Tag Archives: Television

Is Reaper heading to an end?

One of the funnier and original concepts on TV today is the CW’s Reaper.  Reaper is the story about a slacker working at a home improvement warehouse (The Work Bench) whose parents sold his soul to the Devil who uses him as a bounty hunter who tracks down escaped souls from Hell – a reaper.  Reaper is a drama with a heave dose of comedy.reaper-tv-11

Unfortunately, Reaper could be heading to its own grave.  The show’s death is a combination of low ratings and the departure of creators/executive producers Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas who have just signed a two-year deal with 20th Century Fox TV according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Reaper is currently produced by ABC Studios which Fazekas and Butters were a part of.  With the departure of this dynamic duo, CW and ABC Studios will need to make a hard decision to keep production running under a new team or end the series.  If you look at the current “tea leaves” – the ratings, then one could easily speculate that Reaper will end after its current run.

However, there is a sliver of hope.  Smallville’s creates/executive producers – Al Gough and Miles Millar left the show after the 2008 season and the show was still picked up for two additional years.  Along with two -ear comment, the story has not missed a beat either.  

Let’s hope we don’t see a going out of business sign on the door of the Work Bench!

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Is the voting on American Idol rigged????

An interesting piece of news caught my attention yesterday as I was trolling through TVGuide.comAmerican Idol Season 8’s final four has already been chosen.  Wow…as I watch Idol tonight I was reminded that we still have 11 contender in this year’s season.  So how do we know who the Top 4 will be? american-idol-top-24

Isn’t the voting still being solicited by Ryan each week?  I keep seeing numbers advertise each week at the end of the shows.  Maybe the producers have a time machine or TARDIS on loan from the Doctor Who and have accelerated into the future to get a low down on the Final Four?  Hmm that must be it.  The Producers have a time machine – that has to be the explanation.  Yeah, that is it!

The Producers wouldn’t rig the results…would they?   All the voting results after each show and especially the final four are certified by outside accounting firm like the Oscars and Grammy, right?  Oh yeah, they are not.  Hmm…now that makes me wonder; maybe the voting results are not as democratic and fair as the audience is led to believe.

So, I guess the talk by a female e Idol staffer who told the New York Daily News Gatecrasher column may have some legs to it.  In this column, the staffer stated that the final four has already been chosen – Alexis Grace, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, and Adam Lamert – all of whom happen to also be current front runners this season.

The staffer alleged that not only have the four have been chosen as the final four, but that Rounds and Lambert have been ruled out as winner due to their similarity to past stars — Chris Daughtry and Fantasia.  Interesting.

If this is true, then the show that boasts itself as the path finder of new talent and a reality show is really just a fiction-based drama with pretty people with dynamic personalities who can sing — 21st Century version of Fame.  I wish the Producers and Fox were just honest with the audience about what American Idol truly is.

WonderCon 2009 – Sights and Sounds

I am finally home on the East Coast after my first visit to San Francisco’s very own WonderCon.  Wow!!!  What an event it was!  I have been to a few comic conventions over the years in Baltimore, but they could not compare to the sheer size, energy, and excitement that Wonder Con has to offer.  For three days, WonderCon provides the “fan boy” inside all of us with the one bit of nirvana that we searching for.wchdr_r1_c1

WonderCon is just not for comic book junkies, there is also something for gamers, fans of pop culture and TV/Movies –basically something for everyone.  2009’s event had it all – from hundred of vendors, panels to sit in on from various publishers to TV Shows/Moves, and autographs sessions with stars like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Erin Grey,  and Adam West to name a few. 

Like WonderCon’s sister’s show ComicCon International in San Diego, Hollywood plays an important part in the convention by promoting new movies and hit television shows .  Hollywood did not disappoint with panels that included the full cast & director of the Watchmen, Star Trek, Chuck, Terminator: Salvation, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Up (Pixar), and Wonder Woman the movie.   

These panels from Hollywood are not only filled with your favorite stars, writers, and directors, but the audiences are treated to either sneak peek of video clips to full screenings of the TV show/movie before its release to the public.   If the show or movie is any good, this fantastic way creates an incredible buzz before it hit the streets.  I guess you say this is a form of guerilla marketing, which is highly effective.

Let me take you into the Watchmen panel so you can get an idea what a movie panel is like.  Everyone is given the disclaimer no video recording of the intellectual property and yada…yada…yada.  After a few minutes director of the Watchmen Zack Snyder comes out to roaring reception from an enthusiastic audience.   Without too much prep from Zack Snyder, the audience was treated to special showing of the first 30 minutes of the Watchmen movie.  This is not it…after the clip, the cast of Watchmen come on stage to join Zack Snyder to discuss the behind the scene experience on the film along with a Q&A from the audience.  During the Q&A the audience learns that a Director’s Cut of the Watchmen will be released to selected theaters in July that will push the run time of the film to 3hrs 10 minutes.  WOW!!!  This same director’s cut will later be released to DVD this fall sometime around October.

The next panel is for the new J.J. Adams movie – Star Trek.   The audience is once again treated to a special appearance by the director J.J. Adams, which I can say is a hoot!  Someone who looks like he is a lot of fun, full of energy, and enjoys what he does, which is evident on the projects he creates from Alias to Lost to Fringe.  J.J. Adams is now joined by the cast of Star Trek – crew of the Enterprise.  One pleasures of this panel was hearing the stars of Star Trek tell behind the scenes stories of how the great Leonard Nimoy helped guide Zac Quinto through the Star Trek universe that Gene Rodenberry gave us many years ago.  Plus the audience got to see the new Star Trek trailer that not been released.  This type of information and access was not exclusive to these two movies, but all the TV shows and movies at Wonder Con.WonderCon 2009 Floor  

To give you an idea of how popular theses panels are, each session is held in the main event room that holds 3500 people.  And I can honestly say that there was not an empty seat to be had for the panels I attended.  Not only was the room full to capacity, there was also a continuous line at the door two people wide that stretched 40 to 50 feet down the hall.

As special as the TV/Movie panels are the real magic is walking the floor of the convention.  You never know who you might literaly bump into from the press covering the convention to regular Joes like Henry Winkler, artist Jim Lee, and even Darth Vader.

TV/Movies are not the only ones who host panels, so does the various comic publishing houses too.  I had the chance to sit in on the DC Nation panel.  In this panel the audience learned that eight new Batman titles will drop in the coming months that will focus around the Battle of the Cowl which will determine who will be the new guardian of Gotham in Batman’s absence.  One of the tiles will be called Gotham Sirens.  This book will be a loose team up book of Batman’s female counterparts – Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley.  This book will look at the villain’s side of the equation as Gotham tries to survive the absence of Batman.  The other news that seemed to float under the radar was the statement that Batman will be back from the “dead” in Nov 2009.  Yeah!

Panels and walking the floor is only half the fun.  Shopping at the various vendors, getting autographs, and people watching are the other half of the vent.  It is amazing the various characters you will see from a full-size remote-controlled R2D2, to Batman, Joker, Power Puff Girls, Storm Troopers, Captain America, Women of BSG, Wonder Woman, Watchmen, Brown Coats from Firefly, and Cylons.

After three days of nirvana, I can honestly say that it was worth the trip cross country trip to experience everything that WonderCon has to offer.

Battlestar Galactica – Ronald Moore spills secrets about the final season

Wow…It has taken me all weekend and most of the day to get my breath back after watching the BSG episode “Sometimes a Great Notion?”  I am not sure where to begin…

I guess I will have to say that if this opening scene is a glimpse of what is to come for the final act of this tragedy, then I am confident the audience will be treated to one grand piece of theater as we slowly climb to the climax at the end of these 10 episodes.battlestar_galactica_iso

Ronald Moore and company have once again in less than 60 minutes turned the BSG universe upside down.  This 180 began with the confirmation that the planet that was found at the end of Episode 12 is the prize they have been all searching for long and hard- Earth.  Now the fun begins with turning everything upside down once again.

Not only is this Earth, but this planet was destroyed more than 2000 years from their present time by a nuclear holocaust.  If that was not shocking enough…we learn that Earth was not only destroyed it is also…wait for it…wait for it – not only the home of the 13th Colony, but the 13th Colony is Cylon.  Yes, you read that correctly…Cylon.  These are not Cylons we have come accustom too aka Six and Sharon, but a new breed that all models are not identically the same and are even more “human” than previous thought.  Plus they had their own Centurions that look nothing like anything other model in the Cylon Empire. 

If that was not wasn’t enough; Tigh, Chief Tyrol, Tory, and Anders were on Earth when it was destroyed more 2000 years ago and have discovered memories of that tragic day when their civilization was wiped out in a single blow by a nuclear hammer.  Each of their memories are different, but are linked by not only this single event, but with each other.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Dualla “Dee,” who’s sea of hope and optimism represents all that is good about human race, committed suicide when it is reveled that the dream called Earth is nothing more than grey sky wasteland.  If Dee has lost hope, then you can image how the rest of the Fleet will react to the news about Earth.

Last but not least, Starbuck, on aquest to locate the Colonial beacon that lead this rag tag fleet to Earth, makes a startling discovery.  She finds the crashed Viper the included the pilot’s corpse.  Too my surprise and the rest of the viewers, the corpse is Starbuck!  Yes, Kara Thrace…I would say flesh and bones, but really more bones than anything else.  So, who is runnin,g looking, talking, and acting like Starbuck these past episodes?  Cylon copies, reincarnation of the original Starbuck or something supernatural…all good questions which I hope will be answered before the final episode airs.

So, a lot of questions have been raised since the discovery of Earth and even more after watching this episode.  Well, I could speculate like the rest of the BSG universe about answers to these questions or develop my own hypothesis, but I have chosen the easy way out. 

On Jan 17th Ronald Moore provide a pretty insightful interview with Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune.  In this interview, Moore discloses several answers to the burning questions that came out of “Sometimes a Great Notion.”

  • Ellen is indeed the fifth Cylon.  As the season progress the viewers will be shown who else knew this secret and there is a strong possibility that Ellen may return.
  • The Earth that is found is really Earth – the 13th Colony.
  • The Human Cylons we see in the flashback that Tyrol had on Earth incorporates more than 12 models we know of.
  • Starbuck’s existence is still in question…Moore is quite coy on providing an answer to this burning question.

That is it so far.  First episode is now in the books…nine more to go and with many more twists and turns before this series wraps up.

Season 4 Battlestar Galactica promo – Finial Chapter

It is here!!!  The new promo for the last chapter is this harrowing journey from Caprica to Earth in Battlestar Galactica.  As the series wraps up the finial details to this tragic opera, the viewers are still seeking answers to a few cliffhanging questions – did they find the real Earth, who is the final 5 Cylon, and what happens next?

Hopefully these answers will all be solved as the season kicks off in January 2009!

 

Extreme Trains on The History Channel

“All aboard.” screams the conductor Matt Bown as you board the new “man reality show” on the History Channel called Extreme Trains.  This eight-part series takes the viewers on a click and clack adventure down the rails and behind the scenes of the railroad industry.UP Double Stacked Container Train

Some of the treats the viewers get to see are the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus train, Union Pacific’s refrigeration train, Amtrak Acela (fastest? train in the US), coal train, and the 48-hour freight train express from LA to Dallas along with everything that supports keeping our trains moving 24/7 365 days year.

Our conductor for this “extreme train” experience is Matt Bown, an engineer on the Pam Am Railways (former Maine Central) for the last 10 years.  He provides the audience enthusiasm for all things trains without talking over head on the technical side of the industry.

I had the pleasure of watching the first episode last night (it aired two weeks ago, thank goodness for the power of the DVR) with my son – Freight Train.  It had everything a father and son could ask for – trains, trains, heavy equipment, dirt/grim, and more trains!

This pilot episode takes place onboard the Union Pacific dedicated, double stack container unit train from the port of Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.  This train is more than 4,000 feet long (3/4 of mile long) packed with consumer goods – LCD/Plasma TV, Computers, iPod, etc.  What is more remarkable about this train is that it covers 1609 miles in an amazing 48 hours!!!!  Yes, 48 hours!!!  This diesel superman-powered train tops speeds of 70 mph throughout most of its trip.

Three locomotives pump out more than 4,000 horse power.  Not sure how much power that is?  It would take 40 Suburban SUVs to pull this monster of a train.  The train takes on 3,000 gallons of fuel once through out this trip in New Mexico.  I am glad I don’t have to pay that fuel bill at the pump!

Throughout the trip the viewers get to see the locomotive shops in Barstow, CA, the 10-mile underground trench that the trains motor through from the port of LA to the eastern end of the city, the Cajon Pass in the San Gabriel Mountains, and the always unpredictable Mojave Desert. 

What a show!  I was a bit skeptical about Extreme Trains since I was not impressed about the History Channel’s previous “man show” production – The Ax Men.  My skepticism has now been put to rest quite quickly.  This show might not have the danger and tension that the Deadliest Catch or Ice Truckers, but Extreme Trains does have the rest of the intangaibles that make ups up a good “man show” – men and their machine at work at their extremes.  Think Extreme Trains as Dirty Jobs with locomotives.   This show is must see TV!  See at the next station – “all aboard!!!!”

Extreme Trains is on Tuesdays at 10 pm on the History Channel.

Who’s Your Favorite TV Vamp?

Since the introduction of vampires to our mainstream conscious by Bram Stoker more than a hundred years ago, society has developed a love affair with those blood thirsty fanged creatures. This love affair has moved from one medium to another – from books to movies and now to TV with the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

True Blood on HBO

True Blood on HBO

Over the last few years television has seen a vampire invasion of sorts.  A crop of new television shows that have vampirecentric storylines that expand upon the vampire mythology we have grown to know. 

Basic vampire mythology is for the most part the same in all the shows, each with a few “refinements” or “enhancements” to help differentiate these shows from each other.  To be honest, I have found that some of these “enhancements” a bit hard to swallow. 

For instance, in True Blood, vampires can enter a church and can even stand next to a crucifix without any consequences.  Additionally they can have a reflection and can be photographed.  Sunlight makes them ill and eventually will kill them. 

Like True Blood, Moonlight takes an outside of the box approach to the vampire mythology.  -For example, neither crucifixes nor garlic have any effect on the walking dead.  Furthermore, a stake through the heart only paralyzes the vampire instead of killing them; silver also has the same effect.  And as in True Blood, sunlight does not lead to incineration, but instead makes them so ill that it could eventually lead to a slow death.

However, for the most part, all the shows do follow the certain accepted vampire lore – beheading and fire will kill a vampire, silver is harmful, they have “superhuman” strength/speed/hearing, they appear for the most part like humans, have enhanced libidos, sleep during the day, and look at humans as a lesser life forms whose purpose is to serve either as slaves or cattle for feeding for the vampires.

On a lighter note, all the shows except for Blade and Moonlight used a form of offbeat humor to sell the idea that vampires are not nearly as evil as Bram Stroker lead everyone to believe in his 1897 novel.   This humor is not over the top, but so subtle in nature that does not distract from the show’s intent.  A technique which Joss Whedon and Alan Ball have mastered in their respective shows -Buffy/Angel and True Blood.

Here is how I rank the top vampire television shows over the last 10 years:

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  2. Angel
  3. True Blood
  4. Blade
  5. Moonlight
  6. Supernatural (to an lesser extent)

So, what is your favorite television vampire show?  If you ask my wife, she would tell you that I like Buffy due to Sara Michelle Gellar…but I beg to differ.  You can’t go wrong with the series that provides suspense, humor, great cast, pop culture refinances, and a terrific writing staff that never received the acclaim that more main stream shows receive.