Friday, April 25, 2008

On Hiatus.

Could be a cliff-hanger, to-be-continued thing. Could be canceled mid-story. Could be a "we'll make those Deadwood movie" thing. Who knows. Until then:


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Six days without a post! Hmmm. Maybe this is why?

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive....

On the other hand, I HAVE been doing a lot of posts for The Bastard Machine. So it's not like I'm going to Opening Day at the Gi....well, yeah, I did that too.

So does having two blogs, one podcast and a job that requires me to write three columns a week minimum put me more or less at risk than, say, some slacker being snarky in his robe for $10 a post?

I think I'll go take a walk.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Friday Night Lights" gets saved. Now, does it need fixing?

You may have heard already, but NBC renewed "Friday Night Lights" as it announced an ambitious (and confusing) 52-week schedule for next year. One of the big bits of news, of course, was that "FNL" was coming back, partly because DirecTV cut a deal with NBC and will air the series first, then NBC will get it back. There will be 13 episodes available to DirecTV customers in the fall, then the series will go back to NBC (for the same 13 eps.) at midseason. I think this is a great idea and one we'll probably see again in the future. Anything to save struggling, deserving series. The question now is, what needs to be done to "FNL" to make it as great as Season 1? Anything?

Also, NBC announced a spin-off of "The Office" and a four-episode order for a half-hour, Thursday version of "Saturday Night Live." Maybe this one will be funny?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The First Cut Is the Deepest. But It's the Deep Cuts That Really Get You.

I grew up listening to music - mostly really great music - all around me. Now, I don't claim to have the parents who listened to classic jazz albums and shit like that. But I'm the youngest of five. I got all the influences. The first album that I ever learned the lyrics to - both sides - was "What's Going On" from Marvin Gaye. I'll take that. I'm almost as proud of that as making sure my daughter's first concert was Wilco - a band she loves (at age 6). And my brothers and sisters were Beatles fans, which is beyond a cliche (but helpful in the musical evolution).

Anyway, despite all of that, the first album that I ever bought with my own money - a key distinction - was the soundtrack to "American Graffiti." And I loved it. I bought it in the Bay Area while visiting my sisters on a visit from SoCal. I played it all the time. Over and over again (a listening pattern that remains today). I learned most of the songs. Even the ones I didn't like. I took it home with me on the plane. I was home for maybe five minutes when I raced across the street with it to show my best friend, Eric. I was going to play him all the great tracks.

He was in his room, with our other good friend, Pat. They had just discovered a new band and a new album, which they were cranking: Aerosmith "Rocks."

I had just become, instantly, the uncoolest of the three. I mean, you only have to hear "Back In the Saddle" once to realize you shouldn't put on "Maybe Baby" right after it. But I had the album. And though all was immediately lost as soon as I walked in, I still - mistakenly - made a play for how great it was. They didn't care. We listened to Aerosmith for an hour at least. Then I played a track or two of "American Grafitti" and suffered the unhip indignity of it all. Maybe that's why I went on to become a music critic - to always be out front, to never follow.

Anyway, here's my question: What was the first album you ever bought for yourself? And how did it affect/change you - or not?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"The Riches." Are you watching. And an Eddie Izzard podcast.

So, tonight was the Season 2 premiere of "The Riches." This is a show I love, flaws and all, and I think they recovered nicely from some of the woes in the middle of Season 1. I just find the ambition here something that's important to back. If you watched, let's hear some thoughts.

And it looks like I'll be interviewing Eddie Izzard in S.F. in late April. In the pod cave. Should be a rush.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bad casting decisions. Bad directing. Can they be overcome?

Maybe with good writing. But even that might be debatable. I bring this up because of two recent series you may have decided to check in on (even though I tried to scare you off). The first was Friday's premiere of "The Return of Jezebel James." You've got Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose set to make the rapid fire wit of Amy Sherman-Palladino come alive and what happens? The pilot completely implodes. The second episode fixes some of the mistakes made Friday, but Sherman-Palladino not only wrote the first episode, she directed it, too. She's got Posey jumping through dumb hoops for 22 minutes and it's just painful to watch.

What did you think? The pacing was a disaster. But the direction was the real culprit. Why have Posey act like she's drunk AND her house is on fire? The second episode resets the tone to almost correct, but by then it's way to late.

As for casting, look no further than Paul Giamatti - a wonderful actor - in "John Adams." Did anyone else find him as off-putting as I did? He constantly made me aware that I was watching Paul Giamatti trying to be John Adams. That's a bad start. But it did distract from the glacial pace and the dry writing. Part 2 ran 90 minutes and was infinitely better, giving us history and action and consequence and daring patriotism. I hate to say it, but in Part 3, the onus returns to Giamatti and this time, once you're used to him as Adams, the writing makes him unlikable. Petty, vain, a terrible father and a distant husband - no wonder it took so long for anyone to attempt to rewrite history to give him his proper due, as David McCullough did. But still, that doesn't translate. And just wait until he and Abigail (Laura Linney) have the most unromantic sex possible in Part 4.

Tough to overcome. All of it.

Thoughts on these shows and other TV series where the casting didn't work or the direction (tone) was way off? Let's keep away from failed writing at this point. That list is much too long.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

All tapped out of "The Wire."

Seems strange, no? Even now. I'm sure I'll go back and rewatch the season at some point, but as it stands, I'm already swamped with shows and moving forward (I've gotta say - four parts of "John Adams" had me wanting a lot more "Wire" instead...).

Now I can tell you my dirty secret, which I held closely for a long, long time this season: Once I realized the unprecedented media attention "The Wire" was getting this season - and not just because of the David Simon/Baltimore Sun angle, but because it was last chance on the bandwagon - I lost my enthusiasm for doing interviews/podcasts with Simon or jumping too heavily into the whole "Wire" world outside of this blog. That's nothing against Simon - who remains one of my favorite television writers, but there was just such enormous saturation that I didn't want much part of it. I like to be away from the numbers, as The Jam once sang. At work I was being bombarded with e-mails from publicists at different publications with all things "The Wire" - look who talks here, guess what Simon says there, blah blah blah.

So, that's why I wasn't in the pack. Now, here's hoping he gets his New Orleans show.

Moving on: I just wanted to thank everyone who came to TGTV, now just called TIM GOODMAN (yes, I just referenced myself in the third person), because it turned out to be a really intelligent bunch of people talking about television - and that was a great luxury (for proof, look at some of the comments left by people on my stories; most claim not to watch TV at all and only want to post to say it's all crap and quote the "vast wasteland" speech or some other kind of boring ignorance). Here and on The Bastard Machine, I've been blessed with people who don't have knee-jerk reactions, realize how great (and yes, how lame) television can be and have the intellectual capacity to discuss it rationally.

Thanks for that.

This is just an item to say starting soon - probably tomorrow - I'll be having regular content here. Already, I've increased the volume on The Bastard Machine, so have a peek over there as well. Just adding to what I wrote in a previous post here about what direction this site will take, I'm thinking about posing broader, perhaps more philosophical or - as we say in journalism - more "thumb-sucker" questions. They may not be as frequent as stuff on The Bastard Machine, but I may put to you Big Picture questions. So have at them with verve and intelligence when they do show up.