Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Night Roundup

Howdy folks,

Sorry the NBA juices haven't really been flowing all that well lately; I've got a lot of stuff going on over here, and my last few hypotheses have been way off, so I'm in a wee bit of a rut. But since I love all of you and feel obligated to get something up, here's a quick set of ramblings on all in the world of Krolik:

-Watched a little of the Sonics-Lakers pre-season in between baseball and 30 Rock/Office: Kobe looks really good, every team could use a Ronny Turiaf, still not impressed with Durant. That's really all I could see from what I saw.

-Damn, Josh Beckett was on tonight. When a pitcher is spotting a 96-mph fastball, evil curveball, and wicked 90 mph change, it's just fun to watch. Now the Indians have to go to Fenway for a big game, which they can't be happy about. Theo should take notes on how most of his best values-Pedroia, Youk, Papelbon, Ellsbury, etc., have come from his own farm system, and how most of his mercenaries are screwing up. Billy Beane once said "Just give me $80 million so I can keep my own guys-the rest doesn't help." Trust Billy. And the "who won the Beckett-Ramirez trade?" question is one of the most interesting around right now-it was clearly the perfect move for the Marlins, and if Beckett keeps pitching like this in big games, the Sox won't look for a do-over either, because you need a guy like that to win a championship.

-Had my MVN fantasy league draft-in a 9-team head-to-head, my blue-chippers are LeBron, AI2, Bosh, and Big Al Jefferson, my mid-rounders are Kirilenko, Deron Williams, and Ginobili, my late-rounders are Bynum, Biedrins, and Raja Bell, and my fliers are Ty Thomas, Shaq, and Belinelli. I like my team-lots of breakout potential up and down the board. In fact, everyone on the team is due for a huge step up this year. That's a good thing, right?

-Show I'm watching religiously right now #1: Heroes. Like everybody else, I'm disappointed with it this season. First of all, my three favorite girls on this show have been killed off quickly; The sexily evil chick with the big eyes from Brick, The hyper-cute waitress who went to go make Epic Movie, and now the shape-shifting girl, who might have been my favorite of all of them. I basically just liked the waitress because she was adorable, but the other two were both the kind of characters that every show needs; multi-layered, mysterious, justifiably evil, intriguing, and good girl-gone-bad sexy. Now they're gone.

-Heroes seemed to have copied all that went wrong with Lost and forgot everything that went right-Lost's greatest strength was the depth of its characters. My favorite piece of Lost magic ever was the slow-burning swaperoo between Jack and Sawyer; at the beginning of the series, Jack was the guy I was rooting for, and every time I saw Sawyer on the screen I wanted to throw up. By season two, Sawyer was my favorite character on television, and Jack was revealed as loathsome, without one big, flashy revelation; it was done with an artful string of mini-revelations.

-Heroes seems committed to having its leads be as one-note as possible; Claire has all the personality of Tim Duncan on qualuudes,(by the way: Claire's big problem is that she "has to act normal." It would be one thing if I couldn't read minds or fly, but all Claire has to do is NOT GET MAIMED. How hard is that? I do it almost every day. Also, the Heroes writers seemed to have learned all they knew about high school from watching Bring It On over and over again, from the strict social hierarchy to the cheerleader rule to the good guys being emo-looking guys, right down to the one from the first season having headphones around his neck all the time for no reason. And that they put the first high school in Odessa, Texas, the actual site of one of the best books and TV shows about how small-town high schools really work, is just a slap in the face. And yes, I hate her new boyfriend.)

-Hiro is good but one-note, Peter went from laughably bad to interesting to pointlessly stuck in Ireland with AMNESIA!, Mohinder is terrible and one-note, Parkman bores me, and Ali Larter manages to play not one but TWO one-note characters. And Nathan's impression of Steve Carell in Little Miss Sunshine is boring too.

-Can't say enough bad things about the wonder twins, who seem to be competing with Nikki and Paulo for the "Hispanic couple everybody hates" award. And I know we should be accepting of people who are different, but I'm not sure I'd shed a tear for putting people who accidentally go on murder sprees in jail.

-The writers have choked big-time on making their two interesting characters interesting-HRG, last year's saving grace, has become boring again, and Sylar seems to be past a Sawyer-type redemption, seeing how he is a ruthless serial killer with no charisma. Look at how consistently good Lost's villains have been: Sawyer, Ben, Juliet, and Locke's dad have all been absolutely brilliant, and Sawyer and Juliet might even be good guys. Ben is always the most interesting part of whatever episode he's in, and the way Locke's dad slimes his way through everything he does is fantastic.

-Other end of the spectrum: The Office, which is now officially the best show on television in a walk. In the show's great first season and legendary second season, all the talk was about Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson, but the secret of the show's success was Jim; his pining for Pam gave the show great dramatic heft, and the scenes with him and Dwight-a master of the subdued next to the emperor of over-the-top; were simply genius.

Now Jim and Pam are together, which would have lesser writers painted into a corner, but the Office writers have stepped up to the challenge and come up huge. Where the third season struggled to find solid through-lines with Jim/Pam drama temporarily out of the question, the fourth season has set up plotlines that will keep us coming back for more.

First of all, I pray that I'm not cynical enough to ever get tired of Jim and Pam being really, really, really happy together. Unlike most "Jesus, when are they going to sleep together already?" plotlines, Jim/Pam managed to stay grounded in reality; for the first two seasons, Pam's relationship with Roy was real enough to keep Jim away; watch "Booze Cruise" again and it looks like poor Jim just has no chance. In the third season, Jim had a great girlfriend, was weary of getting roped in again by Pam, and Pam just wasn't bold enough to put it all on the line for Jim, which is what he would have needed to believe again. When they finally came together, it feels like we've all earned the right for them to be happy forever.

The dramatic void left by Jim and Pam's bliss has been gamely filled, from Michael's struggles with Ryan the evil temp, his relationship with Jan, and life in general-who else loves the scenes where Michael actually makes connections with people, like when he shows his chops as a salesman or becomes the most popular guy at his 2nd job? Meanwhile, Dwight's downward spiral and Jim/Pam's efforts to help him move on have been surprisingly touching-it's a testament to this show that we actually care about Michael and Dwight, because despite all their obvious flaws, their essential good-heartedness has been able to shine through, differentiating them from most "funny because they're evil" comedy characters.

And when Office needs a big laugh, it can always go to Creed (who regularly supplies the best line of the show-his "cults" line in the first episode and "financial fraud" line in this one both made me laugh so loud I woke my roommate up), Kelly, or Toby. And it was good to see Jan get closer to the "smart, capable, beautiful, but still miserable" character of the first three seasons than the "big bucket of crazy" she's been since the end of last season-Jan is layered like everyone else, and doesn't deserve to be cheapened. Andy remains the one character who is evil at heart, so I'm not thrilled to be devoting more time to him. But damn, I love me some Office.

Criss Angel is getting a network show? Great. For all his weirdness, he's pretty damn amazing. But Uri Geller? The guy who was exposed as a fraud bending spoons by Johnny Carson in 1973? He gets his own show?

And yes, Bee Movie is starting to grate on me. But he's Jerry Seinfeld. He can do whatever he wants. He has earned lifetime immunity.

Good night, everyone.

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