I always used to hate summers; all my beloved TV-series would be on hiatus, leaving me with exasperating cliffhangers and endless reruns of the shows I just didn’t watch. I’ve found two ways to deal with these empty months, so that I still get a healthy dose of tv-goodness. The first is to try out new shows and (if you like them) to catch up on all the seasons you’ve missed. I’ve watched quite a couple of series like this: 8 seasons of Friends, 4 seasons of Gilmore Girls, 5 seasons of CSI, 1 season of The O.C., 1 season of Kyle XY and a couple of others.

The second anti-tv-withdrawal scheme is to try out all the new pilots for the Fall season. Two years ago I did this and got hooked on all the pilots/series, only to be disappointed when they got cancelled (truth is though, they did have it coming). Last year I watched all the pilots and chose only to continue with the ones with the most potential, Heroes and Ugly Betty. Good decision, right?

Well, this year’s new offerings all seem to be very interesting. After reading the descriptions, all the series sounded to have a lot of potential. After watching the pilots, however, some seem much less promising than others. Here’s a short review of each pilot I’ve seen (beware: minor spoilers):

Reaper
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This is about a guy Sam who finds out on his 21st birthday that before he was born his parents sold his soul to the devil and that he now has to serve as the devil’s bounty hunter, tracking down escaped souls from Hell. It’s not the most original premise for a show (anyone remember Brimstone?), but it stands apart by it’s funny execution. There’s a brilliant moment where Sam gets a chest containing a “vessel” from Satan with which he can capture one of the lost souls. Expecting some glorious, frightening artifact, he and his friends gather around the chest, open it and discover… a mini vaccuum cleaner. The actors are all well cast, especially Ray Wise as Satan (supportive, yet scary in that mafia-grandfather sort of way). It won’t be a breakout hit, but I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this one.

Pushing Daisies
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There’s been a lot of buzz around this pilot and I understand why. Ned the Piemaker can bring dead people back to life by touching them once. Catch 1: Touch them again and they’re dead again. Catch 2: Keep them alive for more then 1 minute and somebody random in the vicinity dies instead. These catches show the ground rules of a structured mythology for this slightly otherworldy show. Add to that the beautiful way it’s been shot and fairy tale like narration, you get something completely new and invigorating. I got the same vibe from it as with Amelie; vivid colours and vivid imagination. The show is created and written by Bryan Fuller, the genius behind Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls. I really hope this turns out to be a hit; there’s never been a tv-serie quite like this and I want to see what it’s writers will come up with.

Chuck
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The premise of this show sounded okay on paper: geek (Chuck) accidently downloads government secrets into his brain and Adam Baldwin plays a snarly NSA agent. It’s not a completely original idea (everyday guy gets to work for secret agency: Jake 2.0, Now and Again), although in this show the guy doesn’t have any real superpowers: he just knows a lot.

The problem I had with this pilot, was that there were a lot of small (technical) things that just annoyed me. For starters, how was Chuck able to download all the information into his brain? I know, you should try to be ignorant and embrace whatever the writers throw at you, but this show is set in our world with our rules and the unlikeliness of this happening just ticked me off. Further, why would they have only one computer where all the data is together? Shouldn’t there be like backups or something? And, okay, Chuck saved the day by noticing the pattern in the data in his head, but what happens when the serie continues? This data was fresh and new with schematics of buildings and travel times of some important general. Eventually though, his data will be outdated; you can’t predict patterns, if you don’t have the newest data.

There were also a couple of nerd blunders in this pilot: at one point the computer is dropped and falls apart. The hard disk is supposedly “damaged beyond repair”. I mean, come on! That shouldn’t have been possible. Another “great” moment was the bomb laptop with the DOS override. Excuse me?? DOS override?? There were a couple of funny geek moments in it, but I really feel as if the writers tried to make it for geeks/nerds, yet in trying to do so put off most of their target audience by their ignorance. Maybe once the show gets going it will make more sense, but at the moment I don’t have much faith in it.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles
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The Terminator movies are great, if you want gunfights, explosions and indestructible robots. But if you’re looking for a good story? Not really the right place to be. The time travel plot was confusing and head ache inducing, as is usual with time travel antics. For big action blockbusters this doesn’t mind that much; you go mainly for the action. For a good TV-series, however, a good plot and story line is essential.

After watching this pilot I wasn’t even sure where to place it within the movie story line. Does it take place between movies 2 and 3? Or is it after 3, but in an alternate history preceding the events of 3? As I said, time travel is tricky and a dangerous story element if not handled properly. For those of you, who don’t know what the pilot’s about: after two years of reasonable quietness, Sarah Connor (Lena Headey, Queen Gorgo in 300) and her destined-to-be-last-hope-of-mankind son John (Thomas Dekker, Claire’s friend Zach in Heroes) are once again tracked down and chased by both the Terminators and the government. This time though help (read: a good Terminator) has the form of psychic brainwashed soldier River Tam a teenage girl played by Summer Glau.

What might be the downfall of this show is that transaction from movie to TV. What works for a movie doesn’t necessarily work for TV. The pilot contained a lot of action, a bit of failed, awkward emotional mother/son moments and a very thin story line. I’m just not sure how this will translate to an entire season. I’ll be watching this show, but I won’t be surprised if it fails miserably. I guess, it largely depends if it finds it’s groove in the next couple of episodes.

Bionic Woman
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This show had me intrigued from the very beginning: a modernized remake of The Bionic Woman with Lindsay Wagner, a strong female lead and best of all created by David Eick, one of the masterminds behind Battlestar Galactica. Add Katee Sackhoff as evil villain and you’ve got a recipe for a potential hit. After seeing the pilot the words “best show evah” don’t spring straight in my mind; it has a lot potential, but it’s not quite there yet. The plot is straightforward. Jaime Sommers is a surrogate mother for her deaf teenage sister, having to drop out of college and work as a bartender to make ends meet. College professor boyfriend Will is secretly working for a government laboratory and when Jaime is almost killed in a car crash, he (of course, out of love) operates on her and gives her bionic limbs to save her. The rest of the episode shows Jaime dealing with her newfound powers, enemies and allies, setting up the basic mythology. The pilot was interesting, but it gave no real indication on how further episodes would be. Does she go on missions for the secret agency or something like that? The main thing that bugged me was the deaf sister; she was just too irritating and the fact that she was deaf didn’t really contribute to the story. I’ve heard that they’ve recast and rewrote that character, though, so I guess the real first episode will be better. I’ll continue watching this series and I predict that with the right amount of tweaking and twirling it could turn out to be great show.

I’ve never understood those people that like dressing up their pets. I mean, having matching outfits with your dog just seems to weird to me. Now this post from Shiny Shiny, however, shows a new even more disturbing horror:

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You can now turn your cat into an actual Hello Kitty cat with the Hello Kitty cat transformation set! Who could ever put their cat through such a thing? And what kind of cat docilely accepts wearing such an outfit?

Ooh, just heard that this was just reported:

Joseph Fiennes, Stuart Townsend and Naomi Watts are the latest addition to the 6th Harry Potter movie “Half-Blood Prince”.

It isn’t known yet what roles they’ll be playing, but my new plaid pants has some good ideas about it. I can easily see Naomi Watts playing Narcissa Malfoy; she was the only suitable actress I could think of that would pull Narcissa off (kind of drawing a blank on young blond English actresses, some help people?). Joseph Fiennes, being the brother of Ralph Fiennes who plays dark and twisty Voldemort, should definitely get the part of one of Voldeemorg’s relatives (grandfather, father, uncle? how old were they all supposed to be?). I think Tom Riddle Sr. (his father); didn’t Voldemort look like him?

But Stuart Townsend? Who’s he supposed to be playing? I looked up which (male) characters appear in book 6 and haven’t made an appearance yet in any of the films:

Fenrir Greyback
Marvolo Gaunt
Morfin Gaunt
The Muggle Prime Minister
Tom Riddle Sr.
Rufus Scrimgeour
Horace Slughorn
Bill Weasley

My guess for Townsend is Bill Weasley; I can easily picture him with red hair and I’d think he’d fit in the Weasley family. There are still some big parts that haven’t been cast yet (namely professor Slughorn). So, who do you want to see cast in the movie?

Busy Week!

Books, Events, Movies, Personal July 24th, 2007

It’s been a very busy week for me and I haven’t had time yet to post about any of the stuff I’ve done. So here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been doing. Reviews will come soon, I promise.

Tuesday: Went to Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix
Thursday: Moo’s Hot and Sticky Summer Party
Friday: Read all the summaries of Harry Potter Books 1 to 5 and reread Book 6 (in 9 hours!)
Saturday: Patiently waiting for HP Book 7 and then madly reading once it was delivered :D.
Sunday: Still reading HP7, went to an evening preview of Transformers (very cool!!), continued reading HP7 till 4am and finished it :D

Yesterday the Emmy nominations were announced and I couldn’t be a called bona fide TV geek if I didn’t have my own favorites. I’ll only be discussing the categories that I’m interested in; the rest of the nominations you can find here.
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Yesterday I went to see Harry Potter 5 in the Odeon Leicester Square cinema (review coming soon). I’ve been now to three of the cinemas around Leicester Square (Odeon, Empire and Vue) and I must admit that I’m kind of disappointed. These cinemas are way more expensive than regular ones and I kind of expected that the experience would be worth my money. Here’s a review of what I found of the cinemas:
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I just read on the AICN site this description of a movie in development called Mr Nobody:

It’s set in the near future and focuses on Leto who reminisces at the age of 120 about his marriage. Some of it is real, some of it is imaginary. Oh, and he’s also the last mortal man on earth. Every other person is happily immortal.

It sounds a lot like a short story I read in the Elemental anthology called The Last Mortal Man by Syne Mitchell. That was actually my favorite story from that whole anthology. The story is told from the perspective of the live broadcast from the last deathbed in human history. The viewer (= the reader) can experience the memories of the last mortal man Lysander Sterling by connecting with their “full emmersion units”. The story then alternates with the memories that influenced Lysander’s choice not to become immortal and the actual broadcast with interviews from family, friends and nanology specialists. I guess, nanology is supposed to be some form nanotechnology; it’s described as it will “replace your cells with perfect replication and error checking”.

I’m not sure if the movie is based on this story, but so far it does sound a lot like it. I know, I know, most probably there have been million incarnations of this type of tale and I’m only focusing on one of them. Who knows? Maybe this movie is completely original and will leave us jaw-dropping surprised (not very likely with my track record). I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this one and if it is indeed based on The Last Mortal Man: I called it first!

By now most of you must have heard at least one aspect of the marketing around the Simpsons movie. This could be the competition to find the real life Springfield or the transformation of several 7-Eleven’s (in America) into Kwik-E-Mart’s (Squishees and donuts). But I don’t think any of you have seen this yet:

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In the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar one of the fashion spreads is The Simpsons go to Paris. It shows the Simpsons wearing this season’s designer outfits, such as Versace and Chanel. It also pictures some well known fashion celebrities, like Linda Evangelista and Donatella Versace.

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Have a look at this post to see scans of the spread and the real-life counterparts.

After the successful Battlestar Galactica webisodes from last summer, the SciFi channel announced they are coming with two new sets of webisodes. The first will be a Farscape revival , which “will revive and expand the beloved “Farscape” universe”. I think this means that we shouldn’t expect any of the original characters reappearing, but I’m curious to see what they will come up with.

The second set of webisodes will be Battlestar Galactica related, focusing on William (Bill) Adama in his younger years as a pilot. Quite some time ago there were rumours about Caprica, a prequel to Battlestar Galactica, which would be “television’s first science fiction family saga”.

Now this was more then a year ago and due to the lack of further developments it’s likely that Caprica was shelved. However, these webisodes might be an adaption of those original ideas. If they turn out to be any good, they might consider looking into the Caprica series again.

I just watched Jonathan Ross (BBC interview show) and this time Bob Hoskins and JK Rowling were two of his guests. During his interview with Bob Hoskins, Jonathan mentioned it was weird Bob had never starred in any of the Harry Potter films. Bob then told about a previous encounter with JK Rowling, where she had promised to write a character for him. Cut to: JK Rowling who kind of cringed, clearly having forgotten that she had ever promised that. She did, however, say that there will be a new character in book 7: a older male wizard, which could be played by Bob Hoskins. This could be only useless interview prattle, but it might turn out to be an actual casting.

Update: I sent this same bit of info to AICN and they’ve actually posted it!

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