Thursday, November 1, 2007


Joss Whedon is coming back to TV!!!

And he's bringing Eliza Dushku with him!

I'm trying really hard not to express my enthusiasm through CAPS or exclamation marks. So you'll just have to trust me when I say I have a shit-eating grin on my face. It just can't stop!

via ONTD

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dead on Arrival: Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars Season 4 Presentation:

Part 1

Part 2

via MerkieNL on YouTube.

It is my opinion that Rob Thomas fucked over every Veronica Mars fan with the abomination that was Season 3. Is that too harsh? Well, coming from a once rabid fan, I speak the truth sans hyperbole or any form of jest.

Season 1 of Veronica Mars was a sight to behold. All spunk, muted frames, and snarky voice overs, the series wasn't so much a mere TV show but a 22 hour sensory extravaganza. The direction was fantastic. The writing plastic-Tupperware-in-a-flood-leakproof tight. The characters were nuanced and alive with flaws, emotions and witticisms. Many media outlets heralded it as the best new show on TV. And that recognition was well deserved. Rob Thomas had created the best thing since sliced bread! Unfortunately very little people tuned in. Yet, it was given a second life in the form of a second season.

While Season 2 wasn't as pitch perfect as the first season was, the show still brought many surprises up its sleeve. There was less innovative colours and voice overs, but there was still plenty of heartbreak and loss. Veronica Mars graduated high school with a smirk and with very little fanfare, just as we knew she would. The audience didn't get any bigger, but their loyalty never waned. The economics of television however dictated that as good as a series was, it was nothing without a large audience. So, season 3 was brought onto the newly formed CW network and given a jumpstart.

"Let's make this easier for newcomers to watch! The loyal fans won't mind. They'll eat up anything we throw at them!"

That maxim seemed to be the mission statement for Season 3 of Veronica Mars. The series was stripped of it's usual season long arc. Instead it was pared down to 3 mini mysteries that would span 7 episodes each. Along the way, several characters were given total character assassinations and storyline continuity became a mere 'maybe' for the writers to address. Everything that I had come to love about Veronica Mars had been stripped and in its place aired a doppleganger that talked and acted like it but was not even close to the real thing. There was very little heart where there had once been plenty. Sarcasm became Veronica's main cachet of communication instead of her self-defence. "Obligatory psychotic jackass" Logan Echolls lost his spark and became Veronica's sometime left hand accessory. The delicious Veronica Mars voice overs had become but a distant memory, ditto the rich and vibrant colours.

Hence, I don't kid when I say Season 3 doesn't exist to me. It riles my blood thinking about how the mighty have fallen, being pandered away to the common denominator of television economics. So when talk of a season 4 set in the future floated around the Internet, to say I was 'not keen' would be a slight embellishment. Stop kicking the dead horse, and just put it out of it's misery already! Or so I thought.

Now, having seen the 20 minute feature presentation for a possible season 4, I'm more mad at Rob Thomas than I have ever been. You could put down season 3 to network meddling, but in my eyes, the blame lies with the creator. A TV network can only dictate so much change before the creator steps in and lay down the law. Rob Thomas got overly confident with VM, and because of that season 3 doesn't even qualify as chump change in the TV season of 2006.
Season 4, or at least what could have been, promised a lot of the spark and fire that season 2 had. In that 20 minutes, the wit was back and the excess baggage was gone. Everything that season 3 should have been was exhibited in that presentation. Thomas didn't lose his touch, he just merely hid it away and brought it out when desperate times called for it. So maybe it's a case of too little, too late, but VM Season 4?

Not worthy.

Nice try Rob Thomas, but your chance at redemption has long left the building.

Monday, October 22, 2007

TV talk: TV on the 'Net

TV-links is under arrest from the Internet police!

Read the whole story here: raided, Owner arrested.

As someone who used to frequent that site regularly, this is terrible, terrible news. They had the best and most updated links as well as the least eye-scarring layout to navigate. Sure, there may be other sites that catalogue links, but none do it as good as TV-Links did.

Old media is barely coping with the explosion of opportunities that new media has to offer. TV networks in the States have tried offering up a slice of the pie to users by putting up episodes on their site but the fact that their content is bounded by geography (only available to US) makes the offering rather ineffectual. Global digital copyrights management is sadly lacking and this case is a perfect example of the majority of problems:

1. TV-links did not host any of their material. They merely catalogued links that were hosted by Google, YouTube, and the like. If the authorities really wanted to attack the problem, why didn't they take down the hosts? Is it easier attacking the little people than the actual monoliths, like say, Google?

2. TV-Links may have been a UK hosted web site but the actual servers were from the Netherlands. Taking into account the fact that there is no single international Internet copyright law, who do you fault here? The Pirate Bay, a BitTorrent site, have chronicled some of their legal issues here. According to them, they are protected by the laws of Netherlands which are pretty relaxed about the digital revolution. Which leads me to my next point.

3. Geographical lines prohibits/inhibits the Internet from doing specific things. The Chasers War on Everything is free for download on ABC but only in Australia. As is The Office on NBC America. And promotional material for cable networks like Showtime or HBO. As great as the idea was, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. It is much easier to download a show from any BitTorent site or watch it online because there is no geographical discrimination there.

4. The authorities will probably come up with some way to attack torrents in the near future, as they have Kazaa, Limewire and other downloading programs. With technology on the rise, there will always be some way to avert the Internet police. Uploading/sharing sites like Mega Upload that allows up to 500 MB of data to be shared will probably be the next frontier if torrents get taken down. What we need is a strict constitution that clearly states what is and isn't okay in terms of sharing information on the Internet. Next thing you know, some kid who posted a link on her blog about some music video from YouTube is going to get sued. Grrr-eat.

Anyone who has ever watched a clip of a show or program of YouTube should be concerned. Damn the man! Save the empire! Sign the
petition to free the owner of TV-Links!

Friday, October 19, 2007

TV talk: Top 100 Shows of the Fall '07 Season

Of which these are the shows I watch:

#14. Heroes
#24. Pushing Daisies
#30. Ugly Betty
#38. The Office
#51. How I Met Your Mother
#91. Supernatural
#93. Gossip Girl

And these are the shows I watched last season but neglected this season:

#21. Brothers and Sisters
#46. My Name is Earl
#82. America's Next Top Model

These were the other shows I wanted to watch and might get around to watching during the hiatus:

#49. Chuck
#50. Journeyman
#56. Moonlight
#90. Reaper
#96. Aliens in America

Finally, the shows I can't believe are still on and actually thriving:

#1. CSI
#9. CSI: Miami (for fuck's sake..)
#12. Survivor
#19. CSI: NY (Karen has a brain aneurysm and dies at this point)
#70. American Dad
#83. Smallville

The full list is available here with the actual statistics and numbers.

To number #4 (Desperate Housewives): Fuck you very much for casting the very watchable* Nathan Fillion in an unwatchable show. You almost got me there but sanity prevailed in the end.

*watchable, edible = what's the diff?

p/s: Is it still cool to use the phrase "What's the diff?"
pp/s: Was it ever cool??

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

TV talk: Want/Need/Have

In what will be the prelude to... I want to say a week, but really it's entirely dependent on how lazy I am, so I'm going to go with ... a whole bunch of (very belated) posts about the US Fall '07 TV season, I am going to get the proverbial ball rolling by distinguishing shows by the want/need/have factor.

These are the shows that keep me genuinely interested and are generally interesting. They don't have to be particularly high-brow or meaty, but there must be a sense of involvement wherein it warrants a timely download/weekly watching.
Past contenders: Carnivale, Heroes Season 1, The Office (US), Ugly Betty

We're talking deep-seated passion, to the point where much time is wasted obsessively scouring TV websites for recaps, reviews and trivia. It's both a pleasure and a curse to come across such a rare gem in the wasteland that is network TV. Fans of Need TV have been known to annoy people with their (often unwanted) opinions and tiresome fan-wanking.
Past contenders: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars (but not the atrocity that was Season 3), The Office (UK)

Have TV are the shows that you hang on to but don't know why. They're not particularly great or engaging. They might be amusing but not funny (My Name is Earl), they might have been great once but are slowly losing the plot (Scrubs) or people might just keep tuning in to find out what the hell is up with the damn polar bear (Lost). It's tuning in because you have nothing else to do and don't mind watching it while you wait for The Office (US) to come on. Or watching because you have invested too much time and energy to give up on it now. Basically, it's watching because you have to, not because you particularly want to.
Past contenders: as stated above.

One of the pitfalls of being a US TV addict stuck in the bottom hemisphere of Australia is the obvious transgression in viewing pleasure. What I lack in being inundated with ads, I make up for in download waiting time. Thanks to a dodgy connection, sometimes the waiting time can truely be unbearable. Thankfully, the networks in Australia have decided to fast-track several programs, Supernatural and Heroes, to name those I'm interested in. While it means being a week or three behind the US, it also allows my laptop to be switched off from time to time. After all, leaving your notebook on for two weeks without rest cannot be particularly good for the system.

And so we begin...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Versus: Ashlee Simpson & Avril Lavigne

Ashlee Simpson - she of the bad haircut, nosejob and coattails of Jessica.
Avril Lavigne - abuser of ties and eyeliner. So punk rawk.

Ashlee - If it wasn't glaringly obvious enough, the Superbowl lip-syncing disaster exposed Ashlee's talents for what they are; ie. non-existent. Utilizing synthesizers heavily to distract from the less than savoury vocals, Ashlee has made 'sing-thesizing' into an
art form. She can't hit the high notes right, veering closely to screeching and screaming in the chorus of 'Shadow'. Hell, if she had to rely on a back-up track just to get the low notes right, you know it's a long time coming before she's breaking any records at vocal prowess.

Avril - Apparently started singing at church since young. Did that help? Well, apparently not much. In her past albums, she's proven to be just a tad better than Ashless at this singing gig, which isn't saying a lot. I suspect that somewhere somehow Avril is living a second life. Her contribution to the Eragon soundtrack, seemed to promise a more mature sophomore album. For all it's power ballad-y instances in 'Keep Holding On', Avril mostly managed to tack on the power in her warbles. Then 'Girlfriend' was released. Right.

Ashlee = 0, Avril = 1

To look at it superficially, Ashlee and Avril's music deviate slightly in such that the former is more rock and the latter, more punk. Essentially, both pop stars are just that; pop. So drawing a difference between the two is a lot like drawing a line in sand during high tide. Nonetheless, Ashlee's back up band uses arguably more bass and riffs ('Boyfriend'). I mean, they would have to make up for the lack in vocals in some way after all. Avril on the other hand, keeps the verses and rhythm punchy ("He was a boy/She was a girl"). Of co
urse the hardcore punks are cursing plagues at Lavigne's house for her blasphemous 'tude. But at the very least kids below 4'9'' will be exposed to punk, or punk-reminiscent music to be more exact, without the sex and drugs that usually come attached with that genre of music.

Ashlee = 1, Avril = 0

- At the start of the career, to step out of her sister's shadow, Ashlee died her blonde hair black and assumed a rock persona. She was the chocolate chunks to Jessica's white vanilla in the Simpson gene pool, or so it seemed. For the most part she did successfully carve out a career separate from her sister's. And then she went blonde. And fixed her nose. And became the spokesperson for Skechers. And all of a sudden she's looking like a less-tan,
less-chesty version of Jessica Simpson. One Jessica Simpson in the world more than fills our vapid bimbo pop star quota. Do we really need another bland blonde robot? Interesting to note that Ashlee's original hair colour is blonde. Ashlee is also currently dating Pete Wentz, abuser of camera phone and bassist/song-writer for Fall Out Boy. Do you think they maybe pool money and bulk buy eye-liner? Cause that stuff ain't exactly cheap. Especially if you get the waterproof ones.

Avril - After showing the pre-teens that girls can wear neck ties too, Avril continued her trend of baggy pants and white wife-beater for a while. It was so rawking, th
e fashion world collectively fell into a boredom-induced coma. Then at some point she dis-owned her tie trend and put away the hair straightener. She took the pink out of her hair and started dressing up. Voila, one awesome model under the facade at your service! What she lacks for in vocals and personality, she makes up for in bone structure. That girl puts Derek Zoolander out of business, I tell ya.

Of course, come 'The Best Damn Thing', the straightener, pink and punk rawk is back with a vengence. Regressing to familiar territory may be great for album sales but awful for a bystander.

Ashlee = 0, Avril - 1-0 = 0

Ashlee - Blaming the band and "acid reflux" for your mistake just isn't cool. However, Ashlee's music videoclips earns her back whatever points she lost for flubbing responsibility. Have you seen that girl dance? For someone who apparently did ballet when she was younger, the girl has the grace of an elephant on rollerskates. No really, it's like she's having random seizure attacks.

And because I myself am one with the spazzy dancing, I can't hate on Ashlee for that.

Avril - Yeah, we get it. You're bad to the bone. We saw it in your music videos, we saw it in your interviews and the paparazzi saw it first hand when you spit at them. Yawn. Next!

Ashlee = 1, Avril = 0

Final tally
Ashlee = 2, Avril = 1
Ashlee Simspon slips in to win the battle of the can't-sing-"bad-ass" rawk princess. The world continues to turn on it's axis.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Movie review: Stardust

Having waited with bated breath for the Stardust to open in Australian cinemas (September 20), scoring tickets for a special premiere a whole month earlier would what the UrbanDictionary define as "sweet". To have Charlie Cox, breakout star of said movie, introduce the movie and regale us with random bits of trivia is just the perennial icing on the already very sweet cake. That the movie completely fulfils my every expectation and pulls out some unexpected surprises as well? Consider me a diabetic after the whole experience.

I feel that I must pre-face the review with this note; For those not in the know, Stardust is an adaptation of cult-fantasy-author Neil Gaiman's book off the same name. Neil Gaiman... that name itself explains more than I'll be able to in summing up the story.

The movie follows the quest of Tristran (played by Cox) who hunts down a fallen star in order to procure the hand of his lady love, Victoria (Sienna Miller). The fallen star takes the shape of a woman (Claire Danes) upon crashing onto the ground. Unbeknownst to Tristran, the star is also hunted by a witch (Michelle Pheiffer) who wants it for eternal youth and a king (Rupert Everett) who cannot take the throne without it. Of course thanks to the mind of Neil Gaiman, the story isn't quite cut and dry. Woven into the plot are pirates, magical kingdoms, ghosts, and unicorns. According to Wikipedia, Matthew Vaughn pitched the film as "The Princess Bride meets The Pirates of the Carribean." While I do not necessarily agree with the pitch, I can certainly see that the intricate balance of humour, action, and love found in these three films are what the critics will refer to in drawing comparisons.

I was very excited to see what Matthew Vaughn would do in only his second take at directing after Layer Cake (which impressed me so), and I must say that all in all, Vaughn did a fantastic job. Telling a story that is so detailed and encompassing isn't one for the weak-skilled. Initial choppy editing at the beginning of the film aside, Vaughn's vision and strength progressed to culminate into a killer climax. Many times during the film, I sat on the edge of the seat, trying hard not to yell words of support to the screen. It seems silly but I am definitely one of those who gets caught up in the moment. It certainly helped that all the players brought everything they had to the table.

Charlie Cox and Claire Danes are without doubt the stand-outs in the cast. Cox, who I had never seen perform before, blew me away. Tristran was the quintessential hero, growing from an adorable boy to a respected man (still adorable, but with better hair) as his storyline progressed. Brimming with charm and a certain innocent naiveté, Cox will definitely be one to watch in the future. Even Vanity Fair is sitting up and taking notice. Danes, on the other hand, I had often took as a one hit wonder - less then stellar career post-My So-Called Life. I was initially upset with her taking the role that Sarah Michelle Gellar turned down, because regardless of SMG's questionable career post-Buffy, I knew she had the chops to pull it off. I have never been more glad to be proven wrong! Danes was elegance and ethereal beauty personified in Yvaine, the fallen star. Her delivery in the monologue regarding love just made me stare wide-eyed, all goofy-grinned because of its sheer impact and brilliance. Who knew she had it in her? I guess I do now.

Unfortunately, films from the sci-fi/fantasy genre (that is not made from George Lucas) has a tradition of doing poorly in cinemas. Stardust opened at number four in the American box-office in its opening week. Hopefully it'll continue to stay strong and strong word-of-mouth will cause the public to flock to watch it. Nonetheless, what it lacks in box office sales will definitely be made up for when the DVD hits. Don't be one of those lagging dopes only catching it when the DVD drops!

Verdict: In 21 words or less
A future classic! There'll be a whole new generation of kids who will grow up on Stardust.

Trivia according to Charlie Cox:
The scene where Robert De Niro's pirate meets Ricky Gervais' bootleg seller is mostly ad-libbed. The actors had to turn their heads away from the camera to cover their laughter.