Thursday, September 22, 2005
Thursday nights: yes please!
CSI. Thursday, 9:00, CBS.

What is there to say? It is CSI. It is Grissom. It is Nick and Sarah and Warrick and Katherine and Greg and Brass, etc. It is gruesome. It is fascinating.

These are good things. Watch this show, and good things will happen to you. It's karma, or something.

Really, I don't have much else to say about this one. There is nothing at all that I can criticize. CSI and Lost, and to a slightly lesser degree, Special Perverts Unit all represent flawless television. You really should be watching all of these shows.

Criminal Minds. We have a problem.

Criminal Minds premiered tonight after CSI. It's got Mandy Patinkin as part of a team of genius criminal profilers. It's very sort of Silence Of The Lambs. I rather enjoyed it, and would like to see it again.

The problem is, its normal time slot is the same as Lost. Oh dear. This won't do. I suppose I won't be seeing much of Criminal Minds. I shall have to make do with those true crime programs that are all the time shown on CourtTV. Not that I'm complaining about true crime programs, but they don't often have the best production values.

Friday's shows (The Ghost Whisperer, Threshold, and Numbers) will be reviewed at some point on Saturday. I expect Ghost Whisperer will be laughable at best, and the other two shows are already proven winners.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Wednesday nights: One out of two!
Well. Where to start? It's kind of amazing how one network can go from MEGA EXTREME BRILLIANT TELEVISION to... well... you'll see.

Lost. Wednesday, 9:00, ABC.

M is a huge fan of Lost. A bigger fan than me, but only just slightly. He won't get to see this for a few more days, so out of consideration I'm not going to reveal ANY plot points. I'm kind of hesitant to reveal anything at all, really... this is the kind of show where even the smallest comment can give away big secrets.

So I'll just say, this was well and truly 100% satisfying. M, you have NO IDEA. You're going to be stunned. STUNNED. And there was one bit that had me really creeped out. You won't be disappointed at all.

For everyone else who isn't M: do you watch this show? If so, you're cool. If not, what the hell is wrong with you? You should all be watching Lost, and you should all be watching Special Perverts Unit, and really you should all be watching the original Vegas edition of CSI. Dudes. DUDES.

What you maybe shouldn't be watching, on the other hand...

Invasion. Wednesday, 10:00, ABC.

Yet another sci-fi show, which by my count makes at least three this year (exactly one of which is actually good). In this one, you have a group of characters with complex and nigh-impenetrable family connections.

I mean, okay... you have this couple who are divorced (Ranger Man and Doctor Mariel or Muriel or Meryl, I couldn't make it out). And they have a couple of seriously goofy looking kids. And then they're each remarried (Ranger Man has a Female News Reporter, and Dr. M/M/M has a Sinister Sheriff Man). And THEN on top of that, Sinister Sheriff Man has a Bratty Teen Daughter, and Female Reporter has an Amusing Slacker Brother.

See what I mean about it being complex and nigh-impenetrable? But anyway, as far as the actual plot goes... it's about...

Wait for it...


Oh, FFS. Sea aliens are lamer than lame. But looks like we're stuck with them. They're trendy this year or something. So anyway, yeah, the sea aliens fall into the ocean during a hurricane (nice timing with that one, ABC), and Doctor Mariel Muriel Meryl winds up getting All Possessed by one of them. It makes her act creepy and robotic. The fatal flaw with this, though, is that she was acting creepy and robotic before she got herself All Possessed.

To complicate matters, it would appear that Sinister Sheriff Man (a) knows about this, (b) set it all up, (c) is part of a complex and nigh-impenetrable government conspiracy, and (d) MAY IN FACT BE ALL POSSESSED HIMSELF.

Way to go, ABC. Give away the whole mystery all at once there. Why the hell should I carry on watching this? To find out who's behind it? To find out what's going on? No way, I already know. They shot their ENTIRE NARRATIVE LOAD in the first hour.

This is incredibly badly written. The acting is on a par with CSI: Miami. There appear to be no twists left to uncover, unless Sinister Sheriff Man is, like, Satan or something (hey now, that would be a pretty good show).

Oh hey, I just hit upon something interesting. It occurred to me that the whole Sinister Sheriff Man Being The Devil had already been done, so I looked it up. And guess what? Both shows were created by the same bloke. Shaun Cassidy, if you can believe that. He must have some serious cop/devil issues.

Wow, that was quite a tangent I went off on. Where was I? Oh yeah, talking smack about Invasion. This show was really bad, but the kind of bad that can provide quite a bit of entertainment. I'm gonna keep watching this one for a while, mainly because I find that life can be enriched by cruelly mocking sub-standard media.

Let's all look forward to tomorrow, when Codename V will be enraptured by CSI. Grissom gets his team back. Yay!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Tuesday nights: evil and perverts! Fun for the whole family!
Our foray into the exciting world of premiere week continues! I know this is very exciting, but do please try to restrain yourselves for your own safety and the safety of others.

First we re-visit a show that started up last week, Supernatural. Tuesday, 9:00, WB.

This was the one about the two ghostbusting brothers. Last week's episode was really spooky. Like, genuinely creepy, especially by TV standards. This week's episode was good, but I'm not sure I'd call it spooky. Ghostbusting brothers venture into the woods to track down a wendigo.

Okay, see, wendigos can be pretty freakin' scary. But this one was just kinda weird. I guess maybe if you're creeped out by the woods or bears or generally by Bad Things That Might Happen To Campers, maybe then you'd be creeped out by this. Everyone has a different threshold of creepy, we all have different stuff that makes us want to sleep with the lights on. I can see where Bad Things That Might Happen To Campers could make a person want to sleep with the lights on, although it's pretty irrational.

Not that I don't have my own irrational thing that I'm incredibly creeped out by, but that's beside the point. I digress. I was supposed to be talking about the Wendigo episode of this here show.

It was very good. Again, well acted, well written. Intriguing, more than adequate enough to hold my interest and entertain me. I was hoping to be a little spooked like last week, but admittedly I'm more difficult to creep out than the average person. This is definitely one to keep watching.

Also tonight, we had the season opener of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, affectionately referred to as "Special Perverts Unit" by myself and M, due to the lurid nature of the plot. This one's on Tuesday at 10:00, NBC.

I certainly was not disappointed by the sheer volume of luridness contained within this episode. Basically you had the T-1000 fresh out of prison for raping a young girl. And it looks like he's at it again. So Stabler goes deep undercover to try and bait him into doing it again so they can get him back behind bars. Ethical police work? Not so much, no. But it made for a DAMN GOOD STORY.

The T-1000 was appropriately unpredictable and batshit crazy. All the old familiar characters were back and true to form. Olivia Benson's hair has grown out a bit, so she looks considerably less like Lacey from Cagney and Lacey (a point which went completely unnoticed by me, M had to point it out a few days ago).

Dudes. DUDES, it's Law & Order: Special Perverts Unit. What more can be said? Watch this show. Do it. DO IT. Or you'll regret it, and I really don't think you want to go through life regretting something as pitiful as missing out on a totally rad TV show.

That's it for tonight. Be sure to check in tomorrow, as tomorrow will be a banner day indeed. Wednesday marks the triumphant return of Lost, which will be heralded by much celebration. Oh yeah, and yet another new show about aliens. Let's hope it doesn't suck as much as that sea alien crap that was on last night.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Monday nights: there are worse things on!
Welcome to installment two of Codename V's comprehensive guide to the new fall television season. Tonight we have for you two decent shows, which some may find to be enjoyable!

Surface. Monday, 8:00, NBC.

Errm. Yeah. From what I can gather, this is about space aliens who live at the bottom of the sea, and are generally all about killing people. This show jumps around between four or five locations and groups of characters, with each scene lasting about four minutes. This is a pet peeve of mine, and really does not make for a promising start. Best as I can tell, you have four groups: jackass kids, jackass fishermen, secretive jackass military types, and hapless jackass researchers. They all have various encounters with the sea aliens.

Sea aliens, how lame is that? Hello, The Abyss much?

But I digress. Yes, sea aliens. WTF ever. I was not particularly enthused. The fact that all of the characters are jackasses didn't really help much. I'm not going to give this one a ringing endorsement, but I won't give up on it just yet, either. The previews for "coming weeks" (aside: since when do we see previews for 'coming weeks'? Just show me next week and be done with it, damn)...

Anyway, I digress again. The previews for coming weeks (insert dramatic eye rolling here) suggest that this is gonna go all Close Encounters, and that all the people who have experienced the sea aliens will Band Together in Sea Alien Fellowship. It remains to be seen whether or not there will be any sea alien mashed potato sculptures. One can only hope.

CSI: Miami. Monday, 10:00, CBS.

A returning favorite. The thing one must keep in mind whilst watching the Miami branch of the CSI franchise is this: there is no way that this crap is meant to be taken at all seriously. No way. Therefore, one must watch it with the understanding that it is top comedy. David Caruso is in perfect form as Horatio Caine, Hero Of The People. I said HERO OF THE PEOPLE, dammit.

Horatio Cane, HERO OF THE PEOPLE spends about 80% of his time acting as avenger of the common man, and the remaining 20% is spent donning sunglasses in slow-motion and staring wistfully off into the distance. No doubt it is at these times that Caine realizes the gravity of his role as HERO OF THE PEOPLE.

Tonight's episode was completely standard. What are the ingredients for a standard episode of CSI Miami? Let's see. Obscure foreign mafia? Check. Low-income woman in peril? Check. Snotty rich white woman? Check. Moralistic judgment against everyone except low-income woman in peril? Check.

Brilliantly funny! Admittedly I missed a large section of dialogue in the first bit of this episode, due to loudly crunchy goodness of chips and salsa, but I'm pretty sure I didn't miss out on any important plot developments. That's probably because there never are any. Conclusion: recommended, good for a laugh.

Check back tomorrow for the second episode of Supernatural and what can only be the exceptionally genius season premiere of Law & Order: Special Perverts Unit.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Codename V. sorts out the best of the new fall television
And tells you what to watch. And you'll watch it, if you know what's good for you.

Installment one! There were only a couple of shows that made their debut this past week, and I've decided to put them both in one post. Most everything else debuts this coming week, and I intend to have a post for you EVERY DAY. Isn't that fantastic? I am that devoted to this cause. Or maybe I just like having an excuse to watch, like, 12 hours of TV a week...

Supernatural. Tuesday, 9:00, the WB.

So you have these two brothers, and their mom died in some freak demonic ghost accident kind of situation. And ever since, their dad devoted his life to tracking down the demonic ghost thing that killed her. And he trained his kids to be expert ghostbusters along the way. Except now, dad's gone missing on a hunt, and the brothers are faced with the task of finding him on their own.

I didn't expect much from this... I thought it was going to be kind of a low-rent X-Files. But I was impressed. The plot was compelling, and it was a genuinely spooky hour. Some of the special effects were a bit shaky, but this is television after all, not a big-budget Spielberg film. All in all, well within acceptable television parameters. I very much liked it, and I've put it on my list of stuff to watch every week.

Threshold. Friday, 9:00, CBS.

Where to begin? Aliens invade earth. You have Lt. Commander Data. You have crazy Ethan from Lost. You have a surly dwarf. You've got some guy who always seems to play a soldier, and he's playing a soldier. This is a recipe for success, friends. SUCCESS!!

I really did enjoy this. There's a good balance of humor and suspense, and the premise seems well thought out. There's a bit of dodgy science when they start talking about interdimensional objects folding in on themselves, and using terms like "hypergeometry" or some such. But I mean, where would this genre be without dodgy science? You have to just take all this in stride. Yes, yes, of course. Hypergeometry. Certainly.

They made a Klingon joke at Lt. Commander Data's expense. I am not sure whether to be impressed that they played the Star Trek card for the benefit of all us TNG geeks, or whether it's an insult to my geekdom because it's a really obvious card to play. Either way, it's great to see Brent Spiner on TV again. ROCK!

Right then. So, you'll all watch these shows next week, right? Cos they're better than Will and Grace or Dr. Phil or whatever other crap you probably already watch. You'll do it, and you'll like it. So there.

Tune in sometime late Monday, when I'll have reviews of some other sci-fi show called Surface, and also the season premiere of CSI: Miami.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane!
Friday Baddie Blogging
This week's baddie is The Goblin King.

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I wish the goblins would come and take you away - RIGHT NOW!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Codename V attempts to watch Alexander
In which V. tackles an Oliver Stone epic with rather poor results.

Right, so. Alexander. I rented this a couple of days ago, but haven't been in the mood for A Serious Epic. It's due back on Saturday, so I figured, the time is now. Otherwise I probably won't have time to finish it.

First let me point out that this film clocks in at something crazy like 160 minutes. That's, like, nearly 3 hours long. I have kind of a history of not having a lot of patience for films that stretch much past 90 minutes. Usually I find that when a film is intolerably long like that, it's because there's a hell of a lot of pointless filler that could easily have been cut without sacrificing narrative integrity at all.

Secondly, let me point out that this film is by Oliver Stone. According to the IMDB, Mr. Stone has personally directed 21 films. I have personally enjoyed exactly two of these - Natural Born Killers and U-Turn.

So from the start, it would seem I am doomed. Nearly 3 hours of rambling incoherence, because honestly, Oliver Stone is the King of Rambling Incoherence.

Alexander does not disappoint in the "rambling incoherence" department. It flips around between past and present every few minutes. From what I can gather, Anthony Hopkins has aged about 300 years since the Hannibal Lecter days, Colin Farrell looks incredibly stupid with bleached blonde hair, and Angelina Jolie is batshit crazy (no shit) and is speaking with what sounds like a Romanian accent for NO APPARENT REASON.

So I get through the "Alexander's Childhood" bit of the film, wherein his dad (Crazy One-Eyed Val Kilmer) hates him and hates his mom and hates everyone basically, but is proud of wee Alexander for taming a wild horse. And Angelina Jolie is batshit crazy (duh) and sounds Romanian and plays with snakes, and is all the time singing songs about how snakes will make you brave, but they'll turn on you, and isn't that true about people, and why does Crazy One-Eyed Val Kilmer hate her because really she doesn't look THAT old does she?

It is a miracle I made it that far. So yeah, Alexander grows up and decides to go kick Persia's ass. He seems to think the king of Persia paid someone to assassinate his dad (Oliver Stone = conspiracy). His troops are way outnumbered by Persia. So he rallies them and stuff, and rides around on his horse giving them this Big Braveheart Pep Talk. Except, he starts addressing each soldier individually, telling them how badass they are. I doze off. I wake up what must be a full 15 minutes later, and he's still bigging up his effing troops. This makes me feel a bit confused and disoriented.

Suddenly, there's some huge battle. You'd think bloodshed and gore and general brutal violence would get my interest, but no. I actually dozed off again. I ended up turning the DVD off and taking a nap for an hour - and I never take naps. I have to be really seriously bored out of my mind to take a nap in the middle of the day, especially considering I got a full night's sleep. Conclusion: Alexander has some kind of mind-numbing hypnotic effect on the viewer, something akin to what happens when I try to watch The English Patient.

So, my evaluation of Alexander is still incomplete. I'll take it on again a little later and see if I can stay awake long enough for the incest. Cos, I mean, there's incest, isn't there? I heard there was incest...
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Things I am so totally over
In which V marvels at the shelf life of really crap entertainment.

1. Andre 3000
Half of acutely irritating rap duo Outkast. I have no idea what the other fellow's name is, because he isn't constantly all up in the media trying to prove how much of a nonconformist he is. Yes, I get that you like to wear wacky clothes. And I get that you have this desperate need to be photographed in wacky clothes at every available opportunity. What I don't get is why you're still coasting on the popularity of "Hey Ya" after two or three years, or why you seem to think you're a serious actor now. Sorry, Andre 3000, you're becoming a sad media clown...

2. The Black Eyed Peas
This band is notable for having the first protest song for this George W debacle, "Where is the Love". Admittedly, I quite liked "Where is the Love" the first three or four thousand times I heard it. But really, that was their only good song. And now they seem to be constantly all over the radio. Their annoying factor is boosted by about a gazillion percent due to the freak of cosmetic surgery that is Fergie. OMG. If I met this woman on the street, I'd give her a good solid bitch-slapping just on principle. Those eyebrows have been lifted well beyond the threshold of "normal". This woman is allegedly 30, yet manages to look like a 40 year old transvestite. Amazing. Not to mention she peed herself on stage recently. Fucking HILARIOUS.

3. Diddy
Enough said.

4. Movies that are remakes of other films which are totally awesome and without flaw, and so there's no reason to remake them. Ever.
This remake of The Wicker Man, starring Nicolas Cage and Leelee Sobieski. Nicolas fucking Cage, people. I cry myself to sleep at night.

Or this remake of The Omen, starring Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles. JULIA FUCKING STILES, PEOPLE.

5. Posers
This one requires a visual aid. First, observe the Sex Pistols:

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Next, observe Blink-182.

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One of these is a punk band. The other is a bunch of sad pussies. The answer should be pretty evident...

Arrrrgh, our entire society is culturally bankrupt.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
I am a nerd, and I like nerdy things.
This guy here has spent a lot of time re-creating grim movie sets using what I think is the Unreal engine. That's pretty nerdy. I was impressed.

I was especially impressed by The Shining one. Historically, that carpet and long long hallway are guaranteed to creep me out. The only thing that could make it creepier would be a slightly ajar door. Okay, I am creeping myself out now, and I'm gonna have to go to bed soon which means turning out the lights.

When it comes to The Shining, I am not much of a badass at all.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Codename V tells it like it is
In which V tells things like they are.

Apologies for the delay in posting. I've been kind of busy immersing myself in a lot of entertainment of varying quality. It's a tough job, but I do it for YOU, all for YOU dear readers, so that I might spare you the agony of boredom.

First on the list is The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. This massive novel clocks in at nearly 700 pages and is the sole reason I didn't post last week. It's the best book I've read in years. Caveat: it's not for everyone, admittedly. You have to be in the mood for vampires, mystery, intrigue, AND loads of sometimes-too-wordy history lessons. But put it all together and it makes for a fascinating read. I thought so, anyway.

A rundown: a young girl discovers her historian father's research into Vlad the Impaler, despite his desperately trying to shield her from it. What she uncovers is a quest to prove that Vlad is STILL ALIVE (gasp!) and to kill him. Vampires are in fact the harsh reality in this novel, and they're particularly gruesome. Overall, I'd say it was sort of like The DaVinci Code, only with vampires, and not at all lame. Cos let's face it, The DaVinci Code was a book full o' lame.

Next up we have a couple of films that I have seen, and can recommend with good conscience for your viewing pleasure.

Depending on your personal tastes, you might enjoy Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Jane Austen's story. I am ALL ABOUT the Jane Austen (I know, I know, this is completely at odds with that whole murder/death/kill aspect) so I found this film to be great fun. It was my first Bollywood film, and so there were aspects I liked, and aspects I didn't like so much. They were all the time breaking into song, which I understand is a key feature of Bollywood. But I'm not a huge fan of musicals, or telling parts of the narrative via really annoying songs. So, I kind of got a little fed up with that, but the music itself was really great. And the dancing, really really great. Naveen Andrews (Sayid from "Lost") was in this, and he did some damned impressive dancing. It was also full of bright happy colors, I like that. And, I mean, hey. Pride & Prejudice = Mr. Darcy, who is quite possibly the alpha male of literature.

If you're more into murder/death/kill, there's Hide And Seek wherein Robert DeNiro and his neurotic daughter move to the country to get over the death of the wife/mom, and end up facing some kind of sick hell of killing. The less you know about this film, the better it will be when you see it. Parts of it are maybe implausible, but I like to suspend my disbelief when I watch thrillers like this. Dakota Fanning plays the neurotic daughter. She is very good at being a creepy kid, and this is the only film I've seen her in wherein she did not irritate the crap out of me by attempting to ooze radiant cuteness. Instead, she oozed radiant goth angst, which I can better relate to. And DeNiro, well. You know what to expect there. I liked it, it was good, the ending kind of took me by surprise (but admittedly, when I watch thrillers like this, I make a conscious effort NOT to try and figure out the ending, cos I like being taken by surprise). So yeah, watch it.

Then I saw this film Red Riding Hood that I still don't quite know what to make of. Basically you have this 12 year old girl living on her own in Rome, and she goes around punishing small-time criminals (like shoplifters) as revenge for her dad having been murdered years ago. She has this friend "George" who could possibly be a dog, a werewolf, or completely imaginary (you eventually find out) who helps her do these things. She is obviously quite unhinged, and it all comes to a head when her grandmother comes to look after her. The girl ends up strapping grandma to the bed and drilling holes in her kneecaps. Fun times. Honestly for about the first 20-30 minutes of this, all I could think was "what crap", but it started growing on me. It's weird - very, very, very weird. But worth seeing, if you happen to stumble across it.

Finally we have a film I saw (most of) yesterday, Ghost of the Needle. The DVD cover compares it favorably to The Ring and The Eye, both of which are most excellent films. Further research indicated that this film got mostly consistently great reviews, and that people who seemed to be actual fans of the horror genre seemed to sincerely like it.

Friends, I am here today to tell you that those people are either liars or on crack.

The first indication that something might be amiss with the quality of this film can be found in the opening credits. Ghost of the Needle is written by Brian Avenet-Bradley. It is edited by Brian Avenet-Bradley. It is directed by Brian Avenet-Bradley. It is based on an original idea by Brian Avenet-Bradley. And it stars... wait for it...

Brian Avenet-Bradley.

This should always, always be taken as a sure sign that the film you are about to see will be pure, unmitigated crap. See also: Todd Tjersland.

Anyway, Brian Avenet-Bradley goes around taking photos of places. And then he schmoozes up to women and asks them to come model at his studio. And then he kills them and photographs them dead for his "private collection". He gets asked to do a specific photograph for a wealthy man, and then gets kind of sucked into all this weird intrigue. And meanwhile he has a head injury and keeps having flashbacks and occasionally seeing ghosts that are NOT AT ALL SPOOKY.

If I had to make a guess, I'd say that funding for this film was almost certainly provided by Mom and Dad Avenet-Bradley... I ended up just turning it the hell off with about 20 minutes to go.

So there you have it, a summary of recent entertainment. Again, please pardon the extended hiatus, real life has kind of caught up with me lately.