(of Mars.)

I didn’t see John Carter, the long burning adaption of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books, on its opening weekend.

But neither did you. And neither did a large chunk of the rest of North America.

I saw it today though, two weeks (perhaps?) or so into its run.

I’m going to wax ineloquently about its pros and cons, if you will, and I’ll do it as briefly as I can. I can already suspect that very little of what I’m going to say will be about the film itself.

PRO: The film is good. It is strong, and solid, and good. It is enjoyable, especially on a rainy Saturday afternoon, in the movie theater.

CON: It’s long. Not super long, no, but they could’ve cut about twenty minutes or so down and it would’ve felt like a sharper bullet fired at the audience (in the hopes of making a trilogy-sized wound?).

A somewhat similarly related CON: Another light breeze through the script could’ve helped. Michael Chabon does a decent job, definitely, but they should’ve brought in a seasoned script doctor (like Joss Whedon from the late 90s) and let them punch up the dialogue a little more, toss in a few more one liners.

Neither a PRO, nor a CON: It’s just funny to see McNulty in this movie. Does he only play incredibly sleazy bad dudes in his film work? I would’ve killed for a “What the fuck did I do?”

Also, neither a PRO, nor a CON: Ciarán Hinds and James Purefoy, reunited. Interesting. I wanted to scream, “CAESAR, LOOK OUT!” Purefoy’s only in the movie for about five and a half minutes, but he’s the only character really having a lot of fun, it seemed like. Which is weird because, at the same time, given the kind of characters that Purefoy usually plays, or doesn’t, I felt like he was ready and willing to take over Dominic West’s role in a heartbeat should he have felt ill or something.

Also, Polly Walker’s in the mix too. What a weird Rome reunion.

Related, but neither a PRO or a CON: You really could’ve unleashed this story as an HBO show, especially in light of success with properties like A Song Of Ice And Fire on HBO and Spartacus on Starz. Everything seen here in this movie would’ve made for a very strong first season.

PRO (obviously): Andrew Stanton. The guy’s good.

I remember going into the theater to see the last Mission: Impossible film, humorously subtitled Ghost Protocol, with no real expectations at all, mostly because the trailers and advertising were so sub par. Obviously I liked The Incredibles and Brad Bird’s talent there was undeniable, but there was no real clear indication in the advertising for Ghost Protocol as to what that would look like in Bird’s live action debut.

Long story short, Ghost Protocol was good. A real solid, fun popcorn flick. Definitely worth watching. I walked out of that thinking that, rather than jerking us or themselves around, Tom Cruise and J. J. Abrams and their associates might as well just lock Brad Bird down for another Mission: Impossible film. Will they? Who knows. Probably not. He’ll probably return as a “producer,” but they should.

PRO (continued): A little of that though, that ambivalence, is why I just wasn’t jazzed to see John Carter. I read more good reviews than negative ones, but nothing in that trailer was making my cock stand up, you know what I mean? I mean, I’ll probably go and see The Hunger Games, and I’ll most likely hate it and curse Gary Ross’ name in the dark, but I’ll see it out of obligation. The flat out suck is more than apparent already in The Hunger Games‘ trailers. I’m going to go out on a limb and say right now that Gary Ross will probably have spent more time obsessing over weird costume designs and facial hair and shit than developing strong stories, interesting action sequences, or interesting characterizations.

The difference between that instance and the one I’m somewhat talking about here in this post is simple: Gary Ross is a fucking hack and Andrew Stanton is the real deal.

Spoiler for all The CONS listed in this post: The marketing and advertising for this movie is fucking terrible and all the blame for the film’s poor Box Office performance should reside squarely on their shoulders.

PRO: There’s about ten minutes of this film set in the Old West, and every bit of it was more exciting than the entirety of Cowboys And Aliens. I’m very glad that Jon Favreau got shown the door from this production.

PRO: You get the sense that Stanton gets film, gets how it should flow and feel, especially the big popcorn munching blockbuster, in a way that can only be viewed in another modern filmmaker in the likes of someone like the aforementioned J. J. Abrams. Their style is original, using the tools of today, but it also feels like a respectful homage to a 70s style as well, something from George Lucas or Spielberg. I don’t say that in a bad way though. They’re not like the average Tarantino beast, inserting 13% original creativity into a mutant wearing a t-shirt that says “BIG SLOPPY HOMAGE” on it. But I feel like Super 8 was just Abrams addressing the fact that he knew what he was doing, where his style was born. I feel like John Carter is doing that too, but in a much more quiet voice.

Thesis Statement of the PROs: About half way through the viewing of this movie I started to wonder if this film was the closet that I would get to watching the original Star Wars film as a kid.

Perhaps it was thinking that that completely kicked me into a higher gear of of enjoying this film. I mean, I have nitpicks, yeah.

Tons of them, in fact: Starting with cutting this film down a little bit, not in the editing room, but at the drawing board stage, just tightening some things up, some of the chases and what have you, and punching up some of the dialogue. Some diversification of the character designs, especially the warring civilizations, and primarily the “red people,” the humanoids from the warring city-states. There should’ve been a mindset in place for the fact that this movie should be for KIDS, and also adults who accompany them. And more of a mindset than just slapping the tiny little Disney logo on top of the posters.

I mean… Right?

PRO: Taylor Kitsch doesn’t seem like a very interesting entity to be pushing upon filmgoers, but I guess I like him better than Sam Worthington. That said, Kitsch (Sorry, that’s a terrible last name for an actor) does a fine job in this film, but the rest of its cast is fascinatingly seasoned:

Lynne Collins as Dejah Thoris, as well as Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Strong, David Schwimmer, and Art Malik are in there with the aforementioned Hinds, Purefoy, Polly Walker, and Dominic West. And with a cameo by Jon Favreau. And thankfully no cameos whatsoever by Harry Knowles (taking the cheapest of shots here: we would’ve needed something a little bigger than IMAX for that).

Taking a smart note from the original Star Wars there is that you have a unique mixture of British pedigree there, all chewing on that Martian scenery.

CON: The shortened title. I get Stanton’s reasoning, that this film is about John Carter becoming of Mars. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blah, blah blah. But still. I don’t know how many Tarzan and/or John Carter and/or lovers of old pulpy sci fi were out there, horny with desire at the thought of this finally coming to the big screen, but still. The OF MARS at the end of the title would’ve really clued you into something going on there. Something different. Simply titling the film John Carter tells me one thing about this movie: I don’t know what this is. Is it a film about a high school basketball coach who applies tough love to his students? Is it about a guy who starts his own company and starts a relationship with a receptionist and also has cancer? Is this a lawyer and/or a doctor flick?

CON, continuing: Leaving the “Of Mars” at the end of the title should’ve lit a fire under the advertising people’s asses too. And perhaps the production design as well. No one on this production should’ve been afraid to go weird here. Obviously they weren’t too precious about the original source material (who is these days?)(other than the people adapting Game Of Thrones), which is fine, because there was nothing too precious in Burroughs’ source material, but there should’ve been some steps outside of the box.

Interlude to this CON: An example of them not being terribly, painfully faithful to the source material: the (would be titular) princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris.

from here.

I like Lynn Collins, and I’m glad with how they reinvented her character for this story. The original idea of Dejah Thoris in the books seems like a castoff wet dream from Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales, and can rightfully belong in the wet dream and basement apartments of fan boys. This is the real world. “Tits” and “Ridiculous nudity” are not character qualities.

The princess of Mars, by Bruce Timm, from here.

Sorry, CON, continued: There should’ve been more steps outside the box in every aspect of this film’s production, really.

There’s no denying that filmmaking has gotten so much lazier since the late 90s, but that goes hand in hand with how much lazier advertising these films has gotten since then. And yet, the advertising budgets for studios is getting bigger and bigger, going through the roof, even when they’re seemingly returning less and less profits. The budget for John Carter is supposedly $250 million dollars, which really means that it’s total budget with the marketing is, what, a minimum of $350 million? Ugh. I’m sure they’ll make that back, but not quickly enough.

But I guess you could say that the film was doomed by the time its first teaser was released.

CON, still continuing, becoming more and more of a bitch session about modern movie marketing and more of a circle jerk over the original Star Wars: The beauty of the original Star Wars as that, to then modern cinema-going audience, it was new. Sure, all that Joseph Campbell shit was old, but they didn’t know that, not consciously. All the fat little nerds weren’t sitting in movie theater lines in 1977 waxing poetic over the hero’s journey. No, they wanted to see a good story and some cool shit, and the film fucking delivered. George Lucas took stuff from primal storytelling archetypes and he took a little from classic pulpy sci fi and he managed to remix it into a very new style.

I’m guess I’m telling you that John Carter has a little of that (but not enough). I guess I’m telling you that we desperately need more of that. We need that potential and we need marketing that delivers the suggestion of a little of that to audiences.

PRO: Again, the movie just solid, and fun. Not perfect. Not a home run, but better than a lot of the shit that you could end up seeing in theaters these days. I’m going on and on about the sins of films these days and how they’re slaves to the advertising departments, but the thing I really want you to take from this is that John Carter is a pretty good movie, even if the trailer would’ve lead you to that assumption, or to any kind of assumption of what kind of movie it is.

One last CON: The ending. It ends somewhat ambiguously, but in a happy way. It wraps this story up in a way that works, even if it means that there will never be a sequel, which could very well be the case. I was somewhat reminded of the adaptation of The Golden Compass from a few years ago, which was not great. I’m a huge lover of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, of which The Golden Compass was the first entry, and I was ready to forgive a lot of the sins of that film adaptation, of which there were so fucking many, but the one I could never forgive was that they cut off the last thirty pages’ worth of the story’s ending, which they had filmed, with the intention of moving it to the beginning of the proposed sequel, which never happened.

Similar to what they did with the ending of The Two Towers, and how they moved its ending to the start of The Return Of The King.

And they did that because I guess they were afraid to end the film on a slightly downer of a cliffhanger. The fools. They needed that cliffhanger so badly. And The Golden Compass was edited like they weren’t expecting to be filming the follow up any time ever, so why not go for broke?

I’m not saying that John Carter needed to do that. They could’ve though. Rather than tying up the one last lingering plot point, such as they did, they could’ve thrown a mystery into your face. That’s another lesson Star Wars that a lot of the so called modern myth makers seem to not see: If you want to have a nice, large tapestry, it better have a lot of complex threads in it, any one of which could produce an interesting story. You walked out of A New Hope not quite sure of what was going on with that Darth Vader dude, or Luke’s dad, but you knew there would be an interesting story there if someone ever brought the story back to the movie theater near you…

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The suburb of the soul.

Mad linkage:

Who is Arcade Fire?!

It seems like the theme of Sunday’s Grammys were “I don’t know who this person is.”

The most British movie ever.

The oral history of Party Down.

The Machinist‘s Brad Anderson to adapt J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, starring Christian Bale.

Robots to get their own internet.

You can buy the new Radiohead album this Saturday!

PLAY The Great Gatsby for NES.

Sex, drugs, and cannibalism: the Chilean miners’ story.

Fuck Yeah Lady Writers.

Hello! And RIP Uncle Leo.

House group proposes shifting Earth science funds to manned spaceflight.

This guy will buy you breakfast if you can explain Lost to him.

The science of heartlessness.

Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K. Dick’s Ubik.

from here.

Michael Moorcock on J. G. Ballard.

Sarah Jessica Parker wants to do a Sex And The City 3 and she wants to do it just for Benjamin Light.

What makes black holes so black?

Crystal Renn addresses her weight loss and maintaining plus-size model status.

The Criterion Collection is on Hulu Plus (and so is your mom).

Americans know so little about the bible.

James Van Der Beek to play himself on an ABC sitcom. Seriously.

Also: Aaron Sorkin to guest as himself on 30 Rock.

“We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.”

-J. G. Ballard

The sun unleashed a huge solar flare towards the Earth.

CBS News’ Lara Logan hospitalized after sexual assault in Egypt.

Living towers made of humans.

Hans Zimmer promises that the score for The Dark Knight Rises will be both “epic” and “iconic.”

Also, 1 in 5 films coming out in 2011 will be sequels.

Click here to see the beginning of something wonderful.

Natalie Portman cries a lot.

Who makes shittier movies, Guy Ritchie or Zack Snyder?

by Jason Brockert, from here.

Pakistan issues arrest warrent for Pervez Musharraf.

Whatcha thinkin’ about?

There’s a DuckTales comic coming out. How awesome is that?

Twitter, translations, and the new geopolitics.

The Onion’s AV Club interviews PJ Harvey.

Look at the trailer for this Dead Island game. I know nothing about this game, but based on this trailer, I want to play the fuck out of it.

Why the Oscars snubbed Christopher Nolan.

You rock, rock.

from here.

Why I want to fuck J. G. Ballard.

Maria Bello a reasonable replacement for Helen Mirren in the unnecessary remake of Prime Suspect?

An underground village in France where people lived for hundreds of years.

Jeff Mangum is touring.

Billy Ray Cyrus blames the Devil and David Lynch for his problems.

Facebook’s growing web of frenemies.

Justina Bieber doesn’t believe in abortions, even in the case of rape. Man… whatever.

from here.

Michael Emerson to star in Person Of Interest, the CBS pilot from J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan about predicting/fighting future crime.

Pitchfork gave the new Mogwai album a 6.6.

Top 10 famous people who didn’t actually exist.

Donnie Darko‘s Richard Kelly to do a normal, traditional thriller next.

What would Hüsker Dü?

There’s a campaign to replace the N-word in Huckleberry Finn with “robot.”

“I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that’s my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again … the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.”

-J. G. Ballard

I like and respect Jill Thompson’s visual take on Wonder Woman.

Speaking of which, Adrianne Palicki is the new Wonder Woman (in that David E. Kelley TV pilot).

…and here is the audition tape for Tanit Phoenix, who didn’t get the role, that shows how obsessed the pilot script seems to be with breasts.

Iain Sinclair on J.G. Ballard’s favorite artwork.

The underage cast of MTV’s Skins pose in their skimpies in Elle. Now go crazy, people.

The age of consent around the world.

The businessmen drink my blood just like the kids in art school said they would…”

The guy who was raised by cats.

“People care what I think. I have a prestigous blog, sir!”

Once again, RIP Party Down. Goodbye, Roman.

from here.

The boob tube.

Since there’s been a few posts on TV this past few week, I thought I’d throw out a few quick thoughts on a handful of TV shows. Nothing too in depth, nothing too glamorous, and possibly nothing too well thought out. But, around here, what else is new?

Those shows being…

The Office. The last episode with Timothy Olyphant was not bad, but not particularly great. The previous episode, the much talked about one featuring the return of all of Michael’s exes… not so great. And the few before that, about the same. As even Benjamin Light has mentioned to me the past few times we’ve talked about it, you can really feel the show going through the motions this year. Also, during the summer there was a lot chatter and speculation online about who would replace Steve Carrell when he leaves the show at the end of this season but, honestly, sadly, horribly, heinously, overly dramatically, doesn’t it seem like they’re trying to set up Andy as the new boss-type character?

I can’t think of anything I’d dislike more than that. Andy really feels like a character who should’ve been around a season or two and then maybe have gone bye bye. Also, let’s get serious here: Andy and Ellie Kemper and the dude from Sabre have to make the least attractive love triangle on television.

I hate to say it, but I’ve really checked on out on this show after Pam and Jim’s wedding. Maybe that would’ve been the fine conclusion this show will potentially have to work hard for (and would mirror the end of the original British version interestingly). Also, for a “documentary” about the life of people in an office, when does this “documentary” actually air?

30 Rock. This show is still going strong. Not every episode is a home run, but it is consecutively strong. As long as you have Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy, and Tracy Morgan’s Tracy Jordan, nothing can harm you. What this show does with it’s guest stars is frequently brilliant (Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, even Kelsey Grammar in the most recent episode) and there’s a joy to the dialogue and it’s one liners and non sequiturs that is intoxicating. I thought that the live episode was a good deal smarter than it was funny, but I applaud this show for taking it there. And I found it fascinating that the last episode dealt with Liz Lemon’s long simmering “fear” or general uncomfortableness with sex.

Community. I wasn’t so much a fan of the last episode of this show, and I kind of feel like it maybe tackled people’s biggest two gripes with the show itself: Abed (all things “meta”) and Chevy Chase. And the episode prior to that certainly paled in comparison to what many would consider the show’s strongest outing: the paintball episode from season 1.

All that said, I honestly feel that this show and Modern Family were the best new comedies of last season and I don’t see anything that feels like long term signs of that changing anytime soon.

Things I would change about this show though: 1) Get rid of Chevy Chase, who’s character is not funny and is lazily portrayed. You just get the sense that Chase is bored or perhaps unhappy, and maybe that unhappiness has something to do with watching Joel McHale doing a variation of the Chevy Chase persona from the 80s, just better? I’d watch a Joel McHale iteration of Fletch, sure.

2) Keep characters like Ken Jeong’s Senor Chang to a minimum, and the same with some of Abed’s “We all live in a TV show” stuff. I think some of the references catch with the smart folks in the audience, and some literally watch fire with the simple minded, but as Shirley said recently, I think far too much of it doesn’t play in Poughkeepsie, and bores the rest of us. The only thing worse than being not funny is trying too hard. Keep Abed’s character simple and utilize more gags like the Abed in the background/pregnancy bit in the background a few weeks ago:

from here.

3) More characters. For the background or whatever. Along with 30 Rock, I feel like this is the show that has the best chance of inheriting what there is of the Arrested Development mantle, and yet, the vision of Community almost feels too limited in some regards. Maybe give someone like Star Burns a little break, okay? Also, the character of the dean? We get it. It was funnier when it was called Tobias Fünke.

Running Wilde. Sorry, Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett, somehow even you shall not be inheriting the throne that once was Arrested Development, I fear. Kudos to you fine chaps though for bringing Felicity along for the ride.

The Event. I watched four episodes of this show and came to the same realization I had before the show even started and was just a much hyped but vaguely explained situation coming soon on NBC: I could not give two halves of a shit about whatever the fuck “the event” ends up being.

We complain about the meta-ness of Community and it amazes how we don’t talk about how not an event the actual release of The Event is. “Lost meets 24,” huh? Go fuck yourself, NBC. This show could do with a little more Lost and a hell of a lot less 24. Talk about a textbook example of not getting what made both of those shows goddamn brilliant at their heights. This is the briefest I shall ever be on this blog: Character.

from here.

Also… casting. Jason Ritter? Give me a fucking break. Jason Ritter is the guy who should be getting coffee for the stand in for your lead actor.

Lost. This goes without saying: You are missed.

Also: this. Interesting.

Hawaii 5-0. Go fuck yourself if you like this show. I watched two episodes that would’ve had the exact same effect on me if I had seen them either in or out of a coma. Also, Hollywood: Stop trying to make Alex O’Loughlin happen.

Modern Family. As I said before, this is a strong comedy here. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does. I don’t think that, once you get what’s going on with it, that it’ll ever blow you away, but it stays consistently funny and watchable and every single character is endearing. And it will hopefully stay that.

Smallville. This show is still on. Did you know that? People are still watching this! It scares me, that thought. (Almost as much as the notion that people were ever watching it.)(I mean, obviously I’m a comic book nerd here, but this show? Come on. Shit is shit, right?) Who are you people? Who are you? It terrifies me that there’s an audience for this show still and they’re providing market research to people in suits who can’t buy a clue from the general public. (Though I still like Erica Durance.)

True Blood. This past season had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, as usual, but the finale was incredibly boring. I guess it was a bit of a serious dramatic let down and also not compelling at all. But, though it may be an uneven supernatural soap opera, it’s amazing how much more it appeals to me than some fucking police procedural on CBS.

Party Down. I miss you. Come back? Please? Was it something I said? Was it the fact that I don’t subscribe to Starz and watched you solely via megavideo and just that once via itunes? Is it Starz? If it is, you don’t have to say anything. Just nod your head and blink. Do that and I will stab a stake through Starz like the life sucking vampire monster that it is.

Parks & Recreation. Is this show still on? Coming back at midseason? That’s a shame, but not shocking, I guess. This show is not bad, not bad at all, but it lacks… something. Sadly, you still have to kind of compare it to The Office in some way. This is a show where you like all the characters/actors involved, but I don’t feel anything for them. They seem like they’re swimming twice as hard for maybe half the results. Except for Ron Swanson. Brilliant televisionary character and I’m so thankful that they keep him to the minimum. I guess I’m glad that this is where Adam Scott landed after Party Down, with a paying gig, but I’d stick this show’s head in a full bath tub until it stopped kicking and squirming if that’d bring back Party Down. No joke.

The Walking Dead. This show hasn’t even aired yet, but I don’t care. I’ve read the comic book so that gives me the right to voice an internet opinion! Ugh.

That said, within the comic is all the things that would make for a good, solid cable TV drama, especially on par with a level of quality and intrigue that AMC seems to be trying to covet (the snoozefest that is Rubicon aside), but I hope that the producers of the show don’t stick too strictly to the comic. It’s not… great. There, I said it. It’s not that great. It’s good, but it’s true to it’s story and incredibly bleak. It picks up where your average zombie movie ends, with characters having to survive in this world that’s swarming with the undead and it’s something for fans of suffering, for sure. The TV show hasn’t wowed me with the actors they’ve cast, and that sizzle reel didn’t get me hard, and it doesn’t help that Frank Darabont hasn’t brought his A game to anything in a long, long while (though he’s thankfully finally gotten out from behind Stephen King’s skirt). But, despite all of that, I’d like to be pleasantly surprised.

Glee. I saw the pilot not this last summer but the summer before when they showed it months and months before the show’s actual premiere and I thought, “Eh.” Never saw a single episode throughout the rest of the first season because it was just not the show for me and somehow it become this popular media juggernaut. Then I saw two episodes just a few weeks ago from this current season. Not bad. Not all that interesting, but intriguing from a distance. But I do believe there’s credence to the “Three Glee” theory.

But, I have to say that this GQ controversy is ludicrous. Who are you people who are upset about this nonsense? Apparently you’ve never see this show or it’s content or just ignored the Rolling Stone cover from a few months ago altogether. Way to go, Dianna Agron, you are mystifying both onscreen and off. Some people should find bigger things to get super excited and bothered about. Like Taylor Momsen. Speaking of which…

Gossip Girl. Is this still on TV?

House. House is a show that, like Glee, is quality but that I wouldn’t normally watch because, well, I’m just not going to watch a weekly medical procedural show. Or, that’s why it was that I used to not watch House. But then I started watching it semi-weekly (Thank God Hulu is still free), because it’s well written and I saw a bunch of episodes last season by accident and because House and Cuddy are dating now and, well, just because. Also, I like Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Speaking of which…

Steven Moffat’s (and Mark Gatiss’) Sherlock. The show debuted in England in the past year and is fucking brilliant. This is what I would like all TV to aspire to as far as intellectual quality. Eventually this will come to BBC America and you’re a goddamn fool to miss it. The man with the unfortunate name of Benedict Cumberbatch is shocking and mesmerizing as a modern day take on the classic detective and Martin Freeman (“Tim,” the original Jim in the original British version of The Office) is in fine form as his sidekick, John Watson. The little nods to the classic stories are enjoyable and where the show deviates is even better. My only real quibble with the 21st century updates is that rather than just chronicling their exploits in a conventional manner, Watson now blogs about the cases he and Sherlock engage in. Sigh.

The first season was three episodes long and the pilot is amazing (written by Moffat), the second episode is fine, but the third episode (written by Gattis) is immaculate. And what a fucking a cliffhanger.

Freeman was recently cast as The Hobbit after months of everyone knowing he pretty much had the role locked down, but you may have noticed the internet screaming out that the two movies better not stop production on a second series of Sherlock and quite right so.

Speaking of British originals translating stateside: MTV’s Skins, which you can see a trailer for now. And if you click here, you can read my thoughts on that.

Doctor Who. This Christmas special and new season (next Easter, sadly) can’t come quickly enough. I don’t know how I feel about this “split” season. I guess it’s fine, though I’m not crazy about them calling it two different seasons, rather than just one split with a hiatus. It sounds like a fancy way of getting out of contracts quicker, frankly. They recently cast Mark Shephard in a big role, sigh, presumably the two part season opener set in America and featuring Richard Nixon? Cool. I guess. Except for the Mark Shephard bit. That gravely voiced motherfucker hasn’t been in enough big name sci fi shows? Sigh. But, like last season, paparazzi photos have informed us that River Song will be in that episode(s). Great.

Now the theorizing can really begin as to who or what River Song actually is. A future version of the Doctor? Lame. The Doctor’s mother? Lamer. Amy Pond in the future in some form? Lame and tired as far as guesswork goes. Just the Doctor’s amazing wife/partner from a future point as we’ve already been lead to believe? Perfect. But let’s get crazy here: A future version of the Master or the Rani? Hmmm?

Mad Men. Nothing to add here.

Still an amazing show and I’m kind of dying to know where they’ll go next season.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. For what it is, this show is perfect. Especially once Danny Devito joined the cast a few years ago. I’m so glad that we have a mindset like this available to us. And, if you think about it, since we mentioned the inheritance of legacies earlier in this post, this is today’s version of Seinfeld.

Fringe. Man… Whatever. Benjamin Light and I add a long conversation about this show about a week ago because we’re fucking dorks, I guess. Maybe, if you’re nice to him, he’ll do a write up about his thoughts on that show and we’ll have a nice discussion on what we dislike about that show and what we would change (almost everything). And, if anything comes to us, maybe we’ll talk about what we like about the show?

The Venture Bros. As always, a strong, smart, funny show, but I’m trying not to use the words “treading water” here. I keep wanting this show to move forward into telling a larger story, and just when I think it’s going to reveal itself to be doing that… it pulls back altogether. At first it was like, “Ha ha, we are playing with your expectations,” but now it’s just like they’re treading water. Damn. I said it. It’s funny that the last episode was all about Doctor Venture’s brain being hacked and the Monarch trying to force him to commit suicide since I feel like that’s the only logical conclusion to the show.

South Park. I haven’t seen an actual episode of this show in fucking forever. I miss it. Conrad Noir tells me that I really need to see not this past week’s, but the one before, the one pertaining to Jersey Shore. “The Jersey problem,” is how he referred to it. I haven’t seen this last one, the Inception one, either. But now I see that Matt and Trey are in some shit for plagarizing a College Humor video. Jesus. I’m sorry, no, it’s “borrowing.” I get the gist of Matt and Trey’s “take” on Inception, which is a good example of how I can like this show and still pretty much never agree with their take on anything. I don’t think anyone is claiming that Inception is cool because it’s complex, are they? Also, how complex was Inception? Was it really that hard for anyone to follow? I mean… Really?

Louis. I like Louis C.K. I like him a lot. I haven’t loved this show, not like I’ve wanted to, though the Ricky Gervais cameo was a lot of fun. But I’m just glad that Louis C.K. has a show on TV that I don’t think has been canceled  yet. I can’t wait to watch it progress. And I think that is the underlining factor that too many showrunners on television don’t take into account: Shows should progress. There’s a long game at work. Consider your package as a whole.

Eastbound & Down. I’ve only seen the first episode of this current season so far, so I can’t say much, but this show defies your average reviewing format. You’re either in or out. Anything else and maybe you should just fuck off. Me: thumbs up.

Bored To Death. Talk about your meta end to a blog post… I’ve only seen about five episodes from the first season of this show. They were meh, honestly. I see the promise of the show picking up and getting interesting, but I’ll get there at some point. But, during some of those first few episodes, I just felt like maybe I wanted to go read an old detective novel and drink some wine instead.

In conclusion: Am I missing any worthwhile shows or any shows that are the exact opposite? If so then by all means, please, please, please let me know.

And: Before we go, if you click here you can read an interesting post about David Foster Wallace and the connection between fiction and television.

You still got it, Gutenberg.

…from one of the recent episodes in the current season of Party Down, which is brilliant and completely underrated and not nearly well known enough. Probably cause it airs on Starz, right? I mean, I know there was this big hoopla last week of people reporting that Starz had picked up the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood after FOX turned it down, but honestly, who watches Starz? It’d be worth it for Party Down, which features Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan and Jane Lynch (prior to her joining Glee), and is the pet project of Veronica Mars‘ Rob Thomas and Paul Rudd. But, again, who watches Starz? No one. That’s why we have the internet.  And thank God for this episode. And for Steve Gutenberg. And for his amazing art collection.