Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Version of "Star Trek" Trailer -- With a Little Spock

And when we say Spock, we mean the one and only Leonard Nimoy!

Can't wait to see this next year!!!

Dexter Goes a Little Crazy -- A Great Moment from Last Week's "Dexter" Episode

About Last Night -- Wherein Dexter discovers that Miguel has been playing him, but good.

With HBO's TrueBlood finished until new episodes appear next summer, we can now concentrate fully on the last three episodes of Showtime's Dexter. This season has a been a good one for our serial killer, with a bravura and chilling performance by Jimmy Smits as Dex's confidante and co-conspirator. We've learned that Smits' Miguel Prado has gone rogue, throwing off Dexter's Code to murder his professional enemy, defense lawyer Ellen Wolfe, played with great verve by Anne Ramsay. Seeing her dead at the bottom of the open grave was a grim moment, and especially so for Lt. LaGuerta who had become Ellen's close friend (and though I think they were both supposed to be straight, I felt they might have tumbled into bed at some point, or was I just reading too much into their girl talk?). LaGuerta also took it on the chin last season when her good friend and ex-partner/lover Doakes was murdered by the evil Lila. Lauren Velez as LaGuerta has been especially superb in these last few episodes.

As we've said before, we're not so wild about the whiny wedding planning obsession of Dexter's girlfriend Rita, but we were on the edge of our seat as Deborah and Quinn (Desmond Harrington) raced to save her new boyfriend/informant Anton (David Ramsey) from more torture at the hands of The Skinner. We love that Angel finally has a girlfriend, too, the tough but appealing Lt. Gianna played by Kristin Dattilo. Is she going to be too street-wise for Angel? I don't think he was too thrilled to discover that she hit it off with Masuka, sharing bizarre sex practice information with the enthusiastically pervy forensic investigator.

Considering that we're only three episodes away from the conclusion of this season, it doesn't feel like Dexter's been quite as viscerally involving or richly-plotted as the first and second years of the show, but there have been other pleasures. This season has been more domestic, more emotional, very different but still very compelling and getting more so, thanks so much to Smits' excellent work and his excellent chemistry with Michael C. Hall. Were Smits not so much fun to watch as he sinks further into his mania, with Dexter desperately trying to keep him in check, this season might have been a bit of a let-down. But it's not, not even close.

Don't miss tomorrow night's Dexter episode on Showtime!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from The Flaming Nose!

May Your Turkey Experience Be More Pleasant Than Mr. Bean's!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Entourage Season Finale--Exhilarating!

The Flaming Nose has given a lot of attention to Sunday night series, and quite a few of our favorites are wrapping up their season's tonight. Let me be the first to say farewell to Entourage, which ended it all on a roller coaster ride of Hollywood disaster and glee, but stopped just short of a cliche cliff hanger.

I hope I'm not a spoiler tonight, but if you're reading the Flaming Nose instead of watching all the great TV out there then you deserve to have your ending stolen.

What I love most about this series is that it has put the fun back into show business. For those sweat shop workers out there who still work in media (TV, Movies, Internet), you know what I'm talking about. Our days are spent hunched over laptops fielding 200 email messages, or hand cuffed to a Blackberry that beeps at us like a Nazi commandant. If it's a weekday; cocktail lunches in Beverly Hills and poolside shenanigans with anorexic starlets have become rarer than rain in Los Angeles. Everybody's too worried about their 401K. But on Entourage, the sun still shines...the Lear jets still roar, and hard bodies still glisten on pristine beaches around the world while they wait for the cell phone call from Ari to tell them that the next picture is a go.

This season found Vince, the action hero with the face of a Greek God and the emotional range of a butternut squash, on the wrong side of La Cienega Boulevard in the hierarchy of Hollywood. He's box office poison, and has been canned by the psychotic German director from the fire-fighting movie that was going to put him back on the A list. How precient, by the way, that while these episodes aired, LA was in the midst of a real fire storm, with the Santa Ana winds immolating so many neighborhoods that even Bel Aire and Beverly Hills couldn't ignore the smell of smoke in the air.

At the end of the tequila drenched day, Entourage is about friendship...the comraderie of the pack. But I like to see it as an homage to the magic of Hollywood. Where a dweeb like Turtle (who looks and dresses exactly like a character out of a Bazooka bubble gum comic) can be romanced by a hot television starlet. Where an actor who was once the top of the heap, can't even get a reading with an indie director, and thinks it's all over. Until Ari the Agent who can part the ocean calls and says..."Scorcese wants you as the lead in his next picture". (Small note to Martin Scorcese's agent; even though he is one of the greatest living motion picture directors in the world, has anyone noticed what an awesome, funny, quirky character actor he is? The American Express card commercial with Tina Fey? This cameo in Entourage? Hello? Just saying.)

A special shout out to Kevin Dillon who plays "Drama", Vince's brother and a budding TV star. He is surely one of the greatest talents of this amazing series, and is consistently hilarious in every episode. The funniest line of tonight's finale belonged to him, as he announced he was going to "jump off the fucking Triborough Bridge" after discovering Turtle's tryst with celebrity Jamie Lynn was real.

Entourage Season 5 is over, and it passed too quickly. If you blinked or didn't TiVo, you missed it. But it was a great ride and I can't wait for the boys to be back in town next year.

NoseTalgia Salutes The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years (1989-1994) charmed from the moment it first went on the air. From the opening theme song (Joe Cocker's fantastic rendition of "A Little Help from My Friends") to the grainy Super 8 footage of a typical suburban family, circa late 1960's, we knew we were in for a nostalgic treat. But there was never anything typical about The Wonder Years, which was ground breaking in its own sweet and gentle way. It was one of the first television programs to routinely feature contemporary artists and songs in the background, which brought a tremendous emotional lift to all the stories. It was the one of the first to have a narrator (marvelous Daniel Stern) in every episode. And long before LOST confused us with endless flashbacks, The Wonder Years was one of the first programs where the entire series was told through the lens of memory.

At its core, The Wonder Years was a show about growing up in that peculiar time of American history when "Duck and Cover" air raid drills were routine and all the junior high schools were named after the Kennedys. Watching Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), and his friends Paul (Josh Saviano) and the ethereal Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) was like flipping through an old family photo album for just about every Baby Boomer on the planet. The experience was funny, touching, and on occasion painfully real.

In my favorite episode (Math Class), Kevin is struggling with a particularly difficult Algebra moment. His teacher (Mr. Collins) is strict and humorless but he is determined to work with Kevin, every day after school, until he "gets" it. Kevin rebels against this regimen every step of the way. But soon enough he realizes, much to his utter amazement, that math isn't as mysterious as he once believed. He wants to thank Mr. Collins, but it turns out that mentoring Kevin was the last act of this dedicated high school teacher, who had succumbed to cancer. With Karla Bonoff's "Goodbye My Friend" playing in the background, Kevin understands that what he learned was a lot more than arithmetic.

I'd like to dedicate this post to my son Tommy, who is about to wrap up his own "wonder years" in a few days when he departs to serve his country as a sailor in the US Navy. I wish him wisdom, laughter and luck as he embarks on this incredible adventure.

The Greatest Show -- A Spectacular Meteor!

Now, nobody loves television more than The Flaming Nose, but boy, do we also love science and space! Did you read about the incredible meteor that flamed out over Edmonton, Alberta in Canada this past week? It was big news north of the border!

It was just after dark, and a police car in Edmonton had the dash cam on and captured the absolutely amazing explosion of the meteor!

Somebody else got it on their digital cam from their home -- you can see it at its maximum brightness then more of the aftermath as it broke up.

And here's an extended TV news report on the event, from Canada's Global Network:

And another newscast from CTV Network, and some great new security cam footage!

So that's your Awesome Science moment for today! Wow! Wish I had seen it!

Update 11/24: Here's a link to another amazing video, captured by a stationary camera, in Biggar, Saskatchewan! Stunning!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Clamor Growing for "TrueBlood" in Anticipation of Sunday's Season Finale

What? Finale? Already?!! How time flies when you're loving a TV show!

We've been saying it all along, but it's worth repeating -- TrueBlood rocks! There's a complimentary article in today's USA Today which is worth reading, and it sounds as though HBO might be as surprised as the series' success as...let's see...Sookie was when she found out that Sam Merlotte was a shapeshifting canine. In other words...maybe not so surprised. After all, TrueBlood is an Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) production, and nobody should have been too startled to discover that it's just as tremendous -- in its own way -- as was his earlier sublime series. (Of course, our favorite TB couple is Sookie and Bill, pictured above. Ah, love...)

This coming Sunday is shaping up to be a tremendous evening -- the 24 movie Redemption, which we previewed here on Wednesday, is getting good notices, and the finale of TrueBlood we wouldn't miss for anything. And Dexter, of course, which is getting quite twisted! More about that in another post!

Ladies and Gents, we've said this before, too -- TV is better than ever!

TV Watching Makes You Unhappy? Not on The Flaming Nose!

We're supposing that you might have read about the recent find from the Social Indicators Research scholarly journal, namely that people who are happy evidently don't watch as much TV as people who are unhappy. If you haven't, please read this report in The New York Times. Taking into account all sorts of the other things which people can do -- hang around with other people, go to church (isn't that the same thing?) -- evidently the elusive Television Factor is an indicator of relative happiness.

I'd posit that it's a little more complicated than that -- I'd certainly agree that what you watch might contribute to one's overall mood. Skip the rancorous phony reality shows, the overblown local news with their "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality, the stupid daytime talk shows and you'll probably feel a lot better, real fast. Instead, watch some terrific colorful melodrama like TrueBlood, or some sublime episodes of The Sopranos, or some smart and zesty humor like 30 Rock, or an inspirational historical drama like John Adams, or the cool delights of Mad Men, or pop in an old episode of your favorite sitcom like I Love Lucy, or remember how you felt when talented and charming David Cook won the last American Idol.

Still unhappy? I didn't think so.

I rest my case.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New "Star Trek" Movie Trailer!

We would be betraying our natures if The Flaming Nose didn't post this brand-spanking new trailer for the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie -- we're huge fans of everything Star Trek and can't wait for it!

Wow! Boy, do we hope it's great! Though we all grew on up Star Trek: The Original Series and every other one since then, we're always up for a new adventure with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise!

For more on the movie also worth reading, though only if taken with a huge grain of salt, is Entertainment Weekly's recent article on the new movie. They tried a little too hard to hammer the nail into the Star Trek franchise coffin, with descriptions like "retro sci-fi cheese" and "near-irrelevant cultural joke" and "defunct old property" strewn throughout the article. All right, a series spawned forty years ago needed a juice-up, duh! When you consider the total number of hours of programming which emerged from Roddenberry's vision, Trek is the most vital science fiction property ever. Why didn't EW just go ahead and kick Shakespeare in the nuts while they were pummelling Star Trek -- he's a little dusty, too!

But I digress! We're here to love on the new Star Trek trailer. It's beautiful! We can't wait until May 2009!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tim DeKay -- Another Good Reason to Watch "The New Adventures of Old Christine"

As if tuning in to support Wanda Sykes weren't enough, there's another terrific reason to watch tonight's The New Adventures of Old Christine on CBS. Actor Tim DeKay, a Flaming Nose favorite, is in the middle of a three-episode run as Christine's new boyfriend. DeKay, who was featured in last year's HBO adult drama Tell Me You Love Me (as the frustrated suburban husband and father), and earlier garnered many fans for his charismatic role as Jonesy in HBO's ambitious and sensational period drama Carnivale, is a welcome addition to TNAoOC, even for a short while.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Christine) and DeKay have done screen time together before, in two segments of Seinfeld -- DeKay played Elaine's boyfriend aka "Bizarro Jerry" in the episode of the same title. Tim DeKay is also on deck to star in a pilot for USA called White Collar about an FBI agent who teams up with a con man (Matthew Bomer). They call it a drama, but in light of jocular adventure dramas on USA like Burn Notice, we'll assume it's also got some lighter moments.

DeKay has an agreeable regular-guy personality and looks that bely his dramatic prowess, and we especially remember the harrowing, horrifying and unforgettable moment in Carnivale where Jonesy was captured and tarred. In terms of sheer agony, the scene of Jonesy's tarring far exceeded even the shock of a similar event in HBO's John Adams miniseries, when the British tax agent got the same treatment, plus feathering.

So please give The New Adventures of Old Christine a look tonight, at 8pm on CBS! How many more reasons do we have to give you? How about just one more -- it's hilarious!

P.S.: On a more serious note, Tim DeKay is also a spokesperson for Artists United for Freedom, an organization which fights modern day slavery in all its manifestations. Here's a short message from him on the subject:

Counting Down to Sunday's "Redemption" of "24"

After a fairly universally-deemed-dismal Season 6 (now in the almost distant past) of the usually spectacular series 24, the series is back in business with a special 2-hour event this coming Sunday night, in anticipation of Season 7 coming in full, in January, to Fox.

"Redemption" is what looks to be an action-packed outing, set in Africa, where Keifer Sutherland's Jack Bauer has been working as a missionary -- cleansing his karma, no doubt. Filmed on location in Capetown, South Africa as well as L.A., "Redemption" also features the always intelligent actress Cherry Jones (The Perfect Storm, Signs) as the U.S. President, intense Brit actor Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Full Monty, 28 Weeks Later, and so much more), Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal), and Jon Voight in the story centered around the real-life conscription of child soldiers by African militia warlords. No doubt a very timely story, I hope that movies like Blood Diamond have given audiences a good idea of how this kind of tale, which I doubt would normally go over that well here, can be an exciting and moving experience.

Let's assume that the 24 folks have fixed whatever tendencies toward meandering that plagued the last season, and that we are looking forward to another dynamite Jack Bauer outing. Nothing -- but nothing! -- on TV has ever been as good or clearly even-better-than-the-movies as a really terrific episode of 24, and that's the level of quality we're hoping for with "Redemption".

"Redemption" premieres this coming Sunday, November 22, at 8pm on Fox. The website for this special event is full of background info and all sorts of extras, so do visit it!

Here's the "Redemption" trailer to get you in the mood!:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

National Geographic Channel's "Expedition Week"

Don't miss the always riveting National Geographic Channel's exciting stunt "Expedition Week" which began last night. In addition to all sorts of fascinating specials about King Tut, The Titanic, Neanderthals, Captain Kidd, Amelia Earthart and many other enduring mysteries, you can go online and play an addicting little game called The Expedition Game. You get to create your own character and it's one of those "find the sort-of hidden objects in a landscape" things. If you don't stick around to play more than once, I'd be really surprised!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wanda Sykes Revelation Becomes Front Page News

Wow! The news that actress/comedienne Wanda Sykes has revealed that she's gay certainly put her in the headlines -- witness the huge number of Google hits on the subject. She publicly came out at a weekend rally in Las Vegas to protest the passage of California's notorious Prop. 8 which bans same-sex marriage. Sykes also announced that she had married her partner in October. Congrats to them!

On the TV front, The Flaming Nose is hoping that this burst of Sykes-related publicity might result in a few new viewers for her CBS sitcom, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus-starring The New Adventures of Old Christine, which airs at 8p on Wednesday nights. This is one of the best sitcoms out there, with Wanda and Julia pure delight together. (Apropos of Syke's recent announcement, a very funny episode earlier this season revolved around the two marrying to keep Sykes' character from being deported.) TNAoOC is consistently hilarious, with a cast -- Clark Gregg, Hamish Linklater (my fave), Emily Rutherfurd -- that knows how to deliver a laugh. Even though there's a kid in the cast -- Old Christine's son, played by Trevor Gagnon -- he's awkward and unusual and not at all some typical smart-aleck sitcom brat.

Let's hope that Wanda Sykes' decision to come out wins her even more fans and draws them to The New Adventures of Old Christine. It's a show that doesn't always get the buzz that it genuinely deserves. The Flaming Nose loves Wanda Sykes and we love The New Adventures of Old Christine!

Ricky Gervais -- We Love Him!

Hope you caught HBO's new Ricky Gervais special on Saturday night, and of course it's repeating many times coming up. There's something so amazing about Gervais, and most of all that he's an incredible actor, in addition to having a gifted comic mind. He has a vulnerable quality -- very much on display in The Office and on Extras -- that's irresistible, along with the perfect absurdist bent that colors his take on the world.

In his special, Gervais displays his fascinating mixture of endearing arrogance, savage empathy, prodigious brainpower and undeniable humanity as he offers up a consistently amusing show. There's something brave and yet gentle about Gervais' stance with an audience; he doesn't command their attention but rather beckons them along. You're not always sure that his bits are going to go over, either, at least I wasn't. He was in front of a NYC audience, and his material is often quite British. I wonder if most Americans know that the word "podge" is an English slang for fat; one of his jokes relies on that. Maybe they do.

Here's a short clip from the special, which we offer with a warning that there's explicit language and all that other good stuff:

All we can say is watch the special. Ricky Gervais is something, all right. Sigh....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ricky Gervais Stand-Up Special on HBO, Saturday Night

The Flaming Nose has been a fan of Ricky Gervais for a long time -- you might even say that we have a crush on the guy -- and we couldn't be happier to see that HBO is premiering the very first U.S. Ricky Gervais special this Saturday night.

Ricky Gervais -- Out of England: The Stand-Up Special airs at 9pm et/ 10pm pt, and promises to show another side of this multi-talented writer-performer. Like the best of his kind, Ricky combines a keen wit, an absurd sensibility, an immense intelligence, an unbounded empathy, and a uniquely British appreciation for life's eccentricities that makes him unparalleled. We have loved him in his series The Office and Extras, and especially the Extras: Extra Special Season Finale which was one the finest productions of last year, drama or comedy.

No doubt you recall his bit on September's Emmy Awards; he was the highlight of the ceremonies and shook the place up like nobody else could. If you've followed his career you might have read some carping about some of his UK live gigs, but the clips on YouTube are quite hilarious so we'll chalk some of that up to the inevitable sour grapes.

Here is a delightful bit from Ricky who appeared on Late Night with David Letterman last week to present the Top Ten:

And here's a promo from tomorrow night's special:

We'd recommend reading the Ricky interview on the special's HBO website, plus you might like to visit the official Ricky Gervais website, and there's a syndicated column on the special showing up that's also worth a read.

Ricky Gervais - Out of England: The Stand-Up Special is a don't-miss event!

"Real Time with Bill Maher" Season Finale Tonight

For those of you who've been grateful for the sardonic presence of comedian/commentator Bill Maher on HBO this election year, you have one more show to go this season. Tonight is the last new Real Time with Bill Maher until early next year, so don't miss it.

I find the show varies depending on the guests, of course; sometimes it's a magical mix and other times there's simply too much cross-talk to enjoy the conversation, but Maher is consistently savage, persistent, prickly and still funny, though the studio audience often sounds too much like a claque for my taste. But I wouldn't change it for anything -- we need his biting point-of-view!

Here's a funny little clip from last week's show that will give you an idea what's RTwBM is like:

Real Time with Bill Maher airs live at 11pm, eastern time, on HBO. Visit the show's website for more info!

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Book about Ted Turner Just Published

During my career as a television programmer, I did time with Ted Turner, actually about twelve terrific years. I remember him walking the halls of the building, interested in everything that was happening. I could tell that he loved television, and that passion was what I admired so much about him. I fondly recall several meetings in his office at CNN Center with him...well, maybe not that fondly, as there was a time when a few of us wanted to expand TNT's mandate beyond just movies (this was before TCM, which would become the classic movie channel to beat) and add series, which I was advocating most vociferously.

Ted wasn't having any of it at that point. As we left his office, he said to me, and I quote, "When you have a network with your name on it, you can program it the way you want." So true! And of course later we were finally able to expand into series, that tactic continued by the current admin who naturally thinks they invented series on TNT. So much for short memories and huge egos! Plenty of those in television, that's for sure!

But so now there's this new book Call Me Ted, co-written by one of the most terrific Turner execs I ever worked with, Bill Burke. We worked together at Turner Classic Movies, and he was one of the funniest, most accessible, naturally bright, and self-confident but ego-less people I have ever known. (The other one just like him was Greg Nathanson from my days at KTLA -- both men coincidentally from media families, which must somehow instill knowledge and kindness that eludes so many from the outside who have strived desperately to work in television, and subsequently turned into bastards).

Today's New York Times has a nice profile on Bill, and The Flaming Nose wishes him and Mr. Turner the best of luck with this new book. Both Ted Turner and I left the company at about the same time, under different circumstances of course but both rather abruptly handed our hats, as it were. I only hope that those currently at the Turner Networks remember, every day, the man whose name graces their company and without whose passion and foresight they'd be far less smug today. Ted Turner invented this stuff -- they're only living off it.

Check out Call Me Ted for the life of the broadcasting rebel that we all admire. I know I do.

And congratulations to Bill Burke for his contribution; Ted was lucky to have you in it with him.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Animated Fun on HBO: "The Life and Times of Tim"

As if TrueBlood, Entourage, and the new Summer Heights High weren't enough to make up a super Sunday night on HBO, we recommend you stick around for their animated comedy The Life and Times of Tim, which has been airing since the end of September.

I came a little late to the party but have caught up and I'm completely loving this droll creation of award-winning real-life ad man Steve Dildarian. The titular Tim is completely hapless, manipulated by his boss, his girlfriend and everybody else around him into situations that he knows are going to mess him up. Dildarian also voices Tim. Here's an amusing little clip that will give you a hint of the flavor of TLATOT:

I love Tim's hangdog personality, Dildarian's droll delivery, and the strong absurdist sensibility that makes The Life and Times of Tim a new favorite of The Flaming Nose. It's animated in a charming minimalist style, perfectly capturing the everyday near-drabness of Tim's beleagured existence. This show will grow on you!

The Life and Times of Tim airs on HBO Sunday evenings at 11pm, now following the new Summer Heights High which premieres tonight. There's the link to HBO's Tim website where you can learn more about this delightful series.

True Blood: Better Living Through Chemistry with the Undead

Let us not forget to mention the amazing True Blood: (HBO, Sundays, 9pm), as we feast on the cornucopia of Sunday night television delights. There will be some spoilers in this piece, so avert your eyes if you have not watched through last week's episode.

There is no doubt about it, the best and sexiest chemistry between two stars on TV right now is between Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer). It probably doesn't hurt that the blogosphere is ripe with rumors that the two of them are an item in real life too, although I have yet to see any compromising photos. When Sookie and Bill are heating up the screen, it's more than's a nuclear meltdown. Watch parts of the video above and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

When we last left our charming gang of vamps, white trash, and voodoo princesses in the swamps of Louisiana some very heavy plot twists had come to light. In "Plaisir d'Amour", Jason Stackhouse's hippie girlfriend Amy has revealed herself to be more psychopath than harmless Wiccan. She has instigated the kidnapping of the elderly gay vampire Eddie so they can feed on his blood and then abandon him to die (again...not to belabor this point but how do you die if you're already dead?) Some very fine and poignant acting from Eddie deepens the ambivalence that runs through this series. Who are the bad guys here, really? Eddie is a vampire, but seems as harmless and friendly as the neighbor next door trimming his hedge. In comparison, Amy the trippy hedonist is a cold hearted menace and a beast.

Last week's surprise ending probably surprised only a handful of people, as most folks I speak with regularly about this show already figured out that besotted bar owner Sam was "not quite human", just like his beloved Sookie and our hero the vampire Bill. The latter reluctantly asks Sam to look after Sookie, when he is dragged away by Eric and the rest of the V-Tribe. Sam is revealed to be a shape shifter who spends part of his time looking like a soulful border collie. Apparently, his shape will take a darker turn down the road when he becomes a werewolf.

I can't wait for the next full moon!

"Dexter" Tonight on Showtime: "Easy as Pie"

Here's a clip from tonight's Dexter episode "Easy as Pie". As we surmised last week, Miguel is feeling pretty confident about the whole vengeance via Dexter scheme, obviously working himself -- and Dexter -- into a hate for slick defense attorney Ellen Wolf, played by the wonderful Anne Ramsay. This is an intense moment from tonight's episode:

Can't find the actual episode promo anywhere, except in Russian, but this clip will give us a flavor of what's in store. Looks like an hard-hitting new episode! Can't wait! I'm also hoping for perhaps a little peek into Angel's personal life, since he presumably had dinner with that female detective, and are we going to see more of Deborah's fascination with Anton the Informant?

Dexter's opening up -- in several ways -- is certainly this season's theme so far, with many revelatory moments that have gotten him now deep into a dangerous alliance with Miguel. Interesting to ponder how that new and devious friendship will play out, eh?

Love that Dexter!

Nose-talgia: "Hubba Bubba" -- Our Very Own Dean Co-Stars in Vintage TNT Promo!

A treat for us! Back in the day when I was at TNT, we prided ourselves both on our love of television and our insistence on creativity. We had a wonderful crop of promotion producers -- some still there -- who loved TV as much as the Programming Dept. did. This is one of the efforts, an adorable singing promo for the series In The Heat of the Night, starring ITHOTN actor Alan Autry, who went on to become Mayor of Fresno, California; he's still in office now (until January) and also a radio talk show host!

Autry's character was named Bubba Skinner -- he was a hunk, hubba hubba! -- and so was born "Hubba Bubba"! With music and lyrics by Brian Matson, and the Jailbirds played by Dean and Blake (our Dean is the shorter Jailbird), this is a sweet blast from the past!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

HBO Premieres "Summer Heights High" This Sunday

We at The Flaming Nose are nothing if not at least a little ahead of the curve. Hit Australian comedy Summer Heights High, which we wrote about last April in connection with its win at the Banff TV Festival, joins HBO's incredibly entertaining Sunday night line-up beginning this week. Actor Chris Lilley, who's earned audiences and accolades for his several Aussie TV series over the past few years, simply is Summer Heights High, creating, producing, writing and acting in the imaginative skein.

The setting is an urban secondary school, with Lilley bringing to life three separate starring characters who mingled with actual students during filming on location at a real high school. SHH is made "mockumentary" style, using the candid camera conceit to enhance the comedy as Lilley's trio -- a snobby rich-girl transfer student (Ja'mie), a deliquent (Jonah), and an over-the-top drama teacher (Mr. G) -- go about the school day. It's absurd, of course, and hilarious, but also uniquely hard-hitting and revealing in a way that often engendered controversy during its Australian premiere run.

This isn't the first time U.S. audiences have seen Lilley -- his earlier series about a competition to find the most exceptional Australian (re-named Nominees here) -- ran on Sundance Channel a couple of years ago, but Summer Heights High on HBO really is his big breakout. SHH's time slot, coming after TrueBlood and Entourage, puts it square on the most exciting night of TV, and in front of an audience that should be extremely receptive to Lilley's singular vision and sense of humor. Here's one of the network's Summer Heights High promos:

We've also got an extended clip for you from Chris Lilley's May 2008 appearance on the Australian Logie Award show, where his Mr. G character from Summer Heights High presented an elaborate musical number. It will give you a good idea of Lilley's skillful total immersion into his characters.

You might enjoy reading a little more about Chris Lilley -- here's a nice article from an Australian paper, here's another one, Heather Havrilesky did a great piece on, and this article from AP has been syndicated this week. The original SHH site for Australian TV is here (and it's got lots of extras), and HBO's site for the show is located here.

Will the Sunday night goodies never end? TrueBlood, Entourage, Summer Heights High, Dexter...the best night on television!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Viral Video Moment: A Cat in a Box

cat n box

It has been a while since we've posted a Viral Video Moment on the Flaming Nose. Here's something a little light hearted, after this exhausting week of roller coaster Wall Street, the Presidential election and the ever spiraling economy. It's Friday...enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Salute to Kenneth from "30 Rock"!

Check out this amusing and enlightening appreciation of and interview with 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth the page, written by Sarah Hepola for

You'll also enjoy this compilation of Kenneth scenes entitled "I Get a Kick Outta Kenneth", produced by YouTube user acb205:

Of course don't forget to watch 30 Rock tonight, on NBC!

Have You Seen the New "Dollhouse" Teaser?

After a rocky production start, evidently the much-anticipated new Josh Whedon series for Fox -- Dollhouse -- is back on track. No official start date has been announced, but Mondays starting in January, after the finally-returning 24, seems to be the best guess.

Starring the always intriguing Eliza Dushku -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling, the intense movie thriller Wrong Turn -- Dollhouse promises slick thrills done intelligently.

Can't wait!! Take a look for yourself --

Variety Loves "Mad Men" Star Jon Hamm, Too!

Sigh...The Flaming Nose is certainly not the only place touting Jon Hamm's emergence as one of the most fascinating leading men of the day. deputy editor Anne Thompson had a terrific article last week about his burgeoning career possibilities. You can read it here.

He's certainly yummy, and talented! As our Jane previously reported, we're crossing our fingers that he does get picked to romance 30 Rock's Liz Lemon, as played by Tina Fey, this season!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Simpsons Still Going Strong

The other day I went on about how "Survivor" manages to survive. Last Sunday "The Simpsons" annual Halloween episode aired and it was as hilarious and crisp as ever. This year the show spoofed Mad Men (see the brilliant takeoff of the opening credits in the clip above) and the classic Peanuts cartoon "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown." I scoured the web for a clip parodying the Peanuts opening credits but to no avail. I did find this gem of a clip from the episode though:

All I can say is brilliant. I can't say I watch every week anymore, but it's nice to know that after 20 years, "The Simpsons" is still made of win.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On Tuesday, TV (And the Internet!) Will Be All About the US Presidential Election

The Flaming Nose has tried very hard to be a blog about TV and not about politics. But tomorrow's election will surely be a landmark and extraordinary television event, and we are all about showing the amazing power of television to inform as well as entertain. There is no doubt that Tuesday's airwaves in the US will be dominated by election coverage on every channel that has a news outlet. Just as record numbers of voters will be lining up to cast their ballot, there will surely be record ratings for viewers turning on their television sets to see what's happening at the polls.

But I predict that this election, historic in so many ways, will also be a night of firsts for the web. There will be enormous numbers of people surfing the net for more detailed information, in addition to what they are seeing on TV. I can only hope that my cable company will have the bandwidth to survive the hoards!

In order to assist those who want to have concurrent TV viewing and Internet using, I'm posting a list of all the main news sites I can think of below. No need to vote for TV or Internet; tomorrow night the most perfect flow of information will come from a total convergence of both.

ABC News
BBC News
CBS News
CNN News
FOX News Channel
NBC News
NY Times

Good luck America. All eyes will be upon you tomorrow. And no matter who wins the election tomorrow, we all know who won in television during the course of this campaign.... and that surely must be Saturday Night Live!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Dexter" Still Amazing, Entiendes?

The Flaming Nose hopes that our recent swoony posts on AMC's Mad Men and its star Jon Hamm, and our crush on HBO's TrueBlood, aren't giving the impression that we don't still love our other Sunday night treat, Showtime's Dexter. Quite the contrary!

All right, maybe we've been a little less than taken with the whole Rita-is-pregnant storyline than we might have been. Dexter sister Deborah's enthusiastic and hilarious reactions nothwithstanding, the baby thing seems to be a little tame for Dexter, though Michael C. Hall is giving it all the quizzical nuances he can. My favorite line so far was when he was holding Rita's hand during the ultrasound -- "She's stronger than she looks" he comments to himself with some surprise, ever deep down the serial killer assessing someone's defenses. (Though I also wonder how he wouldn't know how strong she is, considering they've been having plenty of energetic sex, as we've been shown.)

What I've liked a lot is what happened to Masuka, namely the death of his spirit after being told by hotshot officer Joey Quinn "You're the foulest person I've ever met". The seal on the deal was his coworkers' complete abandonment of him in his triumphant hour as speaker at a forensic conference, which came on the heels of nobody reading, or even wanting a copy of, the magazine with his newly-published article inside. The normally unflappable and aggressively unpleasant -- smarmy might be the best word -- Masuka got his feelings hurt, and he clearly didn't like it much. Actor C.S. Lee, who's been so good at making Masuka smug and a tad creepy, made his realization that he's alienated everyone around him a real punch in the gut, with visceral tug that made you empathize with the rejection.

The rebirth of Masuka was a terrific moment, as his forensic report was being questioned by an outsider, and Lt. Angel Batista and Deb stood up for him and his results. Will Masuka be a changed man after this experience? It's fascinating character development.

I'm also excited to see the interesting and under-used actress Kristin Dattilo in as Gianna, the vice officer who nearly blew the whistle on Angel when he tried to pick her up for sex. You might remember her from her role as Yola the agent on the charming The Chris Isaak Show which ran on Showtime for several years starting in 2001. (And where in heck is the DVD release on that one, anyway? Way way overdue!). She and David Zayas, as Angel, had a nice chemistry and it looks as though there might be a romance in the future for the two characters. Zayas' portrayal of the big-hearted Batista has been a constant delight through all of the Dexter episodes. After nearly getting railroaded by the insane Lila last season, he surely deserves a little sugar.

Jimmy Smits is also continually proving to be a wonderful addition to the show. The friendship and unholy alliance between Miguel Prado and Dexter Morgan is evolving nicely into a real sticky wicket, and it should get even better. It will be intriguing to see what steps both of these men take as their relationship ripens. So far it seems as though Miguel's foray into the explorations of vengeance-seeking and murder might go down easier for him than the camaraderie and male bonding experience will for Dexter. Their whole bloody involvement is a trenchant contrast to the girly house-hunting that consumes Rita and Miguel's wife Sylvia.

A big shout-out to all the Dexter cast, of course, including Michael C. Hall in the title roll, Jennifer Carpenter as his sister Deborah (did you see her frantic recent feature Quarantine? She's good in it.), Julie Benz as Rita, Lauren Velez as La Guerta, Desmond Harrington as the complex Joey Quinn, Jason Manuel Olazabal as Miguel's intense brother Ramon, and Valerie Cruz as Sylvia.

Dexter, we still love you! Can't wait for tonight's episode!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Survivor: A Guilty Pleasure

More than eight years and 17 seasons after its debut, the granddaddy of elimination/competition reality television hasn't lost its edge. The Survivor franchise, how shall we say, survives, because its producers know how to keep it fresh, while never straying far from its original formula.

This season the franchise has something new going for it: High Def. "Survivor: Gabon" is the first season broadcast in HD on CBS. If you have a 50 inch plasma, this show visually rivals the best of the Discovery Channel or HD Net. It's worth watching for the photography alone. It's simply spectacular.

But I've discovered something else. The producers find ways to mix it up and throw in new twists and rules. Years ago they added "exile island" where a tribe that wins a challenge can send a castaway from the losing team into isolation overnight. But that "loser" has a chance to find an immunity idol to keep him safe from being voted off. It also changes the dynamic within that tribe. In recent seasons they have also shuffled the tribe make-ups without warning, busting up alliances that had formed.

This past week, something new: the castaways competed for individual immunity before the two tribes merged. Keeps it fresh. I've also discovered that each season the casts have distinct collective personalities. I'm not sure how much credit goes to the casting directors, and how much of this is a natural extension of human nature. Perhaps a little bit of both.

I diligently watched the first two seasons. Season one will always be unique because it was the first. There were no preconceived notions, no established strategies, and no knowledge of how past winners made it to the top. After the 9/11 attacks, I stopped watching for several seasons. It just seemed that "manufactured" peril wasn't necessary (or interesting) in this world where we all might become survivors. But that wore off and I started watching again three years later when the "best" past contestants returned for "Survivor All-Stars" (season 8). Skipped a year (two seasons) then started watching again, and now after watching five seasons in a row, I seem to be hooked for life. In the world of reality, nobody does it better. Not even Big Brother or Amazing Race, two other CBS staples. The irony: with the storyline manipulations achieved in the editing booth, these shows aren't reality at all!

Ben Affleck, David Cook & John McCain on SNL

This will surely be one of the biggest SNL's in a long time.  Ben Affleck is one of the show's most popular hosts;  David Cook is the musical guest (56 million votes cast for our American Idol champ last May);  John McCain stops by (Obama was also rumored to be scheduled for a cameo, but it looks like that won't happen now), and Tina Fey will likely be back for her final Palin impersonation of the season.  With the election just 3 days away, this show will be a ratings grabber.

Look for Affleck to get political;  Cook will sing his new hit single "Light On," and fans hope his second number will be something off his new self-titled album (which drops on 11/18).  "The Time of My Life" has been done to death on TV, but it has been sitting at #1 on the AC radio charts for 5 weeks now, so who knows.

Here's NBC's clever promo: