Thursday, July 31, 2008

You Can’t Miss the 2008 Olympics

Just a few days ago, I wrote about the changing face of the Democratic and Republican Conventions over the years, here. Another big television event is also just about a week away from descending upon us – the 2008 Summer Olympics, opening on 8/8/08. Like the conventions, the 2008 Olympic television coverage certainly won’t be the Olympic TV coverage I grew up with, which for a long time was only available on one channel (ABC). With media giant NBC Universal handing the television coverage, the Olympics will be on one channel or another in the NBC Universal group, providing coverage virtually 24/7, for the duration of the games.

But, why is it that I still don’t feel as excited as I used to about the Olympics? Maybe my overall interest in sports has waned over the years. But, I think a big part of it is that despite wall-to-wall coverage on various channels, there are still plenty of other things to watch on television. That’s even considering that we’re deep into the summer rerun doldrums.

I shouldn’t assume, though, that once things get going that I wouldn’t find some sports that will bring on the excitement. After all, I never expected to be riveted by the sport of Curling in the last Winter Olympics. Curling! The very complete coverage being provided by the NBC Universal powerhouse will be hard to resist, especially if it’s offered on channels that are available in HD. I have to admit that I do find sports a little more interesting and fun to watch in HD. It’s almost like being there.

NBC also seems very aware of any concerns that viewers may have with the time difference between Beijing and the US, and they have the following message on their web site:

NBC's 'Complete Olympics' NBCOlympics.com to show more than 2,000 hours of live events
Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NBC Universal, broadcasting its record 11th Olympics and surpassing ABC for the most Olympics broadcast by any network, will present an unprecedented 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympic Games coverage, the most ambitious single media project in history. NBCU's unprecedented Olympics coverage features the most live coverage in the United States (75 percent in all), across the most platforms, of any Summer Olympics in history when the Games of the XXIX Olympiad commence on Aug. 8. The announcement was made today by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and Executive Producer of NBCU's Olympic coverage.


The 3,600 total hours of coverage on seven NBC Universal networks: NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD, as well as NBCOlympics.com, is 1,000 hours more than the combined coverage for every televised Summer Olympics in U.S. history (Rome 1960 - Athens 2004, 2,562 hours). NBCOlympics.com will feature approximately 2,200 total hours of live streaming Olympic broadband video coverage, the first live online Olympic coverage in the United States.

"For the first time, the average American will be able to create their own unique Olympic experience whether at home, at the office or on-the-go," said Ebersol.

"With 25 sports streamed live at NBCOlympics.com and significant live coverage on our cable platforms and NBC, highlighted by all swimming finals, the biggest nights of gymnastics and beach volleyball live in primetime, the viewer has plenty of options for live coverage.

"In the 41 years since my first Olympics, it's staggering to me to be involved in a Games where we are producing 2,900 hours of live coverage - especially from an Olympics half-a-world away. It's more live coverage from a single Olympics than the total of all previous Summer Olympics combined. The enormity of what we're doing just blows me away."
(The complete article is at the link above.)

So here’s hoping that the 2008 Olympics bring back the spark in the event. It sounds like NBC is pulling out all the stops to make this a convenient and pleasurable event for all viewers across the country. Who knows, maybe I’ll even watch some archery?


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Monday, July 28, 2008

Political Conventions: Too Conventional?


I was born in the mid 1950s, and grew up on watching democratic and republic party conventions that were political knock-down, drag-out fights. In the case of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, it was a literal knock-down, drag-out fight with riots in the city. Thousands of people flooded into the city, each with their own and sometimes conflicting agendas, all which led up to fighting in the streets. This was the final insult to the injury that the party first felt when front runner Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated while on the campaign trail in California, throwing the party into turmoil.

Conventions received television coverage over a few days, sometimes very late into the evening. Of course, with only three major networks out there for many years – ABC, NBC, CBS – there wasn’t much else to watch, so captive viewers learned to find their drama and entertainment even in politics.

But, over the last few presidential elections, it seems the thrill has been sucked out of the conventions. Part of it stems from incumbent presidents running for second terms, like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It seems that if the candidate is ordained before the convention, the convention itself just becomes a made-for TV event where each party can put their best foot forward. And now, there are many other channels to chose from if one wants to avoid convention coverage.

But while I miss the cliff-hangers of the past, I think that the old-style convention needs to stay in the past. Conventions of the 1950s and 1960s seemed to be too embattled to make any party look good. Worse yet, the political infighting and wheeling and dealing for delegates that was covered on the floor by the networks news reporters made it appear that the selection of the presidential candidates was not of the masses but of a handful of people who knew how to wield power.

The downside to more recent conventions, which I am sure will be in full force this election season, will be the sanitizing of each party’s presentations. Because the conventions are given less broadcast network time, with coverage moved to the cable news channels, each party will go all out to put their best foot forward. It is probably the best chance that the Democratic and Republican parties will have to unleash a flood of their party propaganda to a wide audience, and they have to take advantage of whatever air time they can get. They have to exercise caution, though, because their viewing audience is no longer as captive as it was in the 1950s – 1970s when there wasn’t much else to choose from.

Still, with this election involving two candidates that aren’t presidential incumbents nor have their ever been a party’s nominee, it may be more important for voters to get to know these people, and their party, better. So it’s likely that I may watch more coverage this year than I have for the last few presidential elections.

If you want to read an interesting article on the conventions of the past, check out this month’s Smithsonian Magazine (here) which provides an excellent recap of some of the more tumultuous conventions of years past. It’s been 40 years since the upheaval of the 1968 convention, hopefully, history won’t repeat itself.



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Friday, July 25, 2008

Christmas in July for CSI Miami Fans

Yes, I know it’s July. But why wait until Christmas to release this winter holiday video of your favorite CSI Miami “faces” having some fun in the snow? Besides, we can all use a little cooling off from the summer heat. So, get ready to see David Caruso and his band of CSI Miami elves in their finest winter form.

Contrary to popular belief, if it were to actually snow in Miami, the snow would not be colored “CSI Miami Orange.”

(PS: A “Law & Order” version can be located on my “All Things Law & Order’ blog, here.)





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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ode to David Caruso A “Spectacal”

Just when you think you’ve heard everything, someone comes up with a song honoring CSI Miami’s David Caruso. It’s done by The Spectacals, and it’s really not that good. But, since it’s about that guy that some people love to love and some people love to hate, I thought I’d put it here. (I could think of a lot better subject to sing about than David Caruso, but that’s just me.)

So enjoy - or cringe. Your preference!



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Hurricane Season: A Weather Channel Bonanza

Last year, I wrote in my blog (here) about how the Weather Channel needed to reinvent itself and provide more interesting content. I think I now figured out what was wrong. Last year’s hurricane season was virtually uneventful, limiting what they could report on during the summer and fall.

With Hurricane Dolly recently hitting the Texas coast, the Weather Channel seems to be in its glory. And, like the hopeless TV addicted sheep we are, we just HAVE to turn on the Weather Channel to see what’s going on, even if, like me, we live hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away from any harm.

Of course, the Weather Channel must send their reporters literally into the eye of the storm. They must think that they only way to make a hurricane even more exciting is to throw one of their own right into the mix to be blown about. The weather reporter MUST be battered by the force of the hurricane for it to be believable. Of course, coverage is not complete with the obligatory exclamations of “I can barely stand up!” and “Look at the winds blowing debris!” and “Torrential rains are falling!”. Usually, they trot out their important on-air personalities like Jim Cantore for the important shots. (Ever notice how much he looks like a yellow light bulb?) I don’t know if he covered Hurricane Dolly because I wasn’t watching the Weather Channel the whole time.


Separated at Birth?


At least with Hurricane Dolly, there wasn’t too much coverage from the broadcast networks. I suppose that a hurricane that’s a category 2 or less is probably just not exciting enough for them.

The Weather Channel has stepped up to provide their program in HD. While this is eventually going to be the standard for most networks who want to attract viewers, it’s really not that important to me to see radar in HD, nor is it critical that I see Jim Cantore’s shiny orange head look even brighter and clearer.

But, despite the fact that the Weather Channel sometimes seems a little too gleeful at the prospect of bad weather – especially sustained, multi-day bad weather like a hurricane – they are tops in weather coverage. It’s not because they cover it 24 hours a day, but it’s because they really do cover it very well, even when skies are sunny and clear. Now, if they can just cut the glow from Cantore’s head…

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Problem with The Emmys

It seems that every year, the Emmy nominations miss someone or something. This year, I think there were quite a few obvious snubs. One would think that with The Sopranos out of the picture, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences - AKA the Emmys - would have finally taken a look at some performers or shows that it overlooked in previous years during the time that they fawned over The Sopranos. But no, the Emmys still seem to have blinders on when it comes to certain performers, genres, or even networks.

Here’s who and what I think they missed.
SNUBBED!
Battlestar Galactica – Most notably, Mary McDonnell should have received a best actress nomination. Her performances as President Laura Roslin were consistently riveting. In fact, where I had previously jumped off the Battlestar Galactica train for a while, McDonnell’s performances were one of the things that drew me back in. Same for the likes of Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) and Tricia Helfer (Six) and Edward James Olmos (Admiral Bill Adama). The Emmys doesn’t have a good feel for the sci-fi genre, and it shows by many snubs for acting and for the show itself.

SNUBBED!



Vincent D’Onofrio, Law & Order Criminal Intent – How could the Emmys ignore D’Onofrio’s nearly painful performance in the episode “Untethered”? It was one of THE most uncomfortable episodes I’ve seen on television in a while. D’Onofrio’s character Robert Goren being subjected to torture seemed very real. Sure, D’Onofrio gets panned every now and then for his overacting, but in this episode, and a few others this past season, he was able to perfectly relay the inner pain and conflict of his on-screen persona. The episode “Untethered” was almost a visible representation of his grief and turmoil that he’d faced in previous episodes. The Emmys also seem to hate Dick Wolf or the entire Law & Order franchise, which it has consistently snubbed year after year. I just don’t get it.


SNUBBED!


Robert Sean Leonard, House – Sherlock Holmes needed Dr. Watson as his sounding board, and Dr. Greg House needs Dr. Wilson for his. Likewise, part of the success of Hugh Laurie’s performances (Laurie was nominated) is the interplay between House and Dr. James Wilson. In many cases, Leonard had the better lines of the two, and he delivered them with the perfect blend of wit, disgust, concern, and annoyance. Robert Sean Leonard's Wilson is the Yin to Hugh Laurie's Dr. House Yang. OK, that sounded dirty but it's not. Leonard plays Wilson so well it almost makes one forget that it’s just a TV character that we’re watching.


SNUBBED!


CSI (the franchise) – Like Dick Wolf and Law & Order, the Emmys seem to loathe the CSI franchise. I can understand why they ignore CSI Miami. Yes, I watch the show faithfully but regular readers of my blog know that it’s more for the camp and comedy than the acting of David Caruso. But CSI and CSI NY – the latter which I am warming up to more and more – is filled with great performances by many of its lead characters. William Petersen has created such a deep, complex character in Gil Grissom, yet it seems the Emmys overlook him because Grissom is so low key and clinical. Despite the fact that Gary Dourdan is on the outs with the show, he turned in several memorable performances this past season. It seems that the Emmys don’t like procedural-type shows, but the CSI franchise has done a lot to create episodes that stay with the format but are told in creative ways. I don’t know what they expect from this show, but the millions upon millions of viewers this franchise receives can’t be wrong.


My conclusion is the Emmys are broken and they need fixing. It seems that even though the number of television shows have expanded as more cable channels develop their own offerings, the number of nominees haven’t increased proportionally. It seems wrong that, for example, that the outstanding lead actor in a drama category only has five nominees, the same as the number of nominees for movies/miniseries, the latter having far fewer in overall numbers of shows. Maybe they need to up the number to 10 nominees to give others a fighting chance, or, at least just to recognize the performance? So what if they have a bigget crowd for the Emmy dinner and show.

It would also be great if there were a way to obtain viewer input to determine nominees. For the Emmys to ignore shows that are clearly hugely popular makes the Emmys look like a bunch of elitist snobs who think the common people don’t really know what makes great television.

Bottom line: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences are becoming less relevant to the viewing public, since they rarely represent what viewers think is the best television. For what it's worth, for those I mentioned above that were not nominated, there are many viewers out there who appreciate your efforts and our award to you is continuing to watch your shows.

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Examining CSI Miami’s New Coroner, Megalyn Echikunwoke

Michael Ausiello, the master of television scoops, is reporting (here) that CSI Miami has hired a new coroner to replace Khandi Alexander. She’s Megalyn Echikunwoke, who Sci-Fi fans would recognize from her stint on The 4400, playing (the adult) Isabelle Tyler. She also played Nicole Palmer, daughter of presidential candidate David Palmer in Fox's "24."

While I don’t have any hard and fast objections to her in this role, it seems more a choice that someone like Dick Wolf (king of the Law & Order franchise) would do. You know, hiring someone who isn’t well known and probably doesn’t have big salary demands.

I was probably one of the few people who watched The 4400, and while Megalyn’s performance wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t particularly memorable either. Considering this show didn’t draw a large viewership, her lack of a strong reputation may be to her advantage. Starting on an established series with her "blank slate" may allow fans to develop their own impressions of her without any prior baggage influencing their opinion.

Still, CSI Miami needs an infusion of credibility, and I’m not sure that this casting move will bring it. David Caruso, whose Horatio Caine has become somewhat of a camp television legend, needs to have better actors around him to diffuse the cheesiness. Also, Megalyn is fairly young, which does not seem to follow the trend of the experienced, world weary medical examiners of most other crime shows. But it does follow with CSI Miami’s method of operation to go with style over substance.

As I wouldn’t miss an episode of CSI Miami if my life depended on it – it’s some of the corniest television programming on air – I’m willing to give Megalyn a try. After all, if I can tolerate one hour of Horatio Caine, what’s a few scenes with a new coroner? Just please, no romance. I couldn’t handle that.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

William Petersen Leaving CSI; Fan Angst Ensues

Well, fans may be still reeling from Jorja Fox leaving CSI and Gary Dourdan’s release from the show via his character being shot, but there’s one more hit fans must endure.

Several sources report that William Petersen, who plays Gil Grissom on CSI, is leaving the show. (The release from AP is below.)

Can this show take all these changes? The answer is probably yes, they can.

My opinion is that Gil Grissom has been drawing more and more into the background in the last few seasons, so his absence may not be such a complete shock. Those that hoped for a Sara/Gil pairing, though, may be disappointed that their story probably won’t get told, but I’m not one of them. Personally, I was growing very tired of Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) and her constantly depressing character. Gil, on the other hand, was such a complex character that it was always nice to see another dimension to his persona being revealed. In fact, I found his working relationship with Hodges (Wallace Langham) to be very interesting. But as far as Gil himself, his involvement in cases doesn’t seem as necessary as it once was.

I’m also glad that they managed to kill off Grissom’s previous temporary fill-in, Michael Keppler (Live Schreiber) because he just didn’t fit. So CSI fandom I am sure will be buzzing with potential replacements. Since Chris Noth just decided to leave Law & Order Criminal Intent for greener pastures, maybe forensics would be a nice leap for him? I am sure that there are many people already lining up to step into the role as top dog in the Las Vegas crime lab. As long as it’s not Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), I’ll try to be happy with whomever they chose.



William Petersen's `CSI' life of crime to end
By LYNN ELBER – 12 hours ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) — William Petersen is leaving "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," a move that might have fans of his brainy crimebuster Gil Grissom screaming bloody murder.

Petersen has agreed to return for occasional guest appearances and will remain a "CSI" executive producer but his run as an original cast member will end this coming season, executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar said Tuesday.

The air date for his final episode, the season's 10th, has yet to be determined but probably will be at the beginning of 2009, the producers said. The series debuted in fall 2000.

A number of familiar characters will return in the episodes building up to Grissom's departure, among them his former colleague and flame Sara Sidle, played by Jorja Fox; the Miniature Killer and sexy Lady Heather.

"Who better to turn to when you're a scientist in crisis," Mendelsohn said jokingly of Heather (Melinda Clarke).

The decision to leave was Petersen's, the producers said, declining further comment. A call to Petersen's publicist was not returned Tuesday.

The actor had taken a break during the 2006-07 season to perform in a play, with Liev Schreiber stepping in as a visiting investigator.

The long-running show remains key for CBS: "CSI" finished last season as the network's top-rated series, ranking No. 9 among all shows with an average weekly audience of 17 million. Spinoffs "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: New York" ranked 16th and 28th, respectively.

"CSI" is ready to deal with Petersen's loss, its producers said.

"Shows lucky enough to go this long inevitably have to deal with this kind of change," Shankar told The Associated Press.

A new male investigator will join "CSI," a role that has yet to be cast.

The producers were mum about specific plot points but said that Grissom will be reappraising his life after years of high-tech forensics investigations with the Las Vegas Police Department and after facing personal turmoil.

"We're talking about a man who has suffered a great deal of loss recently... A man thinking about the next phase of his life," Shankar said.

It's wrong to characterize it as a mid-life crisis, which summons the image of someone who buys a Porsche as a solution, Shankar and Mendelsohn said; Grissom is confronting far deeper issues.

"It's Grissom in transition and Grissom asking `Who am I?'" Mendelsohn said.

Besides, Shankar said, Petersen wouldn't buy a sports car.

"Billy would only buy a Prius," the producer said.

Shankar and Mendelsohn vowed that cast changes won't change "CSI."

"What makes shows go off the rails is they forget who they are. We're a crime-mystery-forensics drama" with a focus on exceptional cases, Shankar said.

"Whoever comes in and joins the team after Grissom is going to be a different guy. But the nature of the show and what fans get out of it, that's not going to change," he said.

Petersen, in his role as executive producer, viewed "CSI" as a show about the "quiet heroics" of working people, Shankar said. That will remain true, with no new soap-opera twists or "jumping into bed."


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Closer: Brenda Has “Controlled Burn”

In last night’s episode of The Closer – “Controlled Burn” – we find Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) is the one who is burning inside. When the episode opens, Brenda, who is at the side of a large California brush fire where firefighters were killed, is told that a newspaper reporter has to tag along while she works the case. While at the scene, another body is located by a firefighter, and this body looks like a case of murder. Brenda's seething that she has to have a reporter with her at every step, and she lets Assistant Police Chief Will Pope (J.K.Simmons) know it.

Initially, she and her team suspect known firebug Bill Croelick (Jason O'Mara), who’s had a run in with Brenda before. During the investigation, the reporter gets in the way several times, including working with Croelick to get information and convince him to come in for questioning.

Croelick is enjoying the attention from Brenda, and in his own sick way, taunts her, but offers her nothing. Brenda continues her slow burn after she discovers the reporter was involved in getting Croelick to come in, and when he refuses to turn over his notes, they put pressure on him and his paper to get the information. When they finally get the reporter’s information, it helps point them to one of the injured firefighters, Kevin Merrick (Brian Krause), who turns out to be the murderer. Icing on the cake was charging the firefighter with the additional deaths of the other firefighters, seeing that Merrick was the one who initiated the fire when he burned the victim’s body.

Adding more fuel to Brenda’s stress for the day was a plumbing problem, which prevented them from using the toilet in her and Fritz’s (Jon Tenney) apartment. Complicating matters was her cat, which according to the landlord’s rules, she wasn’t allowed to have.

The episode closes, though, with Brenda receiving a surprise visit from Bill Croelick, and Brenda, to protect herself, keeps a gun on him at all times. When Fritz arrives as Croelick leaves, Brenda gives no clue to Fritz that Croelick was there.

What I like about this show, and this episode, is that the investigation moves quickly and efficiently, just as Brenda likes to have things run. But, her personal life seems at odds with her outward persona with her team, as it seems that even the smallest problem causes Brenda to get rattled. I sense, though, that Fritz may soon get tired of being Brenda’s fix-it guy, where he's relegated to fixing every problem that occurs at home. While we all know Brenda loves Fritz, she does appear to minimize his value by making him do all the dirty work. Good for Fritz that he brought the cat to Brenda’s office to care for so he could go on with his own day and job. At some point, I think Fritz will have to stand up for himself and tell Brenda that they have to be equal partners in their home lives. The situation with Brenda thinking that her job takes precedence and Fritz is there to do everything that doesn’t fit into her work schedule is probably a scenario that had been repeated in male-dominated households of the past, where the husband called the shots and the wife did all the house related issues. But, that scenario doesn’t work any more, no matter what gender has the perceived more important job, so it’s only a matter of time before Fritz gets tired of it.

The dynamics and chemistry with Brenda’s team also is strong and keeps viewers interested. In fact, this ensemble cast may be the best in any crime show at this time. It seems like everyone – even those with the smallest role – contribute to make the case interesting. And they all seem to retain their distinct personalities.

And while in the last segment of the show, we see Croelick telling Brenda he’s leaving; I suspect that he won’t be able to keep his promise.

All in all, this was a great season opener for The Closer. But, I think a rocky road is ahead for Brenda and Fritz.


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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jim Carrey Channels David Caruso

I thought I would share this with all the David Caruso fans and stalkers out there. If you haven’t already seen this, it’s a short video of Jim Carrey (on the David Letterman show) doing an excellent impersonation of David Caruso - AKA CSI Miami’s Horatio Caine.

David better watch his back. Carrey could be serious competition.






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Friday, July 11, 2008

Golf Without Tiger Woods: Boring!

My husband loves golf. He loves playing it, he loves watching it. I’m horrible at golf so I don’t play. But when my husband is glued to the TV to watch a golf tournament over the weekend, I’ll watch – well, maybe partly watch – along with him. Golf is one of those sports that unless the game is close or unless there are some exciting plays, it can put me to sleep in a nanosecond.

With Tiger Woods out of the picture for the time being as he is recovering from surgery, the sport has become desperately dull. There really isn’t any one golfer out there that can bring on the excitement and the drama like Tiger. That was evident in the recent US Open, when Tiger, playing injured, came from behind to tie the leader, Rocco Mediate, and then eventually beat him in overtime play. While I really would have liked Rocco to win, there was no doubt that Tiger’s run to win was thrilling, considering this was, after all, golf. The match became even more interesting after it finished when it was discovered that Tiger, playing more seriously injured that viewers were told, was able to beat the entire field of pro golfers

Now, after watching a few tournaments without Tiger, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t anyone out there who has the pull, and the affect on the sport, like Tiger. Sure, it can be interesting at times to watch Phil Michelson implode, but after seeing that happen too many times, it gets, well, boring.

While Tiger clearly is the best player in the sport at this point in time, the media can be partly to blame for the fact that no other golfers seem to bring the same thrill. Just watch any of the commentators interview any of the golfers, and the questions always turn to Tiger Woods. It’s not uncommon for a golfer to be asked something on the order of “How did you feel when Tiger made that great putt?” or “Did the roar on the 16th hole when Tiger made that great putt bother the rest of your game?” or “Do you think you have a chance to catch up with Tiger tomorrow?” etc. It never ends, they always make someone else’s performance to be about Tiger, one way or another. It’s almost comical to watch the golfer being interviewed to try to hide their contempt for the commentator in their response.

I hope for the sake of the sport that Tiger gets back on the tour, and until that time, some other golfers out there will take center stage for a while and recharge the sport. I also hope that, while Tiger is recovering, the networks covering golf will learn that there are other talented golfers out there who deserve attention. If they don’t, golf will remain boring, even if/when Tiger does return.

Of course, in the case of the Golf Channel, there may not be anything to make them less boring. They should rename themselves the “Cure Insomnia Channel” because they have THE most boring, sleep-inducing programming of anything out there, even WITH Tiger Woods. Watching that channel is like watching paint dry – no, like watching paint PEEL. It is to be avoided at all costs, unless you enjoy becoming comatose.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Closer Reopens July 14 on TNT


One of my favorite crime TV shows is The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick. It has a little bit of everything: drama, humor, romance, irony, and family problems. What else could one want in a show?

If you haven’t watched the closer before, here’s the show in a nutshell, according to TNT:

Brenda (Sedgwick) is a former Atlanta detective who moved to Los Angeles to head a special police department unit that solves sensitive, high-profile murder cases. Brenda is a top-notch investigator and interrogator who pinpoints a suspect, traps them in their own lies and draws a confession.

Despite Brenda's brilliance as an interrogator, she is hopeless at LAPD politics and her many successes are contrasted with the challenges this creates. Brenda also faces conflicts with her fiancé, FBI agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) and her parents . On the lighter side, she constantly tries to overcome her love of sweets, fighting cravings that surface each time she passes a vending machine.


Over the first few seasons, Brenda fought hard for the respect of her detectives, and her peers and bosses. She’s been both helped and hindered by Assistant Police Chief Will Pope, played by acting journeyman and former Law & Order favorite, J.K. Simmons. He’s had a previous relationship with Brenda and seemed at one point to want to start it up again. Luckily for Brenda, and for viewers, she found a more attractive man in Fritz. And part of what makes the show so great is to see the relationship issues that she and Fritz have encountered, one being Brenda’s parents. Brenda also has almost blown it by sometimes taking Fritz for granted, something that I hope she doesn’t do in this upcoming season.

But the show offers more than just Sedgwick. The supporting ensemble cast makes for a great backdrop to the cases. My favorite pairing is Detective Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey) and the Lt. Andy Flynn ( Tony Denison ), the latter who first had a very hard time accepting Brenda in her role as head of the unit. Provenza and Flynn often provide comic relief, Provenza being somewhat of the Los Angeles equivalent of New York City’s, and Law & Order’s, Lennie Briscoe. Of course, while no one can yet match Lennie’s cutting sarcasm, Provenza comes a close second with his antics.

The show’s cast has a chemistry that is hard to find on television these days. It also helps that the stories and cases are interesting and fresh. And while Brenda Johnson can also be compared to the female equivalent of Law & Order Criminal Intent’s Bobby Goren, she’s got her own quirkiness and her own very special methods of getting suspects to talk or confess, including some prominent red lipstick, which would frankly drive me a little nutty.

The new season premiers on Monday, July 14 at 9:00 PM on TNT. Here’s some information on the upcoming episodes:

The Closer - Episode 4.01 – Controlled Burn, Air Date July 14
There is a fire and the firefighters find a dead woman while they are fighting the blaze, during which 2 of the firemen die and one is hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Brenda and her team suspect a man named Bill Croelick and when they finally catch up with him, they find out a reporter arranged an interview through Croelick's attorney and interviewed him right before Brenda and her team found him. Brenda and Taylor try and convince, then bully, the reporter into giving them his notes and pictures as evidence, but he refuses. They threaten to arrest him, talk to his editor and finally get their hands on his camera and notes. Their investigation eventually leads them to look more closely at Tom Merrick, the hospitalized fireman. Brenda and Fritz deal with a plumbing problem and trying to hide their cat from the landlord.

The Closer - Episode 4.02 - Speed Bumps, Air Date July 21
Brenda and the team investigate the murder of an ex-convict who killed the daughter of a rich movie producer and is out of prison. The man and his wife are considered suspects. Information about life insurance policies on the ex-cons without families comes up in the team's investigation, leading them to finding out that neither the woman who manages the halfway house where the convict was living nor her friend who volunteers there are what they seem.

The Closer - Episode 4.03 - Live Wire, Air Date July 28
Brenda and Lt. Tao have to make a death notification to a woman whose husband was murdered. She believes her husband was at work, when in reality, he had been fired six months before. Sgt Gabriel and Detective Daniels are having relationship issues and it is affecting their work.

The Closer - Episode 4.04 - Cherry Bomb, Air Date August 4
A young woman is dead after supposedly committing suicide after having been raped by a classmate. The young man in question is the son of a Sheriff's deputy, who becomes irate with Brenda when she uncovers the truth about his son.


Here’s what TNT says for what we should plan to see this in this new season:


For the fourth season, THE CLOSER will take viewers deeper into Brenda's life. “W e are going to examine the issue of power, especially how much power we really have over our own lives,” says show creator James Duff. “We live with the illusion that we are in control of our lives. The season will start with Brenda tracking an arsonist, all while having a reporter follow her every move.”

On the home front, Brenda and Fritz (Tenney) will struggle with moving into a new home, attempting to plan a wedding and getting closer despite Brenda's overwhelming need for independence and the demands of her job.


Sounds like fun and I’ll be watching for sure.


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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CSI Miami’s Horatio Caine: Undead

Horatio resurrects. These sunglasses...probably not.


In what seems like an attempt impart god-like powers on Horatio Caine (David Caruso), the first episode of the new season of CSI Miami is entitled “Resurrection."

We all know that Horatio thinks he’s a superhero, but c’mon, “Resurrection” for the episode title? Pul-leeze! He may have special powers, but I don’t think that there is anything in his utility belt – or with his sunglasses – that would make him rise from the dead. Of course, rumors have it – from several sources – that the whole shooting on the tarmac was staged by Horatio so he could get to the bottom of the shootings in the season finale, Going Ballistic.

The premier dates, and episode names for all the CSI franchise shows have also been released, and are as follows:

CSI: For Warrick October 9
CSI: Miami: Resurrection September 22
CSI: New York: Veritas September 24

I know I’ll be staying tuned for Horatio’s “resurrection.” But the burning question remains: Will the sunglasses also be magically restored?


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