Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Never Judge A Show by It's Pilot: Cavemen. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of Cavemen was that this was going to be a train wreck. I had this strange urge to look at this show the same way a rubbernecker has to slow down and look at a horrible accident. Someone at a major television network wanted to take a successful commercial campaign and develop it into a TV show. The Geico Insurance TV commercials feature a commercial spokesman saying that, "Geico dot com is so easy a caveman could do it". We then see two modern day cavemen watching the commercial and being offended that Geico has stereotyped them as primitive and stupid. The commercial campaign is successful but I really can't see turning that into a weekly series with a blatant message about intolerance. People don't watch TV to hear a message. That is Basic TV writing 101. I'm not saying that you can't have a message, but it has to be subtle. Bewitched had a subtle message about tolerance towards people who are different and towards mixed marriages. The Munsters pilot had a similar message when they showed intolerant neighbors who didn't approve of "Those people that moved in next door". Science fiction shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone had strong messages about intolerance but none of their examples were ever used as part of their promotional campaign. Another reason that I think viewers are going to be turned off by this show is because the actors Jeffrey Daniel Phillips and Ben Weber who people loved in the commercials are not in the show (Jeffrey Daniel Phillips does play a minor character named Maurice). I certainly don't want to compare these cavemen to other characters that have been played by multiple actors like Darren Stephens (Bewitched), Hannibal Hays (Alias Smith and Jones) or even the Duke boys (The Dukes of Hazzard). I can only imagine that some executive said, "We can put the wig and makeup on any actor and the audience won't know the difference". History has proved otherwise.

I saw the pilot and I can hear my college television production teacher say, "What’s the point?" First you have to buy into the premise that cavemen have lived among us since the beginning of time. The opening credits features a montage of cavemen throughout history. Anything would be better than the chosen premise, time warp, thawed from an iceberg or cloned caveman DNA. The main characters Joel Claybrook (Bill English), Andy Claybrook (Sam Huntington) and Nick Hedge (Nick Kroll) are three metrosexual cavemen who share an apartment in the city. Joel is the reasonable and responsible roommate who supports the other two. Joel works at an Ikea type store called Norsbild. I can't think of a more unfunny setting than an Ikea type store. That setting is only good for three, maybe four jokes and they were used up in the first two episodes. Nick is the intellectual snob. Unlike Fraser Crane or Major Charles Emerson Winchester III (M*A*S*H) who people enjoy seeing fall off their high horse, Nick has no horse. He acts like the world owes him a horse to fall off of and he blames the Homo sapiens for keeping him down. People don't care for that personality type in real life, why would they want to see it on TV? In the pilot Nick sponges off Andy. I had to live with a roommate like that in college, so why do I want to see that on TV? Andy is the sweet but naive roommate who is willing to do anything to be liked and accepted by his roommates and the Homo sapiens. Andy just broke up with his girlfriend so he also has rebound issues.

This is the reason why Mr. Whipple, Madge the manicurists or the Maytag Repairman never had a TV show. This is also one of the few times that I am sorry that I never judge a show by it's pilot.

I watched the next episode. Deadbeat Nick can't come up with his share of the rent. Joel gets him a job at his store as a replenisher but Nick would rather sit around all day and download music than work. Again, I don't think TV audiences want to see a college educated person working in the service industry not doing their job because they find the work or work in general beneath them. TV sitcoms should be an escape from that reality. When Nick gets fired he plays the "cave card" for lack of a better term. While all of this is happening, Andy is trying to befriend a girl who is afraid of cavemen. Each attempt to win this girl over becomes more like stalking. Once Andy does win her over, the roommates scare her off by acting like cavemen grunting and pounding their chest. In essence they perpetuating the stereotype, but I guess since they own it so it's okay.

Years ago All in the Family successfully showcased the stupidity that is bigotry by having the lead character act like a real bigot using real ethnic slurs. The audience laughed at Archie Bunker and his narrow view of the world. Cavemen attempts to poke fun at the way people treat minorities by creating a fake minority. When creating a fake minority, where do you get your inspiration? I can imagine that several minority groups have to be offended by the way the show presents the issues of intolerance and acceptance. The way these issues are presented (I'm sure with no offence intended) can be seen as mocking the struggles that real minority groups face even today. Of course the bigger issue here is that the show offends everyone’s intelligence.

Instead of quoting the show I will quote two different friends who said at two different times, "I liked the show better when it was called It's About Time.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Story Salon Saturday (Saturday Night #2)

Frances Peach Photo
The second of our two shows recorded at the Coffee Fix in Studio City, California on Story Salon Saturday... Enjoy!

59:03 / 54.2 MB / Rated: R (Some Mature Content)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Story Salon Saturday (Saturday Night #1) CLICK PODCAST

Story Salon Crowd
The first of our two shows recorded at the Coffee Fix in Studio City, California on Story Salon Saturday... Enjoy!

53:53 / 49.5 MB / Rated: R (Some Mature Content)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Story Salon Saturday (Friday Afternoon)

Story Salon Saturday opens on Friday afternoon (12am GMT) in a living room in Studio City, California. The producers of the show get together and share stories in an informal an intimate setting...

Please tell your own stories this Saturday and let us know if you do (storysalon@gmail.com).

Look for more posts throughout the day.

Thanks...39:50 / 37.6 MB / Rated: PG-13

Never Judge A Show by it's Pilot: Reaper. (Click Poscast)

Reaper is a new comedy about Sam (Bret Harrison) a slacker who discovers on his twenty-first birthday that his parents sold his soul to the Devil (Ray Wise). I don’t have an issue with God, angels or the Devil depicted in human form. I do get tired of heaven or hell being depicted as having the same problems we have on earth like computer glitches, understaffing or general mismanagement. Leave that for shows like The Office. I also want to note that this is the second show I've seen this fall where the main character is a twentysomething slacker (The first being Chuck). I don't know why having the hero be a twentysomething slacker bothers me but it does and I am sure I am not alone.

I watched the pilot. The best way to describe the show is Maynard G. Crebs from Dobie Gillis meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a hint of Ghost Busters. Sam works in a place comparable to Home Depot. On his twenty-first birthday he is approached by the Devil. It turns out that Sam's Parents sold Sam's soul before he was born. Now Satan wants Sam to work as his bounty hunter and capture escapees from hell. Hell is currently having a problem with over crowding. Satan didn't see it coming, and he blames himself. I can suspend my disbelief on many things but I don't understand why hell would have an over crowding problem. I would think that overcrowding would be one of the main reasons that hell is hell. Satan arms Sam with a vessel to capture the escapee, an arsonist responsible for spreading fires. The vessel can be anything, in the pilot it is a Dirt Devil. Once the job is done Sam has to deposit the vessel at the nearest portal to hell located anywhere there is hell on earth. For Sam, hell on earth is his local DMV. Assisting Sam in his mission is his best friend and coworker Sock (Tyler Labine) who makes Sam look like a contributing member of society.

In spite of my views on afterlife bureaucracy and the cliche that the DMV is hell in earth, this is a fun show. The show specifically targets the twentysomething demographic where Chuck targets a larger audience. Of the twentysomethings I spoke to, they love Reaper. It speaks to them. I have to admit some jealousy. When I was a young twentysomething the big three networks and later FOX did not target my age group. They were targeting Thirtysomethings. The belief at the time was that the 16 - 24 demographic was more interested in music than TV, except MTV (This is when MTV was still about music). Television executives like to take a good thing and then try to make it so it is appealing to a larger audience. I hope they don’t try to do that with this show. If the rest of the season’s shows are like the pilot the show might have some longevity, but I never judge a show by it's pilot.

I saw the next episode, Sam has to capture Arthur Ferrey who was sent to hell for illegally selling off electricity to other states. In hell Arthur got electrical shocks everyday. On earth he is charged with electricity. By the end of the episode Sam captures his demon and deposits him at the DMV. The plot has the risk of predictability. The best part about the show is the characters, especially the Devil. This Devil appreciates the simple things in life like steak & eggs. He is also a romantic at heart... or whatever Satin has instead of a heart. In the second episode he does a little matchmaking between Sam and his coworker Andi (Missy Peregrym). I think the show would be better if the escapees from hell were more developed. Perhaps viewers would be more likely to tune in if there were guest demons. The really popular guest demons could escape hell again during sweeps. Britney Spears should be available.

To quote the Devil, “Isn’t Nature magnificent? Beautiful, angry, soothing, merciless. It’s perfection, don’t you think? Gotta give… whatshisface credit”.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Joey Bishop, 1918-2007

This clip from The Joey Bishop Show features Joey Bishop's birthday celebration with Sammy Davis Jr. & Regis Philbin.

Good night Mr. Bishop. Give my best to the pack

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Never Judge A Show by It's Pilot: Moonlight. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of Moonlight, a show about vampire that works as a private detective is that I've seen it before. Angel, Forever Knight and Nick Knight come to mind. The premise itself is like a vampire. It won't die and it keeps coming back.

I watched the pilot. We open with our vampire Mick St. John (Alex O'Loughlin) pretending to be interviewed on television. This vehicle is used to establish this show's vampire lore. They can't be killed by a stake though the heart but will die if their head gets cut off. Garlic tastes good on a pizza, but will not harm them. They can't turn into a bat. They can go out in the daytime and since we see his photo ID he can be photographed (Digitally). I think that this drastic reinventing of vampire lore is enough to turn off many viewers. Mick himself does not kill people, He has a vampire friend who works at the morgue and supplies him with blood from dead bodies. Mick's vampire confidante Josef Konstantin (Jason Dohring) works as a hedge fund trader. Josef likes fresh blood from a pretty girl’s arm. Mick uses his vampire senses (Like Spidey senses) to solve cases.

The show looks like it is attempting a noir detective drama style (Without the sax music). The case in the pilot involves the murder of a pretty girl. The puncture marks on her neck indicate a vampire. A web reporter Beth Turner (Sophia Myles) pursues the vampire angle and goes undercover in a vampire cult run by a college professor. Mick knows that this was not a real vampire killing and that the real killer is the college professor. All Mick has to do now is catch the killer and save Beth. We see through a series of flashbacks that Mick knew Beth when she was a little girl and his ex-wife (Shannyn Sossamon) wanted to turn the younger Beth into a vampire so they could be a family. So far I am not impressed but then again I might change my mind because I never judge a show by it's pilot.

In the next episode a convicted killer Lee Jay Spalding (Josh Wingate) has his conviction overturned and is released from prison. Spalding served 25 years for murdering his girlfriend and staging it to look like a suicide. Mick had helped the police prove that the suicide was staged. When Mick captured Spalding, Spalding learned that Mick was a vampire. Spalding then spends his sentence reading books on vampire lore as part of a plan to kill Mick when he gets out. Spalding's release is highly publicized with the publishing of a book written by Beth's friend Julia Stephens (Lisa Sheridan). The book chronologs Spalding's version of what happened thus casting Spalding as a good guy and Mick as a bad guy. To draw out Mick, Spalding kidnaps Julia. When Mick and Beth go to rescue Julia, Spalding shoots Mick in the back with silver buckshot. At the end of the episode, Beth learns that Mick is a vampire.

My thoughts about the show have not changed. The Vampire lore has been overly tweaked. In the second episode Mick is shot with silver buckshot, isn't silver harmful to werewolves not vampires? The look is too bright and hip to properly capture the style they are striving for (They really need the sax music). The show's creators need to study the style of the ill-fated NBC drama Raines. For a guy with detective skills and vampire abilities, Mick relies a lot on modern technology. There is a scene in the second episode where Mick sticks a GPS tracker on Julia's car. Most mortal private investigators prefer to trust their instincts to technology. Again, the premise has been done before only better.

To quote Josef Konstantin , "Vampire experts, beautiful. Now we got the food mouthing off about the farmer".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Never Judge A Show by It's Pilot: Bionic Woman. (CLICK PODCAST)

Before I watch the pilot of Bionic Woman I think that it’s only fair to disclose that I was a big fan of The Bionic Woman (Please note the subtle difference in the title). The Six Million Dollar Man spin off premiered when I was eleven years old. To me the fantasy world of bionic secret agents working for the OSI was magical. Of course when I was a kid it was a lot easier to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Realistically I can’t expect the same magic that I felt as a child, but I’m expecting to see something really cool. Cool enough that the show has earned a spot on the NBC network instead of its sister cable channel SciFi.

I watched the pilot. It looks really cool. These bionics are much more elaborate than what we have seen in the past. This Bionic Woman (Michelle Ryan) does not run in show motion. The new Jaime Sommers is a college dropout working as a bartender and is her teen-age sister's (Lucy Hale) guardian. Jamie and her college professor boyfriend Will Anthros (Mark Sheppard) get into a car accident. Jaime's injuries are severe. Fortunately Will is also a surgeon who specializes in cutting-edge, top-secret, bionic technology. Will replaces Jamie's legs, right arm, eye and ear with bionics that were designed for military applications. She is hardwired for highly specialized warfare. Now Jaime must adjust to her new life and use her new abilities to pay back the organization (The Berkut Group) that spent 50 million dollars to rebuild her (Talk about inflation). Most of the pilot was dedicated to explaining how Jaime becomes bionic but there other things at play that should set up future episodes. There is another bionic woman, Sarah Corvis (Katee Sackhoff), who went bad and was presumed dead. Now she is involved with some bad guys setting the stage for future adventures. Sarah was responsible for Jaime's accident and towards the end of the pilot she shoots Will. Sarah and Jaime have a knock down drag out fight. I look forward to the next episode because I never judge a show by it's pilot.

The next episode has Jamie depressed over Will's death... and making out with a guy in a public restroom. This is when I missed the old school sound effects and slow motion. When things are getting hot and heavy she accidentally cracks his rib. The make out session is interrupted by the Berkut Group's Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer). Jonas appeals to Jaime's need to find her place in life by helping them save the world. Before Jaime can finish training she is on her first assignment to investigate a town whose population has been killed by a biological weapon. By the end of the mission Jaime learns that the world is scarier than she ever thought. The technology that was once science fiction is now a reality and her job will be to keep that technology out of the hands of the bad guys. While all this is happening we are also learning more about Sarah Corvis and how she turned bad. It may be the technology affecting her mind.

So far I am more interested in the characters than the plot. There is one element to the show that I will freely admit to having mixed feelings about and that is the blurry line between who the good guys and the bad guys are. I like that the heroes have baggage. I'm sure that there are viewers that want to see the good guys wearing white hats and the bad guys wearing black hats (Toy companies like straight out good guys and bad guys when it comes to marketing action figures). Since the Berkut Group is an independent contractor in competition with the military, the show will present the government and the military in a negative light. This also means that the Berkut Group's actions are not motivated by patriotism but by the bottom line. Conservatives may translate this as, "Those Hollywood liberals hate America and don't support the troops".

To quote Jaime, “This saving the world thing. I'd like to give that a try”.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Never Judge A Show by it's Pilot: Journeyman. (CLICK PODCAST)

Anyone who knows me knows that I love time travel stories. A couple of years ago I even attempted to write a pilot about a man who could travel through time. So when I heard about the new NBC drama Journeyman, a show about a man who has the ability to go back in time, I was there. This is one of the few shows this fall that I can say that I am actually looking forward to. This also means that I will either really love the show or be it's harshest critic. The problem I see with many time travel TV shows and movies is that the audience tends to over think everything from physics to philosophy, and cause & effect to paradox. Sometimes the audience just has to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story. That being said, the creators of the show have to establish certain rules of time travel then follow those rules. Look at Time Cop (Movie or TV show). The audience came in accepting the idea of time travel but couldn't get beyond the fact that a time vehicle was launched like a pinball down a long track, but the charters arrived in the other time period without the vehicle. Where did it go? Time travel stories also work best when they don't deal with real historical events. The audience will then have an idea of how things will end (You knew Russell Johnson was not going to save Lincoln in that The Twilight Zone episode). As you can see I am already over thinking the show and I haven’t even watched it yet.

I watched the pilot. On the positive side, these are real human stories playing out. Kevin McKidd plays San Francisco newspaper reporter Dan Vasser. Dan begins having blackouts and then winds up sometime in his past. Time periods are subtly identified through popular culture like music, clothing, billboards and broadcasts of The Today Show. The show reminds me a little bit of Quantum Leap but instead of the hero staying in one time until the job is done, Dan follows an individual, that he is apparently assigned to help, through different time periods. Unlike Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), Dan gets to come home. Even though Dan is in different time periods, he is always in his hometown of San Francisco where he will cross paths with friends, family and even himself. He also meets up with his late fiancé Livia Beale (Moon Bloodgood). Livia was believed to have died in a plane crash. Talk about creating a major paradox. When he returns to the present it can be hours or even days from the point in time from which he departed. Dan was even plucked out of his own time while driving his car. Those around him question his sobriety when he is unable to account for his whereabouts or worse when he does account for his whereabouts. That brings me to the negative side.

There are a lot of unanswered questions here. The audience wants to know how and why Dan time travels. Apparently Dan is being sent back in time to help people, but who is sending him? Livia also appears to be a time traveler and escaped the plane before it crashed. I think that the audience will want to know the time travel logistics early on so they can follow the story. Otherwise they will question things when they should be following the plot. I believe the intent here is to have a show that will appeal to a large audience and not just science fiction fans. In today’s world of instant gratification, the audience won't keep tuning in unless all is revealed. I will at least tune in next week, because I never judge a show by its pilot.

I saw the next episode and liked it a lot. Dan and his wife Katie (Gretchen Egolf) are on a plane flying to a Seattle bed and breakfast with the intention to make a baby. When Dan is in the lavatory he gets transported to another plane in 1970s. The 1970s flight was captured beautifully with a smoking section, sexy stewardess and KC and the Sunshine Band playing in the background. Dan delivers a baby girl on the flight. Dan follows the lives of the mother and daughter through time and the story takes twists and turns keeping it from getting predictable. Not to many questions are answered except that Livia is involved with Dan's time traveling. Ultimately it is the human drama is what drives this episode. The teaser for next week’s episode involves the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. I am very curious to see how they deal with an actual historical event.

The historical event in the third episode took a back seat to the human drama playing in Dan's present. Although Dan made good faith attempts to anonymously warn different agencies in 1989 that an earthquake was immanent, he was dismissed as a nut. Dan also tried in vain to save his boss' sister who died in the quake. His mission was to save an attorney with a gambling problem. Back in his own time, Katie was helping Dan out by inventing alibis for Dan absence and doing his reporting job for him. At the end of the episode Katie discovers that Dan has been seeing Livia in the past.

The show has an appeal beyond the science fiction crowd. The only thing about the show that is predictable is that is unpredictable. Other new shows should take a lesson from Journeyman. Start with a good story and build on that.

To quote newspaper reporter Dan Vasser to his boss, "It's the age of the blog, Hugh. You get the story first and get it right second".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Monday, October 08, 2007

Never Judge A Show By it's Pilot: Cane. (CLICK PODCAST)

I have a couple thoughts about the new CBS drama Cane. First of all I am exited to see a show with an all Latino cast on network television (George Lopez couldn't hold down the fort forever). Secondly, I would watch anything with Hector Elizondo and Rita Moreno. From what I read about the show, looks like it's greatly inspired by nighttime soaps like Dallas but instead of Texas oil its Cuban rum.

I watched the pilot and it does remind me a little bit of Dallas with a hint of The Godfather. The show features the internal and external struggles that play out when running a family and a family business. There is infighting within the Duque family when patriarch Pancho (Hector Elizondo) learns that he has six months to live and divides the family business amongst his children Frank Duque (Nestor Carbonell), Henry Duque (Eddie Matos), Isabel Vega (Paola Turbay ) and Alex Vega (Jimmy Smits). Pancho gave thirty percent of the business to each of his natural born children and ten percent to his adopted son Alex. Since Alex is married to Isabel he now holds control of the company. Frank resents what his father did but Pancho felt that Frank has been distracted lately by girls and boats. The Duque family's sugar business has had a long business rivalry with the Samuels family's sugar business. The Samuels want the Duque's sugar cane fields. Frank's wanting the family to sell off the sugar end of the business and concentrate solely on rum is greatly influenced by an affair he is having with Ellis Samuels (Polly Walker). The show should have a broad appeal. It has many of the classic elements of good story telling, man vs. man, brother vs. brother, father vs. son, all set in front of a Latin background. I am optimistic that the show won't resort to some of the stereotypical soap opera conventions like evil twins, people returning from the dead and whole seasons being dismissed as a dream.

The next episode continues with more murder, betrayal and sex. In other words business as usual. Unlike J.R. Ewing, Alex Vega does not mind getting his hands dirty. When a disgruntled blackmailing employee sent Alex a scorpion that bit his wife, Alex beat him up himself. I hope that the audience gives the show a chance and does not just dismiss it as just another nighttime soap. The show could be enjoyed more if while watching you have a good cigar in one hand and a glass of fine (Puerto Rican) rum in the other.

To quote Alex Vega, "Sugar is the new oil".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, October 05, 2007

Never Judge A Show by it's Pilot: The Big Bang Theory. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of The Big Bang Theory is that I have seen this before. Hot Girl befriends Geeks. They can be Movie Geeks, Comic Book Geeks, Sci-Fi Geeks, Techno Geeks or TV Geeks. All of this has been done before. The bottom line here is that really rich geeks get the really hot girls and the rest of the geeks meet girls with really nice personalities. We have a very talented cast, (Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco) but I don't see any new ideas here.

I watched the pilot. The dialogue was very funny, but I think the Geek Banter may go over most American’s heads (Imagine if Frasier and Niles were physicists). The plot was pedestrian. This time we have one geek roommate, Leonard (Galecki), falling for the hot chick neighbor that is out of his league, Penny (Cuoco), while his geek roommate, Sheldon (Parsons), prepares him for the inevitable fall. These geeks look like they should be living in paid housing on the MIT campus, not sharing an apartment in Los Angeles. The Hot Chick has no inhibitions in front of strangers when she borrows the geek's shower. (Save something for the dream/fantasy sequence that you're going to show during sweeps). The Hot Chick’s Ex-boyfriend bullies geeks. Sweet characters and cleaver dialogue do not a sitcom make, but I never judge a show by it’s pilot.

In the next episode the Geeks receive an IKEA type home entertainment system for Penny while she is out. When they bring the large box into her apartment Sheldon can’t deal with the fact that her apartment is an unorganized mess. That evening Sheldon can’t sleep and goes into Penny’s apartment and proceeds to clean and organize it while Penny is sleeping in the next room. When Penny awakes she is livid at the geeks. By the end of the episode, all is forgiven. There really is no plot and the premise is weak. Again, sweet characters and cleaver dialogue do not a sitcom make

Penny: So, what do you guy’s do for fun around here?
Sheldon: Well today we tried masturbating for money.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fonzie & Me

It's not often you get to meet a childhood hero. Last Sunday I was at the Sixth Annual West Hollywood Book Fair. When I wasn't promoting Story Salon, The Story Salon Podcast, Story Salon Saturday, The Story Salon Big Book of Stories, Handwritten Theatre, Comfort and Joi, HotValleyWriters.com and CHILD OF TELEVISION I visited the L.A. Theatre Works booth (Right behind our booth) where Henry Winkler was signing copies of THE RUBY SUNRISE CD.

THE RUBY SUNRISE begins when a 1920s tomboy feverishly works to develop her latest invention - a little something called "television". Twenty-five years later, her daughter will stop at nothing to bring her mother's incredible story to life during TV's Golden Age. But will it get the truth it deserves? The production includes an exclusive discussion of the invention and early days of television with Karen Herman, Director of the Archive of American Television at the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and writer-producer Phil Savenick, an expert on early television. The interview features extracts from the 10-year ongoing oral history of television being produced by the Television Academy Foundation, including Elma Farnsworth talking about her husband Philo, the inventor of television and the inspiration for "The Ruby Sunrise". Starring Henry Winkler, Jason Ritter, Asher Book, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Elizabeth Moss, and Kate Steele Written by Rinne Groff

As a kid The Fonz was cool. I had the T- Shirt, The leather jacket and a mug. When I was old enough I would go to Paramount studios after school and watch dress rehearsals of Happy Days. Now cool is when my childhood hero is signing his CD on one side of a plastic curtain and I'm signing our book on the other.

Thank you Mr. Winkler for everything then and now.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Never Judge A Show by it's Pilot: Chuck. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of the new NBC action comedy Chuck is that the premise, of a computer geek who accidentally becomes the government's most vital secret agent, will burn out very fast. I also don’t buy Zachary Levi as a geek. Look at these Zachary Levi Photos on IMDB. This guy looks like someone who beats up geeks. I think the part should have gone to a young Andy Dick type.

I watched the pilot. The episode opens on the night of Chuck’s birthday party. Chuck’s sister has invited lots of women for Chuck to meet but I don’t see this guy needing his sister’s help getting laid. I also don’t see this guy working as a member of Buy More’s Nerd Herd (a spoof of Best Buy’s Geek Squad). Chuck receives an E-mail from his former college roommate. When he opens the E-mail, he unwittingly downloads sensitive government data in the form of pictures into his brain in essence turning Chuck into a computer. Events begin to trigger the data in Chuck’s brain. Now agents from the CIA and NSA want that government data back. It turns out that Chuck’s old college roommate was a CIA Agent that went rogue. With the data locked in his head Chuck must now use that knowledge along with his computer nerd skills to help the government stop the bad guys. NSA agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin) is now working undercover as a Buy More trainee and CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strzechowski) is working undercover as Chuck's girlfriend. I really like the action sequences. I also like Yvonne Strzechowski for many reasons especially the scene when she gets ready for her date with Chuck then kicking butt on her date with Chuck. Even though there are elements that I like, I still feel that my first impressions are correct. The premise, of a computer geek who accidentally becomes the government's most vital secret agent, will burn out real fast. Zachary Levi is a very talented actor. I liked him on Less Than Perfect, but I don’t see him as a good fit for this show. Then again I might change my mind because I never judge a show by it's pilot.

The second episode opens with an extensive recapping of the pilot. Sarah is now working undercover serving hot dogs next door to the Buy More. The agents bring in the doctor who designed the program trapped in Chuck's brain. The doctor says that he can remove the program from Chuck's head but when the doctor leaves his car blows up. "The old exploding cell phone". The agents accuse each other for the murder. The data in Chuck's brain tells him that the exploding phone is an NSA weapon. There is a great fight sequence set in between the two agents at the hot dog place. It turns out that the Doctor faked his death in order to kidnap Chuck and sell him to Korean interests. While flying off in a helicopter Chuck accidentally shoot the pilot with a tranquilizing dart. The big finale involves Sarah having to talk Chuck through landing the chopper by having him recall flight simulator games.

I still stand by my first impression that the premise will burn out real fast and Zachary Levi is not a good fit for this show.

To quote Chuck (to himself), "Don't freak out".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa