Monday, February 16, 2009

To Be or Not to Be

I had a dream last night that I was with Indiana Jones trying to escape from an alien invasion by running and climbing through ancient temples that were alternately being flooded and drained. We were really just going in circles, but the aliens were afraid of water. Jones kept bitching about Dennis Quaid as we went.

I watched the pilot episode of Joss Whedon's new series, Dollhouse, last night instead of watching Battlestar Galactica, but that didn't stop Tahmoh Penikett, who plays Helo on Battlestar Galactica, from showing up, this time as a detective. Looks like the guy's stalking my media player.

There was also a reference to Edward James Olmos, so it looks like Whedon's another Battlestar Galactica fan. What with the bits of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles having to do with Battlestar Galactica, it seems there are a lot of ripples. Though former Buffy writer, Jane Espenson, has written episodes of Battlestar Galactica, so I guess it goes both ways.

I liked the first episode of Dollhouse. It's not as ambitious as the first episode of Firefly, though perhaps a bit more daring. I suspect it's Firefly's failure that prompted Whedon to opt for another series set in modern times with a beautiful, scantily clad female lead, but the concept of someone who gives up her body to be inhabited by a number of different personalities for paying customers seems like fertile ground for intellectual and moral dilemmas. The show seems kind of like Alias meets Quantum Leap meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I thought Whedon might have actively been trying to write something more generic, but if so, he's failed--I suspect Dollhouse may ultimately be too interesting to succeed.

I love the names on the show--Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Eliza Dushku--I'd swear Whedon used a bowl of alphabet soup to cast the show if I didn't know he'd already worked with Dushku on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I heard Dushku on The Howard Stern Show last week trying to get everyone to pronounce her name right. They were saying "Douche-ku", which was how I was pronouncing it--that is the default sound of the letter "u", but Eliza insisted the "Dush" ought to be pronounced like "Push", which I'm still trying to get my tongue around. The first time I tried, it automatically came out more like the "ush" in "usher".

It looks like my favourite person on The Stern Show, Artie Lange, might be leaving the show, which is really too bad. He's fascinating to listen to and comes off as far more genuine that most of the people on the show, but he's been a wreck for a long time. He's talked about his depression, but anyone familiar with the condition can hear it in the way he talks about how things that used to be extremely important to him now don't seem to mean anything, and in the way he seems to automatically become hostile towards people who are kind to him or try to help him. It was visible even just in the interview with Dushku--she seemed to be digging him in the beginning, and he even brought up the idea of talking to John Favreau about a role Dushku wanted in the next Iron Man movie, but then Lange started trying to get a rise out of her by calling her gay friend a "fruit" and "fag".

Lange, at his best, uses a lot of racist and homophobic terms in his humour to mock racism and homophobia. Anyone who's listened to the show for a couple years knows he's neither a racist nor a homophobe, especially if they've heard how kind he was to someone else who works on the show when he came out of the closet. But these days, Artie seems to be using the hostile language he's grown comfortable with in his comedy as tools to keep the world at arm's length from him, especially as attempts to get him off heroin seem to have been particularly destructive lately. He seems like he might actually be on an irreversible path of self-destruction now, which is really a shame. His warmth and intelligence as much as his humour were the chief reasons I started wanting to listen to the show again after about ten years.

While eating breakfast this morning, I watched the new episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was a vast improvement over the previous episode. I'm still not interested the Christian element being plugged into the Terminator universe, but I did sort of like John Henry asking God why humans weren't made with more ball and socket joints.

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