Archive for September, 2009

Green Porno: Prawns getting it on is even less sexy than you imagined

Hopefully, this is old news to you, but Isabella Rossellini’s informative, beautiful and unfathomably weird internet series Green Porno has gone live with its third season.

Green Porno consists of Ms. Rossellini (and her accent) re-enacting the bizarre mating rituals of a variety of animals — generally the weirder ones like insects and snails and such. For the record, my favorite has always been the one about bees.

This season, it’s all about marine life. Furthermore, she’s added an ecological bent to the proceedings by examining how these animals get from the sea to your dinnertable with the help of a marine biologist named Claudio Campagna.

Here’s a teaser for the third season to give you a glimpse of the aesthetic.  See the whole third season here.

1 comment September 30th, 2009

Nobody is Getting Fined or Fired: A Brief History of Obscenity and Indecency

Jesse has already covered the news that Jenny Slate said “fucking” on SNL this weekend. As soon as the sketch started, Maggie and I got scared. An f-bomb seemed inevitable. And it certainly was. But don’t feel bad for anyone on this one. Nobody is getting fined or fired over this. Today I’m going to give everyone an education in the nature of dirty stuff on television in recent years.

For television networks, the first arbiter of decency is not the government. It is the advertisers who pay them to put their silly little shows on the air. If you can get a sponsor to pay for your filthy smut, you can do almost anything you want. Most advertisers, however, are a skittish bunch, and want to avoid controversy. That simple fact goes a long way towards explaining why television has a history of being extremely tame. But as advertisers have become less concerned with the naughty content in the broadcasts they sponsor, the government has stepped in more often.

As you may be aware, there is a rather popular amendment to our constitution that says “Congress shall make no law …  abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” etc. Unfortunately, over the years the Supreme Court has found exceptions to that clear and rather plainly worded bit of lawmaking. One of these exceptions grants the FCC the power to regulate over-the-air broadcast networks to prevent them from broadcasting indecent material between the hours of 6am and 10pm; what I refer to as the “Won’t Somebody Think of the Children Zone.” In a wonderful bit of irony, this policy was first solidified in 1978 after someone broadcast George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” on the radio. The Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s right to protect children by putting indecent content on late at night, which seems to indicate that someone could actually perform Carlin’s monologue on SNL if the sponsors were willing.

Since the Jenny Slate incident occurred well outside of the Zone, the FCC has no authority to fine anyone for broadcasting the potentially indecent material. According to the FCC “indecent material contains sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity. Now, saying “I fucking respect you for that” clearly does not rise to the level of obscenity (I’ll cover obscenity in a moment) but what is not immediately clear is whether using “fucking” as an intensifier actually refers to sexual material. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court offered distinctly mixed signals on this issue. In 2003, Bono (who was coincidentally featured on this weekend’s SNL) said winning a Golden Globe was “really, really fucking brilliant” during a live broadcast during the Won’t Somebody Think of the Children Zone and television stations were assessed some hefty fines for letting that through (on the East Coast of course. The West Coast never gets to hear the dirty words). The case made its way to the Supreme Court and they punted on the big issue of whether fleeting expletives of that type could be considered protected by the First Amendment. But they did rule in favor of the FCC in this particular case, which puts a bit of a cramp on live broadcasts in the Zone. Beeping out words on a seven-second broadcast delay is not as easy as people think.

Click to continue reading “Nobody is Getting Fined or Fired: A Brief History of Obscenity and Indecency”

2 comments September 28th, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 1

Welcome to this TV season’s Monday Morning Quarterback series, in which I review each new episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live with the relatively unique perspective that the show isn’t a horrible embarrassment. Theoretically, SNL should be riding high off of a highly rated 34th season, in which their election-season forays into prime-time produced some of NBC’s highest-rated scripted content all year. This is most clearly visible with this fall’s return of Weekend Update Thursday, that makeshift SNL appetizer that performed so well after The Office last year.

Of course, this year it’s a little different: the Thursday editions started up more than a week before the show proper, are scheduled for six solid weeks, and, perhaps most importantly, are not happening in the middle of a hotly contested national election. This, as well as their 8PM leadoff slot away from The Office and the canceled ER, probably accounts for the Thursday editions performing at normal-or-worse NBC Thursday levels, averaging around five million viewers for their first two broadcasts – about half the audience of last year’s installments. What’s more, Lorne Michaels decided to fire two cast members, Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins, over the summer – especially odd considering how much screen time Watkins got in her first year, with several recurring characters to call her own. Wilson’s departure is less surprising, though unfortunate, as she was funny (if underutilized). I’m far from immune to the charms of Abby Elliott, but it’s hard not to read her retention and the other ladies’ firing (and subsequent replacement with two younger women seemingly closer to the Abby Elliot mold) as a somewhat craven pandering for younger, prettier ladies.

So NBC may have been temporarily high on one of its most enduring properties, but even more secure seasons of SNL can’t escape that tumultuous, up-and-down, hot-and-cold variety show thing. For better or worse, and no matter how much they might actually want to, this show doesn’t really do victory laps. Coasting, maybe; victory laps just don’t get a chance.

Click to continue reading “Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 1”

September 28th, 2009

New show alert: Flashforward

Guess who’s going to be on TV tonight? Yeah, John Krasinski and Joel McHale, tall, hot and funny, whatever. The really important addition to Thursday nights is my beloved John Cho, who joins Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger, and Dominic Monaghan in ABC’s FlashForward, which starts tonight at 8.

Bro, I'm glad we suited up.

Bro, I'm glad we suited up.

John, whom some of you will insist on calling Harold from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle/Escape From Guantanamo Bay (or you could call him Mr. Sulu, that would be fine), is not making his first foray into TV. He had a recurring role on the short-lived and tragically underwatched but really quite enjoyable Kitchen Confidential in 2005, and he guest-starred on How I Met Your Mother in 2007.

In fact, I have been rewatching HIMYM on DVD for the past two weeks or so, and damn, but that is just a funny show. The older stuff (can you believe this is season 5? Me neither!) really holds up, and as someone whose stomach turns a little when couples baby-talk to each other, it amazes me that I’m still cool with the whole Lily-Marshall cooing-at-each-other thing. I think my goodwill toward them dates to the pilot, when they got engaged, had sex on the kitchen floor, and then, when Lily noticed a Pop Tart under the fridge, Marshall said, “Dibs.”

Anyway, there have been two weird coincidences in my rewatching. The first is the show’s deep love of Patrick Swayze. First, there was Barney’s co-opting of the Dirty Dancing story for his losing-my-virginity tale in season 2, then, the literal (offscreen) Swayze sighting in an episode I watched last night, the one in which John Cho seduces Marshall with Kobe lobster and Swayze into becoming an evil corporate lawyer. I find it some sort of strange cosmic error that I’m watching these now, a week after Swayze died.

The second coincidence is the Cho episode showing up the night before the FlashForward premiere. I will be honest, as much as I deeply loved Joseph Fiennes back in 1998, I have not given him much thought lately. And I have such lingering resentment against Lost for the two season I wasted on that show that I definitely wouldn’t give it a watch for Walger or Monaghan. But Cho? I love Cho. He makes everything better.

And this one time, he called me! That was great. His kid picked up the phone during the interview and started mashing buttons, which was adorable. So, FlashForward! Might be great, might not. I will give it a try.

2 comments September 24th, 2009

TVBC: Glee, True Blood, The Office, Survivor

blog-coalition-graphic.jpgNeed to brush up on what went down in The Office‘s last season? Take BuzzSugar‘s Season 5 quiz! (BuzzSugar)

When Survivor: Samoa ads boasted The Biggest Villain Ever, Scooter scoffed with thoughts of Richard Hatch in his head. But after one episode Russell did make it into the pantheon of Survivor villains. (Scooter McGavin’s 9th Green)

Things got really hot at the So You Think You Can Dance Phoenix auditions but got skintilatingly hot during the Top 14 Group dance on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. (Tapeworthy)

This week, Jace had an exclusive one-on-one interview with True Blood writer/executive producer Alan Ball the morning after the season finale and wrapped up the second season of the HBO vampire drama and took a look ahead to Season Three. (Televisionary)

They’re both dreamy, they’re both svelte, they’re both sharp dressers. But the real question is this: who would win in a dance-off between How I Met Your Mother‘s Neil Patrick Harris and Glee‘s Matthew Morrison. (TiFaux)

Sorry, The Office. No offense, 30 Rock. But Community may have replaced you both as the funniest show on TV. [TV Fanatic]

1 comment September 24th, 2009

Modern Family: Dare to dream

I don’t want to throw all of my support behind Modern Family — ABC’s new single-camera mockumentary-style comedy.  But I can safely say that I’d love to see it succeed.

The show features three families with various quirks — gay adoptive dads, a May-December couple and a family whose father is experiencing a mid-life crisis. The writing seems to have promise and the cast seems likable, so I’ll actually give it a shot — which is something I don’t say for a lot of comedies these days.

And while “likable” doesn’t tend to make for great comedies, at least it’s better than “formulaic” or “shrill” or “Jay Leno’s new talk show.”

Here’s a clip featuring the gay dads. Here’s hoping it lasts longer than the ill-fated gay dad sitcom It’s All Relative back in the early aughts.

The show airs on ABC at 9 tonight.

On a side note, it’s nice to see overweight gay men on television. Body dysmorphia, ho!!!

September 23rd, 2009

Something to watch tonight

Amy Poehler may not have won anything last night for SNL (although Kristin Chenoweth’s win was completely adorable and the most rewarding win of the night), but you can catch more of her tonight on Inside the Actor’s Studio.

While I would love any opportunity to see an hour-long interview with Amy (particularly with James Lipton as her overly serious foil), it’s a little odd that the show has gone from interviewing cinematic greats to less glamorous TV stars. Who happen to have shows on Bravo’s parent company — fishy…

Here’s a clip from the show (airs at 7 tonight) that contains the stuff of nightmares. I don’t want to spoil it, but James Lipton says something so weird and disturbing that you’ll need to take like four showers afterwards.

September 21st, 2009

Giveaway: How I Met Your Mother Season Four

himymWell, what week on TiFaux!  All sorts of activity on our sleepy little blog.  And to cap it off, I’ve got a pretty kickass giveaway.

You see, the fourth season of How I Met Your Mother is coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray on Sept. 29 and my secret lover Laurie from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has supplied me with a copy to give away.

I wish I had more to say about How I Met Your Mother. Because, to be honest, I consider it a darn good show that I don’t really get around to watching as much as I should.  Add that to the list of things I’m woefully ill-informed on — including international affairs, sports, or cocktail party etiquette (seriously, guys — don’t invite me over for a wine tasting. It never ends well, at least with my friends.).

Oh, I know what I can share about HIMYM! Here’s a hot picture of Neil Patrick Harris which — while it isn’t dirty dirty — you should probably get a lay of the land before looking at it at work.

But I digress. If you’d like to win this DVD, e-mail us at tifaux -at- gmail -dot- com with the subject line “Jeremy Piven’s not nominated this year!”

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

September 18th, 2009

The Emmys: What Should Win, According to Me

Obviously the most important thing about this year’s Emmys, airing this Sunday, is that Neil Patrick Harris is hosting. We’ll all be watching (except for Kyle, who is officially against award shows) to see him gently lampoon our heroes in song. But they’re also going to give out some awards! I know, I didn’t believe it at first either. I firmly believe that any time a deserving show gets an award it’s a fluke, so I have no hope that these selections will win — but here’s why they should.

Best Series, Drama

Big Love

Breaking Bad

Damages

Dexter

House

Lost

Mad Men

My Pick: Lost. If you stuck with Lost, you were rewarded with one of the tightest, most engrossing seasons yet. Also we should honor them before it ends and we all feel like we’ve been duped. As far as the competition goes, Damages was uneven this season, House is delightful but no one’s idea of a Best Series, and I don’t watch Mad Men. That being said, it’ll probably be Mad Men. Chance My Pick Will Win: 8%

Best Series, Comedy

30 Rock

Entourage

Family Guy

Flight Of The Conchords

How I Met Your Mother

The Office

Weeds

My Pick: How I Met Your Mother. I couldn’t decide between The Office and 30 Rock, so why not spread the love around to an underdog? This was a tough category, because 57% of these shows are absolutely amazing, 14% (Weeds) I don’t watch, and 29% are the worst shows on TV. Chance My Pick Will Win: 3%

Click to continue reading “The Emmys: What Should Win, According to Me”

2 comments September 18th, 2009

Tonight on the Tifaux

I’m too disheartened to look this up, but it’s probably been at least a year (perhaps two?) since I wrote a proper “Tonight on the Tifaux.” Now is not the time to get into a whole thing, but it’s clear from the underwhelming season coming up that the TV industry is taking its time recovering from the strike, and perhaps a full recovery will not be possible. We’ll have to scramble for good shows where we can and enjoy them for the fleeting moment that they survive (yes, I am still bitter that no one watched Kings).

communityBut tonight is different! Tonight marks the premiere of Joel McHale’s new NBC sitcom, Community. It was available on Facebook a few weeks ago and I watched it, and it is delightful. The cast is great — Joel, obviously, plus John Oliver as a teacher-buddy, Chevy Chase in a role that actually suits his self-importance, and a bunch of other comedy ringers — and the premise is a nice combination of cynical and real. Without the real, the cynical becomes too empty to take.

Joel is everywhere promoting this thing (and the opening of the great-looking Informant!, which he’s also in). But here’s a good interview with Joel, where he drops the nugget that the show’s creator also wrote the legendary Heat Vision and Jack pilot. Good to know, right? And here’s the NYT review, in which Alessandra Stanley gets it right but also ruins a bunch of funny jokes.

Also on tonight is the return of The Office (pregnant Pam) and Parks & Recreation (still giving it a chance), and the first of a handful of SNL Weekend Update Thursdays.

And if that weren’t enough (stop being so greedy!), there’s Project Runway. The saddest of many sad things about this latest boring season of Project Runway is that we don’t get Lifetime in HD, and while it bores us it looks hideous.

Enjoy these riches while you can! There’s nothing else to look forward to. And goodnight.

2 comments September 17th, 2009

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