Archive for November, 2006

The New NBC Thursday Welcomes Scrubs!

November 29, 2006

Scrubs - CastOne of the smartest moves that NBC has made this season [besides greenlighting Heroes] is creating its Thursday night block of sitcoms. This week, they take that move to the next logical level with the return of Scrubs [9 p.m./8 Central]- one of the most audacious sitcoms of our time. Slotted between The Office [8:30/7:30C] and 30 Rock 9:30/8:30C], the medical sitcom provides a contrast of the underplayed lunacy of the former and the highly referential leanings of the latter – and makes a fine addition to an evening that also includes the karmic romp that is My Name Is Earl [8/7C]…

Scrubs - Cast

Scrubs kicks off its new season with My Mirror Image – an episode in which various members of the hospital staff find themselves dealing with key issues: J.D. [Zach Braff] is paralyzed by the thought that he's going to be a father; Dr. Cox [John C. McGinley] begins to worry about how his anger management [or lack of same] might be affecting his son], and The Janitor [Neil Flynn] begins to think that his obsession with needling J.D. might be preventing him from achieving other dreamt-about goals.

Meanwhile, Turk [Donald Faison] and Carla [Judy Reyes] are preparing for the arrival of their first baby and Elliot [Sarah Chalke] is all angsty because she's the only one not having a baby.

As each character tries to deal with his issues, he encounters a hospital patient in whom he sees something familiar. For The Janitor, it's a man who let his obsession with a specific degree distract him from what was going on around him – and from even thinking about his dreams; for Dr. Cox, it's a patient whose inability to manage his anger has put him in the hospital with ulcers [but not before it cost him his job and his family], and J.D. has a patient whose breast cancer has migrated to her spine.

At the same time as Scrubs provides a healthy does of its laugh-out-loud lunacy [check out the flagpole gag!], it also balances it with an equally healthy dose of reality. It is, in fact, this balance that keeps Scrubs from running off the rails. The show's writers are always aware that the best comedy is grounded in reality and that the farther out you take the humor, the more reality you need to ground it.

My Name Is Earl - Cast

My Name Is Earl opens the evening with Born a Gamblin' Man. When Earl [Jason Lee] delivers 276 Earl-made bologna sandwiches for Kenny [to make up stealing his lunch that many times when they were in school], he arrives as Kenny's boyfriend moves out. The problem? It seems that ever since Brokeback Mountain, all the men in Kenny's life want "real" men – and he entreats Earl to teach him how to be manly. The B and C arcs have Randy [Ethan Suplee] preparing to ask Catalina [Nadine Velasquez] out, while Joy Jaime Pressly] prepares for her trial by dealing with her anger management issues.

Needless to say, Earl's lessons have a detrimental effect on both him and Kenny – gambling problems! One of the funniest bits centers on Joy's anger management course – which is held at a kind of one-stop-anonymous group [dealing with alcoholics, problem gamblers, and even hypochondriacs…]. It's one of Earl's best eps of the season.

The Office [US] - Cast

In The Convict, Michael [Steve Carell] tries to be supportive when he learns that someone in the office – he automatically assumes it's someone from the Stamford branch – is an ex-convict. Fans of The Office won't be terribly surprised by what happens next, but as an occasional viewer, I found this episode to be a bit on the embarrassing side. The show has definitely been funnier…

30 Rock - Cast

Poor Liz Lemon [Tina Fey], of 30 Rock. As her show disintegrates around her, she finds herself reconnecting with Dennis [Dean winters] and taking him back solely because he asked. Simultaneously, she's fighting Jack's [Alex Baldwin] efforts to mentor her, maintaining she's doing just fine without him.

On the set, things aren't going well because Tracy Morgan [Tracy Morgan] has seen himself referred to as normal in a gossip rag and has turned up with a face-covering tattoo. Also, Jenna [Jane Krakowski] is suffering the aftereffects of a particularly nasty episode of botox treatment, and Josh is leery after receiving a message that Liz Taylor is going to be sending him something [after he's done a less than flattering impression of her on the show…].

I still haven't warmed to Krakowski as Jenn, I though Rachel Dratch was much better [her cameo, this week, is pretty cool, though…]. In this episode, though, Krakowski does a terrific job as the botox-frozen show host. As usual, Fey and Baldwin are excellent and Morgan pokes fun at the whole "street cred" thing with unexpected panache.

My Name Is Earl – Grade: A-

The Office – Grade: C

Scrubs – Grade: A

30 Rock – Grade: B-


Superman Returns: Two Disc Collectors’ Edition: Big Still Plays Big On The small Screen!

November 28, 2006

Superman Returns Box ArtSuperman is the most mythic of comic book superheroes. He has godlike powers and he uses them for the right reason – to help others. "Superman Returns" is a lovely, meandering film that attempts [and succeeds for the most part] to give us an overview of the character and add emotional depth at the same time.

An opening graphic informs us that Superman [Brandon Routh] has been away for five years as he left Earth to see the ruins of his homeworld, Krypton, for himself. As both an immigrant and an adoptee, this amounts to his search for his roots and, though we don't actually see those scenes in the film [they were shot], the concept gives us a peek into Kal-el's heart – a look that comes back later in the film to resonate in a confrontation with Lois Lane [Kate Bosworth]. When the film gets underway immediately thereafter, we are transported to a world that seems timeless, with its fusion of art deco and modern design.

While Superman has been away, Lex Luthor [Kevin Spacey] has managed a get out of jail free card courtesy of a missed court date by the Man of Steel. He's back and his fascination for real estate has taken a giant leap for the worse. Where Gene Hackman's Luthor merely wanted to create beachfront property in Arizona – killing millions along the way – Spacey's version wants to create a whole new continent at the expense of billions!

Also, in Superman's absence, Lois Lane has had a son, Jason [Tristan Lake Lebeau], and won a Pulitzer Prize for her editorial, "Why We Don't Need Superman." And, oh, yes, she's living with Perry White's [Frank Langella] nephew, Richard White [James Marsden] – and has been for several years.

"Superman Returns" is about more than just Superman's physical absence – as a result of his unseen pilgrimage, he is now more aware than most that the adage "you can't go home again" can be both true and false. The planet of his birth – and all that it could have offered – is gone forever, but his emotional, adoptive home is still there. Even after all the changes that have come in his absence.

What works in the film? Well, Routh brings a very Christopher Reeve-like presence to play [though there is a resemblance, it's only from certain angles – at other times, it's amazing how unlike Reeve he is], with a deft touch in the more humorous moments; Langella's Perry White is the quintessential hard-assed boss with a heart of gold; Eva Marie Saint adds emotional weight to her brief scenes as Martha Kent; and Lebeau is terrific as Jason White. The action sequences are well choreographed with two, in particular, that stand out [the shuttle launch and the continental ones – you'll know them when you see them]. The special effects are extremely good – though they're done in such an offhand manner that they seem more real than artificial [for the most part].

Superman Returns - Lois & Clark

Of course, a superhero film is only as good as its villain, and Lex Luthor [as played by Kevin Spacey] is definitely more menacing and funnier than Gene Hackman's version in the Christopher Reeve films. His ability to take Luthor from seeming good-natured kidding to deathly menace in a nanosecond makes the character as unpredictable as we've ever seen captured on film. It's a masterful performance.

What doesn't work – and nearly overcomes the accumulated good will generated by what does work – is the character of Lois Lane. The script paints a picture of an allegedly more mature Lois – parent to a five-year old boy, and Pulitzer Prize winner for a story call Why We Don't Need Superman. The problem is that – besides Bosworth not looking old enough to have a five-year old son [while Superman seems the same age, Lois appears to be more than a decade younger… yikes!] – Lois is not likely to be cited as mother of the year.

Not only does she take her son, Jason White, with her as she investigates Lex Luthor – she actually takes him into Luthor's lair [which is to say, directly into harm's way!]. Neither the Lois of the comics, nor the Lois of the previous movies and serials, would be so incredibly stupid! Worse, Bosworth seems almost incapable of acting – and has next to no chemistry with Brandon Routh.

Fortunately, even screened on the smaller screen of one's home television, Superman Returns features some nifty plot twists; a diabolical Lex Luthor [Spacey blows Hackman out of the water with one of the most enjoyable portraits of a villain in comics movie history]; and dazzling special effects. Of course, the DVD doesn't replicate the four 3D action set pieces, but they are still more than serviceable in 2D – still, it does lose a bit of the film's big screen impact.

Disc one contains the movie [sadly, without a commentary track – what was Warner's thinking?]. Disc two includes over three hours of features: Making Superman Returns: From Script To Screen; Designing Superman: From Art and Costume Design to Set Construction; The Joy of Lex: Behind The Scenes With Kevin Spacey; Resurrecting Jor-el: How The Filmmakers Recreated Jor-El; Deleted Scenes, and Trailers.

The documentaries capture the enthusiasm of everyone concerned – especially director Bryan Singer, and Brandon Routh – and the Kevin Spacey segment features Spacey's characteristic humor [always a selling point]. The features given a great deal of insight into the process of making Superman Returns but I still miss the commentary track.

Superman Returns – Grade: B

Features – B

Final Grade: B

Anime´ – Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex – The Complete Collection

November 28, 2006

Stand Alone Complex - box ArtWhy is it that anime

Michael Shanks is the Bad Guy

November 27, 2006

 For his role in the new Insight Films/Lifetime movie-of the-week,

Do We Really Need Another Sitcom About a Sportswriter? If It’s TBS’ My Boys, The Answer Is An Emphatic YES!

November 26, 2006

My BoysI'm going to just come right out and say it – I'm in love! Her name is PJ Franklin and she's a sportswriter for The Chicago Sun-Times. She's smart, funny, dead cute and loves sports [obviously!]. She also loves the Cubbies! She's the heroine/narrator of the new TBS series, My Boys [Tuesdays, 10 p.m./9 Central], and she is some kinda player [oh, look! The sports metaphors have already begun!]…

PJ [Jordana Spiro] is a twenty-something sportswriter who has always been something of a tomboy. Her colleagues – and most of her friends – are guys, and she really fits in. When she tries to work in an evening out with her [one] girlfriend, she has to skip three straight evenings because of football [watching] and baseball [work]. She hosts the weekly poker game, and makes a would-be beau feel weird because she "says all the guy things!"

It's the gang at the poker game around whom this show is built. Besides PJ, there's Andy [Jim Gaffigan], her older brother [married to a micromanaging woman named Meredith]; Kenny [Michael Bunin], a sports memorabilia store owner who's afraid of commitment [or even taking a chance]; Brendan [Reid Scott], a DJ who is caught in the drama of an eternally on-again/off-again relationship; and Bobby [Kyle Howard], a sportswriter with a rival paper, whom she finds… shall we say… interesting?

PJ's one girlfriend, Stephanie [Kellee Stewart], on the other hand, is about as girly as they come. She's feminine with a capital FEMME, and frequently despairs over PJ's less than feminine approach to all aspects of her life, including the romantic. She's also smart, funny and drop dead gorgeous…

Since PJ is a sportswriter, you know that her narration will be riddled with sports metaphors, which could be annoying after awhile – if they weren't so completely appropriate and funny. Spiro, it turns out, has a combination of a slightly husky voice and impeccable timing, so that everything she says takes on an unexpected depth [and no small amount of sexiness…].

My Boys - Kenny, Michael, PJ & Brendan

The show's title, My Boys, refers to the idea that men may come and go – but the boys are forever. The idea for the series comes from the experiences of the show's creator, Betsy Thomas [My So-Called Life, Then Came You] – who developed the series with former network head, Jamie Tarses [who is one of the inspirations for Studio 60's Jordan McDeere]. The series is a one-camera show with no laugh track – and none is needed.

Watching PJ and her friends navigate the pitfalls of life can be as enlightening as it is funny. When Brendan wonders aloud if any of the group has plans for Sunday night, for example, no one wants to answer because if he's got something great planned, they miss out – but if he's got something lame planned, they get sucked into the abyss with him! Talk about a life lesson!

Then there's the PJ/Bobby dynamic – when she meets him in the press box, in the pilot, and chemistry arises, it leads to the two of them sending extremely mixed [and odd] signals to each other. The ensuing discomfort and situational reassessment is a wonder to behold. And how about Brendan's biggest fan – who invades PJ's space when she allows him to crash in her guest room after he breaks up [yet again] with his girlfriend. It seems she [PJ] has no problem with a one-night stand, but a five-night stand? Not so much…

Of course, being a sitcom, we might not expect the characters of My Boys to grow – but if you stick around, you'll see even Kenny, the commitment phobe, stretch. Of course, you'll also get to meet Fun Andy – an experience that may be hilarious, but is also something of a revelation. It's instances like these that set My Boys above the average sitcom. It's not just smart and funny – it's also real. So not what I was expecting…

My Boys may not be the next great sitcom, but it has that kind of potential. I love it and I'm not even a baseball fan [except, of course, for the Cubbies and the Blue Jays – but Jays only because they're a Canadian team… but I digress!]. Let's just say that in the course of the five eps I screened this week [numbers one to four, and nine – I don't know why], I laughed harder than I have since Arrested Development got cancelled. In baseball parlance, My Boys bats cleanup.

Grade: A

A Scot in Atlantis: Interview with Paul McGillion

November 24, 2006

AtlantisTo the delight of a packed and cheering audience, Paul McGillion steps on stage at the Wolf SG-11 convention wearing full Scottish regalia.

Animated TVonDVD: Star Trek: The Animated Series; The Tick vs. Season One; HarveyToons; The Dick Tracy Show

November 23, 2006

The Animated Series Box ArtStar Trek: The Animated Series won the franchise's only Emmy; The Tick vs. Season One introduced comics' funniest superhero satire to television; HarveyToons: The complete Collection is a spirited mix of film and TV animated shorts, and The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Crime Series fails to do justice to Chester Gould's sharp-jawed sleuth…

The Animated Series

Star Trek: The Animated Series

The twenty-two animated episodes of Star Trek that ran over two seasons in 1973-74 are finally available on DVD – in a package that does them justice – thirty-two years after their original run ended. A single screening is enough to tell even the casual viewer why there has been a demand, for so many years, for a home video release of the series – despite the usual limited animation common to television, Star Trek: The Animated Series tells stories that would be at home in the middle of seasons one and two of the original, live-action series.

Under the guidance of original series veteran D.C. Fontana, the animated series dealt with some pretty heady subjects for a cartoon show that aired on Saturday mornings. Yesteryear used the Guardian of Time [first seen in original series episode The city on the Edge of Forever] to tell the story of how Spock became a man – after an accident had changed the timeline so that he had died at age seven; Eye of the Beholder found our heroes stuck in a zoo created by slug-like creatures whose intelligence far outstripped that of humanity [or even Vulcans!]; The Counter-Clock Incident placed the Enterprise in a reverse universe, where black stars shone on a white void…

One of the reasons the show was of high quality was the insistence of Gene Roddenberry that Filmation [who created the series for NBC] use the original cast and many of the same writers. With the exception of Walter Koenig [Ensign Pavel Chekhov], the entire cast from the original series returned to voice their characters. Koenig was given an opportunity to write an ep and turned in one of the series' best – The Infinite Vulcan. Animated Series writers who worked on the original series included Samuel A. Peeples, David Gerrold, D.C. Fontana, and David Wise. The result was an Emmy win – for Best Children's Series. The show was described as a "Mercedes Benz in a soap box derby" in one review.

Features include: three text commentaries by Michael and Denise Okuda [Yesteryear, The Eye of the Beholder, and The Counter-Clock Incident – all excellent]; two audio commentaries by David Gerrold [More Tribbles, More Troubles and Bem]; an audio commentary by David Wiser [How Sharper Than a Serpent's tooth]; Drawn to the Final Frontier – The Making of Star Trek: The Animated Series; What's the Star Connection? [examples of original series references in TAS, and instances of later references back to TAS]; Storyboard Gallery [from The Infinite Vulcan]; Show History.

Star Trek: The Animated Series – Grade: A

Features – Grade: A

The Tick vs. Season One Box Art

The Tick vs. Season One

From its bizarre, scatting theme song to its witty deconstruction of the superhero genre, Ben Edlund's The Tick was one of the brightest, sharpest, funniest animated series to ever reach television. The dispenser of Mighty Blue Justice [with the aid of accountant-turned Moth Man, Arthur], The Tick was an avenger like no other: a large, noble, enthusiastic, but thoroughly unintelligent fusion of man and bug.

Given to proclamations and long-winded similes and metaphors, The Tick [perfectly voiced by Townsend Coleman] appeared to be a human behemoth in a blue costume – until you noticed that his antennae moved! His personality and intelligence could be summed up in his audition for a superhero assignment, when he straps himself into a nasty looking device to demonstrate his invulnerability with the warning, "Stand Back! I might be dangerous!"

This is a hero whose battle cry is "Spooooooooooooooooooon!" […because all the good battle cries were already taken…] His sidekick, Arthur [Mickey Dolenz], wears a moth-man suit and flies – but he's out of shape and easily terrified. Other heroes who pop up to help out include: American Maid [Kay Lenz] – Wonder Woman in red, white & blue French maid's uniform; Die Fledermaus [Cam Clarke] a Batman-like character who's more interested in his press clippings – and women – than actually fighting crime because… he's a coward, and Sewer Urchin [Jess Harnell] – a rain man/puffer fish combination.

The show's villains match the delightful absurdity of the heroes: Chairface Chippendale [Tony Jay] – an evil genius with a chair for a head [who began etching his name on the moon in his first appearance]; Dinosaur Neil – a mild-manner scientist who accidentally becomes a raging dinosaur [and can only be defeated by a common household remedy], and Human Ton & Handy [Maurice Lamarche] – a hulking dimwit who takes orders from a hand puppet. The there were The Idea Men – who couldn't communicate their ideas because their masks completely muffled their voices. And there's always The Evil Midnight bomber [What Bombs At Midnight]…

The Tick vs. Season One collects twelve of the first season's thirteen episodes [legal complications, apparently] and that's over four hours of totally mind-boggling fun. Watch for thrilling origin stories; riffs on talk shows; insane gadgets and mad scientists – and did I mention the brainy hand puppet and his dimwitted handler…?

The DVD is free of extras, but the package includes an insert with a complete episode list, and an exclusive lithograph.

Grade: A+

The Complete Collection

HarveyToons: The Complete Collection

Most people know of certain legendary animators like Tex Avery, Fritz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and the like. When I was a kid, I used to watch a series built around characters like Casper, The Friendly Ghost and Baby Huey. Classic Media has now released all fifty-two episodes of that series under the titles of HarveyToons: The Complete Collection – and, while they might not always match the work of the three giants I named earlier, they had more than a few moments where they did challenge them.

Directors like Izzy Sparber and Seymour Kneitel brought a combination of fluidity and chaos to these characters' adventures and, while less well known than, say, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, provided a lot of quality laughs. Casper, of course, was their best known character, and a ghost who didn't want to scare anyone was a great concept.

Each early Casper cartoon had Casper scaring away the people with whom he wanted to be friends – until he would somehow save the day. In one short [Ghost of the Town], he saved a baby from a burning building. Not only did he make a lot of friends that day, he also ruined
the lives of his fellow ghosts – no one was afraid of them because of his courage and helpfulness. One of the trademarks of a Casper cartoon was his unfailing cheerfulness and determination – he made a great role model for kids.

Such was not the case with Baby Huey – a humongous baby duck who was a few brain cells shy, and always hungry. Then there was Little Audrey, whose imagination was always getting her in trouble – as when she decided to visit the zoo to find a pet! There was also a pairing, Herman & Catnip, that owed much to Tom & Jerry but had their own slapstick charms.

When the HarveyToons ran on TV, an episode would be composed of two theatrical shorts and an original TV short [usually not featuring one of the main Harvey characters]. My personal favorite [and indicative of the intelligence that lurked behind every HarveyToon] is T.V. Fuddlehead, a lovely satire in which a TV addict insists on buying everything he sees advertised on TV.

With over nineteen hours of material on four double-sided discs, there's no need for extras. This is a terrific collection, with very few duds. For animation aficionados [and kids of all ages], HarveyToons: The Complete Collection is an unexpected treat.

Grade: B+

The Dick Tracy Show Box Art

The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Crime Series

When I was in grade school, I used to run home at lunchtime to watch The Dick Tracy Show. Even though Chester Gould's immortal sleuth barely appeared in it, I still loved it. The problem is, it really hasn't held up well…

I don't know [or care] how The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Crime Series came to be made. What was charming and funny to a ten-year old kid [that would be 1961] turns out to be bad slapstick, punchless puns and a whole lot of boring going on.

Part of the problem is that characters like Jo Jitsu, Heap O'Calory, Hemlock Holmes and Go Go Gomez are all stereotypes, and/or rip-offs of better characters [Go Go Gomez, for example, is a dumbed down Speedy Gonzalez – himself a stereotype, but at least a witty use of one]. Jo Jitsu is Mister Moto played for clich

Déjà Vu: Surreal Action Film Kicks Temporal Mechanics!

November 22, 2006

Deja Vu - Carlin Watches HimselfDeja Vu's publicity campaighn has hammered home that it is a time travel movie, but the actual time travel portion of the film is limited to the third act – and what a third act it is! With a cast that includes Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer and Jim Caviezel, Deja Vu does have a lot of star power – but unlike a lot of star showcases, this one includes stars who are fine actors, and the script really puts them through their paces.

Washington is ATF [Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms & Explosives] Agent Doug Carlin, who is but one of a task force investigating a terrorist bomb that destroys a ferry with a full complement of over 500 passengers. When he picks up on the discovery of the corpse of a young female who was, apparently a victim – and the call-in on the discovery of the body turns out to be half-an-hour before the bomb – he immediately suspects that the murder and the bomb are related.

He's drafted to a special, under-the-radar unit headed by Val Kilmer's FBI Agent Pryzwarra, which has some impressive technology at their disposal – they claim it's an ultra-advanced form of satellite surveillance that is always four-and-a-half days into the past because it takes that long for their supercomputer to render it accurately [he suspects it's something else, because when they surveil the woman, she seems to sense she's being watched].

Deja Vu - Carlin watches Carol

Deja Vu is intricately structured, and the way the film plays with temporal mechanics is consistent and logical throughout. Carlin's fascination with the soon-to-be-murdered woman on his monitor is built beautifully – Washington needn't say a word for us to know what he's thinking. During these scenes, Paula Patton makes it extremely easy for us to see why a cynical ATF agent might fall for her…

As the title suggests, there is a lot of material that comes back in on itself. Particularly impressive is the way the dialogue recurs from different characters' mouths – in different situations. Very smart stuff, indeed. As a science fiction fan, I was impressed that screenwriters Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio [Mark of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean] never let the science get out of hand, or become inconsistent [it's also cool that, like a lot of breakthroughs, this technology is the result of a fluke!]. As an action fan, I note that the action set pieces are extremely well done – to the point of providing the first truly unique car chase in decades!

The way Carlin finally deals with the terrorist is inspired – and well within the "deja vu" structure that has been careful built over the course of the film. Even the ending, with its moment of sacrifice and ensuing moments of hope, is a unique take on the Hollywood happy ending that is, ultimately, satisfying. Try as I might, I can't really find any major flaws in the film – and the little ones aren't really enough to make a difference to the overall experience. This is be Tony Scott's best film – and I suspect that D

Done The Impossible: Browncoats Celebrate The Little Show That Wouldn’t die!

November 21, 2006

Done The Impossible Box ArtIf you have any Browncoats among your friends and family, you will know about it. Browncoats are fans of the Joss Whedon TV series, Firefly, and the film for which their support was largely responsible. Done The Impossible is another unlikely chapter in the Firefly/Serenity saga…

When Joss Whedon's TV series, Firefly, was prematurely cancelled, its legion of fans rose up – first prompting a DVD release, which then sold so well it helped Universal decide to acquire the movie rights. Finally, a movie, Serenity, was made. Done The Impossible is a fan-made documentary that looks at how that process occurred.

Although the documentary is largely concerned with Browncoats [their feelings about the series and the movie] and the way their support [unrivalled since the original Star Trek write-in campaign] made it possible for the nearly unheard of to happen, it is most notable for interviews with Joss Whedon and some of the cast and production crew of Serenity – and for enlisting the aid of Adam Baldwin to introduce each section of the film, and Jewel Staite for voice-over work.

This is one of those "if-I-had-a-camera-I'd-do-this" films that usually wind up boring people to tears at family gatherings. The big difference between those vanity projects and Done The Impossible is simple – Done The Impossible is a very good documentary. The done The Impossible team [Brian Wiser, Jared Nelson, Jason Heppler, Jeremy Neish and Tony Hadlock] have filmed and edited a tidy little doc that really works as a film.

It traces the story of Whedon's series from before its out-of-sequence run on FOX and cancellation, through to just after its big screen big screen release – and it gives the viewer some keen insights into how this remarkable little series affected people's lives enough that they wouldn't let it die. As a Browncoat myself, I was prepared for Done The Impossible to be an earnest, awkward, emotional Rollercoaster ride. Thus, I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that it was made with the same kind of professionalism that Whedon and his cast and applied to both Firefly and Serenity.

Done The Impossible - Browncoats

Done The Impossible captures the love, outrage and insistence of the Browncoat movement, while revealing that the series/film's cast and crew are equally enthusiastic fans [we hear from folks like stars Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, and Ron Glass – as well as production people like Christopher Buchanan and Tim Minear]. Baldwin's contribution and the Whedon interview [which is dispensed in bits throughout the film] show just how important both projects were to them – but neither seems forced or staged. The result is that any non-Browncoat who watches the film will likely want to see what all the fuss is about [and if you know a Browncoat, you will see this film].

There is also a CD release of the Done The Impossible soundtrack, featuring artists who have become such fans of Firefly and Serenity that they've written songs about them. Some of the best tracks include: Big Damn Trilogy, by Celtic band, The Bedlam Bards [their hope that their would be a Serenity trilogy]; Rob Kuhlman's medley, Done The Impossible [The Ballad of Serenity], and Emerald Rose's fine take on The Ballad of Serenity. Because the songs on the soundtrack were composed by acts that were fans of Whedon's work, they both stand alone as great songs and work within the framework of the Done The Impossible soundtrack.

Done The Impossible - Baccarin & Staite Interview

With Christmas shopping being flogged before Thanksgiving these days, here's a tip: if you know a Browncoat who doesn't have Done The Impossible, or its soundtrack, you can't go wrong giving them one or both. Chances are that you'll enjoy them, too. If you are a Browncoat and don't have one or both… what were you thinking?

DVD & DVD-ROM features include: Audio Commentary [extremely good]; Interactive Timeline; Extended Interviews; Trivia Game;

The Cartoon Network’s Thanksgiving Treat: Good Wilt Hunting – A Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends Special Event!

November 21, 2006

Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends - Good Wilt HuntingGood Wilt Hunting [Thursday, 7 p.m. ET/PT, check your listings] gives the tall, red, one-armed imaginary friend his own adventure. When his creator fails to show for the latest Creator Reunion, Wilt sets out to find his creator and right what he perceives to be a grievous wrong…

Ever since the mid-point of its first season, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends has become increasingly mean spirited and less and less whimsical. The series' special, one-hour event, Good Wilt Hunting, reverse that trend spectacularly. From the opening moments, when we see all the orphaned imaginary friends reuniting with their creators, this strange and wonderful movie recaptures the pure fun and zaniness of those early episodes.

Part of the fun is seeing the creators of the imaginary friends – some are very familiar but others are very different. The similarities and contrasts provide a lot of laughs and a couple of warm and fuzzy [but not annoying] moments. When it turns out that Wilt's creator hasn't shown – again – Bloo's incessant questioning seems to spark the big red guy's disappearance. We know, however, that he's made an appointment by phone and is off on a quest to right what he perceives to be a grievous wrong.

Naturally, once Mac and the gang discover that Wilt has disappeared, they decide to go after him and find out what's wrong [they eventually deduce that he's searching for his creator – well… all except Bloo, who seems to think that Wilt is on the lam for some horrendous crime!]. Meanwhile, Wilt's journey is complicated by his good-heartedness [think of it as a kind of "tasks of Hercules" for the poor guy].

Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends

Good Wilt Hunting may be the cleverest episode of the series to date. A lot of thought has gone into the creators of Foster's orphaned imaginary friends [Eduardo's creator is a particularly appropriate and funny choice – with just a hint of poignancy to make their reunion especially effective], and Wilt's tasks [undertaken out of the goodness of his heart – without even being asked] show what a wonderful friend he is – even if he doesn't think so.

The gang's road trip to find Wilt is also a lot of fun – Coco's adoptive friends [two nerds who came upon her shortly after her creator left her] provide a lot of discomfort for Frankie, whom [it turns out] they practically worship. The gang also has a habit of just missing Wilt – and learning each time what a good friend he's been to people [and imaginary friends] he's never met before.

Good Wilt Hunting is a fable about the nature of friendship. As such, it teaches a valuable lesson without seeming to be saying anything at all. It doesn't even hit anyone over the head with its moral – everything is communicated in the giddy whirlwind of whimsy that series has been in need of refreshing. We can all be thankful that The Cartoon Network has delivered this wonderful little paean to friendship at this most appropriate time of the year.

Grade: A