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January 13, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-13

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Tuesday
January 13, 2004
arts.michigandaily.com
artseditot@michigandaily.com

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ARTS

5

I I

FLYING HIGH
EPIC TALE COMES TO LIFE

DOUGLAS
WERNERT

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

In a tale that seems to have perme-
ated public consciousness to the
point of saturation, yet another
retelling of the Peter Pan fable has
been made for
modern audi-
ences. The last Peter Pan
encounter with At Madstone
this tale came Universal
from Steven
Spielberg's odd interpretation ,
"Hook," with Peter Pan reimagined
as an adult. In director P.J. Hogan's
vision of the tale, however, all the tra-
ditional elements of the source mate-
rial remain intact with only a few
creative liberties taken.
Caught in the confines of upper-
class England, Wendy and her two
brothers are at the whim of an obse-
quious father and overly-calculating
aunt who is ready to prime her for
adulthood. Cue Peter Pan, who
whisks them off to Never-Neverland

where they are free from the rigors of
adulthood and responsibility. Then
enter Captain Hook, Tinkerbell and
the Lost Boys. Nothing of the plot is
a surprise. With a movie like this it is
no so much about worrying about
what will happen next but how it will
happen. And it happens wonderfully.
There is such an air of enchant-
ment and magic to the film that it
just draws you in and the feeling is
that of being told a fairy tale. So
much of the enchantment comes
from the fact that the children play
their roles to perfection. Peter Pan is
brought to life by Jeremy Sumpter,
who really has the air of boy who
decided to simply refuse to grow up,
and Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood)
manages to balance the role of love
interest, mother and 13-year-old girl.
Even Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs) is
given a chance to receive empathy,
which adds some complexity to what
appears to be a simple children's tale.
That is what comes off as so
unique about this film. It is given a
seriousness, complexity and darkness
to the matter at hand. It's something
surprising to see in a film obviously

Despite shortcomings, TV
is still a worthwhile affair

Courtesy o Unversal

I think the drugs are kicking in, Wendy.
aimed toward children and coming
from a major Hollywood production.
From the morose portrayal of the
mermaids to the visual of Hook's
amputated arm, there are elements of
the film that challenge perceptions of
what needs to be seen.
With the outstanding set design, a
clear and sad resolution between
childhood and adulthood and a firm
adherence to the genuine nature of
the story, "Peter Pan" plays as a dark
fairy tale that goes down as a great
way for the story to be remembered
by a new generation of children.

Courtesy of Universal
Look, it's yet another four-star review!

I

Local jam band excels at the Blind Pig

There's no denying it; television
isn't what it used to be. Gone are
the days when a can't-miss pro-
gram seemed to be on television almost
every week, persuading even the most
casual viewer to tune in. Now, those
can only be found a few times a year,
those being the "American Idol" con-
clusion, a couple series finales and the
unexpected hit show that seems to
appear each season. Flavors of the week
such as these serve us briefly, but then
fizzle out quicker than "Who Wants to
Be a Millionaire?" To a certain extent,
TV is losing its greatness, but pound for
pound, it's still one of the best forms of
entertainment we have.
The fact is though, viewers are leav-
ing the major networks. Back in 1984,
the leading network, CBS, had an aver-
age Nielsen rating (the percentage of
households watching a program at a
given time) of 18.1. In 1994, CBS again
led with a 14.0 rating, but at the end of
2003, that rating had dropped all the
way to 6.2, which equates to about 9.7
million viewers per program per night.
The substandard content of the big
four (NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX) can
immediately be pointed to as a cause for
this decline. Sitcoms with former big-
name stars (i.e. "The Michael Richards
Show" and "Whoopi") aren't working,
as quality writing takes a backseat to
promoting the main character. Spin-offs
of America's favorites ("Coupling" and
"My Big Fat Greek Sitcom," for exam-
ple) prove lightning doesn't strike twice,
as the original of every show is always
better than any sequel.
Then there's reality TV; a genre that
has simultaneously dominated TV for
the last year and also hurt the reputation
of the previously credible networks. As
concepts for these programs got more
and more bizarre (take "Married by
America" and "Are You Hot?"), viewers
were turned away, but more of these
shows quickly followed because of ini-
tially popping a decent rating. The first
"Survivor" was original, but now TV

has the reputation of only providing
viewers with pointless reality drivel and
sitcoms lacking quality.
So with network TV on the down-
swing and people no longer considering
it the cultural medium it once was, is it
still important in today's entertainment?
Of course it is. Stars are constantly
created, catch phrases infuse our lan-
guage ("Is that your final answer?")
and it's a perfect way to reach the
masses, even if not as many are watch-
ing as they once were. In one evening,
from the comfort of your living room,
you can see an extreme makeover,
watch a cop drama and finish it off
with a healthy dose of Letterman or
Leno. You grow attached to characters
and every so often, a well-made pro-
gram comes out that keeps you tuning
in week after week.
Cable has proved to be television's
saving grace. With innovative shows
and ideas geared toward a certain audi-
ence, they provide a welcome change
from the catch-all programming of the
networks. Whether it's "South Park" on
Comedy Central, "Queer Eye for the
Straight Guy" on Bravo or even "Shark
Week" on the Discovery Channel, cable
TV has the ability to take risks with
fresh shows, and sometimes those risks
pay off. HBO, for instance, has found
great success, winning numerous
Emmys and constantly finding another
hit program every few seasons.
Great shows may be hard to find, but
a night of laughs and entertainment isn't
so difficult to locate as there's always
something for everybody. Plus, with
syndicated reruns, old favorites aren't
forgotten, whether it's "Bewitched,"
"Saved by the Bell," "Seinfeld" or any
TV Land program. TV is still important
in our society, and if you don't believe
that, there are only two words that need
to be said: Super Bowl.
-Doug invites you to his place to
watch "Sex and the City." RSVP at
dwernert@umich.edu

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer

CONCERT REVIEw
While the perception of jam music
is decidedly a negative one, deeply
rooted in hippie drug culture and
mindless jamming,
exceptions to the""
rule do exist. In Roadside
their Blind Pig Zoo
concert on Jan. 7, Wednesday, Jan.7
local band Road- At the Blind Pig
side Zoo attacked
these perceptions with two hours of
good-natured grooves and comfort-
able lyrics that aren't exclusively
liked by jam band devotees.
Roadside Zoo appeared to be the
rarest of the rare -- a local jam
band that doesn't suck. The band

strives to make people dance with
comfortable grooves. Suitably
impressed, and still devoid of any
mind-altering drugs, I walked the
few blocks down to the Blind Pig.
Thankfully, Roadside Zoo did not
disappoint. The lyrics of their origi-
nal songs didn't seem to be compet-
ing with the ever-important
jamming. The band had the foresight
to learn their cover songs thorough-
ly, and they seemed comfortable on
stage. In fact, the entire show
seemed comfortable, with Roadside
Zoo easily making the crowd dance
with jams that didn't seem as com-
plicated or as tedious as those of
jam-scene luminaries Phish who
have a tendency to amble through
jams and as a result create a forced-
sense of showmanship.
Midway through the show I real-,

ized something important. Looking
around, the crowd was overwhelm-
ingly tied to the music. Dreadlocked
jammers, muscled frat members and
their freak-dancing counterparts, the
concert brought together people of
all types, everyone enjoying the
music with the fervor afforded to any
made band. Unfortunately, this also
worked to the disadvantage of Road-
side Zoo's music, with the audience
freak dancing blasphemously to a
mellow and innocent song called
"Jesus Lives on the Beach."
Perhaps there are some things
about the jam-band culture that I
still do not understand. Regardless,
Roadside Zoo put on a great set
designed to "make people dance,"
and can easily be-called the excep-
tion to the bland norm of the jam
{band scene.'

Noodling away.

II I

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