Friday, July 31, 2009

Apollo Visits Dollhouse

Emmy showed them no love, but at least the cast of Battlestar Galactica is getting some work. Back in June, it was announced that Katee Sackhoff will be joining 24 as a regular cast member and now her star-crossed lover has found a new gig in the fall.

News from Comic-Con is that Jamie Bamber will be guest starring in at least one episode of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse this fall. Michael Ausiello from Entertainment Weekly seems to confirm this news via a Fox insider so while this news can still be proven false, I really really hope it's true. It would be nice to see Bamber on American TV again since he's so far been busy across the pond with Law & Order: UK.

Plus it's Dollhouse! Not only will he be working with Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku but he'll most likely share scenes with his Battlestar Galactica co-star Tahmoh Penikett who plays Paul Ballard. Actually who knows if he'll be sharing scenes with Tahmoh. There's still very little information of what character Bamber will be playing, but who's hoping he's a doll that we just never saw before? Mmm...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Looking Forward To...

New York, I Love You
Release: October 16, 2009
Distributor: Vivendi Entertainment
Director: Various
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Hayden Christensen, Andy Garcia, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Maggie Q, Ethan Hawke, Anton Yelchin, and many many more.

What's Playing in August?

I always thought of August as a dead month for movies. Most of the summer blockbuster have come and went and then there's a lull until the fall/Oscar/prestige/holiday flicks start appearing in the cinema. Now maybe that's not true. And I'm sure I've seen loads of films releases in August, but for some reason this year there seems to be a glut of movies that I WANT to see that are being released next month.

Funny People (July 31st)

Technically this film comes out the very last day of July, but it's pretty much an August flick. This is Judd Apatow's third film and all of the reviews right now make it seem like it's Apatow trying to get himself taken more seriously. I've enjoyed his previous films, but the trailer for this film definitely didn't feel Apatow-esque. I have no idea if that's a good or bad thing yet. It stars Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, and Eric Bana.

Julie & Julia (August 7th)

It's Meryl Streep and Amy Adams again and instead of nuns they'll respectively be playing the legendary chef Julia Childs and the out-of-her-luck Julie Powell who takes inspiration from Childs. From the trailer it seems as if Streep was born to play Childs, but yet again isn't Streep born to play almost anyone and anything? Adams' story seems to be overpowered by Streep and from the early reviews, it seems that is the case.

District 9 (August 14th)

I only really heard about this in the past few weeks seeing a commercial for it on TV. And honestly I still don't really know what's it's about except that it has something to do with alien beings living on Earth, but being cordonned off from the general public (i.e. like a public version of Area 51) and the movie is being "presented" by Peter Jackson. That's usually good enough for me.

The Time Traveler's Wife (August 14th)

This movie has been in my radar ever since I heard it was being made. I never read the famous book it's based on, but I've always wanted to. Getting two of my favorite actors to star as the leads, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, has also made me very excited for this film. The film is about a woman who falls in love with a man who involuntarily time travels. If that's not chock full of drama, then I don't know what is. Plus it's VERY similar to the recently cancelled show Journeyman which I really liked.

Inglourious Basterds (August 21st)

Quentin Tarantino's latest brings an over-the-top (redundant?) WWII film centered on soldiers bent on making the lives of Nazis hell. The trailers emphasize the rompness and the violence that Tarantino is known for. The film stars Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger. This might be something I see on DVD, but still something to watch out for.

Taking Woodstock (August 28th)

Based on a book by Elliot Tiber, this movie takes the coming-of-age story of a guy and put it amidst the backdrop of probably the most famous concert in the history of the world, Woodstock. I could be completely wrong, but that's what it seems like from the trailer and in any case, I would still see this movie alone for the cast with Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirch, Paul Dano, Liev Schreiber, and finally Demetri Martin.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reality Show Rundown

So You Think You Can Dance

Last week the show celebrated its 100th episode, so you just knew they were going to be pulling out all of the stops. For it's 99th episode, they invited Ellen DeGeneres to guest judge and while she didn't really provide constructive cristicism, she brought out the funny. Some of her comments brought me to tears. In the other end of the spectrum, Melissa and Ade brought me to tears by performing a heartbreaking and beautiful dance choreographed by Tyce Diorio showcasing the pains of breast cancer. Every judge were in tears and I bet the millions who saw the episode were as well. My least favorite performance was the waltz by Brandon and Jeanine. It was labored and just not as smooth as it should've been. The results episode, also the 100th episode, saw the performance of Emmy-winning routines like the "Hummingbird and the Butterfly," "The Bench Routine," and "Ramalama Bang Bang" as well as the reapperance of few key SYTYCD alums such as Benji, Travis, Donyelle, Pasha, and so many more. The episode also contained a special performance by Katie Holmes to promote the Dizzy Feet Foundation. In the end, judge favorites Brandon and Janette ended up in the bottom as well as Kayla and Jason. Jason went home for the guys, but, in somewhat of a shocker, it was Janette who had the least amount of votes for the girls.

Next Food Network Star

It was down to three contestants: Debbie, Jeffrey, and Melissa. They only had one challenge this week, given to them by Emeril Lagasse, and that was to cook a 3-course meal for a group of very impressive panel including the judges. They only had $1000 to buy their ingredients with Jeffrey only spending a third of his budget. In addition to this, they had to take inspiration from the legendary Julia Child's "no fear" attitude as they prepare their courses. They even got to see the new movie Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Stay-at-home mom Melissa became the first of the two finalist to go through as she astounded the judges with her course. Debbie and Jeffrey weren't so lucky. The judges liked Debbie's "Seoul to Soul" concept, but they never really thought she executed it to its full potential. And while Jeffrey has had some really high marks, he has achieved some very low marks as well this week coming from his much-panned risotto. In the end they went with Jeffrey to go head-to-head with Melissa. I would've done the opposite, but in either case I still would've predicted Melissa to win it all.

Design Star

The remaining ten contestants were divided equally into two groups. My favorite designer, Nathan Galui, was one of the team leaders along with Amy Sklar. Both teams were tasked with remodeling a kitchen in just 26 hours and with a $20,000 budget. As with previous seasons, the biggest hitch with the kitchen challenge is most team never finish on time so right away both teams tried to focus on finishing on time. With the kitchen being such a construction-heavy room, expert builders Antonio Ballatore and Dan Vickery took the default leadership roles and both were praised by the judges in the end. Nathan's inexperienced were balanced with some winning moves from his team as they DID finish on time and delivered a beautiful kitchen. Amy's team, however, suffered a major lack in leadership as Amy cracked under the pressue as well as being seriously pulled down by the incompetence of Tashica Morgan who seemed to fail at everything she did. Shockingly it was Amy who the judges got rid of over Tashica. I thought this was absolutely the wrong choice.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Children of Earth: Day Five

After watching every episode of "Children of the Earth" twice (and some even a third time) and then posting my thoughts on the invididual episodes less than a day it aired on BBC America, I found myself needing some more time to digest its final episode. It was probably the darkest episode of the series and when you look at the four previous episodes, that is saying something. And while the BIG threat of the 456 was expectedly neutralized in the end, the journey to get there surely left permanent scars to everyone involved.

It was almost appropriate that this episode began with Gwen delivering a sort of soliloquy wondering why the famous Doctor who have come to Earth's rescue many times before is not here right now. It set the tone of the episode as grim, harrowing, and all together hopeless.

After Torchwood's unsuccessful tactics from the previous episode, it was do or die for the humans and they've decided to give in to the demands of 456. This meant that they had to move hell and earth to get millions of children and deliver them to the aliens. In a manner of horrific efficiency, they convinced a good chunk of the population that it was safe to bring their kids back to school and that in fact they would be given an inoculation to provide as protection for future alien attacks. The fake inoculations even got the World Health Organization seal of approval which just showed you how far and wide this lie went.

And while the threat of going to a war with these supreme alien beings might have helped temper the absolute horrificness of this situation, the knowledge that the children were being used by the 456 as nothing but drugs made you just want to throw up. The 456 are nothing but drug addicts and they are shooting up on our children.

The central character in all of this as I stated in my previous post was Frobisher and he took center stage yet again when the Prime Minister demanded that he make the ultimate sacrifice in offering up Frobisher's young girls to the aliens so as to appear that the government was also a victim to the 456. This led to a chilling sequence of events where Frobisher was forced to kill his whole family and then himself. Wow.

One of my favorite parts of the episode is when Jack dispatched a nearly catatonic Gwen on a mission to save Ianto's niece and nephew. Along with Rhys and Andy, she broke the news of Ianto's death (cue more tears from me) and was able to bring about 20 kids to safety just as the government started their second phase of going into the homes of those who didn't bring their kids to school that day. The violence of the neighborhood men played for laughs in the first episode took on a more noble and heroic form as they used their undisciplined testosterone to protect their children from the soldiers. It was a touching moment as well when Andy joined them.

In the end, the soldiers still managed to catch the kids. That whole sequence with Gwen, Rhys, and Ianto's sister along with all of the kids running from the soldiers was powerfully done. A few scenes earlier, we saw the soldiers taking the children from the school and the hopelessness of the teachers' and parents' cries really elevated the direness of the situation.

And finally there's Jack. This is the man that, one day earlier, realized that he had a hand in creating this dire situation and for that many people are dying including someone he loved very much. Things got worse for him in this episode. With the help of the black ops team headed up by Johnson, he figured out a way to kill the 456, but at the cost of his grandson Steven. In Jack's mind he had no choice since Steven was the only child in the immediate area and they needed to act quickly before the 456 took millions of children around the world. One child for a million children. And while his mind was telling him this, his heart was dying. With his one nod, he not only condemned Steven to death, but he also sufficiently killed yet another relationship he cared about, his daughter.

So the final few scenes sort of played out in slow motion for me. The 456 were defeated and they disappeared in a pillar of fire. All of the children were safe and sound. Bridget Spears singlehandedly avenged Frobisher's death as well as give the Prime Minister his comeuppance. And then SIX MONTHS LATER... we saw Gwen ready to pop and Jack come back from travelling around the world. He blamed himself for the deaths of Steven, Ianto, Clem, Tosh, Owen, Susie and more. He realized that this world is too small for him and that it was time for him to find another life to live. And with that he was gone leaving Gwen in tears.

And in tears is how we end this gripping miniseries that dared cross some lines that very few television series cross. With the blockbuster ratings this show received in Britain as well as rave reviews from critics in both side of the pond, this show has a bright future and actually it was recently confirmed that the fourth season has been given a green light. All that is left to ask is HOW will the show return? Gwen is pregnant, Ianto is dead, and Jack has left Earth. Clearly Torchwood as an organization is able to withstand a few losses here and there as that's pretty much the norm anyways. I can see Gwen coming back after pregnancy along with Lois Habiba and perhaps Johnson or even Bridget. Rhys and Andy have shown some potential as well. But as a show, Torchwood would feel quite very different without at least Captain Jack Harness as the leader.

I have a feeling that somehow the Doctor will have something to do with bringing Jack back. I can't really think of anything else unless they also involve Alice somehow. But neither here nor there. There are plenty of months ahead to speculate, theorize, and ask questions. Let's all just acknowledge the great accomplishment of everyone involved in bring this story together. Just quite splendid from the first scene to the last.

Read my thoughts on the first four episodes:
Day One - Day Two - Day Three - Day Four

Friday, July 24, 2009

Federer Proud Father of Twin Girls!

"This is the greatest day of our lives. Mirka, Myla and Charlene are all healthy and doing very well." - Roger Federer

Roger Federer and his wife Mirka are now proud parents of twin girls!

According to a message that was posted on Federer's official website and facebook page, the two girls were born yesterday. Their names are Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.

Congratulations to the whole Federer family!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Children of Earth: Day Four

While episode three gave the audience some humorous bits to balance with all of the serious bits, episode four was all about the serious bits ending, not in a cliffhanger like the other three episodes, but in a massive downer.

There are SO many things one can talk about when thinking about this episode, but for most fans of Torchwood who have been watching since the very beginning of the series, episode four was all about the loss of Ianto Jones. Though I have to confess that Ianto is (was) my favorite character so my bias is probably showing, but still his death DOES play a very important part in "Children of Earth" and in the grand scheme of things.

Ianto (as well as Gwen) act as Jack's heart, his ties to the real world in which he has been outcast as an immortal fixed point in time. Jack is all heroic and noble now, but this was the man who 40 years ago sheperded twelve children to be abducted by aliens and he was specifically chosen by the government because they needed someone who didn't care. Losing Ianto will bring this sort of man closer and it might be this kind of man that can save the world from the 456.

Jack also truly loved Ianto, but Ianto's death was the consequence of Jack's past sins. If meeting Clem put a face on the horrible decision he made 40 years ago, the deaths of both Clem and Ianto were the price. It's brutal and it's ugly, but they are in that kind of situation right now. The final and disheartening words of the episode uttered by a distraught Gwen summed up the episode, "There's nothing we can do."

And in fact it's so very difficult to see what they can do. The 456 has given them no choice. They want 10% of the world's children and all the politicians could do is how to do it in a way that would make them look good. It's a sad commentary when my response to that was uttering "typical politicians" to their inhumane behavior. And yet... and yet even though they handled it to serve their best interest HOW COULD THEY NOT? They are, after all, only human. Just writing this now, I don't know what *I* would've done if I were in their place. It's all heroic and noble to think that I would stand up and fight, but then people start dying because of it and then you're left with nothing.

In real life, nothing is every truly black or white. So Jack is not always heroic and noble. Politicians are sleazy, but they are doing the best they know how. In the grand scheme of things would losing 10% of children to save the entire human race be THAT bad? Again, an impossible question with many complicated answers.

All of the moral and ethical issues addressed in the episode as well as the quick successive deaths of Ianto and Clem really make this episode quite exhausting, mentally and emotionally. Having said all of that, it was yet again another amazing hour for this series. With one more episode to go, it's still a mystery as to how this is all going to end. Will there be any more deaths? Will the 456 get any children? How far is the government willing to go? How will Jack and Gwen handle another lost team member?

Oh and Ianto? You will never be forgotten. Even after a thousand years time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Children of Earth: Day Three

They are here.

After two episodes of being teased about the 456, they are finally front and center in this episode. Except in a brilliant twist, they are contained in a gas-filled tank so the characters, as well as the audience, still never get a clear view of the alien. Keeping the aliens shrouded and hidden makes for a scarier type of first contact with us trying to figure out their intentions. We then hang on to every word, every nightmarish noise, every glimpse through the glass. It's like a train wreck you can't bare to look away from. It's horrific, but something that demands your every attention.

The person in the center of all of this is Mr. John Frobisher. A nobody in the grand political scheme of everything, but he is the one chosen to be the spokesperson for the entire human race and it is he who gets to talk to the 456 to figure out why they are here. The Prime Minister is sitting in his high chair and smug knowing full well that if things go wrong, it will be put on Frobisher's shoulders. Frobisher, after all, is a good man, but better still, an expendable man. Every question Frobisher asks, every comment he makes, will determine the fate of Earth. That's a lot of pressure put on some guy. My favorite scene with him in this episode is when he broke down outside the room right after his first encounter with the 456.

And where's Torchwood? Well they are regrouping. Ianto leads them to an old Torchwood holding facility i.e. a big honking warehouse. In such a serious episode, Torchwood provides some much needed levity. The montage of the team resorting to basic criminal activity to get the money and supplies they need to get Torchwood up and running is hysterical culminating with Ianto getting them all new clothes such as Jack's iconic coat. Another point of funny came from the texts that Gwen would send Lois via the cool contact lenses that act as a camera. Smiley faces and typos. Perfect. And how fantastic would it be if those contact lenses actually existed in real life? Then again according to various Torchwood members, it seems as if they would be "fun" too, wink wink.

It's the balance of silliness and seriousness that really makes "Children of Earth" wonderful. There is Ianto expressing to Jack his real fears of dying and Jack moving on without him only to undercut it with a request for a booty call. Too bad the beans were almost ready. Bloody beans, indeed. It's moments like these that make it bearable for the audience to accept the REALLY serious moments like every children pointing in one direction or Alice and Stephen getting captured by the soldiers, or the 456 demanding 10% of all the Earth's children, or Jack giving the 456 12 children 40 years earlier as a "gift" whatever that means.

No matter what I have a feeling we won't like the explanation very much.

Looking Forward To...

Shutter Island
Release: October 2, 2009
Distributor: Paramount
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Haley, Ben Kinglsey, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, and Leonardo DiCaprio

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Children of Earth: Day Two

Without skipping a beat from its thrilling premiere, the second episode shows us the aftermath of the heartstopping explosion that has flattened Torchwood's "big science-fiction superbase." Gwen has been thrown on the floor, her ears are ringing from the blast, and two guys have captured her. With seemingly preternatural strength she manages to take these two guys down and then proceed to kick ass with two guns aimed at the sniper bent on shooting her. She gets away just as we see Ianto appearing from the rubble. With no time to realize what has happened, he is getting shot at and he escapes by outrunning his assailant. And all of this happened in the first ten minutes or so! I was out of breath just writing all of that!

With the backdrop of everyone still trying to figure out what the hell is happening with the children and what exactly the "456" want from Earth, Gwen and Ianto are on the run from "the government" which Gwen manages to find out from one of the guy who tried to kill her. Gwen grabs Rhys out of bed and both of them go into hiding though unfortunately before they are able to meet up with a bewildered and increasingly paranoid Ianto. But without all of the cool doodads or the presumed authority they had as members of Torchwood, separated from each other and Jack, both Gwen and Ianto must find out what the hell is going on by themselves.

Separating the main characters and making them the victims especially this early on in the miniseries really was an inspired touch since it really allowed new viewers to quickly identify with these characters. These are not superheroes with superpowers, but just normal folk (albeit with kick ass skills) like you and me trying to survive. One of the more touching scenes in the series is when Ianto's sister reads a secret note from Ianto asking her to meet up with him with a laptop and she breaks down wondering what he has done and why he's involving her and her family. Her husband then tells her, "We're the only family he's got." And then there is absolutely adorable scene with Gwen and Rhys inside the delivery truck and Rhys realizing that Gwen is pregnant. Just normal folk living their life under extremely special circumstances. Welcome to Torchwood.

With no one to turn to, the Torchwood team gets help from a very unexpected place in Lois Habiba who works inside the Home Office (government) as a new personal assistant. In her very short tenure, she manages to learn about Torchwood as well as the plot to get rid of them. With this information on hand, she not only helps Gwen and Rhys get some much needed food after being on the run for a few hours, but she only hatches a plan to get them through a super secret base where Jack is being held. With a glint in her eye, Gwen tells Lois that she has a job at Torchwood after all of this is over and I don't doubt it for a minute.

The last few minutes were as thrilling as the first minutes of the episode as Gwen & Rhys infiltrate the base to rescue Jack only to be surrounded by soldiers after discovering that Jack has been imprisoned in a concrete cell, necessary because even exploding to bits couldn't kill him off. When all hope seemed lost, Ianto comes to the rescue as he busts the wall with a forklift. The soldier try to chase them, but Gwen uses her mad skills to blow up a truck on their path. A very naked Jack is then freed and the episode ends with the whole team reunited to prepare for the alien's arrival the next day. After all the message the children are now repeating is "WE ARE COMING... TOMORROW."

Can't wait. Bring it on, pesky aliens!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Children of Earth: Day One

When I first heard that Torchwood was renewed, but only for five episodes and that these five episodes would be shown one after another for one week to tell one big overaching story, I admit it I was a tad disappointed and a whole lot nervous. How could they possibly satisfy the fans who, like the characters on the show, were mourning the lost of two characters and wondering where the future lies, in just five measly episodes?

Any reservations or questions I had was mostly wiped out after seeing the first episode of "Children of Earth." The first episode promised a thrilling and epic tale full of action, character, wit, and man-on-man action. Basically it's the same old Torchwood we know and love.

The big intrigue is that "something," we don't know what, but we assume it's aliens, are controlling the world's children. As problems go, that's a pretty epic one. It gave me chills seeing every single child frozen in place and then as they started screaming in unison, suddenly you're thinking, like every single adult in the world, MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING?! When they stop, you're still shocked, but there's a moment of relief and then... "WE. ARE. COMING." Every child saying it. In repeat. It's what nightmares are made of.

As the episode progresses, there's not a lot of answers as to who could be controlling the children except for the vague "456" and the British government knows more than they are letting on. The episode actually begins with a group of children being driven to and led to a bright white light only to disappear. One child manages to escape and now he's an old man and the sole adult to be controlled by the 456. The mystery deepens.

My favorite part of the episode are the little character details that we find out about Jack, Ianto, and Gwen. Needing children to study, both Jack and Ianto visit their families, who we never knew existed. Ianto visits his sister and her family while Jack visits his daughter (!!!) and her son. My favorite moments are just seeing how being part of Torchwood has affected their respective relationships, with Jack having to stay away from his daughter Alice to protect her and her son and with Ianto keeping secrets from his sister about his job and his personal life. Of course we are shown that there may be hope yet of making Torchwood and your own personal life work with Gwen and her husband Rhys. How adorable was it when we see Rhys shopping around for a new house complete with a nursery?

These parts aren't the most exhilirating and high octane parts of the episode, but they definitely ground the episode that wanted to crank it up to 11 from the first second. And crank it up they do. The government is being all secretive and suddenly they want to track down and kill Captain Jack for a reason we do not find out until the later episodes. And in a matter of minutes we find out that Gwen is pregnant and that Jack has a bomb inside of him. The episode ends with Jack and Torchwood hub exploding with the fates of Jack, Gwen, and Ianto in question.

Oh and the children are all chanting in unison "WE. ARE. COMING. BACK." And if you want to know what happens to the Torchwood team or who the 456 are, then you better come back for more great television.

Mr. and Mrs. Federer

How cute are they? I am assuming this is a photo from their small private wedding that happened three months ago. Roger and Mirka are both expecting a wee bundle of joy any day now. What an exciting time for them!

Roger Federer won the elusive French Open title in June to tie Pete Sampras' all-time major record and then broke it a month later when he won his sixth Wimbledon champion.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reality Show Rundown

So You Think You Can Dance

This week the top ten were paired up with different partners. For the most part some partnerships worked. My favorite couple and performance was Jeanine and Jason performing choreography by former SYTYCD finalist Travis Wall. It was breathtakingly beautiful and really showcased both of their skills. The judges (and the audience) loved it as well. My least favorite performance came from Randi and Kupono. I've always loved Randi and I've only recently started semi-rooting for Kupono. So it was a bit dissapointing that their Paso Doble lacked the passion and strength that the style commanded. It was then not a surprise to see them both eliminated the next night. At this point my favorites are still hanging in there, but I fear that the powerhouse that is Brandon and Janette will bulldoze everyone to their way to the top 4. And while I admit they are both great dancers, I've never been a fan of either for one reason or another and they are definitely the frontrunners. Next week, an eventful week to celebrate the 100th episode!

Next Food Network Star

It's getting to the end and the top four contestants really had to keep their composure this week as they were thrown obstacles and surprises left and right. First they had to do a live demo with an obnoxious co-host and a less-than-optimal kitchen environment. Then they had to prepare a seafood recipe with ingredients they were not comfortable with. Debbie won the first round brushing it all off while maintaining her bubbly personality while the others were less successful in varying degrees. In the second round, they all did well enough, but Jamika suffered another crisis in confidence. With the end being so close, that was just enough for the judges to say goodbye to her. Next week Deb, Jeffrey, and Melissa have one last chance to convince the judges to pick them to be the next Food Network star.

Design Star

The season premiere of HGTV's Design Star happened tonight and I'm already excited for the season to come. There are already definite personalities, and clashing ones at that, that will provide the needed entertainment and drama. Plus the addition of Candice Olson and Genevieve Gorder to the judge panel is just wonderful as I really enjoy both of their design sensibilities. Similar to past season, their first challenge was to design the house they were going to live in with the eleven contestants given $50,000 and five rooms to divide amongst themselves. Right off the bat, two designers impressed me with their boldness and design intelligence. Nathan Galui and Dan Vickery did the dining room and the judges, like me, were definitely wowed. The other designers didn't really make much of an impact on me yet. Though NataLee Callahan was evicted for breaking down mid-challenge due to her and her partner's overly ambitious, but poorly executed design. Next week, divided into two teams and a kitchen remodel!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmy Nominations: The Good, The Bad, and The Whatever


- Neil Patrick Harris (HIMYM) and Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) are nominated in Supporting and Lead Actor categories respectively. Since both of them are the undisputed stars of their hilarious shows, well-deserved!

- How I Met Your Mother is nominated for Best Comedy Series! HUZZAH! Will it win against the overwhelming favorite 30 Rock? Probably not, but to be nominated at all is wonderful!

- Lost is nominated once again for Best Drama Series. And why the hell not? It's been my favorite TV show for what 2-3 years running? Insanity. Also congrats for Michael Emerson's second nod for his amazing work as Ben Linus.

- Pushing Daisies and Battlestar Galactica got some love with 5 and 6 Emmy nominations respectively. Kristin Chenoweth got a second nod for her character Olive Snook!

- Speaking of Chenoweth, how fun is the Best Supporting Actress (Comedy)? Krakowski, Perkins, Poehler, Wiig, and Williams. I want to have dinner with these ladies (or go to a strip club with them).

- Phil Keoghan is nominated for Best Reality Host! He should've been nominated last year and won, but I'm almost relieved he didn't since he would have had to host the crapfest that was last year's ceremony.

- Joss Whedon and Co. are nominated for their work on Dr. Horrible! The category is for Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs. What a mouthful.

- So You Think You Can Dance got 4 well-deserved nominations for Best Choreography. Whee!


- Despite some Emmy nominations, Pushing Daisies and Battlestar Galactica did not get Best Series nominations or any other major nominations other than for Chenoweth. Emmy, you're insane.

- I know 30 Rock and Mad Men are the BEST.TV.SHOWS.EVER but together they took up 8 of the 10 writing nominations. I'm sorry, but that is BULLSHIT.

- They STILL don't like vampires. True Blood couldn't bite their way in despite having that HBO/Anna Paquin cache.

- Final seasons of series get the shaft: Pushing Daisies, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, ER, and Boston Legal all don't get much love.

- Lost got lots of love, but it needed like a bazillion more nomination. That was perfect TV from the first episode to last bar none. And to only have ONE acting nomination? RIDICULOUS!

- Sorry, but I don't see Cat Deeley nominated for Best Reality Host. What's up with that?


- Snubs I don't care about: Katherine Heigl, Two and A Half Men. I'm sure there's more.

- Family Guy for Best Comedy Series? I like the show, but wow, really?

- Previous Emmy favorites ER, Heroes, Desperate Housewives, and Ugly Betty only muster 2 nominations each this year. Major ouch for those shows.

- If you want to get a quick Emmy nomination? Guest star in either 30 Rock or Law & Order: SVU.

- The sorta lame 24 Movie got more nominations than the pretty damn good past season of 24. WHAT?! The mind boggles.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Looking Forward To...

An Education
Release: October 9, 2009
Distributor: Sony Classics
Director: Lone Scherfig
Starring: Alfred Molina, Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Emma Thompson, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, and Dominic Cooper.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Davis Cup: Quarterfinals

This past weekend, the quarterfinals were played for Davis Cup. Here is how it all went down.

Czech Republic d. Argentina

Top 20 players Tomas Berdych (CZE) and Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) won the first two rubbers respectively giving both their countries a win. Berdych then teamed up with Radek Stepanek for doubles to put their country ahead. Del Potro then secured the must-win fourth rubber against Berdych to take it to the deciding rubber where Stepanek was able to claim the win for Czech Republic against Juan Monaco.

Croatia d. United States

Missing Andy Roddick, the USA team had to make due. James Blake (USA) and Mardy Fish were pushed to five sets against Ivo Karlovic (CRO) and Marin Cilic and lost. With the USA down 2-0, it was up to the Bryan Brothers to save face and they did. It was then up to James Blake to win in the fourth rubber to keep the USA alive. Alas, Blake continued his awful few weeks by losing in four sets to Cilic and thus giving Croatia the win. Bob Bryan was able to get another win for the USA in the dead rubber.

Israel d. Russia

It was David and Goliath when powerhouse Russia battled with underdog Israel except when the results came it's as if it was the other way around. Israel shocked the world when Harel Levy (ISR) and Dudi Sela put their country ahead 2-0 and they shocked even more when the clinched the win by beating Marat Safin (RUS) and Igor Kunitsyn in doubles. Russia got its sole win when Sela retired in the fourth rubber. Levy won his second match giving Israel a convincing 4-1 win and a first-time trip to the semifinals.

Spain d. Germany

Even without Nadal, Spain had lots of talented players to pinch hit, but they definitely struggled. Fernando Verdasco (ESP) won the first rubber while Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) won the second. When Spain won the third rubber, it looked like a done deal but Kohlschreiber then defeated Verdasco in the fourth to take it to the deciding final rubber. It was there that a resurgent Juan Carlos Ferrero won in straight sets to claim the win for Spain.

Can Israel continue its dream Davis Cup year having beating former winners Sweden and Russia by beating defending champion Spain? Who will come out in the slugfest between Croatia and Czech Republic? These questions will be answered in September. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick Reaction: Children of Earth

I've just seen the "third season" of Torchwood i.e. the 5-episode miniseries masquerading as the third season. And even though absolutely NO ONE is probably reading this blog, I'm still going to hold off on commenting about the miniseries until they air on BBC America in a few weeks.

But if you want my general reaction then I will just say it was even better than I could've hoped for. Just thrilling all the way through with some very poignant and heartfelt moments. In other words, it was completely satisfying*.

*Well except for the one thing Russell T. Davies and his writers did that pissed me off and seriously made me question if I would watch a fourth season.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Reality Sucks

There's something missing in the mix this year with So You Think You Can Dance. There's no real standout and while a lot of people like that anyone can win, it sort of creates a stagnant season. Then again every single season I've seen there's been that one dancer I truly rooted for (Benji, Pasha, Gev) while cheering on others. The latter group of people still exist this season (Melissa, Ade, Randi, Evan), but there's not that one person

I'm not sure what it is about this season of SYTYCD, but I'm just not feeling it this year. I think it's because every single season I've seen, I had that one dancer I truly loved to watch to dance every week (Benji, Pasha, Gev) and a few other dancers I rooted for as well. The latter group of people still exist this season namely Randi, Evan, Melissa, and Ade, but that one person that makes me want to vote is not there.

Then again maybe it's also because there's no real standout dancer this year. Sure you can make an argument that this year's IT dancer is Brandon, but that's another problem for me. I never liked him. Not to knock on his dancing per se, but I just never gelled with him or his partner Janette. And now with Phillip's shocking (but correct) elimination, both of their roads got easier to the inevitable final. I'm really really hoping neither of them wins, but I fear it'll be one of them indeed.

In other reality show news, Big Brother had its premiere this past Thursday. In spite of myself and my better judgment, I still watch this show. I don't know why. But this season might be the first season I don't watch. First of all, the "theme" of the season is high school and the cliques within. As if I needed any reminder of that heinousness. But I could've probably stomach that except they brought back an old contestant who I really really really don't like. So right here, right now, I am making a vow to not see anymore episodes this season at least until that certain person I really really don't like gets evicted.

This is good news. More time to catch up on films and TV shows. The latter especially since I'm dying to see Torchwood as well as catch up on Skins and Weeds. Yes, very very good.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Looking Forward To...

(500) Days of Summer
Release: July 17, 2009
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Clark Gregg, Matthew Gray Gubler, Rachel Boston, Geoffrey Arend, and Chloe Moretz.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wimbledon: The Finale

The number two seeds in both of the men and women's draw came out as the winner for the Wimbledon Championships. Roger Federer won his 6th Wimbledon title and his 15th overall as he stands alone on top with the most major won by a male tennis player. Serena Williams was able to beat her 5-time Wimbledon champion sister to get her 3rd Wimbledon and her 11th overall.

It was one of Federer's most gutsy win in a final, let alone a Grand Slam final, needing 4 hours and 17 minutes and 30 games in the final set to take down a resurgent Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. It was a game dominated by booming serves as both players won more than 80% of their first serves with Federer out-acing Roddick 50-27, Federer's personal best. Going into the fifth set, Federer had to break Roddick's serve for the first time in the match to win while maintaining his own. Roddick never got close to breaking Federer in that final set and it was Roddick who blinked first as Federer broke him in the 77th game of the match, a Wimbledon record for most games played in a final.

Under the watchful eyes of past Wimbledon champions such as Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, and Pete Sampras, Federer lifted himself up and over these legends by reclaiming his Wimbledon crown. History was made.

With six years removed from her last Wimbledon title and going against her sister Venus in a rematch of last year's final, Serena did not expect to win. But just as the serve was the key stroke in the men's final, Serena used her own powerful serve to break down her sister winning 94% on her first serve and a staggering 71% on her second. It was too much for Venus to handle faltering after 2-2 in the second set with Serena winning the last four points for a 7-6 (3), 6-2 straight sets victory.

Previous Wimbledon champions Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Maria Bueno and Virginia Wade were in attendance to see Serena capture her third Wimbledon crown. It was a dominating performance by the dominant player of her generation. All credit to her and runner-up Venus, now 8 Wimbledon titles between them, that hours after their final match, they were able to come out again and defend their ladies doubles title in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-4 for their fourth Wimbledon doubles title.

Though they were both seeded second in this tournament, they are undoubtedly the top players in their sport of the moment with both of them winning 3 of the last 4 Grand Slams. Both of them will most likely take some time off and then come back ready to defend their US Open titles. I, for one, can't wait.

Fifteen For Federer!

It took 4 hours and 17 minutes as well as 30 games in the final set, but Roger Federer now has 15 Grand Slam titles, breaking his tie with Pete Sampras to have the most major titles for a male tennis player in history. With his 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 victory over an impeccable Andy Roddick, Federer reclaims his Wimbledon crown as well as his number one ranking.

Congratulations Roger! You are the greatest of all time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wimbledon: Men's Final Preview

As predicted by a lot of people when the draw came out two weeks ago, Roger Federer will try and go for history once again reaching his 7th consecutive Wimbledon final. And he will go up against a guy named Andy, though not the one a lot of people thought.

Andy Roddick ended Britain's great hope of having a homegrown Wimbledon champion when he defeated Andy Murray in four thrilling sets. So many people downplayed Roddick's chances against Murray, but it was Roddick who had the last response as he broke down on the green lawns of Wimbledon relieved to have another chance at that elusive Wimbleton title.

Like Robin Soderling at the French Open, however, Roddick is going against the tides of history since the only way for him to win is to beat Federer who has defeated him 18 out of 20 times they have played against one another. Worst news for Roddick? Federer is 7-0 against him in Grand Slam matches with Roddick only winning two sets total.

With history, and now presumably, the crowd behind him, Federer will be playing freely and with lots of confidence. His form has been superb this fortnight having only lost one set and only been broken three times. With this form, he took down Tommy Haas in straight sets punctuated by an overhead smash.

With all of that said, I am predicting Federer to win this title. If it was Murray in the final rather than Roddick, I'd be less confident, but still give it to Federer. With Roddick though, those 2-18 record and 0-7 in Grand Slams are fairly strong indicators of how it will unfold this Sunday. As a Federer fan, I can't wait.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wimbledon: Williams Final

When the draw first came out about two weeks ago and everyone realized that Venus and Serena were on opposite sides of the draw, the focus has been their almost inevitable meeting to the finals. And of course here we are two weeks later and the sisters will yet again go head to head at the All England Club.

This is not a knock to any of the other players they had to beat to get here, but there really is no denying their record at Wimbledon with 7 single titles between them. Plus they are also the defending doubles champion! Come on now. Their semifinals displayed why both of there are in the finals and why they've been in many other Grand Slam finals.

Serena edged out Elena Dementieva winning in three tight and very high quality sets last more than two and a half hours. It was, to put it simply, the best woman's match I've seen in years. Serena was actually down match point, but her champion's heart lifted her to the finish line. All kudos to Dementieva though who never served better in her life and just really took it to Serena.

Then there was Venus dismantling Dinara Safina in a match that only lasted in less than an hour. Venus lost ONE game against the world no. 1. And this is the form she has had the past two weeks bulldozing anyone and everyone in her way.

Who's going to win? Flip a coin. Seriously. Their lifetime H2H is 10-10. They've met in Wimbledon four times and they are 2-2. And this year they are 1-1. I'm going with Venus, but if Serena wins, it will not be an upset.

Since it will be held on the Fourth of July, I am hoping for fireworks, but really I'm just hoping it'll come close to the tennis and drama of Serena's semifinal match. Here's to hoping.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

SYTYCD: Top 14

I'm usually pretty critical when it comes to the routines that the dancers perform on SYTYCD, but I have to say that I pretty much loved everyone's performances last night.

Janette & Brandon displayed their huge talent for fast dancing when they nailed their Cha Cha number. I was only upset that judge Mia Michaels is not drinking the Brandon Kool Aid, but oh well. Kayla & Kupono did a quirky vampire-esque number and it was the FIRST time I truly enjoyed one of Kupono's performances. Following them was my favorite Randi & Evan showing off their personalities with a Fosse-like number. Choreographer Brian Freedman then gave Jason & Kaitlin a weird alien performance which was shockingly good. I just loved the concept and it was brilliantly executed all the way through.

The next three performances I didn't LOVE as much, but they were still great. Jeanine & Phillip had a Hip Hop number where they were chained together. Loved the dancing, but the chain was distracting. Then Melissa & Ade did the "first" Pas De Deux in SYTYCD history, but I could swear this was performed before in the show. He kinda played second fiddle to her who was absolutely marvelous. Finally, Karla & Vitolio did their best with the dreaded Quickstep, but it was still Quickstep.

So tonight I fully expected at least for Karla & Vitolio to be in the bottom and they were. They were joined by Kayla & Kupono who I thought was one of the best performances the night before and by Jeanine & Phillip which was a bit of a pleasant shock. The judges, however, as so far up Phillip's ass that his safety wasn't even in questioned.

As par for this season, the dancers "dancing for their lives" were largely meh. The only person to try anything was Phillip and even then the judges called him desperate. Just can't win, can you? In the end it was Karla & Vitolio to leave and I just have to agree. Karla never made any impact on me and I thought she was bland as white bread. Vitolio on the other hand was up against a resurgent Kupono and an infallible Phillip.

Finally, Kelly Clarkson was the musical guest and she performed her hit "I Do Not Hook Up." I love her.

Box Office: Decepticons To Rule Them All

Just wanted to capture this moment since this is probably the last day where two really REALLY good films top the box office this year. I mean sure it's still halfway through the year so there could still be good movies to come out that would beat the gross of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. A boy can dream I guess.

Numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Wimbledon: Semifinals Preview

Prediction: Your [women] semifinalists will be the top four seeds.

And indeed the top four seeds have moved on to the semifinals. It's been quite awhile this has happened in the women's side. Three of the four have moved through the draw with menacing dominance. Venus, Serena, and Dementieva have not dropped a single set. But then there's the no. 1 seed Dinara Safina who has had to gut out most of her wins. She has been completely underestimated this whole tournament. But here she is, in her first Wimbledon semifinals.

Safina will have the nearly impossible task in beating 5-time Wimbledon champion Venus en route to getting her first Slam title. Venus will win that match. The other semifinal match between Dementieva and Serena will probably be more competitive, but I think Serena will win setting up my first day prediction of an all-Williams final.

Prediction: Your semifinalists will be Roddick, Murray, Haas, and Federer.

I predicted these final four since day one and I have to say I'm rather proud of this fact. Predicting Federer, Murray, and even Roddick wasn't too much of a stretch, but I just knew that if Haas continued his strong form from the French Open and Halle, he could beat Djokovic, which he did in four convincing sets.

With their easy wins, Murray has reached his first Wimbledon semifinals while Federer logs his staggering 21st consecutive appearance at a Grand Slam semifinal. Finally, Roddick was able to overcome a match tough Hewitt to win in 5-tight sets. Roddick's tiredness will determine how competitive his match is with Murray while I fully expect Federer to end Haas' fairytale run setting up for the every juicy Federer-Murray final.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Looking Forward To...

Release: November 6, 2009
Distributor: Lionsgate
Director: Lee Daniels
Starring: Paula Patton, Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey, Mo'Nique, Lenny Kravitz, and introducing Gabby Sidibe.