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February 04, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-04

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February 4, 2003



'A.U.S.A' not A-OK

By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer

For four years, Scott Foley played
charming doofus Noel Crane on the
WB's critically adored college drama
"Felicity." He brought that same neb-
bish charisma to NBC's "Scrubs" last
year in a two-episode guest stint. With
"A.U.S.A," NBC's new legal comedy,
Foley makes it three-for-three in the
charm department. Unfortunately, he
didn't bring along any of the other
qualities that make those other two
shows so compelling.
After first hearing about "A.U.S.A.",
it seemed to have the potential to cap-
ture the quirky essence of "Scrubs"
and its inventive take on a tired genre.
What "Scrubs" did to the medical
genre - givinng a face

another, including a sexually-charged
encounter with a bathroom hand-dryer
and an accidental case of jury-tamper-
ing. But while these circumstances
could be utilized to opportune comedic
effect, "A.U.S.A." doesn't take advan-
tage of the situations.
None of the support-

of humanity to those
intense doctors -
"A.U.S.A." could have
done for lawyers, if
that's at all possible.
Instead, it comes off as
another stiff and con-
trived sitcom leaving


Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.

ing characters do much
to help take the pressure
off of Foley, (Eddie
McClintock) Sullivan's
easygoing roommate, is
downright infuriating.
The one exception is
John Ross Bowie as the

Last spring, a new television series came out of
nowhere, violently catching the attention of critics
and audiences alike with its shocking in-your-face
style. After an extremely successful first-season
run, averaging 3.2 million viewers a week, "The
Shield" further stunned the public and the industry,
winning star Michael Chiklis an Emmy Award for
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Now, the FX cop drama is back Tuesdays at 10
p.m., and coinciding with the new season, FOX has
released "The Shield: The Complete First Season"
on DVD and video. Nothing short of a masterwork,
the series centers on a division of the Los Angeles
Police Department and the morally ambiguous
world of police officers. At the center of that world
is Detective Vic Mackey and his Strike Team, an
elite crime-fighting unit who keep the peace while
swimming neck-deep in illegal activity along the
way. Leveraging smaller criminals for the bigger
ones, taking payments from drug dealers and even
murdering those that stand in the way are all tactics
acceptable enough to achieve the greater good.
Former "Commish" star Chiklis gives a career-
redefining performance as the corrupt Mackey,
buffing-up his appearance as well as his attitude to
play the conflicted cop. Brutal, edgy and fearless,
Mackey is careful enough not to get caught, but not
enough to avoid arousing suspicion. He butts heads
with his captain, who knows he's "Al Capone with
a badge" but can't prove it, and has the support of
the system because he gets the job done.
While the first half of last season's 13 episodes
are mostly stand-alone storylines
interspersed with minute character 6
developments that later culminate,
including the astonishing pilot, the
second-half finds Mackey
embroiled in a police scandal that THEC
threatens to expose him. Tuesdays;
By exploring the everyday ten-
sions between right and wrong, and F
the lines that are crossed to balance
those forces, "The Shield" pumps new life into the
tired cop genre, reviving the provocative story-
telling and gritty performances reminiscent of the
old days of "NYPD Blue."
But for all its shock tactics, the most impressive
part of the show is the performances, which are
thoroughly detailed in the DVD extras. The entire
cast's original casting tapes are included, as is

Foley no room to shine.
In tonight's pilot episode, we meet
Foley's Adam Sullivan, a promising
young assistant U.S. attorney (hence,
the title). It's his first day on the job as
a federal prosecutor, and it's going to
be a long one. After an accident at the
firing range (evidently that's a require-
ment for new prosecutors), Sullivan
works duly hard trying to impress his
unappeasable boss (Peter Jacobson)
and Susan, the public defender he's up
against (Amanda Detmer), who also
happens to be his former college crush.
He comes across one misfortune after

Who loves 'ya baby?

incompetent paralegal
Wally, who grows a liking to Sullivan.
If not for him, Foley would be com-
pletely hung out to dry. Although the
dimwitted lackey character is hardly an
original move, Bowie's mindless devo-
tion comes off as refreshing in this oth-
erwise mechanical contraption.
It's as if network executives just took
the old sitcom formula, changed the
variables and plugged it into the
machine. Unless "A.U.S.A." makes
some considerable changes soon, look
for this midseason replacement's
tenure to be a short one.

insightful commentary of each episode by the
actors and series creator Shawn Ryan. The extraor-
dinary supporting players include familiar face
CCH Pounder ("ER") as stridently candid Detec-
tive Claudette Wyms, Benito Martinez asthe politi-
cally ambitious precinct Captain
David Aceveda and Walton Goggins,
playing Mackey proteg6 Shane Ven-
k drell with the fierce intensity of a
young Jack Nicholson.
HIELD Season two picks up about a
t 10 p.m. month-and-a-half after the harrowing
conclusion of last season's finale,
with Mackey simultaneously trying
to avert an incoming Mexican drug
cartel while trying to cover-up his internal situation
as he tracks down his wife and children who have
left him, fearing their own safety. All the while,
Acevada has aligned himself with Mackey to pro-
tect his political aspirations, and Wyms is bearing
down on the Strike Team's criminal behavior.
Intense and engrossing as it still is, the new sea-
son's sensationalized plot contrivances are a mixed


Curt esy o FX
He found his pen. It was in the lunchmeat.
bag. Though watching Mackey verbally elude
being caught, redirecting and fending off blame is
thrillingly fun, the emphasized focus on his emo-
tionally saturated home-life is frustrating because it
relies too much on over-the-top from Chiklis.
Although he can clearly handle the responsibility, it
was the subtle emotional strain that made his per-
formance in the first season so memorable.
Chiklis was recognized again for the role at this
year's Golden Globes, winning the Best Actor
award, and the show out-muscled such TV power-
houses as "24" and "The Sopranos" to win Best
Drama. There is no doubt that at times, "The
Shield" is the best drama on television, but every so
often, it goes a little overboard on the drama.

Luck carries twisted 'Intacto'

By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer
Apparently Luck is not a Lady but
rather an aging Holocaust survivor
who lives in a casino at the base of
what appears to be the White Hills in
Arizona. With "Intacto," director
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo tells the
story of luck as a power embodied
by few, but for those lucky enough to
possess it, it is a tradable commodity.
Federico (Eusebio Poncela) had
high hopes of one day surpassing

spaced rather closely together. A
line of people stand together with
their hands tied behind their backs
and blindfolded. The proctor runs
out ahead and tells the group to run
as fast as they possibly can. As each
player's luck runs out - SMACK
- he or she hits a tree. The last per-
son left running is the winner. Just
such a game is played on this twist-
ed gambling circuit, initially for
priceless possessions, but then for
the very lives of others.
All of the players are trying to

Philly's the Roots come alive in Detroit

his mentor Samuel (N
Sydow, "The Exorcist")
as the luckiest man in
the world. However,
when Federico leaves
the casino in an attempt
to live on his own,
Samuel jinxes him -
taking all his luck
away. Powerless, Fed-
erico is dropped by the
side of the road with
little hope of ever reapin
upon Samuel.
Seven years later, in a
is reminiscent of M. Ni
malan's "Unbreakable
(Leonardo Sbaraglia) is
survivor of a massive pl
He is apprehended by t
when they discover stol
strapped to his unconsci
Federico, now working for
ance agency, hears the
connives his way into Tom
tal room. In exchange fo
dom, Tomas must follow
circuit" with Federico, w
convinced that he has foun
whose luck outweighs Sam
Imagine a large fores

Max von eventually gain enough luck that
they can take on
Samuel, "the fucking
God of chance," in an
* *intense game of Russ-
ian roulette where all
INTACTO but one chamber is
At the Michigan full. Samuel hasn't lost
Theater to anyone in 30-some
Lien's Gate years, but when Tomas
L____ 's__Gate _raises the stakes to get
his girlfriend back, the
g revenge gamble becomes the greatest of all.
"Intacto" is visually stunning in its
scene that presentation of this dark world of
ght Shya- alternative gambling. Fresnadillo's
," Tomas direction is superb in his ability to
> the only convey shocking moments including
ane crash. car crashes, insect attacks and camera
he police bulbs becoming gunshots- he keeps
en money you cringing and desperately wanting
ous body. more throughout the entire film.
r an insur- Surrealistically, the film does not
news and point to any specific locale, or give
ias' hospi- a definite setting. This attribute
r his free- intensifies the dream-like qualities
the "luck of this particular film and makes
ho is now one identify and reject the pro-
ad the man filmic world at the same time, thus
uel's. adding the awesome element:
t of trees believability.

By Joseph Utman
Daily Arts Writer
Revered rapper Big Daddy Kane
revved up the crowd Sunday night at
Detroit's State Theater before the
appearance of hip-hop's greatest con-
temporary act, the Roots.
Kane's presence was appropriate
given that the Roots make music that
sounds timeless, drawing from the past,
defining the present and likely influenc-
ing the future.
In fact, the Roots are transcendent in
nearly every applicable sense. Their
music does not neatly fit into any one
category; their appeal does not solely
engage any one group; their inspiration
does not singly come from any one
source. And on Sunday, they delivered a
performance that did not disappoint.
The pride of "Iladelph" were fantas-
tic, performing a two-hour set that
seamlessly blended together a bevy of
their own works and some welcomed
interpolations of other popular songs.
The recipe for the show was on display

immediately as MC Black Thought
belted out "Rock You" over the
inescapable melody from Eminem's
"Lose Yourself."
The Roots kept the crowd engaged
throughout the show, a testament to
their showmanship and the fond feel-
ings that the fans harbor. Few other
artists seem able to consistently earn
from their followers the adoration that
the Roots enjoy, and surely this exalted
status stems from the effort put forth by
the group, again apparent on Sunday.
Black Thought's considerable pres-
ence enraptured the audience, and the
highlight of Thought's evening was his
freestyle battle with guest MC Skillz.
The impressive mic work was only sur-
passed by the instrumental virtuosity on
display during the solos.
Len Hub pounded his bass, produc-
ing a funky and hard sound not always
featured by the more melodic songs that
casual Roots fans may recognize. In
stark contrast, newcomer Ben Kenney
blended his guitar riffs and slowly built
towards the soft, tonal "Something in

the Way of Things (In Town)."
Another recent Roots addition, per-
cussionist Frankie Knuckles, acquit-
ted himself nicely on his various
bongo drums and drum pads, also
enhancing the sound of ?uestlove's
own percussion. His solo was a wel-
comed reminder that ?uestlove
remains a supreme drummer, a dis-
tinction perhaps obscured by his cre-
ativity as a producer.
However, no instrumental interlude
surpassed Kamal's, who klanged away
on the keyboards, turning noise into
music and initiating a rousing series of
covers, including "Roc the Mic,"
"Nothin"'and "Hot in Herre."
The evening's most memorable hom-
age was paid to the late Jason Mizell,
Run DMC's Jam Master Jay. Human
turntablist Scratch reproduced some of
Jay's greatest beats and the group
offered a series of poses meant to both
evoke hip-hop's past and honor Run
DMC's significant contribution to the
music and the culture.
For their parts, guests Kane and

Skillz did well. Given his status, Big
Daddy Kane is assured a rousing wel-
come and he was quite good, per-
forming favorites like "Ain't No Half
Steppin."' Skillz, meanwhile, proved
that hismonikeris warranted, display-
ing the lyrical gift that has allowed
him to endure in the industry. His
best moment came when he relayed a
fictitious account of his brother's
murder meant to illustrate the studio-
gangster phenomenon.
Neither Kane nor Skillz stole the
Roots' thunder, though. In addition to
performing newer tracks from Phrenol-
ogy, covering some songs and jamming
on their instruments, the Roots played
favorites like "You Got Me," "The Next
Movement" and "Swept Away" simulta-
neously imparting their previous works
with new vitality and reminding the
audience - though it likely hadn't for-
gotten -just how good they have been
since Organix.
- For more on the Roots, read the
Daily's interview with
?uestlove appearing tomorrow.

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