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October 01, 2007 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-01

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The Michigan Daily - michigandail
CBS's Monday
nights with a 'Bang'
"The Big Bang Theory
Mondays at 8:30 p.m.
If the future success of a show
could be measured by the laughs-
per-minute of its pilot, "The Big
Bang Theory" would be looking
at a solid decade atop the Neilson
charts. Unfortunately, things don't
usually work out that way. CBS's
latest addition to its suddenly for-
midable Monday night comedy
block is a clich6 turned upon itself,
a fun if unoriginal premiere that's
unlikely ever to be so funny again
but should easily find an audience.
The specific plot focuses on a
couple of super-smart nerds who
suddenly find themselves living
next to a super-dumb single girl of
about their age. Oh, and she's really
hot, which is the whole reason the
show exists. The two main char-
acters are pleasantly clueless and
almostcas pleasantly ambitious. The
scientific jargon they fuse so spon-
taneously with the everyday punch
lines we all know makes for amus-
ing payoffs.
Even so, by the end of the first
episode, the characters and their
trademark semantics already begin
to wear thin. We have in essence
already seen the whole show; the
only things from here on will be
contrived sorylines, noncommit-
tal plot tributaries and steadily fal-
tering wit. The show will probably
settle in among its equally mecha-
nized CBS fellows and leech rat-
ings from better shows.
A 'Journey' to
absolutely nowhere
Mondays at 10 p.m.
Pilots are usually the worst epi-
sodes of the season. So much time
is spent on background that there's
never much room to get to the sub-
stance of the show.
Even with this consideration,
NBC's "Journeyman" is dumb and
inexplicable, and its future doesn't
look well. There's no way anything
constructive can come from this
material. We follow Dan Vassar
(Kevin McKidd, "Rome"), a fam-
ily man and San Francisco sports
writer. Life is going fairly well until
he randomly goes back in time to
the '80s. Both Dan and the audi-
ence don't know how he goes back
in time, but he returns two days
later. His wife assumes he either
did drugs or is going insane.
There are too many basic ques-
tions the' show sees no need to
answer. Why does Dan, his wife
and his brother all look the same
in 1987? Did these people all have
crows' feet in their 30s? Dan's ex-
girlfriend, who was believed to
have died in a plane crash, pops out
of nowhere, gives advice to him;
and then takes off. "Lost" is confus-

ing enough, thank you.
Let's not even go into the
unabashed product placement of
Apple's iPhone - eh, actually, let's.
doesn't make sense, because (a) he
won't get reception in 1987 and (b)
he should be holding an umbrella
instead, considering he's frequently
rained on, for reasons unknown to
us. It makes no sense to me, either.
One thing is clear: Dan discov-
ers his time-traveling escapades
are missions to change the future,
but, naturally, we're never told why.
Guess that's the mystery. Uncertain
if anyone will wait around for the


Monday. October 1. 2007 - 5A

Catherine is the
new Greenwood

Politics so delicate everything could come crashing down at the drop of a pin - or bombastic explos ens and fight
Paper 'Kingdomr
Uneven, glib and erratically political,{
- 'The Kingdom' never goes anywhere.

Associate Arts Editor
We're a month into school.
It's a good time to break out of
the comforts of your neighbor-
hood and party with a different
social set - and by that I mean
it's about to time to venture into
marching band territory.
Fred Flintstone costume?
Check. Tuba? Check. Inhibi-
tions? Gone.
Seeking confirmation of the
fabled brass section parties
rumored in the Daily's erst-
while party column a few years
ago, High Society sent a few
representatives into the thick of
the Southeast neighborhood last
week after the win over Penn
State. A marching band alum
dressed as Fred Flintstone and a
couple of horn players addressed
our eager band-party-related
queries. Keep this in mind next
time you're around South Divi-
sion and Hill Streets on a week-
end night:
Best parties?
Toss-up between the trum-
pets and trombones ("biggest
Drumline (they're basi-
cally separate from the rest of
the band, which apparently
enables a sexy sense of mystery).
Hottest girls?
Not sure if we're allowed
to divulge. But piccolos, we
hear, are usually pretty cute.
Is a mace (what a drum
major carries) the same thing
as a baton (what a twirler car-
After clarifying those mys-
teries, we turned north.
Kerrytown provided some
reliable party fare this past
weekend (some prep for 24
Hour Theater, some chill music
including the debut of the Ker-
fytown DJ Collective featuring
the Daily's own Lloyd H. Cargo)
and then something of a differ-
ent stripe - which we'll now
explain a la NPR's "Fresh Air,"
since the radio program's host,
Terry Gross, spent an evening at
the Michigan Theater Saturday.
It's late September. You're
walking back to your house in
Kerrytown from the bar (the
Wolverines have just won anoth-
er football game and everyone
is celebrating), and you hear

"Soulja Boy" blasting from a
house on Thayer Street. Are
those "RUSH" signs? And why
are girls arrhythmically gyrat-
ing against a guy holding on to
dear life by their belt loops?
Kerrytown, at least the
periphery, seems to be filling
with "dudes."
High Society ended up at a
faux-fraternity party in gray
area north of Huron Street
that's not quite the white-collar
ghetto of med students directly
north or the Kerrytown of the
RC expatriates to the west. Lots
of barreled beverage ("Miller
Lite," a friend guessed. "It's
the Camel Light of beer!"). Lots
of kids grinding past 3 a.m. irf
the basement to an iPod blend
including "The Love You Save"
and "Crank That." Weird? A lit-
tle bit. But the house's attempt
to spell out "RUSH (STREET-
NAME)" in Greek letters gets
points for creativity.
Another choice that night:
You could have celebrated with
is going
the football team after its win
in Evanston. Several players
were spotted at a familiar South
University Avenue watering
hole, dancing to a song they had
apparently made up (not the
infamous "Measly Penny" rap
but something involving a cho-
rus of "LIGHTS OUT").
After all of that social experi-
mentation, though, it's always
good to know-Greenwood is
still going to have guys running
down the street with giant cloth
vaginas - which was a recent
sight in my neck of the woods.
Enthusiastic onlookers had the
opportunity to run through the
thing, sort of like a modified vic-
tory arch. Sounds like they were
breaking outthe costume before
Halloween - or has some-
one ,been stealing props from
Planned Parenthood again?
- Honorable mentions go to
post-Northwestern game revelers
at Mexican bars. You know who
you are. E-mail highsociety@
umich edu with better stories.

By IMRAN SYED der more than 100 Americans in
Daily Arts Writer one such compound. As the real
Saudi police and national guard
For the frenetic genre exer- try to piece things together and
cise the trailers for "The King- catch the men responsible, they
dom" promised, the film has an face pressure from a trigger-
unusually introspective start. In happy FBI, which, despite objec-
a swiftcredit sequence, the open- tions from the U.S. Department
ing montage of of State, sends a team of four
dates, pictures special agents to Saudi Arabia to
and ominous- ** investigate.
ly minimal- Leading the team is Ronald
ist narration The Fleury (Jamie Foxx), a seasoned,
brings viewers Kingdom straight-talking agent, proto-
completely up typicallyunorthodox and abrupt.
to speed with At Quality16 Fleury and his team walk into
the people and and Showcase the Kingdom with a clear idea
places the film of what they will find, but their
engages. Here expectations, well, you know.
we hear of Traitors undermine loyal Saudi
major players police officers ateverystep,some-
like the House of Saud, its dis- times with deadly results. Even
contents (including a man named those traitors have an agenda of
Osama) and, of course, oil. It's ostensible morality. It's only after
an overtly measured, cautious they've exhausted several leads
beginning to a film that turns out ending in the killings of teenag-
to be anything but. ers on the front lines of the ter-
The movie jumps off from the rorists' defense that Fleury and
thousands of Americans (mostly his team begin to realize that jus-
employed in the oil industry) tice here is a transient concept,
who live in walled security com- fleeting and unclear.
pounds in the Kingdom of Saudi This all sounds like heavy, rel-
Arabia. In a stunningly violent evant, layered drama. It's not. To
opening sequence, terrorists clad understand these flagship issues,
in Saudi police uniforms mur- the director Peter Berg ("Friday
Night Lights") and his freshman
writer Matthew Michael Carna-
han (he's also the writer of "Lions
for Lambs," another Middle East-
fueled thriller due later this fall)
employ every action-movie plati-
tude they can. It's bizarre. The
action sequences themselves are
top notch, relentless and appro-
priately over the top, and they
build off one another as the film
progresses. Thenarrative tension

sticks. But it's ultimately just out
of place. The film has nothing to
say for the destruction and per-
sonal violence it so effectively
depicts. Some of the deaths are
surprisingly tragic, but we're
not exactly sure why, and it's not
another beat before the movie
throws in some comic relief to
cut the anxiety.
The Americans here are haugh-
so. The Saudis are proud and pro-
tective,butcagainwithreason. The
message here seems to be some
odd, unwieldy meld of "we're not
so different after all" and,"you
have to fight fire with fire." To
this end the film moves in a dis-
tracting one-step-forward, two-
steps-back mannercthat leaves the
plot swerving and the characters
- except for a superb turn by
AshrafBarhom ("Paradise Now")
as the Saudi agentin charge of the
investigation -.under-drawn and
That's too bad, because there's
a lot of potential here. Jason
Bateman's (TV's "Arrested
Development") special agent
Adam Leavitt, the resident jester,
has one of the most interesting
stories, but the film insists on
relaying it through asinine quips.
Jennifer Garner's (TV's "Alias")
special agent Janet Mayes is the
most obviously handcuffed; Berg
and Carnahan seem to have no
idea of an appropriate outlet for
feminine angst, and they limit
Mayes to moping and panicking
that feels flagrantly out of char-
acter and place.
Ultimately a similar lack of an
appropriate outlet sums up the
whole film: "The Kingdom" is a
passable pop rendition of mod-
ern Middle Eastern tensions told
through an action-movie lens
that makes no sense.

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