Tv blabs, movie blabs, book blabs. Lots of blab, but no flab.

Friday, December 31

Bragging Rights

What's the use of getting presents if you can't brag about what you got. We had a smaller exchange this year, but as per normal DVDs were a big part. The good thing about having my birthday at this time of year is double presents! Never given on the same day mind. It's always been a separate event.

So we collectively received on DVD: Mean Girls, I, Robot, True Lies, Holes (the disney film, not porn!), Phonebooth, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Rat Race, Mystery Men, Finding Nemo, The Time Machine and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended Edition. Taking our family collection to an acceptable 116 movies.

I also got some great books: The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1), The Artemis Fowl Files, and Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Cant & Management Jargon.

Holidays are all about wasting time and now I can waste time playing The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, Harry Potter Quidditch World Cup and CSI: Miami.

I love presents!

Tuesday, December 28


Happy birthday to me!

Friday, December 24


I'm off for the long weekend.

Hope everyone has a good one!

Back into full blogging form next week.

Oven Disaster

Reading Violet's post about a large turkey reminded me of a DVD I hired months ago and watched with a couple of friends. Pieces of April is set on the American Thanksgiving holiday, explaining my turkey segue, and is about a very dysfunctional family coming together for a meal.

Katie Holmes is the black sheep of the family, who lives in New York, and is hosting the dinner. The film follows her trials of preparing the meal; the trauma of cooking the turkey, in four different ovens, and relying on the kindness of her neighbours to get her meal completed; and the road trip of April's family and their reluctance to see, or be involved in her life.

Filmed documentary-style, Pieces of April is an independent film that could only have succeeded in this . Filmed with a digital camera the grittiness of the neighbourhood seems tangible, and the apartment building appeared more cramped. I enjoyed the twists on stereotypes, and the part April's boyfriend Bobby had to play. Oliver Platt is good as usual, but it is Patricia Clarkson who shines as April's dying mother Joy.

For me, it was the simple everyday raw emotions and situations that made this film so entertaining. Each character had something to relate to and I could completely relate to the unwilling journey to visit some family member no one wanted to see. A good movie to remind us that kindness is it's own reward.

Thursday, December 23

Half Baked

J.K. Rowling has handed the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic. No details about length, but Rowling claims it will be shorter than Order of the Phoenix.

There are a few details, which are unsurprisingly not spoilery, on Rowling's official site. Examples are some chapter titles; Chapter 2: Spinners End; Chapter 6: Draco's Detour; Chapter 14: Felix Felicis; and that one of her characters will not survive (more).

Expect to see it on shelves around the world on July 16 2005. Borders and Barnes & Noble (London) both said they would sell the book at a discount of 40 percent off the recommended cover price if readers reserve a copy before July 16. Lets hope they can beat Big W's price.

In only 24 hours interest in the book has sparked it to rocket to the top of 'most wanted' and 'hot' lists. It is number #1 best seller at and Barns &

Tuesday, December 21

This is Tickle

Zack Braff is a funny guy. JD is a very funny, weird, and a great character in Scrubs. Zack's blog is an amusing outlet for a TV star who admits he's not perfect. When I found out about his film Garden State, my interest was piqued.

In typical indy-film style Braff wrote, directed and starred, but unlike a lot of indy-flicks some of the supporting cast is surprisingly well known. For example, Ian Holm (Bilbo) plays Gideon Largeman, the father of Braff's Andrew, and Natalie Portman (Queen Ami-who-la) is compulsive liar Sam.

Andrew is an actor who works in a sushi restaurant. He's heavily medicated, and when we first meet him, it would seem his bedroom is institution-like. Hardly living at all, Andrew is called back to his home town to attend his mother's funeral. Upon returning his strained relationship with his father is no closer to resolution; his school friends are grave diggers, fast food knights or absurdly rich; yet, he still feels nothing. Enter Sam, a free spirit who lies because it's easier, but manages to reveal the truth in others.

I wish I could see this film again. I've waited far too long to write about it.

For the work of a first time director and screenwriter, Garden State is an excellent start. The story is cohesive and very relatable. It was striking the right chords for me all the way through. There were some gaps and couple of scenes weren't as subtle, thus relied upon some cliche to get a point across, but as a whole the dialogue was witty and engaging.

Visually, Garden State was mostly successful. There was no new ground covered, but the framing and choice of angles were an asset. I liked the visual gags and didn't feel they cheapened the film's standard. I loved the bleakness, an obvious choice of style for a movie who's main character is constantly under the oppression of medication, but it provided a good canvas to work from.

There are plenty of standout moments and the fact that the audience I was part of was rather diverse is a testament to its appeal as a film. The Canadian male students behind me, to the little old lady down the row, all appeared to enjoy themselves as much as I.

It's funny, heartwarming, and for me, a little bit to similar to where I am in my life.

Sunday, December 19

Dirt, Grime, And More Dirt

Imagine: Central America. Draught stricken. Mid nineteen thirties. A broken-shackled man is watching is mother die in a two room dirty shack. The wind blows dirt through every crack in the walls as the woman rejects the touch of her son.

This is how we are introduced to Ben Hawkins the troubled lead character of Carnivale.

This is an amazing production. I hope everyone is able to watch this series at some point. If you live in Australia, then you should be watching it every Sunday night at 8.30 on ABC.

The same words to describe this show keep circling my brain. Dirty, dusty, grime, grim, bleak, weird, intriguing, mysterious.

For a little more info look at my previous post, Sideshow Freaks.

I had told my family virtually nothing about this show before subjecting them to it tonight, and both stuck it out. My brother thought it was a DVD and asked to watch more! I force feed a lot of shows on them, and am happy when I find one that we all enjoy.

The cast is bigger than I could have imagined. I'm not talking about 'stars' or 'names', but actors who work all of the time in a variety of roles for little recognition.

I would be remiss if I didn't warn that Carnivale is not easy viewing. If you prefer to be spoon fed plot, then stick with the soaps, but for those who enjoy great production values, mysterious characters and excellent acting, pick up that remote and relish.

Lesson Learned

The saying goes that you should learn something new everyday.

Well, today's lesson is make sure the lid is securely on the little bottle of black paint before shaking it so that it doesn't drip paint in a line about five feet long across the loungeroom carpet, my legs, feet-seat, remotes, Christmas tree and base, decorative tablecloth, mobile phone, desk lamp, and a 4-way powerpack.

Food Related Death

As soon as I flicked channels tonight, and saw the opening title sequence, I knew I was watching an Australian film. It wasn't that I recognised names or any specifics, but the choice of song, and the animation of the credits proclaimed itself an Aussie film. Which is very strange. The only other film that I can think of that has a similar energy at the start is Garage Days, and it's not even remotely close to He Died With A Falafel In His Hand. Nor is there a style they stick to. The Dish, The Castle, and Moulin Rouge have nothing similar.

Nonetheless I still knew.

I haven't read the book, nor had I seen the film before, so I decided to stick with it for a while.

I am going through a period of strangely identifying with some films or characters more than I ever have before. Not to the point of ever saying "that's me!" (I'd be really wigged out by that), but clearly relating to a thought, issue, or situation with total clarity. Zack Braff's Garden State had a profound impact on me when I saw it in Adelaide (I'll write about that movie one day), and I had a couple of minor moments during Falafel tonight.

Noah Taylor's Danny was laconic and outwardly emotionless, yet still able to portray an amazing amount of emotion that he proved that working on two Tomb Raider films hadn't killed his acting ability. Danny is living his life as a ghost, not truly being a part of anything. His friends/roommates are all types of destructive personalities and all so self absorbed (aren't we all) that he rarely has an opportunity to say anything.

The cast are all normal looking, flawed people. Noah is certainly not the average leading man material, making him more acceptable as just some guy. Danny's best friend/girlfriend, Sam has some serious issues, appearing to be the staunch intellectual, non-sexual roommate, who goes through some self-discovery, image change, and attempted suicide. Who hasn't spent slabs of their life trying different ways of living, scary image styles and contemplated life's meaning?

The common thread with all of the characters is their lack of direction. Everyone is still tuned into the test pattern. Life is all fuzz and white noise. I am waiting for my autotune to find my station.

I still have the theme song 'California Dreaming' as my brainworm. Danny's guitar accompanied renditions of this are brilliantly intermingled with the dialogue of current housemates. Whoever thought the length of spaghetti or where the pineapple tin lives could be so important to people.

Even the characters who were destined to be hated managed to be endearing in some way. Sophie Lee's neurotic, bulimic, anal, self-possessed Nina reminded me of a few people I've met and also reminded me that I still should care more about other's problems. No matter how annoying, horrible, rude, or bossy they may be. I couldn't help but laugh when it was revealed that Nina was an actor.

Danny's heroin addicted, and ultimately doomed, roommate Flip is someone I wound up admiring. Not for the drugs, addiction or any of the bad things, but how simple some of his habits were. Like moonbaking.

I've not done this before, but I feel so inclined. Here are two of my favourite lines:
"We're the police. Your civil liberties are about to be violated"

Dan: "Welcome to hell"
Sam: "Well, at least it's warm" The range of nationalities Danny
My only gripe is I wish Danny had called his Mum at the end of the film.

An interesting, confronting and entertaining Australian film which has a list of apologies in the end credits.

Friday, December 17

Much Owed.

Tis the season. No, I'm not talking about anything relating to snow or old obese men. The musical movie is having its renaissance. We've had Evita, Moulin Rouge, and Chicago to top the headlines. Out soon is The Phantom of the Opera.

While writing my Christmas with the Kranks post I discover that Rent is going to be adapted for film. A good thing as it's a hugely popular musical. I've not seen it, but the score is quite good.

Looking back at the Harry Potter movie series. Compare the first three movies. Disregard your thoughts on the cast or, as hard as it is to do, the screenplay and recall the direction. Which film stands out as interesting and unique, visually interesting and stylised.

Now guess which director you would want for the movie adaptation of Rent.

Nope. Wrong one.

Chris Columbus is directing, adapting the libretto, and producing it.

Is it condemned already?

Kranky Bum

It seems that Tim Allen is going to appear in Christmas films for the rest of his career. How many more Santa Clause sequels can the world handle?

Christmas with the Kranks isn't a typical Christmas film. It isn't any type of film that I could put my finger on. Christmas films are pretty much all variations on A Christmas Carol. Bad, grumpy person finds the spirit of blah blah snore. The Kranks aren't bad people, nor are they grumpy-bums in need of spirit lifting. They logically look at what they spend ($6000!) on Christmas every year and decide that a vacation would be cheaper and a great way to spend the holidays. Smart thinking.

A comedy is usually defined by it's air of, well, comedy. Kranks certainly had many funny moments, but when the neighbourhood started to really hound the Kranks about their foregoing Christmas the comedy got lost. It may have been my preconceived idea that it was a John Grisham novel, and therefore will have suspense throughout. I was confused about the direction the film was going, because it veered away from the comedy into mild suspense.

The carollers jumping up in the windows was one moment of confused comedy. Funny, yes, but the score wasn't supportive of it.

I enjoyed the way the Kranks held out by not giving into the peer pressure of the neighbours and the local ring-leader played by Dan Aykroyd. They were well within their rights to refuse to participate, and I was totally behind them. Some of the unfortunate things Luther and Nora did to themselves were very funny, and surprising.

It wasn't until the daughter rang up and said she was coming home that I started to get a bit confused. Luther and Nora (great names) both started to do things terribly desperate and out of character. All to lie to their daughter, who, I think, would have been totally fine with it all. Luther did some really unforgivable things, and I was concerned toward the end how he was going to redeem himself. It's a Christmas movie, so he does get redeemed, but by this stage I felt rather betrayed by them and really hating the neighbours.

When I saw Chris Columbus in the opening credits, I hoped it was a good sign. I didn't realise then that he was the screenwriter of this film. It puts it all into perspective of why the plot was a mish-mosh. This is the man who wrote Nine Months. Nuff said.

I mildly enjoyed Christmas with the Kranks but left with that familiar dissatisfaction of a poorly executed story trying to get by with name actors.

Thursday, December 16

Fair Warning

Carnivale has a home.

Sunday night on ABC at 8:30pm. If you have a full social calendar, set your VCR. If you don't know how, find someone like me who can do it for you. They're playing 2 eps this week.

Peter Jackson's earlier film, 'The Frighteners', is on Saturday at 8:40pm on Ten.

Wednesday, December 15

Once Upon A Time

I always have a vain hope about some movies. I can't help it, I just fall for the media hype and hand over my cash. Sometimes I am rewarded with a surprisingly good film, other times I am horrified that anyone thought that film should be made and then there are times when I'm mildly entertained but, on the whole, left feeling unsatisfied.

One would think a film that opens with a narration by Erik Idle would have some credence in comedy. Mistaken would you be. Ella Enchanted is fluff, and lots of it.

Anne Hathaway would appear to have the potential to become a rounded actor who could take on varied and interesting parts. Instead, she signs on for films that all the actors appear to sleep their way through because it is brainlessly aimed at obsessive early-teenage girls.

Ella is cursed to be obedient, and when her Father remarries, her new step-sisters discover her curse. There are lots of nasty gags played upon Ella and the step-sisters are insipid and painfull. The reworking of the classic Cinderella tale didn't really work. There was modernising of lots of technology and pop-culture references, but the whole world was cheapened by it, rather than enhanced. I have to admit the wooden steps escalator was amusing.

The Prince Charming, or Prince Char, was a clone of Orlando Bloom (Hugh Dancy) and I was surprised at how long it took for him to get shirtless. The evil steward of the Kingdom, Edgar, is played perfectly by Cary Elwes. He looks to be having far too much fun playing the evil guy and pulls out his 'english accent' again as well.

Speaking of accents. Mini Driver's attempt at american is Gwenneth Paltrow worthy. I would much rather a total abandonment of accents than having the confusion of american/english soup.

It wasn't totally horrible, but I don't think I'll be adding it to my DVD collection anytime soon. It's brainless fun, and the singing isn't all that unfunny either.

Monday, December 13

The Real Face Of...


I've seen a lot of Santas in my time on this bizarre planet. The usual shopping centre types, ones who appear on TV for special events, and those in movies and TV shows. I have also worked with quite a few as well. So, I know what Santa really looks like.

For nearly 10 years my uncle was the Santa at Carols. I can honestly say that I'm related to Santa.

This year our Santa was supplied by a local shopping centre. What this means is I won't be able to ignore him like I have done to every Santa for the past few years (except that one in Myer in Brisbane who caught us at the top of an escalator). I know what he looks like under all that white hair and red material and my conscience won't let me pass buy and not say hi if he's not busy.

Darn conscience.

Sunday, December 12

Introducing Carol

Last night was our annual Carols By Candlelight. It's a huge event and I was on staff like normal. The weather at the moment is unpredictable, thus making the production of a large scale outdoor event fun as ever. It rained for the first couple of days last week, and we put off production a day. It showered near the end of the rehearsal and was a rain free show.

The problem being the humidity was near saturation point. I can not recall ever sweating so much. Our comperes were very uncomfortable in their formal outfits, but they were fantastic anyway. Dancers, singers, band members, and crew alike were sweltering under the lights and oppressive heat. But did it stop us from singing along to the carols? Never.

I am always amazed at some of the local talent we find for this show. There were a number of new faces this year, and all of them younger than I. The voices that come out of these people always make me whisper 'bastard' under my breath before joining in singing from side of stage.

An enjoyable show that was our shortest yet. It successfully put me in the Christmas spirit rather than destroying it as it sometimes can.

Thursday, December 9

Feeling Too Old

With the imminent release of the film and finding the omnibus edition of the first three books on special, I opened myself up to a Series of Unfortunate Events. The movie and my copy are actually the first three books of the series. Directed at a younger audience than Harry or Artemis they are written for ease of understanding, thus there isn't enough material in one book to make a film. Although, if you look at Dr Suess movies it's possible, if not terribly successful.

The Bad Beginning introduces us to the tone of the novels instantly, "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." I like the idea of a book that works on opposites and this doesn't disappoint to start. Within the first chapter the Baudelaire children are beset with misfortune. While out at the beach their house burns down, killing both of their parents. Horrible stuff for a children's book.

Count Olaf is a fantastic sinister character. He's after the children's inheritance and will do anything to get it. He plots to do the nastiest things to the children and their guardians. False identities and murder, trickery and lies all set him up to get one big karmic slap at the end of each book. But, as the title of the series sets forth, nothing is fortunate for these kiddies.

Thankfully the Baudelaire's manage to out-think, out-wit and out-last (that seems familiar somehow) Count Olaf. Even in book two, The Reptile Room where he poses as a herpetology assistant and kills the children's Uncle Monty, and in The Wide Window when he appears as a Captain Sham the boat hirer. Nasty stuff.

Each of the children have an interesting character trait or interest which defines who they are and allows us to use stereotypes as our guide. Violet invents, Klaus reads, and Sunny bites things. I'm not very versed in fiction aimed at this audience and it took me a long while to warm to the style. Not the simple wording nor vividly simple visual descriptions, but way in which the narrator speaks to the audience.

For most of the first book I felt patronised by the explanation of words. The Baudelaire children frequently expressed dismay over it, and I felt the same way. It occurs far too frequently throughout each book. I became used to it, but it grated for a long while. When I was much much younger I enjoyed going to the dictionary to find out what words meant in a book I was reading (and I have no shame in doing it now). I understand why the author wanted to do it, but for me, it occurred too frequently.

I believe this series would be great to read aloud with children. I felt a little too old while reading them. A bit too cynical and aged. I think I need to find my inner child again. If you have children, read these with them. If you don't, find someone else's to read to or get busy!

Farewell Old Friends

It was a sad day a couple of weeks ago when walking outside and the top toe-strap of my left yard sandal snapped. I was distraught that an era of my life had ended so abruptly. I have had these shoes for so long now I can't recall when or how it all began. There have been some trials along the way; the back strap of the right shoe fell off; the left's sole began to crack and was saved by some gaff tape cosmetic surgery; they were frayed and not terribly functional; but they were just my yard shoes and I didn't care.

So long good friends.

Tuesday, December 7

Our Favourite Book

Sunday night TV was a little different than usual. Commercial networks were doing the usual movie repeats and crime shows. Bleh! I don't know how I missed it in my disection of the TV guide, but ABC were airing the results of their national 'My Favourite Book' survey in a panel-discussion format show. The panel were of varying personalities; a TV/radio presenter, a young 'intellectual' comedian, a writer, an actor, and a priest/writer; and I openly argued with them through the TV when I disagreed.

The evening started with the tenth most popular book and run up the list to number one. I enjoyed the format of making a big deal of the next number trying to build my suspense at what the top book will be. Just a bit of fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed the individual way each book's plot was surmised from Sandra Sulley's newsflash report to the Umbilical Brother's Lord of the Rings, and Banana's in Pajama's Pride and Prejudice (Are you thinking what I'm thinking B2?).

A popularity poll of books, the Top 10 list had some surprises and some not.

Books not surprised about were The Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cloudstreet, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Surprisers were Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, The Da Vinci Code (well, that it was in the top 10), Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and The Bible. I was mostly surprised by The Bible because, well, I've not read it and so would never have crossed my mind. Which is stupid, I know, and it makes total sense because it's one popular book!

The show got me interested in reading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Tim Winton's Cloudstreet. It also reminded me of a few books that are on my 'to read' list, like Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and George Orwell's Animal Farm.

Of the Top 10 I've read three books (LOTR, HP5 and Da Vinci Code). Of the Top 100 a pitiful 16 books! There are many that I would like to read in the 100 list, and I'm sure I'll get to them eventually. But, for now, I'm happy that such an old and outdated thing as reading has had such a public boost. Thank you ABC for a thought provoking, amusing and informative evening.


This is for Pickwick.

The 40th anniversary DVD of Mary Poppins is on it's way and it's got even more jolly fun.

Supercalifraglisticexpialidocious. What letter is missing?

Sideshow Freaks

Summer is starting to really look up in TV-land. After ABC's My Favourite Book (Lord of the Rings was Australia's favourite book btw), a preview for a new show came on. I gasped and pointed and waved excitedly at the television because Nick Stahl walked into frame. I wasn't excited over Nick Stahl, I was excited because a very short man was behind him. No. I'm not into little people that way either. It was a trailer for the bizarre series called Carnivale.

Carnivale is a very short series at only 12 episodes, but looks to be worth catching from the very start. The official site's summary blurb is:
CARNIVÀLE follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on a mysterious young fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and on the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who will ultimately cross his path. The 12-episode dramatic series takes place at a time of worldwide unrest, with evil on the rise around the globe and the Great Depression wreaking economic and social havoc here at home.

As they become aware of their abilities, Ben and Brother Justin find themselves wrenched from their lives to realize that the world they thought the knew -- this tenuous, prosaic reality shared by humankind -- is actually a chessboard upon which is played the ancient conflict between Light and Darkness, and they are key players in the battle.
With a hugely diverse cast from name actors like Nick Stahl, to familiar character actors like Michael J. Anderson, and Clancy Brown, to Cirque alumnae Karyne & Sarah Steben, Carnivale looks weird and hopefully will be weird. Airing on HBO it's bound to push boundaries.

Harry Knowles from Ain't It Cool News, had very good things to say about it's imminent US DVD release:
I LOVE THIS SERIES! All of my coolest friends had been raving to me about it. And noted TV hater - Father Geek had caught a couple of episodes – and been raving. So the second I got it I put it on… 12 hours later I was finished. Any series whose star is Michael J Anderson… well that’s a series for me. This thing plays like some strange Lynchian riff on GRAPES OF WRATH and DARK CARNIVAL mixed with a touch of Stephen King. It’s a geekgasm waiting to happen. I mean – the whole younger / older relationship with Stahl and ADRIENNE BARBEAU!!! OH MAN!!! Then there’s Clancy Brown, fingernails on a chalkboard creepy! A truly great series – and a great set. Commentary on 3, behind the scenes – and more. Definitely a must for all those without HBO. This is a GREAT series!
Ok, so he's not terribly eloquent, but he does get excited about good stuff.

I look forward to it getting a decent timeslot and will post when I find out exactly when it is.

Sunday, December 5


For the stupid muscle in my back that hurts and causes other places to hurt, feel free to stop any time now.

Angel a Demon

If you have read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code you may have seen his list of other novels. Deception Point and Digital Fortress are based upon different characters, and as I'm not terribly adventurous in unfamiliar genres I decided to stick with what I know. I bought Angels and Demons a while back as it featured the same main character as Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon, and finally was able to read it while I was away.

If you liked the Da Vinci Code, chances are you'll equally enjoy this one. It is pretty much the same formula, and at first it seemed so familiar that I checked my copy of Da Vinci. I realised that I had read the first chapter of Angels and Demons before I purchased it explaining why it was so familiar.

Langdon is called in the middle of the night about a strange murder where a symbol has been burned into the victims chest. He is convinced to get on a plane to Switzerland where the adventure starts.

The majority of the book is set in Rome and in the Vatican and Brown's descriptions of detail in these cities is excellent. No one could ever claim he's under-researched. I've never been to Rome, nor, not surprisingly, the Vatican, but I think I'd be able to find my way around with the info in this book.

Not that it's all details mind. The whole story takes place within a day, and most of it in the last 6 hours. It's a race against time where the whole Vatican is at stake. There is the usual problem-solving-on-the-run and danger lurking around every corner to keep the tension taut.

Suspension of disbelief is the key to enjoying any story, and you have to hold firm to it while reading Angels and Demons. If you are too cynical about it you'll never accept that Langdon is able to solve mysteries that have remained that way for hundreds, even thousands, of years. But that is part of the fun.

For me, I enjoy the fact that it is a person who is well read who saves the day and not the big beefy monosyllabic guy. That doesn't mean Langdon doesn't get beat up, trapped or dropped from a great height. It means he can be eloquent about it.

There are far too many people who read Dan Brown's books as if they are non-fiction. I'll never read the 'facts behind the Da Vinci Code' books, because I don't care. They are good works of fiction, using a heavily researched factual backdrop.

Enjoy it for the rollercoaster ride around the Vatican and that you may learn a little something along the way.

(Never thought I'd ever use rollercoaster and Vatican in the same sentence!)

Thursday, December 2

Omniscient Am I

I've decided that statisticians in America can't actually count. So many new TV shows are touted to be "The Number 1 new US drama/comedy/reality-phenomenon". There can be only one number one. I accept that each show may indeed be a number one somewhere. Whether it be on that particular network or on some small island, it is possible to be a number one show in context.

Alas, I'm not writing to rant about repeatitive hyperbole.

When I heard about Joan of Arcadia last year I felt mildly interested. A girl who hears voices, one of which is God. Not exaclty new territory.

The show title ins't terribly inspired either. I knew it was too high of a risk to air during ratings, so I patiently waited to see if someone would take the non-risk of a summer slot.

Another fear was that it was going to be some sort of demon spawn of '7th Heaven', and when I saw it's 7:30pm Wednesday and Thursday nights slot they deepened. Regardless I set my VRC to record, as I was working.

The first 10 minutes of a pilot is typically the time when a show hooks me. If I'm not wanting to know more about characters I've never seen before, then it doesn't bode well for long term viewership. To be frank (please don't shoot me in the eye), the first 10 minutes of Joan were plain dull. It systematically and uninspiringly introduced each of Joan's family. None of whom exuded anything terribly interesting or unique.

Joan's dad, Will, is the local chief of police and the show's opening scene is a murder scene attended by him. These scenes didn't work for me at all. There are so many murder scenes on TV every week that a show that's not a cop show has to give me something unique or it's all very dull. Joan's are dull and I didn't care why the girl was dead.

The title sequence began and I couldn't help but groan. Groan really loudly. I dare anyone not to groan (I like the word groan. Groan!). So what would be the most obvious, and yet least likeable, theme song for a show about God talking to a girl? You must be thinking "What if God were one of us?", yes? Well, that's what the song is and a really average performance of it too. For me, an original song would have been far more credible.


Joan's asleep and hears a voice whispering her name, and the next day she hears the voice again as she notices a man standing on her front lawn looking up at her. He appears on the bus to school and he confronts her once she gets off. This 'cute' and not scary caucasian guy tells her he is God. THE God. I, as does Joan, doubts his sincerity. Of course, it's just a form and he/she/it explains the deal quite well and without forcing Joan or us to bow down and worship. The choice is ours. I am glad for that. So is Joan, she tells him to bugger off. He says it's ok, and that he just wants her to go get a job at a local bookstore. Weird.

Joan doesn't go to the bookshop and the following day an african-american woman who is serving in the school's refectory asks Joan why she didn't go for the job. God could be anyone. Good to know, and also a little disturbing. Omniscient is the word. He said look it up. I did: 'to have unlimited knowledge'.

Thus far there have been a few good moments, but I'm still far from hooked. I realise that visually it's all very standard and boring. There was no unique colour nor lighting style. Same with the ensemble characters. Nothing terribly enthralling to start with.

I'm starting to think that I've wasted my time when Joan heads to the bookstore and claims the job, sending the owner home to fix a rabbit issue. Although an unpleasant type guy, the owner catches my attention by declaiming "we don't sell anything Harry Potter here", firing a couple of other good quips off in quick succession. The bookshop itself looks fairly unremarkable, not musty or old, nor shiny and new. That is untill a wide shot much later on that reveals the large tree in the centre of the store. I like.

Following predictability laws Joan mistakes the creepy murder guy for God and nearly gets nabbed.

Joan's family have a way to go from this shakey start. Her mother has issues about her eldest son's disability, the father seems to be based on a 50's father, the youngest brother is a geek-genius who is boring, and the older brother is paraplegic who is still wallowing about his situation. Each have simple issues, but aren't terribly complex.

I enjoyed the way the small details had big impact upon others. Joan's pursual of the job at the bookshop inspired her big brother to maybe starting to get on with his new life. Sounds lame, but it worked for me.

I've set the tape for tonight. I'll see how it goes.

If there's more tree, then I'll be back.

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