Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scott's Links March 2012

Scott roams the internet far and wide. Because of this, he supplies interesting links to Big Hollywood every day. I've asked Scott to give us a list of the best links he finds each month and a quick synopsis of what's behind each one. Check these out. . . share your thoughts! And away we go. . .

How Parks and Recreation manages to avoid partisan rancor

I enjoy Parks and Recreation very much and it's nice to see the creators intend on keeping it bipartisan, or rather, not very partisan at all. Oh, I almost forgot: Ron Swanson. [smile]

A real Navy SEAL rates the authenticity of 10 Navy SEAL movies

Military life is something Hollywood gets wrong for one reason or another, however some movies are more accurate than others. By the way, I haven't seen Act of Valor yet but I'm looking forward to Netflixing it.

15 minutes of Star Trek: TNG's Lt. Worf getting shot down by everyone

Watching this hilarious montage, it's amazing the writers did anything with Lt. Worf considering how many times he would make a suggestion only to have Picard immediately reject it.

Why world leaders call on celebrities to do their dirty work

I don't get on the celebrity/politics bandwagon but this is an interesting look at the thought process that determines why Jeff Spicoli makes a good spokesman for your cause. (Well, not your cause. . . someone else's!)

A guy rewrites The Phantom Menace so it makes sense

Deconstructing the flaws of the Star Wars prequel trilogy seems to have taken on a life of its own. This guy explains what he would've done and while I'm not familiar with every nook and cranny of the SW universe, he seems to have some good ideas.

Wanderlust and the rise of the counter-countercultural comedy

This movie seems to have disappeared from theaters already, however I can safely say my generation doesn't give the slightest s--- about hippies or the hippie movement. I can appreciate the history (and the music) but, come on, they're fair game, man!

"Homer at the Bat": the making of a classic Simpsons episode

I can't believe it's been 20 years since this episode aired. I honestly don't remember when I started watching The Simpsons - some time in 1993 or 1994 - but I enjoy watching this one on DVD. "Mattingly, get rid of those sideburns!!"

Hollywood's obsession with Mars

I truly believe the definitive Mars film has yet to be made. I wish James Cameron would direct it, instead of going back to the bioluminescent well with Avatar sequels. I haven't seen John Carter (neither did most of America) but I believe it deserves better.

As Lethal Weapon turns 25, we ask, is Richard Donner underrated?

The Omen. Superman. The Goonies. Lethal Weapon and its sequels. So why isn't Richard Donner a household name like Spielberg? Perhaps it has to do with his style, which is really no style at all. Or should I say, it's not "obvious."

10 cancelled sci-fi shows Netflix should bring back before Terra Nova

As of this writing, Netflix is in negotiations to pick up the cancelled Fox series Terra Nova. The writer of this article thinks Netflix should focus on some other shows, including a certain beloved space western. [smile]

Last night's listening:

I downloaded Michael Giacchino's score for John Carter. I don't have much to say about it since I haven't seen the film, but I'm enjoying it! Some romance, some action, and some sweeping Lawrence of Arabia-style cues, which are always appreciated. And per usual, many of Giacchino's track titles are pretty funny, in a corny kind of way.


tryanmax said...

Scott has once again devoured my entire lunch hour. (Those speed-reading lessons from college finally paid off!) Here’s what I have to say:

Parks and Rec - I wanted to like this show, having been a Parks and Rec employee, but I can only take Amy Poehler in small doses. It’s also too much like The Office for me, which I also never really liked.

SEALS - Very much what I expected from the expert: SEALs are professionals doing a job. Films that forget that will be prone to inaccuracy. But that kind of inaccuracy is kinda pathetic when you consider it. SEALs’ work is inherently intriguing. Trying to inject drama by turning professionals into loose cannons and petty children reveals laziness on the writers’ part.

Lt. Worf - It’s not easy being a militant in a pacifist future. Besides, if Picard had listened to Worf more often, think of how many TNG episodes would have wrapped in the first fifteen minutes.

Celebrity Politics - Nice use of pun throughout the article! More importantly, I can’t say I disagree with any of O-Neill’s observations. It’s simply the natural progression of the worldwide “Democratic Revolution” I was taught about in grade school. (If history were taught accurately, the French would receive credit for launching the Democratic Revolution.) The popular vote--which leftists champion--is merely a popularity contest by another name. When popularity is the mark of authority, of course world leaders must turn to pop culture icons to lend them gravitas.

The Phantom Rewrite - That guy has a much better sense of what an epic is than George Lucas seems to. An epic is the narrative equivalent of a musical theme and variation. It should explore the interplay between how history repeats while times continually change. If the prequel trilogy had been better handled, perhaps there would have still been interest in the alleged postquel--perhaps a narrative following a protégée of Skywalker’s.

Wanderlust - I might have to check that one out. I like Paul Rudd and, in spite of myself, I like Alan Alda, too.

Springfield Slugger - Wow. Just…wow.

Boys go to Mars… - He raises a good point. There needs to be a Saturn movie.

Richard Donner - Hell yeah, he’s underrated! I didn’t know he directed all those films. Those are great films! He should be a household name. I guess that’s what you get for not leaning on gimmicks to make your career. That’s life, I suppose.

Netflix - Yeah. Terra Nova was a major letdown. Netflix shouldn’t be so eager. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen most of the shows this guy lists. I am totally on board with Sarah Connor. Firefly was nicely patched up by Serenity, new episodes would only open old wounds. I’ll admit to never understanding FarScape. I see Caprica in the poll, but that story got wrapped up, even if it was forced. I don’t understand why there is no mention of Carnivalé.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I got a kick out of the Worf thing. You almost have to wonder how he's kept his job since Picard has never once accepted any of his recommendations?

On the SEALs, it's the same thing with law. There is a LOT of drama in law, but Hollywood ignores the real drama and instead creates bizarrely fake drama for whatever reason. I guess it's just easier to write?

tryanmax said...

Andrew, it's easier to turn every situation into a juvenile spat than to do actual research.

AndrewPrice said...

true. And most writers aren't lawyers, and the ones who are have only rarely practiced, so their view of the law mainly comes from television. So they think they're being realistic.

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

Glad you're enjoying this stuff. The Internet has caused me to start reading twice my normal speed - it's killed my retention skills!

On Parks and Rec... I understand the Office criticism but it's really grown into its own. A friend of mine even asked me if it gets better after the first few episodes. "It certainly does!" was my answer. It's also one of the sweetest shows on TV.

Re: Worf, I think my favorite bit is, "Captain, we should go to Yellow Alert." "Why?" Just like that. "Why?" :-)

Re: celebs, this is why, despite the bomb-throwing, I think the issue deserves serious consideration. In fact, I once read a story about an "agent" whose job was to connect celebs with various causes, which just reeks of insincerity. "So, uh, do you want the global warming charity or the starving children charity?"

And re: Netflix, I'm also on board with Sarah Connor. I also wish they'd take a look at Virtuality, a sci-fi pilot Ron Moore wrote for Fox which wasn't picked up.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Re: drama, I don't know. Obviously, we all bring our own experiences to the table and any good writer worth his salt will do the research... but ours is a generation raised not on the classics but on TV, and I include myself in that.

And I've said it before, given the exigencies of TV production, it's a miracle even one episode manages to get done, let alone 22 a year.

Commander Max said...

They really liked picking on Worf.
So he must have the conservative on the show.

If the situations were real, Worf's recommendations would have saved the D in a number of situations. But because of the lib writers...

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, This goes deeper than just lack of research. They aren't just fudging some details, they are getting the basics so wrong that it's laughable. It would be like doing a show about a butcher and having them cut meat with spoons, fight crime and fly jets as part of their jobs, and acting as if it was illegal to sell meat.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, Good point. That's probably why I agreed with Worf more often than anyone else.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, that sounds very, very weird. I want to see the pilot.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

It would be like doing a show about a butcher and having them cut meat with spoons, fight crime and fly jets as part of their jobs,

You wouldn't watch that show?

(BTW, my dad's roasting a pig this weekend; he and I put together a China box in the backyard for it... this is gonna be interesting.) :-)

Anonymous said...

Cmdr. Max -

I'm not saying politics had anything to do with it but I know the writers seemed to enjoy picking on Worf more than others. No malice intended; it just ended up that way. Sometimes the stoic character is the one who needs a pie in the face the most! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, If it was a comedy, sure. But not if the show was portrayed as a serious drama. Yet, that's how they treat these laughable legal shows.

Not to mention, there's just no reason to be this careless? It's like getting the ranks wrong in a military drama. Why not at least look it up? It only takes a few minutes. Are you really telling me it's not worth the time to ask someone or Google something? What does that say about the production?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think the Worf stuff is somewhat political. Worf represents the idea of militarism throughout most of the show, and the writers wanted to make the liberal 1980s point that militarism was wrong and we should try to talk our way out of everything.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott thanks for the links. Just got in from a day on the golf course so haven't had time to click on all, but I did check out the SEALS link. All I can say is I am eagerly anticipating Acy of Valor on Blu-Ray.

As far as John Carter goes, it seems like just a bad idea. Now I really liked him as Riggins in FNL. Can't say he will ever make people forget Sean Connery, but I am looking forward to Lone Survivor. Like you, I am addicted to music so a good score is always appreciated. I wouldn't mind seeing Explosions in the Sky get used on something since they did such a great job on FNL.

LawHawkRFD said...

Scott: Really like the link to the 10 sci fi shows NetFlix should bring back first, and agree pretty much with it. Jericho would need to go back to its original writers and plots, since its second season was decidedly left wing (which may have been what killed it). I liked Terra Nova, but I agree it should not be at the top of the list.

Anonymous said...

Jed -

There have been volumes written about John Carter's failure but the same few reasons keep coming up: 1. marketing, 2. lack of name recognition (nobody who's never read the books knows who John Carter is), and 3. a director who was in over his head.

As for Act of Valor, all we need to do now is combine accurate depictions of military tactics with great acting and a tripod, and then we'll have something! :-)

Anonymous said...

LawHawk -

Thanks! I never watched Jericho and I just wasn't interested in Terra Nova, though I was hoping Stephen Lang's character would use his "You're not in Kansas anymore!" line from Avatar.

The lead actor from Terra Nova just signed up to do another TV show for the fall so the outlook is grim.

Anonymous said...

Jed -

There's one more possible reason for John Carter's failure: the source material has been plundered! I just read an LA Times article on the subject:

Producer James Jacks, in fact, once took Burroughs' Martian chronicles to filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, who'd made movie gold out of "Back to the Future" and other films. Zemeckis, a friend of "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, read the material and, Jacks says, told him, "I don't think so. George has really plundered these books."

Not just Lucas, but Cameron, Roddenberry, Spielberg, Scott, etc.

Commander Max said...

Scott, Andrew

I do think it was a commentary on the anti-military position(as well as a reaction against TOS), the evidence is quite solid. Since we have 15 minutes of them saying, "No, Mr Worf". Since he is stating things that come across as logical and prudent(not in all cases). It displays the idea that everybody is good, and we can talk our way out of anything.
But then it is sci-fi it's not supposed to be reality. Personally I would have rather have seen a show where they acted on Worf's recommendations. It sure would have been more fun.

Keep in mind what Ben Shapiro displayed in "Primetime Propaganda", these people really enjoy insulting a portion of their audience. As well as trying to manipulate the same audience. They have been doing it for decades. I'm sure that's the case here. It's really sad, since so many of us fell for it.

Anonymous said...

Cmdr. -

I sympathize, though I admit I have a... less than stellar opinion of Mr. Shapiro. Besides, I'm middle of the road politically and the bias only bothers me when it's done badly. (See: Avatar, which is as subtle as a sledgehammer.)

In TNG's case, it really goes back to Roddenberry, who was seen as some kind of guru in the 70s as he went on his college speaking tours and the convention circuit, and by the late 80s, he had started to believe his own hype (utopian dreams and all that). Yes, other writers worked on the show but for the first few years, the buck stopped with him

DS9, of course, is a different story. :-)

As for insulting half the audience, I always wonder, "Is it intended, or do the writers not know any better?"

After all, let us never forget Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Anonymous said...

^I know Shapiro's book includes actual quotes from writers who like to screw with certain parts of the audience but the Trek people never struck me as that type.

tryanmax said...


In the future...

I have a tofu scramble with pinto sausage, tempeh bacon and hash browns.
Could I get some soy-cream for my coffee?
Of course.

...where veganism is the law...

Sir, you are under arrest for violations of the Animal Civil Rights Act

...and meat is contraband…

C’mon! We gotta airlift these chickens outta here before the Feds show up!

...this crooked cop…

I like a good steak. Is that a crime? Heh-heh. Oh, yeah. I almost forgot

...wants his cut.

You know, I used to do this for a living.

This fall...

Whaddya call this?

... Michael Chiklis is...

It’s what’s for dinner.

...The Butcher.

Is that a spoon?
Do you see a knife anywhere?

Coming Thursdays.

T-Rav said...

I haven't seen Wanderlust but the previews made me want to punch everyone on the screen--including Jennifer Aniston, which is a big deal for me. ;-) Freaking hippies.

You can't go wrong with Giacchino, in my opinion. He's composed the music for practically every J.J. Abrams' film and TV show, which owe a good deal of their success to his scoring.

I'm gonna take a look at this Phantom Menace rewrite and give my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -


Speaking of Michael Chiklis, he's going to be starring in a new cowboy/crime pilot for CBS, co-starring Carrie-Anne Moss and Dennis Quaid. Great cast so far!

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

Yes, they're hippies but from what I understand, the film is a rejection of that culture.

I will buy any Giacchino action/sci-fi score blind, without having seen the film. I rarely do that!

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I agree. I think it is political, though it's not as overt like much of the rest of their liberalism. I think it's more a continuing philosophical point that they decided they would write the stories from the perspective that violence can't solve anything and only talking can solve things. And if you believe in a utopian world like that, then what Picard does makes sense. But that's not the real world and the Enterprise would have been blown up many times because of Picard's unwillingness to defend himself.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax... oh boy. I could see that.

T-Rav said...

Hmm. Those would be some interesting changes to Phantom Menace.

A couple quibbles: One, the idea of Toydarians or whatever Watto is as stormtroopers is kind of silly. I mean, look at them. They don't exactly make efficient soldiers. Two, I think Maul ought to have survived for the future movies; but if you're going to let him live, don't cut him in half. I don't care what kind of technology they have, if your body gets cut in two by a lightsaber, you are going to die. Painfully.

Aside from that, these would be mostly positive changes. It still wouldn't come up to the level of the first two Star Wars movies, but it would actually be good. The most important thing is that this guy follows the Harry Plinkett Rule: If you do nothing else right with your movie, make sure the characters are interesting to the audience.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax: I can overlook your shilling for Romney, but this dislike of yours for The Office is unforgivable. Good day to you, sir.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, I have had a good day, so far. Thank you! :)

tryanmax said...

Scott, Looks like I'll have to tap someone else for my pilot. *sigh*

tryanmax said...

Andrew, did I get everything? The jets, the spoons? Be careful what ideas you share with me. I'll run with anything. Including scissors.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax: LOL

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It's all in there. I'm not saying it should be, but it's there! ;)

T-Rav said...

Incidentally, since the subject of George Lucas and his general awfulness sort of came up, here's a link of my own, explaining in hilarious detail the physics behind the "nuked fridge" scene in the last Indiana Jones movie, and why it is so awful. LINK

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

Oh well. I'm sure there are plenty of actors looking for work and, remember, all the best actors are coming to television. :-)

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

That "nuke the fridge" link appears to be the same one I sent to Nolte for one of his BH bulletins.

I think Spielberg admitted that it was actually his idea... of course, that doesn't make it a good idea.

Speaking of Spielberg, I finall saw Tintin... good acting, gorgeous visuals, great music... and it might just be one of the most overindulgent movies I've ever seen. It's as if Spielberg put every gag he'd ever thought of into this one movie.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, I've never laughed so hard at equations.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, it's definitely a gut-buster. :-)

I don't know why this one thing should be so beyond the pale, to be honest. I get the whole "regular physics" versus "nuclear physics" distinction, but it seems like a difference of degree, not of kind. Either way, this is a great example of what's wrong with the movie.

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