Thursday, August 23, 2007

Survivorman--See it on The Science Channel

Just a brief shout out to folks who might enjoy the "survivor" reality genre but hate the contrived nature of the (big broadcast TV) program that spawned the whole movement. Here is one that, as far as we can tell, really isn't smoke and mirrors. Expert nature man Les Stroud is SURVIVORMAN on the Science Channel, and he is airlifted in to remote places around the world with his backpack, his camera equipment, and that's about it. He is given a week before the helicopters come pick his much abused body out of any God forsaken swamp, desert, and who knows where the Hell it is part of the world. Because he is on his own (no crew...all camera work is his), there is a nice air of authenticity to the whole production.

I stumbled across this program accidentally and started watching it on DVR recordings. As a professional worrier, I often wonder about how I would survive in catastrophic moments like; plane crash, drought, terrorist attack, asteroid or (weirdly horrific for me, because it has never happened) bee sting. This program might not save you from any of these things, but the calm, level headed outdoor tapestry that Les weaves on his show will at least make you believe that you have a glimmer of a survive.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Our Boys Will Be Back!

HBO has announced a renewal for The Flaming Nose's favorite fellas from New Zealand! Flight of the Conchords has been picked up for a second season, and at least Jane and I couldn't be happier!

I think we're both in love with Jemaine Clement -- he has that certain strange gruff but sexy quality that has always attracted us, at least hypothetically -- but his musical and comedic partner Bret McKenzie couldn't be cuter, and they are both funny as hell. And their manager Murray, played by Rhys Darby, is an extremely earnest and likable wannabe, working hard to put his boys on the map.

Comedy is an intensely personal taste, of course, and maybe Flight of the Conchords will leave you cold, but if it hits your spot, you will absolutely love it. HBO runs it all over the place so check out the links on the two previous posts about the show and check it out!

Also, HBO announced a renewal of its equally delightful Entourage for its fifth season, another reason to celebrate. If you were a fan of HBO's other new show, John from Cincinnati, well, condolences from The Nose, because that's been cancelled. HBO's obviously searching for a dramatic show with the potential to become another Sopranos , and that won't be easy.

But thanks to them for Flight of the Conchords!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

White Light, Black Rain...In Response with the Next Generation

I was moved to watch White Light, Black Rain on HBO after reading Lisa's excellent review. I watched that special with mixed feelings. My Dad was a WWII veteran, and he was being sent off into the Pacific theater right before the bomb was dropped. The bomb ended the war, so instead of going off to fight in Japan, my Dad was part of the recovery crew that landed in Nagasaki, 6 months after the bomb. The pictures that I am showing here, are ones that he took after he landed.

This posting has little to do with television, and a lot to do with hope...that after such suffering (the victims of the bombing at Nagasaki/Hiroshima) there could be anything...even 60 years say that would be positive on their behalf.

But here it is. Last December, my son Tommy's high school band hosted 1o0 students from another school band from Japan. Many of the band parents in Torrance California volunteered to have Japanese students stay at their homes for a couple of days, during this exchange student event. We ended up having Aya and Yuka stay with us. Between the two of them, they spoke maybe 8 words of English, and most of those words had to do with Disneyland. Tommy rallied his high school musician friends, one of whom was Japanese American and fluent in both languages. He came to our house to translate, and they all had a spontaneous band jam in my living room that first night...(trumpets, trombones, neighbors must have hated me!) Somehow, between Tommy's fledgling Japanese, our translater friend, sign language and lots of flipping through our 800 cable channels (we actually found a Japanese language news channel for them on Time Warner cable) we were able to communicate through a 2 day visit. To be honest, it was food, and not television, that formed the most delightful bonds with our guests. It wasn't always clear what they like to watch on TV, but it was instantly clear that they loved the pizza, or fruit tree, or (biggest hit of all) Denny's cheese omelet and hash browns take out.

Aya and Yuka had an excellent visit, played wonderfully at a local concert hall and were treated like royalty by my son Tommy and his friends. Everyone exchanged email addresses, and they still keep in touch. Throughout the visit, I could not help but think...60 years ago, Tommy's grandparents, and Yuka and Aya's grandparents...were trying to destroy each other.
But you would never know it from their encounter, here in Torrance, California, just a few months ago.

White Light, Black Rain was a heart rending documentary. The world's only survivors of nuclear weapons, serve as living examples for why the world must never again come to that brink of horrific destruction. I think that kids like Tommy and Aya and Yuka...will make sure of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Real Funny with Bill Maher

I should have given a heads-up on this a while ago, but there is a hilarious Bill Maher special running on HBO right now. Bill Maher: The Decider works on all levels; it's political, it's sexual, it skewers everything that needs skewering. And it's really, really funny. His material works wonderfully here, and pay particular attention to his terrific facial expressions. Plus he's got the perfect level of profanity -- plenty of it! -- and knows when to use it.

Maher's regular live Friday night show Real Time with Bill Maher begins again on August 24th. If you aren't a regular viewer, Maher has three panelists on each week, plus interviews with political newsmakers. I find it's frequently a revelation to see some of his guests, such as Ben Affleck, comes across as informed and passionate about politics. It might be worth watching for that alone. As the race for the '08 election heats up, Real Time with Bill Maher should offer some of the most savage and necessary political commentary around.

But until then, be sure to catch Bill Maher: The Decider. The website for the special is here, as well as the schedule for the remaining plays.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

You Must Watch This Documentary

Believe me, it's not easy, and you won't feel carefree afterwards, but you must watch HBO's White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, playing this month, the 62nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of those two cities on August 6th and 9th of 1945.

Sure, that was then, and this is now, and it's a little late to debate the morality of dropping the bomb, but in light of the current state of the world, a good stiff dose of the reality of the aftermath from any contemplated "nuclear option" is certainly in order. The sheer horror of the destruction, and the overwhelming human agony which ensued, is bracing stuff. The documentary features interviews with Americans involved with the dropping of the bombs, but the most enlightening segments are the reminiscences of the actual survivors. They tell of their physical suffering, beyond all imagining, begging medical personnel to kill them, put them out of their misery. And yet today, these people are thoughtful, sad, brave, changed forever, and we should be too, after hearing their stories.

Check out the White Light, Black Rain website on, and the schedule for additional airings.

If America craves so-called "reality" programming, well, it doesn't get more real than this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stay Tuned for Our Fall Preview!

The summer isn't the best time to start a blog, although thanks to the cable networks taking advantage of broadcast network reruns, we have essentially a summer season, which is a relatively new idea. Both TNT (Saving Grace) and FX (Damages) have new shows which we haven't covered yet, which probably means no Flaming Nosers have been been watching them, though Damages is sounding good and we need to catch up on it. We'll try to get something up on them (although for personal and ex-professional reasons I boycott all Turner entertainment networks except TCM so don't hold your breath! :-) ).

We've already spoken here about USA's successful Burn Notice, which has turned out to be an entertaining romp with lots of sizzling fun and which happily utilizes its veteran supporting co-stars -- the delightful Bruce Campbell and equally delightful Sharon Gless -- to great effect. It's been renewed for additional episodes, a good move, and I personally wish it all the luck in the world.

One thing I'm always a little amused by is the announcement that a show has been renewed for another season, in that a season isn't exactly what a season used to be. In the broadcast world it's still traditionally probably 22 episodes or so, but in the cable world, seasons are 13 episodes at most and sometimes less. Going the distance doesn't quite mean what it used to, does it?