Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buffy Season 8...the animated web series?

A couple of months ago at Comic-Con, DC Comics announced something called "Motion Comics", where familiar characters like Batman and Superman "come to life" through limited animation. A well-known example is the first chapter of Watchmen, which was given out for free on iTunes for a while before they put a price tag of $1.99. People are waiting for chapter two. A Batman story is available on Verizon cell phones.

Well, I found out about this on Whedonesque....someone has been re-creating all the Dark Horse issues of Buffy Season 8 as motion comics. It's more like Sims, but it's an impressive attempt to spread the word about the series. If nothing else, it shows that maybe Dark Horse should get into the "Motion Comics" business, and Marvel, too, for that matter.

The person behind Buffy Motion Comics is someone called smartjoe299. This person has also animated the Angel: After the Fall series, too. I'll say one thing....at least these two series are advancing quicker than Watchmen...or the availability of other Motion Comics.

I would like to know how quickly it makes to convert an issue into about nine minutes of animation. Once again, the Buffy nation commands technology to spread the Slayer's legend a whole lot quicker than Fox TV. It makes you wonder if people will convert fan fiction into animation, too. If the tools and patience are there, it may not be too long before Serenity: Better Days gets the smartjoe299 treatment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why I am one Canadian's GSN connection

Canadian cable is similar to ours in many ways. They have their version of HBO, Showtime, ESPN, CNN, and other channels. One thing they really don't have is Game Show Network, home of lots of classic game shows and a few new ones.

For a while now, I've been trading DVD's with a guy from Ontario. I send him LOTS of DVD's of specific shows, and he sends me Canadian shows.

Really! Canada has a lot of interesting shows I wish were shown here. For example, they have a political comic named Rick Mercer who can match up with Jon Stewart any day. He has a weekly show on CBC, and must have quite a time mocking his country's politica and ours. That's especially true since Canada's about to have an election a couple of weeks before we do. Before him, though, there is a group called Royal Canadian Air Farce who had been a hit on radio for years before moving to TV in the late 1980's. This year is their farewell year, but it looks like there will be someone picking up where they'll leave off. They also have a show called Little Mosque on the Prairie, with Muslims hoping to cope with lfe in Saskatchewan. The CW tried this with Aliens in America, but no one watched. Thank goodness YouTube has examples of these shows. Once you see them, you'll wish there was a CBC America channel on cable.

Trading tapes is not that unusual. I traded with a guy from Ontario in 1997 to get episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it wasn't available where I lived. This was when very few people thought the WB existed. Of course, people can now watch TV episodes on the network websites, and later DVD's. How times have changed.

It's a strange hobby, providing old game shows to a guy in Canada, but he's a collector of game shows, too. I'm just helping him out, and benefitting as well. Thanks to him, I'll get lots of Canadian comedy and shows I'd never get otherwise. I only wish someone out there had copies of old MuchMusic Video Awards Shows, especially the one with wrestler Bret Hart playing poker with Ed the Sock.

From Slayer to post-Gossip Girl?

By now, devoted Whedonistas are aware that Sarah Michelle Gellar is about to return to TV, but not to fight vampires, zombies or assorted hellspawn. Instead, she'll be fighting demons, the internal kind that are smaller than Gachnar but much, much worse.

Variety broke the news that she's in a pilot for HBO called The Wonderful Maladys. It's about three adult twenty-something (I'm guessing) siblings who lost their parents when they were young, and are still grappling with that problem. She plays someone with "agressive immaturity". That sounds like what happens to anyone from Gossip Girl five years after college.

I remember interviews when Sarah was asked if she could be type-cast, since she's always known as Buffy most often. Well, judging from her list of movies, she's never fighting vampires. The only action heroine she's been was April in the CGI revival of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She was Daphne in two Scooby-Doo movies, but I don't consider that "action hero". She's been in two Grudge movies, been a bad girl a couple of times, and even a romantic lead. Still, many of us still wish she'd be Buffy just one more time on TV, possibly bringing enough of the current comic book series to life. That could be done, if you had $700 billion dollars to cover the special effects budget rather than give it to incompetent banks. Besides, a mini-series is still tbe best bet to give Buffy her last hurrah...and still live...then hand the stake over to a new generation. If Heroes tanks after this season, that should provide three Slayers and five Watchers right there. Imagine Summer Glau battling vampires, only because Eliza Dushku could be busy next year.

Still, Sarah's new role could give her career a boost. It's worked for Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgewick and Holly Hunter, even though they played strong women. Sarah will play someone who is still struggling with her future because of a past tragedy. This could work well for her. We shall see if she winds up being the girl who gives HBO its comeback after losing The Sopranos.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hey Bonnie Hunt fans....

A fellow Blogger named Ronda is also a big fan of the Bonnie Hunt Show, as I am becoming, too. I was at a taping recently, and had a lot of fun, as I mentioned in a previous post. Anway, Ronda has a special contest where she will be offering a cup and t-shirt from the show. If you'd like more info, just click this link to Ronda's Rants. Act now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

At least the Emmy Bleachers had a nice view

Full view of the Nokia

It's safe to say that this past Sunday's Emmy Awards were bad, from having five bad hosts to cutting out otherwise good bits just to make sure the show ended in three hours. Really, would an extra 15 minutes be so bad?
There was also something no one mentioned: ABC had an online contest for choosing the most dramatic and funniest TV moments in the past 60 years. The scene from Friends where Ross and Rachel finally kiss won Best Comedy Moment, while Buffy got Most Dramatic Moment with her sacrifice of herself at the end of "The Gift". They were supposedly supposed to be part of the telecast, but the producers tought it would be better to have Tom Bergeron and Heidi Klum show the difference between drama and comedy...which ended with Heidi getting a big bruise on her leg. Thanks, ABC, for thinking that injuring a supermodel would draw more viewers than that online contest which was nothing more than a scam.
Still, I got some nice pctures. I only regret that if I had a spare battery, I would have gotten very slinky pictures of Christina Hendricks and Hayden Panettiere, and nice photos of P. Diddy and Christian Slater. If by some miracle I win a bleacher ticket to next year's Oscars, I'll bring three batteries.

Still, look at these....

David Boreanaz

Yes, David Boreanaz before he found out he'd have to give out an award with Lauren Conrad.

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore

and dig this....

Alleged Proof I was on TV Guide Channel

Fairly flimsy proof I appeared on a bit for the TV Guide Channel as part of their pre-Emmy coverage. Any other proof has since been erased, as it should be.

More pictures are available here.

A better version of the Emmys did take place a week before at the Nokia....the Creative Arts Emmys, for those who work behind the scenes.
First off, the hosts were Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Chalke. Anyone who saw this on E! after the main event this past Sunday would agree that these guys should have hosted last Sunday, not the Fumbling Five reality hosts we got instead.

Also, when Cesar Millan was about to give away an award, Neil did an excellent impersonation of Lassie, carrying the winning card in his mouth. That idea came out of him, and was a lot funnier than 92 percent of the Primetime Emmys. Hell, I wish Stewie and Brian from Family Guy were back to host.

Also, I hear a lot of complaints that the winning shows were almost obscure because they were from cable channels. Well, 20 years ago, the major networks would make mini-series or original movies as staples for their programming. You think ABC in 2008 would make Roots now? The major nets rely on familiarity and cheap programming. That's why we get three nights of CSI on CBS, and a ton of reality shows that pull in more viewers than scripted shows. Cable is just doing what the nets used to do, and can do it better without having to get ten million viewers or even 20 million. That's why AMC has the best drama in Mad Men, and HBO the best mini-series in John Adams. And if there are those who don't want to pay extra to see those channels, there's always DVDs that you can get in stores or Netflix....or even Hulu and other sites. So, stop griping, major networks. If you guys want to stay relevant, drop more coin to show you can still make good stuff.

I just hope that somehow Dr. Horrible can get a chance at an Emmy, under a "special class" category or new internet programming categories. That would be good news for Felicia Day and her Guild sitcom, and other shows that bypass the usual road of TV. The Academy would be smart to make that move, because it may not be too long before the top TV network won't be HBO or CBS....but Hulu, the WB.com or iTunes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Afternoon With Bonnie

I think I have a new favorite talk show host..and it's someone who once had a fake talk show as part of a sitcom.

In another universe, it could have been Martin Mull. Could you imagine if he was a talk show host for real after Fernwood Tonight? But in this one, it's Bonnie Hunt, who's taken her experience as a guest and created her own way to meet with big celebs and very interesting people. I was at the 9/17 taping, which featured Teri Garr and Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer who also played a role in this week's Bones. She had a lot of respect for her guests, especially in her interview with Garr. I didn't know she had recent health problems, but Garr was great as someone who was really surprised people remember and like her work. Bonnie was also a big hit with those dogs, too. She wound up using one of them when she taped promos for next week. Also, she had Lolo Jones, the Olympic hurdler who failed to medal because she clipped a hurdle in her event. While other shows try to get medalists, Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin especially, Bonnie wanted Jones just for her story of overcoming poverty and making the Olympic team because that achivement alone makes Jones a chmpion. The medal will come, as Jones has promised, in 2012. That's a nice touch. I do recall Bonnie had some members of the U-S volleyball team, too.

One other reason I can recommend going to see Bonnie Hunt...they actually served hot dogs and root beer to the audience. I know it's part of her "New Fan Appreciation Days" event, and I'm all for it. I hope this continues. You also know that Bonnie's a Cubbie For Life. Her staff is dressed in Cubs clothing. I wonder if it switches to Bulls, Bears and Black Hawks later in the year. I can only wonder how Bonnie will cope as we get closer to the World Series, and so do the Cubs.

I only regret I can't make it for today's taping because Alyson Hannigan's there. Still, going to Ellen today should be interesting. I think she's the first talker in years to tape at a movie studio, and Dolly Parton's going to be there, too. I also think it's because she had to move out of the KNBC complex since everyone else will when NBC builds its new complex near the Universal Studios Red Line stop. I also hope to do a little swag hunting at the usual spots. It should be some week leading up to the Emmys.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mad Men: Joan, you're no Peggy

I have been a fan of Mad Men on AMC from the beiginning, but it wasn't for Jon Hamm, the Sexiest Man Alive Sooner Or Later, but two Whedon alumni were in it. Namely, Vincent Kartheiser, a/k/a Connor on Angel, and Christina Hendricks a/k/a Our Mrs. Reynolds on Firefly. I actually took a picture of her drawing a raflle ticket at the legendary Flanvention three years ago.

Both their characters had interesting plotlines last year. Peter Campbell (Kartheiser) was a newly-married ad executive who had a one-night stand, and affair, with Peggy, a secretary with big ideas. That resulted in a child that he doesn't know about. In fact, I'll be shocked if he does find out before the end of this season. Joan (Hendricks) is the Officer Manager and Master of Her Domain at Sterling Cooper. She's also the exception to the old song "A Secretary Is Not A Toy", since she has a thing on the side with Sterling, which has now ended.

Season two has been different, though. Peter is trying to make his marriage to Trudy work, but while she wants a baby, he's not so sure. He's also trying to get ahead at the firm, looking for any edge. He's also not so faithful, having another one-night stand with a model. He has tried to re-connect with Peggy, but she is too busy trying to move up in the firm as a copywriter...despite her secret of being a single mother. From what we hear from the little clips from the next episode on the 21st, it may not be over yet.

Meanwhile, Joan seems to be pushed to the background. Aside from bragging about her fiance doctor, dealing with being 31 (which was considered being on the edge of senior citizenship back then) and trying to fend off Jane, a new secretary who may have even better tricks that Joan does, she hasn't had much to do. I thought that would finally change when she starts to help Harry in the new TV department. In fact, she's quite good. However, once Sterling decides to give Harry an assistant, it's not Joan. To put it midly, she's disappointed, and I think surprised she does feel that way. She actually got a taste of ambition, and a sense that she can be more than just Queen of the Steno Pool--and she gets it taken away. I thought that was unfair...until I realized that's the point of the show. For every Peggy Olson who wants to be Don Draper, or even Roger Sterling, there's 20 who have the same goal and never even gain a yard. Sadly, that girl is Joan Holloway.

Is that going to be her story, one of those left behind in the women's movement? Is she just too sexy to be more than she is right now? Again, that isn't fair, but it must have happened. I just hope that if the show does go all the way through the Sixties, Joan will endure somehow, and that Peggy may give her a hand.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A modern lullaby from the Bedlam Bards

Take a look at this from the Bedlam Bards, the official minstrels of the Whedonverse. They got popular writing songs based on Firefly and Serenity, but sometimes they go into more interesting subjects.

If you saw Serenity, you know how it ends, with the crew uncovering a nasty secret the Alliance wanted to forget. Thanks to them, no one will. Anyway, the Bards wrote a "government-approved lullaby" to keep the public quiet. As you hear this, you can see there's a big connection to what's going on now. Just take a look.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Emmy week is here!

Last year, I was in Los Angeles, hoping to get close to the Emmys. That could mean taking a picture of the Shrine Auditorium, getting a peak of the Red carpet, or even taking a picture of one of the grandstands from E! or The Insider. I won't say how close I wound up becoming, but it was a nice view.

I didn't even think about going back this year until I found out the 60th Emmys would be held at the Nokia Theater, located across from Staples Center. So, I am hoping to get close to the Emmys again. Getting inside the Nokia is fairly unlikely, but they'll be plenty of banners and bleachers outside. The Nokia seems to be the new Awards venue in L-A, except for the Oscars because the Kodak Theater was made for that show.

Aside from waiting for Emmy Sunday, and whether a Buffy alumnus will finally bring home the gold, I do have the usual tickets to the local talk shows. I have a ticket to Kimmel, along with one for Ellen DeGeneres. Her show should be interesting because she's now at the Warner Brothers lot. I'll see if it's bigger or whether a tour bus comes in before she's taping. At the last second, I also decided to get a ticket to Bonnie Hunt. That one could be tricky because it's in Culver City instead of Burbank. If the hotel where I am staying is sympathetic, I will be able to get there by the deadline. I'll have one free day for swag hunting.

After this, I may have to cut back on trips to Southern California. Naturally, it's due to high gas prices affecting ticket prices, and also hotel prices as well. I'm actually staying near Echo Park, but the place looks nice. I may even be wild enough to actually walk from my hotel to Dodger Stadium. It's not that far, and the Giants are playing that weekend, but I may have to carry a cross blessed by a pastor who knew Willie Mays. If I'm dumb enough, I just may go.

But overall, I may cut down to just twice a year....the Paley Festival, if there's a show I'd like to know more about, and Comic-Con, which is actually a working holiday now. I already have the ticket and the hotel room. All that's left is the plane ticket.

So, here's to a fun time....and big success for Mad Men, Pushing Daisies, and Danny Strong.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Connor Chronicles: We Should Be Paranoid

So, what have we learned?
Never criticize the boss, especially one who can morph into anything....and I mean anything.

"Samson and Delilah" opens season two of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, and its symbolism will become apparent. We pick up where season one left off, when Cameron started Sarah's car and set off a car bomb, put there by someone who claimed he has the Turk, a computer that's the prototype for Skynet. Cameron is unconscious but trying to reboot.
Sarah and John hear the explosion, but are attacked by the two guys who placed the bomb. While this is going on, we hear "Samson and Delilah", a song popularized by the Grateful Dead, but this time sung by the show's new Mean Girl, Shirley Manson of Garbage. Cameron stuggles to get out of the car, removes a chunk from the back of her head, and limps towards the house. She kills one of the bad guys and takes his gun, but a fire breaks out. When Cam finds John and Sarah, it looks like he killed the other guy. When she sees John, it looks like the explosion had changed her mission--to killing John Connor. When she's about to shoot him, an explosion breaks out and knocks her over. John and Sarah escape through a window, and speed away in a van.

What about Ellison, who meets Terminator Cromartie just after he killed 20 FBI agents? Cromartie decides to spare Ellison, hoping he'll lead him to Sarah and John. Later, paramedic and Sarah's ex-boyfriend Charley Dixon is at the scene. He and Ellison find the body of Sarkissian, the guy whose likeness Cromartie has taken. Dixon asks Ellison how Sarkissian could kill 20 FBI agents, while Ellison asks back if he'd believe it's actually a robot from the future. Like it or not, Ellison is now in the game.

In the van, Sarah asks John if he's OK. As she does, she hits another car, and they flee the scene. They're both injured but they have to keep moving because Cameron is chasing them. Dixon, meanwhile, is at the charred Connor house, and finds the bodies of the two guys who tried to kill Sarah. He also sees someone sneaked into the ambulance. It's Derek Reese, John's uncle. He lets Dixon in on what's at stake, and wonders if he wants to join the team. Dixon just wants to make sure Sarah and John are OK. Then he gets the call about the accident that John and Sarah were in.

We switch to the office of a high-tech firm called Zeira Corp, run by a high-powered executive played by Manson. She got the job because she's a fan of the Terminator movies, and it should be interesting how her character, Catherine Weaver, will fit in this drama. Anywho, she talks to a man who has something she wants...the Turk. She's willing to pay 300 grand for it, although he wonders why. Well, she's no "Stupid Girl", but we should be worried about a woman who is "Only Happy When It Rains." She then calls a meeting of the board to announce something big.

Cameron is still limping through town, looking for Sarah and John, but also a way to fix herself. She takes some baby wipes and staples herself together. Still, consider the situation: Sarah and John are being chased by a now-evil Terminator. Sarah has come full-circle. But now she and John need a place to hide. They find a church called "M. Jesus, el Salvador del Mundo", and ask for sanctuary. Too bad they're leaving a trail of blood for Cameron to follow.

Back at Zeira, Weaver has decided not to hide her Scottish accent, and thanks Mr. Walsh for delivering the Turk to her. She then goes into a strange monologue about how people "flow" at a particular direction at a particular speed, and how they're not so orderly when you look at them up close. As for computers, she adds, they're obedient to a fault, unless you find one that will "cross against the light". That, of course, is the Turk. Should we think she'll perfect SkyNet, and rule the world ...or is it worse than that?

At the church, Sarah and John struggle to talk about what has happened, and they have to face facts. Cameron has to be killed, now that she's gone Schwartzenegger on them. John agrily agrees...by stabbing a table. Ellison, meanwhile, is put on six weeks paid leave by the FBI. He gets questioned by a supervisor who sounds look mich like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Cameron does find the church, and gazes at the statue of Jesus. She tells the priest she's looking for her family, and that it's "life or death". She then spots some blood, figuring it will lead her to Sarah and John. She heads to the baptism pool, where there's a clock radio at the bottom...and it's plugged in. John flicks a switch, and shorts Cameron out. He and Sarah try to take the chip out of Cameron, while the stunned priest looks on. They fail, and politely carjack someone. Then, they barrel through skid row and drive through a tunnel....blocked by Cameron. She hits the car as it speeds by, setting off a rollover accident.

John tries to stuggle out, but sees Sarah knocked out. She wakes up, and tells John to get away. She then tries to get out, but Cameron is standing over her. Cameron tells Sarah to call John back, even stepping on her wounds, but that doesn't work. He gets into a warehouse where he finds a large truck. As he's trying to hot-wire it, Cameron finds a wrench inside another truck. When she sees John in the other truck, she tosses the wrench at him. Suddenly. another truck zooms in, and traps Cameron in between the two trucks. Of course, the driver is Sarah.

This gives John the chance to remove the chip from Cameron, but she pleads with him not to do it. She keeps saying that she's good now because "she ran a test". Well, John would rather trust the Geek Squad or Nerd Herd to determine if Cam is pro-human. As she's begging for her life, she shocks everyone by telling John, and I'm not kidding, "I love you, John, and you love me." Sorry, Cam, it's the big sleep for you. Still, Summer Glau does a great job showing Cameron in her most human state yet. I would swear that she was crying when she begged for her life. Were those real tears, or WD-40? In any case, it's the most emotion she's shown so far this series.

Dixon and Derek catch up with John and Sarah, and about what has happened. The hard drive the two guys wanted is also charred. John blames himself for Cromartie killing those FBI agents, but Derek says it's really because people won't recognize the reality of the situation. He says Terminators, including Cameron, bring death with them. John says Cameron's different because "she saves my life." Then Sarah tells John they have to get rid of Cameron. Even though her chip was damaged in the blast, there's no reason to fix her. She also tells him that Cameron didn't mean it when she said she loved John because Terminators can't love. John knows this, but he's not happy over what they have to do.

So, they prepare a Terminator version of a Viking funeral. As John is about to set her on fire, he risks everything to give Cameron one last chance. He puts the chip in her, and she wakes up, asking John if he's there to kill her. He asks her if she's there to kill him. She says no, and we see in her head she's telling the truth. So, a test we can trust has been run, and she's pro-human...for now.

Back at the charred Connor house, Ellison is there with Cromartie. Ellison tells him he won't lead him to John and Sarah, calling it the "Devil's work". Cromartie just says "we'll see." Hmmmmmmm, does he know something we don't? And will that involve Miss Weaver?

We see her back at Zeira, telling her board that she needs people, including the A-I group, for a new project called Babylon. Tuck, the head of A-I, is upset he'll lose a lot of his staff. He asks her what Bablyon will do. She says "it's going to change the world". If it involves the Turk, she's right about that.

Back at the church, Sarah and Derek share a PBJ. She asks Cameron where John is, and she's says he's most likely in the shower. Then, she surprisingly asks Sarah about whether she believes in the Resurrection. Cameron says faith is not in her programming, while Sarah says it's not exactly in her programming, either. Cameron also tells Sarah that if she goes bad again, she shouldn't let John fix her. Sarah talks to John from outside the bathroom, and tells him that what has happened just happened, and at least they are alive. She then asks him if he's listening. He is, but he's also cut his hair short. He's dumping his Jonas Brothers look, and going for the bad-ass savior look. Sarah then tells John, "Happy Birthday"...since all this happened the same day as the first season finale, "What He Beheld". Sarah will know how appropriate her birthday wish really was.

Back at Zeira, Tuck and another guy talk about Weaver in the men's room, While Tuck is skeptical about her plans, the other guy says at least she's made the company grow. After the other guy leaves, Tuck says Miss Weaver "really pisses me off" as he uses a urinal. He should be careful saying stuff like that, because sooner or later, the boss will know. And she does....because she's disguised as the urinal. Yep, Weaver is a Terminator, model T-1000. Probably the sister to the Robert Patrick model from T2: Judgement Day...and maybe more advanced than Cameron. Maybe she's from a future where the Terminators try to change the future againt after Patrick wasn't so lucky.

In any case, Miss Weaver tells a stunned Tuck, "So I piss you off, Mr. Tuck?" She then points her finger at his head, and the finger turns into a retractable stiletto, stabbing his brain. "The feeling is mutual," she responds. Whoever dreamed up that ending, I salute you.
As a fan from Television Without Pity exclaimed, "I'll never look at a urinal the same way again."

But let's get back to John cutting his hair, and his declaration that he needs Cameron. Exactly how close were adult John and Cameron in the future? Well, his feelings for her has inspired him to do a Samson haircut that will increase his inner strength, rather than decrease it as it happened to the biblical Samson.

So here's where we stand: John, Sarah and Derek are still trying to stop SkyNet from being born, while Cromartie and Weaver want to make sure it will exist. Ellison, and maybe Dixon, will wind up in the middle. There's also word John will get a love interest that will make Sarah a little uncomfortable, but only because it's part of her journey to let John be his own man.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pushing Daisies, The Tour: the facts are these...

For those of you who just stumbled into this blog....welcome!

It's been about nine months since a former synchonized swimmer told a pie shop waitress that a woman who was dead, but is now all better thanks to her magic boyfriend, is not her niece...but her daughter!!
Nope, it's not All My Children, but Pushing Daisies, a magical comedy that up for a lot of Emmys, but not including Best Comedy for some reason. To get people talking abut the second season in October, and the DVD release of season one coming in a few days, ABC decided to make their own Mobile Pie Hole, and give out pie, pie servers and good wishes. After starting at Downtown Disney on August 31, and accidentally competing with a marathon, it went to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco. You see some of the images I took from there.

While Olive Snook or even Ned are nowhere in sight, they did have some nice Mobile Pie Hole workers giving ouy free pie servers, spatulas, and even some pie. However, they ran out very quickly, despite strong competition from the Chocolate Festival. They also gave away some DVD sets for people who answered trivia questions. While I didn't get any pie. I did get a pie box. I'll just pretend it's a pie inside, especially one with a few drops of Alfredo's "Stop hiding and start living, Aunts Lily and Vivian, because I Love You!" Elixir inside. You can guess who adds that stuff.
It's just too bad they couldn't find a site where people could see the Mobile Pie Hole, more pies, and the TV screen with scenes from the show. It was all stuck into one small corner on Beach Avenue.

I don't know how it worked at Downtown Disney, but I'm sure as the tour continues this month, they'll find some wide-open spaces to give the pies and the Mobile Pie Hole room to breathe. I can guess when they reach Times Square in New York on the 30th, it will be during Good Morning America. That's when the Mobile Pie Hole will really get its due, while people on their way to work will get a sweet morning snack. Maybe by then, the Mobile Pie Hole will be decorated with an Emmy or two.

Monday, September 1, 2008

And then I met Joel, and his old MST band

It was 20 years ago one day, Joel Hodgson worked for KTMA,
Riffed on cheesy movies with some style, and it gave us all a lot of smiles,
So let us introduce to you, the ones you know for all these years,
Joel Hodgson's Cinematic Titanic Band!!!

Of course, they were also knows as Mystery Science Theater 3000, Pre-Mike Nelson period. Now, Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester/Crow), TV's Frank Coniff and Josh "J. Elvis" Weinstein (Dr. Ehrhardt/Servo 1.0) reunited for Super-Con in San Jose. They've come back for the successor to their legacy, Cinematic Titanic, where bad movies are also riffed, just a bit differently

The guys were at the show on both days, so I'll divide their wisdom in two days, starting with Saturday, the 17th. It all took place at the "South Hall" of the San Jose Convention Center, which is really a big tent in the back. The attendance wasn't as big as as expected, In fact, it's barely more than the comic book shows at the Scottish Rite Center. Still, it's a rare chance a lot more people should have taken, heat or no heat.

First off, Josh said creating Cinematic Titanic (or CT) is different because they all live in different states. Using technology, they're able to pile their jokes together and create a script. It's working, though: they will have another release in June, and two more this summer. One of them will be the Wasp Woman, which was riffed by a guy named Josh Way, who will be a writer for Incognito Cinema Warriors soon. In fact, his handiwork is all over YouTube.

Joel said that developing MST worked because no network suits came down to Best Brains in Minneapolis to meddle. Being their own boss with CT works out, in this case.
There were other assorted questions, like how to make their own Servo and Crow (kits are available at eBay), does Lou Reed ask for royalties because the Satellite of Love is named after one of his songs (no, but don't tell Lou), and about Cartoon Dump, Frank's comedy show on bad cartoons.
As for how MST came to be, Joel said he just wanted to be a movie horror host (like Mr. Lobo, who were there). He just did it differently, serving as a "companion" to the viewer. He did admit influences to a movie called Silent Running and the Omega Man (more on that later).

They also talked how they were able to add a lot of jokes about Minnesota (and later Wisconsin) in the show. Joel says the show, in a way is a Rorschach test, reacting to the cheesiest of movies.
So, how is riffing on CT movies different from using bots? Frank says they all get "assigned" jokes, and it's a bit easier with five people riffing away. Josh says they watch a movie as much as they can, slowly work in the jokes in the movie before taping. It's tricky stuff.

Josh was the first to leave the show after the Comedy Channel season, saying it wasn't as fun as he had hoped, but now he's glad to be back. Joel and Trace didn't exactly say why they left, but Frank admitted he wanted to leave so he could be Lord of the Dance.
They also talked about how they found Oozing Skull through Mark Heller and Al Adamson. As for whether they've heard from actors whose movies have been riffed, such as Robby Benson, Richard Kiel and even (woo-hoo) Kim Cattrall, the guys said that they got some compliments from these and other actors. By the way, Kiel (alias Eegah and a Human Duplicator) was also there, but I don't know if he talked to Joel.

They also hoped to riff on "Charro!" with Elvis Presley, but couldn't get the rights.
They also said that the second CT release will reveal more about the premise (which has to be something like preserving the act of movie riffing for more civilizations). As for the little comedy bits interrupting the movie, Joel said that was done to show the viewer who's who in the CT-verse. They do plan to change the arrangement of the riffers, which Trace saying he could be lying down.
They talked more about the KTMA days, and how the Gamera series helped them develop the show and their style. They also tried to remember the Gamera song.

So, how does it fell that their handiwork is being preserved through YouTube and semi-legal DVD's? Trace said it's like a disease, but Josh said they did the show without thinking this would be for posterity...until they found out they had fans--lots of them. One of them, Trace said, sent a box of toenails.
But if they could riff on a movie now, which one? Joel suggested Van Helsing while Josh said Life is Beautiful (!).
After 20 years, could we say the SOL crew is a true icon? Josh said it is, while Joel said that Frank thought history has been kind to MST. Joel said that the show wasn't as promoted as it could have been but the fans keep it alive. Trace said he didn't see himself as an icon, but wanted to be a logo. Frank settled for being a font.

Joel said he still has his red jumpsuit from the old days, and even wears it sometimes. He suspects that he may be needed once society collapses. He may wear a hard hat while doing so.
The Sunday session was more informal, mainly because the crowd was smaller. It shouldn't have been, because these guys are icons, the first real reason basic cable is worth paying for...aside from CNN and ESPN, of course. I guess people were either unaware they were here, or more people cared about the NBA playoffs than I thought.

Well, I was glad to see them again, and get my Episode Guide book and VHS copy of Amazing Colossal Man autographed. This session started with the gang talking about the early days, especially Josh, He was fresh out of high school when he started working for the show at KTMA, willing to be all the robots if he wanted. He talked about how Servo orginally sounded a little like Pee Wee Herman before he got his deeper voice. Joel said that he was influenced not only by horror TV hosts, but by Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Servo would be Kukla, Ollie would be Gypsy and Fletcher Rabbit would be Crow.

Frank broke into song twice, first with Cole Porter, then singing the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, in honor of Minneapolis.
I decided to jump in by asking what would have happened if they never went national. After they were puzzled why I was wearing a jumpsuit, they admitted they would have gone on to other things. Josh said the show in KTMA was a slap-dash affair. They did this on half-a-shoestring budget, and only a little bit of studio time.

In fact, there was a question about whether their CT show is in competition to what Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy (and Bill Corbett) are all doing with Rifftrax. Frank said that Mike's project is classic because they provide the riffing, and the customer just has to rent the DVD-to-be-riffed. With CT, they still have to find studio space. The attitude of the CT gang is they like what Rifftrax is doing. They've kept in touch with Mike and Kevin, which is why some people are hoping that something will be done to commemorate the 20th anniversary in November 2008, or next year since that would mark 20 years on national TV. There will be a DVD set that includes the Comic-Con panel.

The panel was interrupted twice by announcements of what panel was next, and that Jorge Garcia (Hurley from Lost) was available for autographs. Trace did say riffing on CT is different because he's doing it as himself, rather than using Crow as his "filter".

Joel was asked about how MST may be influencing modern horror hosts, and whether they should be funny, too. Joel said that when he created the show, he toyed about being an Omega man-type character watching bad movies, but then switched to the idea of a guy in space with two bots. He also talked about the Sklar Twins, and how their ESPN show, Cheap Seats, is the sports version of MST...and how riffing on anything has become more common on TV.

Then there was talk about how MST ended on Comedy Central. I pointed out how they kind of explained what happened to Josh's character, Dr. Ehrhardt, in "Earth vs. the Spider". Frank also talked about how they tried to riff on a movie called "Child Bride", but they couldn't because it was "too evil". Joel mentioned it's sometimes tough to riff on bad movies, even "Manos".
Anyway, the point is, they brought the band back together, ready to riff on bad movies.

The time I met a real Gentleman

Again, from MySpace, December 2007...

The man beside is more than just a tall and lanky guy.
He can be a Gentleman who can silence a while town....or a fawn guiding a young girl in Spain on a mystical journey...or a Silver Surfer...or a being who's a friend of a Hellboy...or even a piano-playing Moon Guy who convinced more people to go to McDonald's at night.
He is Doug Jones, and he was at an anime show in Sacramento's Scottish Rite Center recently, talking to fans and signing autographs. While I and other Whedonistas know him from "Hush", he was there to plug his return as Abe Sapien in Hellboy 2. In a Q and A session that lasted more than 30 minutes, he said he preferred Sci-Fi because of the fans it attracts. He has done work as a regular guy, such as part of the paparazzi in The Wager with Randy Travis. Still, he's very excited about Hellboy 2 because he's not only Abe (and he can use his own voice rather than being dubbed) but two other roles.
Even if he has to wear very complicated costumes, he says that the real key for bringing a character to life is capturing the heart and soul, whether it's a fawn or a Silver Surfer. He also advises budding actors to work close with the director to get a clear idea of the character, and be fearless about it. That may even include being off the set, since he revealed that sometimes he had to go home in full costume. That was the case with Pan's Labyrinth, but that's the movie he'd like to be remembered for.
One issue he talked about is how we see him at work, but he doesn't speak for himself. In Pan's Labyrinth, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Hellboy, he's been dubbed by other actors. In the case of Pan, he understood the decision because he was told a Spanish speaker could express a certain nuance to the lines. With Hellboy, David Hyde-Pierce had so much respect for Doug's work that he wouldn't publicize his role in the film. He also didn't want to be Abe's voice again. This is why Doug is Abe's voice in the Hellboy animated movies and now in Hellboy 2.
He also said his ideal role would be as an angel, which has been fulfilled in Hellboy 2 because he'll the Angel of Death. He also said if he was asked, he'd be in the Pee Wee Playhouse movie planned for 2009.
I asked him if being the Silver Surfer meant being on the set, or is he a CGI model? Well, he says he was silver through the enture shoot. As he put it, "they made me a beautiful man". While there were some green-screen scenes, that the deal Doug as the Silver Surfer. If there's a need for more Silver Surfer movies, he hopes to be there with his own voice.
Doug actually began as a mime, but was inspired by Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett and Don Knotts. He thinks that he could be a leading man, since he'll soon be in a movie where he's a tall guy in his 40's who's in a mid-life crisis and meets some Goth kids that he doesn't recognize as Goth kids.
Naturally, I also asked him abuot "Hush", and he thought it was a blast. He praised Joss as one of the best and more creative people he's ever worked with, mainly because he's the first guy in YEARS to prove that you don't always need words to entertain an audience. I pointed out that comedian Ernie Kovacs did the same thing in black and white in the 1960's, and Doug agreed with me. Wow!
I also asked him about how Pan's Labyrinth got three Oscars, but should have gotten a fourth for Best Foreign Language film. Doug suspected the movie may have been too violent for some Oscar voters, which is why they voted for The Lives of Others, about East Germany in the 1980's. Actually, both movies deserved to win in that category, but I would have preferred Pan's Labyrinth to get the award.

How to be Dr. Horrible's Henchman

From MySpace...

During the end of day 2 of Comic-Con this year, hundreds of people filled Room 6A to see Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog on the big screen. It's an honor that falls on very few internet shows. Naturally, it was a big hit, and I noticed people trying to come up with their own ways of audience participation. Some spoke key lines in the movie while they're being said, but most just sang along with the music.

There was also a bit of audience participation at the "Once More With Feeling" showing, including fake Sunnydale police traffic tickets. So, how can you add audiecne participation to a showing of Dr. Horrible?

I have some ideas...


When it opens with the Doc's evil laugh, you laugh, too.
When he mentions the letter of condemnation from the Deputy Mayor, hold up a piece of paper that could be the letter.
During the Freeze-Ray song, wave a small box of detergent like they sell at the laundromat.
When you see the cowboys sing the Bad Horse song, wear a Western hat and wave it around.
Wave a toy hammer when Captain Hammer shows up, and yell out "Balls" at the end of that act.


I was thinking that when we first see the doc in disbelief that Penny is seeing Captain Hammer, you say or sing "Is she really going out with him?"
Yell out with him "I have a Ph. D in Horribleness."
When he says it again, say with Moist, "Is that the new catchphrase?"
When the doc says, "Oh, look at my wrist", you do the same.
When the doc becomes big at the end of the act, stomp around like Godzilla


Chuckle along with the female anchor when she says "It's a good day to be homeless"
When one of the Hammer fans holds up his picture, you do the same. Repeat when the fan holds up his hair and his dry cleaning bill.
When Captain Hammer signs "Your real home is in your chest", sawy "Awww.."
When they get to the last stanza of his song, start waving your arms
When the doc has his evil laugh after he blasts Captain Hammer with the freeze ray, laugh with him.
When the doc is hit by a defrosted Captain Hammer, say "Owww."
After Hammer gets slightly injured after the death ray blows up, call him a crybaby.
Gasp loudly when you see Penny injured.
During the doc's closing song, sing the refrain "everything you wanted"
When the groupie holds up the doc's photo, do the same.
When Dr. Horrible enters the meeting room of the Evil League of Evil, do your best Bad Horse Death Whinnie.

Now, these are just prelminary ideas. I'd like to hear from others on what props they'd use in a Dr. Horrible sing-along.

Then again, Nathan had his own ideas when he was part of a sing-a-long at DragonCon recently . Check out this YouTube link.

Welcome to my second home

I've been noticing that a lot of people are not just in MySpace. They also have accounts in several other social sites, like Twitter, digg, and Facebook. They want to make sure they're communicating to as many people as possible.

I'm just in MySpace and Facebook only because my skill is typing up stories that could have made it to radio broadcasts or newspapers, but never get the chance. I'm just a guy who pushes the buttons at a four-station radio cluster in Sacramento who can write a story at a moment's notice if something big happens overnight. This is why I like blogs. Would the Sacramento Bee care what I think of the latest TV show, or how I got to shake Joss Whedon's hand after seeing the premiere of Serenity? Would my radio station broadcast my interview with an actor who's famous for being a mascot for McDonald's...and later one of Hellboy's friends? I doubt it.

I also like to get a little more attention on the internet. Who wouldn't...under legal means, of course? So, I am adding a second blog to my secret network. I'm pretty much abandoning the Yahoo blog because it hasn't caught on as well as this one or MySpace. I'll keep it open because I have some good reports on the Backup Browncoat Bash from a long time ago.

This is basically an introduction to other Blogger members out there. In the next few days, I'll "repeat" some of my MySpace and Yahoo blogs to give you an idea of what I have done, and who I am. Afterwards, I'll publish here and at MySpace.

I can reveal this, though.....I'll have a review of the season opener to Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles just after it ends next Monday. I can do this because Fox sent a bunch of screeners to TV writers to plug the show, and I got one of them. They're just asked to not reveal the big plot points until the show airs. I saw the DVD last week, and I'm following that request. Trust me. It will make seeing next week's opener that much better.

Anyway, welcome to my other blog.