Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Poster for The Star Trek Movie on May 8th

Hey, we warned you we were going to keep the Star Trek thing going until the movie release date! We just can't help it. This poster is being used to market Star Trek the movie internationally.

We also recommend this great write-up on Wikipedia, which dives into all of the behind-the-scenes machinations for casting the movie (why Shatner isn't in it...why Nimoy is) as well as how the individual actors came up with their portrayals and tried to honor but not imitate the originals from the TV series.

There is a little tidbit that Winona Ryder will be playing the young Spock's Earth mother Amanda. Well done, I hope that's true!

Here's a great quote, attributed to Gene Roddenberry, before he died:

Gene [Roddenberry] said in an interview just before he died in August 1991; somebody had asked him, 'What's going to become of Star Trek in the future?' And he said that he hoped that some day some bright young thing would come along and do it again, bigger and better than he had ever done it. And he wished them well.

Richard Arnold, Roddenberry's assistant

Monday, March 30, 2009

Denis Leary Comes to the Rescue

Only one week left until Rescue Me returns to fX, Tuesday nights at 10pm. We all could use a savior these days, and this Denis Leary gem offers the best formula for escape from lives beset by lay-offs, buy-outs, and stimulus plans that have yet to stimulate.
The Rescue Me recipe for success should continue into Season Five, with noir humor, exasperating family drama and harrowing action scenes where someone usually falls head first into the smoking maw of a building engulfed in flames. Most of the popular ensemble group will return this season and plot lines will include a new hangout bar for the firefighters and Tommy Gavin's continuing battle for sobriety. Music will also continue to have a special role, with songs from hot NYC based band Apache Stone featured throughout the new season.

The Rescue Me website is worth a visit with plenty of wallpaper and screen saver downloads as well as some very iconic pictures of the cast taking over Manhattan, Godzilla style (see above). Leary is very committed to supporting real life firefighters; for more on that, the website has a special gallery.

I noticed this towering billboard for Rescue Me in Times Square last week and thought it looked right at home on the streets of New York as the dawn broke. It's hard to believe that Rescue Me, one of the first television programs to reference 9-11 as a serious part of its character's development, is now entering a fifth season. Although this series has had some frustrating plot lines (Tatum O'Neal as the endlessly inebriated sister saying "No No No" to rehab comes to mind) it's still
generally compelling and should be great escape programming in the coming weeks.

New Final "Star Trek" Movie Poster Revealed!

Looks maybe a little too much like a toy to me, and if the Enterprise were flying forward wouldn't the streaks/streams be towards the back?
But heck, it's the new Star Trek movie, and we love it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"The Mighty Boosh" Takes a Dip in Cartoon Network's Adult Swim

I've written a few times before about The Mighty Boosh -- most extensively here -- one of my favorite British comedy series. Though Boosh used to turn up infrequently on BBC America (before that network started running almost everything but great British TV), it now looks like America will be getting a chance to see a bit more of it.

Cartoon Network's late-night franchise Adult Swim begins airing The Mighty Boosh Sunday nights beginning tonight at 1am and repeating at 5am. (If you're an Adult Swim regular, you may recognize some Gareth Marengi's Darkplace performers in Boosh, most notably the tall Julian Barratt who plays the jazzy Howard Moon in TMB.)

I guarantee that you have never seen anything quite like The Mighty Boosh, but I can't say that you will necessarily fall for it right away, as Adult Swim is starting their run with the third season of the series. Wouldn't be my choice, of course. The first season is superb, charming, hilarious, completely winning. The second is brilliant, insane, also hilarious. The third is also great and won several top comedy awards, but you'll be coming into the show cold without understanding the whole zeitgeist of Boosh.

But that shouldn't stop you from sampling The Mighty Boosh, and delving into the show's imaginative world. A movie version is rumored to be in the works -- let's hope it goes better than the long-delayed and probably never-will-be Red Dwarf film -- and it's high time TMB got a chance to make a pop culture mark over here, too.

We've been treated lately to a barrage of smart and unusual comedy -- The Flight of the Conchords, Entourage, Summer Heights High, Eastbound and Down, and now The Mighty Boosh. Though Adult Swim's demo may not be you anymore, don't let the young male slacker viewers hog all the fun of TMB!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pour a Cup of Bush Tea and Watch the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency

HBO is premiering a new series Sunday night that is in many ways the antithesis of what we've come to expect from HBO prime time television. It's not dark, edgy, sexy or crammed with celebrities. You can watch it with the whole family and not have to wonder if you'll have to cover little Jimmy's eyes. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series begins Sunday night, 3.29.2009, on HBO at 8pm, and it just might be the kind of sweet slow entertainment we need to calm our souls while the whole world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. The Flaming Nose founders have a special fondness for the old TV series, "Little House on the Prairie". Change the location to Botswana Africa and stir in a little "who dunnit" mystery, and you might see where this series is going. The first episode is bound to attract fans of best selling author Alexander McCall Smith, who has written multiple books about the gentle, brilliant, and amply endowed Precious Ramotswe. Anyone who has ever been a member of a book club in the USA, has probably already succumbed to her many charms. How can you not love an African lady who spends the inheritance from a beloved father (multiple cattle) on the wispy dream of opening up her own Detective Agency. She is assisted in this Don Quixote quest by a by a fetching and discombobulated secretary by the name of Grace Makutsi. Not since Tina Fey, has anyone looked more lovely in glasses. They are the most unlikely Starsky and Hutch you will ever see. But in their meandering, logical, and ultimately very powerful way, they always... get the bad guy in the end.

I'm willing to give this one a try. I would have expected a series like this as a Hallmark special on CBS, but like the promo says, "It's not television...it's HBO", so anything can happen. I loved The Sopranos like there was no tomorrow, but it was hard to go to bed without nightmares on a Sunday night after that saga. Something tells me the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency will be a delight. And after... I'll sleep like a baby.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Leonard Nimoy! And Belated Congrats to William Shatner!

In keeping with our current bout of pon farr over the new Star Trek movie, we couldn't be happier to wish our favorite Vulcan a very happy birthday today, March 26! Leonard Nimoy turns 78 years old today. Over his long career, including everything he's done besides Trek (and there's plenty, especially his acclaimed photography), he's always been the prime example of a true artist, ever on a quest for truth and beauty.

What can we say? We love him.

And we missed the March 22nd birthday a few days ago of another Trek icon, the great and indefatigable William Shatner, who has personified the definition of "working actor" -- always there, always performing, always reinventing his acting persona to discover new opportunities, and always with a delightful sense of fun that continues to charm new fans. He also turned 78 -- how wonderful is it that original Kirk and Spock were born only days apart? It's magic!

What else can we say? We love William Shatner, too. Sigh.

Happy Birthday to both our space guys, and thanks for all the wonderful years of entertainment!

Keeping An Eye on Adam: AI Frontrunner

I predicted several weeks ago that Adam Lambert would be the one to beat in this year's American Idol contest and last night's "Motown" showcase has solidified my decision. In a night that was almost overshadowed by the immense star power and historical significance of Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, Adam still managed to keep the spot light shining brighter on himself than anyone else on the stage.

This guy is mesmerizing. He has the looks, the confidence and the camera absolutely loves him. Adam is as home on the stage as most of us are on our living room sofas wearing a Sunggie blanket and bunny slippers . Best of all, he can sing like an angel, which was proved beyond any doubt last night with his almost ethereal rendition of Smokey's "Tracks of My Tears". Frankly, I liked it better than the original. And it earned him a standing O from most of the folks in the audience, including the great Berry Gordy.

He's the one to watch. The rest of the contestants are likable, but Adam is a star. I also applaud his chameleon appearance switch last night; from indie rocker to Vegas lounge lizard. Weird, but it worked wonderfully for me. Check it out below and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Star Date: 2009.05.08: First Flaming Nose Officer's Log

It's official. The Flaming Nose founders have caught Star Trek fever and want to share that feeling with our readers and fellow fans. While the upcoming movie (set to release May 8th, 2009) is not technically a television topic, it definitely qualifies for the Nose. Without the original TV series, and the obsessive devotion of its multi-generational minions, it would not be possible to launch a movie of this scale. Paramount has always believed in the franchise. After countless TV spinoffs, movie sequels, conventions and documentaries...we eagerly await the latest incarnation. This movie prequel follows the early years of Trekkie icons Kirk and Spock, and is already one of the most highly anticipated Star Trek properties for the big screen. We can expect the best ever special effects and edge of the seat action, thanks to director J.J. Abrams who is hotter than Alpha Centauri. Also, we think we saw a flash of the young Kirk's butt in one of the many trailers circulating out there. Feel free to discuss and speculate endlessly.

I've checked out the official Star Trek movie site which is accessible from about 5 different locations now on The Flaming Nose. It is definitely worth a visit. Great music, pix, video and skins to download, but I could not find a count down widget. We are on a mission to boldly go and find one to post soon. Paramount geeks, if you are miraculously reading this, can you provide?

Over the next few weeks we will wax poetic and passionately about the immense and pulsating sociological event that is Star Trek.The actual brand STAR TREK is so powerful, it would definitely be able to survive a hostile encounter with an alien life-form on another planet. This is why most real-life NASA astronauts say that Star Trek was their inspiration for becoming pioneers on the Final Frontier. We agree 100% with that gung ho thumbs up, but are also so confident in our unconditional love for Star Trek, that we can allow UGC spoofs like the stop action gem below. Behold...a Star Trek Spock doll sings..."My Prerogative"! Live long and prosper, everybody!

Let The Trek Begin!

Okay, nothing's funnier or better than the Star Trek TOS fight music from the episode "Amok Time". You know what it is -- probably the only piece of television background music which has attained a life of its own. Fred Steiner wrote it, and it's the perfect all-purpose choice for any conflict situation, including it being hilariously used here to score a couple of cats playfighting:

Stay tuned for more Trek moments and inspirations!

The Flaming Nose Salutes "Star Trek"

It's official -- The Flaming Nose is going all out in anticipation of the release of the new Star Trek movie this May!

The Star Trek TOS (TOS = The Original Series) collectively and delightfully haunts our memories, and it looks as though the new movie will be incredible. Watch for our exclusive Star Trek tributes here over the next few weeks leading up to the premiere!

Be here for all the best in Trek, and be sure to visit Paramount's Official Star Trek Movie Site for the latest news and goodies!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

HBO Finales Tonight for "Conchords", "Big Love"

Can it really be that time again? Have we gone through another mini-season of two of our favorite shows?

Indeed we have. HBO's polygamist drama Big Love has its third season finale tonight at 9pm -- but again, a season is only 12 or 13 episodes, not 22 like things used to be back when -- and it's been a superb season, too. Since the middle of January Big Love has been unerringly offering wonderful acting -- there's no better cast out there, in major or supporting roles, and so many interesting faces, too! -- a plot filled with twisted and ingenious family dynamics, and a continually riveting glimpse into people of faith of a more unconventional kind. What a great show.

And we're crying real screaming teenybopper-type tears because our Flaming Nose Favorite Flight of the Conchords, starring the talented and adorable Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, is ending its second season tonight at 10pm. Each half-hour flies by, filled with memorable characters, skilled comic performances, and the Conchords' trademark songs, mostly done as elaborate and hugely entertaining music videos within the episodes. (I always watch with the Closed Captioning on -- hate to miss any of their lyrics!). Lots of highlights this year and we just can't believe this batch of episodes is done. Love you guys!

HBO is on a wonderful roll, and we haven't even written about Eastbound and Down, which had a very short run that's also ending tonight. Try to catch up with the six episodes -- they grow on you, and the lead performance of Danny McBride as Kenny Powers is quite terrific.

We love that television is so active these days, with new shows seeming to pop up willy nilly and there's always something amazing to watch!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just One More Adorable Thing About Vulcan...

From a later version of the Vulcan, Alberta/Star Trek movie story, comes this new bit, and this great photo from the CBC of Deputy Mayor Rick Howard giving the Vulcan salute:

"(Deputy Mayor) Howard also offered to let Nimoy stay on his pull-out couch if the actor ever visits the town.

In a statement issued Friday, Nimoy said: "I have been informed of the logical plan that Paramount Pictures and the town of Vulcan have been working on to host an advanced screening of Star Trek. The people of Vulcan have been heard and, although it is atypical for Vulcans, they are, in fact, excited. To all, live long and prosper.”


Isn't that just the sweetest thing? Thank goodness Paramount is playing it right by being nice to the fans!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Good News for Vulcan!

This news just in, from the CBC in Canada! Check yesterday's post for the first story:

Paramount settles Alberta town's Star Trek aspirations with Vulcan salute

Last Updated: Friday, March 20, 2009 3:00 PM MT

After a failed bid — backed by actor Leonard Nimoy — to host the world premiere of the newest Star Trek movie, a southern Alberta town is content to be invited to a screening of the film.

Paramount Pictures this week rejected the town of Vulcan's proposal to host the premiere for Star Trek XI. But an official from the film studio phoned the community's tourism co-ordinator on Friday with a compromise.

Paramount will cover the costs of transporting Vulcan residents to a screening of the movie in Calgary, about 120 kilometres away, when it's released in North America on May 8, Dayna Dickens told CBC News.

Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock in the original, popular sci-fi series and several Star Trek movies, rallied to the town's side on Thursday when he learned of the town's failed proposal through an Internet story.

Nimoy has a small part in Star Trek XI, which focuses on Mr. Spock and Capt. James T. Kirk's early years. The actor said he had been emailing Paramount in a bid to convince the studio to change its stance.

However, Paramount announced Friday that the movie's world premiere will be held at the Sydney Opera House in Australia on April 7.

Even though the Alberta community of about 1,900 people failed in its bid to host the world premiere, Deputy Rick Howard, who was wearing a red and black Star Trek uniform on Friday, said he's pleased with the international attention Vulcan has garnered — and the personal interest from Nimoy.

"Associating ourselves with Star Trek has really had such a significant impact on our local economy. Our tourism numbers are up 19 per cent over last year, and in a time of economic downturn to have that type of positive [attention], is really quite special," said Dickens, the tourism co-ordinator.

A railway surveyor named Vulcan in 1915 after the Roman god of fire, but the town has capitalized on its shared name with Spock's birthplace.

Vulcan held its first Vul-Con convention in 1993; there's also an annual Spock Days Rodeo, and a space-themed visitors centre.

The town has its own Starship monument to welcome visitors, with a plaque featuring greetings in English, Vulcan and Klingon. Another sign welcomes visitors with the Vulcan motto, "Live long and prosper."

Good news for all of Vulcan! Now, how do we all get to Sydney for the April 7th premiere??

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vulcan Fights for Premiere of New Star Trek Movie!

You all do know that there's a town called Vulcan in Alberta, Canada, that celebrates Star Trek, don't you? Well, here's the latest news, in light of the new movie premiering in May:

Original Spock Klings-on to role for Alberta town in movie premiere
Last Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2009 3:35 PM MT
The Canadian Press

Mr. Spock is going to bat for the tiny southern Alberta town of Vulcan which was told this week it wouldn't be getting the premiere of the new Star Trek movie.

Actor Leonard Nimoy, who played the character born on the planet Vulcan, says he's disappointed Paramount Pictures couldn't work out details to get Star Trek XI shown in the town on opening day, May 8.

Town officials said Paramount Canada told them timing and logistics problems would make such an event impossible.

Dayna Dickens, Vulcan's tourism co-ordinator, says instead Paramount officials invited the town to participate in a promotional screening of the film in Calgary a few days before it opens.
Nimoy says he intends to do what it takes to make sure the town southeast of Calgary can be a significant part of the premiere.

Dickens says she received a call from Nimoy on Thursday morning but thought it was a hoax.
She says she receives calls on a regular basis from people claiming to be Mr. Spock, Capt. James Kirk or the Enterprise's engineer Scotty.

Dickens says Nimoy's support is welcome and she hopes he will agree to visit Vulcan at its annual Vul-con convention and Spock Days Rodeo.

© The Canadian Press, 2009

The Flaming Nose is 100% behind the campaign to get the new Star Trek movie to Vulcan! We love the town for its unadulterated love and support of Trek! Good luck and congrats to Leonard Nimoy for his support of Vulcan!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The New "Star Trek" Movie Trailer!

If there's one thing you can say about The Flaming Nose it's this -- we're Star Trek fans!

Here's the newest version of the promo trailer for the movie which opens May 8th!

I have to say, Zachary Quinto from Heroes looks awesome as Spock!

Here's the link to the official movie website! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day from The Flaming Nose!

To commemorate the day, here are a couple of very nice renditions of the classic Irish "Londonderry Air" -- better known as "Danny Boy" -- from television. The first one features singers Jimmie Rodgers and Johnny Cash from an episode of The Johnny Cash Show from 1970.

And now for something completely different...three Muppets doing the song, from The Muppet Show.

Happy St. Paddy's Day from all of us!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Farewell to Ron Silver

Actor Ron Silver died yesterday at the age of 62. Though primarily known for his movie roles, including his dazzling terrier-tenacious Alan Dershowitz in 1990's Reversal of Fortune about the Sunny Van Bulow case, Silver was constantly on the small screen in an amazing variety of roles. From deep drama to sitcom wit, Silver always played on his image -- and real life persona -- as an intelligent, inquisitive and incisive man with more than a little sex appeal thrown in. (Pictured left, Allison Janney and Silver from The West Wing.)

From his early success in the mid-1970s on Rhoda -- and do check out the excellent Rhoda Online fansite for a comprehensive Ron Silver biography -- to appearances on such primetime favorites as The Rockford Files, McMillan and Wife, a co-starring role on Brenda Vaccaro's short-lived Dear Detective series, Silver was all over the tube. He turned up in many TV movies of the time, and in 1980 landed on The Stockard Channing Show for a short ten episodes, then bounced back into features for a major role in the intensely spooky paranormal thriller The Entity with Barbara Hershey and several other films.

Concurrent with his constant movie roles -- Silkwood, Silent Rage, Romancing the Stone -- Silver returned to TV for several episodes of Hill Street Blues, high-profile projects like the mini Kane & Abel and the TVM Billionaire Boys Club, a quartet of episodes of the unusual crime drama Wiseguy (with Jerry Lewis), TVMs Kissinger and Nixon (as Kissinger) and Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story, the mini A Woman of Independent Means opposite Sally Field, a co-starring role on the medical drama Chicago Hope, a co-starring role on the comedy Veronica's Closet, the entertaining HBO movie When Billie Beat Bobby about the tennis rivalry of Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King (with Silver as Riggs and Holly Hunter as King), and so many more. 2001 brought his bigscreen role in Ali, and soon after he starred in the TV series Skin and also joined the cast of the long-running and acclaimed White House-set drama The West Wing.

Ron Silver brought an intensity to every role he played, and he was also a committed and informed citizen of the world. His intelligent presence will be missed on television and at the movies.

For another good look at his career, check out Barbara Robertson's The Ron Silver Page , this infosite, his IMDB career credits, and his bio on Wikipedia.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Big Love" -- Big Hoopla Tonight on HBO!

It's the best (and cheapest) publicity the producers of HBO's Big Love could have dreamed of -- the Mormon Church is up in arms about a traditionally secret Mormon ceremony being recreated on tonight's episode. Opinions are all over the place about this alleged breach of etiquette.

You can read this article from the New York Times reporting on HBO's apology for the content; their statement went out on Wednesday, before anybody had seen the episode. Photos of actress Jeanne Tripplehorne in arcane garb have been around the net, igniting controversy in some Mormon circles. Here's a good column by writer Manya Brachear from the Chicago Tribune, too.

As anyone who regularly watches the superb Big Love knows, the show has been even-handed and fair to Mormon practices, and if nothing else, if this brouhaha brings more people to watch this terrific series, it's all good. The show is marvelous, with meaty roles for a trio of talented actresses and the always sensitive, powerful and appealing performance of Bill Paxton as the pater familias of his large brood.

If you've never gotten hooked on the show, try it out tonight! It's bound to be one of the bigger rated episodes, and it will be fascinating to see how much of a bounce the controversy brings to the numbers.

Check out HBO's Big Love website for more information on the show!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol: The Top 13 Countdown Begins

Don't panic...unlike past years, I am not going to showcase all 13 of the contestants in this post. There are plenty of blogs out there in cyberspace that pick American Idol apart down to its molecular level, so I'm not going to be redundant. Entertainment Weekly has an especially amusing Idol re-cap, so I'll leave the multi-layered dissection to them.

In this post I'm only going to highlight those finalists who got a 3.5 or better on the magic Jane-O-Meter scale from one to five where 1 means you sound like a banshee and 5 means Pavarotti has been reincarnated. Also, I do not want to talk about the judges at all other than to say that, inexplicably, Paula has become the most interesting one on the panel this season. Weird. Simon is bored to death, he looks like he'd rather be reading a magazine.

All contestants had to sing Michael Jackson songs last night. Yuk. When, oh when is AI going to stop conducting archeological digs to find its songs.

In order of appeal and chance to advance:

Adam-He's got a Fall Out Boy haircut and the most interesting pan-sexual, androgynous appeal since Jagger and Bowie were young. Can he sing? Sure...and great stage presence too. But it's his distinctive appearance that will get the votes for this early round. Score: 4.5

Danny Gorkey-Sometimes he wears glasses, and he's often called a Robert Downey Jr. look-a-like. I don't really see it, but this kid has a great voice and I liked his crazy dance. He is definitely a winner. Score: 4.3

You gotta love a finalist whose name always looks like it should be followed by an exclamation point. Anoop was voted out earlier and resurrected by this year's judges as a wild card. I'm glad they did. He is fun to look at and he has nice parents. The judges hated him last night singing Jackson's "Beat It". That made me like him even more. Score: 4.1

Megan Joy-She has a size 16 voice in a size 2 body. Big stage personality too, from this tiny blond girl. I pity anybody who is forced (or dumb enough to pick on their own) the loser MJ song "Rockin' Robin". Score: 3.9

He's overly dramatic and given to big emotional endings, but I have to admit I love this Puerto Rican guy. It's nice to see someone who is marching along to his own drummer, instead of the usual Beyonce and Boy Band clones. Score: 3.8

I have to give a double score to this good looking blind guy who made the very odd song choice of "Keep the Faith". First of all, let's get it out in the open...he's a pretty good piano player but just an OK singer. And nice to behold, I'll grant him that. I would give him a 3.0 score overall, but if he were planning on becoming a gospel or Christian singer, I would push that up to a 4.0.

All the others were forgettable this week.
I feel like this season is off to a lackluster start, but that could always change on a dime. Better songs would definitely help, as two hours of Michael Jackson was something less than a Thriller for me.

It's Wednesday Night -- Time for "MonsterQuest" on History Channel!

For lovers of all things cryptozoological, Wednesday night means the tremendously entertaining MonsterQuest on History Channel. Now in its second season, MQ is consistently fascinating, sometimes amusing, and most definitely mysterious. Open-minded but not slavishly toeing the "these are real" line, MonsterQuest intrigues us through the use of studious scientific technique brought to bear against the mythic creatures of which legends are made.

Tonight's new episode is at 9pm ET, with "Snowbeast Slaughter" -- an investigation into stories of a large hairy creature which has been sighted in the Rockies. It's preceded by a repeat of the "Jersey Devil" episode, another chilling hunt for the truth behind longstanding accounts of a frightening winged creature seen in and around New Jersey.

At 10pm, MonsterQuest is followed by two hours of the equally excellent UFO Hunters, starring a trio of smart and personable UFO investigators who painstakingly look into the circumstances of assorted UFO reports. The three guys -- Bill Birnes, Ted Acworth, and Bill Uskert -- are wonderful and uniformly smart, and this show is always riveting. Whether or not you believe or even tolerate discussion about UFOs, it's a delight to watch three intelligent and curious men applying their brains to help us understand this baffling phenomenon. I love these guys.

I'm completely hooked on shows where smart people talk about what they know, and there are plenty of them out there right now. We're lucky that networks such as History Channel, History Channel International, Science Channel, National Geographic and others offer ample air time to scientists and their always beguiling truths. These networks have managed to pepper the science with just the right amount of excitement to make the perfect viewing experience, engaging the audience on all cylinders.

History's new series How The Earth Was Made (it premiered last month, and is an offshoot of a special from last year) airs on Tuesday nights and it's incredible. To quote their website, the series "...travels the world to reveal the geological processes that have shaped our planet." Every episode is completely engrossing from start to finish and it's become one of my favorites. Also a must-see is Mega Disasters, also on History and its sister stations, with its heartpounding assortment of Mother Nature's best attempts to beat the human race down. (There are three episodes of MD airing tonight on History Channel International starting at 8p, btw.)

I know it's asking a lot for some people to turn away from crime dramas and reality shows and chef competitions to watch a documentary, but if there is an iota of curiousity in you about the world around you, you will be hooked, too.

My only carp about History Channel right now is the show Ax Men. Maybe it's just me, and I realize it's a dangerous occupation, but the idea of watching men wielding chainsaws to beautiful forests rather turns my stomach. (For a truly wonderful account of loggers, try watching the movie Sometimes a Great Notion with Paul Newman. At least it's art.) I shudder to think of what macho-man occupation will be glorified next -- maybe a series about the guys who bash in the heads of seals up in Newfoundland? Or maybe the guys who stun-gun the cattle before they hit the slaughterhouse? I also realize that I sound like a tree-hugger here, but featuring loggers as heroes seems an odd choice when everybody's trying to go green, already.

But don't let that stop you from watching everything else that's amazing on History Channel!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Is Walter White More Bad Than Dexter Morgan?

I hope it's OK to have just a few more comments about "Breaking Bad" which had its second season premier on AMC last night at 10pm. I just had a chance to watch a recorded version today and was struck by the similarities between this dark new series and the20+ year old David Lynch masterpiece Twin Peaks. Both involve murders in mundane places. There is always something especially sinister when evil pokes its head up through the lawn chairs and split level houses of suburbia. It's very creepy to see an eyeball floating in a backyard swimming pool (Breaking Bad) or a homecoming queen's corpse wrapped in plastic (Twin Peaks). The latter was quirkier and had more of Lynch's homespun humor. Breaking Bad is bad to the bone, and breathtakingly ambivalent when it comes to any kind of moral stance.

The new season finds our hero Walter White trying to calculate just how many harrowing drug deals he'll have to conduct in order to leave his family (he's dying of lung cancer) with enough money to keep the house and send two kids to college. His pin headed sidekick, the young Jesse Pinkman, has bigger worries; how to keep the deranged neighborhood gangster from killing them both since they watched him beat one of his henchmen to death. The relationship between Walter and Jesse is fascinating. Teacher and student, genius and numb skull, old and young...partners in crime. They are the most unlikely duo to ever pair up on TV.

Here's an interesting little exercise involving three all time Flaming Nose favorites. Try to decide who is more evil; is it Tony Soprano (HBO) who killed for power, but put his family on a pedestal? Is it Dexter Morgan the serial killer (SHOW), who only kills the scum of the earth? Or is it dear Walter White, who makes the best Methamphetamine in the Southwest to provide for his family, and only kills when some creepy drug dealer gets in the way. We have a whole season of Breaking Bad ahead of us to ponder this question. What do you think?

Nathan Fillion Stars in ABC's "Castle" Premiering Tonight

Nathan Fillion may not be a household name, but he's darn close to it. Crazy popular among science fiction/fantasy fans for his starring role in Joss Whedon's series Firefly (and its subsequent feature film Serenity), his amusing turn in Whedon's online musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog (pictured, right), and his humorous he-man in the gloriously goopy film Slither, Fillion has been poised on the edge of ubiquitous fame for a while now. He was also delightful in the late director Adrienne Shelley's charming feature Waitress (left) -- if you haven't seen it, do. Many viewers know him from his recent role on Desperate Housewives, and now ABC has set him up in his own series called Castle, premiering tonight on ABC.

Castle has a premise that's certainly not breaking any new ground. Whether you call it "Moonlighting Meets Murder She Wrote" or something similarly waggish, it's basically a "he said-she said" romance novel-esque bickering-but-meant-for-each-other couple mashed up with a police procedural. Nathan Fillion plays Richard Castle, a successful mystery writer, a little bored, bad case of writer's block, looking for inspiration...blah blah blah. You can see this coming: somebody's doing copycat killings based on his books, he gets himself hooked up with a female detective and ends up fashioning a new character after her. Stana Katic (she was in one of the Librarian movies which played on the network which must not be named, and lots of other TV work) is Detective Kate -- and will there ever come a time when a strong female character with loads of spunk won't be named after Kate Hepburn? -- Beckett, a NYPD veteran with loads of...spunk, what else?

I haven't seen the pilot except for the first segment (which is online at ABC's Castle site), but I must admit that the promos are no great shakes. Not sure I see much chemistry between the two leads, and that's pretty distressing since that's the whole point of the series. However, any opportunity to see Nathan Fillion doing his smart-funny-masculine thing is to be cherished. Do we need another police procedural? Probably not. They basically all sound the same -- awful and lame. Could dialogue get any worse? Please, no. On the other hand, do we want to see more playful verbal foreplay between two people who are destined to end up in bed? Perhaps...

ABC is giving Castle a big send-off, positioning it behind their new season of Dancing With The Stars which also premieres tonight. DWTS begins the night at 8pm, with Castle at 10pm.

We'd say give Castle a chance. It's a break-out opportunity for Nathan Fillion who definitely has earned it and most importantly is up to it. We might have hoped for something less derivative, but this is mainstream network television, after all. The show looks great, of course. In another era Fillion might have been a Cary Grant or a Clark Gable, but even if all 2009 can manage is turning him into Jessica Fletcher with balls, what the hell...bring 'em on!

Visit ABC's Castle website for more information.