Some like it hot.

Boom. Yup, this dumb ass poster pretty much sums up this show. Hokey, pokey. I started watching NCIS: Los Angeles on account of its high ratings, and Chris O'Donnell, which don't always go together. Having never seen the original and not even really knowing this show existed, I thought I owed it to my waning American credibility to at least update myself on network tv's offerings. (I did, however, watch JAG, which spawned the Mark Harmon NCIS, way back in the way back.) In any case, I'm waiting for his character to become interesting, which he has the potential to be. A hard nosed foster kid whose "natural talent for undercover work is legend" and who, at the start of the show, is just returning from a prolonged sick leave after a few stray bullets found their way into his well preserved body. That has sympathetic hero with attachment issues written all over. Alas, such feelings require good acting and I always delude myself into thinking that Mr. O'Donnell's sparse skills might actually evolve. No hard feelings though; I love him for who he is - an all-American Catholic school boy from the midwest, and the type of guy my mom wants for a son-in-law.

But I digress. Okay, first of all, LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell in a police procedural buddy drama?! Someone at CBS has a lot of faith. The pairing doesn't scream chemistry, though I suppose there have been more awkward partnerships (George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell in Batman and Robin anyone?). Thus far I am unimpressed, but as the show's been picked up for a full season, I trust another 20 episodes of dead bodies and firefights will be a net positive in terms of male bonding.


The rest of the team, sadly, does little to fill the personality void, with Hetty (Linda Hunt) being an exception. She reminds me of a benevolent nun, someone from a bygone era who manages and mothers a tight crew that is just a tad too cool for its own good. The 4 other team members merely occupy roles and offer little else. Dominic (Adam Jamal Craig) and Kensi (Daniela Ruah) are the more interesting pair, as a new recruit and a more seasoned junior agent, respectively. I could see a fresher dynamic emerge as their interactions in the field with O'Donnell and LL Cool J's characters, Callen and Sam, develop. There are inevitable issues of trust and competence, for example, that so far have been ignored for the sake of action. The 2 remaining members of the team, Nate the psychologist and Eric the tech dude, however, have no where to go, having already established themselves as the slightly preening all-purpose shrink and the geeked out, bluetoothed retro-nerd (looking like he missed the cut for Mark in Rent).

Some of my disappointment, or indifference really, comes from the fact that I just finished the first season of The Mentalist, which I thought was both well written and well acted. Each character had a distinct personality, as opposed to a generic job, e.g. newbie, body man, leader. You can't trade Kimball Cho, for example, with any other law enforcement character on television. His role as a senior agent is standard but actor Tim Kang squeezes every living ounce of dry wit out of him to create someone memorable and not just functional. There's also an engaging whodunnit quality about the show that gives more breathing space to personalities than to gunfights.

"Our Super Wall can kick CNN's Super Wall's ass."

But that's not what everyone goes for, so if you like your crime procedurals seasoned with more action, then NCIS: Los Angeles should be adequate. There's still good doses of humor and emotional tension, but that's mostly secondary to the action. The real thrill of this show is of the classic undercover, chase, and shoot-out variety, and the suspense comes not so much from solving the crime than from watching it being solved.

And really, what is with that promo shot? They both look like backlit Miami Vice tools, but with less hair, beefier arms, and tighter clothing. Oy vey. That said, can't wait until Tuesday for episode 6. Chris O'Donnell, it's been too long.


"Oh my gosh. My life is Degrassi High."

Ahhh, juco, probably where I belong right now. After hearing some good things about Community, I decided to try it out. I haven't seen much American comedy lately so not sure how this stacks up against what's already out there. The show is about some community college students who bond over a Spanish study group. It's an eclectic bunch, as is required for every sitcom, with Joel McHale of Talk Soup fame heading the group. He plays Jeff, a newly disbarred lawyer who fudged his college diploma (turns out Colombia has an extra 'o') so enrolls in a local college to finish his degree.

Jeff picks up a few friends along the way, most of whom cannot be described as normal. The characters are so zany that you kind of have to take the show as is. Britta, Jeff's love interest and one of the more lucid personalities here, accuses him of being arrogant and selfish, which he is. He trusts that his talent for lying, cheating, and general deception will carry him through his classes just as it did his career. In the first episode, he tries to enlist a former client and teacher at the college, played by one John Oliver, to give him all the answers to every test. Fail. His inadequacy, however, is more than matched by his new friends, including a moist-towelette tycoon, an ex-high school jock and the nerdy nut who sat behind him, a black single mother with a sharp tongue, and an Asian Muslim kid with dad issues (hmmm, no typecasting there). Throw in Ken Jeong being a Ken Jeong character, this time in the form of Senor Chang the Spanish teacher, and you have the making of a fantastically epileptic show. Half the laughs are well earned and come from straight witty writing while the other half is the type that gets squeezed out of uncomfortable absurdity - a teacher who thinks Robin Williams' Dead Poets antics actually work, John Oliver flipping out because his psychology experiment doesn't pan out. I understand some of it is tongue and cheek, as when two students protest the lack of press freedom in Guatemala because they want to bake brownies for a cause and tape their mouths during a candlelight vigil. Of course I could just have issues with Ken Jeong who is a veritable bottle of Ritalin that needs a better childproof cap. Overall though, the show's a good pickup. Community college dares us to hope, so NBC would have us believe. All these guys are pathetic, which is exactly what makes them endearing.

(Kudos to whoever penned the Degrassi nod in episode 4. Treat.)

Abed (the Asian) and Troy (the jock) rocking the Spanish.

Krumping in the study room because that's the place to do it.


What's with all the Asian dudes?

Whoa, some major WTF moments in last night's episode of FlashForward. The opening scene sees the guys coming out of some late night meeting. As they're headed out of the parking garage, their car gets broadsided by a huge van. Out pop some Asian dudes with mean ass guns. Next thing we know, the agents' car is toast. Flash backward to 39 hours earlier and the episode recounts a meeting before some Senate committee on financing various FBI projects to determine the cause of the blackout.

A lot of stuff goes on throughout the course of the next 39 hours. We get our first glimpse of the president, who looks a lot like Peter Coyote, and discover that the Senate committee chairman is a hardass woman named Clemente. No one likes her but everyone tolerates her because she plays hardball, which Stanford is also adept at. He blackmails the president for more funding, and the president, in a move that may or may not be related, nominates Clemente as veep. Meanwhile, back in LA, cutie Al (Lee Thompson 'Don't Call Me Jett Jackson' Young) and Janice have located some images that show massive pylons under construction in Somalia at the same time of the '91 blackout. Oh, Janice can also kick your ass, and she's a lesbian.

Yeah, so pretty intense as shit just keeps going down on this show. The biggest WTF moment though comes as the show catches up to the opening shot. The scene is extended with some more gun fu action, but then, Janice pops into a shady looking street with a clumsy bag of groceries (really?) and she gets caught in the crossfire with some mean ass Asians. Man, what is going on?
It was veering into Lost meets Johnnie To territory. She gets s-h-o-t and as she tumbles onto the pavement in glorious slo-mo, she sees her flashforward, which we all know is her getting a sonogram. So...does she die on the mean streets of LA in a pool of her own blood? Of course not, but can't wait to see how everyone emerges from this mess.


The Drakeness

Couple days ago I posted some Drake covers. Here are two more by Lisa Scinta. She has a super mellow, girly take on his songs. Love it.


This movie's been sitting around for awhile. I've been waiting for it since its Sundance buzz, and it's finally getting released in time for awards season. Can't wait until it makes it to Hong Kong - which will be never, unless it bags a couple Oscars. So let's hope the Academy does the right thing.



Compliments of the Daily Mail in anticipation of the upcoming season of Spooks. So gratuitous.


Drake covers

Youtube star JR Aquino's version of Houstatlantavegas. Drake's version is smooth but I also like this mellow acoustic take. Also check out the dude's other covers. I'm loving Home and Knock You Down.

My favorite cover of Best I Ever Had. A bit unconventional, a bit lounge-y, but still a unique spin on a song that has been beaten and bloodied by radio overplay (so I'm told). A lot of the other versions are relatively straightforward acoustic takes, some of which are also impressive, but this one stands out for me.



Lucas North will destroy you.

Looks like the 8th series of Spooks will debut sometime in October. That's - this month! Via an article uploaded on RichardArmitageOnline, there will be loads of sex and danger, just what I like in my spy show. Turns out Lucas North still has some baggage leftover from his Russian rendezvous. He also gets entangled with a blond, leggy CIA agent, which could have been me in another life, except for the blond and leggy part, and the CIA agent. Ruth comes back, which is supposed to be a big deal. I have yet to watch, well, most of the show; series 2-6 are hard to come by in these parts. In any case, let the spy games begin.

It's now or never.

Daaamn. Who knew the Asian kid could dance? Killed it. Harry Shum Jr has got the Asians abuzz. He's mostly a dancer with some bit parts here, there, and everywhere. Guy was even one of the original iPod silhouettes. Also loved Kevin McHale's solo on Confessions, and let's give credit to Dijon Talton, the other hottie football player turned crooner (and Meagan Good's cousin). The girls' Halo/Walking on Sunshine was also good, but dudes in leather jackets and white ts belting out Bon Jovi? Kind of awesome.


Oh, Kendra, where art thou?

This is not me 10 years ago, although I still look like I did 10 years ago. Apparently, Spinner, one of the main characters off of Degrassi, had an adopted sister named Kendra. She appeared in one of the earlier seasons as a quasi-love interest for Toby and then disappeared. So today's question: What the hell happened to Kendra Mason? Are you telling me this school in Toronto didn't have any Chinese people? Come on now. That's setting a show in San Francisco with no Asian folks. Oh wait, I think it's called Monk.

P-P-P-Push it.

Still my favorite number from Glee thus far. Word's out that the boys v girls battle on tonight's episode (Vitamin D) kicked someone's ass, but I'm actually going to try to hold out for the whole show rather than just watching the clip on youtube.


WTF find of the day

O-M-bloody-G. You're saying that the kiddies from Degrassi hooked up with the kiddies from Spring Awakening? This must be a couple years old, before Aubrey Graham busted out as Drake and before anyone outside of Broadway geekdom had heard of Lea Michele. But this is pretty spectacular fangirl stuff. Two breakout stars of 2009 sharing the stage. Love.


(This is an old unpublished post I found that I'd written in the aftermath of Eurovision. I was checking out past winners and entries and soon found myself wading in a sludge of overproduced sap. Viva la fromage!)

As a rule, I hate music videos that feature sick or dying people in the hospital, retching from the after-effects of chemo, looking emaciated and bleary eyed - but strangely hot - and being wheeled around in a wheelchair. It's especially vomitous if it involves little kids or attractive twentysomething significant others. It's so cheap and generic - and it's used in every other damn Chinese mv. Every 'singer' has used this trick at least one time (Eason's
七百年後 and Guang Liang's 童話 immediately come to mind), and that's being generous. Anyway, while I was checking out bad Eurovision entries last night, I came across this video by Dima Bilan who won the 2008 contest for Russia. Sappy lyrics - check, sappy music - check, sappy dying kid in the video - check. There was even a sappy long haired lothario violinist. BUT, being Russia, this video had.........sappy ice skating!!! Sappy fucking fail.

"Each morning I get up and die a little..."

This week's episode of Glee was not its strongest but still managed to deliver the goods, proving yet again that, we shouldn't stop believing (groan). The Rhodes Not Taken finds our pretty characters at a crossroads - a couple folks are knocked up, a couple folks are hiding some secrets, and Rachel just wants to be a bitch supastar. Enter April Rhodes, in the form of Kristin Chenoweth, an overtanned, overboozed glee club has been. With Rachel's departure, Will needs a new diva and seeks out his former classmate, who was just a few credits shy of graduation, to fill the gap. It's a bit of redemption for both of them; she gets another shot at high school glory, if that's what you want to call it, and he gets to share the limelight with an old crush plus extra credit for reviving the glee club.

The effort, unfortunately, falls flat for us viewers. Let's call this episode what it really is - a vehicle for Kristin Chenoweth to be amazing, which she is. I'd never properly seen her act or sing but she more than lives up to her reputation here. At least she finally got her Emmy (for Pushing Daisies) but really, folks, give the woman a Tony or two, or ten; she has talent spilling out of her ears. The problem is, rather than enhancing the show and bringing out the other characters and performances, as a good cameo should, her appearance felt like a forced detour from the actual show. It's as if the creative team was so excited she'd come on board that they contrived of ways to make her appear as often as possible at the expense of most other characters. This works at times; Rachel's lust for fame without any real understanding of what it means parallels April's own mishandling of her considerable talent, and Will's constant fluttering between what he wants and what his students need gets another look over. But hardly a peep from Sue Sylvester?!

Will is also starting to grate on me. He's kind, generous, and does the best white boy version of Gold Digger you can find, but sometimes I question his ability as a teacher and mentor. Did he really think that importing a boozy thirtysomething would benefit the kids? I can't decide if this is a significant character flaw or significantly flawed writing. A bit of both perhaps as he's no stranger to clinging on to his past (see the second and third episodes). Like those of us (ahem) who peaked in our teen years, it's hard for him to let go or acknowledge that the world moves on even if you stand still.

In any case, this week's musical gem - Queen's Somebody to Love. The kiddies killed it. My only gripe is that the truncated version broadcast on the show omitted Kevin McHale's parts. He may have been in a boy band, he may have flat ironed his hair at one point, but the boy's got lungs. Check out the full album version, twice as long and twice the goodies. (FYI, the image here is reversed.)

He likes older women.

Our boy Jimmy makes #3 on MTV's Hottest MCs list. Sweetness and light.


More, please.

I just watched episode 2 of ABC's FlashForward and it was a-mazing! This is why I haven't followed network tv in a long time. Shows that offers surprises and cliffhangers at every turn require uncommon amounts of patience and emotional self-control, none of which I have. So rather than sitting pretty in a Snuggie and with a bucket of ice cream for a Saturday night marathon, I have to wait an entire week until my next 45 minute fix. (Luckily I have numerous distractions in Merlin, Glee, maybe Three Mile, and all the other old shows I'm just catching up on.)

Things really start churning in this second episode. The pilot was mostly a prolonged edition of all the previews they've been showing this summer. There's nothing terribly revealing about the plot, the characters, or their visions that we didn't already know from the publicity campaign. The only real surprise came at the end when it was discovered that a man was awake, wandering around Detroit's baseball stadium during the blackout. Spooky. Episode 2 jumped on the first real lead and involved the search for someone named 'D. Gibbons'. Olivia, Mark Benford's (Joseph Fiennes) wife, gets her first meeting with the mysterious man she saw in her vision. He happens to be the father of a patient - who, it turns out, Olivia's daughter Charlie saw in her vision. A crazy cupcake lady is introduced as well, and I mention this mostly because I want to eat her cupcakes, though she is sure to reappear later on.

One of the major sources of tension thus far seems to be between Mark and Olivia as they navigate infidelity of all sorts. There is the obvious conflict regarding the other man, but there is also cheating of the non-sexual variety. Mark has yet to tell his wife that part of his vision involved a relapse into alcoholism, and he makes an effort to keep even minor details from her (such as the bracelet). All signs point to a volatile descent into chaos, at least in their personal lives.

The biggest pseudo-surprise, however, comes at Demetri Noh's (John Cho) expense. In the immediate aftermath of the blackout, he hypothesized that his lack of a vision meant that he'd be dead in 6 months. Well, tonight we learned from some raspy voiced woman with some prime real estate in Hong Kong that he will be...murdered!! O-M-to-the-G. This is brutal, and I am officially hooked.


Good bye, Merry Men.

Dated news but Robin Hood got the big heave ho, so no season 4. I would have liked to have seen Clive Standen who played Archer as the new Robin, but there didn't seem to be much potential for the story to move forward. After all, Marian, the Sheriff, and our beloved Guy all bit the dust, and I don't see how another season could have survived the dearth of charisma. You know it couldn't exactly rely on writing talent. Anyway, it was an enjoyable run while it lasted. We'll just wait and see what BBC pumps out next, and if Merlin survives past round 2....Speaking of which, Adrian Lester appeared in last week's episode. He played an assassin sent to off Arthur for the murder of a neighboring prince. There was a bit of jousting, a bit of love. Not a particularly memorable episode and I don't think this was a fantastic showcase of Mr Lester's considerable talent. Guinevere does give Arthur a verbal talking down though and maybe this relationship might bring more depth to Arthur's character. One of my complaints from last season is that our once and future king was little more than a chain mail wearing jock. If Bradley James can actually act, then the remainder of the season should be more interesting.