, who dumped him for Lucas, who started to date Brooke and is best friends with Haley, who dated then married Nathan. Yes married. The act that shocked all melodrama enthusiasts everywhere. Now in its 4th year, it is the only other show on this list that is still running. One Tree Hill avoided the one thing that has hurt high school melodramas everywhere. It skipped College. after taking a hiatus, it came back four years in the future. The is the best move that show could have taken. Now it is more of a Melrose Place, than a 90210.

8. The OC
This show had one of the best first seasons of any show. It had so many twists and turns, than an episode of Lost. It pulled me in immediately, my mother, my friends, even my dad for some episodes. The first season was so good, that it tried to live up to that for the remaining 3 seasons and never really could. This is where it went wrong. When you can't live up to your first season, you won't maintain viewership. What made this show great was the character of Seth Cohen. He was the conscience of the show with his witticisms and critique of the lives of the rich and famous. Seth was the glorified nerd and had everyone wanting to listen to Death Cab for Cutie and go to the comic book store. I know I did (even though I was doing this already...yes nerd). No other character has really been able to live up to the indie status that Seth brought to audiences through the OC, but they have tried, i.e. Dan on Gossip Girl (I don't believe it).

7. Dawson's Creek
This was one of the first successful teen shows after creation of 90210. It was about a bunch of normal kids who live in Capeside, Mass. Well when I say normal I mean not a bunch of rich kids. Yea the main characters talk older than their age with the vocabulary of a college student studying for the GRE and the knowledge base of a professor of pop culture. Some would say that is where the show lost its realistic approach, others (specifically myself) would say that is the reason why I own every season on DVD. Who cares if Dawson constantly talks about his feelings while constantly spouting out every obscure word from the thesaurus. The show fell victim to the death that is college, but we all remember its early days of melodrama glory.

6. Beverly Hills 90210
The original. 90210 is one of those shows that needs to be on this lists because it was the one that started the phenomenon. Yes the writing was terrible, the characters had no depth, and every show I felt like morality hour, but it started the base for all the other shows that came after it. It didn't really accomplish anything or introduce anything new, but it layed the path for shows that became more than just a teen melodrama.

5. Freaks and Geeks
The first of the two great one season teen shows. Freaks and Geeks was Judd Apatow's first work. The same creator of pretty much every descent comedy to come out in the last five years. Freaks and Geeks was about the geeky kids and the "freaks" aka the burnouts. The show was genius in that it took place in 1980 even though it debuted in 1999. It is the the only "period" teen show on the list (actually I think it is the only period teen show every created, well Avonlea doesn't count. Darn Canadian television). Even though the show takes place in 1980, it still feels like it could be in the present. It shows that life in high school is pretty much the same at any point in time. It kind of makes you feel bad that your parents had to go throught he same experience you did (crazy). The show jump started the careers of Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, and Linda Cardenelli. The former three continuing on the Judd Apatow path. Ending only after 17 episodes, Freaks and Geeks will always remain the one career endevor that Judd Apatow wishes he put more effort into (maybe that is why he tried to do Undeclared and the Cable Guy).

4. My So-Called Life
It is 1994 and we all hate our life, well if our name is Angela Chase and Jordan Catalono will just not pay attention to us. Angela was the quintessential "'emo" kid but that was ok in the mid 90's as you listened to grunge rock and wore head to toe flannel. With its focus on the main character Angela and her constant journal-like narration, My So-Called Life is probably one the the truest television shows to the actual life of a teenager. Angela isn't some rich popular girl with the most beautiful boyfriend, and the perfect family. She complains about her life, her best friend sleeps with her boyfriend, and her parents are constantly on the verge of a divorce (but still sleep with eachother pretty much every episode?). WIth only one season, My So-Called Life ended making viewers want more. It never really got its worth until about 5 years after its debut, but now it has a cult following and we all know Claire Danes is regretting giving up on the show so quickly. I guess we will never know who Angela chose in the end, Jordan or Brian. It still remains one of the greats in teen melodrama.

3. Gilmore Girls
Okay, this was a focus on a mom and daughter, but it had its teen attributes. Boyfriends, high school, best friends, applying for college. Since there really isn't a definition as to what a teen television show is, I will allow it on this list because I like it. Gilmore Girls had great dialogue (even though they talk fast and make really obscure pop culture references every five seconds), great characters, and was actually successful when the show went to college. What probably kept the show together though was the second half of the show was about the life of mother and all the drama that went along with it. After 7 seasons, many boyfriends(my favorite being Jess and his literate, great music listening self), and an ending that still kept me wanting more, Gilmore Girls is one of the best shows WB/CW has outputted.

2. Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars is the gem that UPN/CW never really put their self behind. It was about a girl that loses her beloved place in the 09er crowd (popular kids) when her father accuses her boyfriend's father of killing her best friend and her boyfriends sister (that is the same person by the way). The first season focuses on Veronica trying to adjust to her new life and her attempt to find out who really killed her best friend. What made Veronica Mars different from most shows was its Film noir style with every episode having Veronica act like a private detective while she helps her fellow classmates solve mysteries, along with her job as her father's assistant at his job as a private detective. No other show has kept me on my toes and guessing the entire season as VM did. Every season finale made me want more. VM was cut short after three seasons leaving viewers not knowing what was going to happen next in our protagonists life. Rumors have been circling though that Rob Thomas, series creator, is planning a VM movie. We can only hope.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The typical life of a high school student: bestfriends, boyfriends, vampires, witches, demons, and werewolves? Well that is the life of Buffy, the vampire slayer and her life at Sunnydale High. Buffy is your typical high school student dealing with life in high school, well typical being that her boyfriend is a Vampire, her best friend is a witch, she dusts vamps and slays demons. Other than that she is a pretty a typical high schooler. The show revolves around the main character Buffy and her destiny as the Slayer, a girl that is chosen to save the world from the evils and the demons that are in it. Buffy's slaying world and high school world intertwine often as her high school sits atop of the Hellmouth which is the entrance to hell. Creator Joss Whedon makes Buffy's world as a Vampire Slayer a metaphor for what high school actually is. Yes in real life the popular girls aren't really monsters, but in Buffy's world they actually are. The ingenius nature of Buffy makes it the best teen show of all time (according to me) and number one on my list.

New shows come out all the time including the 90210 remake coming out this fall, but really, it is going to take a lot to top these great nostaglic shows. Good luck CW, you know, the mecca of teen melodrama.

Now this is a story...Television Opening Sequences

I have an obsession with television shows. They have everything you want from a movie: a great story that keeps on going. At the end of the show, if that show is lucky enough to get to a series finale, the viewer gets closure. The greatest part of a great television show is the in depth view into the characters portrayed on the show. In a movie, the viewer doesn't really get to understand the characters they are watching. Occasionally a film will allow the viewer to go into the depths of a single character. One might call this a character profile film, but television allows the viewer to understand multiple characters over (hopefully) a significant period of time. Television allows for an evolution of a character; a character profile plus five or six years, or seasons.

To begin my account of televisions greatest, I will start with the top (or in my opinion, as I am writing this) opening credit sequences. One might ask, what makes a great opening credit sequence? Well first: great music. Annoying music can ruin an opening sequence. The song in Firefly always gets me and after the third or fourth episode, I skipped the One Tree Hill opening song. Music pulls the viewer in and captures their attention. It connects the introductory scene to show itself. Second: It needs to tell the story of the show. The opening sequence needs to tell me what the show is about and what I am going to learn as the show continues. If I were to just see the opening sequence, it should give me an introduction to the show. Third, and finally: the music needs to connect to the story that the opening sequence is telling. I mean, it is great that The OC takes place in California and the music that goes along with the opening credits makes it obviously for about a minute of my time, but it doesn't tell me anything about what I am going to learn from the show. It is a nice montage though.

Finally, the list of the best opening sequences

10.The Drew Carey Show
Where does the show take place? Cleveland. Why? Because it rocks. The opening sequence introduces us to the exciting lives of life in and out of the office for a one Drew Carey. First the entire cast, plus the many extras that live in the wonderful town of Cleveland, run down the street. We hear over and over that Cleveland Rocks, which the many scenes of fun activities that Drew, Lewis, Oswald, Kate, and of course, Mimi do proves their stance. From Indians games to hanging out by Lake Erie to relishing in the awe and wonder at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, why wouldn't everyone want to hang out at the Warsaw Tavern. This opening sequence wasn't introduced until episode 3 of the third season, but it finally encapsulates what the show was about: a comedy, about a bunch of friends, who live in a Cleveland.

9. My So-Called Life
What makes this opening sequence great is that it tells the story of this short lived series in about one minute and 4 seconds. Angela tells about her so-called life through her actions, interactions, and reactions through a montage of scenes from the show which is nicely paired with one of the best opening sequence music. The music is soft in the right places and climactic in others. It pulls the viewer in and reminds them what the show is about and leaves them wanting more. What makes this opening sequence difference from most is that it is the first thing the viewer sees. It doesn't have an introductory scene that can lead the viewer into the opening sequence. It must pull the viewer in right away. It is a risky move that a lot of shows fail in doing, but My S0-Called Life luckily pulls it off.

8. The West Wing
Who doesn't love the epic journey of President Bartlett and his presidential staff? Well, The West Wing is considered one of the greatest shows of the last twenty years. The opening sequence proves the epic nature of the show. Waving flags amongst the activities of the presidential cabinet, it is reminiscent of pictures and film of past presidents. There are no words that follow the tale that the sequence tells the viewer, but the words would ruin what the music telling.

7. Friends
What list of the best television opening sequences could be complete without the much beloved Friends. "I'll Be There for You" echoes throughout the sequence. It tells the viewer that not only is this show about a group of friends, which the title of the show clearly reflects, but these friends embody the words spoken by the Remembrandts. Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and of course, Joey jump around in a water fountain dancing and singing in a care free attitude to the song as the sequence progresses. The later seasons replaced the fountain dancing scene with a montage of scenes having to due with each character, but it doesn't quite tell the story the fountain opening sequence did. We all want friends like the ones on Friends, and the opening sequence reinforces this.

6. The Wonder Years
A cover of the Beatles song "A Little Help From My Friends", Joe Cocker sings amongst the perceived home video footage of Kevin, his family, and his best friend Paul. It takes the Beatles song to a whole new level and acknowledges the greatest the original held. Every time I watch the opening sequence it makes me excited to see the rest of the show, no matter how many times I have watched the particular episode.

5. Freaks and Geeks
The show was about the freaks and the geeks in high school. Two groups who really don't care about their reputation with their own show (no rich high school students in California here). Well the theme song hits the nail on the head as the chorus "I don't give a damn about my reputation" blares at you through the television. Each main character comes in front of the camera for a posed "school photo"; the freaks intertwined with the geeks representing the character they are portraying. It is definitely one of the most unique opening sequences ever made for a television series.

4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Nerf Herder always gets me pumped up for some Buffy dusting vamp action. With the characters intertwined with scenes from the show, the opening sequence embodies everything of what that show is about. Joss Wheadon really knows how to make an opening sequence. Angel is also another one of my favorite sequences, but I didn't have room to give it a spot on this list. What is great about this opening sequence is that whenever you hear the music, you immediately know that Buffy is about to kick some ass in the next hour of great television viewing.

3. South Park
Ever since the first episode of South Park back in the late 90's, the theme song for the show pulls you in to the terrible animated paper doll imagery, but great television writing. The first season there was a pair of hands putting together each of the four main characters letting you know that this show was different from the others and was not going to hold anything back. The opening sequence has changed a bit since its introduction (no more hands, less paper doll-like characters), but still has the dorky song that tells you all about the great town of South Park, Colorado.

2. Veronica Mars
Not very often does the theme song and the opening sequence match-up as well as Veronica Mars' succeeded in. The show is about Veronica Mars who used to be friends with most of the main characters on the show. An outsider who is ostracized by the rest of her fellow classmates, nothing bothers Veronica. That is why these main characters "used" to be her friends. The Dandy Wharhols great song encompasses what the show is about, how Veronica feels about these characters, and what we will learn from the show. One of my favorite introductions to the opening sequence was in the third or fourth episode when Veronica is telling Wallace about the missing girl that her Dad's private detective agency is assigned to, Wallace asks how she knows so much about the girl, and Veronica responds "a long time ago, we used to be friends." It is totally ingenious by Rob Thomas and solidifies why this show has one of the best opening sequences.

1. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
No other show deserves this top spot other than Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The opening sequence is a story within the story of the show. It is the background of the main character Will told to the audience before every episode. How did Will end up in Bel-Air, well he is gonna tell you in a nice little "rap" (I still don't call what Will Smith does Rap). Most people can recite it giving it that extra push for the number one spot on this list. It is a great sequence that stayed with the show throughout most of its existence. Longevity, recognition, and great music is why The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wins for best television opening sequence. Smell ya later!