Sunday, October 31, 2004


It was a pretty link-loaded week, so let's get crackin'!

"The Office" told the story of a few people working in a British office working hard to not lose their jobs. It was shown as though it was a BBC documentary about down-sizing ordinary workers in a bland working environment.

A mockumentary about life in a mid-sized suboffice paper merchants in a bleak British industrial town, where manager David Brent thinks he's the coolest, funniest, and most popular boss ever. He isn't. That doesn't stop him from embarrassing himself in front of the cameras on a regular basis, whether from his political sermonizing, his stand-up 'comedy', or his incredibly unique dancing. Meanwhile, long-suffering Tim longs after Dawn the engaged receptionist and keeps himself sane by playing childish practical jokes on his insufferable, army-obsessed deskmate Gareth.

When the series aired the first season, they did not even know how popular it would get in future episodes. The writers at the start did not imagine that a second season would be created; and after bowing to pressure to create one, they would not do it again for a third. The show ended on a high note after two Christmas specials which tied up knots and rounded off wonderfully the first two seasons. But now we have 'The Office Special'.

Picking up three years after he was laid off from Wernham-Hogg, David Brent is barely employed as a door-to-door salesman, having blown his severance on a hellacious cover of ''If You Don't Know Me by Now'' (video included!).

The series wrapped up for good with "The Office Special," which supposes that the BBC documentary crew returned three years after its initial visit to find out how things had changed at the fictional (and relentlessly banal) Wernham Hogg paper products company in drab Slough, England.

In "The Office Special," David Brent is now selling cleaning products, having blown his severance money, which he sued to get, on a disastrously misguided recording career. And the BBC cameras are back, checking in with the office workers and studying what has happened to them in the intervening three years.
(adapted from the review by Tim Goodman, San Francisco Gate)

"Once upon a time, there was a boy named John. And John was an astronaut. He lived in a far away place called Earth, which is so far away, you've never heard of it. One day, when John was out doing astronaut things, a big blue wormhole gobbled him up and spat him out at the far end of the universe. Things were looking grim in Mudville, till our hero met an amazing living ship, made some nice new friends, and he hooked up with his dream girl.

"We could've lived happily ever after, but the Peacekeepers raped, chased and tortured us for years on end. And two months ago, we got our asses shot off again. This time it was the Scarrans, big reptiles, oooh! And Moya, our living ship, limped her way to your happy planet for a little R&R, because, we figure, it's empty! Hey, no one is gonna bother us.

"Next thing me and the future Mrs Crichton are having a private moment when you guys fly by, boom bada-bing, squiggly line, squiggly line, crystallised. And it's two months later."
- John Crichton
"Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars"

Which is about as good as you can get for a summary of the series 'Farscape', which leads us to:

In this lavish four-hour series finale, one of the tube's richest character dramas did a dazzling job wrapping the lost-in-space odyssey of its cool cowboy astronaut.

'Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars' gave a strong goodbye to a show that got short shrift when Sci Fi decided in 2002 against funding the show's previously ordered fifth and final season. Which wasn't fair, since the series ended with rock-and-roll astronaut cowboy John Crichton and his pregnant alien warrior squeeze Aeryn Sun blown to crystallized bits right after agreeing to tie the knot. They simply couldn't end the series there.

At least Sci Fi was able to make amends by airing an entire-series repeat leading up to the sequel's premiere, - explaining the Crichton-Aeryn axis, the earthling's coveted knowledge of wormhole technology, the invasion of his consciousness by dastardly cyborg Scorpius, conflict between the nasty Peacekeeper race and the nastier Scarrans, and all those vibrant varied-species pals: D'Argo, Chiana, and Rygel. Not to mention their living, sentient spaceship Moya.

Aeryn is pregnant in "The Peacekeeper Wars," (albeit spelled for a bit by surly surrogate Rygel), but the born-and-bred warrior insists on joining a raging skirmish during labor simply because shooting makes her feel better. I've seen 'Murphy Brown' go into labor, and the heroes could have used her warrior birth-rage in that fight as well. Probably Malcolm's mom Lois as well.
('Malcolm In The Middle')

Off-course astronaut Crichton is forever referencing TV shows, rock songs and touchstones such as the Alamo. (He calls the ghost in his head Harvey, like James Stewart's rabbit.) Even though he's a walking, talking Zonk machine, his witty swagger sets a loosey-goosey tone that keeps 'Farscape' from that bane of fantasy fiction: taking itself too seriously. This show likes proceeding off-kilter and it has plenty of opportunities for possible future sequels.
(adapted from the review by Diane Werts of New York Newsday)

'Tanner On Tanner' wrapped up its four-episode return to the world of 'Tanner '88' with two great links to other TV series. And appropriately enough for a show that so wonderfully blended reality with fiction, one of those shows was a sitcom and the other was a talk show.

By showing a piece of John Kerry's great acceptance speech at the Boston convention, and by establishing that Jack Tanner had written part of it, 'Tanner On Tanner' could lay claim to kinship with 'Cheers' since Senator Kerry appeared in a quick cameo as himself on that show many years ago.

Later, Jack Tanner appeared with Charlie Rose on his public television talk show, where he dismissed the "rumor" that he had been involved with scripting anything from the speech. This was a big coup for Toobworld - a legitimate link with 'The Charlie Rose Show' without having to rely on somebody appearing who also played themselves on a scripted show. (Legit, but too easy.)
('Tanner On Tanner')

During the reunion mini-series for 'Farscape', Scarran Emperor Staleek mentioned that he found it troubling that Humans and Sebaceans could propagate together.

Later, Yondalao, the Eidolon elder, revealed to Aeryn Sun a possible splainin for why it wasn't as difficult as it might have been....

"At the dawn of our period of usefulness, 27000 cycles ago, we developed need of a guard. A race no one had quarrel with. A force to ensure harmony prevailed once negotiations had finished.

"We took great care to choose a species no one had met before. We found your kind primitive, barely clothed, far removed on the galaxy's outer spiral. Having brought some of you back, your evolution was accelerated with generous alterations, until you became our trusted acolytes."

It sounds to me as if Yondalao is referring to the primitive humans of Earth. Perhaps his people harvested an entire community of cavemen for their breeding experiment and turned them into the Peacekeepers.

If so, it could be assumed that the early Eidolons were also those known as the Preservers who seeded worlds with a variety of human cultures. And it could also be argued that if the Eidolons weren't one of the races of the First Ones like the Vorlons and the Shadows, they were at least children of the first generation.
('Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars' & 'Star Trek' & 'Babylon 5')

George Lopez fell asleep watching TV while he was wrestling with his conscience over why he had no life insurance.
While he was dreaming, he found himself in three different sitcoms which should have been part of the same universe in which he existed:

'Leave It To Beaver'
'The Munsters'
'The Jetsons'

A few days ago I posted an essay about dream zonks. Feel free to scroll back and find out more about the topic.
('The George Lopez Show')

Less than two weeks after his sudden death, actor Christopher Reeve began appearing in a taped appeal to Californians to vote for a controversial ballot measure that would fund a decade of stem cell research.

Reeve filmed the ad shortly before his death on Oct. 10, but proponents of California's Proposition 71 decided to go forward with the campaign after consulting his family.

"Stem cells have already cured paralysis in animals," Reeve says in the TV spot. "Stem cells are the future of medicine. Please support Proposition 71 and stand up for those who can't."
While traveling through Stars Hollow, Connecticut, Norman Mailer stopped into the Dragonfly Inn and was interviewed by a reporter. Lorelai and Sookie were initially thrilled when the author showed up repeatedly in the dining room, but Sookie's awe turned to annoyance when Mailer refused to order any food.
('Gilmore Girls')
Yep, that was Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore making out on the field as the Red Sox celebrated their first World Series title since 1918.

The stars of the upcoming Farrelly brothers movie "Fever Pitch", about a Red Sox fan torn between the woman he loves and the team he worships, were shooting a new happy ending, which had been cobbled together furiously in the wake of Boston's historic run to the championship.

So as the rest of the players swarmed the infield at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Wednesday night after the team's four-game sweep of the Cardinals, Fallon and Barrymore were in the middle of the madness, with the Farrellys' camera following them.
(The World Series)
I'm a little late in picking up on this, but skateboard impresario Tony Hawk appeared on an episode of 'Complete Savages'. If I'm not mistaken, this puts him over the top to qualify for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.
('Complete Savages')
Senator John Kerry, Charlie Rose
('Tanner On Tanner')

'American Goddess' is a reality show found only in the TV Universe, similar to 'Extreme Makeover' or 'The Swan'.
('Without A Trace')

The TV Universe has its own version of that old chestnut of a safe driving movie, "Blood On The Highway"; one which features "Officer Steven Cox" (who looks remarkably like Mad Max a la the Village People....)
('Complete Savages')

Jason and Barbara Reshetar of Coon Rapids, Min.., wrote to TV Guide to suggest that Gary Sinise should portray a younger version of Doctor Leonard McCoy. But I'd say Sinise is just about the right age to portray McCoy as he was in the original 'Star Trek' series; perhaps a few years before.

Ka D'Argo was a huge, bellicose Luxan — a race of fierce, much-feared warriors known throughout the galaxy for their propensity to conquer anything or anyone in their path. His first reaction to most every situation was to attack first and ask questions never.

D'Argo was framed for the murder of his Sebacean wife, Lo'Laan who was actually killed by her brother, Macton, in no small part due to the belief among many Sebaceans that a Sebacean/Luxan pairing was miscegenation, and an abomination.

D'Argo's son, Jothee, disappeared and was later found to be enslaved. Jothee was rescued and reunited with his father. Sadly, their reunion ended in tragedy when D'Argo's lover, Chiana, betrayed him by having an affair with Jothee.

D'Argo had more difficulty connecting with others than the rest of Moya's crew, although he respected Aeryn as a fellow warrior, and he considered Crichton a brother-in-arms and a trusted friend. He also had great respect for Zhaan and was deeply in love with Chiana until she betrayed him. (Any kind of good relationship between D'Argo and Rygel, however, was likely a lost cause.)

During the Peacekeeper Wars, D'Argo was speared fatally by attacking Scarrans. In a move that must have reminded John Crichton of Mickey Rooney in "Ambush Bay", Ka D'Argo chose to stay behind with enough weapons to give Crichton and Chiana and the others time to get away.

Jool was a young Interion woman of remarkable academic accomplishment. Strikingly beautiful, with orange-and-yellow-hued skin offset by a mane of wild, silken hair, she had a fiery temper that matched her wild looks.

Raised in a peaceful star system, Jool attended a rigorous series of universities and rose through the meritocracy to earn respect and privilege. Her background, social status and intellect gave her exposure to the arts and the graces of a finer life. Jool was brilliant, but she'd never been tested in the real world. Despite her prodigious factual base, she hadn't proved her mettle in hard experience.

While on an expedition to the other side of the galaxy, her group of fellow young intellectuals was hijacked and forced into slavery. Near death, her body was sold for medical research. For 22 cycles, Jool was in frozen stasis, her organs earmarked for sale to anyone who had the money to purchase them.

However, before she could be dissected and carved up, John Crichton and the others aboard Moya rescued her.

After more than a cycle with the crew of Moya, Jool finally left to follow her own chosen destiny. With the help of Crichton, Chiana and D'Argo, she freed the priests of Arnessk from a 12,000-cycle-long state of suspended animation. As a scholar of Arnesskan history, Jool decided to stay behind with the priests to ease their transition into a vastly changed galaxy.

It was there where she met her fate as Emperor Staleek of the Scarrans ordered the temple of the Eidolons to be vaporized.

That was Crichton's name for the neuro-cyborg non-entity that may or may not have been living in his mind. It resembled Scorpius and was a constant mental irritant as it tried to worm its way into whatever part of Crichton's mind housed the knowledge of wormhole technology.

Once that knowledge was removed by the entity known as "Einstein", "Harvey" 's reason for being ended. He faded away in a scene reminiscent of "2001: A Space Odyssey" (although he preferred to go out with a bang like Slim Pickens in "Dr. Strangelove").

Ding dong, the Bitch is dead.

He was blasted to death by Akhna before his powers of conciliation and peace could take hold over Emperor Staleek of the Scarrans.

He was poisoned by his pregnant consort Commandant Mele-On Grayza, who did not want the Peacekeepers to even consider the option of seeking a truce with the Scarrans.
(All from 'Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars')

Out of the sorrows suffered by the crew of Moya, there came some small cause for joy - John Crichton and Aeryn Sun were married and their baby was born.

It's a boy!

And in honor of their fallen comrade, they have named him "D'Argo Sun Crichton".

On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Concert was broadcast to millions of inmates across the U.S. That night, in the melee following the broadcast, an inmate was murdered and quickly disposed of in a prison outside of Philly.

Detective Lilly Rush and the 'Cold Case' team re-opened the case when human bones were found at the site of the now shuttered prison. When it turned out that the bones didn't belong to the dead inmate, the team had to begin a new search for the person who was murdered at the prison 36 years before.

The prisoner was thought to have disappeared when a riot broke out, while listening to Cash's 1968 Folsom Prison concert, and that show is referenced during several parts of the episode with eight of the songs used during the flashback sequences.

The following is the original set list of the Folsom Prison concert recorded live at Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968:
Folsom Prison Blues
I'm Busted
Dark As The Dungeon
I Still Miss Someone
Cocaine Blues
25 Minutes To Go
I'm Not In Your Town To Stay
Orange Blossom Special
The Long Black Veil
Send A Picture Of Mother
The Wall
Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog
Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart
Joe Bean
Jackson (with June)
I Got A Woman (with June)
John Henry
I Got Stripes
Green, Green Grass Of Home
Greystone Chapel
l Give My Love To Rose

The daughter of former Presidential contender Jack Tanner isn't the only Alex Tanner out there in the many fictional universes. Here's one from the literary universe, crime novel section, who can be found across the pond:

Alex Tanner
Created by Anabel Donald
Sometimes a journalist can be considered a private eye, and sometimes they can't...

Britain's ALEX TANNER doesn't have to worry. She's both. She's a part-time private investigator, and a part-time freelance TV researcher, with a bit more grit than the average female eye. A product of countless foster homes during her troubled childhood, she's grown up to be a determinedly self-reliant and fiercely independent loner, with a taste for hardboiled private eye fiction.

Not that she's a complete loner. Her relationship with TV producer Barty O'Neill is a total delight and great fun. Alex calls the turf of London's Notting Hill home, but the mean streets Alex goes down are a far cry from the aggressive trendiness of any recent Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts eye candy.

A well-written, engrossing series, with something to say. The pyschological development of women and the emotional issues of troubled youth are recurring themes.
An Uncommon Murder (1992)
In at the Deep End (1994)
The Glass Ceiling (1994)
The Loop (1996)
Destroy Unopened (1999)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

" 'The Office' was a mockumentary that dared to be astutely subtle in a medium that has beaten the quiet moments out of scripts for years. It never tried to pander, was uncompromisingly British and pulled off -- particularly in the second season -- what is so difficult to do for comedies: creating drama from painful, incisively cutting humor.

The humor in 'The Office' has always been tinged with sadness. And it has always been spot-on insightful. But what's so wonderfully realized in 'The Office Special' is the sense of closure, which comes without gimmicks or sell-out dramatics.

'The Office Special' is a grand finale to one of television's best, smartest and funniest series ever. "
- Tim Goodman
San Francisco Chronicle

"The hearts and minds of people at cross purposes have been the lifeblood of 'Farscape', which was always a character drama employing sci-fi elements, not vice versa. That's why its adult cult boasts more professional and female followers than other 'genre' shows infatuated with less-mature tech talk and arcane hierarchies.

Here, it's every man and woman for him - or her- self. Gadgets and political particulars merely provide milieu for fevered passions run amok. All the main characters are outcasts, banding together on Moya as they forge new lives alone in a hostile universe. When even your ship has an opinion about what to do next, conflicts get pretty interesting. Villains aren't necessarily evil here, which the finale finely reiterates, and the most provocative battles take place not between characters but inside their heads as they struggle with identity and meaning while running for cover.

'Farscape' creator Rockne S. O'Bannon and executive producers Henson and David Kemper work with such clever maturity that few viewers notice, for instance, that the show has at least as many women characters as men, or that they're virtually interchangeable in terms of smarts, strength and status."
- Diane Werts
New York Newsday


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