Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - 2010 New Year's Eve, TV Style

Although it seems as though New Year's Eve television programming isn't as creative as it used to be -- i.e., when I was programming it -- there still are enough interesting offerings to guide us couch potatoes smoothly into 2010.

First on the list is AMC's classic Three Stooges Marathon, with newly remastered episodes playing starting from early this morning until 6am on New Year's Day (or whenever in your particular time zone -- I'm using Eastern). There's been a dearth of Stooges on television as of late -- I used to watch them on a Boston station but no sign of them recently -- and I'm thrilled to see that AMC seems to have picked up the torch. There is nothing better than one of the best Stooges shorts (I'm thinking for instance of something like "Pardon My Scotch" playing at about 2:30pm today), or lots of other good ones particularly after midnight tonight.

SyFy features a two day-long Twilight Zone Marathon, of course, again borrowing a leaf from the various independent stations who pioneered the TZ Marathon concept back in the 1980s.

USA Network features a marathon of their successful and immensely entertaining Burn Notice (left) series all day today and tonight until 6am Friday, at which time they switch over to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Ick -- from charming rogues to serial rapists, murdered hookers and sexually abused children...don't like that transition much! Nothing like celebrating the New Year with tales of the most unpleasant criminality out there, is there? Creepy.

Comedy Central has South Park all day, culiminating with the SP movie, all ending at 5am tomorrow morning. Logo has a marathon of The Sarah Silverman Show until 3am tonight, TV Guide Network features a day and night of specials about celebrities who died during 2009, including of course several hours on Michael Jackson. History has a string of their Strange Rituals series lined up, with a look at weird rites of passage and other incredible ordeals, if that's your thing.

HBO has a marathon of their Thomas Jane-starring series Hung beginning at midnight tonight. This is probably the most appealing line-up next to the Three Stooges, as Hung is a very watchable show with not only a heavy dose of ribald comedy but with a melancholy wry tone that really captures the mood of the world today. Worth watching if for nothing else than the wonderful performance of Jane Adams as the main character's friend and lady pimp.

If you like your New Year Eve celebration classy and classic, tune into Turner Classic Movies for an all-night marathon of The Thin Man movies. If newer science fiction is more your taste, join BBC America for a marathon of Doctor Who episodes and movies starting at midnight tonight, and culminating on Saturday evening with the final episode of the series starring the wonderful David Tennant (below) as the Doctor. Highly recommended!


Whatever you choose, have a very Happy New Year and here's to a great 2010 from everyone here at The Flaming Nose!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The Hollywood Reporter" -- USA tops cable growth

Check out this interesting article by James Hibberd from the latest online issue of The Hollywood Reporter -- USA cable network is having a very good year, and no wonder. Their originals series, including Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and their newest, the delightful White Collar, as well as their departing favorite Monk, have propelled the net into a really good place, and our congrats to them! Not so pretty is the story with many of the other cable nets...read all about it by following the link.


USA tops cable growth

Monday, December 28, 2009

See "The Gates" Documentary on HBO

During the December TV doldrums, try to catch the wonderful documentary, THE GATES, now running on HBO. The Gates chronicles the long and winding road that artists Christo and his wife Jeanne Claude endured to erect their gorgeous public art project in Central Park. It starts in 1979, when they first approached NYC officials to get permission for their progressive effort. If you ever want to see the utter banality, futility and folly of bureaucracy in action, watch the first 30 minutes of The Gates. Even though Christo and Jeanne Claude always intended to use their own money (ultimately $20 million) to produce this art spectacle, they were accused of being everything from racists to environmental terrorists.

Fast forward to 2005, and Mayor Bloomberg, an art lover, finally gave the famous artists the thumbs up. The documentary shows the flowing orange curtains being erected, unfurled and, most gloriously, enjoyed thoroughly by an appreciative populace. As children run through the Gates, and lovers stroll hand in hand, and musicians play symphonies and Buddhist monks worship, The Gates are vindicated and public art triumphs.

I had the extreme good fortune of seeing The Gates in person, when they briefly turned the grey winter sidewalks of Central Park into a trail of golden glory. Beautiful Jean Claude, who's flame colored hair matched the color of the nylon panels in the artwork, just passed away this November 2009 at the age of 74. This documentary, which can be found on HBO on Demand, is a fitting tribute to her tenacity and talent.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ELF: A Christmas Classic for the 21st Century



While we are waiting for original TV episodes to start again in January, I thought I would give a long overdue shout out to the fantastic movie "Elf", which happens to be playing everywhere on television during this holiday season. I caught my version this year on Comcast HD on Demand. Alas it was PPV, but I love this movie so much it was worth the $$ to see it in high def without interruption.

"Elf" is a side splitting but surprisingly warm comedy starring Will Ferrell (before his lost boy persona wore thin) as Buddy, the over sized human adopted by elves and raised at the north pole. In the video above, he has traveled to NYC to search for his real father (James Caan in a lovely nuanced performance) and landed a job at Gimbels department store as...what else....a Christmas elf. In classic "fish out of water" fashion, Buddy navigates the mean streets of New York, spreading holiday cheer and maple syrup everywhere and even falling in love. There are wonderful performances from Bob Newhart (Buddy's adopted elf dad), Ed Asner (Santa) and Zooey Deschanel as the co-worker girl friend with the voice of an angel.

My favorite scene is Buddy's first glimpse of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, which brings tears to my eyes with childhood memories of NYC in the snow. But for quirky hilarity, nothing beats Buddy in the doctor's office popping cotton balls into his mouth like it's grandma's divine divinity candy.

A lot of people are saying that they enjoy watching this 2003 issued movie over and over each holiday season, so it's on the way to becoming a classic treat. "Elf" doesn't have the gravitas of "It's a Wonderful Life", but it's about 50 times more funny. And the messages are timeless too.... sing loud, have spirit and be nice to your family at Christmas. And everything tastes better with maple syrup on top.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Current Masthead Photo -- "The Twilight Zone" Lives On!


Hope you're enjoying our latest Nose photo header, this time of course instantly recognizable as the great William Shatner from the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." Shatner is the epitome of the nervous flyer in this iconic half-hour, updated (but not bettered) for the big screen in the infamous 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie with the talented John Lithgow -- who's now getting on so many award nomination lists for his just-completed role as The Trinity Killer on Dexter -- (right) taking Shatner's role. (Infamous for the scandal and trial surrounding the death of actor Vic Morrow and two young children in a gruesome on location helicopter accident.)

In case you haven't seen the episode lately, you can take a look at it here now! (The terrific photo montage at the top of this post is by Mike Peters, from TVCrazy.net, a neat site with lots of stuff for TV fans.) Enjoy!





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fascinating Classic "Star Trek" Website!


I just stumbled upon this terrific Star Trek website -- Star Trek History.com! If you are a Trek fan, you will love this treasure trove of rare behind-the-scenes images from the series, as well as interviews and other delights!

As you know, we're all into Star Trek -- all Star Trek -- at The Flaming Nose!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Golden Globe Noms Include Many Flaming Nose Favorites

Right on the heels of Lisa's excellent AFI top ten TV show post, we should also mention that the 2010 Golden Globe nominations were released and many Flaming Nose favorites made the list. Entirely expected were nominations for The Office, Dexter, House, 30 Rock and, of course, our beloved Mad Men. But some newcomers graced the list as well, including HBO's touching (no puns!) and hilarious "Hung" as well as the amazing new Fox musical comedy "Glee". I'm also delighted to see Kevin Bacon on there for best actor for his brilliantly restrained performance in the heartbreaking soldier movie, "Taking Chance". It will also be interesting to see if the HBO special "Grey Gardens" (Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore) will garner more awards, after their Emmy nods.

The Golden Globe awards will be telecast on NBC at 8pm on January 17th. We love 'em because they almost always act as a harbinger of things to come with the Academy Awards a month later. It's also more of a party show, with relaxed stars swigging champagne and high-fiving each other around the dinner table. Nice to see knowing that the claws and fangs will come out when the much more competitive Oscars hit the air.

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Big Love (HBO)
Dexter (Showtime)
House (Fox)
Mad Men (AMC)
True Blood (HBO)

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
30 Rock (NBC)
Entourage (HBO)
Glee (FOX)
Modern Family (ABC)
The Office (NBC)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Bill Paxton, Big Love

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –
DRAMA
Glenn Close, Damages
January Jones, Mad Men
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Anna Paquin, True Blood
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES –
COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
David Duchovny, Californication
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matthew Morrison, Glee

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –
COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Courteney Cox, Cougar Town
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Lea Michele, Glee

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES,
MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Michael Emerson, Lost
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
William Hurt, Damages
John Lithgow, Dexter
Jeremy Piven, Entourage

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A
SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Jane Adams, Hung
Rose Byrne, Damages
Jane Lynch, Glee
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love

BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Georgia O’Keefe (Lifetime)
Grey Gardens (HBO)
Into the Storm (HBO)
Little Dorrit (PBS)
Taking Chance (HBO)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION
PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Endgame
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm
Jeremy Irons, Georgia O’Keefe

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION
PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Joan Allen, Georgia O’Keefe
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Anna Paquin, The Courageous Heart of Irena
Sendler

Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby

AFI Names Its Top Ten TV Shows for 2009 -- and We Like Them!

We're always up for a well-informed Top Ten list around here, and today's announcement from the AFI of their Top Ten Movies and TV Shows from 2009 fits the bill. Because we're mostly about television here at the Nose we won't talk about the cinema choices, but we like what we see on the TV side. Their list, in alphabetical order, consists of many Flaming Nose favorites and others that's we've watched and liked, and one that we've never covered and can't imagine why not! So, the AFI Awards 2009, AFI TV Programs of the Year, Official Selections are:


The Big Bang Theory -- you know how much we like this CBS Monday night comedy, a geeky delight featuring a talented and hilarious cast and clever writing (which I must say with some dismay has started to rely a little too much on sexual innuendo -- actually way more than innuendo -- making some scenes play like creator Chuck Lorre's other hitcom Two and Half Men, which isn't necessarily a good thing.) But we still love it and we're happy to see it on this list!

Big Love -- star and producer Bill Paxton keeps this HBO saga about a polygamist Mormon family man on the right path, just absurd enough to be extremely entertaining but with a serious vein that never goes in for easy ridicule or cheap melodrama. With a gaggle of female co-stars who are some of the best actresses around -- Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Grace Zabriskie among them -- Big Love is compelling and doesn't always get the credit it deserves. So good to see it on the AFI list!

Friday Night Lights -- I know this is a great NBC show, but I've never watched an entire episode. It's the high school football millieu that has turned me off -- wrongly, of course -- and I vow to make this acclaimed show part of my viewing retinue. Good on AFI for calling out this terrific show that has managed to survive for three seasons so far and has earned the loyalty of many devoted viewers.


Glee -- Fox's new hit comedy/drama/musical is a favorite of Flaming Nose correspondent Jane, and we salute her foresight in calling this one a success right out of the box. This is one dare we say "quirky" show that has managed to wriggle its way into mainstream coverage, and its choice by the AFI is proof of its far-reaching appeal and unique qualities.


Mad Men -- Of course AMC's Mad Men has to be on any list like this. The TV show that's more a piece of art than a simple television series, MM entices the viewer to travel back to a time when men and women were still learning many things about each other, at home and in the workplace, and work itself -- especially in a cushy Madison Avenue ad agency -- was both a privileged and a cutthroat endeavour. Would have loved to see AMC's other excellent drama Breaking Bad on this list also, but maybe another time.

Modern Family -- ABC's new situation comedy about a collection of unconventional families who personify some of the diverse family groups out in the world today is a critical and audience favorite already. Though the people in the show may be nothing like you or your particular family, the universality of their problems and ultimate devotion to each other are certainly something everyone can understand and enjoy. Good choice for the list.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency -- HBO's charming Botswana, Africa-set light mystery series, is a wonderful addition to the list. Our Jane also called this one, loving its attitude and its seductive charismatic performances. More gentle than most of the breakout cable dramas getting so much publicity these days, this is a darling series with much to delight us all.




Nurse Jackie -- Showtime's brittle, brutal, heartbreaking, sexy dramedy starring the exquisite Edie Falco definitely belongs here. Is it more a comedy than a drama? Probably if you count the minutes, but Falco's performance is pure dramatic gold. Unusual, delving into the skilled Jackie's convoluted personal and professional life, Nurse Jackie is a show where good people don't always get the chance to do all the good things they'd like, but also get the chance to do the bad things that sometimes need to be done, too. Terrific choice by the AFI.

Party Down -- Where oh where was The Flaming Nose when this little gem ran on Starz? We were obviously asleep at the wheel, because we completely missed this one. (I never even saw ONE episode of this and have to confess I didn't recognize the title when I read it on AFI's list. My bad.) Party Down is a comedy about moonlighting aspiring actors, with a wonderful cast and the kind of comic sensibility that would have made it a hit if it had run on HBO, let's say, or even NBC. Don't miss this one if Starz repeats it, or seek it out online. Good for AFI to find this series and bestow some deserved limelight on this hidden delight.

TrueBlood -- HBO's vampilicious melodrama boasts not only one of the most attractive casts in recent memory, but they're giving some genuinely outstanding performances and bringing alive the kind of outlandish exploits that could sink a less skilled troupe. No worries here, though; TrueBlood is sexy and savage enough to make anyone a believer in the children of the night. It's one of the most fun shows out there, too, combining thrills and whimsy in a delicious Louisianna gumbo of gorey greatness. We love TrueBlood, can you tell?


Congrats to all the honorees!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Dexter" Season Four Finale Tonight on Showtime!


"Hello, Dexter Morgan."


The last line of last week's episode, where Arthur confronts Dexter in the police station, after finding out his true identity. Simple but effective, no?

After a season of suprises, a few yawns (am I the only one bored by Batista and LaGuerta's romance? Didn't think I would be, but can't stand all the PDA...) and a predictably terrific performance by John Lithgow as The Trinity Killer, Season 4 of Showtime's Dexter comes to a close tonight at 9pm.

The last few episodes have been top-notch, and though the reveal of Quinn's reporter girlfriend as our beloved Lundy's killer wasn't too much of a surprise, I didn't quite expect her to blow her own head off. (Interesting choice, because on the series finale of USA's wonderful series Monk that same week, Craig T. Nelson's evil judge also committed suicide the same way, after being cornered. Always a fascinatingly abrupt way of ending things, isn't it?)

One thing I didn't like -- or buy -- was the episode a couple weeks back when Trinity kidnapped that boy and made him wear pajamas and play trains with him. The kid was way too precocious but even I didn't want to see him end up in a gunny sack headed for the cement pond. (Don't worry...it all came out okay.)

But tonight's the night that events come to a head, and though we know that -- I guess we know -- that Dexter will come out of it alive, it remains to be seen how it's going to transpire. Will The Trinity Killer end up dead, as have Dexter's other evil nemeses, or might he escape to kill another day?


Can't wait!

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Flight of the Conchords" Have Flown the Coop


Check out this article from the NY Times about the recent announcement about our beloved TV show Flight of the Conchords on HBO. Despite increased critical kudos and several Emmy nominations, the duo has decided to call it quits on their series.

Bad news for all of us who loved the boys' wonderful crazy adventures, and their great cast of characters -- stars Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, Murray their hapless manager played with such earnest and hilarious devotion by Rhys Darby, their uberfan Mel (Kristin Schaal), and Arj Barker as their shopkeeper pal Dave.

In case you've forgotten just how wonderful the series was, refresh your memory with this terrific article from UK's The Guardian on the best songs from the second season, written back in July, with accompanying videos. (Glad to see they included "The Tough Brets" which was one of my faves.)

Waaah! is all we can say. We're collectively in love with the Flight of the Conchords around here, and hope that perhaps there could be a change of heart in the future. We miss you already, Bret and Jemaine!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Comcast Yule Log!

After three weeks of endless packing and relocating to the San Francisco Bay area of California...I'm back! One thousand apologies for being away from the Flaming Nose for so long. I'm returning to the fold with this brief post about the weirdness of getting used to a new cable-TV provider...in this case Comcast. I'm not going to go down the hater route, although the path to this new system from my decades with Time Warner has been a very rocky road. It's all getting ironed out and tonight after a long day at work I came home to discover the joy of "Yule Log on Demand".

Some of you may remember Yule Logs from independent television years ago. It was always a stationary picture with holiday music in the background. When I was growing up in the NYC area, Channel 9 was the go-to station for Yule Loggy moments, and it only existed on Christmas Eve.

Here in Silicon Valley, the Comcast Yule log goes a few steps further, especially in HD. It crackles, it hisses, the logs shift. There are wide angles and close ups and side views of the burning logs. It does everything but send the smell of smoke into your living room, and I'm sure they are working on that. And if you get tired of the quintessential log, they have a few other lovely Winter screen saver scenes to switch too (I liked Glacier lake) with sound effects and 3-D.

As soon as I figure out how to use my new remote control, I hope to be back in action with reviews of all our favorite TV shows. Until then...I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and...I missed you all!