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September 16, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 -5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September 16, 2008 -5

The gaping'Hole' in fall TV

The new cast of "CSI: Roswell."

Scientific failure


cal stc
the sc
fails ti
its gen
tive sc
out the

rew paranormal harness the increasing popular-
ity of the supernatural, "Fringe"
ries falls back on falls victim to the flaws that doom
so many shows to reruns on the
reotypiCal norms Sci-Fi Channel. That said, many
aspects of the show appeal to the
By JAMIE BLOCK inner nerd in everyone.
For the Daily "Fringe" is named after fringe
science, which encompasses such
en a flight from Germany to fields as teleportation, astral pro-
goes through an electri- jection, telepathy and reanima-
orm and passengers' faces tion, and follows FBI agent Olivia
to melt, Dunham, played coldly by Anna
ene could Torv ("Mistresses"). The story
mly be the ** begins with a face-melting sci-
ting of an entific cataclysm, which attracts
television FnNge federal attention as a possible act
s. Unfor- Tuesdays of bioterrorism. The pilot episode
ly, while follows the search for the perpe-
Abrams's trator, who also endangers the.
project Fox life of Dunham's colleague and
to bring lover, agent John Scott (Mark Val-
science fiction to a major ley, "Boston Legal"). On the hunt,
rk audience, a noble goal, it Dunham assembles the dysfunc-
o match its competitors in tional team of cops and scientists
re. that will handle the mutations
nge" comes off as a deriva- and mysteries "Fringe" promises
ience fiction thriller with- in its first season.
e nuance or acting prowess The show features a cast that
ed from an anticipated will excite nerds and non-nerds
rk premiere. In trying to alike. Nerds may flock to Lance

Reddick (a.k.a. Matthew Abad-
don from "Lost"), who plays
the sarcastically apathetic CIA
agent Phillip Broyles. Swooning
teens may be drawn to the eyes
of Joshua Jackson (a.k.a. Pacey,
"Dawson's Creek"), who plays the
equally jaded genius-son-of-a-
genius Peter Bishop. The homog-
enous cast of principal characters
is sadly accompanied by more
derivative roles, such as the over-
ly blunt police chief, the assistant
who's just happy to be there and
the clinically insane scientist.
John Noble ("The Lord of the
Rings: Return of the King"), the
Australian actor who plays mad
scientist Walter Bishop, succeeds
in both his dramatic and comedic
scenes, though, despite the stale
The show's dialogue is mostly
predictable, with jokes being the
most striking and memorable lines
of the show. Dramatic scenes, par-
ticularly those between Dunham
and CIA stoic Broyles, are often
so stilted that they're clearly just
spouting their memorized lines.
Luckily, the reluctant father and
son team of Walter and Bishop
provide some actual acting, not to
mention most of the show's comic
The greatest disappointment
of the show (except for the first
scene) is that all the science is
extremely cheesy, full of glow-
ing lights, bubbling tubes, shiny
machines and random scien-
tific jargon strung together into
complete nonsense. While this
is enough to please many sci-fi
addicts, Abrams could've made
a greater effort to revitalize the
sci-fi genre with a sense of real-
ism, making it more accessible to
a network audience.

This must be what it's like
to have a totally crappy
Like it must feel to wait patient-
ly for months only to receive a few
re-gifts and some trinkets from
Japan, I'm feeling underwhelmed,
disappointed _
and pessimistic
about human-
ity's prospects
all at once. I
can't say for
certain if this
analogy holds
true, since my MICHAEL
Christmases PASSMAN
have gener-
ally centered
on Chinese food, but I've seen the
"Home Alone" movies enough to
make me something of an expert
on the subject and pretty confident
about this: The new fall TV season
is barely underway, and it's already
like the worst Christmas ever.
Fall television is supposed to
be an oasis in the desert for TV
junkies. Summer television has
always been an afterthought, but
the advent of reality television has
made the last ten or so summers
especially poor and the contrast
between fall and summer pro-
gramming even more pronounced.
So after barely getting by on a
summer of "Seinfeld" reruns and
only three of four "Undeclared"
DVDs - seriously, if anyone knows
where Disc 3 my "Undeclared"
DVD set is I'll give you $15, no, $20
- the new fall television schedule
arrived to rescue my DVR from
"Conan" reruns.
(Quick tangent: Why aren't
single disc replacements for DVD
box sets available? I'm not giving
Judd Apatow $50 for 3 DVDs I
already have and one my house-
mates lost. Isn't this what eBay is
for? Someone put me in touch with
a venture capitalist; I want to make
this happen.)
Here's the problem: The new fall
schedule is not good. Very, very not
good. Granted, most television is
generally deplorable, but the cur-
rent network lineups are especially
weak. What's unusual, though, is

that the
fault he:
ers fortl
Tina Fe'
old peop
the TV'
to ne shi
back to'
shaved f
was just
the writ
they als
pilots of
Love He
strike et
have the
pilots at
small pe
the netv
cut shor
even mo
but put:
to howl
ate. Thi
well. Ex
show fr
wall. Th
doors. (
pick, th
ing wall
a techni

networks aren't solely at "THAT WALL NEVER STOOD A
re; you can blame the writ- CHANCE," when especially, um,
his one, too. substantial women aren't able to
backtrack roughly 10 . fit through the wall. This is quality
.The Writers Guild of shit, people.
a had just gone on strike, On the other end of the spec-
y was walking around trum is NBC's "Chuck," which no
tan with a picket sign, one really liked but apparently
ale were preparing for life wasn't bad enough for NBC to
five different "CSI"s and replace with something new. Like
world was getting ready a number of shows that debuted
ut down. But after a few last fall only to be cut shortby
of throwing away their the strike, "Chuck" still exists
the Guild agreed to come because it can. It seems to have
work, and Letterman made sense for the networks to
his beard and everything suck a little more out of their
swell. strike-shortened shows and hope
pt it wasn't. Because while everyone forgot how much they
ers weren't writing new never, ever wanted to watch a
s of the "Ghost Whisperer," show like "Chuck."
o weren't writing or selling And that's about it. Granted,
new, less terrible Jennifer the season is just beginning and a
ewitt vehicles. So when the number of shows have yetto debut,
nded, the networks didn't butthe fall is almost entirely void
e resources to conduct their of buzz-worthy new programming.
pilot season, in which they In the past couple years, "Studio 60
ally commission a pool of on the Sunset Strip," "Friday Night
nd move forward with a Lights" and "Pushing Daises" were
ercentage of them. Instead, anticipated properties entering the
fall, and though their quality level
varied wildly, they at leastbrought
e writers strike some excitement to the fall season.
This year, J.J. Abrams's "Fringe"
more harm than had some potential, but it debuted
on Fox last week and seems to be
e first thought. nothing more than the "X-Files"
with fewer internet porn addicts
and more Mighty Ducks. NBC has
works brought back an a revitalized "Knight Rider" set
ly high number of shows to debut in the coming weeks, but
t by the strike, imported that will probably only appeal to
ire reality shows and the type of person who gets excited
a smaller number of pilots, whenthey're in a car with OnStar.
more stock in them, similar And sure, "The Office" and "30
HBO and Showtime oper- Rock" are comingback, and "Lost"
s strategy hasn't worked will be consistently blowing my .
hibit A: "Hole in the Wall." mind by early next year, but network
e in the Wall" is atelevision television's prospects are pretty
om Japan. In the American dark outside of that. For an industry
which is obviously on Fox, built on shallow hype, it's doinga
jump through holes in a poor job of making me excited about
tat is the show - people anything newthis fall.
through non-traditional Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm
Well, if you want to nit- going to go put a hole through my
e contestants position wall.

ves to slide through mov-
s, but that's really just
cality.) It also features
ating commentary like

Passman really, really wants
"Cavemen" back. E-mail him at

Jeezy gets political

DailyArts Writer
It's campaign season, so even
non-hip-hop heads should have
noticed the last track, "Mr. Pres-
ident," on Young Jeezy's The
Over sweeping, "Hail to the
Chief"-style strings, Jeezy raps
"My president
is black / My
Lambo's blue /
And I'll be god-
damned if my on e
rims ain't too." The Recession
The track Def lam
isn't as overtly
political as Nas's
"Black President" (which echoes
its "Yes we can / Change the
world" hook with a sample of an
Obama speech), but it's a digest-
ible statement of support that
marries social change and materi-
alism. The chorus repeats the "My
president is black" refrain, fol-
lowed by "My momma ain't home
and daddy still in jail / Tryin' a
make a plate / Anybody seen the
scale?", then "My money's light
green and my Jordans light gray /
And they love to see white / Now
how much you tryn' a say?" (For a
campaign that's been looking for
the support of the hip-hop com-
munity, thank God this isn't the
song that calls Hillary Clinton an
irrelevant bitch.)
Jeezy's growl and trademark
boasts still ground the body of the
album, his third, but could it be
that Jeezy's brand of crack rap has
gained an extra consciousness?
Jeezy's lyrics address his person-
al politics more than before; the
album's introduction opens with
newscasters warning about the

economic downturn, until those
voices are overtaken by a woman's
frustrated rant about the rising
cost of living. But don't worry that
the soapbox oratory outweighs
Jeezy's regular fare; rhymes about
cash and blow still dominate.
Reassurance that we just have
to keep on keeping on when "Bush
tryn' a punish us ... you get more
time for selling dope than murder
/ in this crazy world" translates
neatly into Jeezyian terms: Money
may be slow, but the world keeps
turning just as his rims keep spin-
But forget the new conscious-
ness for a moment. Even the
rhymes about slinging on the
street's are sharper than before,
and the album (produced by DJ
Toomp, Kanye West and Drumma
Boy, amongothers) packagesthem
into controlled, punchy numbers:
"Circulate," with bright trum-
pet calls and hiccupy verses, and

"Word Play," where he addresses
haters over a soaring soul line.
Built on rifle-shot snare,
"Everything" slouches dirge-like
toward an ending that - for bet-
ter or worse - becomes a vehicle
for guest-star Anthony Hamil-
ton. At a time when it seems the
majority of big-label rappers
lean heavily on guest contribu-
tors, Jeezy keeps a relatively low
Crack rap to
electoral rap.
guest list, featuring Hamilton,
Lil Boosie, Nas, Trey Songz and
West, which allows Jeezy to carry
his own weight. The Recession's
first single, "Put On," simply pops
with the West-on-Autotune guest
verse; West doesn't commandeer
the track as he's prone to doing.
The Recession slows down when
the braggadocio-heavy schtick
turns to filler, like the lazy, ques-
tionable chorus of "Amazin' ":
"Cuz bitch I'm amazin' / Look
what I'm blazin / Eyes so low /
Yeah I look like an Asian." The
stormy "By the Way" tires with
heavy-handed repetitions of the
title phrase, rescued somewhatby
rising, video-game synths.
Although Jeezy's execution
of up-by-your-boot straps crack
rap was always consistent - raw,
though carefully produced, with
a heaviness perfect for blasting
in the car in hot weather - The
Recession's stronger political
bent demonstrates dimensions
at which his previous work only

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