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Showing posts from 2011

Fun With Keywords: Awesome Taco Edition

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I’m a couple episodes behind on Psych recaps, I know. That situation probably won’t change before the new year: I’m feeling a little down on Psych after a string of mediocre episodes, and ever since finishing up my new book last week, I’m also feeling a little burned out on writing. To buy time while I recharge my batteries, here’s a look at some of the search terms visitors used to find this site over the past few months:

sherilyn fenn lara flynn boyle mädchen amick in jeans
You're thinking of the Twin Peaks-themed cover of Rolling Stone, October 4, 1990.

awesome taco
This search makes me nostalgic. While I’ve had more good Mexican food in New York than I would have expected, I haven’t had a truly awesome taco since moving from Los Angeles.

michael rosenbaum needs a girlfriend
You sound pretty convinced of that. Might want to check with Rosenbaum first. Maybe he already has a girlfriend. Maybe he doesn’t want a girlfriend.

john taylor hair
"hair gel" duran "jo…

Psych: In For a Penny

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A crew of masked men break into Lompoc and help a legendary safecracker named Jimmy Fitz escape. This, combined with a number of high-profile thefts of safecracking equipment, lead the Santa Barbara Police Department to believe someone’s planning a huge robbery.

Meanwhile, Juliet’s thirtieth birthday is fast approaching. Shawn and Gus secretly invite her estranged con-artist father Frank to her party. And it’s William Shatner! You know what Psych does better than any other television show? Awesome stunt casting. Shawn’s parents are, of course, played by Corbin Bernsen and Cybill Shepherd, Gus’s folks are played by Phylicia Rashad and Ernie Hudson, and now we’ve got Shatner. I mean, come on. That’s awesome. Anyway, Frank and Shawn immediately hit it off and form a mutual admiration society, while Juliet steams and fumes that Shawn went behind her back to seek out her father, whom she hadn’t seen in fifteen years.

Jimmy Fitz teams up with a ne’er-do-well named Chad Emigh, who use…

Psych: Shawn Interrupted

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Billionaire hedge-fund manager Bernie Bethel is arrested for murdering his assistant. Lassiter, who single-handedly cracked the case, throws himself a victory party, complete with a crepe station and festive crime-scene photos hung above the punchbowl. His victory is short-lived, as Bernie is soon found not guilty by reason of insanity and is sent to a posh mental hospital instead of prison. Lassiter offers to go undercover as a mental patient (“I’ll grow a beard and wear nothing but tweed!”) to prove that Bernie is faking his condition. Henry decides to send Shawn in his stead, as Shawn could believably pass as someone in need of institutionalization (Shawn: “I’ll take that as a compliment.” Gus: “I wouldn’t”).

Shawn quickly makes himself at home in the luxurious hospital (“Dude, they have electronic bidets!”). Posing as an orderly, Gus goes undercover as well. He soon strikes up a highly inappropriate relationship with an attractive patient, Vivian (Julianna Guill), who is affl…

Psych: Dead Man’s Curveball

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When the hitting coach of Santa Barbara’s minor-league baseball team, the Seabirds, drops dead of a heart attack brought on by an amphetamine overdose, Coach Mel Hornsby (Danny Glover) hires Shawn and Gus to investigate. To get close to the team and uncover the source of the drugs that killed the coach, the guys go undercover: Shawn poses as the new hitting coach, and Gus as the mascot. Intermittent hilarity ensues.

While searching through the former coach’s home for evidence, Shawn accidentally drinks amphetamine-laced water (and begins acting only slightly more hyper and spastic than usual) from a water bottle belonging to hitter Izzy Jackson (Ken Luckey). Shawn initially theorizes that Izzy was trying to enhance his athletic performance with amphetamines and swapped water bottles with the hitting coach by mistake. Shawn and Gus hit the Seabirds’ favorite watering hole to find evidence that wild-child Izzy is doping. After hearing that Izzy has a habit of pissing his pants whil…

Duranalysis: Girl Panic!

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Duran Duran just released their dazzling, gorgeous, nine-and-a-half-minute Jonas Akerlund-directed video extravaganza for “Girl Panic!”, in which a flock of big-name supermodels of days past -- Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Helena Christensen, and Yasmin Le Bon -- play John, Simon, Nick, Roger, and, uh, someone else. Meanwhile, the boys themselves portray an assortment of peripheral characters -- bellhops and drivers and journalists, etcetera. It’s cheerful, decadent, sleazy good fun.

Oh, sure, I originally intended to limit this Duranalysis series to the videos made between 1981 and 1985, but “Girl Panic!” is certainly worthy of an in-depth examination. Here we go:

Psych: The Amazing Psych Man and Tap-Man, Issue #2

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Hey, I really, really liked last week’s awesome Halloween-themed Psych. I thought it was an instant classic, with one of the tightest, zippiest scripts we’ve had in a long time.

I mention this mostly because I was a little sour on this week’s episode, and I just wanted to remind myself that I really do love this show.

A masked vigilante known as the Mantis is in Santa Barbara, where he’s been befuddling the Santa Barbara Police Department by repeatedly beating them to crime scenes and apprehending members of the Camino drug syndicate. I don’t want to be too harsh on this episode, because it’s got some shining moments. Case in point: the snazzy revised opening credits, which are illustrated comic book-style.

Full stop, though: How is it possible this episode doesn’t contain a single overt reference to M.A.N.T.I.S., the mid-nineties Sam Raimi-produced FOX series, which starred Carl Lumbly as a vigilante superhero named, yep, Mantis? Under usual circumstances, M.A.N.T.I.S. is exactl…

Psych: This Episode Sucks

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So Lassiter is in a bar, swilling Jack Daniels and trying to unwind after a rough day, when a gorgeous blonde named Marlowe (Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy herself) sidles up to him and starts flirting outrageously. They bond over their mutual love of Clint Eastwood. While Lassiter orders another round, she slinks off to the ladies’ room… and slips out the window and disappears, leaving him devastated.

Shortly thereafter, a young man named Hamilton Dean is murdered by a hooded figure in a dark parking lot. In the morning, Juliet, with Shawn and Gus in tow, examines the crime scene. Hamilton’s body has been drained of blood through puncture wounds in his neck and both wrists, which leads a delighted Shawn and Gus to conclude he was attacked by a vampire. When a hungover and morose Lassiter arrives at the scene, he notices that Hamilton is clutching a necklace identical to the one Marlowe wore the previous night.

Psych: Last Night Gus

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So the entire Psych gang, including eccentric coroner Woody (Kurt Fuller), hangs out a bar to celebrate the retirement of an old duffer named Jim from the Santa Barbara Police Department. Shawn orders a round of shots for everyone, and the next thing you know, he’s waking up in the morning at his desk in the Psych offices, wearing a shower cap, a strange pair of sandals, and a bling-y gold chain. Gus is passed out on the floor, and Lassiter and Woody are zonked on the couch, improbably spooning. Lassiter also has a black eye; his gun, which is missing three bullets, is submerged in the fish tank.

And no one has any memory of the night before. Cue the Hangover tribute episode!

The gang tries to piece together the events of the evening. Shawn’s phone has a video of everyone at the bar, hanging out with an unknown man in a Hawaiian shirt. Lassiter’s car is missing; Gus’s car is (poorly) parked outside with a ginormous dent in the hood.

Duranalysis: Sing Blue Silver, Part Two

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Onward and upward! Let’s pick up where we left off in Part One, which, upon reflection, was a little short on gratuitous references to John Taylor’s jaw-dropping beauty. The above screengrab was chosen to rectify this oversight.

In Atlanta, the boys attend a banquet in their honor at the headquarters of one of the tour’s big sponsors, Coca-Cola. The event chairman spontaneously calls upon John to make some off-the-cuff comments. Always ready to add a fun chaotic element to any situation, a somewhat blurry John takes the stage and cheerily declares his preference for Pepsi.

Duranalysis: Sing Blue Silver, Part One

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Duranalysis is back! Let’s take a look at Sing Blue Silver, the 1984 documentary about the 79-day North American leg of Duran Duran’s 1983-1984 world tour. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the rarified lives of the band on the road, which seemed to consist mostly of performances and photo ops and interviews, to say nothing of endless hours spent moving from gig to gig in limousines and private planes. And being screamed at by teen girls. Oh, lordy, plenty of screaming teen girls. It’s a hoot.

There’s far too much material here to go over everything, but I’ll try to spotlight some of the highlights. Here we go:

Psych: Shawn Rescues Darth Vader

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Hey, Psych is back for a sixth season! Good news. There’s a comforting sameness to Psych -- it’s only occasionally great, but for the most part, it’s pretty darn entertaining. While this isn’t one of the great episodes, it’s a pleasant way to kill an hour.

The episode opens with a tuxedo-clad Shawn slinking about the rented mansion of the British Ambassador, who’s been staying in Santa Barbara while trying to clear an English exchange student, Colin Hennessy, of charges of strangling his girlfriend to death. The charges were recently dropped, so the Ambassador is throwing a celebratory bash, which Shawn is in the middle of crashing. Shawn and Gus, it seems, were hired by a bratty neighborhood kid to break into the mansion to retrieve a mint-condition 1978 Darth Vader action figure (complete with double-telescoping lightsaber), which the Ambassador’s twerpy son had stolen. To avoid getting caught by security guards, Shawn ducks under the Ambassador’s bed… and finds the strangled …

I was a weird kid…

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Earlier this week, my dad mailed me a bunch of my old grade-school papers and report cards and drawings and such. The true gem amongst these is this series of color sketches of “Movie Previews” (or rather, “Preveiws”) I drew when I was seven. I’ll present these largely without comment, other than to point out the following:

1. My spelling has improved since 1981. Curiously, my handwriting has not.

2. “Cathy Crack” is the name of an intrepid girl detective who first appeared in a lavishly illustrated (and totally bonkers) short story I wrote in 1981, The Case of the Crystal Cat. It should be noted that my sister Ingrid also churned out an illustrated story featuring an intrepid girl detective. Hers was named Peggy Paint. We were heavily into alliterative names at the time.

3. I think The Land Where Yesterday is Tomorrow is a decent enough title -- kind of wistful and melancholy, kind of enigmatic -- but Who Killed My Boss? is freaking genius.

Ringer: She’s Ruining Everything

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We pick up where the pilot left off, with a gun-toting Bridget standing over the corpse of her would-be assassin in her unfinished Manhattan loft. She calls her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor back in Colorado, Malcolm, and leaves him a teary voicemail summarizing everything that happened at the end of last episode. She then reconsiders and deletes the message.

Well, that was pointless.

For crying out loud, Ringer, we’re off to a half-assed start already. I assume the show wanted to ensure that any viewers who missed the pilot could dive into the second episode and get immediately up to speed. Totally unnecessary. Piecing together this straightforward and undemanding plot isn’t a huge challenge, even without Bridget explicitly spelling out everything that took place up to this point.


Ringer: Pilot

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The new fall shows are here! Let’s check out The CW’s Ringer, shall we?

We open with things already in full swing: In a vast, unfurnished loft, a young woman hides from a burly masked man. The woman is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, erstwhile Buffy star, making a much-ballyhooed return to network television. Good to see you back on the small screen, Gellar; hope you stick around for a while. While hiding from the man, she accidentally hits the power button on a CD player. Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” begins to play, thus alerting her pursuer to her presence. She makes a dash for it, dodging through scaffolding. He tackles her to the floor. Struggling beneath him, she shouts, “You have the wrong girl!”

And now we flash back nine days, to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting somewhere in Wyoming. Gellar is Bridget Kelley: current waitress, former stripper, and former addict (as she has an outstanding charge for solicitation on her record, we can presumably add “former prostitute…

Travelogue: Seattle and Spokane

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Nothing but tumbleweeds around here, huh? I have an excuse this time, above and beyond my inherent sloth: My sister Ingrid and I were tromping about the Pacific Northwest, off on a madcap vacation that encompassed my twenty-year high school reunion, two cities, four flights, four hotels, multiple forms of mass transit (subway, bus, taxi, light rail, monorail), enough walking to destroy a brand-new pair of shoes, a whopping load of nostalgia, a dose of melancholia, some excellent food, some mediocre food, and not nearly enough champagne. Here’s how it went down:

Tuesday, August 9th: After an early morning scramble involving inexplicable subway delays and a frantically-hailed taxi on a dark street corner somewhere in Jackson Heights, Ingrid and I fly from JFK to SeaTac, then hop the light rail to downtown Seattle. Seattle is crisp and cool, though dismayingly sunny. Being Gollumesque by nature, we eschew sunlight and seek out damp, rainy weather. Seattle is determined to thwart us …

Fun With Keywords: Trampy Snakes Edition

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Well, this is embarrassing. I’ve never done back-to-back keyword posts before, because... well, it’s lazy. However, I’m strapped for site material, and I wanted to have something fresh up before I leave for vacation next week (it’s my twenty-year high school reunion -- very exciting! And possibly a little traumatic! But mostly exciting!). So here I am, dipping from the keywords well yet again.

Site business first: Summer is always slow around here. This one is slower than usual, as I’ve dropped Covert Affairs recaps from my rotation and haven’t found anything to fill the void. Things will pick up soon: Psych recaps will resume, plus I’m going to take a look at a couple of the new fall shows. Thus far, I’ve pegged two strong early contenders: Ringer on The CW, which has the strange-yet-irresistible cast of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ioan Gruffudd, and Nestor Carbonell, and ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Until then, expect to find sporadic posts on random topics.

On to the keywords! Here a…

Fun With Keywords: Cruel, Cruel Summer Edition

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So, this whole “summer” business. It’s really going to stick around for another ten weeks, huh?

Awesome. Excuse me while I perspire in an unladylike and frankly disgusting matter. I’m going to go listen to some Bananarama until the world looks better. Fresh site content will arrive after I get myself all sorted out. In the meantime, here’s a fresh crop of search terms visitors have used to find this site in recent weeks:

jai wilcox shirts where
Someone’s probably just wondering where Sendhil Ramamurthy’s sexy character Jai buys his impeccably tailored shirts on Covert Affairs. However, I haven’t watched the past few episodes, so there’s always the tantalizing possibility they’ve introduced a new subplot where Jai’s shirts have mysteriously gone missing, forcing him to wander around Langley shirtless and confused. If this is indeed the case, I will happily start watching the show again.

Duranalysis: Girls on Film

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Duran Duran traditionally conclude their concerts with an encore performance of their 1981 hit “Girls on Film,” so it seems only fitting to wrap up this whole Duranalysis nonsense with an examination of that video. I’ll be analyzing the uncensored Night Version, which is the porny version with all the bare breasts and whatnot, so if you’re reading this at work or in a public space, maybe you should plan accordingly.

Still here? Let’s do this:

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s Goodbye is Forever

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Sometimes it’s all about Nick.

My apologies in advance to Simon, who is doomed to get a little shortchanged in the praise department this time around. I’d feel worse about that, but I’ve already given him plenty of tongue baths -- strictly in the metaphorical sense, alas -- in earlier reviews. Simon does a fine job here, but really, Arcadia’s video for “Goodbye is Forever” belongs to the lovely and strange Mr. Rhodes.

The original plan was to give this one a pass and wrap up this whole Duranalysis business this week with “Girls on Film.” Because the Duran Duran universe is a never-ending rabbit hole and because time is finite, I’d intended to stick to the videos produced in their Golden Age (1981-1985) and, with the exception of Arcadia’s “The Flame,” which is far too much fun to ignore, skip over all the later albums and side projects. Then someone suggested I tackle this one, which turned out to be a great idea. There's nothing quite like a whopping dose of pure, uncut, pha…

Duranalysis: Planet Earth

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Here we are, back where it all began. “Planet Earth” was Duran Duran’s very first video from their very first single off of their 1981 debut album. It also marked the beginning of their long and successful collaboration with director Russell Mulcahy. While less ambitious than their expensive, expansive later efforts (no cavorting on yachts, no exotic locales), it does a solid job of introducing the band to the world. It’s slick and fun. Somehow, though, the process of analyzing it here -- watching it multiple times, searching for fun facts about it, grabbing screenshots -- has left me a little cranky.

Frankly, I blame Nick’s hair.

Covert Affairs: Good Advices

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Okay! That was approximately eighty times better than last week’s episode!

Annie goes on a mission in Paris to meet a young woman named Salma, who works at the Syrian Embassy, in the hopes of cultivating her as a CIA asset. Paris! Annie’s scenes were actually shot in Paris, which was a good call -- for once, this show actually looks like a real, grownup spy series, instead of a pretty good pretender. After much dithering around, Annie manages to orchestrate an encounter with Salma: She secretly exchanges Salma’s ridiculously expensive handbag with her own exact duplicate. When Salma contacts her to arrange a trade, she coerces her into sharing a bottle of wine, engaging in some giddy girl-talk, and accompanying her to a fancy-dress event later that same night. When Annie gets herself in gear, she works fast.

At the event, Annie and Salma run into Eyal Lavin, the dashing and roguish Mossad agent whom Annie had tangled with last season. Oded Fehr! Very pleased to see you here agai…

Duranalysis: Lonely In Your Nightmare

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Of the three videos Duran Duran shot with Russell Mulcahy whilst in Sri Lanka, “Lonely In Your Nightmare” is both the least known and the least impressive. Granted, the standard set by “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Save a Prayer” is pretty high, but still, this one’s a dud.

At least… well, one version of this video is a dud. You know how Duran Duran kept tweaking and revising their videos, to an extent that even George Lucas would consider overly fussy and excessive? (You know how there’s five different versions of “New Moon On Monday” floating around out there?) Two significantly different versions of this video exist: There’s the original, which was cobbled together entirely from footage shot in Sri Lanka, and a later version, which also contains a bunch of scenes shot in London. The revised version, while not among the all-time best Duran videos, has some good moments. The original version, on the other hand, is… how shall I describe it? I’m going to go with “unwatchable.”

Y…

Covert Affairs: Begin the Begin

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Season Two of Covert Affairs kicks off with this adequate yet unspectacular installment. Some quick notes right at the start:

1) If this episode title is any indication, it looks like they’ve moved off of Led Zeppelin songs and moved on to R.E.M. this season. Excellent choice.

2) Peter Gallagher is now a full regular cast member instead of a guest star. This is good news for the show, as Gallagher is a force of great awesomeness.

3) The animated opening credit sequence has been tweaked to include Gallagher and to show images of Sendhil Ramamurthy and Anne Dudek instead of merely name-checking them.

4) Sendhil Ramamurthy is still smoking-hot.

Duranalysis: Is There Something I Should Know?

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You know, I planned this all wrong.

Back in March, when I first embarked upon this ongoing analysis of Duran Duran videos, I opted to tackle them in random order instead of knocking them out chronologically. So, naturally, I ripped through all the fun, juicy videos right at the start, both the ones I shamelessly adore (“Wild Boys,” “Night Boat”), and the ones I enjoy mocking (“View To a Kill,” “New Moon On Monday”). My mistake. Now that I’m fast running out of material from the band’s Golden Age of Video, I’m stuck with the dregs.

Hello, “Is There Something I Should Know?”

Duranalysis: My Own Way

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Am I really going to drum up a thousand words or so on Duran Duran’s “My Own Way” video? I am, aren’t I?

Egad.

Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with “My Own Way,” which was the first single released off of the 1982 Rio album. It’s a fun, throwaway video for a fun, throwaway song. It’s a little surprising to discover that Russell Mulcahy, the man behind the epic mayhem of “Wild Boys” and the large-scale exotic spectacles of “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” directed this agreeable trifle, which looks like it was shot in a couple hours in a high school auditorium on a shoestring budget (expenses: red and black paint, confetti, glitter, headbands…). Like “Careless Memories” and “Night Boat,” the video for “My Own Way” didn’t make it onto Duran Duran’s 2003 Greatest DVD collection. It’s neither a mild embarrassment like “Careless Memories,” nor an overlooked gem like “Night Boat.” It simply exists, in an inoffensive and modestly entertaining kind of way.

Fun With Keywords: Special Moving-Is-Traumatic Edition

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Duran Duran reviews will return in a bit, but I’m taking a quick break to: a) recover from a grueling coast-to-coast move (blood, sweat and tears have all been involved, in significant quantities), and b) take an overdue look at some of the search terms visitors have used to find this site recently. Here we go:

what gives, wyoming preppies
I’m dazzled by the concept of Wyoming preppies. I’m picturing crew-necked sweaters and tennis skirts paired with bolo ties and hand-tooled cowboy boots. If done correctly, it could be awesome.

prentiss crush hotch
Heh. I realize this is probably intended to mean Emily Prentiss has a secret crush on Hotch, which is a popular theory among some Criminal Minds fans, but there’s a fun “Hulk smash!” air to the phrasing: “Prentiss crush Hotch! Prentiss strong!”


Duranalysis: Save a Prayer

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Duran Duran’s 1982 video for “Save a Prayer” was directed by Russell Mulcahy and shot in Sri Lanka at the same time as their videos for “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Lonely in Your Nightmare.” I don’t know if Sri Lanka saw an upswing in tourism after this hit the airwaves, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a land of majestic beaches, epic sunsets, and scantily-clad pop stars! Hard to resist any of that.

There's no plot, but there sure are a lot of pretty images. Let's get to it:

Duranalysis: Rio

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Oh, Rio, Rio, hear them shout across the land…

The video for Duran Duran’s 1982 hit “Rio” is a dazzling, much-loved spectacle that cemented the band’s (hard-earned and richly-deserved) reputation as a bunch of worldly, decadent, hilariously excessive playboys. My film-school training prohibits me from counting “gorgeous nitwits cavort on a yacht” as a legitimate plot, so I have to dock the video points for the absence of a cohesive narrative. Still, what it lacks in plot, it makes up for in witty vignettes and vibrant images. It’s a riot of colorful body paint and spilled champagne, set against blue Caribbean waters and white sandy beaches and endless violet skies.

It is, in short, totally awesome.

Duranalysis: The Reflex

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Back in the day, I didn’t have much use for Duran Duran’s video for “The Reflex.” After all, it consists entirely of concert footage, which, to my way of thinking, is the laziest and least interesting way of doing things. When it comes to music videos, I’m a big fan of strong narratives. Strong, weird, overblown, confusing, crazy, awesome narratives. Still, while I’d rather watch the boys fending off zombies or stumbling around bleak apocalyptic wastelands, I’ve since learned to relax and embrace “The Reflex.” It’s a concert video, yes, but it’s a pretty damn entertaining one.

Directed by the great Russell Mulcahy, “The Reflex” was filmed in 1984 during the band’s Sing Blue Silver world tour. While it may not be my all-time favorite Duran Duran video, there’s an awful lot to like about it. I like the gleeful synchronized hop Simon and Andy and John all take upon hitting the stage. I like Simon’s infectious enthusiasm. I like the preposterously high energy level. I like the…

Duranalysis: Careless Memories

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“Careless Memories” was one of three singles released off of Duran Duran’s 1981 debut album. While the other two, “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film,” were big hits for the boys, this one sputtered and went nowhere. This is a shame, as it’s one of their best, darkest, angriest songs. Of course, the other songs were helped up the charts by their sexy, iconic videos: “Planet Earth” has lots of stylish New Romantic weirdness, and “Girls on Film” has lots of bare breasts. “Careless Memories,” on the other hand, just has Simon hurling tulips around a white room. No wonder it couldn’t compete.

Nick has referred to “Careless Memories,” which was directed by Perry Haines and Terry Jones, as “the worst video we’ve ever made.” I don’t know about that, Nick, have you watched “A View to a Kill” recently? Nick’s claims to the contrary, “Careless Memories” isn’t wretched. Quality-wise, it’s indistinguishable from a lot of the videos that came out during this time, which makes it disappointin…

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s The Flame

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It’s The Nick and Simon Show, with a surprise appearance by John!

Brief spurt of backstory here, for those who aren’t hip to this whole Arcadia business: In 1984-1985, at the peak of their wild success, the Duran Duran boys briefly split apart into two separate side projects: John and Andy teamed up with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form The Power Station, while Simon, Nick and Roger banded together as Arcadia (Roger, ever the neutral party, also performed on some Power Station tracks). The differences between the two groups are most eloquently summed up in this excellent recent interview with the boys, in which it’s established that Arcadia produced “the most pretentious album ever made,” whereas Power Station produced “the most cocainey album ever made.” As I’ve always been far more pretentious than cocainey, I’m partial to Arcadia. Also, their videos were better.

Roger didn’t appear in any of Arcadia’s videos; in fact, by the time the video for "The Flame" was s…

Duranalysis: A View to a Kill

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Back in 1985, when I was young and the world was dazzling and new, I thought Duran Duran’s video for their hit single “A View to a Kill,” the theme song for the James Bond film of the same name, was really, really cool.

As it turns out, I was mistaken.

The video was directed by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, who were also responsible for the boys’ extra-sleazy 1981 “Girls on Film” video (and who, performing as the pop duo Godley & Creme, had their own big hit in 1985 with “Cry” -- you remember, “You don’t know how to ease my pain…” In the realm of weird Duran Duran-related music trivia, this is right up there with Nick Rhodes producing Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy”). The “View to a Kill” video features the Duran Duran boys as a quintet of gorgeous, glamorous spies who swarm around the Eiffel Tower and try to kill each other. Conceptually, this is a goldmine. The execution, however, is… problematic.

I should be clear: It’s not a disaster. In fact, there’s some pretty good stuff here. …

Duranalysis: Hungry Like the Wolf

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“Hungry Like the Wolf,” man. “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like this song? Or this video? Seriously, pretty much everyone has warm, fuzzy feelings about this one.

“Hungry Like the Wolf” was one of three videos Duran Duran shot with Russell Mulcahy during a jaunt to Sri Lanka in 1982. Of the three (the others being the meditative “Save a Prayer” and the dirge-like “Lonely In Your Nightmare”), this is far and away the most entertaining. It’s a little short on plot, sure, but it’s joyous, rambunctious, bubbly fun.

We open with a bunch of bustling street scenes. Nick, Roger, John and Andy scurry madly about in search of their missing comrade, Simon. Nick has decided to be a slinky redhead this week, which coordinates nicely with his fiery red pants. Sadly, Nick is otherwise sorely underrepresented in this video -- he pops up here at the beginning and puts in a few fleeting appearances throughout, but that’s not nearly enough of everyone’s favo…

Duranalysis: New Moon on Monday

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Vive la Révolution! It’s time to discuss Duran Duran’s “New Moon on Monday” video!

This is a great song, and maybe half of a great video. The video, which was directed by Brian Grant and released in 1984, has a fun premise and a cool look… but, yeesh, it’s riddled with mortifying, cringe-inducing, cheeseball moments that almost bring the whole production -- nay, the whole Duran Duran empire -- to its knees.

Duranalysis: Union of the Snake

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Watching the video for Duran Duran’s “Union of the Snake” is like coming into the middle of some obscure science-fiction film, where you have no earthly idea who the characters are or what they’re supposed to be doing, or even whether the film is any damn good. Still, you keep watching, because the images are intriguing enough to hold your attention, even as the cogs in your brain spin in vain, trying to make coherent sense of it all and coming up with… I don’t know, marshmallow fluff.

Yeah. It’s sort of like that.

Duranalysis: Night Boat

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It’s the great Duran Duran-versus-zombies showdown!

The video for “(Waiting for the) Night Boat” came out in 1982. I just saw it for the first time yesterday. How did this slip beneath my radar for so long? How did I go twenty-nine years not knowing there was a video in which the Duran Duran boys get their pretty asses handed to them by a horde of zombies?

As with so many of Duran Duran’s best videos, “Night Boat” was directed by Russell Mulcahy. It was shot in Antigua simultaneously with their much-celebrated “Rio” video; “Rio,” of course, became a breakout smash hit (and was recently voted The Greatest Music Video Ever by viewers of MTV UK) and kicked the Duran Duran international phenomenon into the highest possible gear, whereas “Night Boat” slipped through the cracks. I won’t say a word against “Rio” -- it’s a bright, splashy, joyous video, and it boosts my spirits every time I see it -- but really, folks, which would you rather see: Duran Duran cavorting on a yacht while co…

Duranalysis: The Wild Boys

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Television has been sheer crap lately. I’m sick of recaps. Let’s do something different, shall we?

Specifically, let’s do some Duran Duran. I’m going to start reviewing vintage Duran Duran music videos from the early 1980s. I could come up with reasons -- their shiny new album is about to be released in the US, they’re on tour here right now, my dear friend Morgan Dodge recently gave me a copy of Andy Taylor’s memoir, which has sparked a weird Duranny renaissance in me -- but mostly it’s because I like Duran Duran, I like their videos, I’m feeling nostalgic for a certain lost period in time, and I need a change of pace on this site.

I don’t see any benefit to working through their video history chronologically, so this will be haphazard and piecemeal, with reviews getting posted whenever I feel like doing them, drawn from random points in the band’s career. First up is “The Wild Boys,” because it’s a damn fine song and a damn fine video.

Before I launch into the analysis, here…

Fun With Keywords: Hopped Up On Bunny Love Edition

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Keywords! More keywords! If you’ve got a blog or website, do yourself a favor and install Google Analytics on it. You’ll learn all kinds of fascinating things about your site traffic. Last week, I had a visitor from NASA who found my site after Googling “piano tune criminal minds coda.” Over the past month, some discerning stranger in Houston dropped by here 133 times (hi, Houston!). I also had visitors from every U.S. state last month, except for Wyoming. What gives, Wyoming?

Anyway, here are some of the search terms visitors used to find this site in the past thirty days:

psych shawn gus go to cuddle bunnies
Shawn and Gus hit the pet store to cuddle bunnies in “Thrill Seekers & Hell Raisers,” thus introducing the phrase “hopped up on bunny love” into the pop-culture vernacular.

Criminal Minds: Valhalla

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Fix yourselves drinks and get comfortable, folks. This is going to be a long (and extra-ranty!) one.

As a ginormous storm approaches the DC area and threatens a full-scale regional shutdown, two local families are found dead under suspicious circumstances. At one crime scene, the father apparently murdered his wife and young son before setting fire to the house and shooting himself, while at the other, a mysterious gas explosion killed a married couple. Both families, we see, were actually murdered by Prentiss’s nemesis Ian Doyle and his sinister squad of mask-wearing Irish henchmen.

Meanwhile, a jittery and deeply spooked Prentiss meets with her Interpol cohorts Clyde and Tsia on a subway train and tells them about her meeting with Doyle. Tsia urges Prentiss to bring the rest of the BAU in on the case, but Prentiss shoots down the idea. Of course, in the very last episode, Tsia was adamantly opposed to involving the BAU when Prentiss suggested it, but internal consistency is not…

Criminal Minds: Coda

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Sammy Sparks (Skyler Brigmann), an autistic ten-year-old boy in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, plays a classical piece on the piano. This is intercut with a montage of our BAU members going through their morning routines -- Reid walks to work with a book on migraines tucked under his arm, Hotch helps young Jack get ready for the day. It’s a fitting start for a case that will hinge upon the importance of routines. More, with just these fleeting nods to past developments in the lives of our characters (Reid is now plagued with crippling migraines, Hotch is now raising a young son on his own), it’s already clear we’re in better hands in this episode than we’ve been for much of this season.

…My standards for this show are so very, very low these days. Throw me a few scraps of decent character development or intra-episode continuity, and I’m pathetically grateful.

While Sammy continues to play the piano, his mother, Alison (Jessica Lundy), struggles with a shadowy figure in the background…

Criminal Minds: Today I Do

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Get your act together, Criminal Minds.

I know you’ve got a lot of well-publicized behind-the-scenes drama taking place right now: fired actors, new characters, upset and increasingly vocal cast members, contract disputes, shady statements from your parent network, and a wholly ill-advised and unwanted new spin-off series that seems to be cannibalizing your resources. Yeah, that all stinks, and it probably makes for a rocky work environment. Criminal Minds staff writers and producers, you have my sympathy.

Still, while all that might (or might not) be something of an explanation for why the scripts this season have been so tired and/or silly and/or sloppy and/or sensationalistic, it’s not an excuse. You’ve been on this rapid downward trajectory for well over half a season now, and it’s ruining the show. Raise your game.

This is a pallid, lifeless, repetitive episode, and while it’s far from the worst we’ve seen lately -- it’s no “The Thirteenth Step” or “Reflection of Desire,” in ot…

The Devil Wears Mom Jeans

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First off, a tip of the hat to Kelly, who, after reading my essay, “The Strange, Sick, Sad Career of Thomas Gibson,” clued me in to this little gem lurking in the murky lower depths of Gibson’s vast and oft-disturbing IMDB page. The Devil’s Child is a 1997 made-for-television movie, featuring Gibson as an unusually lackadaisical Devil who schemes to impregnate NYPD Blue’s Kim Delaney. It’s Rosemary’s Baby made fast and cheap, and it’s terrible. Hilariously, delightfully, endearingly terrible.

As The Devil’s Child has never been released on DVD in the United States (fancy that), I ordered my copy from overseas. For reasons that shall probably remain a mystery for the ages, the DVD box for the official UK release gives first billing not to Delaney or to Gibson, but to… Scooby-Doo’s Matthew Lillard, who has a supporting role as Delaney’s love-struck assistant, Tim.

Delaney plays Nikki DiMarco, a Los Angeles photographer who, due to a severe childhood accident, is unable to bear childr…

Criminal Minds: Sense Memory

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After that last wretched episode, and after the lengthy string of mediocre episodes preceding it, Criminal Minds is on double-super-duper-extreme probation with me. It was pretty much a coin toss as to whether I even watched last night’s episode, and I really had no intention of recapping it.

Glad I bothered. Best episode of the season, by a comfortable margin. The show made up a little of the respect it’s lost from me over the past few months. It’s still on very thin ice, but this was a sure-footed move in the direction of solid ground.

Let’s get to the Prentiss stuff first, because it’s the most interesting: Prentiss comes home to her DC-area apartment (she’s no longer living in that fabulous two-story condo we saw in the third season) and leafs through the contents of a large envelope in her safe -- several passports, redacted records, photos -- all of which hint at a past history as a secret agent (it also seems to hint that her nationality is… Belgian. Go figure). Sure, tha…

Fun With Keywords: Mohinder Doesn’t Give Up Edition

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Keywords! Another month is done, so it’s time for more keywords! These are a few of the Google search terms visitors have used to find this site over the past month:

mohinder doesn't give up
As much as I adore Heroes’ beautiful Mohinder, I sort of think “giving up” is one of his core character traits, right up there with his disastrous fashion sense and his ability to turn my knees to jelly with his smile. I mean, he does flounce back to India in a huff when things go wrong for him more than once over the course of the series…

delta ceramcoat varnish dangerous
Well, yeah, if you huff it or drink it. And I wouldn’t eat off of anything you’ve glazed with it, because I doubt it’s food-safe. If it’s dangerous above and that, I’d like to remain blissfully ignorant, because I go through it in great quantities. It’s cheap, it spreads evenly, it dries fast, and it doesn’t stink up the place whenever I use it.

how sure is the apocalypse
the apocalypse is not close
Asked and answered.

White Collar: Forging Bonds

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Hey, Andrew McCarthy is guest-starring on White Collar! This warrants a recap. Bonus points: We finally get to see the big Peter-Neal origin story. I love a good origin story.

So it was revealed in the last episode that Neal’s former mentor, Vincent Adler (McCarthy), was most likely the mastermind behind both the explosion that killed Kate and the attempted murder of Mozzie. Nobody knows where Adler is, so Peter shows up at Neal’s place, equipped with beer and wine, ready to pick his lovely gray matter as to his possible whereabouts. The wine comes in a screw-top bottle, and just watching Neal swirl it around in his glass and sniff at it and wrinkle his pretty little nose in perplexed disgust makes the episode worth watching all by itself.

Neal, of course, is reluctant to dish about his past criminal exploits to a Fed, so Peter offers him full immunity for anything he says until sunrise. Neal tells Peter that, as Mozzie figured out last episode, the tune in the hotly-coveted musi…

Criminal Minds: The Thirteenth Step

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Hey, Criminal Minds? I’m dumping your sorry ass.

This has been brewing for a while. This season, we’ve had poorly-written episodes that have been sort of stupid (25 To Life, Reflection of Desire), and we’ve had poorly-written episodes that have been unnecessarily salacious (Remembrance of Things Past, Middle Man)… but up until last night, we haven’t had that perfect storm of poorly-written stupidity and sensationalism that comprised this miserable episode.

A couple of homicidal nitwit junkie newlyweds, Ray (Jonathan Tucker) and Syd (Adrienne Palicki), go on a violent rampage across Montana, shooting up convenience stores and murdering droves of people -- shooting them, burning them, beating them, even sodomizing one store clerk with a crowbar. I have a policy of not singling out specific television writers for blame, because TV scripts tend to be a collaborative effort and it’s impossible to tell what the credited writer or writers should be held responsible for. However, the only…

Criminal Minds: Corazón

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In Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood, three people are found murdered with their hands cut off and shells placed over their eyes and mouths. Because Allapattah is heavily populated by practitioners of Afro-Caribbean religions such as Santeria, the BAU team suspects the unsub might be using religious rituals as a cover for his pathology.

Meanwhile, Reid keeps experiencing hallucinations and painful headaches, which make him terribly sensitive to light and require him to go around wearing dark glasses while looking glamorous and anguished. Naturally, he doesn’t tell his teammates about any of this, opting instead to act nervous and jittery while rubbing his eyes and clutching his head at random intervals while the rest of the team furrow their brows and shoot each other meaningful looks behind his back. You’d think Reid would have figured out by now that it’s simply not worth trying to hide anything from a pack of snoopy FBI profilers. If I worked for the BAU, I’d hand everyone a week…

The Strange, Sick, Sad Career of Thomas Gibson

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I haven't written one of these in a few years, so some explanation might be in order before diving in. Despite the flippant title, the Strange Sick Sad Career mantle is bestowed only upon actors I genuinely like, such as Jonny Lee Miller and Michael Rosenbaum and Ioan Gruffudd… and, now, Thomas Gibson, who is freaking amazing in his role as ultra-grim FBI unit chief Aaron Hotchner on the CBS crime procedural Criminal Minds. How amazing? Consider this: I voted for Gibson with a clear conscience when he went head-to-head against Fringe's magnificent John Noble in Entertainment Weekly's Under-Appreciated Entertainer of 2010 poll, an honor Gibson went on to win.

So… what’s strange or sick or sad about Gibson’s career? Fair question. After all, he’s spent thirteen of the past sixteen years starring in well-received prime-time network television shows (three seasons on Chicago Hope, five on Dharma and Greg, and he’s presently well into his sixth on Criminal Minds), which …