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Archive for the ‘tv’ Category

So, um, I don’t know much about cars.1 I know this is a shocker.  Everything about this blog says I should be well-versed in automotive technology.  But I was raised by a parent who leased rather than purchased and so took the car right back to the dealer for it to worry about if something went wrong.  Everything I know about cars comes from having watched Mona Lisa Vito’s critical testimony in My Cousin Vinny.

All that said, I think I know more than the guy whose testimonial is featured in one of the latest Ford commercials for its 2010-model Flex.2010 Ford Flex | Official Site of the Ford Flex | FordVehicles.com

The dude is all excited that the Flex has keyless entry, which comes in handy if he locks his keys inside.  But then he spends the remainder of the commercial — a clear majority of it — praising the Flex’s comfort level for dudes who wear skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans.2

The guy is excited that he can leave his keys in the car and still get in and out of it, thereby allowing him to wear skinny jeans when he drives.  Obviously, if he had to carry his keys while wearing skinny jeans, they’d create a bulge in his pocket and press against his thigh and who wants that?  Obviously.

And we needn’t even talk about just how good of an idea skinny jeans are for men generally.  Why stop at slim fit jeans when you can just squeeze your balls like oranges?3 Nothing says “confidence” like self-induced eunuchism.  But far be it from me to tell another man what he should wear.  I used to think that fashion only played a role in choosing a car if you were a) vain or b) “wearing” a prosthetic leg or a wheelchair.  Now, I know better.

Naturally, I’ve now added “whether it will allow me to commit fashion errors” to the top of my wishlist for car features.  Actually, I should probably go call Zipcar and thank them for making all of their cars so skinny-jeans-friendly, since I can unlock them with a card or my phone.  I’ll remember to complain, though, that their seat belts wrinkle my ties.

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1I do know everything about hovercrafts, though — hoverbikes, hoverboards, whatever.

2Is making commercials really this easy?

3passerby: “Hey!  That guy pissed himself!  Look at the wet spot on his skinny jeans!  What a tool.”
guy in skinnies: “Huh?  No; it’s cool.  Just juiced m’scrotes.”

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Not since the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” ads with Fabio have we seen such trickeration in the marketing of food.

Pizza Hut has been running these commercials in which the surprise is that you’re eating Pizza Hut food and not the food of the restaurant you’re sitting in. The ad campaign started with Tuscani pasta and now also includes wings from “wing street.” People walk into a restaurant, order (from what I imagine is set up as some sort of special menu) and then huzzah! they’re elated that they’re actually eating Pizza Hut and it’s not horrible.

Not that Pizza Hut is listening, but if it were, some thoughts:

Pizza Hut,

a) you better not charge me the menu price for the restaurant I’m actually in, and

b) it’s our anniversary, I made reservations for this place and we’re eating Pizza Hut pasta. This is a problem. Fix it.

I’m not usually a fan of surprises. The kinds of surprises I like are limited. Here’s a contrasting pair. You guess which one I’d like.

A letter from Citibank explaining that recent financial restructuring means my student loan balance has been forgiven.

A guy in a Pizza Hut trucker hat running out of the kitchen at the restaurant at which I’m eating, screaming “You’ve been punk’d!”

ashtonpunked-thumb

It’s like this, Hut (can I call you “Hut?”). If your approach is “if we told you it was The Hut, you’d think it sucked, so we lied to you, with the hope that we could avoid the stigma of such a presumption,” well, I think your ad council sucks.

But I guess it takes diff’rent strokes to feed the world, Hut. What might be right for some, may not be right for me.1 And I suppose I shouldn’t judge you for aiming for the market of people who love putting unidentified objects in their mouths just because I like to keep my ingestion honest.

Pizza Hut: it’s not just on purpose anymore.

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1They’ll have theirs, you’ll have yours and I’ll have mine.  And my stomach will be fine.

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This picture has virtually nothing to do with this post.

Let's assume he's measuring something culinary.

Let's assume Ron's measuring something culinary.

But I thought it was funny.  So it made the cut.

Moving right along.

So there’s this little show that doesn’t get enough exposure.  But maybe you’ve heard of it.  It’s called Top Chef.  In high school, I had an idea for a show that would become wildly successful.  I didn’t have a premise, character sketches or storylines; only great expectations.  Little did I know that 5 years later, I’d see my idea in full bloom as Bravo’s big kitchen-based success.  But since I didn’t pitch my idea to any networks or even mention it to any friends, and forgot about it for years, I can only take 70% of the credit for the wonder that is Top Chef.

However, if I actually did have licensing and creative control over the show, there are a few things I’d have to change.  I’ll give you the top 3.

It would be broadcast in HD.

Everywhere.  And regardless of whether your TV was HD-ready, it would magically be shown in HD.  Actually, if you only had a transistor radio, there would be a way to turn that radio into an HD projector that could shoot out Top Chef on the surface of your choosing.

I don’t know who your providers are, but here, with Comcast in DC, the show for which seeing is so much of believing is not shown at the height of its visible potential.  It’s not like we can actually taste the food they make.  That brings me to the second idea.

Taste-o-vision à la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Viewers must have the option to have any food plated on the show magically transported through the TV into their living rooms.  For a flat fee of $10, that dish that made you drool on your remote or that you bet your roommate would taste like ass is now in the palm of your hands.

Finally, less Survivor-like tasks.

Top Chef - Photos - Episode 7_ Dinner Party - Bravo TV Official SiteSee that picture on the right?  That’s Ash in last week’s episode.  Can you tell what he’s doing?  He’s cooking on top of a chair.

They put all the chefs into one homestyle kitchen — granted, a large one — paired them up, and told them to make dishes worthy of competition while using only certain provided ingredients.

It was a horrible idea.  At one point, Ash and Michael got screwed because the key element to successful use of any plug-in kitchen appliance — electricity — disappeared from the socket they were using.1

When Michael explained that he struggled because he unexpectedly had no electricity to the wok he had balanced on a chair, Tyler Florence — guest judge — reminded him that a top chef controls the situation rather than the other way around.

My Top Chef would ban guest judges who say dumbass nonsense.

I’ve never worked in a kitchen, but sure: I imagine you have to learn to roll with the punches.  But I also imagine that while that rolling may be literal, the punches are figurative; that if a customer came in and actually started punching a chef in the face, for example, other reasonable customers would understand why their dish was a little late.

On my Top Chef, the focus would be on making good food in functional kitchens under above par conditions.  Because, honestly, that’s what I’d be paying for if I went to a restaurant.  Maybe that makes me a little fundamentalist with my patronage.  But I’m okay with that.

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1Arguably a result of stuffing 8 chefs into one kitchen.

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happy couples

I do not care for couples humor in my TV viewing blocks.  I like to stay on the cutting edge of funny1 and couples jokes are about as sharp as the little utensils that came with your Play-Doh set when you were a kid.

You know what I mean.  Often, it’s about the absurdity of trash pickup day being so early in the week or it’s Jane remarking about how what she thinks is foreplay Tom thinks is hesitation/cold feet and what Tom thinks is foreplay she thinks is just the interlude of an orgasm.

But it isn’t always that recognizable.  Sometimes it’s not that the joke is about any one thing but that the joke is so motherhumping corny that you just want to strangle everyone in the scene; so corny that if you had only one hand to pull off this mass-strangling initiative, you’d still git er dun with sheer willpower and MacGyver-like resourcefulness.

I had a case in point.2 It was that never-ending pasta bowl Olive Garden commercial; the one where two perfectly-balanced, intra-racial, hetero couples walk in, with one guy being oh-so-sure that he knows what he wants until he learns he can have it all.

Oh, snap, yo!  Give my word to your mother!

Then all comedic hell breaks loose.

There’s some hearty chuckling, some “Oh, that Bob!” smiles and some quick shuffling through realization and a menu by Bob.  And you know it just had to end with Bob genuinely bashful about just how wrong he was about the limitations of Olive Garden’s menu.

I hate this commercial like Nietzsche hated syphilis.3

And since I can’t replay it for you anyway, I figured I’d script the way I imagine it should’ve gone.4

Four friends — couple #1, Lisa and James; couple #2, Sue and Bob — are entering an Olive Garden.

Bob: I know what I’m getting!

Sue: That’s because you change your mind about as often as Al Bundy changed underwear.

Lisa: I heard you’ve got one and only one move in the bedroom, too.

James: If I have any balls, they haven’t dropped yet!

Bob, Sue, Lisa: *slow blink* *Sue pats Lisa on the back*

[once seated…]

Lisa: Everything looks… exactly as it did last Tuesday.

James: I hope they have garlic bread here!

Sue: Lisa, I think your husband is a full-blown ruh-tard.  You should ask our server for a high-chair or booster seat or an annulment or something.

Bob: *!!*  They’ve got a never-ending pasta bowl!

Lisa: Which only means you’ll order the chicken and broccoli alfredo 7 times.

James: I’ll be back.  *stands and leaves*

Bob: I don’t see why–

Sue: Honeybumps, don’t worry.  Give me your menu.  I’ll order for you.

Lisa: Eh.  Bob’s a stronger reader, Sue.

Server (to Lisa): Ma’am, would you come get your husband?  He ran across the parking lot to the Red Lobster and he’s now swimming with the lobsters.

Lisa: Til death!  Woot! *takes a sip of her chardonnay and leaves*

Bob: You think they can do any better than us, you know, with other friends?

Sue: If they could, they wouldn’t be here every Tuesday night.

(Note: no Olive Garden was actually harmed in the spoofing of this commercial.)

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1Self-serving joke? Uh, yeah.
2But thanks to a blocked YouTube clip, you’ll have to trust me.
3What? I was a philosophy major in college.
4The commercial; not the syphilis.

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This here is a media blitz.  Ready?  Let’s go.

evergrey

First up, Different Worlds by Swedish progressive metal band Evergrey.

Let’s not mix words: worst song ever.

Eighth track on their third album, In Search of Truth.  The album is a concept album.  The concept is simulated alien abduction.  True to concept, some of the lyrics:

All my pride has left me
My value as a human has been extinguished
My close ones those who love
Disbelieve me won’t believe me
So I got no one to confide in
And what’s worse is
I’m beginning to accept this
My body’s become my prison
My keepers are what you would call…
Fiction.

Enough said, right?  Nope there’s more.  At the 3:46 mark, the frontman starts audibly shivering and shaking, barely able to murmur-chant anything other than “Please don’t touch me.”

You are welcome.
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Next at the podium,

glee1

I call “bullshit.”

Seriously.  I don’t get it.  I haven’t been this bamboozled since the new nanny my mom hired when we were kids showed up with presents on the very first day we met her and then it all ended a few months later after she moved her 30 year-old son in (like we wouldn’t notice) and we had to call the police to have them forcibly removed from the premises.

The last time I’ve seen any production receive this much hype and fail me so hard was Scarface.  I waited three hours for that anti-epic to finish and by then I’d already seen the “climactic” final plunge so many times elsewhere that I wanted my 25 bucks back.  Yes: 25.  I actually just bought the damn thing at Best Buy because everyone assured me it would be life-changing.  Six years later, I just want to throw it out.

But I know some of you really like Glee. And the fact that I think it’s just a series of YouTube-worthy clips with no appealing writing whatsoever is just me being me. So, to even out the hate, I’ll throw you a bone.

I own Garden State.  There.  Said it.  Call it a Jersey thing.  Fair?
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Finally, Cougar Town.

cougar townThere were a couple of gems:

Supporting actress #1(“SA1”) — photo, rear — said “crack-a-lackin” and had a visible boob-hickey.  Star cougar, Courtney Cox, said “coochie cooch.”

But the best was this scene outside Courtney’s front door:

[Knock on door. Courtney opens and sees young guy she met at the bar. Drunk SA1 in background screaming from midnight blue VW Beetle with its top down has dropped him off.]

SA1: “Hey! You left that at the bar, bitch!”

But there’s one glaring error: Courtney Cox is the only cougar in Cougar Town.  There is no town full of cougars.  Sure: at some point, she goes to a bar/cougar lair.  But a bar is not a town.  And that, my friends, is false advertising.  It’s like going to the zoo to see the monkeys and in the pen there’s only one, lonely, botoxed, twitching monkey.¹

But I’ll watch again. I mean, it’s about cougars.

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¹Obviously, women are not like monkeys.  Do not go call your girlfriend a “monkey” and tell her I said it was cool.

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… ended with Neil Patrick Harris presenting me the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for my brief stint on Mad Men.  Not only had I broken the color line on Madison Avenue in the episode in which I starred, but I also managed to be in the same room as Christina Hendricks and remember how to use my words.

joan hollowayAnd the latter, my friends, is a pretty brilliant performance.

Miss Bianca and I considered hopping a private jet Paul Rudd offered to take us to the awards, but we changed our minds at the last moment.  As it turns out, we’re the basis for NBC’s blockbuster Heroes.  I often believe too readily in the kindness of others but can do pretty much any and everything, like Peter Petrelli.  Miss Bianca, much like Brea Grant — aka Daphne — runs like the speed of light and likes to “permanently borrow” the belongings of others.  So I flew us out there and, when we paused in Colorado so I could rest, she stole us some Wendy’s.

But before we flew out for the celebration on Sunday, Miss Bianca and I put our elite carpenter skills to good use.  We built a full-scale replica of Noah’s ark.¹  With winter DC’s rain season right around the corner, and expected indefinite delays on Metro because time is not — how you say? — “of the essence” to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, we knew we were going to have to get creative with ideas for how to get to work on time on rainy mornings.

That’s the recap of what I imagined.

Sure: I could tell you we went grocery shopping or that we stopped by the local hardware store so that we could put up some pot racks.  I could tell you that other than that, we never really left the house; that instead we watched Tropic Thunder Friday night and actually didn’t even watch the Emmys Sunday because we were cleaning the kitchen and watching the game.

Sure: I could have written that post.  But… why?

I respect two kinds of flight: of the Conchords and of fancy.  I enjoy the former and employ the latter.

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¹Don’t ask where we got the blueprints.  We’ll never tell.

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So last night I’m sittin’ up in my room, thinkin’ about you and what I’d write for today. Miss Bianca’s sifting through the Comcastic menu and stops — because how can you ignore? — on VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the ’80s.¹

And you know what? Some of those people were kinda bitter.

I certainly don’t know the feeling of a song being adopted for something like Burger King, Ritz cracker, M&M and Taco Bell commercials (like Modern English’s I Melt With You). I also don’t know the feeling of a song being held up as a lightning rod despite how your music may have changed throughout the rest of your career.

But let’s imagine those songs don’t happen. No one hears them on the radio. No one buys the album because they heard them. No one comes to the shows to hear them played.

Then what?

Then maybe sponsors don’t find you commercially viable, the record labels (which totally rely on trickle-down economics to fund less financially valuable artists with the revenue generated from stars at the top of the charts) aren’t interested in funding your next project and maybe everything comes to a dead halt.

Then give back some estimate of the proportion of your revenue it created (the cars and the houses, too), the relationships it started and helped forge and eliminate an equally representative element of your fan base.

But remember to cling to your sense of pride.

I just don’t get it. You write a song millions, if not billions, adore. So you don’t like it anymore. So it doesn’t “work” for you — *ahem* Radiohead and Creep *ahem.* I get that.

And it’s not like we, the fans, say “Jump!” and you ask “How high?” You’re not public servants. Just because that asshat in the front row starts yelling “Play [insert your latest radio-friendly single]!” as soon as the lights come on — and until the lights go off — it doesn’t mean you have to cater to her/him. I just think it would be nice to not be so much of an asshat yourself every once in a while.

Each song you ever record and distribute is a potential first impression. The idea that you could ever delude yourself into disbelieving that the only reason some people ever care about you is because of your one hit wonder, or that single they heard on the radio during the morning commute, is ridiculous. This happens for every single song. So what that it’s your 457th song? It’s some fan’s first time hearing you.

If you didn’t want this part of the business, then maybe you should’ve kept your band and your pride in your parents’ garage.

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¹Hosted by Judah Friedlander; known for the ‘burns, better known for being a World Champion at everything; best-known for 30 Rock.

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