Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SCOOP: Finally Sarah Palin on "30 Rock"!

The funniest show on television right now is "30 Rock." (Or at least I assume it is, in that it's the only TV comedy I watch now that "The Office" isn't funny anymore.)

"30R" is not in the same league as "Seinfeld" or glory day "Simpsons," but it easily has the charm, wit, and - most importantly - potential that we haven't seen since "Arrested Development." But well beyond that, "30 Rock" has a momentum that "Arrested Development" didn't have, thanks to one woman: Sarah Palin.

To anyone who did not spend 2008 in a cave in Mars with their eyes shut and their ears plugged, Tina Fey changed the scope of the 2008 Presidential election with her impersonation of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.

Some of the highlights are on Hulu here, here, and here.

The phenomenal amount of attention Ms. Fey generated for her Palin-spiring performance has trickled down to her show, but at no point has there been reference to Gov. Palin on "30R."

Until last Thursday's episode. Check out this screenshot.

Note the picture of Alec Baldwin's character, Jack Donaghy - a big time Repub - standing next to the hottest governor from the coolest state. No doubt someone had the foresight to knips this picture when Sarah Palin guest starred on "Saturday Night Live" on October 18, 2008. (Watch that clip here.)

Anyway. I thought this was cool as I am a fan of both Republicanism and "30 Rock," and I was wondering when they'd finally pay homage to Tina Fey's stellar impersonation.

I also thought I'd scooped the Internet until I found this article just now. Frak! (I will point out, though, that my circling of the Palin picture is done much more attractively than the hack who wrote that entry for AOL news.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Family Guy: The Next Generation

So two Star Trek-related posts in a row here. Did you catch last night's Family Guy episode? Here's the full episode on Hulu. It got a lot of buzz because it reunited the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

While this clip has some funny lines, the whole installment was weak and pathetic. Here they have EVERYONE from TNG, and they basically just tell the same joke over and over again (Stewie bossing them around while they're in a humorously mundane setting i.e. a bowling alley). And they just made it filler for this lame diatribe about Seth McFarlane's atheism wrapped around some tired, predicatble Christian-bashing. Further proof that while Family Guy is capable of moments of hilarity:

... when it comes to generating an ACTUAL story with ACTUAL jokes, they fall flat. Very flat.

Contrast this episode to the one Futurama did a few years ago where they reunited all the original series cast, which thing was a masterpiece of perfect beauty. Here's a link to the video. And yet Futurama died a pre-mature death while Family Guy has, somehow, lived long and prospered. Alas.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Star Trek 11?

So I've gotten a lot of complaints that I haven't yet blogged about the new Star Trek movie. But we have a pretty good news hook to do so now, in that they launched this new trailer a couple days ago before "Watchmen," so here goes:

(Waits patiently for readers to watch the trailer.)

I have two main points.

1) The Star Trek franchise, while it has created some quality work in the interim, has failed to genuinely rouse the interest of its fans, or a wider audience, since First Contact (which was in 1996 - THIRTEEN frakking years ago).

2) If STXI cannot perform well - which means not only box office revenue but also boost sagging interest in conventions, merchandise, and previous incarnations of the show - it will spell the final end of the Star Trek machine. (Note: I predicted this after the humiliating final entry of the Next Generation movies; while that was (obviously) not true, the gap between STX and STXI is six years, larger than any other in Star Trek history, representing a significant drop in ST momentum.)

As with all ST movies, it will live or die by how well it can attract a broader audience while drawing repeat viewings from die-hard fans. Can you make the fans happy without dumbing the film down for some bone-head mass audience?

The reason Voyage Home is the most successful, both critically and commercially, movie in Star Trek history is because they got non-Star Trek fans to come and see it. (I remember at a party a while ago, a girl tried to impress me by telling me "They are not the hell your whales." People know that film; it's a good film.) STIV's creators were able to get non-Trekkers into the theaters because 1) they based it in a modern, easily relatable setting, and 2) they used a lot of humor.

(STIV is also, incidentally, the first film where Shatner earned a 7 figure salary.)

In trying to shoot the gap between a mass audience and hard-core fans, the film's creators have made a couple really good decisions, namely tapping JJ Abrams to direct and casting Zachary Quinto as Spock. Both represent two very successful science fiction TV shows ("Lost" and "Heroes") that are able to get non-sci-fi folks interested. The powers that be at Star Trek are acknowleding that they are no longer the big kid on the block. For 30 years, except for a little hiccup between 1977 and 1983, Star Trek was the end-all, be-all of science fiction. But this has not been the case for a long time (starting, probably, with the rise of the X-Files).

On the TV side, one of the reasons that Star Trek Enterprise failed to generate any interest, beyond its first season, is it had to compete with the phenomenally well-received reboot of Battlestar Galactica. (Note: I am so disinterested in Enterprise that I didn't even hyperlink to its Wikipedia article.)

On the film side, while no one looked at the Star Wars prequel trilogy and said, "Hey, that's the future of science fiction!", the special effects of said trilogy blew anything Star Trek has done out of the proverbial space water. All of the Next Gen films (except for First Contact) felt like their creators were just doing extra-long episodes rather than movies. STXI's budget is $150 million, about 2.5 times that of Star Trek Nemesis, so one hopes that the battle scenes will look more like this (the intro scene of Revenge of the Sith)...

... than this (the horribly bland "climactic" battle from Star Trek Nemesis):

They are boldly going where they've already been, and as we saw with last year's Indiana Jones movie, nostalgia pieces can fall flat on their faces if they don't appeal to nostalgia. I don't know if they can generate the same kind of reverent fervor created by the Star Trek Phase II project, and they have a cameo of Leonard Nimoy playing an older Spock, which counts for a lot.

They will draw some non-Trekkers into the theaters, but this film will live or die by the Star Trek fans. I believe that this film will make them happy.


That is if you
can make Star Trek fans happy. As all true Star Trek fans know, the best part about loving Star Trek is hating Star Trek.


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