Sunday, September 27, 2009

"The National Parks: America's Best Idea"

There are few moments in television I look forward to more than a new series by Ken Burns. This is not to say that all of his documentaries have been satisfying to the soul, brain or heart, but he always attempts to do justice to his topics and, he usually succeeds.

Ken Burns' "The Civil War" remains to this day the single greatest television series ever produced. It was artistic beyond belief and it was poetic from start to finish. Of course, as a history buff it was as close as those of us living in this time and age would know what that generation lived through and fought for. This even still bests the beautiful, stunning and superbly crafted piece of artistry that was the BBC's "Planet Earth."

Tonight, Ken Burns' newest entry "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" premiered. Two hours of sheer bliss. Everything is perfect! Obviously, it is physically beautiful, but as always, the writing, the casting of actors reading roles, the Peter Coyote narration, the historians/assorted other knowledgeable folks, the music is all spot-on brilliant.

Nothing is missed. Tonight, Burns and his team took us to Yosemite (the dreams of John Muir came to life) and Yellowstone (one of my favorite places on planet earth). I am looking forward to the next episode. I almost can't wait.

This is one of those glorious reasons why television matters! God's most mighty, majestic and monumental creation's are on display on my nice HD television set!

This is worth watching and clearly it will be worth watching over and over again.

(Flaming Nose note: Check out Jane's post about this amazing series, too! PBS' excellent website for the production is here.)

"Dexter" Season 4 Premieres Tonight!

Don't miss tonight's 4th Season Premiere of Showtime's Dexter, tonight at 9pm! Do babies and serial killers mix? We'll find out! In addition to Dexter's exceptionally talented regular cast, this season feature guests stars John Lithgow and the return of Keith Carradine as Agent Lundy! That's quite an impressive group of amazing actors and actresses, and we look forward to a tremendous run!

Dexter, back on Showtime tonight and each Sunday at 9pm.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FX's "Damages" Does Great Casting!

Read about the latest casting news for Damages, from Variety. I might actually have to start watching!

Scott, Short get 'Damages'

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not Bored to Death on HBO

BORED TO DEATH premiered on HBO Sunday night, September 20th. It's a whimsical half hour comedy that has great potential, mostly due to the strength of the characters. Jason Schwartzman has the lead. He's Jonathan, a blocked sad sack of a writer in Brooklyn. His girlfriend just dumped him because he's too fond of white wine and marijuana. Schwartzman is an interesting Ben Stiller-esque type. With the right camera angle, he can look almost handsome in a dreamy sort of way. But most of the time he is pure, Grade-A nebbish. In the pilot that aired Sunday, Jonathan decides to become a detective and places an ad on the ubiquitous Craigslist. I guess he supposes being a detective will be easier than writing about one.

Jonathan's best friend Ray is a bearded cartoonist played by Zach Galfianakis. He's very solid in the role, but not nearly as funny as he was in this summer's hit Vegas comedy The Hangover.

The true gem of this series premier is Ted Danson, who plays George, Jonathan's self centered artist boss. He has the best lines in the episode and he delivers them with bemused and slightly stoned panache. Danson is not the only star from decades old TV to reappear in new series this week (Chevy Chase showed up on NBC's "Community"), but he's definitely the best. His character is laugh out loud funny and an absolute scene stealer.

The detective angle is light as a feather but will be substantial enough to place these three funny guys in tight spots so we can watch them wriggle out. Writing and casting for Bored to Death is top notch, and true to HBO form. It's worth a look, you definitely won't be bored.

Here's a taste of the trailer:

Interesting -- And Accurate -- Commentary on the Emmy Awards

I agree with the point of this article -- the Emmy Awards were like a rich white people's party. It hardly seems appropriate in 2009, in a multicultural country, to have television's most illustrious night look like this. Read it:

Emmy telecast was lacking in diversity --

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Dexter" Promo!

Have you seen this interesting stop motion animated spot for the new 4th season of Dexter, which starts Sunday on Showtime? It's neat!

Post-Emmy Blahs

Anybody else feeling a little letdown after Sunday's Emmy Awards? Not that the show was bad -- Neil Patrick Harris did his darndest to keep it lively -- but some of the winners were not what many of us wanted or expected. (And by us, I mean me specifically.)

With Jeremy Piven out of the way, we were hopeful that N.P. Harris would pick up the Supporting Actor in a Comedy award, but instead it went to Jon Cryer from Two and a Half Men. Either of the two nominees from 30 Rock -- Jack McBrayer or Tracy Morgan -- would have been more acceptable than Cryer's fairly traditional portrayal of nice guy brother to Charlie Sheen's wildman. Kevin Dillon from Entourage is consistently the best thing on that show, Rainn Wilson's eccentric character is a weird wonder. Cryer seemed the least asute choice and certainly the safest. Not happy with that one.

And Toni Collette for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series? I don't think so. Collette's a good actress, but I wouldn't have thought that the Emmy voters would go for the kind of obvious stunt role here. They always say that the Oscars go to anybody doing a large accent or playing with a disability of some sort, and clearly some of that was in play here. Collette's work as the multiple personalities, though impressive, was not what I'd consider the ne plus ultra of comedic artistry. It's not even as though we should have to diss Toni Collette -- she's a really good actress -- but when all is said and done, I like to see this going to a funny lady, like Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. That's the way I feel about this one. Not happy with that one, either.

On the other hand, very happy with Bryan Cranston's second win for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for his excellent work in Breaking Bad. He is a tremendous actor and seems to also be a really nice guy; gotta love that combo. Sad, though, that his co-star Aaron Paul didn't also win his Supporting category. Not that Michael Emerson from Lost isn't great, but judging from his acceptance speech, I don't see much difference between the character and Emerson himself. Ah...this is just carping, I know, but you hate to see your favorites not take that walk up to the stage.

Anyway, onward and upward, and congrats to all the winners!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Emmy Awards Tonight! Flaming Nose Picks!

Not that awards mean much in the grand scheme of things -- though I still can't stand that Mickey Rourke didn't take home the Oscar last year -- but tonight is a television fan's big night, the Emmy Awards! Airing on CBS tonight at 8pm (or whenever in your time zone), there is much to look forward to, including Neil Patrick Harris at host. The Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy nominee should be a knockout, after having aced the Tony Awards earlier this year, and the show might actually be entertaining -- hooray!

We would be neglecting our mandate if we didn't give you our Flaming Nose favorites in the various categories. The Nose isn't necessarily of one mind on these picks, of course, and I encourage everyone to chime in with their own takes on these categories! One thing you will notice is that there are more nominees in the races, making for quite a crowded horserace of talent!

So here goes:

• Big Love, HBO
• Breaking Bad, AMC
• Damages, FX
• Dexter, Showtime
• House, Fox
• Lost, ABC
• Mad Men, AMC

Nose Pick: I guess we all know the sublime Mad Men is going to take this one again, though it's great to see HBO's consistently fascinating and unjustly neglected Mormon melodrama Big Love in the race, plus of course AMC's searing Breaking Bad. There isn't a low-achiever in this group of nominees; they're all great dramas, but amazing how the cable shows are truly the best of the bunch.

• Simon Baker, The Mentalist, CBS
• Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment, HBO
• Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC
• Michael C. Hall, Dexter, Showtime
• Jon Hamm, Mad Men, AMC
• Hugh Laurie, House, Fox

Nose Pick: I have to go with Bryan Cranston again in Breaking Bad, last year's winner. Jon Hamm's tight and sublime performance as Don Draper is cool perfection, Gabriel Byrne is a reactive genius, Simon Baker made his show into a surprise hit, Michael C. Hall is always Grade A, as well as is Hugh Laurie, but Cranston gives a consistently gut-wrenching portrayal of the most conflicted character out there. He's a wonder.

• Glenn Close, Damages, FX
• Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters, ABC
• Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC
• Holly Hunter, Saving Grace, TNT
• Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men, AMC
• Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer, TNT

Nose Pick: Let's give it to Glenn Close again. The trio of crime fighting ladies are strong enough, sure, and Sally Field is an able contender. Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men is an interesting addition to the pack but the acting on that show is not the main thing that makes the series such a piece of art. Close is probably the best all-around force to be reckoned with here.

• Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal, ABC
• Michael Emerson, Lost, ABC
• William Hurt, Damages, FX
• Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad, AMC
• William Shatner, Boston Legal, ABC
• John Slattery, Mad Men, AMC

Nose Pick: Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. Unbelievable work, far beyond anything asked of the other worthy nominees here. From an unlikely character -- a drug dealer -- we get Paul's brilliantly nuanced work, a perfect companion piece to Bryan Cranston's lead actor strength. If you aren't watching these two, you are missing so much. There's nothing cliched about anything these actors are doing, ever.

• Rose Byrne, Damages, FX
• Hope Davis, In Treatment, HBO
• Cherry Jones, 24, Fox
• Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy, ABC
• Dianne Wiest, In Treatment, HBO
• Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy, ABC

Nose Pick: I haven't got a feeling at all about this one. Been hearing that Chandra Wilson is a favorite, so let's go with her, though it's great to see Hope Davis in here.

• 30 Rock, NBC
• Entourage, HBO
• Family Guy, Fox
• Flight of the Conchords, HBO
• How I Met Your Mother, CBS
• The Office, NBC
• Weeds, Showtime

Nose Pick: 30 Rock here again, not even Flight of the Conchords which we love but it's not the kind of finely-tuned intellectual slapstick that is 30 Rock. Family Guy? No, funny as it is, it's on a different level with just too many scabrous bits to make it fit for an honor like this. Just because Entourage is on HBO doesn't make it an automatic nominee, thought it seems to...this is an interesting category with worthy shows but 30 Rock still towers above.

• Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock, NBC
• Steve Carell, The Office, NBC
• Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords, HBO
• Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory, CBS
• Tony Shalhoub, Monk, USA
• Charlie Sheen, Two And A Half Men, CBS

Nose Pick: Jim Parsons, from The Big Bang Theory. It's an divinely eccentric performance with never-miss comic timing, and Parsons makes the show the continuing success it is. In terms of funny, Jim Parsons is it. We also love Clement from FOTC, Baldwin has already proved his comic chops and can move over for somebody new...all good guys here but Jim Parsons is the wonder boy in this category. And about time The Big Bang Theory got some love from the Academy, too.

• Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?, ABC
• Toni Collette, United States of Tara, Showtime
• Tina Fey, 30 Rock, NBC
• Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine, CBS
• Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds, Showtime
• Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program, Comedy Central

Nose Pick: Tina Fey again, from 30 Rock. Great group of gals here, much love for the adorable Applegate, and of course Julia is a comic pro and nobody does it better. She's the Lucy of this decade -- too bad the show doesn't have as high a profile as it should. But in terms of defining a certain mood in the air, Tina Fey does it without peer.

• Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men, CBS
• Kevin Dillon, Entourage, HBO
• Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother, CBS
• Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock, NBC
• Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock, NBC
• Rainn Wilson, The Office, NBC

Nose Pick: Who makes me laugh the most? Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock. Who should win? Neil Patrick Harris for making HIMYM far better than the show would be without him. Tracy Morgan is also a real comic force in 30 Rock, too.

• Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies, ABC
• Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock, NBC
• Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds, Showtime
• Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live, NBC
• Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live, NBC
• Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty, ABC

Nose Pick: The artsy pick here is probably Chenoweth on the zealously-fanloved Pushing Daisies, the sentimental one Poehler because she had a baby, but let's toss this one to Kristen Wiig who is a truly gifted character comedienne.

• Coco Chanel, Lifetime
• Grey Gardens, HBO
• Into the Storm, HBO
• Prayers for Bobby, Lifetime
• Taking Chance, HBO

Nose Pick: For overall achievement, Grey Gardens.

• Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance, HBO
• Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind, PBS
• Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm, HBO
• Kevin Kline, Cyrano de Bergerac (Great Performances), PBS
• Ian McKellen, King Lear (Great Performances), PBS
• Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption, Fox

Nose Pick: I'm going to eschew the traditional acting dynamos McKellen and Kline in Lear and Cyrano, and go for Kevin Bacon's tight, intelligent and brilliantly understated work in Taking Chance. No scenery-chewing here, it was all in his tortured eyes.

• Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens, HBO
• Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens, HBO
• Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel, Lifetime
• Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby, Lifetime
• Chandra Wilson, Accidental Friendship, Hallmark Channel

Nose Pick: In a perfect world, a co-win for Barrymore and Lange, though I will admit that the leg up these gals had in terms of being able to call upon the real images from the famous documentary has to be some kind of advantage, though Barrymore was heartbreaking in the scenes of younger Little Edie in NYC, and she didn't have a template for that. If it has to be one, then Barrymore, but boy, they were a combo. One of them will take it unless they split the vote. All these actresses can do no wrong.

• Len Cariou, Into the Storm, HBO
• Tom Courtenay, Little Dorrit, PBS
• Ken Howard, Grey Gardens, HBO
• Bob Newhart, The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, TNT
• Andy Serkis, Little Dorrit, PBS

Nose Pick: Len Cariou.

• Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Saddam, HBO
• Marcia Gay Harden, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, CBS
• Janet McTeer, Into the Storm, HBO
• Jeanne Tripplehorn, Grey Gardens, HBO
• Cicely Tyson, Relative Stranger, Hallmark

Nose Pick: Shoreh Aghsdashloo, just to take it away from the usual suspects. She's a tremendous actress.

Little Dorrit, PBS
Generation Kill, HBO

Nose Pick: Is that all there is? Generation Kill, why not...

Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives, ABC
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live, NBC
Steve Martin, 30 Rock • NBC
Jon Hamm , 30 Rock, NBC
Alan Alda, 30 Rock,, NBC

Nose Pick: The unexpected delight that was Jon Hamm in 30 Rock. But of course Justin Timberlake won.

Edward Asner, CSI: NY, CBS
Ted Danson, Damages, FX
Jimmy Smits, Dexter, Showtime
Ernest Borgnine, ER, NBC
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me, FX

Nose Pick: Michael J. Fox in Rescue Me. He was outstanding, otherwise Jimmy Smits in Dexter. (And Fox won!)

Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory, CBS
Gena Rowlands, Monk, USA
Betty White, My Name is Earl, NBC
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live, NBC
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock, NBC
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock, NBC

Nose Pick: Tina Fey for hilariously nailing the dangerous dimwit Sarah Palin on the nose -- admittedly, there was a lot to work with -- and making SNL relevant again. 2nd choice, Elaine Stritch on 30 Rock.

Sharon Lawrence, Grey's Anatomy, ABC
Ellen Burstyn, L&O: SVU, NBC
Brenda Blethyn, L&O: SVU, NBC
Carol Burnett, L&O:SVU, NBC
CCH Pounder, The No. I Ladies' Detective Agency, HBO

Nose Pick: If they can't think out of the box and give it to Pounder, then either Blethyn or Burstyn. Why do I think they'll give it to Burnett...sentiment. (Burstyn won.)

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Nose Pick: The Colbert Report, which manages to stay consistently satirical and smart.

Entourage, Tree Trippers, HBO
Flight of the Conchords, The Tough Brets, HBO
The Office, Stress Relief, NBC
30 Rock, Apollo, Apollo, NBC
30 Rock, Reunion, NBC
30 Rock, Generalissimo, NBC

Nose Pick: I've got to go with the tremendous FOTC West Side Story-influenced episode "The Tough Brets", one of my favorite episodes anywhere this year. Or else "Generalissimo" from 30 Rock.

Battlestar Galactica, Daybreak, SyFy
Boston Legal, Made in China, ABC
Damages, Trust Me, FX
ER, And In The End, NBC
Mad Men, The Jet Set, AMC

Nose Pick: Let's go with Mad Men for this one.

Generation Kill, HBO
Grey Gardens, HBO
Into the Storm, HBO
Little Dorrit, PBS
Taking Chance, HBO
Wallander: One Step Behind, PBS

Nose Pick: I'm going to have to say Taking Chance, with its dignified grace.

There are a few more that I'll try to get in in a second post, if I have time!

Be sure to watch tonight, no matter what!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Catch GLEE on Fox

The Flaming Nose wants to remind everybody that one of the sharpest comedies on television is back on Fox, Wednesday nights at 9pm. We loved the pilot for GLEE which aired a few months ago, and now the regular season has begun. Matt Morrison stars as Will Schuester, the high school teacher with a heart of gold who starts a Glee Club populated by misfits. It turns out to be so cool, that even the "popular" kids want in.

This series has it all....laugh out loud writing, amazing music and choreography, characters so real they will break your heart. Oh, and Jane Lynch as the butch but nuanced gym teacher who heads the "Cheerios", a cheer leading troupe of mean girls. After only 3 episodes, I am predicting EMMY AWARDS galore for Ms. Lynch. She tears up the screen. I want to write all of her lines down and nail them to the wall.

Everybody in this show can sing, and the musical numbers are blended into the plot seamlessly. Glee is vindication for every musical TV series that didn't work (Cop Rock, anyone?). FOX finally got it right with this one, and it is capturing the hearts of every geek, Thespian society, Chorus Line wannabe who was ever shunned in high school . Glee is revenge for them all.

If you want to become a "Gleek" but have missed the first few episodes, you can watch them all on or the Fox website for free. This is the one new broadcast show of the fall season you won't want to miss.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Remembering Henry Gibson, 1935 - 2009

The Baby Boomers among us will especially mourn the passing of actor/comedian Henry Gibson, who died this past Monday at the age of 73. We grew up with his gentle and always amusing presence on the iconic and unforgettable Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and he was a frequent guest star on many series -- most recently Boston Legal -- and made many appearance in feature films throughout his long career. Gibson's hundreds and hundreds of credits span the past 50 years of show business history, and he carved a unique niche with his talented portrayals. Here's a short slideshow with some nice images of Gibson, thanks to YouTube user Paultinsel:

Here's a short clip of him from the 1974 The Beverly Hillbillies episode "A Man for Elly", along with Buddy Ebsen and Irene Ryan.

An even bigger treat is this 1966 episode "Wrongo Starr and the Lady in Black" from the memorable but short-lived sitcom F Troop, in which Gibson plays Starr, a jinxed soldier at Fort Courage. Those of you who rememember F Troop know it was a rollicking frontier farce starring the memorable duo of Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, along with Ken Berry as their less-than-commanding commanding officer, and the lovely Melody Patterson as the comely and rambunctious Wrangler Jane. Gibson's performance was so well-received that he was brought back for another episode as the hapless Pvt. Starr. (It's divided into three parts here.) Astute Flaming Nose TV fans will recognize the actress Sarah Marshall who plays the widow from her role as Dr. Janet Wallace from the original Star Trek episode "The Deadly Years". So enjoy the episode!

The Flaming Nose pays tribute to Henry Gibson as a part our TV landscape, and we remember his performances as true television gems.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Viral Video Moment on the Nose

The Flaming Nose reported on the amazing Susan Boyle several months ago. She is the middle aged phenom out of Great Britain who captured everyone's heart with her rendition of Les Miserables "I Dreamed on Dream" on Britain's Got Talent. She did not win that contest, but this true star survives. Here is Ms. Boyle singing her version of the old Rolling Stones chestnut "Wild Horses" on America's Got Talent this week. The song will be included on her first CD which is set for release in about a month.

The Jay Leno Show Premiers Tonight on NBC

In case you missed the $10 million tidal wave of promotion that NBC has thrown at this show, here's another reminder that Jay Leno debuts tonight at 10pm. The blogosphere buzz on this premier is off the charts, as NBC experiments with a stripped variety show at 10pm instead of the usual TV dramas.

Tonight's guests will include Jerry Seinfeld as well as Kanye West, who will undoubtedly be puking up mea culpas all over the stage after his shameful interruption on last night's MTV music video awards.

The real excitement will come tomorrow after the ratings are in. Will Jay at 10pm be a disaster or a brilliant way to bring viewers back to broadcast prime? Will 10pm TV dramas on cable reap the benefits? Tonight's premier will undoubtedly get a ratings surge from curiosity. Whether they can keep it up night after night is another story.

As they stay in the business....stay tuned......

Sunday, September 13, 2009

True Blood Season Finale Tonight

Time to bid farewell to Season Two of True Blood on HBO tonight (Sept 13 at 9pm Eastern). And what a magnificent season it has been. All of the characters had a white knuckle ride through the bayou and now we wait to see who will stop Maryanne the Maenad before she sends Bon Temps to ruin. Let's recap some of the most wonderful scenes from what has become the best HBO Sunday night series since the Sopranos.

What's For Dinner?: Tara and Eggs chow down on some sort of casserole made by the evil Maryanne...not realizing that Ms. Maenad has put a lot of heart into her culinary effort. Biggest ewwwwww of Season Two.

Jason's BBQ Fantasy: At the Light of Day church boot camp, Jason Stackhouse is seduced by cult leaders Sarah and Steve, over bottles of beer, sizzling BBQ and some suggestive country music. Calling MTV...this should be the music video of the year!

Godric Fades into Morning Mist: Godric, we hardly knew ye. The most amazing character of the season was with us for far too short a time. Though young, Godric was a commanding, almost ethereal presence. His self sacrificing sunrise death scene (and the devastating effect that it had on his acolyte Eric) was a rare moment of true emotion in the series. It also touched on spiritual themes that illustrate Alan Ball's ambivalence with religion.

Sookie and Eric Sex Fantasy: Best naked scene of the season. Who cares if it was all a dream? Episode #9 was too hot to discuss on The Flaming Nose!

The Crazy People of Bon Temps: Cavorting and running amok in the streets like something out of Dante's Inferno, the good people of Bon Temps had a non-stop orgy through most of the season. Along with the hapless Jason Stackhouse, their black eyed zombie escapades provided
the best comic relief of Season Two.

There were many more fabulous moments in Season Two. To heck with the bad economy, this might be one time where I'll have to buy the boxed set. Farewell to the greatest ensemble cast and clever, clever writing. Sunday nights just won't be the same. Sookie and Bill, Eric and Jason, Tara and've made fang bangers of us all!

Friday, September 11, 2009

We Remember 9-11

Eight years later, we still struggle to find the right words. One million words are not enough.

The Flaming Nose remembers 09-11-2001.

It was a terrible day for America. It was the most photographed, and video'ed episode in history.

Watch the History Channel for one of the best recaps.

Why remember 9- 11? Because it showed, in the most graphic horror ever, how human beings face disaster. In the towers, even when they knew they were doomed, they called loved ones to say goodbye. 15,000 people calmly climbed stairs and helped carry wounded to safety. On flight 93, they organized a revolt. Ordinary folks flying home to San Francisco had about 30 minutes to figure out they were on a flying bomb. They fought back.

The most horrible day ever, brought about the most exceptional behavior from ordinary human beings. Most of us watched it unfold live on TV. Does that make it more...or less real as time goes by? Maybe younger people will become numb to the images.

I am reminded again of the line from the movie "Star Man", where the alien played by Jeff Bridges is cornered in an Arizona cafe. He says (of Earth) we have studied your civilization for thousands of years. "Do you know what we love most about humans? They are at their very best..when things are at their worst".

How true. How 9-11. We remember.

September 11th

We would be remiss if we didn't pay proper respect to today's anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States. Rather than play the much-viewed footage again -- though I believe that it should be watched every so often, just so it is remembered in all its stark brutality -- I think the following video is perfect for The Flaming Nose. It's footage recorded by YouTube user FlyByNightVideo who was watching DirecTV that day, as he/she channel-switched up the dial to see what everybody was doing, just after 2pm Eastern time. I know that's what I was doing all day, too.

It's easy to understand that networks who had access to news reports from sister channels switched immediately to that coverage, and some other networks, lacking that, merely suspended regular programming. Those that didn't...that's a little more disturbing. No doubt they were simply caught with no contingency plans, but it is rather awful to watch incongruous comedy shows and sports going on as if nothing had happened.

I also highly recommend watching some of the many collections of 9/11 footage available on YouTube, and of course a visit to the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, whether in person or online, is always appropriate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

American Idol Shocker: Ellen Joins the Judges!

Just when I thought it was safe to think my Tuesday and Wednesday nights would be free from TV tyranny, Fox pulled an absolutely brilliant move. With Paula Abdul abdicating her long time post as one of the American Idol judges, it has just been announced that Ellen Degeneres will come on board. What? This is extraordinary news, and it will go a long way towards plugging the AI audience drain that hastened this year with the new four judge format. In fact, yours truly was so disenchanted with the extra judge last season, I had made up my mind to boycott the new season of American Idol for the first time since the series was introduced nine years ago. Never have been and never will be a fan of Kara Dioguardi. Adding her to the cast made the show too much about the judges and not enough about singing.

It's a new game now. Ellen DeGeneres is the most accomplished person ever to join the American Idol cast. She brings a resume ten miles long to the show; 12 time Emmy winner, comedian, actor, producer, writer and talk show host. She also nailed the grand daddy of all host jobs (Academy Awards) in 2007. She is, simply put, a mega star in her own right. Frankly, I've always though she could pull off hosting a late night talk show. I never dreamed that she'd end up on Idol.

I totally understand why American Idol wants Ellen. But why does Ellen want AI?Ellen believes she can represent the voice of the people as the only judge not connected to the music industry. Whatever her agenda is, or if she even has one....I'll be glued to my set to watch it unfold. Bravo to Fox for pulling this one out of the fire! And triple bravo to Ellen who is one of the funniest, most genuine women on television...and the only one to never bow to the Botox God!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Flaming Nose Birthday Salute to Angela Cartwright

In a combination birthday salute and Nose-talgia shout out, The Flaming Nose recognizes Angela Cartwright. Born September 9, 1952 in Cheshire England, Angela was a child TV star on two well known series from the 60's; Make Room for Daddy, and Lost in Space. She is perhaps best known for the latter, where she played the sensitive and optimistic Penny Robinson, youngest daughter of the space pioneer family. As the middle child, Penny was often overshadowed by her sexy older sister Judy and intrepid younger brother Will. She was sort of the "Jan Brady" of the space family Robinson, a hapless character archetype popular in the 1960's. She did have one lovely episode on Lost in Space called "My Friend Mr. Nobody", where she befriended an invisible alien that lived in a cave. In the accompanying picture, Angela is at the far left wearing a fetching lime green mini-dress.

In real life, Angela is the younger sister of actress Veronica Cartwright, who has a much longer biography in both television and film. Among countless other roles, Veronica starred in the movies "Alien" and "The Right Stuff".

Happy birthday to Angela Cartwright. The Flaming Nose hopes this day is all your own, and you won't have to share it with an older sibling, fictional or otherwise!

Since whoever has the rights to Lost in Space has made sure there is not one speck of it available on YouTube, here's a nice little "Penny Robinson" tribute that a fan has put together.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mad Men: Pitch Dark but not Pitch Perfect

We are four episodes into season three of AMC's Mad Men, and the tone is darker than ever. Infuriating those who don't "get" Mad Men, is the increasingly languid pace, which is just a notch or two less fast than watching your grandparents play Monopoly.

But that's OK, because I am a Mad Men super fan, and it still works for me. I love the costumes, the 60's details, the quirky characters and the references to vintage advertising. However, I'm a bit frustrated with the relentless unhappiness that all the characters exhibit. Last season there was the occasional drunken joie de vive. This season, our heroes in the Sterling Cooper office even managed to make getting high on pot seem dour and humorless. Cheech and Chong, Harold and Kumar, avert your eyes! Peggy and the gang smoked a joint in the office and didn't even manage to come up with some good creative for Bacardi.

The "hidden lives" theme continues in season three. Everyone is in denial. Peggy is pretending to be fun so she can find a Manhattan room mate. Sal is pretending to be straight for his adoring wife. Although it's possible she might finally have a clue that he plays for the other team, after his enthusiastic pajama clad Ann Margaret impression in their bedroom. The entire Sterling Cooper team is pretending that they can make Ja'i Alai the next great American past time with a million dollar ad campaign. Only Don Draper sees the folly of that endeavor.

I wish Matt Weiner had not continued the relentless torture of Don and Betty's daughter this season. It's painful to watch through our 21st Century eyes, and makes me want to call child protective services. The one warm relationship for the series thus far this season (Grandpa and grand daughter) was smashed to smithereens when Betty's Dad died suddenly from a heart attack. Icecube parents Don and Betty ignored their daughter's anguish in this week's episode. Note to Mr. and Mrs. Draper. It's 1963. In six years, your daughter is going to run off to join the Manson family, where she can finally get some love.

If you're looking for love or at the very least some fun this season on Mad Men, your best bet is on their website where you can create your own avatar. Here's mine, urging the Sterling Cooper cast to wake up and smell the coffee.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

COW - The film that will stop you txting and driving

Much coverage around right now about this production from Britain, produced for the Gwent Police Department, a clip from which has become a viral phenomenon on YouTube. Obviously it's not just relevant over there, and with a holiday weekend upon us, please remember to keep your eyes on the road, folks.

Please read this article and follow the link to get to the four minute preview video -- the whole 30 minute program is not available yet.

COW - The film that will stop you txting and driving

There's another informative article on the film here, from The Guardian's website.

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MTV Spins Off "16 and Pregnant"

Have you watched this show on MTV? I've caught several episodes and it's depressingly interesting. These unfortunate pregnant teens -- and unfortunate doesn't begin to express how I really feel about how these gals are messing up their lives -- no matter how much they try to put on a happy face, are not in a good place.

I was particularly horrified by the episode where the youngish mother of a pregnant teenage girl also was pregnant at the same time, and there was also a grandmother in the house who pretty much just encouraged the whole mess and kept saying how beautiful it was to be pregnant. Good lord. Somebody break that cycle of continuously fertile women, please. It's simply sad and trashy.

Let's all hope the show discourages further unprotected sex for teen girl everywhere, and once and for all takes the "glamour" out of unwed motherhood. Anyway, the show is spinning off, as you will read here, and there's a (ha-ha...ick) "Labor Day Marathon" in store, too.

MTV Spins Off "16 and Pregnant"

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sons of Anarchy Returns to fX; Are You Along for the Ride?

Season two of Sons of Anarchy, the ultra violent motorcycle melodrama, races to fX next Tuesday (Sept 8th) at 10pm. Unless I've secretly had a brain transplant lately, there is no logical reason for why I would feel compelled to watch this program. I never watched the first season and I don't get motorcycle clubs. Much as I love Brando I've never once been able to make it all the way through The Wild Ones. Also, the thought of 50 motorcycles thundering through town makes me want to cover my ears. Which is weird, because the thought of 50 F-16 fighter jets doing a fly by over my head makes me want to scream with joy. As Uncle Teddy said on the season finale of Rescue Me last night, "She's all about the contradictions".

And maybe that's the point right there. With Rescue Me gone, there will be a Tuesday night television void to fill. Here's hoping that Charlie Hunnam who plays Jackson (Jax) Teller on SOA will be the one to fill it. He's another hottie from the UK who does a pitch perfect downscale American accent. And his filmography includes some highbrow titles such as "Cold Mountain" and "Children of Men". Katey Sagal also has a juicy role as Jackson's ruthless mother.

Here's a taste of season two with interviews from the cast. Should we turn down the volume next week and check it out?

The Calculations Behind "Mad Men"!

You know that we are big fans of AMC's Mad Men around here at The Flaming Nose, but we also like to read articles that eschew sentiment and delve into the nitty-gritty of television economics, such as this fascinating article at TV By The Numbers! Is Mad Men worth it? the article asks. It depends, as you will read. Lots of discussion in the comments section also, don't skip that part...