Monday, July 30, 2012

Meanwhile In Kentucky...

This past weekend I crossed the river and ventured into the Bluegrass State. Although due to the current drought conditions, it was more like the Browngrass State! Eh? Amirite?

Anyway, while I was there I saw this. Only in Kentucky would they name their public transportation system "GRITS."

GRITS stands for Green River Intra-County Transit System, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more tortured acronym. They really had to bend over backwards to get that to fit, even going so far as to drop out an entire word so that it didn't spell "GRICTS."

What's next, the Catskills calling their transportation system "Matzo?"

There And Back Again, And Again, And Again...

After a couple of weeks of what I wrote off as internet rumor, Peter Jackson has confirmed that his film adaptation of The Hobbit will now be padded and stretched out into a trilogy, instead of the originally agreed upon duology, or whatever you call two films.

I have a bad feeling about this. I feel like the story's going to be thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread (if you're a Tolkien fan you'll be "LOLing" on the floor right about now).

Anyone who thinks this is anything but a blatant and transparent cash grab, leave now. I mean it. Go. Go on! Git! We don't need your optimistic naivete around here. This is nothing but a brazen move on the part of New Line, MGM and Peter Jackson to shoehorn another film into the franchise (whether it needs it or not) and soak us all for another admission ticket. Anyone who believes otherwise... go now. I mean it. We don't want your kind here.

I was dubious at the prospect of splitting The Hobbit into two movies to begin with. It's a simple little story that could easily and comfortably be told in a single three hour film. Splitting it into two parts felt unnecessary and bordered on studio greed. To add a third film is just slathering cash icing on a big ol' three layer greed cake.
Don't believe me? Let's examine this handy chart that I had to make, because I couldn't find my paperback copies of Lord Of The Rings anywhere in my disaster area of a house.

The Hobbit is a short, fast paced little book that clocks in at around 300 pages (depending on the edition). Compare that to Lord Of The Rings trilogy that weighs in at around 1200 pages. How in the name of Gimli's Beard are they going to stretch The Hobbit out over three films? Are these Hobbit movies going to be three hour affairs like the Lord of the Rings movies? Is there really nine hours worth of content here? I don't even think it takes the audio book guy that long to read The Hobbit aloud.

Jackson claims that there is indeed plenty of material; scenes that happen "off camera" plus loads of stuff in the appendices. Yeah well, that may be true, but most of the time the material that's relegated to the appendix is located there for a reason. Like most of the deleted scenes on DVDs.

Jackson and Tolkien fans are for the most part ecstatic about this development, saying that the more time we get to spend in the magical world of Middle Earth, the better. I disagree. Tolkien's story moved along at a brisk pace, moving from one adventure to another over its short page count. Stretching the story out into three films is going to destroy any sense of pacing and urgency that Tolkien intended. Expect endless stretches of knowing glances and pregnant pauses.

I don't see any way these films can not feel bloated. We're talking about Peter Jackson after all, the man who took the original King Kong, which was a scant 100 minutes, and gave us an overlong and padded 187 minute remake.

I really loved the Lord of the Rings movies and I hope that The Hobbit turns out just as well, but frankly I see ominous clouds building on the horizon. First it was announced they were filming it in 3D, which I find unnecessary and loathsome. Then Jackson insisted on shooting the movie at 48 frames per second, which according to those who've seen it, make the movie look like it was filmed on cheap videotape. And now this trilogy deal.

I've gotta say my enthusiasm is now considerably dulled.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New "The Office" Spinoffs

NBC recently announced that they're planning on creating an Office spinoff series featuring fan favorite character Dwight Schrute. The series will most likely be set on Dwight's family beet farm.

I'm a big fan of The Office but this sounds like a really bad idea to me. Spinoffs are a risky proposition and rarely ever work. For every successful spinoff such as The Jeffersons and Frasier there are a thousand failed ones like Joey, AfterMASH and The Tortellis (look 'em up, kids). The TV landscape is littered with them.

The reason most spinoffs fail is because they generally take a secondary character and try to turn them into the star of the series. Take the aforementioned Dwight Schrute, for instance. He's a very offbeat character with many bizarre traits. Because he's so much larger than life, he works best when used sparingly. 

When you make a character like Dwight the focus of the series it's necessary to tone him down quite a bit so he doesn't overwhelm the audience. This dilutes the character into someone the audience no longer enjoys watching, and you end up with yet another failed pilot. It's a very fine line for creators to walk, and few can do it successfully.

Whether a Dwight spinoff is a good idea or not, it doesn't look like NBC can be talked out of it– it's scheduled to air sometime in 2013.

Despite my misgivings about the idea, I've decided to be a good sport and brainstorm some spinoffs concepts for the rest of The Office cast. Hey, NBC– I just wrote your entire new prime time lineup. You're welcome.

Stanley's Dozen
Everyone's favorite Office curmudgeon finally gets his own series! 

On the day of Stanley Hudson's long-awaited retirement from Dunder Mifflin he receives a shocking telegram: his estranged and unmarried sister has unexpectedly died, leaving custody of her thirteen children to him. After unsuccessfully trying to fight the custody decree Stanley has no choice but to move to Chicago and take over his sister's household.

Watch the hilarity as Stanley unwillingly becomes father to thirteen unruly children ranging in age from 16 to 2 years of age. See his ordered life get turned upside down as he has to deal with surly teens, missed curfews, incessant texting, loud music and even changing diapers!

Who knows, if Stanley's not careful, the kids may even teach him a thing or two!

Stanley's Dozen airs Mondays at 8:30 pm Central.

Scranton Abbey
In this uproarious fish-out-of-water comedy, Meredith Palmer, Dunder Mifflin's resident alcoholic floozy, discovers that she's actually descended from British nobility.

When the childless Earl of Scranton dies, his surviving relatives scramble to locate the nearest heir apparent, who turns out to be Meredith! Upon hearing the news she immediately quits her job, packs her bags and heads across the pond to claim her birthright as the new Countess of Scranton! 

Watch Meredith tangle with her snooty newfound relatives along with the servants of the household as they try to educate her in the ways of privileged society. Can England survive her lower class American ways? It's Yankee vs the Nobility in this laugh-a-minute comedy!

Scranton Abbey airs Thursdays at 8:00 pm Central.

Mr. & Mrs. Halpert 
By day Jim and Pam work side by side at their mundane office jobs at Dunder Mifflin, but at night the shocking truth is revealed: They're both sophisticated international spies who secretly work for rival agencies!

Can Jim and Pam successfully juggle their dual lives? Can they deal with downsizing, parenthood and daycare while stealing government secrets and plotting assassinations? And can they do it all without accidentally killing one another?

The laughs are anything but "top secret" in this fast-paced comedy!

Mr. & Mrs. Halpert airs Thursdays at 9:00 pm Central.

Quantum Creed
An action-packed sci-fi adventure series! When Dunder Mifflin's Quality Control Officer Creed Bratton ingests a special "herbal" concoction of his own making, he blacks out and wakes up in the 1940s. Initially convinced it's just a bad trip, he soon finds out that the situation is all too real. He discovers he can now move backward and forward through his own time line.

Creed then travels throughout the past six decades, determined to change the past in order to make a better future for himself, and maybe for the world if there's time. Watch as he helps public figures and private citizens alike make the right decisions at crucial moments in history!

But Creed must be careful in his temporal travels, as he's inadvertently drawn the attention of a mysterious Dark Man, who relentlessly pursues him through time.

Who is this Dark Man? Is he a Time Cop determined to preserve history? An extraterrestrial bent on the destruction of Earth? Or an alternate version of Creed himself, trying to preserve his own existence? Watch as we drag out the thrilling answer over seven seasons (God willing).

Quantum Creed airs Fridays at 9:00 pm Central.

Hey Dean!
Andy Bernard gets the chance of a lifetime when he's offered a job as dean of what he assumes is an Ivy League college. He immediately leaves his job as manager of Dunder Mifflin and accepts the new position, only to find that instead of being the head of a prestigious university, he's now the dean of a small community college.

Watch the hilarity as smug Cornell alumni Andy swallows his pride and deals with the day to day running of a small and struggling school on the verge of collapse. Can he turn the school around while preserving his dignity? 

With a supporting cast of wacky teachers and quirky students, you'll give it an "A" for Amusing. It's academic!

Hey Dean! airs Thursdays at 8:30 pm Central, right after Scranton Abbey.

The Kapoors
A hilarious supernatural comedy series in the tradition of Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie

Poor Kelly Kapoor has tried everything to get her irresponsible boyfriend Ryan Howard to marry her, much to the dismay of her traditional Indian parents. Frustrated, Mr. and Mrs. Kapoor pray to Shiva in the hope that he will compel Ryan to finally marry their daughter and ease their family's shame. 

Shiva answers their prayers by placing a special curse on Ryan. Now whenever he mistreats Kelly in any way, he is swiftly and comically punished by the deity: losing his voice when he lies, shrinking to the size of a child when he comes home late, or having his entrails consumed by jackals when he thinks impure thoughts about other women.

How long will Ryan be able to endure Shiva's cosmic punishment until he gives in and marries Kelly?

Ryan's bad karma makes for good comedy!

The Kapoors airs Wednesdays at 8:00 pm Central.

Hail To The Chief
A irreverent and wacky political comedy that'll get your vote... for LAUGHS!

Kevin Malone leaves the comfort of Dunder Mifflin and moves to Washington D.C., where he becomes assistant to the President's Press Secretary. Through a series of unlikely bureaucratic mix-ups, the chain of command passes to Kevin and he becomes the President of the United States. 

In his first official act, President Malone appoints former co-worker Oscar Martinez as his Vice President. Watch as the two of them attempt to solve the country's problems without starting World War III. 

With a supporting cast of quirky advisors and international leaders, you won't veto the laughs! Politics was never like this! 

Hail To The Chief airs Wednesdays at 8:30 pm Central, right after The Kapoors.

Angela's Feline Follies
An edgy new animated cartoon in the tradition of The Simpsons and The Family Guy

Angela Martin shares her cozy, tastefully decorated home with a group of zany talking cats– who let her think she's in charge! Watch the fur fly as her ungrateful house guests comment on everything from her choice of cat food to her fashion sense, and even her taste in men!

The feline cast includes Mr. Wiffles, the lazy, overweight leader of the group who'll do anything to avoid exertion of any kind. Tabathina is the haughty female cat who's quick to criticize Angela's every move. Sprinkles II is the youngest of the group, an adorable kitten who thinks nothing of selling out his friends to curry Angela's favor. 

It's the purr-fect formula for comedy!

Angela's Feline Follies airs Sundays at 8:00 pm Central.

The Devil Wears Lane Bryant
Get ready for big laughs in this fashionable new sitcom!

The always stylish Phyllis Vance decides the time is right to leave her sales position at Dunder Mifflin and realize her life's ambition: starting her own Scranton-based fashion magazine for plus-sized women!

Everything goes smoothly until her husband, Bob Vance, insists she give his thin, chic niece a job at the magazine as her protégé. Watch as her New York style clashes with Phyllis' matronly fashion sense. The claws'll come out on the catwalk each week!

Featuring an offbeat supporting cast of models, photographers and stylists. Laughter is "in" this season!

The Devil Wears Lane Bryant airs Thursdays at 8:30 pm Central.

My Three Moms 
When Dunder Mifflin receptionist Erin Hannon receives a piece of junk mail mistakenly addressed to a "Mrs. Hannon," she takes it as a sign that her real mother is still alive and that she's not an orphan after all. 

She then leaves Scranton and heads west to San Francisco (the return address on the junk mail). She rents a room in a boarding house and discovers that the other three tenants are all women in their forties. 

Erin becomes convinced that one of her fellow boarders is her real mother. But which of the three, if any, could it be? There'll be lots of red herrings, false leads and season-ending cliffhangers before we finally tell you!

My Three Moms airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm Central.

Flenderson P.I.
Dunder Mifflin's Human Resource Representative gets his own series in this "arresting" action/comedy. 

Bored with his pedestrian life, Toby Flenderson packs his bags and heads south to The Magic City, otherwise known as Miami. He then sets up shop as a private investigator, probing the seamy underbelly of the city's neon-soaked streets.

You'll fall in love with Toby's hilarious cast of drug lords, hookers, pimps and informants! It's elementary!

Flenderson P.I. airs Sundays at 9:00 pm Central.

An exciting sci-fi action/mystery series. One fateful day Gabe Lewis wakes up to find his life is torn asunder. By day he manages a failing mid-level paper company, but when he goes to sleep he becomes a rogue samurai wandering the dangerous landscape of a post apocalyptic America. 

But which life is real, and which is the illusion? Both? Or neither one?

Join Gabe as he splits his time between solving trivial employee disputes and saving villagers from lawless gangs of cannibalistic psychopaths, armed only with his wits and his trusty katana blade.

Tune in each week as we pile on the mysteries and questions without ever bothering to answer anything. You'll swear we're making it up as we go along!

Displaced airs Saturdays at 9:00 pm Central.

So there you go, NBC. There's your new fall lineup. You can pay me through PayPal.
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