Tag Archives: tv

24: The Most Ludicrous 60 Minutes On Television

**IF YOU’RE READING THIS AND YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THESE WEEK’S EPISODE OF 24, SKIP IT UNLESS YOU WANT SPOILERS**

So I just got finished watching what I was promised to be the MOST SHOCKING EPISODE OF 24 EVER. Let’s disregard the fact that it was easy enough to call the SHOCKING TWIST three episodes ago. I’d rather focus on what is now the chain of terrorist events for the entire season.

– The season started with them knocking over a train and killing a guy to get a suitcase with the McGuffin. God forbid they just kill the ONE GUY, let’s knock over the whole fucking train.
– The terrorists then kidnap the Secretary of Defense and his daughter. With a god damn ROCKET LAUNCHER.
– The kidnapping is justified as a trial and potential execution of the Secretary Of Defense.
– The execution a front to do a webcast that’ll generate a lot of internet traffic. HOW EVIL.
– They need the internet traffic so that they can somehow break through the firewalls of nuclear reactors worldwide. Because EVERY FUCKING NUCLEAR REACTOR IN THE US IS HOOKED UP TO THE INTERNET SOMEHOW.
– They then use the McGuffin to start the reactors melting down.
– CTU manages to stop the meltdown for most of the reactors, but this is irrelevant because the meltdowns were merely an excuse to keep the president in the air, I guess.
– They use the new mystery character to steal a GOD DAMN STEALTH BOMBER. This is apparently EASY AS SHIT.
– If you can’t figure out by now where the show is telegraphing the shocking twist to be – given the languid shots of Air Force One in the air, and the GOD DAMN STEALTH BOMBER in the air – I don’t know what to tell you. Other than that he FIRES A FUCKING MISSILE AT AIR FORCE ONE and it apparently HITS AN ESCORT PLANE AND DAMAGES AIR FORCE ONE.

You would think that would be it, wouldn’t you? After at least four separate terrorist actions (train derailing, kidnapping and planned televised execution of government official, nuclear reactor meltdown, hijacking a GOD DAMN STEALTH BOMBER to shoot down Air Force One), at least one of these goals would have satisfied the terrorists, right?

WRONG. Watch the preview for next week! They just wanted the GOD DAMN NUCLEAR FOOTBALL. Probably so they can launch nukes. As a diversion! So they send a Terminator into the past so they can kill Jack Bauer’s mother!

If this main plot thread wasn’t bad enough, look at all the other ridiculous plot points that we’ve gone through in sixteen episodes:

– Jack hijacks a convenience store, for absolutely no good reason!
– Erin Driscol’s CARAAAAAAAAAZY DAUGHTER who kills herself for no discernible reason – except maybe to protest the inept staff at CTU who let her get away with it!
– McGuffin Industries detonates an EMP! No one prosecutes!
– Chloe gets fired despite being right about what she got fired for, and later rehired, for no good reason other than that everyone keeps getting fired.
– Edgar’s mom dies because it’s CONVENIENT TO MAKE THE GUY SAVING THE REACTORS HAVE AN EMOTIONAL CRISIS.
– Aisha Taylor is THE MOLE. Because for some reason, every year CTU gets compromised by someone who’s working for the enemy.
– Behrooz’s girlfriend gets whacked.
– Hell, the entire TerrorFamily thread ended up being SO WORTHLESS. They all died. They all did very little other than scream at each other.
– A team of mercenaries is sent in to take out Jack, Paul, and two FINE UPSTANDING MINORITIES. Team Bauer wins!
– They torture Heller’s son. This turns out to be worthless. AWESOME.
– Jack and Tony track down the evil guy about to get on the helicopter when…HE’S SHOT BY A SNIPER. I think there’s one sniper that follows every evil character around and waits for the moment they get captured so they can take the standard 24 bullet-to-the-head.

Hey, maybe Fox can cancel [the best show on television](http://www.fox.com/arresteddev/) and hit a magnificent double – ruining two shows in one season!

Always Leave A Note

This morning, I read on Defamer that [they found a severed leg on the Fox lot](http://www.defamer.com/hollywood/business/fox/breaking-severed-leg-found-on-fox-lot-037455.php).
Am I the only one who upon reading this, visualizes J. Walter Weatherman hobbling up on one leg to the panicked production assistants, and saying “And that’s why you don’t think about canceling Arrested Development”?

Webster’s Destroys Simpsons Joke

Most everyone remembers this bit from the Simpsons, episode 3F13, Lisa The Iconoclast:

Many of the class is assembled to watch a film, "Young Jebediah
Springfield". The film is cheaply made.  After a "fight" with a "land cow",
Jebediah is asked by a boy how he can hope to achieve such
greatness.

Jebediah: [on film] A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
Edna: Embiggens?  I never heard that word before I moved to
Springfield
Ms.Hoover: I don't know why.  It's a perfectly cromulent word.

Way to go, Webster’s Dictionary. You’ve totally blown this classic Simpson’s joke. You assholes.

On Ricky Gervais, A-List Bloggers, and Crazy Microphone Woman

At 5:15 tonight, I found myself standing outside the Museum of Television and Radio waiting for three people.

One was my lovely wife, Katie.

One was Jen Chung, editor and co-founder of Gothamist.

One was Adam Kuban, author and founder of Slice, the only pizza blog I will ever read.

This seemingly random meeting was spawned by somewhat random chances. Originally, Katie had asked that I pick up two extra tickets for coworkers of hers that wanted to go, and of course could not make it. After trying in vain to find someone at work who watches the Office, I noticed a post from Jen about the event at the MTR. I took a shot in the dark, and somehow it worked out. Adam came along for the ride.

Order of arrival was Adam, Jen, and Katie. Adam and Jen offered to go hold seats for us, which was quite noble and kind. The screening was quite packed by 6:20 (the main auditorium, plus three closed circuit rooms, were sold out), and it’s definitely a different experience watching The Office in a room full of people. The uncomfortable scenes get less uncomfortable, and it’s easier to laugh at things. This is not a bad thing.
After the screening, Ricky sat down for the Q&A, which mostly went off without a hitch. My recap follows, although it should be noted that if you haven’t seen the special yet, there may be some mild spoilers. Alternately, Adam was sneaky enough to record the thing on his camera, and while it’s a bit muffled in some portions, you can grab the MP3 from me (64kbps VBR, 33:04, 8.1 MB) and certainly make out some parts I didn’t transcribe. I’m sure Jen will have her recap up soon as well. Jen has her write-up and a picture posted.


Regarding The Creative Process

Each entire season was written in one block, and re-edited to add seeds to ideas they came up with later, before they shot anything. Casting lasted a year, and the fact that the show seems so real (and not scripted) is a testament to the actors in the program.

Lots of gags were thrown out over the years due to a desire to maintain realism. In terms of a moral balance, Ricky feels that the bad outweighs the good, but as anyone who sees the Special can attest to, he who laughs last does indeed laugh the longest.

One of the hardest points, apparently, was that they had to be “hyper-real”, and couldn’t cheat on some things like regular documentaries do.
The Slough Tourism Board apparently tried to convince the BBC that “Slough has really changed a lot” before the second season started taping; Ricky and Stephen refused to bend the script at all, unsurprisingly.

Regarding Other Characters On The Office

Gareth was originally going to be a large, beefy military type, and Tim was originally going to be a large, Norm-from-Cheers style character. Both characters were somewhat rewritten when Mackenzie and Martin (respectively) came in for the parts.

The only character that Ricky did not write – and it ended up being his favorite – was that of Keith. Ewan apparently ad libbed the deadpan delivery and they just ended up writing more and more for him.

Gareth’s haircut was given to him entirely to make him look like a prat. Mackenzie, unfortunately, got married a little too close to the end of filming the second season, and was married with that haircut. Poor guy.

The character of Carol (seen only in the special) had to be worked on a lot, because in the words of Stephen Merchant, “Who would go out with a fat git like you, Gervais?” In terms of the morning after, Ricky could only guess that she called and said “Sorry, I was on drugs.”

Regarding The US Version Of The Office

Ricky confessed to not being terribly involved in the US version. This is due to part of what his original plan for The Office was – he wanted people to be able to go “That’s my office!” in the UK. Since he hasn’t worked in an office in the US, he admits he doesn’t know what he would need to input to make that happen here.

He said the pilot is quite good, and it’s a very close remake to the UK version – but is quickly diverging into their own story lines. He says the US version is for the 249,000,000 people who *didn’t* see the original version and would be viewing it “without prejudice”.

Ricky is glad that they did not name the boss David Brent, but he did not specifically ask for them to change it. It would have been too confusing, apparently.

And the answer to the question we were all wondering: The US equivilent of Slough is Scranton, PA. So completely spot on…

Regarding His Next Project

The next Merchant/Gervais project is known as Extra. The main character – and I’m not clear on whether or not it would be played by Gervais – is an extra who thinks he should be a leading actor. He is very unlike David Brent – very self-aware and angry, like a “dissatisfied Socrates”. A misanthrope who cna’t keep his mouth shut, he is apparently angry that De Niro is getting all his parts.

It won’t be a documentary-style ala The Office, but it will still be a very natural sort of comedy. Stephen Merchant is the only person from the Office team that will be coming along to Extra; it is currently planned through two six-episode seasons, and may stretch to three, but definitely not four.

Regarding His Influences

Laurel and Hardy was referenced a lot, and Ricky says all his influences have a lot of heart behind their comedy. “Heart first, comedy second” is a sort of personal motto, and I think it shows in his work.

Gervais also claims to be able to cry at both The Waltons and The Simpsons (which he called “the greatest comedy on TV”). He adds, “Maybe I’m a bit of a sissy.”

He truly enjoys working on television shows, and being part of the common conciousness. Being talked about the next day, or “making a date” to watch a show is a big deal for him.

Regarding The Longevity Of The Office

Season 2 was never meant to be the final end of the season – a special was always planned. However, the special is explicitly the end; it was always planned to be somewhat cinematic and “an event”.

Regarding Side Projects

Ricky still hasn’t watched himself on Alias yet, as he cannot fathom seeing himself “being cool”. He adds that in the scene where Victor Garber strangles him to death and then tells Sydney to get the defibrillator, he cracked up at least five seperate times at the word “defibrillator”, until Garber actually threatened to kill him if he blew another scene.

There are no plans to release a David Brent full length album, but he did enjoy writing the songs. He also revealed that a full band version of Free Love On The Free Love Freeway will be on the Office Special DVD, coming out this November in the US.

He also had a fantastic idea for a new reality TV show: You would gather all the “D-list” celebrities that have come to be through reality TV shows, you put them all in a house together for 10 weeks, and then when they come out, you tell them that you didn’t tape any of it.

Regarding People Who Confuse Him For David Brent

“People who think I’m the real David Brent are the same people who send wreaths to soap stars that die.”


So that was about it. I’d like to thank the MTR for being hospitible as always; to Jen and Adam – both complete sweethearts, two people I hope that I can get to know better – for making the evening even better; and to Ricky for being a good sport, even without giving autographs. And no thanks to the Crazy Microphone Woman, who screeched at one person to WAIT FOR THE MICROPHONE, even though he was perfectly audible to the entire audience.