I intended to continue my Emmy analysis, but I became distracted by the unveiling of the new fall TV season.  It is already blaringly obvious that I need to upgrade my TiVo because I am running out of space, taping a variety of new shows.

I don’t understand why ABC has given Alias the kiss of death by moving it opposite Survivor on Thursday nights at 8pm. Last year, Lost and Alias made for a fantastic Wednesday night combo, and I think the network has made a big mistake assuming that Lost fans will now stick around for Invasion instead. I would like to ask the suits at ABC if they made this decision after finding out that Jennifer Garner was pregnant, throwing in the towel and underestimating the strength of both her fan base and the strong Alias following. As a dedicated Survivor fan lacking the technology to watch one show while taping another, I have chosen to abandon Alias for the time being, and will begrudgingly wait until I can rent the entire season on DVD next year. In my opinion, the network is using Garner’s pregnancy as an excuse to end the show, though they will ultimately blame the demise on high production costs.

My thoughts about the season premiere of Lost are all over the map, and I’m not ready to put it all in writing. Yet. I have a whole new set of conspiracy theories and will work them out in my own head before subjecting them to you.

Please watch Arrested Development.  Because so few people are. Because the writing and acting are superb. Because Jason Bateman has emerged unscathed from the days of The Hogan Family and Teen Wolf Too to become an award-winning actor with great comedic timing. Because even though Portia de Rossi needs to eat a sandwich, she is pretty damn funny. Because Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat are two of the best teen actors on television, and you will squirm and giggle in anticipation with their awkward interaction. Because Jessica Walter is ten times funnier than Doris Roberts. And because David Cross is a cringe-worthy train wreck of a character, and you will never look at jean shorts the same way again.

I will continue to ramble on in a few days, but right now I am too preoccupied with the last week of the regular baseball season


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Let’s get this out of the way before the real analysis begins – thank goodness every audience reaction shot was not of Affleck. It was nice to see a very glowing and beautiful J. Garner, but at least we were not subjected to countless images of his smarmy movie star grin

There must be several closeted Trekkies permeating the Emmy committee, because I can’t fathom how William Shatner won again, let alone over two of my Lost boys (Terry O’Quinn & Naveen Andrews). Along the same lines, there must be a huge James Spader constituency with voting power, because he won the Lead Actor in a Drama Series trophy for Boston Legal, robbing a clearly superior Ian McShane for his stellar work in Deadwood. I do not know one person who watches Boston Legal, but series creator and writer David E. Kelley has a golden track record, including Ally McBeal and The Practice, plus critical favorites like Chicago Hope and Picket Fences.

As entertained as I am by the deliciously bad Desperate Housewives, the offscreen drama of the diva cast (exaggerated and/or fabricated by the soap opera-hungry media) does nothing to entice my interest in the second season. That being said, I am a big fan of Felicity Huffman, dating back to her Sports Night days. I was thrilled that she won the Emmy last night for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, especially given that she deserves it far more than her overrated co-star Teri Hatcher. I was surprised that Desperate Housewives was in the Comedy category in the first place, because for every pratfall that Hatcher performs to attempt to convince us of her physical comedy skills, there are darker twists and turns that outweigh the lighter moments. In addition, ABC probably also considered that Housewives would have had to compete with their other cult hit, Lost, in the Drama Series category, and submitted the show for Comedy Series consideration instead. Keep an eye out for Transamerica, an independent film that comes out later this year starring Huffman as a male-to-female transsexual; there is already Oscar buzz about her performance.

I’m sure I’m not the only one lamenting the fact that Everybody Loves Raymond got the sentimental vote for best Comedy Series over the most deserving show, Arrested Development. We all know that Will & Grace jumped the shark years ago with the revolving door of guest stars that serve only to fill the Outstanding Guest Actor Emmy category every year. Scrubs ranks second to Arrested Development in my book, and when NBC finally realizes that this is the only funny show on their network, perhaps they’ll reward it with a consistent and decent time slot. 

I was pleasantly surprised that Patricia Arquette won Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Medium, given that the show has only been on for one season. Her victory reminded me that Jennifer Garner won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama for her first season of Alias, but then again, so did Keri Russell for  Felicity. Aside from small roles here and there, Russell basically disappeared for a while, but she is going to be in next year’s Mission: Impossible III. It bodes well for Arquette that she also has a film career, should Medium‘s popularity wane.

Stay tuned for additional Emmy thoughts later this week

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There are a select few guilty pleasure movies that I can’t help but watch. And Affleck isn’t in any of them.

Although I forced myself to sit through Gigli and Jersey Girl, I geared up and tackled them both like high school math homework (algebra and Affleck, equally painful). I digress. Films like Showgirls and Striptease fall directly into the ‘so bad they’re good’ category. Similarly, if you appreciate campy dialogue and sub-par acting, you might want to check out Denise Richards in the one-two punch of Starship Troopers and Wild Things.

And then there are those incredibly captivating and over-the-top performances which suck you in every time you happen upon them while channel surfing; Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate and Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest are just two that come to mind. You’ll roll your eyes in delight watching Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly in the aesthetically pleasing Bound, which the Wachowski Brothers made solely to prove to the studios that they were capable of making the ambitious Matrix trilogy. I await the Basic Instinct sequel with guarded enthusiasm, as I believe Sharon Stone to be among the best at camp & vamp. In 1996, a relatively unknown Reese Witherspoon played a white trash teenager with a potty mouth in the dark comedy Freeway, which also features the scene-stealing Brooke Shields and Kiefer Sutherland. Before she became hugely successful, Witherspoon co-starred in the last great guilty pleasure film of the ’90s: Cruel Intentions. Besides being the movie where Witherspoon and future husband Ryan Phillippe fell in young love (and subsequently started producing babies with perfect blonde hair & unusually blessed DNA), this film contains many of the guilty pleasure requirements: a same-sex kiss, a step-brother/sister flirtation (recently revitalized by Boone & Shannon on Lost), and a hot young cast of up & comers like Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dawson’s Creek pal Joshua Jackson and Selma Blair (Legally Blonde).

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True to my word, I watched most of the extras on the Lost DVDs. For those of you with even a remote interest in the show, I recommend running out right now to buy this set. The extras included in this 7-DVD package are extensive, and yet they reveal absolutely nothing about what’s to come. The featurettes range from entertaining to riveting, leaving you even more anxious about that hatch, the raft, and the entire second season. I have my conspiracy theories about what’s down that damn hatch, the origination of the metallic sounds from the invisible monster, and the how the arrival of Michelle Rodriguez (Blue Crush), discovered living on a different part of the island, will impact the current cast of characters. I won’t bore you with such ramblings, and I wouldn’t want you to think that I spent days following the first season finale pouring over Lost fan sites. But I did, and I encourage other fans out there to visit, which is the official site of the creative team behind the show. If you’re a true Lost geek, you may want to also peruse the fictional Ocean Airlines website, You can scroll over the seating chart of Flight 815, and tidbits about certain characters pop up over their assigned seats from that fated flight. Or so I’ve heard.

It makes me happy that networks are releasing entire television series on DVD, especially when a quality show is unjustly canceled after one season and disappears before it is allowed proper time to build a dedicated fan base. I am particularly bitter about Wonderfalls, which FOX yanked off of the schedule before even airing the season finale. I was thrilled to discover that the series is now available on a 3-DVD set, and I hope that more people also give it a chance by renting or buying this quirky show. Other TV on DVD favorites include the always compelling HBO duo of Six Feet Under and Sopranos, plus the hysterical Arrested Development and Showtime’s guilty pleasure lesbian soap opera, The L Word.

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Over the weekend, I watched a Saturday Night Live retrospective highlighting the first five years of the series. It confirmed my long-standing opinion of SNL – that I’d much rather spend an hour and a half with Aykroyd and Belushi than with Farley and Spade. And although I do enjoy Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, you have to admit there was something special about Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner. The talented ’75-’80 SNL casts, besides the above mentioned stars, introduced us to Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, and a pre-Spinal Tap Harry Shearer. On the other hand, the only 80′s/ 90′s SNL stars that have transcended into superstardom have been Will Ferrell, Mike Myers and Adam Sandler. In the 90′s alone, SNL spinoff films included Coneheads, It’s Pat, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar and The Ladies Man, but none were nearly as successful as the two Wayne’s World movies.

After reading “Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live” by Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller, I’m not at all surprised that there have been very few female cast members who have found big screen success after leaving the show. The fact that Fey and Poehler now anchor ‘Weekend Update’ is at least visual proof that the the equally funny women of SNL have their Manolos in the door of the old boys club that has permeated the show since its inception.

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