Friday, May 04, 2007

Thursday Night TV Feast

What a night to be a couch potato.

The evening's entertainment offerings featured a little bit of everything: off-color humor (The Office), do-or-die playoff action (NBA & NHL), an epic baseball game (Red Sox/Mariners), and, if I'm not mistaken, the world's first scratch & sniff sitcom (My Name is Earl).

Hard to top that for flat-out fun without making it rain, but I'm going to try and do my best to recap it for those of you who were, like, doing something productive last night other than sitting in front of the set.

Mariners at Red Sox 7PM
The second match up of Japanese baseball gods Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston) and Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) got off to a rocking start when Seattle plated 5 runs in the first inning off Dice-K, but Boston answered right back with a 5-spot of its own in the 2nd to tie the score- so it's gonna be one of those games...

...Earl 8:00-8:36 NBC HD
This "groundbreaking" super-sized edition of the karma-centric comedy seemed like a little bit too much of a gimmick for me, so I abstained from partaking in the inter-active episode.

Okay, I forgot to pick up the stupid card that had all the corresponding odors on it.

Either way this show is starting to reek of repetition in its second season- I mean how many times can Earl cross something off a sheet of paper and it still be funny?- but it still delivers occasional raunchy, racist, non-PC chucklers, like when Earl is about to chainsaw a horse carcass or when Joy (big-as-a-house preggo Jaime Pressley) tells Catalina "...I've been called a bitch in every language, beyotch. That's black."

Still, I was pissed that I didn't have the scratch card, so every time a number popped up on screen and I couldn't get the full aroma of the scene it just made me want to change the channel.
Which I did, over to the Red Sox game, just in time to see Manny Ramirez blast a 2-run homer into the Monster seats to give the Sox a 7-5 lead after 4 innings. Surely Matsuzaka would hold that lead, I said to myself, so I flipped back to NBC to catch a super-sized (isn't that concept played out by now, Peacock net?) version of...

The Office 8:36-9:18 NBC HD
In what had to be one of the funniest episodes ever of the dry-but-deadly comedy, Phyllis is the victim of a flasher and it's up to Dwight, Michael and the rest of the men of Dunder Mifflin to make sure the ladies feel safe.

Well, that is after Michael sticks his finger through his zipper and reenacts the horrible event to a stunned crowd of employees. This was just the first of many below-the-belt, penis-related jokes in the show, and although many were childish and sophomoric, some of them were side-splittingly funny.

Like when Michael decides the best way to find out who the culprit is by checking everyone's junk. "Let's see your penis," he blurts out, then qualifies it with "as that was coming out of my mouth I knew it was wrong."

Later Dwight mentions that he's got "penises on the brain", and when Michael decides to hold an impromptu Women's Appreciation meeting, he let's loose with this philosophical gem:

"A penis, when seen in the right context, is the most wonderful sight for a woman, but in the wrong context, it's like a monster movie."

Even for Michael that sentence is not only apropos but oddly poetic.

Those comments plus gags about cross-dressing, homosexuality and female domination (Michael's GF/boss Jan says she'll pay him $300 to come over and service her) made for one raunchy episode, and it was the perfect antidote to the high-intensity contests that were taking place elsewhere on the dial.

After the show ended I watched the conclusion of the Sox game. Matsuzaka allowed the M's to tie the score again at 7, but then Manny Ramirez did what Manny is known for- other than faking injuries, hawking other people's grills and not granting interviews- he hit a titanic homerun over the bullpen in the 8th inning to give the Sox to a sloppy-yet-entertaining 8-7 victory.

Mavs @ Warriors 10:30, TNT HD
That game ended at precisely the right time, so I was able to catch the most intriguing playoff game of the evening, the Dallas Mavericks at the Golden State Warriors. Sure there was other playoff action on the dial, and I did catch some of Utah's win over the Houston Rockets, which forced a Game 7 between the two tomorrow night.

But in all the excitement and channel-changing I missed the thrilling conclusion of the Vancouver Canucks/Anaheim Ducks series, which Anaheim won on a fluke flip of a goal past goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 61 saves in the game, in the 2nd OT to take the series, 4-1.

Oh well, another spirited Mavs/Warriors tilt should make up for it. These two teams truly don't like each other, especially after former Dallas coach Don Nelson had the Warriors on the verge of knocking out the league's best regular-season team, and the series had more subplots than a Roger Altman film:

Nellie is suing bumbling billionaire Mavs owner Mark Cuban for $6 mil in back pay; Cuban is lobbing bombs at Nellie's questionable coaching style; probable MVP & former Nellie draft pick Dirk Nowitzki is playing like a 7-ft cream puff; and if Baron Davis & the Warriors don't win this series after blowing a late 9-pt lead in game in game 5, Steven Jackson might just go postal on the unsuspecting Bay Area.

Unfortunately the game didn't like up to the previous barn-burners in the series. After playing each other even for most of the first half, Golden State used a 36-15 third quarter scoring binge to pull away from the discombobulated Mavs, and by the time crunch time rolled around, Davis, Jackson and the rowdy Warriors fans at Oracle Arena were already celebrating the team's first playoff series win since 1991 and the Mavs were looking to jump on their latest chartered flight to nowhere.

Speaking of those Warriors fans, it was quite amusing to watch the camera scan the arena and focus on the low-wattage star power the team has dangling from the back of the bandwagon now that the team is decent again:

...none other than clueless Kate Hudson, her brainless boytoy Owen Wilson and has-been hemphead Woody Harrelson

Throw in fellow courtside club members sometime Laker fan Snoop Dogg and hard-hitting Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, plus strip club king Jackson and all I can say is boy would I have liked to have been at that after party!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

HBO Sunday Night: Entourage

Episode 38: "Gotcha"

The only reason to show this pic is because Ari's pecs and Mrs. Ari's chest were probably the best things about this ep- well, other than Leslie Bibb in a bikini.

There's a good reason why it took me so long to review this week's episode of our favorite frat boy comedy, and it had nothing to do with me being to busy to find the time to do the post. No the reason is much more simple than that:

This week's episode sucked.

There, I said it. Now I'm not going to jump off the bandwagon, like some columnists have already started to do, with the series only in its junior season, but with the shelf life of hit TV shows getting shorter than Verne Troyer's thumbs, the series is starting to get a little...stale.

This week we were treated to one of those absolutely meaningless "fluff" episodes, where nothing really happens except the boys putter about town getting into some form of high school hi jinks and Vince & E. haggle over Vinny's latest love interest. Been there, done that so many times it's already retro, ya know what I'm saying?

The hi jinks part of the ep takes place when Drama's old nemesis Pauly Shore (ooh, what a cameo, how'd they get him with his busy schedule?) shows up wanting to get Drama on the premiere of his new "Punk'd"-style show called "Gotcha"; get it-'gotcha', it's like a play on punk'd and...(see what I'm talking about?)

Anyway, Drama thinks he's being set up when he and Turtle get into a confrontation over a parking spot with UFC champion Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, so he goes and shoots his mouth off to the bruising brawler. "Why don't you get back in your hooptie and move WWF-wannabe" was one of the better blasts Drama got off on Liddell as he waited for Pauly to jump out of the background and "got" him. Alas Liddell threatens Drama and leaves, then a bunch of girl scouts show up and appear to pull the prank, but anyone with half a brain cell could see that the Liddell thing was the actual gag. Yawn.

The love story angle comes into play after Vince and Amanda have consummated their client/ agent sex pact, and the repercussions are being felt in the group. Well, mainly with E., because now he is stuck smack dab in the middle of yet another Vince schoolboy crush, and he is not too happy about it. Vince and Amanda start acting like a couple of google-eyed kids, which is totally against type for Amanda's character, and when the three meet for lunch E. immediately knows that the two have slept together.

"I can't believe you fucked her...that was like a bad Meg Ryan movie back there,"
E. says incredulously to an oblivious Vince, who just promises that everything is fine and nothing will change just because he's having a thing with his agent. "Just don't say anything to Amanda, that could really fuck things up," Vince instructs him. Oh like they're not already was not only E.'s response, but ours as well.

The other meaningless thread this week had Ari & the Misses hosting Ari's old college buddy for the weekend. The friend, Scott (Artie Lange- were the casting agents scraping the bottom of the barrel this week or what?) used to be a poor, obnoxious schlub but thanks to a windfall he scored from selling his website,, Scott is now a $65 million dollar man with a hot fiancee (Leslie Bibb, best remembered as Ricky Bobby's 'smokin' hot wife' in Talledega Nights), matching Bentley's, and a certain swagger that makes Ari sick.

Ari gets even more disgusted with his friend when he continually compliments Mrs. Ari, who used to think Scott was vulgar but now finds his comments flattering. This attitude shift causes Ari to go into full-blown rant mode, with Scott's fiance the object of his venom; "why don't we see how Scott likes it when I start drooling over the future Mrs. Siegel's soon-to-be Jewish ass."

This explosion of Ari-tude leads to the best scene of the night:

"Ever since you got here I have not been able to take my eyes off your ass. I mean it's the perfect shape. It's like God came down, hand-crafted it, and put it on a silver tray for my good buddy Scott over here!" Needless to say that went over like a lead balloon, and soon after the couple leaves and Mr. & Mrs. Ari screw and make up.

The show wraps with Drama attending a charity match Liddell is putting on, and to no one's surprise Drama ends up inside the octagon, gets humiliated by Liddell, and then everyone screams "you got got" at him as Pauly comes out of hiding. The whole thing was like so 1st season, it was kind of embarrassing to watch. Let these guys grow a little already, instead of always making Drama look like a buffoon and Turtle his lackey. The writers keep hinting that Drama's TV show is going to start soon, but why wait? I'd much rather see him going opposite the terrific Ed Burns then looking like an ass for Pauly Shore.

E. ends up confronting Amanda about the tryst with Vince, and she tells him that she's not so sure if it was a one-time thing. He responds by informing her "Vince has a hard time separating business & sex...he almost threw away a million-dollar movie...for Mandy Moore", and just the mention of the name caused my stomach to turn; that was the worst storyline in the series' short history, but this one is shaping up to be a close second.

Even as Amanda & Vince profess their intense like for each other, everyone knows this crappy story is just filling time until the real theme of the season appears- Ari & Vince's reunion. We all know that's inevitable, so instead of spoon-feeding us shitty storylines and telling us its caviar, just get to the real meal and leave these Alpo-based plots for the dogs.

Rule #1 of hit television- respect your audience, don't take us for granted. Or your show will end up lost.


Monday, April 30, 2007

HBO Sunday Night: The Sopranos

Episode 81: "Chasing It"

T's gambling addiction, hinted at last week, comes front & center this week

" I survived a gunshot wound, so when you think of it, big picture-wise, I'm up. Way up."-Tony to Carmela

While David Chase leads us down the trail of this short, sad swan song season, we have been introduced to a myriad of potential ways that Tony Soprano could meet his ultimate fate, assuming that means either incarceration or death.

  • Disgruntled captains?

Paulie, Bobby & Christopher- check.

  • Trigger-happy enemies?

Phil Leotardo- check.

  • Irate family members?

Uncle June, Janice, Carm- check.

  • Federal indictments?

Two-year old gun charge/ 25-year-old murder case- check

Heck I wouldn't even be surprised if that hot-tempered hot tomato Charmaine Bucco came back from television purgatory and sliced Tony's throat with a bread knife after serving him a plate of bigoli.

But the idea proposed out of left field last night left me wondering if I was watching the award-winning mob drama or an episode from season 2 of Lost. As Tony's sudden, crippling gambling addiction unfolded, I kept waiting for a rotund Mexican dude and the guy from Lord of the Rings to appear and start searching all of North Jersey for a Tony-sized hatch.

As the series winds down it's become crystal clear that Chase is living up to his surname; he's leaving us a bushel full of red herrings hinting at many possible scenarios involving the burly anti-hero, seemingly so that when the time comes everyone can say "I knew it was going to happen that way, 'cause remember when Tony and ..."

Wait a minute, 'remember when' was last week's theme, when it was proposed that Paulie could be the mole that sinks Tony's ass. The week before it was Uncle Junior, hopped up on meds and carrying a grudge against his nephew for the situation he is in. The week before that it was a disrespectful Christopher portraying the boss in an unfavorable light up on the big screen that provided grist for a possible T./Chrissy showdown. And in the first episode brother-in-law/under earner Bobby Baccala certainly proved to be an enemy of Tony after their WWE match at the lake house.

Now we can add degenerate gambling to the laundry list of culprits that could topple the great Soprano empire. The episode begins with Tony & the boys at a roulette table in A.C., and Tony losing a hefty chunk of change by going double or nothing on the #23 (a slight jab at that hideous Jim Carrey flick?) Tony tries to blow off the loss, but as the episode goes on and the bad bets pile up, it's obvious that Tony is suffering from an addiction just like that poor schlub J.T. (Tim Daly), who took a beating from Christopher & Paulie back in season 5 for a mere $57,000 debt.

Tony's debts are a lot greater than $57k, though; he still owes his old friend Hesh $200k that he borrowed as a bridge loan in the scene last week that briefly foreshadowed this "sudden" problem, and he's been hemorrhaging cash throughout the ep.

Will this be the great Tony Soprano's downfall? That he can't lay off the latest line?

Meanwhile, the other thread this week dealt with Vito Spatafore's rebellious son, Vito Jr. It seems that VJ isn't handling his homosexual father's sudden passing too well, dressing Goth and tipping over tombstones and stuff. Vito's widow Marie comes to Tony begging for assistance with her problem, in the form of $100 grand so she can move the family to Maine. But cash-strapped Tony's idea is to talk to the kid, and/or get Phil, who is "a cousin or uncle or some fucking thing", to handle the problem.

At Phil's coronation dinner, as he is attempting to schmooze guest star Nancy Sinatra, Tony approaches Phil about the matter. "What, a favor already" the always-smarmy Leotardo replies, and that line alone let's you know the long-simmering fire has been rekindled between the two. Phil is reluctant to get involved- "the turd doesn't fall far from the faggot's ass" is his rationalization- but he agrees to talk to the kid; too bad his idea of a heart-to-heart talk means telling the kid he looks like "a Puerto Rican whore." Classic.

The Hesh/Tony thing takes center stage, much like Paulie & T. did last week. Tony goes to Hesh's plush suburban home and talks about his problems, but Hesh wants the 200k. Tony agrees to pay $3000 a week in vig, but it all leads to resentment by both men, and a lot of name calling & stereotyping of Jews & Italians by both sides. Yawn.

Tony's quest for the big score hits a new low when he wants to use some of the money from the sale of Carmela's spec house to put down on a 'sure thing' NFL game. You're rich, use your own money she tells him, and he makes up a reason why he can't, but she's right, isn't she? Or are we supposed to believe that all these years of lavish spending all of a sudden came up to bite him in the ass?

Anyway, the confrontation escalates to a full-blown war when the game comes in but Tony didn't bet the house on it like he wanted to. "We could've turned your bullshit into a million dollars" he screams at Carm, who is horrified at the all-too-familiar Tony Soprano transformation from loving family man to terrifying, callous beast. He drops a few more unpleasantries on her as she hurls a statue at him and stomps off, and we're left to wonder how it all went wrong so quickly.

A little too quickly in this case.

The ep wraps up with Tony apologizing to Carm and admitting he has a gambling problem that he is trying to control, but he won't let her end up like Ginny Sacrimoni (poor & no where to live.) After little Vito took a shit in the school shower (a scene more disgusting than any murder ever depicted on the show), Tony agrees to pay for the move, but blows the cash on another bad bet. His next solution is to send the kid to a reform school in Idaho, and he vows he will "never, never forget that (Phil) didn't come through here" (cue foreshadowing music please)

In the end Hesh's girlfriend suddenly passes away in their bed, and he is visited by Tony offering his condolences and the $200 grand. I guess all it took was a death in the family to let bygones be bygones, and like every other episode this season, the problem that was introduced in the beginning is put to rest by the end.

It's almost like Chase is stewing a giant pot of gravy, and he's mixing in a bunch of spices & flavors, trying to get the taste just right. A little bit of professional envy, a touch of distrust of old friends, a dash of familial issues and a pinch of gambling losses ought to make it tasty enough, right? And he's letting the whole thing simmer & bubble until it almost boils over, then he turns down the gas and let's it cool off for a little while before putting the burner on high again.

But too many chefs spoil the gravy, and too many red herrings spoil the fun of the mystery.

On tap for next week is the AJ/Blanca situation (that was set up this week by a brief scene in which AJ proposed, she reluctantly accepted, then she dumped him at a Puerto Rican festival), and towards the end of the show we also saw the young Islamic man who came into the Bing for a few scenes last season, just to make sure we have the international terrorist angle covered as well.

The good news is there are only 5 episodes left, so all these lose threads should be tied up soon.

After all, those guys have to get off the island sometime, don't they?


Sunday, April 29, 2007

WTF are the Pats doing?!

First New England drafts a thug from 'Da U' and then it trades for Mr. Malcontent himself, Randy Moss

Sorry I haven't posted in so long, but the Sox blog is really keeping me busy , especially with all the games against New York this past week.

But what has happened during the 2007 NFL Draft these past two days have forced me to put down the red ink and post something about what the Sox' sister team is doing out there in Foxborough.

I went to bed last night reading all I could about New England's only 1st round pick, U 0f Miami safety Brandon Meriweather. All the reports are the same: hard hitter, fast runner, nose for the game, can step in immediately and be a factor in the secondary, all the things you want to hear about a No. 1 pick.

Oh, except for the fact that he tried to bash somebody's skull in on the football field last fall.

Yes, he's that Brandon Meriweather, the one who had his face plastered all over every sports and news show in America, along with 30 of his close friends & teammates after they were inolved in that infamous, ugly on-field melee between Miami and Florida International in October.

Various versions of the video are readily accessible on YouTube, and Meriweather is easy to pick out of the sea of players: he's the skinny one wearing #19 who can be seen joining the fracas shortly after it began, and he is doing his best imitation of trying to put out a fire that might have sprung up on the FIU player's face & legs, because he keeps stomping on them furiously.

Your New England Patriots #1 draft pick, folks.

Of course everyone associated with the team & the league says that Meriweather is contrite, that's not how he really is, and he will have to conform to the strict policies and style of the Patriots team. And when you think about it, the brawl was a spur of the moment thing and he may deserve the benefit of the doubt that his emotions probably got the best of him.

Oh yeah, but he was also involved in a incident where he discharged a firearm in the direction of a suspect who had shot his Hurricane teammate in the ass last July.

Anyway...people change ya know (like the battered wife said about her hot-tempered fiancee)

As if that bit of draft day news wasn't enough to wrinkle the nose of any diehard Pats fan, waking up this morning made one such fan think that the Apocalypse was finally upon us: the Pats traded for wide receiver/world class asshole Randy freakin Moss.

Everyone who watches the NFL knows Randy Moss, whether it be for his spectacular catches, length-of-the-field sprints to the end zone, and acrobatic feats like throwing the ball over his shoulder or catching a hook & ladder and running in for a TD.

Too bad everyone in the country with a TV set knows who Moss is from his litany of on-and-off field incidents, a list that would take up most of this post to detail. Some of the lowlights include attempting to run over a police officer in Minnesota, walking off the field before the end of a game, squirting a bottle of water at a referee during a game, and perhaps most memorably wiping his ass along the goalpost at Lambeau Field during a playoff game a couple of years ago.

Add to that laundry list a history of admitting that he stops trying when he's not into playing, that he jakes it every time he feels like, and that he has such a problem with authority that he drew the ire of respected NFL coach Art Shell and noted football maverick/Black Hole creator Al Davis, and to say the Pats are getting a guy with a lot of baggage is like saying Donald Trump is having a bad hair day- it's redundant.

Of course Moss has talent, although no one knows whether that talent is actually in decline, or have his totals just dropped because he decided he didn't want to contribute in Oakland anymore. Either way, my question is, why bother?

The Pats have always been the leader in taking character over talent, as evidenced by the numerous drafts when big-name guys were on the board but the NE brass went for lesser-known character guys. Now it appears that the team may be selling out on its own motto just to borrow from Davis' familiar mantra of "Just Win Baby"

Is it really worth it to bring another Rozelle trophy to town?

People of Foxborough, heed the words of the immortal Clark W. Griswald: "roll 'em up!"