Somebody's Webpage on Twitter Somebody's Webpage on Facebook
jump to navigation

A Long Overdue Update June 23, 2014

Posted by Ted in : Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crime Dramas, Dollhouse, General, Marvel's Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., Midseason, Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Reviews, The Mentalist, Whedonverse , add a comment

As our Earth continues to whirl around the sun, the only thing you can really count on is that things will change. Day turns to night, clothes go out of style, friends turn into strangers, old buildings are replaced with new ones, and phones become obsolete before you figure out how to use them. It’s a harsh state of affairs, and if you went to ask the old wise man on the mountaintop the reason for it, he would probably answer with some mysterious riddle, and you would say thanks and go back home, and then decide what he meant was that change is for your own good, because life would get boring if everything stayed the same. So, I suppose the thing for a person to do would be to somehow learn to enjoy change. Go with the flow. Roll with the punches. All of this is just a roundabout way of saying there have been some new developments in my life which have taken a toll on my blogging output recently.

Yes, I know it’s been a while. Not sure how many of you are keeping track of the frequency of my blog posts, but it brings me no pleasure to admit that it’s been nine months since new words graced the Crawlspace. “Why, that’s shocking,” you say. “No self-respecting blogger would post less than once a week.” Trust me, I’ve heard it all before. To keep your audience interested and growing, they say, you have to keep shoveling the new content. To be honest I’m not sure if I was ever a blogger in the first place. Most bloggers don’t think much about what they’re writing. Their words tend to go straight from their heads to their blog sites, with very little editing in between. I find it impossible to write that way. It takes me a long time to gather my thoughts and assemble them into a form that’s entertaining for other people to read.

On top of that, I’ve had a lot of things to distract from my writing in recent months. For example, after 15 years as a cashier at the Majik Market, I was finally promoted to assistant manager. Last year Nick, the other assistant manager, had to go out of town for one of his chess tournaments, and Rajnish decided to promote me so I could cover Nick’s shifts. I was reluctant to accept the position at first, because I knew it would bring longer hours and more responsibility, but I figured what the hell, I’m not getting any younger, and my sometimes-girlfriend Sierra seemed impressed when I told her about it.

My actual job duties have changed very little since my promotion. I’m still mostly just a cashier, but I have to come in a couple of extra days a week to order merchandise and help with the paperwork. My slight upgrade in pay and social status has got me feeling a little more optimistic about my future, and I’ve been wondering if it might be time to move out of Mom’s basement and get my own place. Then again, the rent here is cheap and Mom doesn’t seem to mind having me around to help with the yard work and whatnot.

I guess the deciding factor in staying or leaving would be Sierra, who remains the mystery woman in my life. We met at the convenience store a couple of years ago, and have been dating off and on since then, but our relationship status is still anyone’s guess. We have had a lot of fun going on dates and watching TV here in the basement. She always seems interested in my life, but I still don’t know much about hers. It’s always her idea to call or come over. She never answers her phone when I call, and sometimes I don’t hear from her for weeks. I don’t know where she lives, and when I ask her she just laughs and jokingly says she doesn’t know me well enough to tell me that, for all she knows I could be serial killer or something. I went by the restaurant one time where she said she works as hostess and they said they didn’t know any Sierra. Then she told me she doesn’t work there anymore, because she got a job at a law office somewhere. As you would expect, some of my friends have been saying that she’s just using me and that I should stay away from her because she could have five other boyfriends or be a drug addict or a criminal or who knows what. They might have good reason to be thinking those things, but I don’t want to believe any of it because she’s beautiful and I fall in love with her a little more whenever we’re together.

We’ve had another frequent guest here at Mom’s house for the last few months. It turns out that Sierra has an 8-year-old son named Garrett and he’s been spending a lot of time here with me when she goes out of town to visit her sister in Pittsburgh or has to work late at the office. Now, as you might have guessed, I’ve never thought of myself as being good with kids, and might have been freaked out about the situation, but I get along well with Garrett and we’ve been having lots of fun. Actually, I feel kind of honored that Sierra has trusted me to spend time with her son. Mom likes him too, and has given me lots of moral support. She said that this is a good chance for me to develop my parenting skills.

Normally, when I’m not working, I like to chill out on the couch and watch TV, but that doesn’t happen much when Garrett is around. He’s always full of energy, and constantly wants to go places and do new and interesting things. We’ve been to the movies, the amusement park, the racetrack, the planetarium, and a couple of baseball games. We have also logged a lot of time on the video game console. Sierra says she doesn’t want him playing anything too violent, but the games in my old Super Nintendo collection are pretty tame compared to today’s offerings. I’m guessing he would rather play the latest action-packed Playstation or Xbox games like his friends play, with titles like Morbid Enemy 7: The Reckoning, and War Patriot 2014: Operation Valiant Cougar, but so far he hasn’t complained.

Aside from the video games, Garrett doesn’t have much interest in TV, except for some of those Toonzai cartoons that come on Saturday morning. When I get engrossed in one of my TV shows, he goes upstairs and hangs out with Mom. He helps her with the dishes and she has taught him several card games. He also plays with our old dog Randy who lives in the backyard. Garrett tries to get him to chase sticks or a frisbee and usually Randy just lays there on the porch and looks at him like he’s crazy.

You might have thought I would find out more about Sierra by spending time with her son, but you would be wrong. Whenever I ask him anything about her, he says, “I’m not supposed to tell you that.” I have considered the possibility that she’s involved with the CIA or black ops or something crazy like that, and that she could even be gathering information about me for some secret mission. I asked Garrett one time, “You know you and your mother are making me paranoid, right?”  He just replied, “Don’t worry, she likes you a lot.” Mom says I should let Sierra have her space and not worry too much about her. So, hearing that from them, I feel better about things. I’ve got an attractive girlfriend, and it’s not the perfect situation, but fairy tales are the only places where problem-free relationships exist.

Well, that’s what’s been going on with me lately. Here are some thoughts on a couple of TV shows from the 2013-2014 season which is drawing to a close as summer approaches:

The Mentalist – The sixth season brought the long-awaited end to Patrick Jane’s search for Red John, the demented serial killer who claimed the lives of Jane’s wife and kids several years ago. Our teacup-wielding hero, without disheveling his hair or rumpling his sport coat, calmly strangled the villain, and then set off for two years of R&R on a Caribbean Island. The end of the Red John saga brought some ambitious changes to the show. After the disbanding of the California Bureau of Investigation and a two-year fast forward, three of the characters, including Jane, Lisbon, and Cho, are working together again as FBI agents, with Rigsby and Van Pelt leaving the show after getting married and starting their own high-tech security service. Yet another big shake-up toward the end of this mother-of-all Mentalist seasons: looks like Patrick and Teresa are finally going to take their long-standing platonic relationship to the next level and give the love thing a try. That should be interesting.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – This Once Upon a Time spinoff was the only new show of the season that I got really attached to. It had a totally likable cast and some great romantic sub-plots. In my opinion, it was a lot more engaging than its parent show, due in no small part to the smaller number of characters. Instead of trying to include every fairytale character of all time like its forbearer, OUATIW focused instead on just a handful from the Lewis Carroll books, along with the unlikely inclusion of Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin movies. The evil sorcerer, as played by Naveen Andrews of Lost fame, ranks as one of the all-time great TV villains in my opinion. I didn’t understand the need to cram the whole name of the parent show into the title. “Wonderland” would have been a lot catchier and easier to say to your friend there at the water cooler or in the coal mine. Sadly, we won’t be getting another season of this show. Ted’s curse has struck again. It was cancelled by ABC the day after I liked it on Facebook.

Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. – What to say about producer Joss Whedon’s latest incursion into television? It seems a lot more focused than Dollhouse, his previous effort, and having the watchful eyes of Marvel Comics looking over his shoulder has probably also contributed to the quality of the show. This was one of my girlfriend’s favorites of the last season. Sierra, like me, is a big Buffy/Angel fan from way back. I watched a couple of episodes of the new show with her, but I have mixed feelings about it. It’s hard for me to warm up to this bunch of government secret agents who keep tabs on various super-powered individuals. I can’t figure out who the good characters are supposed to be, if there are any. Coulson, the main agent guy, seems hopelessly smug and aloof. You can’t just slap a protagonist up there and expect me to like him. You’ve got to give me reasons to like that person, so that I care about their story. I realize that some of the ambiguity of the SHEILD characters may be intentional, given the questionable nature of their employment. Overall, this is not a bad show at all. In fact, I’m contemplating the first-season DVD as I type this.

 

New Shows That Might Be Good and Stuff September 9, 2013

Posted by Ted in : 1600 Penn, 30 Rock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crime Dramas, CW, General, Hannibal, Heroes, Lost, Lucky 7, Marvel's Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., NBC, Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Reality TV, Reviews, Ringer, Sci-Fi, Siberia, Sleepy Hollow, Terra Nova, The 100, The Blacklist, The Crazy Ones, The River, The Tomorrow People, The X-Files, Uncategorized, Whedonverse , add a comment

Wow, the 2013 Fall TV season really snuck up on me this year, so I apologize for not getting this posted sooner. I’ll spare you the excuses. Since I haven’t written in a while, first I’ll say a few words about last season’s shows.

As I might have mentioned last time, I’ve started to question my faith in network television over the last couple of years, with so many great new shows getting axed after one season or even half a season. Earlier in the year, two more favorites, 666 Park Ave. and 1600 Penn were tossed into the TV mass grave with the corpses of The River, Terra Nova, and Ringer.

666 Park Avenue, in spite of its campy name, turned out to be one of my all-time favorites. I think if more people had given it a chance, it would still be with us. ABC delivered the final four episodes during the summer, as promised, and the show’s writers managed to wrap the whole thing up in a way that provided closure to the fans. The ending was a suitably dark leap ahead in the show’s timeline, showing us the destiny of characters in this creepy-but-fun drama. If you have a taste for the supernatural genre, this is definitely one to get on DVD (or to watch on Netflix or whatever. I fully realize that the trend of technology is away from physical ownership and toward internet cloud-based storage and consumption. Kind of depressing, really. We’ll be sitting in our empty houses with no DVDs or CDs or books, glued like addicts to our wireless electronic devices. Not to mention, all the music, movie, and book stores will be put out of business in the process. Is there any way I can opt out of the future?)

 

666-park-ave-19

Jane tries to figure out what happened to her show.

 

1600 Penn – NBC has come up with a lot of terrible sitcoms in recent years, but this show about a fictitious US president and his family was a winner in my book. Jenna Elfman co-starred as the first lady, and exuded a kind of warm, cub scout den-mother likability (and she looks pretty stunning for her age, I might add.) The adult son’s lovable-goofball antics in a White House setting seemed like a witty enough premise, but America has once again disagreed. Yet another great show cancelled after half a season. Somebody tell me again how the hideously terrible 30 Rock lasted so long.

Siberia – Just when I was sure there would never be another show as good as 666 Park Avenue, NBC aired this amazing serial drama during the summer. It tells the tale of a Survivor-style reality show that turns incredibly weird. The first few episodes are presented in the style of a reality show, which may have had some people mistaking it for the real thing. Siberia is also similar to Lost in many ways, but is more coherent and suspenseful. It keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The writing, acting, and directing are all top notch. I can already tell from the mania in various blog comment sections that this show is destined for cult status.

Too bad NBC made the highly questionable decision to run the show in the same time slot as the CBS series Under the Dome, which is based on the Stephen King book of the same name and has been killing Siberia in the ratings. I would probably be watching the show too, but I made a rule that, as a Stephen King fan, I wouldn’t watch any TV show or movie based on one of his books until I’ve read the book first. Anyway, I think most of the Under the Dome fans would love Siberia if they were aware of its existence. For the last couple years there’s been a lot of great shows to get iced before their time was due, but I think I’m really gonna be sick to my stomach if Siberia doesn’t get at least one more season.

 

 siberia-05

 Sam and Daniel await cancellation on Siberia

 

Hannibal – This dark crime-thriller featuring the famous movie cannibal debuted back in April on NBC. I watched an episode to see if I could keep my cookies down. I was in luck. This version of Hannibal is suave and stylish. He doesn’t tear at his victims’ bodies like a wild animal, but instead converts them into tasty culinary creations and shares them with unsuspecting dinner guests. By day the devious foodie works as a forensic psychiatrist who aids the FBI in tracking down serial killers, and his profiler friend Will sometimes gets lost in his visions and turns to Hannibal for support. Another factor influencing watchability is Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame in a recurring role as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. (Were you aware that psychiatrists have psychiatrists? I wasn’t either, but I could probably use one of my own after watching this show.) Hannibal has been renewed for a second season that will begin in 2014.

 

Here’s a quick rundown of new shows that might be good in the upcoming 2013 Fall season:

Sleepy Hollow (Premieres Monday, Sept. 16th on FOX) – As the name implies, this is a TV adaptation of the famous story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. I’m assuming this modern-day interpretation will be a prequel of sorts, which takes place before Ichabod Crane’s fateful meeting with the Headless Horseman.

The Blacklist (Premieres Monday, Sept. 23rd on NBC) – James Spader plays an enigmatic crime boss who turns himself in to the FBI, then offers to rat out various big players in the crime world, but, for some unknown reason, will communicate only with rookie agent Elizabeth Keen. As you might know, I’m not big on the crime shows, but I will at least check out the premiere of this one.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. (Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 on ABC) – Despite the severely clunky title, this comic book-derived action drama could be one of the better new shows of the season. Why? It is co-written and co-produced by Buffy mastermind Joss Whedon, who has been having big success with the superhero movies in recent years. Expect lots of wisecracking and fight scenes.

Lucky 7 (Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 on ABC) – This one has a premise I can relate to: It deals with the lives of seven convenience store workers after they win a lottery jackpot. It’s based on a British show called The Syndicate. Maybe we’ll get lucky with this one. I suppose it’s a good sign that Stephen Spielberg is listed as a co-producer, along with ER‘s David Zabel. Then again, it seems like Spielberg’s name is on all the shows these days. He’s either cloned himself or he’s world’s biggest workaholic.

 

lucky7-13

Breakin’ out the bubbly on Lucky 7

 

The Crazy Ones (Premieres Thursday, Sept. 26 on CBS) – Sarah Michelle Gellar has risen from the ashes of the sort-lived Ringer and teamed up with legend Robin Williams in this new Office-style single-camera comedy. I would have preferred to see her in some type of supernatural or sci-fi thing, but I’ll take this as a consolation prize. Who knows, it could fly. Gellar’s comic sensibilities were part of what made Buffy such a huge hit. This girl desperately needs a second hit show, so maybe the viewers will smile down upon this one. In case you were wondering, this is Robin Williams’ first regular TV series role since Mork and Mindy wrapped up back in 1982! Let’s hope Robin is as good at picking TV roles as he is at picking movie roles.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Premieres Thursday, Oct. 10 on ABC) – As you might have guessed, this is a spin-off of ABC’s excellent fairytale drama Once Upon a Time which focuses on the characters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice will have a love interest in this version — a genie named Cyrus. Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) was originally cast as the voice of the White Rabbit, but has been replaced by John Lithgow. Alice learned that curiosity can lead you to some really weird places, and hopefully the CGI effects in this live-action drama will do her adventures justice. Strangely, there’s no word on who will play the Mad Hatter.

Dracula (Premieres Friday, Oct. 25 on NBC) – NBC has finally clambered onto the vampire bandwagon with this reboot of the well-worn Bram Stoker novel. One good sign: It will be co-written by Daniel Knauf, creator of the critically acclaimed HBO show Carnivàle which aired a few years back (which I haven’t actually seen, due to my ongoing lack of access to cable television.)

The 100 (Scheduled to premiere on The CW as a midseason show in 2014) – The CW must have heard my prayers, they are cooking up two new sci-fi shows for us this season. This one is summarized by TV Guide as follows: “Nearly a century after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, a spaceship sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing.” Sounds like fun, right?

The Tomorrow People (Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 9 on The CW) – If you loved Heroes, this could be the antidote for your aching heart. The Tomorrow People, based on a British TV show of the same name, has more than a few parallels to the ill-fated NBC superhero drama. It tells the story of several young mutants from around the world with various supernatural powers, and is written and co-produced by Phil Klemmer, who wrote several episodes of Chuck and Veronica Mars, of all things.

 

Holiday Visitors Pt.2 February 24, 2012

Posted by Ted in : Crime Dramas, Holiday Posts, Smallville , add a comment

OK, this is going to be a really long post, but the story about what happened to me last Christmas is just too weird not to finish.

Back in December, I started to wonder if my previous post had put the jinx on things with my new sometimes-girlfriend Sierra. It was almost Christmas and I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of weeks. After leaving her several voicemail messages, she finally called me and said she would come over on Christmas Eve. I was looking forward to that night, and hoped for a little cuddle time, but she failed to materialize or even call, and I was left to drink my eggnog alone and stare at the lights on my little Christmas tree.

A few days after that disappointment, she finally called and apologized for the no-show. Sierra said she found out at the last minute that she had to go to Pittsburgh to visit some relatives with her sister. She was going to call me the day before Christmas and fill me in on the situation, but the battery in her cell phone went dead. She lost track of time, and after that was too embarrassed to call because she thought I would be upset.

It’s true that I was pretty sore with her up until that belated call, but man-oh-man did she make up for it on New Year’s Eve. We hit just about every bar in Louisville that night, said hello to some friends — mostly hers — and what came after that is kind of a blur, except that there was lots of drunken dancing and sloppy kisses around midnight.

We’ve had a couple of dates since then, but it appears that Sierra has gone back into hiding just in time for Valentine’s Day. I’m still not sure what the status of our relationship is, or even where she lives, for that matter.

Anyway, for the reasons I just outlined, it was not such a great Christmas here in the crawlspace, and Santa Claus might have found my body lying cold and still on the floor that night if it hadn’t been for a weird distraction that made me forget about my girlfriend situation for a while.

It was around 10:00 p.m. when it started to sink in that Sierra wasn’t going show up. I was alone in the house for the evening; mom had gone to visit her parents in Chicago, and wasn’t due back until the following afternoon. So, I turned on the TV and watched the middle of It’s a Wonderful Life for what was probably the tenth time, and drifted off to sleep on the couch.

Around midnight I was woken up by a series of loud bumps from upstairs. I turned off the TV and sat listening for a minute. There was another short burst of footsteps, followed by silence. Somebody, or something, was up there. It was possible that Mom had returned early from her trip, but just to be on the safe side I grabbed my canister of pepper spray and went to investigate.

I snuck quietly up the basement stairs and opened the door, half expecting to see jolly old St. Nick with his bag of toys. The lights in the dining room and kitchen were all still turned off. I called out, “Mom?” but got no reply. Then I walked into the living room, and saw a man crouching behind Mom’s Christmas tree. His sweaty, grimacing face was illuminated by the colorful lights.

Before I could react, he leapt forward like a wild man, knocking down the tree and then tripping over it. He came crashing down on the floor, and growled with inhuman rage as he wrestled around with the fallen tree. Finally, he stopped struggling and got up off the floor. It was Jack Bauer.

“What the hell are you doing here?!” I demanded to know.

“I should ask you the same thing, Crawlspace! Although it doesn’t really surprise me to find you cavorting in the home of a known terrorist!”

“Known terrorist? This is my mother’s house, and you’re trespassing! I should call the police!”

He grinned psychotically. “Go ahead. You think they can stop me? I’m Jack freakin’ Bauer!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Your hands are registered weapons and all that stuff. We’ll see how dangerous you are with a face full of pepper spray.”

Jack eyed my can of spray with a look of apprehension. His tone became more conciliatory.

“Look, I know you’re still ticked off because I roughed you up a little at our interview a couple of years ago, and I don’t blame you for that. I was pretty drunk, and I got carried away.”

“Yeah, the waterboarding was a little over the top. So, you’re back for more? You thought you would drop by and ruin my Christmas again?”

“Nah, I’m not after you this time. You’re small potatoes compared to this Mary Crawford character. Uh… did you just say she’s your mother?”

“Yes, I did, and there’s no way she’s a terrorist. She’s a well respected person in this community and she’s lived in this house for 20 years. She despises all forms of crime and terror, and she’s even a member of the local Neighborhood Watch group. And look at this…”

I directed Jack’s attention to Mom’s extensive crime-drama DVD collection which filled up about half of a wall-sized bookcase. He gazed with interest at the various seasons of Law and Order, CSI, Bones, NCIS, NYPD Blue, and about a dozen other shows. He pulled out the first season of 24 and held it reverently in his hands for a minute.

“You know, I see what you mean about your mother. She seems like a very smart, responsible lady. I guess it’s possible that I’ve obtained faulty information.”

He apologized for breaking in, and for knocking over the tree. We got the tree set back up with all the lights and ornaments in place, and I invited him down to the basement for some eggnog. We went downstairs and Bauer started to explain how he had obtained my mother’s name in relation to an international terror plot.

He revealed that he had recently started a private defense organization called World Alliance of Heroes (WAH) along with an old friend named Mickey Stern, who was a former Air Force pilot. They obtained funding from several wealthy donors who were concerned about global security and were familiar with Bauer’s get-it-done reputation as a covert operation specialist.

In addition to Mickey, Jack also recruited Antoine Le Sueur, a martial arts expert with a fondness for spandex tights, which he wanted to be the official WAH uniform, but was vetoed by Jack and Mickey.

“So who’s your tech person?” I asked. “Is Chloe O’Brian part of the team?”

“No, I couldn’t get in touch with her,” Jack replied. “The last I heard, she left CTU for a job as programming consultant for a company called Zynga. Takes home several million a year. She doesn’t even return my calls anymore.”

“I know how that is,” I interjected. “So what did you do?”

“We got the next best thing: Chloe Sullivan, long time friend of Clark Kent.”

“Wow! How’d you pull that off?”

“We contacted her because we wanted to use Superman’s old headquarters, known as The Watchtower. She rented it to us at a rate that’s less outrageous than you would think. The place is decked out in state-of-the-art computer technology, which only Sullivan knows how to operate. She was nostalgic for her days of working with superheroes, so she signed on as our computer expert.”

Jack paused and said, “I’ve got something out in the car that might improve this eggnog a little bit.” He went out through the basement door and returned a couple of minutes later with a fifth of Canadian Mist. He continued his story as he topped off his eggnog glass with whiskey and then did the same to mine.

After receiving a request from his WAH patrons to gather intelligence in the South American region, Bauer parachuted into the Amazon jungle with his trusty HK416 assault rifle and a backpack full of survival gear. He spent a couple of weeks there, getting information from the natives and honing his survival skills.

He hitched a ride to Rio de Janeiro in the back of a banana truck after getting a tip about a crime operation there, and started working undercover at a casino. One night at the roulette table, he met a beautiful Russian double agent who called herself Tasha Babinski. During their brief romantic entanglement, she told him about an international terrorist plot against the United States which involved the governments of Russia, Iran, Finland, Luxembourg, Mozambique, Tajikistan, and swaths of Micronesia, along with several Mexican drug cartels and a couple of radical professors at Berkeley.

Tasha then helped him to stow away on a Russian submarine which was setting out on a trans-Atlantic ocean voyage to the Middle East. He got onboard and hid in the supply closet for a couple of weeks, occasionally kicking butt whenever a crew member discovered him there. Bauer snuck into the captain’s quarters one day and found a suspicious database of names on his laptop computer, which Jack copied to a thumb drive.

That database, he explained, contained my mother’s name, which caught his attention because he had already heard her name mentioned by a couple of other underground sources.

Bauer was eventually discovered and subdued by several crew members, after which they brought the submarine to the surface and threw Jack overboard. He swam for a distant coastline for a couple of hours, and was near exhaustion when he was rescued by some very casually-dressed men in a fishing boat who turned out to be Somali pirates.

Upon learning their identity, Jack feared that he would spend the rest of his life in a Mogadishu prison, but the Somalis recognized him from his TV show and agreed to let him go if he posed with them for some photographs.

Then Mickey picked him up in his plane, and they flew back home to the US, where Jack did a little research to find the whereabouts of Mary Crawford, which finally led him to my mother’s house.

He reiterated that he thought my mother was either the wrong Mary Crawford, or somebody involved with the terrorist plot was using her name.

“So,” I said, “here you are working on Christmas Eve, huh?

“Yeah, or I was, but now I guess it’s back to the old drawing board.”

The conversation came to a lull, so I asked if he was up for a little Super Nintendo, and then put in the Mario Kart cartridge at his request. It was apparently his favorite game, and he beat me in every match except one.

Around the time I started sipping my fifth specially-mixed eggnog, I could feel myself sinking back on the couch and into unconsciousness. Bauer didn’t even seem to notice that I had dropped my controller. He was still laughing maniacally, thoroughly engrossed in the game.

When I awoke it was Christmas morning, and Bauer was gone. He had left one of his WAH business cards on the coffee table. On the back he had scribbled the words, “Thanks for the hospitality. I’ll keep you posted on any new developments.”

 

Learning to Coexist with CBS October 22, 2011

Posted by Ted in : Amazing Race, Big Bang Theory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CBS, Crime Dramas, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, News Programs, Person of Interest, Reviews, The Mentalist, Two and a Half Men , 3comments

CBS has recently billed itself as “America’s Most Watched Network.” Really? The thought that this could be possible is slightly mind-boggling. Am I that out of touch with my native country?

For the past decade or so, I have tended to lump all of CBS’ programming into a category I call “Loads of Pointless Crap.” The chief component of this catagory is that ever-existing, never-changing staple of network television, the crime drama. CBS never met a crime drama it didn’t like. The network currently has eleven of them in their prime-time lineup. This includes three different versions of CSI and two of NCIS. For the sake of fairness, I decided to check out a couple of the network’s currently airing crime dramas.

Person of Interest

This is a new show, and based on early reviews, I anticipated that this J. J. Abrams twist on the crime genre might be worth watching. It has a semi-interesting sci-fi twist, and features both Michael Emerson of Lost fame and Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus a few years back. The show follows the adventures of former CIA agent John Reese, who gets information about bad guys from his billionaire boss who has a crime predicting supercomputer. He also gets into a lot of gunfights and car crashes and that kind of thing. Caviezel has the Clint-Eastwood-whispering-badass persona down to a T, if you’re into that vigilante-type thing. Reese’s boss, Mr. Finch, lacks the flair and depth of Benjamin Linus, Emerson’s character on his previous show, Lost. This is not a terrible show, but not one I feel bad about missing. Maybe I’ll watch it a couple more times, but life is short. I’ve got places to see and people to be.

The Mentalist

After my unremarkable viewing of the Person of Interest premiere, I found myself watching The Mentalist for the first time. This is a very laid-back, less predictable take on the detective genre. The lead character is tea-sipping Patrick Jane, a former psychic entertainer, who now uses his mental trickery to solve crimes. He’s also trying to track down a guy named Red John who killed his wife and daughter. This show is so well-written it makes me forget I’m watching a crime drama. Score one point for the network.

CBS is also the home of various popular sitcoms, which I try to avoid watching at all costs. Here are my thoughts on a few of them:

Big Bang Theory

This seems like a show I should be able to relate to, with its underlying nerd theme. But let’s face it, no self-respecting nerd wants to see himself portrayed as a social reject who can’t get laid, no matter how true that may be. Nerds prefer to think of themselves as suave, mysterious James-Bond types that nobody can figure out. This is one of the things that made Benjamin Linus from Lost a nerd hero of the ages. He may have been a flop with the ladies, but he was the one running the whole show. Not only could he play Rachmaninoff on the piano, he could also kick butt when necessary. Big Bang Theory, by comparison, only rubs salt into the wounds and reinforces negative stereotypes. Of course, that observation is only based on the ten minutes I’ve spent watching the show, so correct me if I’m wrong.

How I Met Your Mother

Here’s my problem with How I Met Your Mother: Alyson Hannigan will always be Willow to me, and Neil Patrick Harris will always be Doogie Howser. I really don’t want to see them as crusty, jaded adults. I also don’t get the premise of the show. The title sounds like a nostalgic story of how a couple fell in love and got married. I have no idea which character is supposed to be the mother, or who is meeting her, and I don’t even care enough to look it up on Wikipedia.

 

Neil and Alyson of yesteryear

Two and a Half Men

This is the sitcom equivalent of Darth Vader, with syndicated episodes popping up on every channel at all times of the day, grabbing you by the throat and beating you into unconsciousness with a barrage of manly-man humor. I could never quite figure out which character was the half man — the drunk womanizer, the groveling loser brother, or the kid. Sadly, the show had to part ways with wonderful Charlie Sheen, so it looks like I’ll be watching it even less than I did before, now that the equally wonderful Ashton Kutcher has replaced him (hope you caught my sarcasm there). This begs the question, is it possible to watch a show a negative number of times? Looks like my hatred for this program may have warped the laws of physics.

I guess at this point I should try to find a couple of good things to say about CBS. I’ll definitely be watching The Mentalist some more. The Amazing Race was always pretty good — I’ll probably watch that some more too. And let’s not forget about all those great CBS shows of the past like Jericho and…The Dukes of Hazzard and…Touched by an Angel?

CBS Evening News

Back in the 90s I was a fan of Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, who started in 1981 as the successor of the famous anchorman Walter Cronkite. Dan had a deadpan delivery and dry wit, and gave the impression of having something approximating journalistic integrity. He was forced out in 2005 after being accused of reporting a false story about George W. Bush’s military service record. Rather was replaced by Katie Couric, who wasn’t bad, but seemed out of place behind the anchor desk. She looked a lot happier covering parades on the Today show.

Katie stepped down in May of this year, and was replaced by Scott Pelley, who worked for CBS News for several years before landing the anchor chair. Now, I’m not saying that Pelley lacks integrity, but I’m guessing that his typical workday as anchorman consists of the following routine: He calls up one of the conservative think tanks and asks them what information he should be reporting that night. They fax the script over to him, then, he spends several hours calling all of CBS’ sponsors to make sure none of the news stories are offensive to them. This usually results in most of the day’s news being deleted and replaced with various types of filler about dogs and people-making-a-difference segments. Keep up the good work, Scott. I’ll be watching Brian Williams on NBC, who probably isn’t much better, but at least seems sincere.

Ted’s Fall TV Preview 2011 August 14, 2011

Posted by Ted in : 30 Rock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crime Dramas, CW, Dollhouse, FOX, Fringe, General, Grimm, NBC, nikita, Parks and Recreation, Person of Interest, Reviews, Ringer, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Terra Nova, The Event, The Office, Whedonverse , 5comments

If you believe the ancient Mayans, or the latest news reports on the economy for that matter, this could be the last full season of television before the world ends. I can’t think of a better excuse to kick back, let my calls go to voicemail, and renew my commitment to lethargically gazing for hours into the idiot box. Yes, the fall premiere season is almost upon us, and we can be grateful that the networks have once again managed to cook up a handful of new shows that might be good, and are bringing back some favorite established programs for a new season.

Here are some new shows I’ll be watching:

Ringer

Featuring the long-awaited return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to her native network (The CW, formerly The WB), where she not only stars as a pair of identical twins, but also executive co-produces the show. Ringer is described as a drama-thriller about a woman, Bridget, who is on the run from the mob, and takes over her twin sister’s life after the sister disappears. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Ringer turned out to be better than Joss Whedon’s recent two-season flop Dollhouse? Then we might realize that all that time we were worshipping Whedon, Gellar was the real power behind the Buffy throne. That’s probably a stretch, but this show is first on my must-watch list this season, if only for nostalgia’s sake.

 

 

Grimm

Maybe this is NBC’s consolation prize for those of us who were hoping that last season’s sci-fi thriller, The Event, would be worth a crap and would not get the ax after one season. Grimm is described on Wikipedia as a “dark fantasy,” and has a premise eerily similar to a certain CW show: “A homicide detective learns that he is a descendant of a group of hunters known as ‘Grimms,’ who fight to keep the balance of humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world.” Maybe NBC has finally realized that supernatural-themed shows are — gasp! — profitable. The prospects for Grimm are more than a little iffy, however, given NBC’s record on these kinds of outings, but there’s one clear sign that it might be more than a blatant Supernatural rip-off: David Greenwalt, who was executive producer of the Buffy spin-off Angel, as well as the short-lived but excellent paranormal show called Miracles, is an executive producer for Grimm. Cross your fingers out there, fans of things that go bump in the night.

Person of Interest

I generally avoid crime dramas like the plague — except when Mom forces me to watch one of her horrible Law and Order DVDs — but Person of Interest has a science-fiction twist and is produced by J.J. Abrams of Lost and Fringe fame, which is just enough of an alteration of the standard formula to push the show onto my “must-watch” list — for a couple of episodes, anyway. According to my sources, the plot involves “a mysterious billionaire who has developed a computer program that predicts future crime victims.” Could be interesting, I suppose. You gotta love those mysterious billionaires, putting all that money and free time to such good use and keeping America safe. I’m just wondering what kind of crimes the computer program predicts. Shoplifting, jaywalking, and that kind of thing? Entering a restaurant without shoes and a shirt, maybe?

Terra Nova

This is Fox’s latest sci-fi effort, in which a group of people in the year 2149 time travel back to the era of the dinosaurs to escape the end of the world. Hey, sounds like a good plan to me. I mean, why bother trying to fix your problems when you can just jump in a time machine and go hang out with the Flintstones? To be honest, Terra Nova sounds like a train wreck, but as a self-professed connoisseur of all things sci-fi and fantasy, I feel obligated to watch. Time travel, in general, has gotten to be the most over-used premise in sci-fi television for the last few years. Personally, I have never believed that time travel is even possible. I look at it like this: The past and the future don’t really exist — they’re just abstract concepts that help us understand our lives. How can you travel to a place that doesn’t exist? You can’t. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

Getting back to my topic, Terra Nova sounds an awful lot like the old Saturday-morning show Land of the Lost. It remains to be seen if a prime-time audience will love the dinosaurs as much as kids in the 1970s did. Steven Spielberg is listed as one of 10 “executive producers.” His actual level of involvement with the show, I’m guessing, is somewhere between slim and none. They probably just called him up and offered him some money, and when he replied “uh…,” that was enough input to slap his name in the credits. Steven, your check for 10 million is in the mail…not that you’ll be looking for it.

I know what you’re saying: “Those sound like great new shows, Ted, but what about returning old shows? Tell me about those! More specifically, which ones will you be watching?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

Nikita

After avoiding this for a long time, I finally watched an episode and found it fairly entertaining. It’s about a rogue government agent, who generally kicks butt, rights wrongs and sneaks around in tight spandex. Starring the Hawaiian-born model Maggie Q, Nikita is sort of a cross between 24 and Dollhouse that takes itself less seriously than either. It will be taking Smallville’s old slot before Supernatural on Friday nights, which means I probably won’t miss an episode.

Supernatural

Somehow, over the years, this has become my favorite show. It seems to fulfill the same psychological need as Buffy or Angel, which might be something along the lines of “the struggle for personal power and sanity in a hostile world.” Also, the low-class, gritty vibe of the thing makes me feel a lot cooler than I actually am.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Rec has been steadily closing in on The Office as NBC’s best sitcom. Sometimes it gets a little close to chick territory, with the various romantic entanglements, but otherwise, it’s consistently intelligent, funny, and original. In other words, the anti-30 Rock.

The Office (Mini-spoiler ahead!)

Steve Carrell has set sail for the land of bad romantic comedies. It will be interesting to see whether the show withers or blossoms without him (I’m hoping for the later — Michael Scott was never one of my favorite characters). Also, Pam will be carrying Halpert baby number two at the start of the season.

Fringe

Peter never existed, according to those bald guys in fedoras and suits. I assumed this was an elaborate way of writing Joshua Jackson out of the show, but according to the show’s producers, he’s still on the payroll.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve been kind of frustrated with this show lately. Time travel and alternate universe doppelgangers and blah blah blah. I’m just not buying it. I’m also going risk the wrath of Fringedom and say that I find Walter to be incredibly annoying. Sure, he was amusing for the first couple of seasons, but there’s only so much drug-induced babbling in a Shakespearian accent that a person can take. Forget all those exotic diseases — Walter needs to find an antidote to himself.

 

 

How to improve Fringe? The same way any show could be improved: Forget the complex plot gimmicks and special effects and focus more on the characters. Bring them to life. Make me care about them. That’s all there is to it.

That wraps up my fall preview for 2011. Hopefully, some of the shows mentioned above will spiritually prepare you to meet your maker if those end-of-the-world rumors turn out to be true, or will at least drown out the screams while the earth is overrun with four-headed dragons, scary bat-like creatures, giant lions with pharaoh heads, machine-gun toting gorillas on skateboards, and vacuum cleaners that come on and vacuum by themselves.

 

Crawlspace Confidential February 20, 2011

Posted by Ted in : Crime Dramas, General, Lost, Sci-Fi, Snacks , 2comments

Hello, fans. No, your eyes don’t deceive you, it’s a new and exciting post on the newly renovated T.V. Crawlspace. Yes, I played around with the theme and the styling, changed the colors and whatnot. I think it’s pretty spiffy looking. Here’s what the blog used to look like.

You may remember that in my very first blog post a couple of years ago I insinuated that I live in the crawlspace under my mother’s house. Well, I should probably come clean and admit it’s not really a crawlspace, it’s actually a small basement that my mother rents to me for $150 a month. You see, I really named my blog T.V. Crawlspace because my name is Ted V. Crawford. It seemed like a clever play on my name, and it nicely reflected the state of my current living arrangement. So now you know. I repeat, I don’t live in a crawlspace, so you can stop sending me all those emails asking me about my health and personal hygiene. I’ll have you know, Mom lets me shower in the upstairs bathroom once a week whether I need it or not. Ba-boom, crash.

A few of you, I’m sure, are wondering when I’m going to start writing more again. Somebody, the editor-in-chief of this blog’s parent website, has also been wondering. He called me this morning and we had a lengthy phone conversation about that very subject. When the phone rang I had just gotten into bed an hour earlier, after returning home from my graveyard shift at Majik Market, and I was too dazed to understand what he was saying at first. I began to wake up a little bit when the yelling started. “Two blog posts in a year?!! What’s up with that, Ted? This is the last time I’m going to tell you. You have to give me a post at least every two months! Can you handle that? ‘Cause if you can’t then my neighbor’s got a 10 year old niece who’s submitted me 1003 pages of insightful commentary about Glee and Vampire Diaries.”

I rubbed my eyes and told him what he wanted to hear. “OK, OK. It’ll be bi-monthly from now on, I promise.” I started to wonder why I was taking abuse from this guy. He’s given me nothing in return for two years of writing except a gift card to Olive Garden. He keeps saying we’ll all be rolling in the dough one of these days when the site goes viral. But he’s right about my blog, my output has been beyond pathetic lately, so I’m going to try to make good on my promise.

The truth is, certain aspects of my personal life last year prevented me from posting regularly. For one thing I spent three months on assignment on Lost Island without internet access. It was my second trip to the island, and it was a lot more enjoyable than my first trip back in 2008. I had some interesting discussions with Benjamin Linus, and learned a lot more than I did the first time. More about that in a future post. After I got home I recuperated for a few days, and hoped to dive back into the blog writing, but I ran into a couple of problems.

First, I had to get my job at the convenience store back, and then I had to arrange to work extra shifts to make up for the three months of rent I owed Mom. She had been none too pleased about the late payments, and during my absence had decided to use my living quarters as a storage area for her massive crime drama DVD collection, which includes every season of every show in the Law and Order and CSI franchises. They were stacked up on the card table where I usually eat, crammed into my bookshelves, and piled high in several big shopping bags. She said she brought them downstairs to keep people from stealing them. What kind of person would steal Law and Order DVDs? I’ll tell you who: her friends — middle aged ladies who think stubble faced criminals with black stocking caps lurk in every alleyway and behind every 3rd SUV in the Walmart parking lot, waiting to either rob them, or kidnap them and give them that thrilling escape from suburban drudgery they’ve always dreamed of.

There’s one new show in particular that they can’t get enough of — Law and Order: Los Angeles, which features an actor named Skeet Ulrich. He was most famous for his starring role in the action drama Jericho, about life in a small town after the collapse of the federal government due to a nuclear attack. He also starred in the excellent but short-lived paranormal drama Miracles. Mom and her friends love this guy so much they started a fan club. They have meetings every weekend, starting on Friday night and sometimes lasting until Sunday afternoon. These things are basically an excuse for the girls to party like it’s 1999.

Skeet! Skeet! Wherefore art thou, Skeet?

Can you imagine a house full of old hens drunk on margaritas, dancing with each other to disco music loud enough to shake the entire house? It kind of makes it hard to concentrate when I’m trying to write and do my research. On weekends I’ve been forced to wear earplugs and watch TV with closed captioning turned on.

One time I made the mistake of going upstairs to heat up a frozen pizza while one of their celebrations was in progress. Debbie Schwartz, the club’s President, had sent Mr. Ulrich himself an email invitation to attend that night’s meeting, and two minutes before I went upstairs they had been joking that Skeet was going to walk through the door any minute. Some of the ladies who had not met me before apparently thought I was a close-enough approximation of their heartthrob. The shrieks were deafening, and were accompanied by a barrage of hair-ruffling, groping, and pinching.

Mom, temporarily returning to her senses, stepped in and told them to back off. Shaken and disheveled, I proceeded to the kitchen and cooked my pizza, which those bitches promptly ate before I could get back downstairs with it. By that point I didn’t even care anymore. There’s nothing that will make you lose your appetite faster than getting hit on by your mother’s friends. Well, except for that one brunette.

Anyway, I have installed a couple of extra dead bolts on the door to the upstairs for added security. Nobody gets in here unless they’re invited. The fan club meetings have settled down a little bit since the last time the police showed up and took a couple of the Skeet Sisters away in handcuffs. Now maybe I’ll be able to get on with blogging. Stay tuned.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...