Saturday, March 31, 2007

March Madness

We continue to present our monthly "Friday Night Live" recordings of
This month it is "March Madness". Everything from drunken romps to stories of love. Our Featured Performer is Michael Lambert. Enjoy!...

Next Month's Featured Performer will be Marsha Clark (The Actress)...
Recorded Live on Friday, March 16, 2007 at The Coffee Fix in Studio City, California...

1:08 / 62.2 MB / Rated: PG-13 (Some Adult Language and Themes)...
Thanks for the Download!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot: Raines

The first time I saw Jeff Goldblum it was on the short lived TV series Tenspeed and Brown Shoe. I was reminded of that program when I was watching two new shows on NBC’s Must See Thursday night lineup. The first show was Andy Richter's new series Andy Barker PI and later Jeff Goldblum’s new show Raines. This new show has elements of Monk, Medium and Tenspeed and Brown Shoe. Jeff Goldblum stars as the eccentric LAPD Detective Michael Raines who like Monk is obsessive and has not been the same since suffering a traumatic event. After recuperating from being shot in the line of duty Raines returns to work but now he has begun to see murder victim Sandy Boudreau (Alexa Davalos) as a vision. Like on Medium, Raines talks to the victim except this vision is a figment of his imagination not a ghost. The vision starts out as two-dimensional character and as Raines learns more about her she develops more layers. When Rains finds her killer she will disappear. The only person Raines confides in is his former partner, Charlie Lincoln (Malik Yoba). Like Jeff Goldblum’s character Lionel Whitney from Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Raines speaks to the audience through a noir style voice over complete with sax music in the background. Raines also shares Lionel Whitney's love for detective novels. He even considered writing a novel himself but becoming a police officer got in the way. He found out that the images he had in his head weren’t like real life. I always find it amusing when fictional TV cop/detectives make it known that they are real unlike the fake cop/detectives on TV, in the movies or in pulp novels. This show makes the distinction between Raines' "real world" and the world of his pulp heroes Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald but it does so with great reverence.

It is obvious that I liked the pilot a lot, but I never judge a show by it’s pilot.

The next episode, Meet Juan Doe, opens with a voice over of Detective Michael Raines recapping what we learned in the pilot. I like the noir style opening of the pilot better, but I understand that this was done to clarify the show’s premise to the audience. Hopefully the noir style opening will return. I also miss Raines’ partner Charlie who only appears early in the episode. I looked at the Raines - Bios page but Malik Yoba is not there. It looks like the role of confidant will now be Dr. Samantha Kohl (Madeleine Stowe). Raines was ordered to meet with Dr. Kohl after he was seen talking to himself by his fellow officers. I hope these changes were not the network’s attempt to fix things that I personally don’t see as broken because I really liked what I saw in the pilot. I guess I’ll have to keep watching. I wonder if this show will help the sale of Raymond Chandler novels.

To quote Detective Michael Raines, "All these stories start with a body".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot: Andy Barker PI

Andy Richter is one of the most underrated comedic actors working in television today. Since leaving his role as the sidekick on Late Night with Conan O'Brien he has starred in several situation comedies. Although none of these shows ever took off I never felt that it was the fault of Andy Richter. In his new show Andy Barker PI, Andy Richter re-teams with Conan O'Brien who serves as the shows co-creator and executive producer. The title character Andy Barker is a CPA who is mistaken by a Russian bombshell for retired private investigator Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell). Lew used to occupy Andy’s storefront office. The beautiful Russian offers Andy four thousand dollars to find her husband. Since he was not getting and any new accounting clients, Andy takes on the lady’s case with the help of his fellow strip mall neighbors Simon (Tony Hale) the video store clerk and Wally (Marshall Manesh) the overly patriotic Afghani restaurant owner. Although this is not the first time we see an accountant enamored with the life of a PI on TV (Remember Tenspeed and Brown Shoe?), the difference here is that Andy loves accounting. Andy Richter is at his best when he plays the mild mannered, good intentioned every man and this show is the best vehicle for Andy Richter since he left Conan's couch. Andy’s TV character is also perfectly paired with Clea Lewis as his wife Jen.

In the past I have expressed that I like single camera sitcoms and am really pleased that NBC's Must See Thursday is raising the bar with their comedies instead of just playing it for laughs. Andy Barker PI has the elements that I like in a comedy; good writing, good acting and most importantly it is funny. My big concern for the show is that the show is at risk of being predictable where Andy uses his accounting skills to solve the case with the help of his misfit friends. Fortunately, I Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot and speaking of the pilot you can watch it at - Andy Barker PI > Full Episodes and I don’t have to wait till the next week because that episode, and four more are also online.

In the next episode Fairway, My Lovely the Archives Clerk, Nicole (Nicole Randall Johnson) from the pilot, hires herself as Andy’s new assistant figuring that Andy owes her since he got her fired from her last job. The case involves the death of Andy's morbidly obese client Guy Halverson (Peter Allen Vogt) and Mrs. Halverson's insistence that her husband actually met with foul play. The episode was funny although I thought one running gag where all the women in the episode are enamored with the fat guy was a little over the top. Hopefully through the NBC web site the show can foster a solid fan base.

Andy is wholesome and does not use profanity so I will quote Andy Barker when things aren’t going right, "Ah, cheese 'n crackers".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot: The ½ Hour News Hour.

I feel that even before I start writing about The ½ Hour News Hour I must come clean. When I write my "Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot" segments I tend to chose programs that appeal to me based on a Log line, Promo or Buzz. I'd rather talk about programs I like and not promote the programs I don't. I am making an exception in the case of The ½ Hour News Hour. I felt it important to make this disclaimer. When I heard on Air America Radio that the FOX News Channel was entering the world of comedy... deliberately, I felt that I needed to see this train wreck. First of all I have to question the show’s originality when the title was stolen from The 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour. Prior to watching the pilot I saw a clip of the show on YouTube.

I have two questions.
  1. Was that supposed to be funny?
  2. Are they using a Laugh Track? I swear I heard the same canned laughter over and over again and this show appears to be taped before a live audience.

Good comedy has to have a point of view. Satire only works when the comedian goes after every institution be it political, religious or corporate. The so-called Fair & Balanced News Channel is attempting to create a conservative counterpart to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. What they fail to grasp is that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert poke fun at everyone including the news media, themselves and their corporate owners. Although sometimes it’s easy to figure out what a comedian’s personal politics are, a professional will poke fun of everyone. All I could grasp from this YouTube clip is that The ½ Hour News Hour is throwing pies at the faces of liberals and missing the target. Satire is considered high brow comedy and what I have seen so far is about as sophisticated as throwing a pie at someone’s face. Fortunately for The ½ Hour News Hour I never judge a show by it’s pilot let alone a clip on YouTube.
I saw the Pilot and I have a few notes:

  • Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter don’t need a script to be funny they just have to be themselves.
  • The Ed Begley Jr. bit was predictable and not funny. The callbacks on the Ed Begley Jr. bit were painful.
  • BE FUNNY!!!

So far all I have seen are people trying to be funny but are in essence comparable to a child on a playground saying, "I know you are, but what am I?"

I watched the second episode and it was actually worse. There was a bit spoofing Dateline \ To Catch a Predator and another one making fun of racial profiling and both were painful to watch. I think the Fox News Channel should quit while they're behind and stick to what they do... just stick to what they do. After all the idea of the Fox News Channel doing a fake news show with a conservative slant is already redundant.

To quote Theodore White, "A joke is like a frog. If you want, you can dissect it to see how the parts fit together and understand what makes it all work. But the frog tends to die in the process".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa