Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Idol - Thoughts from a music expert, me

Weird night on American Idol. The producers put the rule out there that the songs have to be “popular downloads on iTunes.” That narrows down the choices to every single song ever written, ever, in history.

My expert, perfect-pitch thoughts on the night:

I want them to sing at my house for me: - Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. Both were awesome, sang great, made great song choices and came off a step above the rest of the group.

I hated them, judges loved them
– Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds. I didn’t think either sounded particularly good. Danny sounded like he was straining and Lil, to me, sounded like a screeching cat. The judges, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of either. They are both front runners so this probably isn’t too big of a deal.

I usually love/hate them, I didn’t hate/love them tonight
: Matt Giraud and Scott McIntyre. Giraud is one of my favorites but he sounded like complete, cringe-worthy garbage. I am worried about his chances. I typically cringe every time I hear Scott’s name get called but he pulled it off tonight with some Billy Joel. He is still creepy but at least the judges got to fawn over him some more.

I just said whatever
: Anoop Desi

I couldn’t help but think of a Molly Ringwold film : Allison Iraheta wearing something Mrs. Channelup wore to an all 80’s night party a few months ago.

I covered my ears and lunged for the mute button
: Megan Joy. What a steaming pile of feces of a performance.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

24 - Jack has the sniffles

If only the CDC was actually running government strike teams. They got to the scene of Jack's exposure to the virus faster than anything that has ever happened in the 24 world.

Jack was exposed to an unknown virus and needs some help pronto. With the CDC on the scene we get to see Jack take off his shirt and the doctors gasp in horror at the toll it has taken on his body. Oh wait a minute, those are just his scars and tattoos, not the virus. He strips down and we almost get a real time look at his little David Palmer (his nickname). After running some tests we find out the virus is a danger to Jack but not to anyone else because he isn't contagious. I can only assume that Jack Bauer has the ability to will his immune system to control the virus. To him the virus is just another terrorist needing to be subdued.

Tony has been captured by John Voight's gang of Blackwater wannabees (Starkwood). They are in control of the weapon. Voight seems crazy through and through. Tony refuses to give him any info and Voight's lackey (Slater from Dazed and Confused) is getting cold feet about the whole terrorist operation. He sides with Tony and says he will lead the government to the WMD. When the FBI moves in on the Slater's information they are able to secure a completely empty warehouse. Nice job. The information was bogus. Slater was just buying Voight some time. Before the FBI can search the rest of the compound Starkwood goons surround them. This has not been a banner day for the FBI and Special Agent Moss. He has literally done every single thing wrong. His end of the year job review is going to be a bloodbath.

It looks like a virus-filled Jack and a still annoying Agent Renee Something-or-Other will have to come to the rescue.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kings - A night on the town, royalty version

David heads out for a night on the town with Prince Jack. Ever partied with a prince before? I have but I figured none of you had so I just thought I would ask. Anyway, it's awesome.

The ballet is in town and Queen Rose wants it to be a special night for Shiloh. David gets invited, then uninvited, then invited out with Jack. The royal family all have their own agendas and are willing to basically f-over David for their own gain. Jack thinks David garners too much attention around Shiloh and wants to knock him down a peg or two. Queen Rose just doesn't want David around the princess and also thinks he is a getting a bit too big for his britches.

Prince Jack looks, at all times, like he has the flu and is on some kind of cocaine binge. Jack is a legitimately troubled soul that can't seem to get out of his own way. He wants the power associated with being royalty but hasn't reconciled the idea that to be a king one must act "kingly." Kingly, in this sense, means not having an "in the closet" homosexual relationship, getting in bar brawls, banging hookers and selling out friends in order to gain political favor. Like I said, he doesn't get it.

David, on the other hand, keeps looking better and better just by default and having a fairly accurate moral compass. He goes out for the night, enjoys himself, but stops short of going the distance with a girl one step above a prostitute. David's decision to stay upstanding is more that Prince Jack can handle forcing him to leak damaging photos of David to the Shiloh press. tsk tsk.

Meanwhile Silas's illegitimate son is sick and close to dying. Silas leaves the ballet to be with him. Through some soul searching and conversations with Reverend Samuels, Silas decides that God is punishing him for lack faith. Look, I get the show is based on the biblical story of David, but the religious talk in these episodes comes off as a little much. Its all a bit too medieval and heavy handed. I could do with a little less of it. Silas realizes that his deal with God means having to give up the secret life he has been living away from the castle. Its the price to pay to maintain power and stay in God's favor. His son gets better but Silas will no longer be in his life.

Excellent episode that really began getting at the torment, distrust and demons living in the royal family. And the scenes with Jack and the crew partying were an almost mirror image of my weekend so it was really easy to relate to this episode.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Night Lights - Bizarro Dillon

JD is a mack daddy? Tyra throwing a tea party? Dillon might redistrict? Riggins is the responsible one? Its bizzaro world on Friday Night Lights.

Another great episode. I read recently that FNL might be close to signing a two year extension. That was the best news of the night for me. I feel this show blurs the lines between entertainment and reality so much that I find myself rooting for characters in the ways I root for my own friends. I want Saracen to win. I want Tyra to find her own way out and I want Riggins to pull it all together.

Matt is dealing with his granny's slow spiral into dimentia. A transcending scene with him grabbing her slippers that are already on her feet. It almost felt out of a documentary (which it seems Peter Berg is going for). This was painfully touching. Kudos to a show that deals with issues beyond the scope of CSI and the like. I get the feeling that many folks understood this story line more than I ever could.

JD McCoy, QB sensation, is living large. Football star, hot girlfriend, overbearing father living vicariously through his son. Even though JD leads the team to states (in FNL ridiculous fashion) the kid just doesn't live up to fatherly expectations. This leads to a confrontation in the Applebee's parking lot where Mr. McCoy hits JD. Mrs. McCoy's screaming brought this scene to life quickly and brutally.

Riggins as a moral compass? Doesn't seem to make sense until he talks Lyla off the edge. She is still struggling with Buddy's mismanagement of her college funds. He walks her back into reality through basic common sense, and dare I say it? Love. Touching moment where Tim redirects all the love and faith Lyla has shown him back on to her.

Great episode. One of the FNL's true hallmarks is its character development and execution. The show pulls no punches. No dilemma is too deep or taboo. The writers handle everything tactfully and emotionally. No small feat.

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DVR, Hulu and the Death of Television Conversation

The other night the little lady and I were having the great debate over watching either Lost or American Idol live. Exciting times around the Norrie house. It got us talking about the generational shift occurring in television viewing these days. Again, exciting times around the abode. Click here to read more on Cinemablend. Read more!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Office - Some Scotch and Splenda please

So Michael is quitting. Seems like a good idea considering the economy. Everyone is hiring; especially the paper business.

Some legitimate hilarity in this episode which is good to see as the last few ones have been a bit slow. An uncaring Michael Scott is a funny Michael Scott. Michael's last days are full of hard work, drinking artificially flavored scotch and stickying Jim's papers.

Idris Elba's character is an interesting addition to the show as he is so unfunny, he becomes funny. Whenever I look at him I can't see anything but Stringer Bell. He has driven Michael to insanity in the form of newly conceived "Michael Scott Paper." Michael can't get others to defect over to his side,and Stringer needs to have him escorted from the building by good old Hank. Poor Hank.

Stringer's hatred of Jim is also perfect in the awkwardness Jim exudes whenever they are together. Reminds me of half the relationships I have ever had.

In his last ditch attempt to convert the Dunder Mifflin family, he fails miserably. Until Pam pulls a Renee Zellweger and goes with him. Whaa?! As a salesman/woman. Double whhaaa?!!!! How long until he tells her that she completes him?

Kevin on the phones?! Stanley in charge of productivity? What's next? Meredith in charge of moral conduct? Creed overseeing petty cash? Great episode all around.

So many great quotes tonight but these were my favorite.

Michael - "I practically invented decline."
Dwight - "My German is pre-industrial and mostly religious."
Oscar - "And just like that. As mysteriously as he arrived, he was gone."
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lost - Sayid you later

Finally a Lost episode that is entertaining and doesn't confuse the ever-living shit out of me. Spoilers ahead

And wow! I had all these hilarious and witty little jokes lined up for this one ready to fire out there like a machine gun. Then "BAM" Sayid ices little Ben "Harry Potter" Linus and all bets are off. First of all, it is near impossible for a television show to kill off a kid who is a character. I honestly cannot think of another instance of it happening. Secondly, the time travel, past, future implications of this are staggering. Is Ben still alive? Does he just disappear? Does my head explode from trying to make sense of it all?

Obviously Ben is pure evil but I was kind of getting used to having him around, messing with minds, manipulating, being a sort of androgynous foil for every male and female character in the cast. Can't you see Michael Emerson just appearing out of nowhere on the Lost set to ask things like, "Don't you want to get a drink? You look thirsty," and then just staring at the other person until they grudgingly agree? That is the hallmark of a great actor; when you can imagine them being the exact same person in real life as the character they play on the show. I hope it isn't the end for him.

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American Idol Keeps it Current

American Idol must know something the rest of the radio and record production world doesn't. After making us endure two hours of Randy Travis inspired country music last week, they decide to bring out teen pop sensation Smokey Robinson this week. It's Motown Night in Hollywood! To quote Matt Giraud's original song tonight, "Let's get it on!" For this I am just going to write up ideas on the fly as I watch.
Matt Giraud - awesome. Great move getting up from piano. This guy won’t win but he should be in the top four. God I want to kill Kara.
Kris Allen - initial reaction was he was going to get killed. I may be wrong. Looking just like my friend Keith Gaub from high school. Really great performance. He is better vocally than I thought. Simon says Kris has no confidence. Which is probably the only reason Simon is famous. Conceited enough for a village. And Seacrest makes the same joke so I am forced to strikethrough it.
Scott Mcintyre – looking sufficiently creepy. I recognize the guy is blind, but I am all for treating everyone equally and this guy is a disaster from every conceivable angle. His singing is a significant step below everyone else’s and he looks like a guy I would see staring in through my window while I am trying to change. He is wearing pink pants! The best part about this guy is that Paula probably has legitimate nightmares about ever having to say anything critical to him. Interesting move by AI producers to bring the female singers out by the piano to distract from his awkward movements. Singing was fine. Probably one of his better performances from an energy point of view. He is just not that good of a singer. And then Paula brings up the thing about the dancers so maybe it was his idea. Thank God for Simon! Honesty is the best policy. Kara and Paula just can’t be mean to this guy. Let me reiterate that I hate Kara.
Megan Joy – Man I just don’t get this girl as a singer. Smokey calls her half cabaret, half jazz singer. To me she seems all weird and bad at singing. Smokey calls her practice version, “different.” Not a good sign. Man just a brutal singing job as far as I am concerned. Butchered it. But she is hot so she probably sticks around.
Anoop Desai – I am getting bored already. Anoop would be a really entertaining accountant or something. Probably not the next American Idol. Got caught in a conversation and missed most of his performance.
Michael Sarver - Cool guy. It is obvious I am losing steam? I need some Danny Gokey soon. Aint to proud to beg was a little weird. Not exactly his style and the last note was ruff ruff ruff. Judges are going to hate it. Kara says that at this point it isn’t about singing, it’s about artistry. I think my ears would disagree.
Lil Rounds – enough with the “can sing the phone book” quote. Can you imagine how boring that would be? The better quote would be, “You can make Nickelback songs listenable.” To be honest she doesn’t sound that great to me in this performance. Over-singing a bit. The wife says she looks better than she has up until now. I kind of think this song sounds brutal. Randy agrees with me. Everyone agrees except good old, sane Paula.
Adam Lambert – almost kissed Smokey Robinson when they are talking about tears. Adam looks like a wax doll of Chris Isaak. His hair looks like a Ken doll. Guy can really sing though. I am interested to see what the judges thin of this. So much different than anything else he has done so far. Judges love it. Kara goes way out on a limb calling it putting it possibly in the top 25% of the performances when she says it was “one of the best performances of the night.” Simon loves it and Kara cheers because he agrees with her.
Danny Gokey – My main man. I just want this guy to win. Great story. And by the way, he can sing. Doesn’t really know what to do when he is on stage but that is okay. Simon hates it and you can tell judges were told to start rushing through their comments. They went super fast.
Allison Iraheta – definite sleeper for this competition. She reminds me of all the girls I knew when I was sixteen except she is talented, mature and unique. By far the best female vocal of the night. Wow. Put lil Rounds to shame. Kara is losing her mind. Judges love her. Kara thinks she has been singing for 400 years?!?! Paula has a mustache from a practical joke from Simon. That was the moment of the night.

Good overall night. Next week: Idol does old Irish ballads.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama ruins my Tuesday

I love President Obama as much as the next guy, but this needs to stop. Mrs. Channelup and I were driving in the car on the way to sushi tonight and I started complaining about Presidential news conferences interrupting primetime network programming. My main complaints centered on his insistence on being honest with the American people and holding to his promises he made in the campaign about a more open government. What the hell is this guy's problem? Stop it already. I like my Presidents quiet, lameduck and enjoying his CSI or American Idol. If i had known this dedication to the American people would keep me from Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds singing Motown songs while Seacrest makes thinly veiled homoerotic jokes toward Simon, well I might have voted for McCain. Read more!

24 = Muzak

I realized something about 24 last night. It has become a total background show for me. What I mean by background show is that I can watch it on in the background, go about other business like email, writing, reading, etc and still not miss any substantial plot points or moments of interest. It is like Muzak, with guns, yelling and horrendous national security. This change didn’t come on quickly. I have been tuned into the show for pretty much the duration. What I realized last night is that there is nothing new or particularly thought-provoking happening here. 24 follows such a template and format that, at this point, I am not sure what would even surprise me about it. For instance, last night Jack and Tony tracked down the WMD being brought in by Jon Voight and his Blackwater-like cronies (yawn), got in an intense firefight with the Gang who Couldn’t Shoot Straight (boring), rescued the WMD, got exposed to some kind of poison gas, got in another firefight, and finally lost the WMD (snooze). This all happened in about 10 minutes.

So much of this is recycled from previous seasons that I honestly think the writers have run out of ideas. They probably ran out of ideas three seasons ago actually. I don’t blame them. 24 is by all measures a concept show run amok. It was a long miniseries that kept getting re-upped because the idea was awesome and Keifer Sutherland was legitimately great as Jack Bauer. But concept shows only go so far. It would be like The Bachelor re-airing every season with the same exact guy looking for love. How many new scenarios could they put that guy in before it got totally ludicrous? (Oh wait…)

The 24, real time terrorist struggle, concept must be so mind-bogglingly difficult to write for that I actually commend the writers for still going at it. There are only so many ideas floating around there in the ether. I will watch the rest of the season, but short of machines launching Judgment Day beginning a war with the Jack Bauer-led resistance, there is little that would intrigue me about the ending.
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