Thursday, September 25, 2008

Emmys, Pirates 4, and Spider-Man: The Musical

Well, it's been an interesting week. All sorts of... things... have been happening in the big scary Real World. But what news from the entertainment industry?

The week started off with the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. You may have read that the show was bad (since judging by the numbers you didn't actually watch it yourself). Well, as someone who managed to watch the first half hour, I can tell you that whatever you read was probably accurate. I never had much respect for the nominated reality show hosts, but Sunday night showed me how right I was to withhold my respect. In any case, the only show I watch that won on Sunday was Pushing Daisies, with the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series win for Barry Sonnenfeld. Congrats to him. I guess I've also recently picked up watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, now that I've discovered they put the episodes up on Hulu the day after they air (I don't get Comedy Central). All the excitement of current events has given them more good material than they could have ever hoped for, so the shows have been particularly sharp and entertaining recently. Anyway, they each won an Emmy, so congrats to them, too. I'd given up watching the Emmy telecast, though, before the Daily Show got up there. I think I turned it off shortly after poor Josh Groban sang his misguided theme song medley.

Speaking of really dumb shows, I was pleased to see Hole in the Wall ranked number one on Entertainment Weekly's list of The 10 Dumbest TV Shows of 2008. I have to say that I found the initial trailers for this show hilarious. Seeing clip after clip of people looking in wide-eyed terror at the approaching wall, contorting themselves into some awkward position, then being inevitably swept into the water was surprisingly entertaining. Simple minds, simple pleasures, I guess. Watching Ellen DeGeneres do a version of the game on her show with random audience members or--better yet--guests, was also highly amusing (though not quite as funny as Ellen's new game, "Aw, snap!"). But when I saw part of the actual Hole in the Wall show that Fox tucked in after the season premiere of Fringe, I was not amused at all. I think part of the humor in the game on Ellen's show was the fact that these were poor unsuspecting people who were called out of the audience, plunked in front of the moving wall, and forced to make a valiant effort to keep on their feet. And then it was over, whether they succeeded or not. In the montage of the trailer, the contestants had the same appearance. But in the actual show, you realize that these people wanted to be there. They signed up. They thought they'd be good at it. They actually trash-talk the other team. And then they go and make fools of themselves. And then they do it again. All the while, an audience pumped with more excitement than they have a right to cheers on, and the unnecessary two hosts yell into microphones as if they're having fun. You can be sure I won't be tuning into that show again. The concept of the show is funny (and owed to the original Japanese version) and makes for amusing snapshots. But as an actual TV show? Dumb.

Mid-week, Disney announced their plans for a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean installment (see Variety article). I'll be the first to say that Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is brilliant. And Curse of the Black Pearl was one of the most pleasant surprises in my cinema-going experience (I mean, I'd actually seen the Country Bears movie, sadly, so I wasn't expecting all that much from a movie based on a Disney ride). But I think I'd be a slightly happier person if the sequels had never been made. Maybe a third sequel will redeem the other two, but more likely, it will just be another bad (though lucrative) idea. In other sequel news, it looks like they're planning to make an I Am Legend prequel with Will Smith reprising his role as Robert Neville. A prequel is smart, since a sequel would have had some difficulties (Gotta love how none of the articles about the prequel announcement care about spoilers. When does a movie lose the privilege of spoiler warnings? After it leaves theaters? After it comes out on DVD?). But I wasn't really a fan of the first movie, so I have doubts as to how good a prequel could be.

And lastly, in case you haven't heard yet, Julie Taymor (Across the Universe, The Lion King Broadway show) is making a musical version of Spider-Man which will be released in 2009. I am reminded of a trivia question from one of those series of trivia/quotes/photos/movie moments that loops on the screen in the movie theater before the movie starts and you realize that you're already out of popcorn. I'd like to tell you the question was about Spider-Man, but I think it was actually about The Hulk:
"Was the Hulk originally a 1) TV show 2) Musical or 3) A comic book?"
Well, first of all, duh! And second, Hulk: The Musical?! The idea of it had me laughing out loud in the theater. And now an accomplished Broadway director is making Spider-Man: The Musical. I have to say, I think Spider-Man is significantly better suited to musical form than the Hulk (though is that saying much?). In fact, I saw Spider-Man Rocks in Universal Studios Hollywood, and it was pretty entertaining. But a short show at a theme park venue is a little different from a full length Broadway show. Well, it could turn out to be embarrassing, but hopefully it will be great. Wish I were living close to New York so I could see it.

Now that I've written this post, I've realized most of the stories are pretty negative. That was not my intention. Oh well. I guess that's just the world I've been living in this past week.

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