Wednesday, August 30, 2006



I gotta tell you, I'm enjoying the hell out of this hockey downtime, and definitely recharging for the impending season. (The Flames utes gather Sept. 7th, on the ice on the 8th; full roster in camp on the 14th, take the ice on the 15th.)

However, I don't want too much dust to gather on this site in the meantime. So, I figure if Covered! can discuss whether to fight a gorilla or a bear, then I can talk about what TV programs I've been enjoying over the summer. In no particular order:

RockStar: Supernova
(CBS) Semi-pro rockers compete to front a touring band of G'n'R's Gilbey Clark, Metallica's Jason Newsted, and the one-and-only Tommy Lee.

I found this show kinda goofy at first, but it's really grown on me. The off-stage, living-in-one-house drama, a la Last Comic Standing (or, if you prefer, 7 Lives Xposed), is fairly minimal. And at this point, with only six contestants left, the performances are downright terrific. Host Dave Navarro is frequently (unintentionally) hilarious, but compelling. He gives off a weird Cleopatra vibe -- lounging in his throne, made-up all pretty.

Dog The Bounty Hunter
(A&E) Nattily-clad born-again Christian and his unique family search out people who have skipped bail in Hawaii.

I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but The Drug War probably has no better friend than A&E. Their schedule is just rife with programs that are virtually promotional videos for (A) the fundamental goodness and importance of the cops, and how they go about their business; and (B) the terrible destructiveness of illegal drugs.

Dog is definitely an example of (B), but is probably best interpreted as a major rebuke of (A). Just about everyone they arrest is a heavy drug user, most of whom have wrecked their families and/or otherwise ruined their lives with constant drug use -- basically, they're pitiful losers. But! The hunters are armed only with pepper spray, which they've had to use only once in all the episodes I've seen. Also, once the skippers are in custody, the hunters basically treat them like the sad sacks that they are (gently?), rather than dangerous criminals.

For me, it really highlights the absurdity of using SWAT teams and the like to terrorize homes, or entire neighbourhoods, to take down non-violent people who are for the most part, guilty only of making really bad choices. Naturally, your mileage may vary. (For a well-done, ongoing, and agonizing chronicle of this stuff, see The Agitator).

Also, Dog's wife Beth has the most comically oversized breasts in the history of television.

High Stakes Poker
(GSN) Well-known poker pros play No Limit Texas Hold'em for their own cash.

The best of the poker shows, of which there are many. Good personalities. Analysis is by Gabe Kaplan -- did you know that Mr. Kotter was an accomplished poker player? He's far more knowledgeable, and funnier, than Norman Chad on ESPN or any of the other ones.

The blinds do not increase and are relatively insignificant, so it doesn't turn into a bingo game. No internet schmoes playing for the first time with actual chips. And again, Gabe Kaplan is simply excellent.

In America
(Movie!) Irish family moves to NYC illegally, faces challenges, and deals with a past tragedy.

Excepting comedies, this is the best movie I've seen in the past two years. Charles Taylor's preposterously glowing review in Salon is only barely over-the-top. The movie is filled with wonderful moments, two of which stand out for me.

Barely a half-hour in, there is a scene at a carnival that is improbably suspenseful: not in the "thriller" sense where you're dying to know what happens next, but where you desperately want the character to succeed. And the final scene on the balcony, where the oldest daughter makes her third and final wish, pretty much broke me down.

I suppose this flick might mean more to you if you have a young family, as I do, but I recommend it without reservation either way (and don't just take my word for it; it gets 89% on Rotten Tomatoes). Get thee to a Blockbuster!

Cold Case
(CBS) Philadelphia cops work on unsolved murders

A couple of things set this cop show apart from the many, many others, to my way of thinking. The biggest, owing to the major use of flashbacks, is the focus on the victims. I like the evil bad guys on Law & Order, and the puzzle-solvers on CSI, as much as the next guy. But it's not until you watch a few episodes of Cold Case that it really hits home that the victim on Law & Order is generally a lump under a sheet. The structure of Cold Case really underlines the tragic element of crime; I just find that this makes the show feel more real and important.

And the second thing is the music. Every episode makes liberal use of popular music from the year of the murder they're investigating. Both the opening and closing of each story is carried by the soundtrack, and especially at the closing, it seems to add a lot of emotional weight.

King of the Hill
(Everywhere) Texas man, and his family and neighbours, live life.

My favourite show, and has been for several years now. I don't really have much to say, though it's remarkable that a cartoon is possibly the most realistic show on TV, and that includes most reality shows. The characters are funny while remaining lovable, and the plots are topical without being cynical. I think Mike Judge might be the most overlooked creative genius of his generation. Fortunately, it appears the KotH might be turning into the new M*A*S*H, in that it fits on all varieties of channels, and you can find an episode most times of the day or night. The more the better, I say.


According to Alanah's sidebar, the hockey season starts in 35 days, 4 hours, and 18 minutes. Ex-cellent.


Seriously? We both don't post in a week, and now we both post within the hour? Weird.

High Stakes Poker is great television, with you 100%.

Great caliber players, great Kaplan moments, and even really monster hands (Gus vs. Daniel was huge).

Too bad Cold Case probably won't ever be on DVD. The rights to use the music are just too costly.

I'm with you on Rock Star, but not many of the others (and hasn't In America been out three or four years now? It was good.)

I just can't see much of a band resulting from this thing — although I thought the same thing with the INXS version and they were extremely popular. Something tells me Tommy Lee et al aren't in this for the long haul.

* The poker hand to which Earl refers is on YouTube here
* That is a bugger about Cold Case, perrin. Worse (in the grand scheme, at least) is the disincentive in general for TV shows to incorporate music in this way, as they'd be sabotaging an important element of their long-term profitability.
* In America reached theatres in November 2003; of course it is available on DVD
* And, the plan at the moment is that "Supernova" is going to be a real band; recording an album, then going on tour in 2007. However, Mirtle's skepticism is probably warranted: counting on Tommy Lee to look further ahead than the end of his cock is questionable.

People don't realize that Kaplan was the first really serious celebrity poker player. Check out this video of Kaplan interviewing Stu Ungar after Ungar's third WSOP win--if you know the context (not that it's hard to interpret Kaplan's gentle hints, or the near-complete absence of a nose on Ungar's face) it might be the single most depressing video clip in existence.

"Look out, next year."



I'll tell you what, Hank hill rules.

I just wish sometimes he would kick Gribble's ass a little more.

Big fan here of In America.

Saw it when it first came out at the ol' Princess Theatre.

Bought it on dvd.

Keep spreadin' the word, yo.

Dog the Bounty Hunter is awesome. I also turned to watching the first season of Prison Break on DVD which was perfect timing since it came back on 2 weeks ago. I also made of list of ideas of things to do to waste this time before hockey season on my blog. It seems like everyone's ready for it to begin.

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