We need American Gladiators now, more than ever

Hot off the success of my terribly conceived and poorly writen Hayden Panettiere post the other day, I thought I’d try to stick with another NBC show for my latest. Of course, all fans of this blog know that NBC shows have shown up quite often in my first thirty posts. I believe I mentioned Cheers, Frasier, Friends, The Cosby Show, Ed, and Scrubs, and probably all in the same post.American Gladiators!

ANYWAY, I believe now is a time for Americans to take a moment to reflect the current state of our country. With increasing gas prices, bridges collapsing, a supposed “global warming” scare, the rise of secularism, and a black man running for President, most Americans don’t know where to turn for answers or comfort. This post-9/11 world reminds us every day that Everything’s Changed. Stars are dancing, idols are singing, and sub sandwiches can be purchased for an even five dollars. Last year CNN dedicated an unbelievable amount of hours to the death and funeral of Anna Nicole Smith, whose contribution to society was, what, exactly? Of course, there are no more easy answers.

That is why, now more than ever, we need American Gladiators. The hit show grabs somewhere around 113 million viewers every week, dazzling the citizens of this great country with feats of athletic Americans squaring off against unbelievably large and/or attractive Gladiators. Normal, everyday people, who mostly hail from upper middle class backgrounds, are the contenders who face off against the Gladiator powerhouses. Those contenders are there to tell us that everything is going to be okay. Your dreams of being on television do not have to submit to the disgusting standards of Tila Tequila or The Littlest Groom. You too can one day be upper middle class, or athletic, or a Gladiator. Maybe all three.

When the liberal mainstream media shows us a world where people are dying on the street and babies are having babies, where politicians want to tax you just for living, where suicide bombers blow up dozens of innocent people and our young men and women fight for our freedom in some mystical far-off desert wasteland, where it’s alternately in vogue and out of style to crack jokes about Starbucks, this country will always have American Gladiators to show us that things can be simple. Nothing is more straightforward than Joust, where contenders must hit or be hit with sticks. Survive for 30 seconds or knock a Gladiator into the water to score points. Fall in the water yourself, you get nothing. If only life could be so black and white.

American Gladiators?But that’s the point. Most often, life is not like going head to head against Justice on Pyramid, racing up The Wall hoping that Venom does not pull you off, or wrestling Wolf on Earthquake. But for those brief thirty seconds, those contenders represent what is great about America. They represent perseverance, optimism and surmounting great challenges. In short, those contenders represent the American Way of Life. The battles in the Gladiator Arena are not battles of good versus evil, they are more like battles of man versus self than man versus man. We are idealized through those contenders.

The battle inside is not whether or not you will pinch the occasional office supply. The battle is deciding whether or not pinching those binder clips is unethical to you. We must answer the bigger challenges inside of ourselves. Every day we must battle the Titan or Crush inside to help us choose to help our fellow man, use manners and be polite, make someone smile, or tip over 15%.  The world is full of too many gray areas, the Gladiators must show us who we are really made of and if we will accept the losses along with the victories. We need them now, more than ever, to reach self-actualization.

Thank you, Gladiators. Show us the way.

America Gearing Up to be Interested in Hayden Panettiere Again

The Cheerleader, played by Hayden PanettiereWith less than three months left before the Season 3 premiere of HEROES, America is getting ready to bring Hayden Panettiere, the young star of the NBC hit phenom, back to the forefront of its consciousness. Filming has already begun for the next season of the hit series and according to Tim Kring, the show’s creator, everybody involved is excited to have Panettiere (and to a lesser extent, the show itself) regularly grace the covers of sci-fi magazines, Entertainment Weekly, the weekend pop culture section of local newspapers, and the LIFE section of USA TODAY. “It’s been a dry six months for Hayden,” Kring said in a conference call to any and all reporters and fans who would listen. “But she is ready to be back in the last story of the early evening local news broadcast.”

The last time more than 2 million people were even aware of Penetierre at one single moment was during the HEROES season finale, which aired on December 3, 2007. All data collected since then indicates that no more than eight dozen people at one time have thought about, researched, Google-searched, or fantasized about Panettiere since December 4, 2007 at approximately 2:30pm EST.

“Sure, there were some press releases and human interest stories about Hayden’s charitable efforts to save dolphins or something earlier this year,” Kring said. But those stories failed to capture the hearts of Americans who would much rather hear about Panettiere’s work on HEROES, and her previous work on GUIDING LIGHT and ALLY MCBEAL. There was a slight buzz when one of the press release headlines read “HEROES Star Leads Cheer to Save Dolphins,” and it included a publicity photo of Panettiere dressed as her Cheerleader character from the first season, but that quickly faded as the release only mentioned that she is cast member on HEROES and neglects say anything about the new season.

“I can’t believe that cute little Hayden has grown up into this beautiful young star in Hollywood,” says one fan. “It’s almost like she is an indestructible force, much like her character Claire on NBC’s hit show HEROES. I just wish the media would remind me of that every week before and after the show comes back on the air. I’d also like to know which superpower she would most like to have, whether it’s a power that’s been featured on the show or something else entirely.”

“Masi [Oka, who plays Hiro Nakamura on the hit show HEROES] is also excited to talk to entertainment reporters and news magazines this fall,” Kring told reporters. “From what I understand, his agent has not heard from anyone since the week before last Christmas,” where a young researcher from Entertainment Weekly called to see if the star knew how Panettiere might be spending her time during the holidays. The story was bumped from the issue for a 65-word ‘Quick Hit’ piece on Seth McFarlane, creator of FOX’s FAMILY GUY. Masi Oka usually enjoys a nice boost in media coverage while the show is on the air and he regularly fields questions about playing endearing hero Hiro, who helps his fellow heroes – inlcuding Panettiere’s Claire – on HEROES with his time-controlling abilities. “America is just about ready to talk about Oka’s command of the English language and his heritage again,” Kring said. “The country needs to be reminded that while Oka is Japanese-born, he has lived in the U.S. since he was six years old and speaks English and Japanese fluently.”

Come August, there will be a massive demand for new information on Panettiere and HEROES, and the media is prepared to ask the hard questions like, “We’ve been hearing ‘save the cheerleader, save the world,’ for quite a awhile, and while Claire was saved in the first season, does that means the world is safe?” And Kring says he will let the hints fly at the end of the summer, but right now he wants to get the first half of the season complete. “Hayden will be available to answer that question and many more once we have episodes in the can,” Kring promises.

The third season of HEROES, starring Hayden Panettiere, premieres on NBC on September 22 at 9/8c.

Holy Shit, “Ed” was on TV for 4 Seasons!

Whoa, guys, check this out. I was dicking around on IMDB earlier and found out some startling news. Did you know NBC had an award-winning show called “Ed”? Seriously, it won a TV Guide Award along with a People’s Choice, and it had multiple Emmy nominations in the first season. Holy shit, check this out: it was on TV for 4 seasons! Four! It says here that 83 episodes were produced. 83 hours of television on the Network that was number one for like 15 years!

Seriously, raise your hands if you’ve heard of this show. Apparently, it starred the guy who played Zach Braff’s brother on “Scrubs”. You know, back then I knew that guy looked familiar. Maybe I remember seeing his face on commercials for the show back when I got high and watched “Scrubs.”

The Cast of ED?????

Wait, what the hell? Fucking Michael Ian Black was on the show for ALL 83 episodes???? The comedian who captured our hearts with “The State” and “Viva Variety” and “Stella” was a regular on an hour-long dramedy on NBC for 4 years?? The guy who continues to change the face of Hollywood with his screenplays and comedic turns on various shows?

I… I don’t understand. Okay, okay, who actually knew about this? Let’s think this through. Someone had to greenlight this show, and it ran from 2000 to 2004. God, think of the untold millions of dollars spent on funding this thing! Can you believe this show likely kept around 300 people employed for a stretch during those four years?

Did you know Justin Long was also a series regular, credited for ALL 83 episodes? The guy who headlined his own terrible comedic movie? The MAC in the MAC vs. PC commercials for Apple? The comic relief from “Live Free or Die Hard?” The guy currently kickin’ it with Drew Barrymore?? Good grief!

It says here the show got cancelled due to low ratings for the 4th season. Well, shit, I would think it would have been gone after 3 episodes because who the hell heard of this show? You’d think I would have remembered NBC promoting this. I watched plenty of “Friends” and “Will & Grace” back then, surely this this thing would have clicked with me.

The same network that had “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” and “Frasier” had a show called “Ed.” Golly, who knew? Consider my mind BLOWN.

Top 5 “Journeyman” storylines I’m looking forward to

JOURNEYMAN is today’s answer for the classic time-traveling for the betterment of humanity show. A fantastic cast, smartly written episodes, and just the right amount of humanity form a potentially breakout hit. Ignoring the obvious cutting down from a two hour pilot to a one-hour episode, each episode is done well and gives just the right amount of new information to keep us hooked. This show is in danger of not being picked up for a full season, and looks like CHUCK and LIFE are safe. The ratings for the next new episode on December 10 will be a major determining factor. Improvement will mean a pickup, remaining steady may keep it in limbo, and any decline would assuredly get it cancelled. And this writers strike just adds another dangerous variable.


The Cast

Well, let’s assume the show can get a full season pickup and renewed for next season (the WGA strike not withstanding)…. In no particular order, here are the top 5 potential storylines I’m looking forward to:

The one where Dan travels outside the San Francisco Bay area

Up to this point, the show has followed a careful, contained formula. The show is about Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd), a newpaper journalist who keeps getting involuntarily pulled into the past to help a specific person in various points in his or her life, but Dan must struggle to keep up his marriage and family life in the present. Fortunately, Dan’s travels keep him in San Francisco, the city he was born, raised, and currently resides in. He operates in relatively familiar territory, just in the past. His resources at the paper, cunning investigative skills, and instincts allow him to figure out his mission and execute it within the 44-minute episode. The show tactfully avoids the LOST-type cliffhangers and mysteries (who/what is pulling him through time, why does Livia travel from the past always to Dan’s mission, etc), and it slowly reveals only necessary information to the audience. The mysteries behind it are interesting, but, unlike LOST, they are not the real reasons you tune in. Anyway, Dan will inevitably have to travel outside the comfort zone of Frisco and into unfamiliar lands, perhaps Cleveland or Hong Kong, as the show continues to slowly expand the limits of what we can see Dan accomplish.

The one where Future Dan comes back to help himself on a mission in the present (scar, odd haircut optional)

While Dan wants to get a handle on his time traveling and figure out how to stop it somehow, we have to assume that he will be making leaps through time for the rest of his life. We can also assume that as he jumps within the confines San Francisco, his future self would probably come back and intersect with him in the present for some scheme. If you were a time traveling hero, wouldn’t you use your past self to accomplish your mission?

The one where Dan travels to the future 

Dan will have to eventually give us a glimpse of the future, and it won’t look much different than the present. Just sillier haircuts and interesting gadgets.

The one where Dan inserts himself in history as the direct cause of some event the entire world already knows about, even though it contradicts the internal logic of the show’s time jumping

No one wants to see Dan somehow being in the right place at the right time so the correct cable is plugged in so everyone can watch the moon landing in 1969, but it is an irresistible angle for a show about time travel. But we see how Dan’s actions in the past directly affect his present (see the conversation Dan had with Jack about his time traveling – it turns out that never happened, due to Dan’s meddling in the past), so if he suddenly becomes the catalyst for a world-changing event that us, the audience, have already experienced, it would just be a cheap way to let us relate to Dan. The only way it could work without turning my stomach would be for him to be a ‘replacement’. In other words, he wasn’t originally there to plug in that cable, but he was standing next to the guy who was and so just decided to do it himself. Either way, the cable gets plugged in, but Dan is the one who accomplishes it. I hope they avoid this cliche altogether, but with how clever this show is I would like to see how they decide to do it.

The one where the show officially jumps the shark and creates a really silly premise where that physics professor starts giving Dan help and tools to use during his time travelling.

Ugh. There are a million ways to make something like this not work. I don’t know what creator Kevin Falls has in mind, but they’re clearly pointing to FBI Agent Garrity (played by Paul Schulze) and the physics professor (played by Tom Everett) to having specific prior knowledge about time travel. Those interested in the mystery behind Dan’s travels should be salivating by this point. Other people potentially know what’s going on!!


I’ve been known to get behind some really terrible ideas, like paying full price to see DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS and MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION, to name two. But those who know me also know my tastes have evolved and I’ve backed some really solid entertainment lately. And I fully advocate watching JOURNEYMAN, and most people who have seen it would likely agree. Set the DVR and watch it at your leisure or over at nbc.com. The series settles in quite nicely with the everyman-hero shows that came out this year to capitalize on the unexpected success of Tim Kring’s HEROES. You don’t have to think too hard, you don’t get jerked around by perpetually appearing mysteries, and each episode will satisfy with a solid story. The actors have the “it” factor you look for in a main and supporting cast and none of them appear out of place or outdo each other. Please watch and enjoy.