September 29, 2004
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By Doug Wernert
Daily TV/New Media Editor
There's a simple reason why "CSI"
is the most popular show on televi-
sion. It takes an intriguing medical
investigation premise, adds some
strong, no-nonsense characters and
complements that with some fancy
effects to form one compact little
hour of programming.
The formula has worked so well
that the franchise is now receiving
its second spin-off. "CSI: New York"
successfully follows in the footsteps
ThE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER
"Rushmore" Soundtrack - It's still another three months until
Wes Anderson's fourth film, "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zis-
sou," opens nationwide. I suggest filling the void of your empty
life with this stunning compilation of British Invasion tunes from
Anderson's best film to date.
4 Twilight Samurai - Yoji Yamada's "Twilight Samurai" is a rich
and lyrical exercise in cinematic restraint; well deserving of its
record 12 Japanese Academy Awards. It is a rare gem of a samu-
How you doing?
of its predeces-
sors and throws
in a big-name
actor and a little
New York flare
to keep the audi-
ence coming back
at 10 p.m.
stars as Detective
NEW ABC DRAMA STAYS ON COURSE
Mack Taylor, an overworked investiga-
tor who, behind his gruff demeanor,
actually has an emotional side. He's
partnered with the usual strong female
counterpart (Melina Kanakaredes,
"Providence"), but it's clear that Mac,
as he is affectionately known, is the
leader of the duo. Mac is the one aggres-
sively questioning possible suspects and
examining the bodies at the autopsies,
conducted by the cool, intelligent Dr.
Hawkins (Hill Harper). Senise portrays
his character extremely well, switching
convincingly from being vulnerable and
stressed-out to a determined, unrelent-
ing detective in the blink of an eye.
The investigations, as in the previ-
ous two installments of the franchise,
usually revolve around a suspicious
death with some kind of mysterious
cause and motive that Mac and com-
pany must uncover. For example, in
the pilot episode, two young women
are found dead with severe bruises
around their neck. During the autop-
sy, Hawkins suggests a loss of blood
to the brain as the cause of death.
It is here that the patented "CSI"
effects make their mark on the show.
Creative shots of bursting blood ves-
sels, fractured neck bones and even
tattered belt holes are all shown,
enhancing the viewing experience
while also providing logical reason-
ing toward solving the case.
The New York City setting
doesn't play a huge role in the
show, but a more solid, lingering
presence. Famous landmarks are
used to determine where a photo-
graph was shot, and aerial views
of the city are used liberally at the
beginning of each episode. Where
"CSI: New York" differs from the
rest is in its tone. The other two
"CSI" offerings - taking place,
in Las Vegas and Miami - are
more flashy and extravagant, while
"New York" has a dark, low-key
atmosphere. This is evident in the
touching final scene of the pilot,
when Mac hails a cab to stop at
Ground Zero so he can mourn over
the loss of his wife who was killed
on Sept. 11.
Despite dominating the prime-
time lineup, the "CSI" name hasn't
gotten old and due to its huge
success, CBS doesn't look to be
stopping the innovative program
anytime soon. Good move.
By Doug Wernrt
Daily TV/New Media Editor
When it comes to laying out its premise, the new ABC
drama "Lost" doesn't waste a second. A man laying in a
pile of brush regains consciousness and wanders onto the
beach, only to find the burning wreckage of the plane he
formerly occupied. For the next few
minutes, chaos reigns as people are
trapped under debris, a pregnant Lost
woman screams for help, a piece of the Wednesdays
plane explodes and the other surviving at 8 p.m.
passengers wander aimlessly along the ABC
shore of this deserted island, some hys-
terical and others in shock. By the time
the opening credits roll, "Lost" has snatched the audience's
attention, ready to take them on a horrifying thrill ride that
is unlike anything on television today.
The now-conscious man is Jack (Matthew Fox, "Party of
Five"), a heroic doctor who possesses both fearlessness and
the kind of knowledge that can help the 48 survivors stay
alive. He quickly assumes a leadership role, moving people to
safety and tending to injuries. Wounded himself, he calls on
an attractive young woman to sew him up. This woman, Kate
(Evangeline Lilly), becomes a perfect counterpart to Jack, as
she also keeps a clear head at all times but still has the fear of
being stranded on the island lingering in her mind.
Jack and Kate clearly establish themselves as the most
complete and dynamic characters on a show with a robust
supporting cast. Whether it's the hard-nosed Asian man who
speaks no English.telling his wife to stay away from the rest
of the group or the self-centered woman who keeps telling
her brother they are going to get rescued (which is certainly
not happening anytime soon, as the plane crashed hundreds
of miles away from where it lost communication), the rest
of the survivors open up endless possibilities for storylines.
Dissension among the group members is bound to happen
once the airplane food runs out and they realize the peril
they are in.
Probably the most intriguing of this supporting cast is
Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, "Lord of the Rings"), an
eccentric European man who takes a liking to Jack and
Kate, going along with them to find the cockpit of the
plane to try and radio for help. It is during this expedition
where the danger of their predicament becomes evident.
Lurking in the jungle of this island is a huge, bloodthirsty
beast looking for prey. While the trio is inside the plane,
the animal makes its presence known, violently shaking
the cockpit and killing the pilot, leaving him hanging in
a tree. While this idea seems a tad hokey, the characters,
mixed with some great camera work, create a very realistic
aura of fear that is passed on to the audience. The beast
remains unseen, which will. only build more anticipation
towards its eventual sighting.
"Lost" could have very easily been a poor "Cast Away"
rip-off or, even worse, elicit comparisons to an overly dra-
matic version of "Gilligan's Island." Fortunately for viewers,
while the program isn't able to keep up the raw energy of
the fantastic opening sequence, it makes up for it by being
original, smart and truly engrossing.
"From A Basement on a Hill" - Elliot Smith's final album
will be posthumously released on October 19. Strange note:
Ex-girlfriend Joanna Blume, whom many blame for Smith's
supposed suicide, mastered
most of the album's tracks
including "King's Crossing,"
where Smith sings, "I can't
prepare for death any more
than I already have / All you
can do now is watch the shells.
The game looks easy. That's
why it sells." Spooky.
"Naked" By David Sedaris
- Hey, does anyone remem-
ber when America's fore-
most humorist was actually,
I don't know, funny? Instead
of wasting $25 on Sedaris'
most recent smattering of
melancholy bullshit, "Dress
Your Family in Corduroy and
Denim," pick up a used copy
of his second and funniest
Hockey at Yost - Michigan's
season begins this Saturday
at 7:30 p.m. with a home
opener against Windsor. Rec-
ommended preparation: one
solid hour of EA Sports's "NHL
Green Day mature with politicized rock opera
By Joel Hoard
Daily Arts Writer
Beginning with their breakthrough album
Kerplunk! in 1992 and culminating with Nim-
rod in 1997, Green Day spent the first half of
their career perfecting the two-and-a-half-min-
ute pop-punk song, while both reviving the punk
genre and infusing it with a
modern sense of irony and
But charm can only take
you so far. There comes a
time in the life of a punk
band when musicianship
indulgent and overblown, but it works, because
Green Day knows it's self-indulgent and over-
blown. They keep tongue planted firmly in cheek
and infuse their songs with enough energy and
hooks to keep it interest-
ing. The story, featuring
such colorful characters
as Jesus of Suburbia, St.
Jimmy and Whatsername,
is not what's important
here. What's essential is
that American Idiot plays
as a cohesive and engag-
ing record. It's the rock
opera for the lost genera-
tion, those held down by
"a redneck agenda" and
"the subliminal mind
fuck America," as Billie
Joe Armstrong explains
in the title track.
Day sounds less Clash
and Sex Pistols and more Who on American
Idiot. They pay ample tribute to the Gods of the
Rock Opera thropghout the album, copping Who-
like melodies, harmonies, windmilled guitar riffs
and thundering bass lines and refashioning them
into Green Day originals. The Who influence is
felt most prominently on the five-part mini-opera
"Jesus of Suburbia" (one of two such operettas on
the album), a full realization of the songwriting
prowess that has been lingering below the surface
for some time now.
But the tributes don't
end with The Who. On
"Are We the Waiting,"
Green Day are dead
ringers for Styx (who,
of course, authored their
own rock opera, Kilroy
Was Here), churning out
a puffed-up power ballad
complete with five-part
harmonies. And "Rock
and Roll Girlfriend"
would have been right
at home in "The Rocky
Horror Picture Show."
D0R More than anything,
Green Day has proven on
American Idiot that it is
possible for a modern punk act to age gracefully.
Their songwriting has reached full maturity, and
even when they take the low road and opt for
snotty humor, it doesn't seem out of place. But
can they pull it off in another 10 years to come?
There's no reason why they can't.
and songcraft - which Green Day has always
had - have to take over. It began with the
underrated and underappreciated Warning in
2000, which proved the group can pull off sub-
dued, mid-tempo rockers with the same skill
that they showed on the punk blitzes that made
The trend continues with the band's new
"punk-rock opera" American Idiot, a full hour-
long record even more diverse and sprawling
Like any rock opera, American Idiot is self-
Cour[esy of N
We take our martinis shaken, not stirred.