Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year with "The Jack Benny Show"!


From back in the day, check out this adorable New Year's Eve episode of The Jack Benny Show on Veoh (another great source for online TV), originally broadcast on December 31, 1961! The Flaming Nose loves classic TV and we all grew up on it.

I particularly love and admire Jack Benny, whose easy comedic style and phenomenally popular weekly show made the transition from radio to TV in 1949, though he did both until 1955 when he stopped the radio show. This episode finds Jack facing New Year's Eve without a date, poor fella....

Happy New Year to all our TFN fans, as Jane related in her post!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year Flaming Nose Fans


What would the end of the year be without yet another top 10 list? Here is mine, for all of our Flaming Nose fans around the world (all 12 of you). May you all have a prosperous and peaceful New Year. And may the power of television and the Internet bring us closer in the days to come.

Here we go, in no particular order...

  • Best Ending in a TV Series Ever...The Sopranos-I still feel high when I remember that unprecedented cut to black. Amazing, shocking, and I still think that the onion rings on the diner table signified that Tony lived through the "circle of life".
  • Weirdest Nod to Sub-Sub-Cult...The Entourage episode when Drama hooked up with a "Furrie" fetish girl and did the dirty deed in a full body squirrel suit. I'm going to have to guess this was a first for television.
  • Greatest TV-Internet Event that Nobody Ever Heard of: When local TV affiliate KNBC broadcast the funeral of local town (Torrance California) hero on streaming video. Private Anzack had been captured and killed in Iraq and Torrance citizens honored him with full honors and a horse pulled caisson through the streets of their mid-sized California town. This sad and proud moment proved that small moments can be beautiful when TV and web merge to broadcast local events.
  • Funniest Actor on TV...Alec Baldwin as the glorious Jack Donaghy on NBC's Great, Great, Great comedy 30 Rock. Not since the Dick Van Dyke show has a show about TV been this smart, funny, and magnificent. And Alec Baldwin is the absolute soul and pilot of the show. As an actor and a human being, he's had a rough year. As a character, he is top of the heap.
  • Best Internet Television...Everything is YouTube, blah blah blah. That could all change on a dime. Here is a place where you can find short form user generated video as well as traditional long form television programming! All for free, of course. MySpace TV HuLu has it all; a place for TV fans to click onto many, many versions of great TV past and present. It's better than candy.
  • Best Sidekick...Dwight Schrute (Rainne Wilson) For eveyone who has followed his manic path through this season's episode's of The Office, who would not worship the demented Dwight? From his unrequited, almost heroic love for boss Michael, to his clumsy pursuit of Angela, the blond office Nazi. Yeah, there was a terrible moment involving a cat in a freezer (we all felt really bad about that and talked about it endlessly the next day at work). Never mind, Dwight is the sidekick waiting to happen, he could go Supernova if the writer's strike ever ends.
  • Best Weird Serial Killer Show...Dexter on Showtime. See past 10+ blogs on the Flaming Nose for details.
  • Best Tech Moment...Finally in 2007, the prices got low enough to purchase an HDTV. And this Flaming Nose correspondent is here to tell you that it is...glorious, beautiful, heavenly. I got it a couple of months ago, and I can just barely remember TV life prior to its existence. Strangest thing to notice on HDTV---all the guys on regular TV series look like they are wearing lipstick (they are, we just never noticed in the old format). Best thing to watch so far in HDTV--The Discovery Channel. You just can't beat the glory of nature in high-Def!
  • Most Innovative TV Hit that Didn't Stand a Chance...Flight of the Conchords on HBO. Who would have dreamed that a half hour comedy about a couple of down and out folk singers from New Zealand (and their frequent bursts into song) would be the most darling show on TV? I can't wait for its return.
  • Best Overall TV Episode of the Year...The season finale of "The Extras" on HBO, broadcast in December. It had everything...EVERYTHING...that the best of television should ever have. Fall down funny. Surprise. Heartbreak. If you look in the dictionary under "perfect TV", you will see a picture of Ricky Gervais in the Extras.
Special Memorial Mention for 2007: We mourn the passing of Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers, both most well known for their feisty double entendres on the classic game show THE MATCH GAME. You can still see their hilarious and edgy banter on the Game Show Network.

God Bless and a Happy New Year to all the Flaming Nose Fans!

---Jane


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sic Semper Tyrannis! Tonight on the History Channel

I've got a bit of a thing for both Abraham Lincoln and his misguided assassin John Wilkes Booth. The History Channel premieres a new special The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth tonight at 8pm eastern time, and it should be a good two hours with enough history and adventure to satisfy anyone.

Everybody knows how Booth shot Lincoln in the head at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C., but less known is the story of Booth's unbearable and ultimately futile flight from justice. After breaking his leg in his jump to Ford's stage and then hobbling to his waiting horse, Booth managed to squeak past road guards to escape the city, accompanied by young David Herold. Making his way to the house of Dr. Samuel Mudd -- great controversy here, of course; were they acquaintances, did Mudd help the assassin? (well, of course, but not knowing he killed Lincoln, I would say, and unless Booth was a hell of a good actor Mudd must have known who he was, but maybe not....) -- where his leg was temporarily splinted and then Booth and Herold disappeared off into the Maryland and Virginia countryside to evade capture by Union troops.

For nearly two weeks they survived out in the wild, taking fateful wrong turns in borrowed boats, begging food from rebel sympathizers, and desperately hiding out in fetid swamps, with all the while Booth scribbling emotional tirades in his diary and watching his broken leg go rotten. Finally they stumbled onto the Garrett farm, where they stayed for a couple of days but finally ended up consigned to the barn when the family became suspicious of their strange guests. Union soldiers followed clues to the Garrett place, Booth and Herold were trapped in a burning barn -- but you should really watch the show to find out the rest.

The rest of the story includes, bizarrely enough, Booth getting shot by a crazed Union soldier named Boston Corbett, a truly mad hatter and religious fanatic who castrated himself a few years before the War. You can't make up stuff like that. I know I'll be fascinated to see how The History Channel tells this unique real life tale. It's difficult to have sympathy, perhaps, for the murderer of one of the most incredible figures in American history, but John Wilkes Booth was a troubled and misguided soul, but also extremely fascinating in his own right. (And so was Booth's brother Edwin, who has a movie about him, 1955's Prince of Players starring Richard Burton, with John Derek as JWB.)

If only some day someone would properly put John Wilkes Booth's story on film! I know that the new National Treasure: Book of Secrets movie deals with Lincoln assassination lore, with actor Christian Camargo, who so expertly played the Ice Truck Killer on the first season of Dexter -- you knew we had to get it in here somehow! -- onscreen briefly as Booth. Director/writer Todd Field (In the Bedroom) has/had a Booth film in the works for a while, but haven't heard much about it lately. With the right actor as Booth, someone able to capture his charm, talent, touch of madness and bravado...it could be great. Maybe someday!

Anyway, make like a history student and watch The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth tonight on The History Channel; two runs tonight then it plays a couple of times early in the new year. Check out the special's website for more background information on this important moment in United States history.

Friday, December 21, 2007

So, Did You Watch The "Extras" Finale on HBO Yet?

If you already have, watch it again. If you haven't, be sure to catch it while it's still running. We hate to nag you (we've already told you about this special), but we feel we need to.

Sure, it's funny, but like most of the Extras episodes, it's got an undercurrent of melancholy and dissatisfaction that is completely mesmerizing. If you can't stand your comedy mixed up with your drama, leave this one alone. It will bug you too much if all you want is kicks and giggles.

If, on the other hand, you relish the heartbreaking along with the hilarious, this series finale of Extras (which isn't really a Christmas show at all, which is fine) will give you all the ammunition you need to once again assert with complete assurance that the British simply do it better than anyone else.

Especially great in this episode is Ashley Jensen (you may know her better from Ugly Betty) as Maggie, now-successful Andy (Ricky Gervais) Millman's best friend who's been shunted to the sidelines and finds herself on hard times. Tremendously effective use of Kate Bush's song "This Woman's Work" underscores Maggie's rather desperate and affecting circumstances. All women of a certain age should understand and respond to Jensen's amazing work here. Also wonderful, as always, is Stephen Merchant as Andy's (ex) agent Darren. What am I saying? They're all good, of course.

Don't miss this one! If you're not convinced yet, watch this short promo for the episode with Gervais and Merchant. Check out the HBO Extras website for info and schedule information -- it runs tomorrow on HBO and of course on HBO Comedy, and other times, too.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hide Your Eyes -- Funny Cat Video

Okay, The Flaming Nose and its correspondents have been good about not talking about cats -- which we happen to love -- but I just caught up with this very amusing two-part cat video that you can find here. It was in Daisy Whitney's column on the TV Week website last Friday; I missed it then.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But if you don't, well...you get what you pay for. We will justify its inclusion here because the cats appear to be watching TV, or at least there is a TV on in the background of the clip. Good enough for us!

More Kudos for Hulu




If you read Jane's previous post about the Hulu video interface on MySpace, you might already be turned on to this nice new service that's just made for TV lovers. I went to the Hulu website and signed up, and you should too! I'm watching an episode of Lost in Space right now, and the video is smooth -- no lag, seamless, better than AOL In2TV which though it has a tremendous library I find is not as nice a viewing experience.

The idea of getting TV online is one of my favorite things about the internet, and Hulu looks like it's going to be a good. And it's not just for classic TV lovers -- there are plenty of new shows on there, too!

Do check Hulu out and read Jane's post about hulu on MySpace! She called it first!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"EveryBody Lies" (Don't Read if you Have Not Seen Season Finale)


It's over. I feel strangely detached. Sort of like Dexter, I suppose. The season two finale has come and gone. Sgt. Doakes became the sacrificial lamb in a spectacularly staged explosion reminiscent of Apocalypse Now, and Lila was butchered for her treachery.

The brilliance of this episode, and in fact, of the entire season, was the underlying tapestry that "everyone lies". They are either lying to themselves like Angel, who saw first hand that Lila was Satan in a tank top, but followed her down a dark path with his libido leading the way. They are lying to themselves like Debra, who was too deeply in denial to see small lies (like Agent Lundy pretending that he would ever be anything but an aging workaholic), or monumental lies (like the creepiness at the underbelly of her own brother, who leads the ultimate double life). Even Rita the sugar queen is lying...to herself, to her kids. She is the type who wants everything to be fine, but that's never going to happen. There is never a fairy tale ending for people like Rita. The most she can ever hope for long term is an affordable mobile home and a beer bellied boyfriend who doesn't beat her. Instead she has Dexter, who she thinks is a God, but is instead the dark sociopath that walks among us with a box of donuts and a pleasant smile.

I feel very sad that Sgt Doakes had to die so horribly, and that his last days were torturous. That Dexter doesn't show any remorse whatsoever, even though he put Doakes in harms way, is immensely troubling. Dexter, killer of bad guys, has now caused a good cop's death, and he's so delighted to be off the hook, he's practically skipping off to Rita's for a little post murder roll in the hay. Please pass the pancakes before I gag.

Dear old Dad said, "don't get caught", but that's exactly why I'll be tuning in next season. I think Dexter will be going down.

OK, Nose fans, it's time to end the Dext-Fest and go on to some lighter fantasy fare. "American Idol" anyone? How about "Lost"? Both are right around the corner!

"Dexter" Final Episode Countdown: 3 Hours to Go!

Our Favorite Villainess, Lila West, aka Lila Tournay.

Boo. Hiss.

Expertly played by Jaime Murray.



"Dexter" Final Episode Countdown: 6 1/2 hrs. to Go!


Debra Morgan

"Dexter" Final Episode Countdown: 9 Hours to Go!


Sgt. Doakes

"Dexter" Final Episode Countdown: 12 Hours to Go!

Dexter

Well, at least in my time zone...close enough to start getting excited!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Golden Globe Noms -- Michael C. Hall, at least...

Flaming Nose readers will be happy to hear that FN favorite Michael C. Hall, who is so amazingly good in the title role of Dexter, has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor, Drama Series. Oddly, the show wasn't nominated as Best Drama, which is a bit of a drag. Oh well...we all know what the Best Drama is already, don't we?

We will all be rooting for our favorite serial killer!

Congratulations on the nomination, Michael C. Hall! And also congrats to one of our other favorites 30 Rock which received nominations for Best Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy for Tina Fey, and Best Actor in a Comedy for Alec Baldwin. Also to Ricky Gervais and Extras (what a sublime series that is...), which received noms for Best Comedy and Ricky G. for Best Actor in a Comedy. And another Flaming Nose favorite, Kevin Dillon for Best Supporting Actor for Entourage.

If you're interested in the entire nomination list, check out this article from Zap2It.com.

New "30 Rock" Tonight at 9pm!

We turn from the our dark side -- the abject worship of Dexter -- to one of The Flaming Nose's other favorite things, the delightful Tina Fey's delightful sitcom 30 Rock on NBC. There's a new episode tonight at 9pm, after an hour-long The Office, so don't miss either one!

I just read a nice article on the CBC website about Tina Fey, and you might also enjoy taking a look at it here. She's certainly hilarious and adorable and smart, and we also can't say enough great things about Alec Baldwin as her boss Jack on 30 Rock. He's in a tie here at The Flaming Nose for most attractive and irresistible older man on TV -- tied with Keith Carradine as Special Agent Lundy on Dexter -- and we desperately love them both.

Why aren't more people watching this show? Do you think they're mistakenly confusing it with the old 3rd Rock from the Sun? (I'm only half-joking; that might be enough to put anybody off.)

If you haven't warmed to 30 Rock yet, cuddle up with your remote and start tonight, then go online and catch up with episodes and recaps and all sorts of other resources to put you in the know. You know how important laughter is -- it heals, for heaven's sake! -- so get yourself a dose!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dexter, We Hardly Knew Ye


And, as the last days of Dexter (season two) draw near, we are left to wonder....who the Hell is Dexter anyway? Our hero's Code of honor is kaput, the Feds are closing in, and Sgt. Doakes (poor thing) is still in a cage...all with one episode left to go. Oy vey.

The ambivalent Dexter is very conflicted, and that leaves us all feeling the same way. His relief at deciding to turn himself in to the feds felt very real. His decision (after a good steak and a few beers with Deb) to keep being true to his righteous serial killer self felt...well...crazy. And isn't that the kicker right there? Dexter IS crazy! It is only through the amazing acting skills of Michael C. Hall and phenomenal loopy script writing, that we have been able to accept good old Dexter, as just that cute boy next door who has an unusual hobby. For me, the hobby crossed the line into big time creepy, when he hosted Rita and the kids on his boat for a little pre-prison R and R. This was the first time the little ones (who clearly adore Dexter) were brought into his physical world. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who found the thought of them running around the deck that once held mounds of chopped body parts, not just a little stomach churning.

Oh Dexter fans...where do we go from here? The teaser for next week's final episode hints at an apocalyptic explosion in the swamp. We know that our Dexter won't be caught in the flames (spoiler haters, go take a bathroom break) as Lisa has already assured us there will be a third season. We most fervently hope that Doakes won't be caught in the flames, as Erik King's brilliantly nuanced performance has made this caged Special Agent a hugely sympathetic and engaging character. I love Angel to death, but as they said over and over again in this episode, he was warned about Lila. All bets are off for Angel's survival.

Ah yes...Lila. Here's what I think Dexter-ites, and I don't care a bit if it's trite. I'm hoping there is an eleven foot Gator out there in the Everglades who likes lean meat.

One. More. Dexter. Episode. Left. We will all need a 12 step program to get us through Dexter withdrawal until Season # 3!

I Wasn't Kidding About That New Bill in Congress --

It's bad, really bad, and here's another article about it from today's Online Media Daily --
---------------------------------------------------

Proposed Law Stiffens Penalties For Piracy

by Wendy Davis, Monday, Dec 10, 2007 7:30 AM ET

THE MOVIE AND RECORD INDUSTRY got an assist from Washington, as lawmakers last week introduced a new bill that stiffens penalties for piracy, while the Bush administration argued in support of a six-figure fine in a copyright infringement case.

The new PRO IP (Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act), H. R. 4279, introduced with bipartisan support, would boost some fines from the current maximum of $30,000 for non-intentional infringements. Under the new bill, courts would be able to issue damages of $30,000 for each track on an album, as opposed to one $30,000 fine per album. Sponsors include Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

The bill also authorizes the creation of a new chief advisor on intellectual property, and creates a new Intellectual Property Enforcement Division of the Justice Department budgeted at $25 million a year.

The entertainment industry has been lobbying for tougher copyright infringement laws, arguing that they continue to lose money when people unlawfully upload or download music and clips.

Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal, praised the new legislation last week during a keynote speech at the UBS Conference. While he complained that technology "has made it easier for people to steal our content," he said the new bill "will continue to protect our intellectual property."

But copyright reform advocates say the measure is not needed--and that even under existing law, damage awards are sometimes disproportionately high.

"Nobody has made the case to us why penalties for copyright violations need to be increased," said Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Sohn adds that her organization supports overhauling copyright laws to take into account the way consumers experience digital media today --including the ways they make use of copyrighted material in their own creations. "The law doesn't make sense," she said. "Why is Congress focusing on ratcheting up fines and rearranging the intellectual property deck chairs?"

The move to introduce new legislation came as the Bush Administration intervened on behalf of the record companies in the case of Jammie Thomas, a single mother fined $220,000 for uploading 24 tracks to Kazaa. The Justice Department last week filed a brief arguing that the damage award isn't unconstitutionally excessive.

The PRO IP Act isn't the only anti-piracy bill under consideration. Last month, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced the Intellectual Property Enforcement Act of2007, which authorizes the Department of Justice to file civil lawsuits against file-sharers and creates a new FBI unit dedicated to enforcing intellectual property laws.

Also last month, the House Education and Labor Committee unanimously approved the Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137), which requires colleges and universities that receive federal financial aid to explore "technology-based deterrents" to illegal downloading.

end of article
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Well. It's pretty crummy of NBC's Jeff Zucker to come out in favor of this absurdly draconian bill; does he really think his shows, like Heroes for example, would be nearly as popular without the fans "stealing the content" and giving the show publicity on their websites and spreading the word about other shows they love? Squashing new modes of fan appreciation seems like a pretty rotten way to say thank you to viewers. And hasn't NBC openly acknowledged the internet as a prime vehicle for making The Office a success? Wow...talk about being clueless and ungrateful.

Here's what you're all going to have to do -- write your Congressional representatives. Go to the United States House of Representatives website and find the "Write Your Representative" area on the left side of the page. (If you don't know what to say let me know and I'll send you a copy of what I wrote as an example). Write something and tell all your friends to write, too! Just because this has bipartisan support doesn't mean it's good or well-reasoned; it just means nobody in Congress on either side of the aisle understands what's at stake here. Tell them.

Also visit the Public Knowledge website, the organization mentioned in the article. They are, as defined on their site, "...a public interest group working to defend your rights in the emerging digital culture." And it's big job, no doubt about it. They need your attention and support.

You should be outraged by this proposed legislation and many other current issues in this realm. Get informed and get involved. It's your future. Do you want these guys to tell you how to live in it?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I think this is scary, folks: Major copyright bill boosts penalties, creates new agency

In the aftermath of the $222,000 jury verdict that the Recording Industry Association of America recently won against a Minnesota woman who shared 24 songs on Kazaa, the U.S. Congress is preparing to amend copyright law.Politicians want to increase penalties for copyright infringement.It's no joke.

read more digg story

Catch Up with Extras on HBO This Week!

What a treat -- comedian Ricky Gervais' absurd and hilarious behind-the-scenes comedy Extras is reprised all this week -- two episodes per night -- on HBO2 East at 11pm ET/PT, beginning Monday 12/10. This festival leads up to the premiere of Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale next Sunday night at 9pm on HBO, and rerunning many times throughout the month. (Of course, this puts it in direct competition with our favorite Dexter which must take priority, but there are plenty of opportunities to watch both of these top-notch pay network offerings.)

Many of you are probably already familiar with Gervais as creator and star of the original British version of The Office, the both achingly funny and nearly heartbreaking comedy which actually managed to spawn a U.S. version every bit as great as the original. Extras, his next series, premiered in 2005 in the U.S. on HBO with its first season of six episodes, then came back with six more. The Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale is 80 minutes long -- more to love -- and is sure to bring more cringeworthy moments as only Gervais and and his cast can.

Filled with celebrity cameos, Extras chronicles the struggles of actor Andy Millman (Gervais) and his attempts to batter down the doors to stardom. Along for the ride are his best friend and fellow actor Maggie (played by Ashley Jensen), and his hapless agent played by Gervais' co-writer and co-director Stephen Merchant. They are all superb.

TFN correspondent Jane has been a big Extras fan from the beginning, and let's look forward to her take on this newest episode and the whole Extras world that she loves so much! But it's never too late to get in on the hilarity -- do the catch-up thing this week just in time for the series finale next weekend! (Those of you who have HBO on Demand or the HBO Comedy channel have even more chances to watch the show, but then you're just plain lucky! DirecTV is to be chastised for still not offering HBO Comedy while bombarding subscribers with every manner of shopping and religious channel out there. Ick.)

Ricky Gervais is some sort of a comic god, creating awkward everyman characters with savage moments of hilarity that are sometimes painful to watch. Ah, perfection....

Check out the Extras HBO Website for more information and the complete schedule.

The Penultimate Dexter

Okay, guys, we're getting down to the wire now, only two more Dexter episodes on tap for this season. Oh, it's going to be hard to say goodbye for a while, and even harder to fathom as we sit, ten or so hours away from watching tonight's episode, what the hell's going to happen to wrap this season up.

Everybody's in a pickle -- Dexter with Doakes and Lila and Rita and Lundy, Batista with Lila, LaGuerta with Lundy and Debra, Debra with Lundy (sort of, though they did have a good talk about things last ep), Lundy with the new guy agent Adams (I'm surmising, per the scene previews on the Showtime website).

Dexter is feeling the pressure, my friends, and though as before the speculation is rampant all over the online Dexter community, there are no perfect solutions, as Dexter is doubtlessly finding out. Kudos to Michael C. Hall for continuing to make his portrayal of our favorite serial killer the best performance on television, and shout-outs to all the cast, who have been at the top of their game. Special mention to Erik King as Sgt. Doakes, who been able to believably maneuver Doakes over the line from belligerent asshole bugging Dexter (and we all hated him for it) to contemplative captive trying to figure out how to get out of his grim predicament (and we feel for him).

Wow. Can't wait until tonight! We will be having our Dexter follow-up posting here as soon as possible after the episode. Watch Dexter on Showtime tonight, with two showing back-to-back at 9p and 10p ET/PT. (I definitely recommend watching the Dexter eps several times; they only get better!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hooray for Hulu on MySpace TV


OK Nose fans, here is an excellent tip. You have to check out the new "hulu" feature of MySpace TV. It is a fabulous site if you want to watch streaming videos of Fox and NBC television programs past and present. Want to see Simpsons or the latest House programs? Are you a big fan of 30 Rock? How about classic TV like Adam 12 or Alfred Hitchcock? From Bionic Woman and Bones to Queer Eye, you can find it all here. It's quick, and it is easy. You can also find the newest Internet "mini" programs like QuarterLife and RoomMates. I highly recommend...these little shows are episodic and only a few minutes long. Perfect for a lunch break at work if you have high speed access, no corporate firewall and a progressive company that won't fire you if you are surfing the net. Nose people, you know that I am not one to post plugs, but this is a good tip for TV people, so go see for yourself and bookmark it.
Here is the link, and have fun.

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=281211598

Put Your Hands Together for Mr. Don Rickles

Students of comedy and vintage show business will adore the new documentary (from filmmaker John Landis) MR. WARMTH The Don Rickles Project, which premiered on HBO Sunday night and will replay several times. Featuring recent onstage footage from this year, plus older material, including great Las Vegas footage that makes you weep for the old days, MR. WARMTH ends up being an affectionate look at an extremely talented entertainer who's still going strong at eighty.

I've always thought he was as good a dramatic actor as a comedian, and his screen and TV career is covered nicely here (including his great turn in X The Man with the X-Eyes), giving him full credit for his wide-reaching talents. While many of may not have spent our childhoods tuned to the Tonight show with Johnny Carson, we certainly watched, as did comedian Bobby Slayton who talks about it in the doc, all the appearances he made on so many popular shows of the 1960s, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Twilight Zone and many others. It was great seeing this part of his career also being saluted.

The interviews are wonderful, especially from show biz vets like Steve Lawrence, Keely Smith (who looks great!), Ernest Borgnine, Sidney Poitier, Jack Carter and many of Rickles' business associates. The insights from his best friend Bob Newhart are especially fascinating and charming, and the discussions about Rickles' mother Etta are vivacious and adorable.

What I most loved was the evocation of the nightclub era, in Las Vegas and beyond, a time that is long gone (mostly) but was vividly discussed and brought to life through the terrific footage and recollections of many of the participants in MR. WARMTH. The frank discussion of the influence of the Vegas gambling interests and how they loved and nurtured entertainers was especially fascinating. Shots of old Vegas makes it look like everybody was smart and snazzy; footage from today looks more like people walking around Disneyland with baby strollers and kids. Thank goodness Rickles and his ilk started out in the former world! In any case, the documentary provides a top notch look back.

This isn't a kissy-kissy documentary. Rickles' material doesn't play towards that at all, but it's an appreciative salute to a real trouper who is evidently as much of a pussycat in real life as he is a comedy tiger on the stage. As it should be....

Check out the MR. WARMTH The Don Rickles Project HBO Website for more information and airdate information.

We're All Feeling Dexter's Pain

I'm with Jane on this week's Dexter. An excellent episode, and I found it an extremely tense one with so much coming to a head, and no perfect solutions in sight.

It's all quite horrible, isn't it? The one sort of bright spot is the bittersweet Deb/Lundy thing, as Jane mentioned. At the risk of verging into soap opera here (but I'm going to anyway), I think Lundy was surprised that their little romance had so touched her, and Deb was also similarly alarmed--and hence hurt and hostile--to find that she really likes him and had actually dared to envision something more between them in the future. Quite sweet and our Deb is growing up, it seems. We know from Season One and her relationship with Rudy that a little romance goes a long way with her. She's not used to it maybe but does respond to it, surely. Lundy is light-years away from her usual boyfriends, to be sure. And I'm not discounting the possibility that Lundy could still have suspicions about Dexter as the BHB, and might be playing, if not actually using, Deb in some way in the investigation.

Ohmigod. Lila. Railroading poor sincere Angel (watch the previews for more on this.) Jane is right. She must die.

The Dexter/Doakes scenes were chilling and scary, and there's going to be more of that next week. Unbearable revelations for Dexter, and too much horror for Doakes. Hard to believe.

There's a lot to wrap up in the next two weeks, and it's going to be some ride! Be sure to visit the Showtime Dexter site for previews and extended scenes from the upcoming episode. (Look under Video).

Also in Dexter news, in today's writers' strike world where nobody knows how the current season is going to be played out, CBS head Les Moonves has made statements that CBS (a corporate sister to Showtime) could be looking to pick up Dexter for use on the broadcast network. If so, even cleaned-up and made broadcast-safe, Dexter would be the best thing on TV, and I guess those of us who have loved it since the beginning can stand around saying "I told you so."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

T-Minus Two More Episodes and Counting


I am wracking my brain for a hook to cover this week's Dexter! Isn't that weird? I feel oddly ambivalent about it...can't quite find the mojo for something to say that hasn't been said before. I feel like this week's episode was more of a "bridge" to advance the plot a bit more towards whatever they will do next week. Expository-city. The only thing that was truly revealed, which I suppose is too depressing for me to deal with on a Sunday night, is that our Dexter is so appalling, his adopted Dad had to kill himself when he realized that his monstrous lab-rat creation was a sicko beyond all repair.

Also--I really do feel sorry for Doakes now. I have terrible claustrophobia, and the thought of him trapped in that hot, sweaty cage in the Everglades. Well. It's quite dreadful.

I am getting too emotionally involved with the characters ...must have distance from them..yet also must find a way to be even closer.

Actually, I'm happy for Deb and Agent Lundy. His line about thinking that once the "novelty of his AARP discount wore off" she'd dump him in a heart beat, was absolutely precious. Keith Carradine is a much better actor than I ever would have suspected. This has been a dream role for him, he's quite sexy and adorable, and has aged much more attractively than his Kung Fu brother.

Lila must die. That is what I live for as we near the end. In a series full of miscreants and ne'er do wells, she is the lowest of the low.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dexter: Episode Ten Premiering Tonight!


Are we all ready for tonight's Dexter episode on Showtime? As the season draws closer to its final episode on December 16th, the theories are running wild as to how it will all get sewn up, at least until the third season comes along.

The one person who knows that Dexter is indeed the Bay Harbor Butcher, Sgt. Doakes, was (as last we saw him) behind bars in a makeshift cage at the isolated cabin where Dexter dispatched the man who murdered his mother. If you've watched the preview you know that Dexter is planning to implicate Doakes via fingerprints on tools, and that Doakes has invoked Harry, Dexter's Dad. We remember that Harry's rules for Dexter included both "don't get caught" and "don't kill innocent people" which won't make it easy for Dex to figure out how to get himself out of his current predicament.

This should be a terrific episode -- no surprise there, they have all been amazing -- and we'll be discussing it very soon after the ep airs!

Only two more episodes after tonight...savor each moment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

At the Crossroads with Eric Clapton and PBS




Here's a little departure from our usual fare. This is a shout out to any Flaming Nose fans who love a) Blues, b) Classic rock and roll, c) Eric Clapton d) PBS television (God bless it in all it's glory) or e) all of the above.

If you fit into any of these categories, please do yourself an enormous favor and seek out the incredible...absolutely glorious Great Performances feature of Eric Clapton's Crossroads 2007 tour video. Whether you catch it as a repeat on your local PBS station (in my case KCET-Los Angeles), make a donation to PBS and get the DVD (highly recommended), download it off of the Internet, watch it on your iPod....the pipeline is irrelevant, the content is everything. This is one of the best rock concert videos I have ever witnessed, and I've seen plenty. The good news: stars, contents, camera angles, all superb. The TV broadcast sound could have been better, but I'm hoping they will correct tracts and levels in the studio for the DVD release.

Bill Murray, Saturday Night Live alumni and all around comic genius, hosted this concert special which featured some of the most luminary, rock-out, transplendant guitar Gods still left alive on the planet. I watched it in HDTV and my head is still vibrating from: Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, Steve Winwood, Los Lobos, John Mayer, Buddy Guy and...(older, heavier, but still for my money the sexiest and only Native American Mohawk guitar God on the planet, Robbie Robertson!) Dispersed among these seasoned blues-rock legends, were some amazing young talent. My hat is off to Dereck Trucks, relative of Butch Trucks from the one and only Allman Bros Band. This young guy (who bears a remarkable resemblance to Greg Allman, and similar slide guitar sound to the late Duane Allman) is an absolute wonder. Another don't miss prodigy was the young girl playing bass with Jeff Beck on two songs. New and old all rocked together magnificently. Not that anyone cares, I had a really crappy day today, toiling away on my real life Internet job. I have to admit, coming home to this PBS gem after a long hard day, really made my heart soar. Check out this amazing special, and yours will do the same.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Les Miserables in Miami

"Don't Get Caught!"










The tantalizing passion play continues and it's starting to feel like a chapter out of Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables. Our hero Dexter (Jean Valjean) dispatcher of evil doers and all around nice guy, pursued relentlessly by the obsessive cop Doakes (Javert) who won't rest until Dexter is brought low. It's a lovely, blood drenched, beautifully choreographed dance and guess what fellow Dexter-Stalkers?....we only have three more weeks of this tango before the season ends. I could weep.

In this week's episode, "There's Something About Harry", Dexter the dragon slayer (avert your eyes spoiler haters) miraculously escapes discovery when the feds discover his stolen blood sample treasure box in Doake's car. Thus Doakes becomes the prime suspect before he can finger his nemesis and Dexter is appointed the chief forensic investigator of his own victim's blood splotches. It was a sweet twist, and I did not see it coming.

OK Dexter-ites...it's time for the first ever Flaming Nose official Dexter Poll. Please select one of the following moments from this week's episode as your favorite. You may leave your vote in the comment section:
  1. The brief glimpse of Agent Lundy's pale, yet surprisingly firm middle aged butt.
  2. Doakes and the hand-cuffed Dexter thrashing about in the Everglades. Gator bait? Not in this episode. Darn.
  3. Lila's inappropriate (and yes Irish accented) goat joke.
  4. The teenager Dexter's field trip with Harry to see someone flash fried in old Smokey. (This is Florida, and yes they still do have "the chair")
  5. Other?
I do finally have one tiny complaint this week. Dexter's tangled love life is getting a little tedious. Why must he choose between sugary Cinderella Rita and her banana pancakes and Lila the whippet thin anti-Christ? Why can't he find a nice, quirky, somewhat damaged girl like his sister Deb? Not that I'm suggesting that he take up with his sister, that would be weird. How about someone a little off beat and edgy? Someone drop dead gorgeous with a corrected harelip, a large collection of sci-fi movies and a cat. Just a thought for next season...now that we know (hip hip hooray!) that there will be a third season for our beloved Dexter and his merry band of Miami misfits.

Discover The Big Bang Theory

Please tell me I'm not the only one out there loving CBS' hilarious comedy The Big Bang Theory? I wrote about it a while back, and find that every episode is a complete delight. It's smart (or at least the jokes are smarty-pants funny and there's nothing funnier), and the cast is excellent. The two leads pictured to the left, Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki, are incredibly talented and have a great sense of physical comedy as well as the ability to get all the many laughs out of the absurdly intricate dialogue. They are adorable together.

I'm also very impressed with Kaley Cuoco as their beautiful neighbor Penny. Unlike many ultra-attractive gals on TV and in life, this one has great comic timing and manages to effectively and affectionately delineate a character who often isn't even on the same wavelength as the brilliant physicist roommates. She's really quite good and you actually look forward to her interaction with the boys.

This show is one of the gems out there and nobody's talking about it. All the attention goes to either its lead-in How I Met Your Mother or its lead-out Two and a Half Men. The real fun is being stuck in the middle with the geeky adorable boys of The Big Bang Theory. If you've missed episodes or never seen one at all, visit the show's CBS website and catch up with some online eps. I would hate to see this terrific series continue to labor under the radar. Now, who knows what the writers strike is doing to the episode pool, but there's no better time than the present to fall in love with the show and root for it.


P.S.: On a bit of a sidenote, The Big Bang Theory theme song is by the group The Barenaked Ladies, and founding bandmember Ed Robertson has a wonderful show on up here in Canada on the OLN network called Ed's Up, where he flies all over in his float plane and takes on various adventures. It's hilarious but doesn't seem to be on the Versus net in the U.S. which is what OLN is now called there. Maybe you can find some episodes someplace...I'll look around, too.

Awaiting Jane's Brilliant Weekly Dexter Post

At The Flaming Nose, we've sort of officially appointed Jane the chronicler of Dexter, setting us straight each week. Her posts are so good -- well worth waiting for! And it will be coming soon! (Pictured on the left, the treacherous Lila!)

In the meantime, I'll just offer up a few good things, such as a link to some nifty promo photos from the rest of the season's episodes. Take a look; though they're from the accurately-named Spoiler TV blog, I think you'll be merely titillated and piqued by what you see. Certainly they give away something, but I'm not sure what! I just know I can't wait to see those remaining episodes. You should also definitely take a look at the two long clips from next week's episode "There's Something About Harry" to give yourself a taste of what's coming up.

I tend to poke around the Dexter forums, and again, some consternation about the appearance of Special Agent Lundy's pale behind after that nice pillow talk with Debra. His ass was just fine, folks, and it was nice to see them relating with such ease and also a bit touching to see Deb in such awe of his mature romantic skillz. (Also amusing to see that he would like to fatten her up a bit.) I would venture to say that time spent with Lundy in the sack certainly beats hours on that treadmill at the gym, at least for now.

I won't say anymore until Jane sets us all straight with her post! Well, okay, one thing. Yes, I know Dexter acted like a fool with the out-of-control Lila (though I must give credit to her for telling that goat joke, in her excellent Irish dialect--had to love her for that!), but wow, Rita's damning "You slept with another woman" remark to him when he was on her lawn seemed awfully prissy to me. And Dexter's sincere "Yeah, and I'm sorry" wasn't enough for her. I think I liked her better when she was a little less harsh, but I'm sure nobody agrees with me on that. And now poor Angel's getting tangled in Lila's web. We all know he's lonely, but that's not going to go well!

Okay, enough. I await Jane's wisdom.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Old News is Good News Re: Dexter!


You may already know this, but this short article from Media Daily News says it all:

Showtime's 'Dexter' Highest-Rated Series For Net

Monday, Nov 26, 2007 7:45 AM ET

WHO SAYS CRIME DOESN'T PAY? The Showtime original series "Dexter" snagged its biggest audience ever last Sunday night, Nov. 18--1.23 million viewers, nearly 10% of the subscriber base--per Nielsen Media Research. It's not just the second-season series that is celebrating. These findings boast the biggest audience ever for a Showtime series. "Dexter" has just been renewed for a third season.

The Flaming Nose will hope and assume that last night's episode was met with similar viewing levels -- it was an amazing episode and we'll dissect it very soon! Of course, you also have to consider all the repeats of the episodes, which means many, many people are enjoying Dexter, certainly the best show that's out there this season!

Best news is that Dexter's been renewed for another season! A reason to live, certainly....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Showtime's Best: Another Episode of Dexter Up Tonight, Sunday!

To the left is Erik King, who plays the intense Sgt. Doakes, Dexter's dogged adversary. In last week's episode he discovered the cache of blood slides hidden inside the air conditioner in Dexter's apartment, and we know from the previews that those slides end up on Special Agent Lundy's desk this week. The Flaming Nose would venture to say that it's not going to go well for either Doakes or Dexter, but we will soon find out!

Erik King has been incredible as Doakes, fairly seething with dislike and distrust for Dexter, and as Dexter amazedly has himself noted, he's the only one in the department who in any way picked up on any weird vibes coming from the Miami PD's resident serial killer. Speculation is rampant in the Dexter fan world as to what's going to become of Doakes, his obsession already having led to his suspension and that's surely only the beginning of the trouble coming up for him. King is a standout in Dexter's superb cast and I'm sure none of us want anything too horrible to befall him; we want him around for many more episodes.

And what's going to become of Lila tonight? She's treading on some mighty thin ice, after going nose-to-nose (and not in a good sexy way) with Dexter last week. And what's up in the May-December romance department between Deb and Lundy? Please, we want more!

Do we even need to remind you to watch Dexter tonight on Showtime? The Flaming Nose Dexter Auxiliary will be glued to our TV sets all across this great land (and beyond) for what looks like a particularly gripping episode. Come back for reactions soon after the episode airs!

Join us in our Dexter obsession! You'll thank us....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our nostalgia files, here is the multi-talented Danny Kaye as a hapless Thanksgiving turkey on The Danny Kaye Show, his CBS variety show that ran from 1963 to 1967.

Since we can't be right there beside you serving you turkey and dressing, this photo will have to do as a thank you to everyone who enjoys The Flaming Nose as much as we do!

Thanks for visiting and come back often!

-- The Entire Flaming Nose Gang

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

PU-239 on HBO


Don't miss the amazing HBO original film PU-239 which premiered on Saturday 11.17.07, and will be repeated often. This is a tale of terrible times in modern, Post-Soviet Russia, where people scramble to make sense of their new fractured capitalist society while little things, (like maybe a vial of weapons grade pure plutonium) fall through its widening cracks. Irish actor Paddy Considine plays a very believable Russian nuclear engineer and an absolutely riveting Oscar Isaac is Shiv, the street gangster with a red leather jacket, and heart of gold for his young son and The Jackson Five. I thought this movie would be a straight forward political thriller, but it is more a pitch black Tarantino-esque satire than anything else. Definitely worth tuning in, check it out on the HBO website, http://www.hbo.com/films/pu239/index.html or find it on your DVR menu and press record. Spaciba, HBO. We are reminded again, that the best movies around don't require a $30 trip to the Cineplex.

Dexter: Our (Oops, I Mean His) Days Are Numbered

Dear Readers,

Are you bored with our constant fawning and drooling over the magnificence of this program? Are you wondering when we will ever find something...ANYTHING... to complain about with the crazy Dexter show, to end our constant deification of this humble Showtime offering? Sorry, don't hold your breath. It's not going to happen here, not with this episode. Yes it is true; my fellow blogger Lisa and I remain, ever prostrate before the greatness of Dexter. We are Dexter stalkers now. It's probably not healthy. Thank God this latest episode shows signs of things coming to a terrifying end. It will probably be best for all of us.

So what did I love about this week's episode? What didn't I love? From Dexter's final Everglade's shack dispatch of the evil bastard who killed his mother (By the way...anybody notice the highway and surroundings while he drove there? Absolutely realistic, I've been on that road). To the confrontation with Lila the insane Pyromaniac witch..."If you ever come near Rita again...you WILL see the monster..." Oh how we love it when the Dext gets rough!

The bitchy Debra--Lila cat fight comments were sublime. And finally, we have the absolutely horrifying moment, when Sgt Doakes removes the air conditioner in Dexter's apartment and finds (Oh No!) our hero's alphabetically organized collection of microscope slide blood splotches. The end is near.

And yes I continue to obsess about the Agent Lundy and sister Debra dance. It's a little creepy, because he is such a control freak. The spank was nice. I thought I might like to eat whatever fancy thing he was cooking. But here's something...and you heard it here first. I'm having a pre-cog about Agent Lundy. He might be a bad guy too. Extra bad.

Stay tuned fellow Dexter-stalkers! As they say in baseball and the finest horror movies...it ain't over till it's over!


30 Rock's Alec Baldwin on Turner Classic Movies Tonight

Fans of 30 Rock's wonderful Alec Baldwin might want to tune into Turner Classic Movies tonight (Tuesday 11/19) starting at 8pm eastern, for his turn in the TCM Guest Programmer seat, a festival that's been going on all this month.

He'll be presenting four interesting choices: the Vincente Minnelli-directed 1952 behind-the-scenes Hollywood drama The Bad and the Beautiful, starring (my favorite) Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner; director Stanley Kramer's mile-a-minute 1963 comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; 1962's fascinating biography of convict Robert Stroud who became The Birdman of Alcatraz (I had parakeets when I was a kid and bought a copy of Stroud's bird tome, and it had a photo of Stroud's portrayer Burt Lancaster on the cover!); and lastly the Barbara Stanwyck drive-you-crazy thriller Sorry, Wrong Number, directed by Anatole Litvak, from 1948.

This should be fascinating and it's a nice line-up of films. Baldwin is clearly an astute and intelligent actor and has excellent taste in movies, as you can see from his choices. It's good to see comedy mixed in with the serious stuff, isn't it?

Check out the TCM website for more information on the movies!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Darkon on IFC







You know how you can think you're catching everything good to watch, and then you find out you missed something great? Well, even though it premiered on IFC last week, the newish documentary Darkon will be playing several more times this week, and I know I'll be watching!

It's about people who play a real life version of something like Dungeons and Dragons in the fields near Baltimore, Maryland, the realm of Darkon. The tagline "Everybody Wants To Be A Hero" says it all. Part re-enactor-play, part Renaissance Faire, part action-adventure chase, the world of Darkon is generously celebrated (reportedly, I haven't seen it yet) in the documentary, and we get to meet some of the charming folks who take time from the grind of everyday life to live and die gloriously on this fanciful field of battle.

Naturally I'm totally sympathetic and envious of anybody who plays like this. Give me a guy with a fake sword and a battle helmet over some corporate lawyer with a tennis racket any day!

Check out the Darkon website on IFC and especially play around with their Ye Olde Name Generator which is silly and fun. Consult the schedule here for dates and times for Darkon and a behind-the-scenes special on the making of the film. Darkon plays this week on Thursday, Nov. 22nd, several times, so be sure to catch it!

Dexter -- It's All Good

Can you stand the suspense? The heat is on Dexter, that's putting it mildly, and the speculation is rampant. How's he going to get out of this one? Sgt. Doakes has discovered Dexter's secret stash of his victims' blood sample slides. Uh oh.

Hey, and Debra and Lundy seem to have officially hooked up in a big way. Though I am totally for this May-December relationship, I was fearful what would happen once they were alone together. Please, I hoped, don't make it icky. And it wasn't, though I did get a tinge of maybe Lundy playing Deb to get close to Dexter, or maybe not? Certainly Debra is infatuated with Lundy, completely, but I'm not totally convinced it's mutual. Lundy seems to be sexually titillated by the frank yet awkward Debra, but again, I'm not beyond thinking he might be faking something to further his investigation. However, maybe he's just tickled by Deb's shameless profanity, her bravado, and her potential. Would he do something as potentially risky as fucking a much-younger co-worker just for fun? Or only in the line of duty? I guess we'll find out....

Lila (Jaime Murray, maddeningly brilliant!) is a complete nutcase, and Dexter's onto her. I loved the open hostility between Debra and Lila, mostly on Debra's side with some hilarious barbs coming out and also with the side-effect of Deb and Dexter having a bit of tension between them. Very interesting considering the mess that is undoubtedly coming up and the loyalties that will certainly be tested.

And can we give a shout out to the rest of the cast, especially David Zayas as Angel Batista, one of the team working on with Lundy? Zayas has been incredible since the beginning of Dexter, of course, and now has gone beyond even his previous great job to take Batista to another level. Batista's anger, dismay and hurt at the notion of the Bay Harbor Butcher being someone in the department is palpable. I also loved the development of his character as a voracious reader, a nice touch that brought Angel further to life. Zayas is tremendous.

This show is too much! What the hell are we going to do when this second season is over? I'm already feeling sad contemplating it.

I can't wait to see what Jane has to say about this week's episode.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Jewel in the Crown of the Peacock


30 Rock is an Emmy Award winning, breathtakingly hilarious, brilliantly written comedy that is chock full of mega stars. Can somebody please tell me why this program is not in the top ten ratings every week? I don't get it. Yeah, it's sometimes too "inside" about the wacky world of TV, but there are always enough broad stroke, even slap-sticky scenes to delight even the most clueless citizen from the fly-over parts of the country. If you don't believe me, paste this link in your browser and see for yourself. http://www.nbc.com/30_Rock/video/index.shtml#mea=184753. Better yet, visit the NBC website where you can watch over a dozen past episodes of 30 Rock for free. NBC has one of the friendliest, easiest websites for viewing streaming video of full episodes you might have missed. You have to watch one commercial or promo to see them, but it's worth it for such a quick and simple way to watch TV from your PC.

This week's episode was insane and divine, with comedy show producer Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) convinced that her neighbors were Islamic terrorists and right wing network exec Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin appearing wonderfully against type) falling for a Democrat pol from Vermont, played fetchingly by Edie Falco. The "C" story followed innocent and goofy Kenneth the Page as he attempted to replace Jack's missing $2500 Tuxedo pants. Jack McBrayer plays Kenneth perfectly as a fish out of water Georgia peach in the big city. He is a modern day Gomer Pyle but more angelic than annoying.

For my money, Alex Baldwin is the funniest man on television, bar none. He reduced special guest star and NBC deity Jerry Seinfeld to playing the straight man in one episode. He brawled with Nathan Lane who played his drunken Irish brother. He once stopped mid scene and licked a poster of a steak in Liz Lemon's office. He is magnificently pompous and funny and sexy and horrible all at the same time. He struts around the Peacock's offices like a peacock, with his lips pursed in a prissy little pout that reminds me of Donald Trump. And Tiny Fey is brilliant as his foil...the girl who was always smarter and funnier than anybody else in the room but is still a couple of C cups short of confident with her femininity. She is like Rosemary from the Dick Van Dyke show if Rosemary had been really pretty and wore cool blue jeans.

30 Rock guest stars have included such comic luminaries and mega stars as Paul Reubens, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg and Isabella Rosellini. I have not seen a single episode that wasn't utterly pitch perfect and satisfying from start to finish. It's a half hour comedy that has the power and wit and speed of a terrific viral 30 second spot. Why isn't the whole world watching?



Thursday, November 15, 2007

This Week's NOVA on PBS: Judgment Day

Wow! Excellent special two-hour edition of PBS's NOVA this week! Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial details the 2004 fight, in Dover, Pennsylvania, over the inclusion of the "Intelligent Design"--Creationism by any other name--into the curriculum of science classes teaching Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

This program had me alternately dumbfounded, angry, and appalled, but ultimately heartened yet still fearful for the future of science education in the United States. While the rest of us are concerned with everyday matters and reasonably sure we're truly in the 21st century, not back during the days of the Scopes Trial, there's an organization or two in the U.S. whose goal, clearly stated, is to return the U.S. to nothing less than faith-based education, and the fight in Dover, PA was just one of the battles along the way.

If you love science and reason, if you are dismayed by superstition and supernaturalism working its way into classrooms under the guise of keeping an open mind, if you want to believe that sometimes you just have to risk being labeled "atheist" or worse, and threatened with death for wanting to keep religion out of science classes--well, you will love this special NOVA.

What it took to win at least this one victory, in addition to a Republican judge who surprisingly and commendably didn't slavishly tow the party line on the inclusion of the new Creationism (according to Pres. Bush, "ID" should be taught in schools), was relentless work and a committment from concerned parents not to have their children receive sub-standard education. And they learned another lesson: local entites like school boards are prime targets for "ID" proponents to infiltrate and influence educational standards, just because the elections are often below the radar and ignored by the average citizen. If you don't pay attention to who's running for these posts, you're going to get someone with their own agenda, as they found out in Dover.

NOVA Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial is must-viewing for anyone who wants a well-produced and fascinating look at this very important subject. Highly recommended!

Check out the PBS website for the program for excellent background materials, and check your local listings for the repeat date. The program premiered Tuesday the 13th in most areas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Diving into the Dark Side of Dexter



(We have more Dexter here! Be sure to check out our latest posts! New visitors to The Flaming Nose who may have come here from the Showtime link-- and great to see you here! -- can find our whole Dexter collection by checking out our "Labels" area on the lower right hand side of the page and clicking on "Dexter." Be sure to check them all out and please leave comments! Thanks for visiting!)


The second season of Dexter has evolved in delightful ways that we never would have anticipated. The looming May-December love affair between Debra and Agent Lundy is mesmerizing, as Lisa has so eloquently described in her postings. The arrival and (thank God) recent banishment of Rita's overbearing mother has been odd and unpredictable. I vote for Mommy Dearest as the most evil person yet in a program where bad guys sprout like mushrooms in the night. This series is a burlap bag full of oddballs and sweaty psychopaths, and Episode 7, "That Night a Forest Grew", has revealed some of the most damp and twisted layers yet. Our boy Dexter is becoming quite the awful fellow. Last season he was such a sweet guy, a cuddly do-good boy scout with a really mean knife. Yeah, he had a thing for blood spatter and dismemberment, but hey...they were all bad guys, so it was fine. Wasn't it?

But lately Dexter has started to morph into a bad guy too. He lies and cheats on sugary, clueless Rita. He obsesses about saving his own skin, even to the point of implicating an innocent man in murder. He's into rough sex with Lila the nutcase artist. (By the way, best sex scenes ever in this latest episode...had to hit the TiVo reverse button many times. I highly recommend it in HDTV).

However the darkest side of Dexter yet was revealed quite suddenly this week when he head butted Sgt Doakes, causing the ex-Special Forces veteran to go utterly berserk and get fired. It happened so suddenly I actually felt sorry for the hapless Sergeant. He KNOWS that Dexter is guilty as sin, and for his conviction he's now headed for the unemployment line.

I love the tough new Dexter. He's creepier and sexier. He's less a victim now and anything could happen. Bravo to the writers too (wherever they are...probably on a picket line somewhere) for keeping the tension in the program in perfect balance. One minute we're watching crazy Lila burn down her cannibal sculptures and the next moment it's all about awkward love as Debra and Agent Lundy eat their one o'clock briefcase sandwiches by the Miami Bay.

Watching Dexter is all about love for me. Love for television at its absolute best.



Dexter -- Drilling Down into the Deb/Lundy thing




Okay, I admit it. I'm a teeny bit too much into Dexter.




However, that being said, if you're watching the show -- as all good Flaming Nose fans should be by now -- and judging by the reaction on Showtime's message boards, the budding relationship between Dexter's sister Debra and Agent Lundy is getting some heated reactions. Some Dexter viewers think it's just grand, others are on the verge of nausea. I don't understand why the notion that they could be attracted in some way to each other creeps some people out so much. Heck, it's a lot purer than some old guy with a lot of money buying a sexy girlfriend, which is a not-uncommon real life situation. This is one attraction with its basis in the brain, and maybe that's why it's so cool to watch.

I think they have an interesting and complex dynamic going on. Certainly Lundy realizes he's a bit of an old fogey, set in his ways and no kid anymore, and he's obviously responding to her brain, her youth, her brash idiosyncratic nature -- it's all fascinating, especially probably to somebody like Lundy, who is part button-down and part immersed in a psycho world that he obviously "gets" in a deep and disturbing way. Deb's a girl he can talk serial killers with, and that's gotta be a nice change.

Surely whatever transpires, it won't be forever. Lundy won't be there indefinitely, he lives someplace else, and they'll move on, but for now it's part of a growth thing for Deb and an unexpected and pleasant surprise for Lundy. We know he's particularly vulnerable and probably lonely now, with a dead wife and alone in a strange city, working on a creepy case, and to find someone like Deb with a unique background and obviously still forming her take on life, it's all good. Plus the cop in Lundy’s got to be totally into the fact that she loved a serial killer and lived to tell about it. As for Deb, who wouldn't like somebody knowledgeable to open their mind up to something beyond rock music and working out? She's not an idiot or a whore, she's just a tough gal who probably has never been exposed to a lot of things. She's hungry to learn, and that's a pretty sexy place to be in itself.

And in terms of Deb bedding too many guys, as some viewers have complained, she's got a unique and understandably almost masculine bravado about lots of things, like screwing and cussing and whatever. So she kids around like a guy and talks about sex without squirming...she's hilarious and delightful. She's a cop's kid, what do you expect? She's heard and seen things all her life that have taken the romantic blush off any human behavior. Maybe she needs some of that romance put back on, and she may see it in Lundy's courtly integrity and intelligence. Plus older men frequently just ARE attractive, for tons of reasons. She's not nuts for having a crush on him, not at all.

I say Go, Girl! And I don't think that either doing it or not doing it with Lundy will ruin either of their lives, but I hope it happens because it might be sweet and a nice contrast to the evil that Lila's inflicting on Dexter as they fuck their way into a hellish place together.

Jennifer Carpenter, along with the writers of course, have made Debra into a real flesh-and-blood character and one of the most unique women on TV. I think she's terrific, absolutely outstanding! Keith Carradine as Agent Lundy is beyond wonderful.

Here's the only thing I'm afraid of: Lundy is no kid, and since we know Deb is one passionate gal in bed (self-confessed), she might kill him while they're doing it. Remember that plaque in his arteries....

Gosh, I hope that doesn't happen, though!

(I wonder if men vs. women feel differently as a group about the Deb/Lundy thing? Possibly not...maybe it's just an individual gut reaction to the situation. But I'm still thinking women might see the erotic appeal of Lundy more than a guy would.)

Jane has promised a Dexter post very soon, and I'm really looking forward to that one!

Dexter repeats many times during the week and also is available on Showtime VOD! Go, Watch, Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Watching Disaster

Hope that you all will be watching The History Channel tonight for a trio of end-of-the-world specials which sound yummy. First up, starting at 7pm, is Last Days on Earth Part 1, with the conclusion at 8pm. It's a rundown of the seven ways that the Earth could meet a sudden end, including perennial favorites like a super volcano, asteroid collision and other delights.

Following this at 9pm is A Global Warning? which is a two-hour look at the worst climate disasters that befell Earth in the past and what might lie in store in the future. Looks like it will have lots of scientists, scary images and dire predictions. Just my kind of stuff....

The only challenge is trying to juggle watching these great calamitous hours and getting our dose of The Flaming Nose's official Favorite Show Dexter on Showtime tonight.

When in doubt, Dexter must be served!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Star Trek News

Okay, I think this deserves a mention here. It won't mean much to folks who aren't Trek fans, but those of you who are, what's your opinion of Winona Ryder being cast as Amanda, Spock's human mother in the J.J. upcoming Star Trek theatrical movie? As all good Trekkers recall, in ST:TOS Amanda was played by the classy Jane Wyatt, in the episode "Journey to Babel" when Spock's father Sarek and his mother came on board on the way to an intergalactic conference. (Pictured, Mark Lenard as Sarek and Jane Wyatt as Amanda).

I think she's probably as fine a choice as any, and it will be good to see her joining an interesting cast, which also now includes Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood in the role of Captain Christopher Pike, the first captain of the Enterprise. The character of Pike (played by the late Jeffrey Hunter) was introduced in the very first Trek pilot called "The Cage," footage of which was included in the two-part episode "The Menagerie" in the first season.

For a Trekker, this new movie looms large on the horizon and it will be exciting (if perhaps a bit sad, too) to have different actors and actresses portraying the characters we've known and love for over forty years. As I said, not exciting for non-Trek fans, but thrilling for the rest of us!

The Boosh is Back!

Okay, I may have been a little hasty with my BBC America rant the other day. It happens that they have been running some episodes of The Mighty Boosh, but strangely enough, they don't give TMB its own page in the list of programs they air. They used to have a page for it, and it's a shame that it's gone. The only way to you could find it is to scan the listings which is asking a lot from viewers. In any case, looks like Boosh has a Friday night at 1am airtime, but I don't know if that's Eastern or Pacific or what. You'll have to figure that out for yourself....

But may I recommend The Mighty Boosh to you? If you hate insane British comedy, say -- like if you detest Monty Python and wouldn't watch it if your life depended on it -- then skip this one, too. You'd hate it. But if you think you could enjoy the comedy adventures of sort of a post-modern Hope and Crosby duo, a couple of best friends who (at least in Season One) work in a run-down zoo, then The Mighty Boosh is for you!

I discovered it several years and just love it. The creation of Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, who formally introduced their world of The Mighty Boosh at the famed Edinburgh Festival in the late ‘90s, TMB has since seen life as a BBC Radio series, two seasons on BBC TV, a touring stage show in the UK, and rumors are there may be a movie in the future.

It couldn’t happen to a more talented, insane and original duo. Barratt and Fielding’s comedic vision must be seen to be appreciated, and probably seen more than once; there’s a lot to absorb, and the show’s pace takes no prisoners, but it’s worth the effort. Barratt plays Howard Moon, jazz-lover, frustrated thespian, and zookeeper at the rundown animal park Zoo-Niverse; his partner-in-comedy is Fielding, as Vince Noir, fellow zoo employee, a Cockney clotheshorse who never has a bad hair day, a music-loving boy-toy, and a self-described “Mowgli in flares” for his uncanny ability to communicate with the animals. Together with their boss, the definitely nuts Bob Fossil, who knows nothing about running a zoo -- not even what the animals are called -- and who only has eyes for the Zoo-Niverse’s owner, the dashing and pompous explorer/mad scientist Dixon Bainbridge, and with a little help from Naboo the hip shaman, Howard and Vince embark upon fantastical adventures, meet weird characters, and sing catchy original pop ditties.

It’s not a sketch show, like Little Britain, that other Brit import that’s caught on big over here, and parts of it are a bit of a throwback (in a really good way) -- you’ll find Vince and Howard (at least during the first season of the show) introing the show in front of a curtain –- though it certainly doesn’t quite fit into any one category. The tone has been likened to Monty Python, but aside from the obvious absurdist similarities, The Mighty Boosh is a totally unique and essentially obsessed comic animal, and so will no doubt confuse as many folks as it charms. It’s definitely charmed me and I hope you’ll fall for it, too.

Visit the Official Boosh Website here, and here's Wikipedia's quick overview of the show. There are lots of great Boosh clips and entire shows on YouTube, including this promo for their brand new eagerly awaited Season Three which starts next week on the BBC. Check 'em out!