Friday, June 29, 2007

Another Dramatic Series Black-Out

My goodness. First it was The Sopranos controversial cut-to-black ending. This time, if you've been following FX's Rescue Me, then you know about the shocking event at the very close of this week's episode. If you missed it on Wednesday, you have a couple more chances to catch it -- tonight Friday at 11pm Eastern, and Sunday evening at 10pm Eastern. The show appears to be going on a two week hiatus but will be back after that.

There's a viewers guide that you can download which might be useful if you've missed any of the show, and even if you're a captivated fan from day one, it's a great resource. It's a little too heavy on production personnel bios rather than show background, but take a look. Be warned: it's an 80MB download. I know that Flaming Nose correspondent Jane is a huge fan; we haven't spoken about this latest episode yet, but oh, my.... If you've any doubts that you should be watching, read her earlier appreciation of the first episode of this season.

If you want to play catch-up, the three previous seasons of Rescue Me are all available on DVD now. I think you will be hooked, but be aware that the language is delightfully salty and often explicity and hilariously sexual. If you've a delicate sensibility you have been warned.

-- lisa

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rescue Me 2007, Episode 1

I've been waiting for someone to blog about Rescue Me to I could send in comments about it, but alas, no one has contributed. I will offer my comments in bullet point format as I don't have the energy for sparkling prose tonight.

  • Anything in the firehouse venue including the hockey vs basketball argument, the endless comic banter, the return of the chief with pizzas in hand, but excluding the new boring silver haired guy who wants to talk about propane.
  • The outstanding special effects, element of surprise and edge of your seat drama of the exploding house and multiple cat rescue.
  • The music...consistently weird and memorable throughout.
  • Any scene with the horrible, selfish, annoying and endlessly boring ex-wife.
  • Any scene with the new plastic doll baby.
  • Any scene with the horrible teenage daughter who takes after her mother.
  • The stupid girl who saved Tommy Gavin. And I hate her dumb purple dress from Barneys.
I didn't really mind Tatum O'Neil and her porn obsession, but I wish they'd give her some better lines. It needs more focus on Kenny, he's the funniest guy on the series and always the most realistic.

Kind of a mixed beginning, but hope springs eternal that they'll iron out the wrinkles as the season goes along.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rescue Me Returns

Those of you who live in NY or LA, may have noticed some interesting billboards trumpeting the return of Rescue Me on fX (Wednesday, 6-13-07 at 10pm). Am I the only one who thinks that Denis Leary is channeling the giant mother bug from the movie "Alien" in this picture? The long, muscular neck...the mouth opened wide enough to swallow almost an entire human. And those teeth! All it needs is a gooey strand of poisonous alien drool, dripping from his chin and ready to burn a hole through the deck of his fire engine. I'm not sure if it means that Rescue Me is going to have a sci-fi flavor this season, but boy-oh-boy, does Denis have an extra long neck. Stay tuned for the first episode Nose Fans!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Woke Up This Morning, Had a Blue Moon in my Eyes

And so, after months of anticipation, speculation and enough verbal ejaculation to sink Tony Soprano's boat the Stugots, the final episode of what is considered the greatest TV drama ever comes to an end.

It had all the elements we've come to love and expect from this series. Another funeral filled with steaming mounds of pasta and "waddayagonna do?". An SUV exploded spectacularly, with Bob Dylan moaning in the background, "it's alright, Ma...I'm only bleeding". Even while it was all happening, I was already mourning the end of the best lines in the world. Paulie says..."You can take 2007 and give it back to the Indians!". Oh how I am going to miss the non-stop flickering parade of current events and cultural references marching by just underneath the main action on the screen. Terrorism! Little Italy has turned into Chinatown! AJ is going to join the army and go to Afghanistan! Where else are we going to find a scene like tonight, where the Soprano soldiers are holed up in their safe house with an old TV show playing in the background. And while we watch the final episode of the Sopranos, we hear the soothing sounds of the Twilight Zone and they are saying, "TV is looking for talent and quality...talent and quality, and good writing!".

Where else, across 800 channels and 9 billion websites, are we going to find, outside of an independent film or two, such breath taking cinematography. Who wouldn't love the artistry of Tony meeting with Phil's henchmen in the wherehouse. Here, in our living rooms we've got, not Citizen Kane in Xanadu with his mile long oak dining table. Here we have Tony and the guys, sitting on white plastic lawn chairs in a cavernous garage. The detritus of their "off the back of the truck" lives, a jumble of giant tires and boxes, formed a beautiful backdrop to their crumbling moments of power.

In the end, it wasn't television, it wasn't even HBO, it was all about the movies. The Sopranos was a movie, chopped up into pieces and fed to our hungry eyes over an eight year stretch. And now, all other media, TV and film alike, have to be measured against its brilliance. Tonight we waited to see who would live and who would die. We watched a New Jersey family, order dinner in a roadside diner, while an annoying Journey song played on the jukebox. We watched because anything could happen. Well of course, in this post 911 world, anything COULD happen to any of us, at any time and for no particular reason at all.

Five minutes to go before the end of the final episode. We waited for their food to come. We waited for Meadow to figure out how to parallel park. We waited and prayed for the high pitched wailing of the Journey song to end. And we wondered. Why is that guy sitting at the counter staring at Tony, and is he going to pull a Michael Corleone when he comes back from the bathroom?

We waited...and then...just...nothing. Black. Not even fade to black. No sound, no picture, just gone.

And while I fumbled with my remote, thinking the cable had gone out, I finally got the joke. Now, we are all left to wonder eternally. What did happen to that Russian guy in the woods? Will Miami Steve ever come out of a coma so he can play in the next Springsteen tour with the real New Jersey Boss? Will Carmella ever become a great real estate agent? And for me, what the heck is it that David Chase has about animals, anyway? From mallard ducks in the swimming pool to black bears in suburbia, to Tony's beautiful race horse. Even tonight, an orange cat had a prominent role. Thank God it wasn't whacked.

Bravo, Mr. Chase. You ended it just like a movie. But please don't do a sequel. There will never be a higher note to go out on, than this. What an exhilarating finale to a phenomenal show. It's finished. But it will never be over.

Arrevederci, Tone. I'm sure gonna miss ya. Sunday nights will never be the same.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Television Anytime, Anywhere

Friday afternoon I was sitting at my desk when I got an email message from my sister saying she was about to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the NASA cable TV channel. I had a moment of sadness thinking I was going to miss it. My work day still had another couple of hours to go, and I didn't have access to a television. Then I realized, there was another way to see this event. The Fox News Channel regularly covers shuttle launches, even though most of the other networks have abandoned the space program and seldom cover it unless there is a disaster. I went to the Fox News website on my laptop, and sure enough they planned to cover the entire launch by picking up the NASA feed and running it as streaming video. I watched Atlantis take off while sitting at my desk. Even though it was just a little square on my laptop screen, the sound was great and the picture was glorious.

This is the world of wonder that we are living in....not only that there are space shuttles, but that you can watch them head for the sky from a TV, or a computer or even a cell phone. Increasingly, television is available to us anywhere, whether it's coming from the back of a seat on a Jet Blue airplane, or an iPod. Last Friday afternoon, television came through a laptop, bringing an astronaut's view of the entire world into a windowless office.