29 March 2006

Books of 2006, Part 3: The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza


John M. Barry

While not as scary as The Hot Zone, the book traces the history of the 1918 influenza outbreak that killed as many as 100 million people across the world.

The book could've benefitted from a timeline, but it was interesting. And like The Devil in the White City, I was more interested in the political climate, where the goverment in its over zealous attempt to keep things positive with WW1 going on, probably aided the virus spread by not informing the nation of its severity and not limiting troop movement until it was way too late.

No suprise here: FOX cancels Arrested Development

from the Futon Critic:

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- 20th Century Fox Television has confirmed its Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development" won't be returning for a fourth season, for now anyway.

"While there are no plans to resume production at this time, we know all too well from our experience with 'Family Guy' -- another brilliant comedy which didn't find its audience in its first network run -- that anything is possible," the studio said in a statement to the press. "We'll always be a little hopeful that this is not quite the end for this amazing show."

The news comes just two days after creator Mitch Hurwitz told Daily Variety he'd passed on being involved with a potential revival at Showtime. "The fans have been so ardent in their devotion and in return... I've given everything I can to the show in order to try to live up to their expectations," he said to the trade paper on Monday. "I finally reached a point where I felt I couldn't continue to deliver that on a weekly basis... Of course, if there was enough money in it, I would have happily abandoned the fans' need for quality. But as it turns out, there wasn't."

The oft-mentioned Showtime offer had been contingent on Hurwitz remaining on board as showrunner.

The 20th statement confirmed the decision, saying he "expressed his desire to move on from 'Arrested Development,' and we accept his decision... [We're] grateful for the incredible passion which the fans and the critics have shown it from the beginning."


This is a sad notice, indeed. But there is something the major networks don't understand, and refuse to even consider: that the viewers they seek, the 12 to 24, are not appointment bound TV viewers. They're playing video games. They don't care about what's on.

Dick Wolf, the creator of the Law & Order franchise is right: the networks have to create shows with content that the 25 and up are actually watching. These are the real viewers, the real appointment bound watcher.

While American Idol garners in high ratings, the only reason it does is because viewers vote for who goes and who stays. Take that away, and Idol would be a bore. The broadcast networks would rather develope a TV show featuring the Pussycat Dolls than keep a brilliant show that was Arrested Development.

And the broadcast networks will continue face an erosion in viewers until they realize this. As a big fan of TV, I've lost interest in it, if only because I can no longer feel there is anything worth watching, beyond just a handful of shows.

Keep thinking teenage boys are watching and buying the crap that is advertised. Sure, girls are watching, but they too are not beyond being bored with the crap the networks foist on us.

More meat to the stories and less Easter Peep shows. And, please, no more CSI or Law & Order. Something orginal, please. And something smart.

Like Arrested Development.

20 March 2006

Brother's birthday

Today was my brothers 47th birthday!!!

It hit me when I was talking to him tonight how old we are all getting. My sister will be 45 this May while I'll be 44 this fall. Even my youngest sister will be 42 in October.

And Mom, dear sweet Mom will be 71 in June.

While its only a number, as my sister puts it, I still cannot believe how old everyone is getting. Time is marching on, I realize, but my brother is 3 years from getting his aarp card.

How bizzare.

15 March 2006

Glactica's delay might be Doctor Who's gain?

With the announcment that the third season of Battlestar Galactica will not debut on Sci Fi until October has sent fans into a tizzy. However, there may be a reason, beyond Ronald D. Moore's comment at the Grand Slam convention this past weekend that "it was a network decision." NBC/Universal, which ownes Sci Fi, could be looking for a new hit. Speculation and rapid rumor suggests that NBC will want to show the revamped series this fall on the network, with second runnings on Sci Fi in October.

The Peacock network has fallen to third place behind CBS and ABC in all important 18-49 demographic and is need of hit. And while its a good bet Surface will be cancelled, NBC could stay in the sci fi game by bringing Galactica to the network. Plus, with a solid fan base and stories that feel current, the new BG could gain an even larger following.

Meanwhile, with this delay, another specualtion is who or what will fill BG's timeslot this July when both Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis return. And who might just be the second season of the revamped Doctor Who. The first season of show debuts on this Friday, March 17, with a showing of two episodes. Now, following the show week to week over the next 13 weeks (which should include the Christmas episode), it would end on June 9.

The second season of Who begins airing in April in the UK, with the show ending in late June. If ratings for Who are strong enough here in the States (and my guess is that is a moot point; I'm betting Sci Fi already has an agreement to air that second season, but is waiting), we could see that season with only a minimal delay. In theory, Sci Fi could start that second season the same night as when both Stargate's return. Then, when Doctor Who's ends its second season they could go right into Battlestar's third season.

It's my guess, we'll see if it bares any fruit.

11 March 2006

Grand Slam 2006

Went to my first sci fi convention in perhaps a decade or more. I stopped going to them for a few reasons, but most blame can be put on the fans. My best friend Marc once told me I have a healthy obsession with Star Trek, and know where to draw the line.

Still, I spent all day with the Hidden Frontier bunch, Jenn, Barbara, Rob and PK. Just talking, looking at the people and (at most times) keeping my opinion to myself. Bill and Tim were off getting their autographs and seeing the stars talk about their respective shows/movies.

Got to meet DS9's Leeta,Chase Masterson, whom Bill has had a friendship over the years, and talked a bit from Farscape actress Virginia Hey about her own homemade candle and soap line. Close by the HF table (in the very chilly "annex" area that resembled a parking garage) was Wil Wheaton(Wesley Crusher) and Suzie Plakson (TNG and VOY). Also there was Jay Laga'aia, who played Captain Typho in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (and who is hot). The annex was the area that the stars also had to through for the photo-op, where a professional photographer took pictures of you and the star. So, I saw Brent Spiner, Jared Padalecki (hot, also), and Naveen Andrews (hot, and shorter than I imagened, as are most of these stars).

Perhaps the highlight of the day, was going out to dinner with Bill, Tim and Don (a military guy whom Bill met a few years ago at a convention. Great voice and real personable). What Bill failed to mention was that joining us was Herb Jerfferson, Boomer on the old Battlestar Galactica TV series. It seems all of these guys share the same interest in space program, and I was amazed and a little surprised on what these guys knew, especially Don who whip smart.

It was cool, and I enjoyed myself.

But the fans who dressed their two dogs up in Starfleet uniforms need to be arrested. Animals should never be dressed up. Its just not right.

05 March 2006

BC: If the Americans can have 3 CSI's and 3 Law & Order's why not another Doctor Who spin-off?

While the BBC is in decline mode, but Doctor Who is becoming a franchise. With Doctor Who about to debut season 2 in April -and with a third season already planned - and its first spin-off Torchwood set to begin airing this fall, it looks like Sarah Jane Smith and her trusty robot dog K9 are back in a new children's series.
Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane and K9 will return to Doctor Who in the third episode of season two, called School Reunion. If this is true, this would be the second attempt by the BBC to launch a Sarah Jane show. She did a sort of one-off/potential pilot called K9 and Company back on 1980. But with the success of the new updated show, the BBC appears to to be striking while its hot.
Unlike the CSI franchise, the BBC seems to appealing to a large spectrum of Who fans. While the current series is for famlies and long-time fans, Torchwood will be more adult sci fi fair featuring Captain Jack actor John Barrowman. If this Sarah Jane spin-off is true, it will be designed for the younger audience.

Brokeback wins 3 Oscars but Hollywood still won't come out of the closet

While I wanted it to win, I knew Crash was going to take the Best Film at the Oscars tonight, if only because it was more social themed film than Brokeback. Still, as my roommate said, Hollywood supports gays from the closet. Critics and other have given Brokeback more awards than Crash (and which came out early in 2005), but are unwilling to go "all the way" and say its the Best Picture of the Year. Some have called it homophobia, which I'm sure plays apart.

But, I can also see through the smoke screen that comes out of Hollywood. Tha Oscars are still run by a bunch of old white people, who still (no matter what the Right says) plays it safe. I choose Giamatti because I wanted him to win, but Clooney won based on the fact he is Hollywood royalty and has paid his dues for over 25 plus years in the business. I just had hoped that maybe, they were changing. Giving the Oscar to the 3 6 Mafia was supposed to give the world the impression that the Oscars are hip.

Giving Crash Best Picture was suppose to be just like the song, showing that Hollywood is hip to racism. But no matter how you look at it, racism is still going strong, from here in LA or to my home town of Chicago, were people play the racism card for everything under the sun. Crash's win will change nothing, were Brokeback Mountain could've been a watershed in Oscar history. Sure, the movie was either ignored (I'm sure some members didn't even watch it) or made some of the uncomfortable. Which is, from my opinion, better than the racism at the heart of Crash. While most white folks deal fairly well with racism, by either avoiding it or ignoring it, others see homosexuality as a greater "sin" for lack of better term. For the Oscar voters, to them it was more conscious to give it to Crash, because they look socially responsible.

But it was the worst of two evils for them, maybe. Giving it to Brokeback might've caused some backlash -however doubtful, because the Right still likes the money these films make. But, then again, I could be wrong.

But, while I don't want to come off a victim, but after so many awards, so many accolades, so many changed minds, for Crash to win Best Picture just smacked of disingenuous attitude from the folks at the Oscars. Playing it safe, predictable and just mechanical are their motives. If the Oscars want the ratings to go up, they need to really show the world they are willing to give to the best deserving film instead of just being socially responsible.

So, Brokeback Mountain walked away with 3, Best Director, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score. I had hoped for a fourth, in Cineatography, but it was not meant to be. Crash also walked away with three awards, as did King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha.

revised: 3/8/06

04 March 2006

For the love of a dog

I have no idea who wrote this, but for any dog lover out there:

Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for that kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you should have me learn.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when you footsteps falls upon my waiting ears.

Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal no longer accustomed to the bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth.

Keep my pan filled with water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, so I can stay well; to romp and play and do your bidding; to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with my last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.

01 March 2006

My Oscar Choices

Its the only award show I care about, folks (besides the Emmy's).

Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti
Best Director: Ang Lee
Best Picture: Crash
Adapated Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain
Original Screenplay: Crash

I also predict that Brokeback Mountain will win 4 of the 8 they are nominated in.

My only possible misstep may be Best Supporting Actor. George Clooney could be the upset, as I still think the academy may give it to Giamatti just because they screwed him last year.

We'll see on Sunday.