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September 10, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-10

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 10, 2004 - 9

RE-RUNs
No MORE
NETWORKS DIG FOR GOLD
WITH NEW PROGRAMS

King disappoints
with sixth 'Tower'

By Melissa Runstrom
Daily Books Editor
All things serve the Tower, even its
creator Stephen King, according to
"The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susan-
nah." The Tower is a quest that literally
means all worlds and all time. Roland
Deshain of Gilead has been fated as the
gunslinger that will save the Tower or
watch it and all of humanity fall. The
Gunslinger's now-famous ka-tet is
back, if a bit scattered, in King's latest
installment of the "Dark Tower" series.

In past years, the summer months were regard-
ed at television's "off-season," a time when the
major networks simply resorted to showing re-
runs of old favorites while retooling their lineups
for the ultra-competitive fall season. Over the past
few summers, however, the Big Four (ABC, NBC,
CBS and FOX) have tinkered with this formula, try-
ing out new programs and occasionally finding that
one breakthrough hit. With dreams of replicating
the success of "The O.C." and "Who Wants to be a
Millionaire?" running through their minds, the net-
works unveiled their summer programming. What
resulted were some new shows, some old shows and
a hell of a lot of Olympic coverage.
The Simple Life 2
FOX
Everyone's two favorite celebrities, Paris Hilton
and Nicole Ritchie, returned to FOX in a rehash of
their hit reality program "The Simple Life." This
time, the girls drove cross-country in a mobile home
and partook in the usual lewd, idiotic acts America
had come to expect from them. The idea worked last
year, as the concept was novel and nobody knew
who the blonde bombshells were, but this time, the
show seemed too much like a shell of its former self,
falling flat without the original's fresh approach.
North Shore
FOX
The show FOX most hoped would be the next
"The O.C." turned out to be another "Skin." The
drama skipped over the teen demographic in favor
of marketing to an older crowd, and the plotlines
seemed overly dramatic, while "The O.C." sto-
ries feel genuine. Throw in forgettable characters,
a weak hotel setting and less-attractive actors (not
including Amanda Righetti, who was originally on
"The O.C."), and the result is a show that found its
way onto the fall schedule. Go figure.
Method and Red
FOX
Debuting at the same time as "The Simple Life
2" was the comedy "Method and Red," starring two
famous rappers who invade a suburban neighborhood
and try to inject their own brand of ghetto-fabulous
fun into the residents. The supporting cast was decent,
but Method Man and Redman were lacking a star
presence. In yet another miss by FOX in a poor sum-
mer showing, the duo didn't provide the quick laughs
most were expecting and, as a result, both audiences
and TV sets were turned off.

As book six in a
series of seven,
the end is quickly
drawing near.
In this edition
the reader finds
Susannah and Mia
in New York City
in order to give
birth to the "chap."
Meanwhile Roland

The Dark
Tower VI:
Song of
Susannah
By Stephen King
Donald M. Grant/
Scribner

They got high.

Last Comic Standing
NBC
The Amazing Race
CBS
Two reality series returned for new seasons in
2004 and both found their groove again. "Last
Comic Standing" is a successful combination of
stand-up and "The Real World," with the emphasis
on simply making people laugh, a premise all can
enjoy. Fortunately, those who missed the 10 jokers
can catch them on the new season of the show on
Tuesday nights. On the CBS side of things, "The
Amazing Race" returned with 11 new teams on a
race around the world. The sites are spectacular, the
teams each have a special characteristic and, most
importantly, viewers can still tune in and catch the
last few episodes. The two programs are a prime
example of how excessive drama and hurting people
aren't necessary to ensure success; being entertain-
ing is all that matters.
Rescue Me
FX
Cable television joined the fray in the form of the
hard-hitting FX drama/comedy "Rescue Me." Den-

nis Leary wonderfully portrayed a tough yet vulner-
able New York firefighter who is haunted by ghosts
of his past, and a strong supporting cast only made
the show better. Each episode held nothing back
and created an emotional atmosphere of danger and
drama not seen on FX since the critically acclaimed
"The Shield" debuted in 2002. In a summer when
few programs stood out, "Rescue Me" stepped to the
forefront as the next big hit.
The Summer Olympic Games
NBC
From the lavish opening ceremonies to the Dream
Team's disappointing bronze finish, the Games of
the XXVIII Olympiad were the TV spectacle of
the summer. The 12-day event focused heavily on
gymnastics, swimming, track and field and the sur-
prise hit sport, beach volleyball. Tape-delayed cov-
erage and the failure to explore the history of host
city Athens, but in the end, everyone got what they
wanted: NBC garnered huge ratings, fans got com-
petition (and steroid scandals) and Americans got to
watch their athletes win gold and appear on Wheat-
ies boxes. In that sense, the games were a winner.
- Compiled by Doug Wernert

and Eddie must make certain that the
vacant lot with the Dark Tower's rose
remains safe from the Sombra Corpo-
ration. We find the group of gunslingers
separated into different time periods
this time around, transported by magic
they cannot control.
The most interesting character in
"Song of Susannah" is the split per-
sonality of Susannah/Mia. Susannah
is stuck in a New York she does not
know with personalities that she can-
not trust sharing her legless body. King
gives readers a more in-depth look
at the person Susannah has become
while they learn about who Mia is and
what she wants. Susannah emerges as
an interesting and strong personality.
The deepness of her character grows
immeasurably in her "Song."
The plot isn't as fast-paced as in
other "Tower" stories, but it is still
compelling reading that most fans of
the series won't want to put down. This
"Tower" book ends with a cliffhanger
that leaves readers waiting for the final
installment.
"Song of Susannah" unfortunately
loses some of the magic seen in earlier
installments. One central reason is that
favorite characters have left mid-world
and end-world and are wandering

around the United States in 1977 and
1999. The ka-tet is broken up and not
much is seen of young Jake Chambers
or his traveling companions.
The biggest flaw in the book is actu-
ally its famous author; King prevents
readers from sinking too far into the
story by reminding them that it is a
created work of fiction. In what could
be considered a presumptuous step,
King actually writes himself into a
large portion of the novel. The whole
strategy loses freshness quickly, and
the segment with King's self-portrayal
seems rather drawn out. It is certainly
interesting to picture King lounging
around with his characters, but it would
be better left for another time or a dif-
ferent story. It hinders his ability to
draw the reader into the Gunslinger's
world. King also breaks the spell with
small distractions like unnecessary ref-
erences to Microsoft, which seem out
of place and even awkwardly juxtapo-
sitioned within the story.
Despite its faults, the novel doesn't
lose its entertainment value. This may
not be King's best book, but for fans of
the "Dark Tower" series it should still
be required reading. What is learned
about the characters in this adventure
is insightful and worth the read. The
average reader will probably want to
pass over this one though, or better yet.
head for the paperback section to find
one of the older "Dark Tower" books
instead.

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