Setting the Tone

Dirtysexymoney01It’s about as deep as a petri dish, but I must admit I’m liking Dirty Sexy Money. Simultaneously glamorizing wealth but sticking it to the rich — it’s my kind of show. The cast is pretty great, with Donald Sutherland obviously having a blast as the Darling family patriarch, and Peter Krause is great as the put-upon, good guy lawyer (that’s how awful this family is, they can have a lawyer be the only person you sympathize with) thrown into the deep end with these well-off buffoons. Tonight’s episode went disappointingly soft at the end, though I guess it can’t be all lions, trannies and murder. It’s a lot more fun than the somewhat similar Gossip Girl.

But the icing on the cake tonight was one of the most unexpected songs in a network TV show I’ve ever seen. Right after the title card, The unmistakable riff from The Fall‘s awesome 1985 single "Cruiser’s Creek" comes blaring out of the speakers and plays through an entire scene. Any show can throw in Peter Bjorn & John. The Fall shows class.

MP3The Fall – Crusier’s Creek

Push It Real Good

This was originally supposed to be  part of a big Fall TV Preview I was going to do, as I have a friend at an entertainment magazine who lent me all the fall pilots back in July. This was as far as I got. You know how it goes. Pushing Daisies airs tonight…

Pushing Daisies
| ABC | Wednesdays at 8pm | Debuts Oct. 3
Pushing_daisies
The gist: As a boy, Ned discovers he has the power to bring the recently dead back to life with a touch. Two caveats: if he touches them again, they’re dead for good; if he doesn’t, someone else in the near vicinity must die in their place. He learns all this tragically, of course. As an adult, Ned (Lee Pace) pours his energy into pies, while making extra money working with a P.I. (Chi McBride) solving murders — it’s easy when you can ask the victim who killed them.

Pros: The pilot, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (the Adams Family movies), is just about perfect: a whimsical, visually impressive modern fairytale (narrated by Jim Dale, of Harry Potter audio book fame) that’s funny, surprising and utterly charming. As is Anna Friel as the Love Interest.

Cons: The whimsy level is Amelie high, and though the pilot pulls it off, how the hell are they going to maintain the tone over the course of a season? And where can the story go? It’s one of these shows that seems likely to have a "Save Pushing Daisies" before the premiere even airs. Creator Bryan Fuller is king of the fan-loved, ratings-deprived One Season Wonders (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls).

Competition: Nothing drama-wise; Deal or No Deal and America’s Next Top Model seem like a different, but massive, audience.

Verdict: Unless you have a cold, black heart it’s hard not to fall for this show. Can they do it for a whole season? It’s worth tuning in to find out.

MP3: Baby Bird – Daisies

The Emmys: Nothing is Impossible, Except Dinosaurs

30rock
Holy crap, 30 Rock gets 10 Emmy nominations, including Best Comedy, Best Actor (Alec Baldwin), Best Actress (Tina Fey), and Direction. It also got two for writing — "Jack-tor"  (aka the "pos-mens" episode), and the equally-funny "Tracy Does Conan," though personally I would have offered the near-perfect "The Head and the Hair" or "The Source Awards" up for eligibility. If there was a category for Best Hats, I’m sure Frank would’ve been nominated too. Sure, they’ll lose most of them to Ugly Betty and Two and a Half Men, but for a show I figured would get ignored, this restores a modicum of faith in award shows. This feeling will fade quickly no doubt.*

If you’re still not hip to the funniest new series of the 2006-07 season, you can watch all the episodes online for free. And the Season One DVD set comes out September 4. And if you’re already a fan, did you know Kenneth has his own talk show on the website? And that Frank has a blog?

And in other Emmy news, "Dick in a Box" is up for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.

Friday Night Lights, no surprise, got shafted (two noms for Casting and Directing), but it still seems a crime that Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton didn’t get Best Actor and Actress nominations.

*The love is gone. Any year where On the Lot gets more nominations than The Wire is not a good Emmy Year.

The Sopranos Finale | David Chase Explains it All

Ff_goo_setlist

Nah, just kidding. Like he would ever do that. But the Sopranos creator does give his only post-finale interview to TV critic extraordinaire Alan Sepinwall. "No one was trying to be audacious, honest to god. We did
what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people’s minds,
or thinking, ‘Wow, this’ll (tick) them off.’ People get the impression
that you’re trying to (mess) with them and it’s not true. You’re trying
to entertain them."

I believe him. Despite outcries from histrionic blogger/journalist Nikki Finke (who turned her comments off ’cause they’re all negative) and the New York Post (who are probably upset mainly because Chase went to France to avoid the press), I thought the Sopranos closer was just about perfect. I don’t think Tony was whacked. I think he’s doomed to spend the rest of his life wondering if the next person through the door is the guy who’d going to kill him. Tension from nothing. "On and on and on and on…."

… and even haters have to admit it still made more sense than John from Cincinnati.

Goodbye Gilmore Girls

Gilmorefinale
Maybe I got just a little choked up a couple times here and there. I wish Amy Sherman Palladino had written it, but this was a warm, satisfying a fairly fitting end to one of this decade’s best television series. The cast said that they weren’t sure when filming whether it was the series finale or not when they made it, but it sure seemed like one watching it. Nice song choice for Lorelei and Luke’s reunion kiss, too.

MP3: The Mighty Lemon Drops – Inside Out

Stars Hollow: Indie Rock Epicenter of the World

KirkkaraokeBREAKING NEWS: This will be the last season. Two more episodes, folks. Official statement over Alan Sepinwall’s way.

Last night’s Gilmore Girls had the most indie rock references since last year’s season finale when Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Sparks, and Joe Pernice vied for Town Troubadour.

Zach got an offer to fill for lead guitar on some band called Vapo-Rub’s summer tour and the name-dropping followed quickly:Tokyo Police Club (who, in the Gilmore world can headline Bowery Ballroom AND Roseland), Eminem, Iggy Pop, Grizzly Bear, Crooked Fingers, the Rosebuds, Bobby Conn and Midlake, plus mentions of venues Mercury Lounge, the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, Magic Stick, and First Unitarian Church.

All this and Kirk singing "Karma Chameleon." I’ve been iffy on the Palladino-less incarnation of GG but I’ve like the last few episodes, even if the references are ham-fisted these days. Whether it will return an eighth season is still up in the air — word is yes, but in a shortened form — and I’m entirely ambivalent towards whatever outcome. (I’m more interested in Friday Night Lights coming back for a second.) But I would like to see them get Amy Sherman Palladino back for the final episode, whenever that may be, as she has long said she knew the last words to be uttered by the Gilmores. That I want to hear.

ADDED: I was thinking about the first time I ever heard an indie rock reference in a mainstream TV show. It was on Roseanne — Darlene goes to see Daisy Chainsaw. (Remember their single "Love Your Money"?) I looked up the episode ("Good Girls, Bad Girls") on IMDB and guess who wrote it? Amy Sherman, who hadn’t yet married fellow Roseanne writer Daniel Palladino.

Josh Schwartz on The OC Finale, Music, Johnny

Oc_links
TV writer extraordinaire Alan Sepinwall has a nice feature interview with The OC‘s creator, Josh Schwartz, in today’s NJ Star-Ledger, just in time for tonight’s series finale. He reveals, among other things, that FOX originally wanted him to do a show about "extreme sports cops, ’21 Jump Street’-style." He countered with this pitch: "The Karate Kid, without the karate."

Schwartz is also quite forthcoming about where the show went wrong in humorless Season 3, including the debacles that were Jeri Ryan and Johnny. Personally I think naming a character "Johnny" dooms your straight off. There is also much talk about where it all went right again with Season 4: basically FOX just let them do what they wanted.

Perhaps most interestingly, Schwartz reels off his favorite musical moments from the show, in chronological order:

  • "Honey and the Moon" – Joseph Arthur
  • "Paint the Silence" – South
  • "Orange Sky" – Alexi Murdoch
  • "Dice" – Finley Quaye and Beth Orton
  • "Hallelujah" – multiple artists in
    multiple episodes
  • "Champagne Supernova" – matt pond PA
  • "Fix You" – Coldplay
  • "Hide and Seek" – Imogen Heap
  • "Running Up That Hill" – Placebo
  • "West Coast" – Jason Schwartzman
  • "Life is a Song" – Patrick Park

Grey’s Anatomy Does Its Research

The Research: Outstanding in Their Field. No one's ever used that caption before.
The Research
‘s excellent album Breaking Up was my #15 album of 2006 but
the band have yet to get signed in America. That could change though,
as their single "Lonely Hearts Still Beat the Same" will feature on
tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Never doubt the power of Alex Patsavas (she also does the same for The OC [which I just realized are on opposite each other], at least for a few more weeks).

I would be watching if my TV hadn’t gone kerplooey right before Christmas. (Still waiting on Best Buy to decide what they’re going to do about it.) So I may just listen to the song and make up my own scene to play out over top of it. You can do the same…

MP3: The Research – "Lonely Hearts Still Beat the Same"

Buy Breaking Up from Amazon.co.uk

Read my account of their Mercury Lounge show last March.

Goodbye to the OC, Bitch!

Occancelled
If you had asked me if I cared if The OC was canceled  at the end of the Marissa-killing Season Three finale, I would have said "good riddance." Season’s two and three were overly melodramatic and missed the good nature of the show’s rediculously entertaining season. But then Season Four brought back the funny, the lightheartedness that typified it’s first season and I was hooked again.

So today’s announcement that FOX had pulled the plug on The OC was actually sad. Rumors abound that it might jump to the CW next year, but I think maybe it’s time to go. FOX is airing the remaining eight episodes starting tonight (January 4)… watch while you can. It’s really been back in it’s prime, thanks in part to Autumn Reeser as Taylor Townsend, which initially seemed like a ripoff of Gilmore Girls’ Paris Gellar but now has turned into something awesome. It’s actually made Ryan interesting. And Marissa’s little sister, Kaitlin, was way cooler than her older sibling ever was. Sigh. So it goes.

UPDATE: creator Josh Shwartz says they’re just going to end the show while it’s on a creative high. Good for them.

Additionally, it would be remiss to ignore the impact of The OC on the indie rock landscape. I interviewed Music Supervisor Alex Patsavas back in 2005 for BN.com, and Brooklyn Vegan lists every song every heard on the show.

Too Much!

Heatmiser Somehow this got past my radar… tonight NBC is airing a live action remake of the "classic" Rankin/Bass animated Christmas special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Must all our fond childhood memories be co-opted and repurposed? As a colleague of mine said to me, "Gen X has too much power."

In the 1974 original, Santa has a cold and wants to take the year off. NBC’s version is slightly different:

When his devious head elf, Sparky, tells him that he must "keep up with the times" – no matter how materialistic – Santa Claus resists, fearing that the holiday has become far too commercial. Convinced that no one believes in him anymore and that people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas, Santa decides to take the year off and not deliver any gifts, much to the dismay of Mrs. Claus, and his two closest elves, Jingle and Jangle. When Santa tells them that he doesn’t think there are any children left who still care about the true spirit of Christmas, the two elves decide to prove him wrong.

In case you were wondering, John Goodman is Santa, Delta Burke is Mrs. Claus, and Ethan Suplee and Eddie Griffin are Jingle and Jangle. Of course, what most of us remember about The Year Without a Santa Claus is Heatmiser and Coldmiser, the feuding sons of Mother Nature. The original Heatmiser, as voiced by legend Paul Frees, seemed like he might be on the, uh, flaming side, but there is little doubt which way he swings in this new version… Harvey Firestien plays him. Michael McKean is Coldmiser.

If you want your memories ruined, check out the new version tonight at 9pm on NBC. If you want to relive the magic, the original is on ABC Family this Friday (12/15) at 7PM EST.

Hermey
There has always been some weird moments and themes in these Rankin/Bass animated holiday specials. Like Hermey the Elf on Rudolph: Denist = Gay, right? He wore an ascot!

Weirder, creepier still is Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (also 1970), where we learn the whole mythology of Chris Kringle and how he came to be Santa. It’s actually maybe the best of all of these specials — one of the few to acknowlege that there is a religious element at all to Christmas (not that that is what makes it good) — with some very memorable songs.

However, the first time he brings toys to children he sings the following song to some little kids:

"If you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay
When you tell what you wish for —
In a whisper
Be prepared to pay.

If you sit on my lap today
A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay
When you sit on my left knee
Don’t be stingy
Be prepared to pay."

I know it was innocent at the time, but today, Dateline‘s "Catch a Predator" would be all over Santa’s shit if he sang that now. (And yes, I did see last week’s episode of Studio 60.) Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, complete with that now-disturbing song, will be shown on ABC Family directly following The Year Without a Santa Claus on Friday.

In fact, as this post rambles completely out of controll, ABC Family is showing all of the Rankin/Bass specials as part of their annual 25 Days of Christmas extravaganza. Even the obscure and regularly-animated ones. Remember Jack Frost? Rudolph’s Shiny New Year? Rudolph & Frosty’s Christmas in July? These guys cranked out a new one every year during the ’70s, and I ate them up like so much sugary cereal.

Cosmic_christmas
But what I’d really like to see again is Cosmic Christmas, a really good, sci-fi themed animated special produced by the CBC that aired in America in syndication. It’s one of these specials people remember but no one could really prove existed. Until YouTube, that is.