Friday, September 24, 2010

Aussie Rules Television

If there was a television show with an Australian surrounded by Americans, would the world end? Would our minds be blown? That must be the case, because everytime an Australian actor does an American television show, that actor uses an American accent.

Would it really change the story if Simon Baker was Australian, in any of the many TV shows he has been in, including the phenomenal The Mentalist?

What if Alex O'Loughlin was an Australian working with Hawaiian police in Hawaii in Hawaii-50? Would we turn away from the show? Do we hate Australians? I didn't get that memo.

While we're on the subject, why is CBS so obsessed with Alex O'Loughlin? I watched Hawaii-50, and I enjoyed it. I will continue to watch it. But I don't really see what is so great about Alex O'Loughlin. Sure, I can admit he's a good looking guy, but the show is good primarily because of Scott Caan. Caan is absolutely hilarious - steals every scene. O'Loughlin is ok, but you could replace him with any number of actors and the show would be the same. Take away Caan, and the show is not nearly as good.

Plus, the only reason I wanted to watch the show in the first place was because of Daniel Dae Kim. I wonder when Sun is going to re-join him on the island?

I'm getting sidetracked - the point is, what would be the problem with having an Australian actor use an Australian accent while in an American television show? Does Hollywood believe that there are no Australians in America, working and living while still talking about putting their shrimps on the barbi? I'll admit, I don't hear the Australian accent every day, but I would assume there are some Aussies here in the States.

I just think there is a major anti-Australian attidude in Hollywood, and it has to end. The only time Hugh Jackman ever was able to use his real accent was when he was in the movie Australia. But fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman had to use a British accent. In a movie about Australia, called Australia, an Australian had to use a British accent.

Hollywood, that's just hurtful. Crocodile Dundee did not show us what a real knife is so that we could turn around and use that knife to cut his accent away from him.

Although, Mel Gibson is Australian. He hates Hollywood. Even badmouthed Hollywood a bit. Then he badmouthed every race and religion he could. Maybe Hollywood is taking its revenge on all Australians. Isn't the fact that Gibson's career is over enough?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lifetime TV Movies

It is amazing how much better TV shows are than movies. It is also amazing ho wmuch better cable TV shows are than network TV shows. Using the transitive property, that means that x=3. Or something. I didn't really pay attention in match class.

Movies are ridiculously expensive, and there is never a guarantee that a) they will be good or 2) you will enjoy them. But if you don't enjoy them or they suck, you won't get your money back. The popcorn ALWAYS sucks, and yet it costs $20 for a small bowl. And the drinks...basically a giant cup of ice with a splash of soda. For $10. Does anyone else think that is ridiculous? Apparently not, because the line for snacks at a movie theater is always long.

Anyways, back to the point. Movies are not very good these days. And they are expensive. And if you wait just a few months, you can have Netflix send you the movie. Do you realize that the monthly cost of Netflix is basically the same as a ticket/snacks for one to a single movie? Why wouldn't you wait those few months for the movie to come to DVD? You can watch it like you watch your TV shows, with better popcorn, cheaper soda, in the comfort of your own home, while in your underwear. What, just me?

Movies in the theater used to be a weekly or bi-weekly occurence, but no longer. They are too expensive and too many of them are horrible. Now, we need hard proof that the movie will be good before we shell out our hard-earned cash to see it. We need to know the movie is good in the cockles of our hearts, maybe below the cockles, maybe in the sub-cockle area, maybe in the liver, maybe in the kidneys, maybe even in the colon. Which usually means we need a friend to play the role of guinea pig and see the movie and give us their scouting report.

But even if Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair tells you that a movie is a can't-miss prospect, outside of going on a date (unless you're me, who goes to the dollar theater to see Ransom), or a movie that everyone talks about so you have to see it to feel a part of the human race (like Avatar), there is no point to seeing a movie in the theater. None. At all. Besides all the reasons listed above, these days, TV shows are just plain better. Better scripts, better acting, better plots, better everything. TV shows can actually play out a story line and not gloss it over because they only have 90 minutes to get the entire story in. TV shows can get you to fall in love with multiple characters, not just the one or two big names. When you watch a movie, generally speaking, you leave saying you really liked [insert actor's real name] and [insert other actor's real name] did a great job, but when you watch a TV show, you talk about what Sawyer and Kate and John Locke and Hurley and Jack all did in the last episode.

Granted, there are plenty of duds when it comes to TV. But the great thing about the duds - you didn't pay specifically for them. You watch an episode of some new show and it stinks, no skin off your back, you just won't watch that episode again and your tivo will thank you. But you go to see a movie and it stinks, you ain't getting that $12 back.

Network television obviously have their shows, and they market the heck out of them. But you know where you can find the highest percentage of winners? Cable television. After Tony Shaloub and Monk became popular, being a big name actor on a cable television show no longer was uncool. Although Monk's run came to an end, USA Network now has White Collar, Psych, Royal Pains, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice and In Plain Sight. NBC even sent Law and Order, Criminal Intent to USA. TNT has Leverage, Rizzoli and Isles, The Closer, Dark Blue, Hawthorne and Men Of A Certain Age, among others.

Why does cable have a higher percentage of winners than network channels? For one thing, the expectations are much lower. A cable show doesn't have to pull in 14 million viewers an episode to be successful. One would think that cable channels were just the network channels with beer goggles, going after any crappy tv show to put on their air because it was past midnight and you felt lonely. But that is not the case.

Cable channels, again, thanks to Tony Shaloub and Monk, go after big stars and put great casts around them with great writers and producers, probably good grip people as well (whatever that job means) and more often than not, they make great television. Because it's cable and the only thing on other than original shows is grown men in spandex pretending to hate each other while actually hitting each other in the back of the head with metal chairs, the channels can then replay the bejeezus out of their original shows, giving We The Viewers multiple chances to watch and/or tivo said shows. They don't worry about competing with the big boys and girls on network tv. They say "hey, you can go watch their show during primetime, but we'll leave the light on and the door open when you come back home at 1:00 a.m."

I think the growth of the cable shows has made the network channels stand up and take notice. I feel like even the network TV shows have become much better. Which makes it much easier for us to say "I don't want to go out to a movie tonight, let's stay home, make some popcorn, grab some sodas, and what all the shows we have on tivo."

Like college football, I would assume that the movie-television battle is all cyclical, and that eventually movie companies will start putting together a higher percentage of better movies. Even if they do that, though, for them to start bringing in higher crowds, it might be time to lower the prices. Theaters are no longer the place to go on a Friday or Saturday night. For one, most people have a big screen tv with HD, or at least know someone who do, so watching TV or a Netflix movie is just as much fun as going out.

Especially since home means better popcorn, cheaper drinks, and underwear.

None of you? Seriously?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

While sitting at lunch, a fellow A's fan and I became involved ina conversation about the upcoming Moneyball movie. For those of you who don't know, Moneyball is a phenomenal book by a phenomenal writer, Michael Lewis. It's the inside story about the Oakland Athletics, how the team is run under general manager Billy Beane, what type of players they look for, the relationships between management and manager(s), etc. It's an amazing book not only for A's fans, but also for baseball fans and people who think baseball is one of the most boring sports in the world, so pretty much 99.9 percent of Earth's population.

Regardless, while discussing who is going to be in the movie (A's assistant GM Paul DePodesta has been renamed to Peter Brand and will be played by Jonah Hill? Really!?), it reminded me of the A's under Art Howe (who will be played by Philip Seymor Hoffman), and how they had the Yankees on the ropes, holding a 2-0 lead in 2001, needing only one more win to advance to the ALCS.

The year was 2001. I had just graduated. I was working for the A's in kind of an internship situation, helping out with the radio broadcasts. They were nice enough to allow me to work at the ballpark on Oct. 13, when a young A's pitcher by the name of Barry Zito was about to go up against Mike Mussina and the Yankees. The A's had won games one and two at Yankees Stadium, 5-3 and 2-0, and needed just one win to knock off the hated Bronx Bombers. The next two games were at home. Oaktown Mojo was about to knock off New York, New York.

To say the game was a nail-biter is an understatement. The two pitchers combined for five 1-2-3 innings in the first four frames. In the bottom of the fourth, the A's put two on with one out, but Mussina induced groundouts by Eric Chavez and Jeremy Giambi to end the threat. (Remember the name Jeremy Giambi - 1) because I can't forget his name, and b) because he plays an integral part in this story.)

Know that I am not bitter about what happened.

In the top of the fifth, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who always seemed to get big hits against the A's, homered with one out to give NY a 1-0 lead. Mussina recorded 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth, and then came the bottom of the seventh.

Mussina opened the seventh with two quick outs, as Jermaine Dye popped out and Chavez flew out. Jeremy Giambi ended the A's hitless streak with a single to right. Terrence Long, affectionately known as T-Long, sent a shot down the right field line.

Now, Jeremy Giambi is not what you would call fleet of foot. At the time, in fact, he was quite slow. Probably still is. I'm not bitter.

So Giambi is chugging around the bases. Since there are two outs, and Mussina hasn't given the A's many chances, third base coach Ron Washington waves Giambi around third. Shane Spencer, rightfielder for the Yankees, corrals the ball and sends it towards the infield. It had NO chance of getting home, even with Mr. Molasses on the bases. Derek Jeter, in one of his many ridiculously heads up plays, runs to cut the ball off and flips it towards home. The ball, and Giambi, get there right at the same time. Posada catches the ball and swings his glove around, hitting Giambi on the back of his leg as that same leg is stepping on the plate. Needless to say, the umpire calls Giambi out.

Say what you want about the call (I still maintain he was safe), why in God's name wouldn't Giambi slide in that situation?! What could he possibly be thinking as he nears home? One would imagine that he is paying attention to the ball, that he knows where it is, that he can tell the play will be close, so WHY WOULDN'T HE SLIDE IN THAT SITUATION!!! If you are a professional baseball player, you know how to slide and you know WHEN to slide. On a play like that, if it's going to be close, how do you not slide? You know that one way or another, the umpire is going to make a decision that will determine the outcome of the game, so why wouldn't you want to make it easier for Blue to decide in your favor?

Still not bitter.

Mariano then comes in for the two-inning save, gives up only two hits but eventually gets Jeremy Giambi (him again!) to ground out to end the game, cutting the A's lead in the series to 2-1. The next day, pitcher Cory Lidle gets bombed, Jermaine Dye shatters his ankle, A's lose game five, lose the series and lose Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi to bigger market teams.

Here's the kicker to the story. Opening Day, 2002 season, A's vs. Rangers at Oakland Coliseum. Jeremy Giambi is now the leadoff hitter, because the A's love guys who can walk (because Lord knows, Giambi can't run). In my memory, it was his first at-bat of the game, but in reality it was in the third inning. He leads off the frame with a single. Frank Menechino doubles, and Giambi comes all the way around the bases. There was no throw to home, no play at the plate, but Giambi SLIDES HOME ANYWAY. The crowd goes crazy, Giambi jumps up and pumps his fist, everyone's happy.

Except me.

Where was this in game three of the Division Series? Did he use the offseason to learn how to slide? We knew he knew HOW to slide, we just never saw any examples that he knew WHEN to slide. Sliding on Opening Day when there is no play at the plate? Yawn. Not sliding when your team leads the five-game series 2-0 but is trailing game 3 1-0 and this might be the last chance to score?

Ok, now I'm a little bitter.