Friday, November 30, 2007

Duck the Halls!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't You Hate It When...

The most interesting conversation you’ve had of late is with a cat. (And it wasn’t even your cat. It was just some stray cat that happened to walk on your property one day.)

You get a Valentine addressed to Occupant.

You get home and discover your fly is wide open, and you wonder how much of the day it spent in that position. (And why nobody bothered to tell you.)

You congratulate a woman on her pregnancy and she isn’t pregnant. (Believe me, this happens more often than you think. Or maybe it’s just me.)

The last time you had a really good laugh was sometime during the Clinton Administration.

You have a dinner party and everyone coming is a vegetarian.

You see a Job posting on for your job, and the Human Resources person at your company refuses to take your calls.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Are You Being Controlled by Your Cat?

When most people think of cats, they think of the cute, cuddly, purring creatures celebrated in so many calendars, greeting cards and Fancy Feast commercials. However, I discovered a darker side of the popular house pet that may require further examination. I am speaking of the Cat Conspiracy that appears to have taken over my household.

It all began several years ago when I used to live in NYC. I had a modest split-level studio apartment with a spiral staircase that overlooked my bed. I thought nothing of it when I put the bed there, as it was really the only space large enough to hold it. However, my two cats Chelsea and Chase found the spiral staircase to be the perfect venue to carry out their evil plan. Every morning they would wake me up by launching themselves off the spiral staircase and on to my stomach. Or my head, or my armpit, or wherever they happened to land. They didn’t really care where they jumped to, as long as it achieved their ultimate goal---to wake me up so I would feed them.

At first I thought this was a rather cute and clever way of getting my attention. After all, waking up to find a cat flying through the air over your head is certainly something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. It makes quite an impression when you see outstretched claws soaring toward your face. And then to experience the joy of “touchdown” as their long nails sink into your epidermis, perhaps scarring you for life. Or at least for the next week.

But after a few times of this adorable ritual, I got rather tired of it. Especially when they decided their skydiving activities were not exclusively reserved for the early morning. Sometimes they liked to go parachuting in the middle of the night, which unintentionally added another level of horror to the nightmares I was having. Imagine being chased by a monster in your dreams at the same time that a 14 pound cat suddenly lands with a thud on your chest. It’s enough to give you a heart attack.

Which is why I decided to counter these attacks the only way I knew how—by covering up the stairwell, so they could no longer stand on the steps and jump onto the bed. The first thing I tried was aluminum foil, because I’d heard that cats don’t like to go near it. (Something about the smell, I think.) So I wrapped the spaces between the rungs with long strips of the foil, making sure there were no gaps underneath that a cat could slip through. This looked rather ridiculous, of course, but I was sure it would deter them from their nightly flights of fancy.

Unfortunately, my cats had no qualms about aluminum foil. In fact, they apparently liked the way it sounded, as they scratched and crinkled it all night long. Like hearing nails on a chalkboard, the crackling of the aluminum foil was even more of a sleep irritant than the acrobatic kitties. Eventually, they managed to tear through several pieces anyway, and then their trapeze act was back in action. Foiled by the foil.

Later, I tried using towels, pillows and even books to plug the gaps. (The latter having a rather unfortunate ending when a pile of old Robert Ludlam novels was shoved off the staircase and onto my head.)

Finally, I just gave up. Because no matter what I tried, those two cats were smarter than me. And they worked together as a tag team, attacking my torso from different angles and levels on the stairs. Chelsea was the lighter and nimble one, so she could jump off the highest stair, and glide effortlessly downward until she hit her target much the same way a penny falling from the top of the Empire State Building might land. Luckily, she was quite light, so her falls from grace didn’t have as large an impact as they might. Chase, on the other hand, was a huge overweight cat that loved to belly flop onto my stomach. I can’t tell you the level of pain this caused, though I did get a much stronger set of abs from continually holding them clenched in anticipation of the next assault.

Sadly, Chelsea passed away and I eventually got a new companion for Chase, in the form of a short-haired black male named Trey. This was the first time Chase had ever lived with another male, having only known the joys of Chelsea for the last five years. And though at first the two males had their issues, eventually they decided it was better if they combined their energy against me rather than each other. Chase soon taught Trey all about the nightly/morning routine, and I soon found myself witnessing a new chapter in my terrifying saga—the emergence of Evil Cat-nieval.

I gave this nickname to Trey after a series of stunts he pulled early one Sunday morning. While Chelsea had been able to drop off the top stair quite effortlessly, Trey added the element of speed by starting his jump all the way back at the kitchen, and then making a mad dash down the stairs until he dove off and landed on me with a bigger impact than just by jumping alone. Sometimes he would throw in a little twist in the air, or do a double somersault. As long as he reached his target with as much force as possible, he didn’t care. He was fearless.

This went on for several years, until I moved out of the city and into my own house in the suburbs. Finally, I would be rid of that damn spiral staircase and the ability for my cats to perform target practice on my body. My bed was now in a normal room and there was nothing around me that the cats could launch themselves off of. I made sure of that.

But cats will be cats. And soon they discovered a new way to get my attention. They jump on me from the other side of the bed. Or run around the bed, using me as a launchpad for jumping somewhere else. Which is sometimes worse than actually being jumped on; as their launch requires them to roughly push their legs (and nails) into me as they thrust themselves forward.

So here I am, a sadly beaten man, hen-pecked by two male felines. If anyone has a suggestion as to how to defeat this evil pair and their nightly visitations, please let me know. Before it’s too late!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ode to the Writer's Strike

(Sung to the tune of "Close to You" by the Carpenters.)

Without words, you would never hear,
Dialogue that is clear,
Actors need,
Writers to feed,
Words to you.

When a script has a juicy plot,
And suspense, there’s a lot,
It just shows,
Some writer knows,
What words to use.

Writers say ideas are born from their imagination,
They conceive a story that the world will view,
But for work that they’ve created,
They’re not fairly compensated,
It’s the truth.

That is why all the scribes in town,
Are on strike, look around,
No more prose,
Till someone shows,
The dough they're due.

Let's hope this gets resolved quickly. I don't know how many more reality shows I can take!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Going Bananas Over Hannah Montana

Every time I hear about the current ticket problems with Hannah Montana concerts, I can’t help thinking about David Cassidy. Why? Because when I was growing up, (Oh God! Not that again!) Mr. Cassidy caused the same kind of hysteria wherever he went, especially when he was giving concerts. Legions of devoted fans crammed themselves into concert halls or stadiums just to catch a glimpse of David in the flesh. Though during the so-called concerts, there was so much screaming, yelling and crying, that it was impossible to even hear him. And if you were in the nosebleed section of one of these venues, you probably had a hard time seeing him as well. (Luckily, there were plenty of plastic binoculars for sale to help you get up close and personal.)

I have the feeling that a similar amount of frenzy will surround much of the upcoming Hannah Montana tour. Devoted parents, who think they are giving their children a rare opportunity to see their idol in concert, will no doubt be disappointed at the actual event. Not that their children will care, as their motivation for going is probably more of a status thing rather than an actual need to hear Miley Cyrus singing LIVE. They want to be a part of history, and tell their friends, neighbors and future grandchildren that they were there when Hannah performed her bubble gum songs in places like Savannah, Atlanta or Indiana.

In psychological terms, the ability to actually snag one of these coveted tickets is equivalent to going through a right of passage. It proves that you have the resources and financial freedom to get whatever you want, and are immediately elevated to a higher status among your peers. You become a Hannah Montana Top Banana. Or even more importantly, a member of the infamous Miley-High Club.

(What the heck kind of name is Miley anyway? The first time I heard of Miley Cyrus, I thought it was some new kind of infectious disease. And now that I’ve heard all the controversy surrounding the hard-to-get concert tickets, I don’t think I was really that far off.)

So why all the frenzy over Hannah Montana tickets? Is it really that important that your child sees this concert? Will it dramatically alter her life if she doesn’t? (Or his life, if he happens to be among the male fan base, which is statistically ten percent of the population.) And why do parents feel it necessary to shell out hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars to make sure their child isn’t left behind? Why not just shell out ten dollars and get them a nice CD or DVD? It will undoubtedly be more fulfilling, and certainly less dangerous than going to the actual concert.

And what kind of message are parents sending to their children if they allow them to idolize such a duplicitous teen, anyway? The whole premise of Hannah Montana is that the character leads a double life. Like the Clark Kent/Superman character before her, Hannah simply dons a blond wig and is immediately perceived as someone completely different. Is this the kind of role model we want our children to emulate? By taking them to a Hannah Montana concert, are we really telling them that lying about who you are is acceptable? As long as you wear synthetic flaxen extensions to do it?

The one time I actually watched a Hannah Montana episode, I got very tired. The actors were expending so much time and energy trying to maintain Hannah’s secret identity that I felt much the same way I do after eating a large Thanksgiving dinner. I suffered from Hannah Montana Tryptophan-a.

But I am not the target audience for this cross-country tour. And I seriously doubt whether the little girls (and boys) who want to go to the concert are either. The real demographic this money-making machine is after are the parents of Hannah fans. They are the ones who will shell out boatloads of money for the concert tickets, and then pay even more at the actual event to secure their offspring a treasure trove of Hannah t-shirts, buttons, glowsticks and fake hair. They are the real losers in this scenario. Because in five years when they are still paying off the second mortgage they had to take out in order to attain the popular tickets, their offspring will have moved on to something completely different. Hannah will have faded into the background, much like David Cassidy did after “The Partridge Family” ended.

And let’s not forget that David’s reign as a concert King had a very tragic ending, when one of his devoted fans was crushed to death at a London concert. That pretty much put a kibosh on any future tours. Let’s hope the Hannah Fan-ahs don’t suffer the same fate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Dark Comic Genius of Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I first saw him in “Married to the Mob” oh so many decades ago. And despite his many embarrassing scandals in the press, I still consider him to be a great comic talent. His deadpan expressions and masterful delivery are one of the best things about NBC’s often hilarious, “30 Rock.”

On the show, Alec is basically playing the same arrogant and twisted character he played on “Will and Grace,” and several other sitcoms. But here he has elevated the persona to iconic status, forever insuring his place among television’s great comedic characters. Unfortunately, his problematic personal life threatens to undo all this. (I still cringe at the embarrassing phone message he left for his pig-faced daughter. Or rather, the daughter he called a selfish little pig, which is not exactly a term of endearment.)

Ironically, I’ve actually witnessed this darker side of Mr. Baldwin, when I happened to see him several years ago as he was coming out of the Equinox Gym on the Upper West Side. Dressed in a very unflattering grey sweat suit, and sporting a white towel around his neck, he looked like a pasty-faced donut maker rather than a Hollywood Leading Man. As he brushed past me talking on his cell phone, I couldn’t help but overhear his rather loud conversation. That’s because he wasn’t actually talking. He was sort of yelling. Screaming, actually. At someone I assumed must be his manager or agent, because the conversation sounded something like this:

“Don’t they know who they’re dealing with? Do they seriously think I would work for that? If they want Alec Baldwin, they’re going to have to come up with more money. I don’t do charity work.”

Ironically, the next time I crossed paths with Mr. Baldwin was at a rather swanky charity event we were both attending. Actually, he was the one attending it, and I was there to work. I was hired to play Batman for the event, which is not my specialty or anything; I just happened to be good friends with an event planner and he used to throw me these side gigs every now and then. Put on a costume, parade around a party for a couple hours, and go home with three hundred dollars. Humiliating, yes. Lucrative, sort of. Rewarding, no.

At one point during the evening, Alec breezed past me on his way to the V.I.P. area, and I saw him look at me for a moment. Was he about to say something clever or witty? Or perhaps engage me in a little friendly repartee? Dream on. I think he may have smirked at my costume, but that’s about it.

Later, I saw him sitting at the top of the stairs behind me, perhaps frowning down at my very existence. (See top photo, me in Batman suit with Alec sitting at top of stairs. Bottom photo, horribly pixilated close-up of Alec sitting at top of stairs. Is that a camera he’s holding? Is he actually taking a picture of the back of my costume? Yikes!)

Despite all this, I am still enamored of the man and his talent. His comic skills have been highlighted over and over again on “Saturday Night Live” and other TV shows, in films and theater, as well as his current brilliance on “30 Rock.” And though his personal life may be in constant turmoil, his life in front of the camera is nothing but winning.

But that’s just me. What do you think of Alec Baldwin?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

After the Fifties and Frankenstein, “The Ritz” Provides a Randy Romp

So far, the theater season in New York has been rather disappointing; at least for the shows I’ve seen. Beginning with the 100th revival of Grease back in August, the year began with a whimper rather than a bang. Truth to tell, I was actually looking forward to seeing this show, as I’d never actually seen the stage version of the beloved musical. The film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John has always been a favorite of mine, so I had great expectations for the stage show as well.

And I’m sorry to say, I was a little let down. Not to say the Broadway musical is bad, because it’s not. But it’s not that exciting either. And I don’t think it’s the fault of the cast, because everyone is pretty good and true to their characters. They just don’t have much to work with. The songs are great, no question. But the book of the musical is so weak and senseless that the show sort of drags whenever someone isn’t singing or dancing. And I think that was probably the point when the show first premiered back in the 1970s. It was meant to be a nice nostalgic slice of life without much substance. But today, this same plot has been played out so many times that even “Hanna Montana” would find it dull.

So though I left “Grease” feeling like I’d just witnessed a show in need of a serious facelift, I was still hopeful that a fresh musical interpretation of the 1950s was just around the corner. Because the next event on my theatrical agenda was “Happy Days,” a new musical adaptation of the popular television series. Sounds interesting, right? I mean, how bad could a musical based on classic sitcom be? And as Hollywood heavyweights Gary Marshall and Paul Williams were attached to the project, I decided to give it a shot. Plus, it was playing at the nearby Paper Mill Playhouse, which meant I didn’t have to go all the way into the city to be entertained.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t experience anything close to being happy at “Happy Days.” The premise of the show is so wafer thin, you might have swallowed it the last time you took Communion. It has something to do with Fonzie having to overcome his demons and pride just in time to help save Arnold’s Diner from being demolished. Along the way, the cast sings a series of easily forgettable songs with tunes that aren’t even catchy. That was my biggest disappointment with the show, as I was expecting the music to be fun and upbeat. But the songs were rather dull and not really memorable. Or even hummable. (Which was surprising to me, as Paul Williams had already written some wonderful period songs for my favorite children-as-gangsters spoof, “Bugsy Malone.”)

The other weird thing about the show was that some of the characters were portrayed exactly as they were in the television series, and some weren’t. Fonzie for example, is almost a carbon copy of Henry Winkler, even down to the mannerisms and vocal inflections. Then there’s someone like Ralph Malph, who is now fat and balding (at least the actor was) and trying very hard to be the class clown. Potsie, on the other hand, was the straight man, offering little more than vocal support during choral numbers.

The main focus of the show was Richie trying to help Pinkie Toscadero trying to help Fonzie trying to help Arnold, who is trying to save his diner. Then there’s the equally tired subplot of Marion trying to get some respect as a housewife in 1950s suburbia. Again, both storylines that might have been pulled from your typical ABC After-School Special, but not really much to sing about.

Taking a break from my foray into the fifties, I next went to see the dueling Mary Shelley inspired musicals, “Frankenstein” and “Young Frankenstein.” (Please see previous blog posting “The Case of the Dueling Frankensteins,” for my reviews on those particular shows.)

Now on to “The Ritz,” which I must admit I went to see with much lower expectations, having read several bad reviews of the show. But I have to say, of all the theater I’ve seen so far this season, this is the one I laughed at the most. From the very opening scene to the end, I was thoroughly caught up in the zany world of Carmine Vespucci and his plot to kill his brother-in-law, Gaetano Proclo. It was sometimes over-the-top and silly, but it also had a lot of heart, which was something sorely missing from the previous shows I’ve mentioned.

Not everyone is going to like “The Ritz,” especially if you have issues watching a show that takes place in a men’s bathhouse. But I thought it was hilarious. Rosie Perez is incredible as Googie Gomez. This is my first time seeing Ms. Perez on stage, and I was very impressed. This role was made for her. She is so committed and truthful in her portrayal, that you really feel for her character’s struggle and determination. Plus, her Act One Musical Homage finale is one of the funniest things I’ve seen on stage in a long time.

The other supporting characters are all very good too, with some stand-out performances from Brooks Ashmanskas as Chris and Patrick Kerr as chubby chaser Claude Perkins. There are plenty of hot male bodies to watch as well, including famous porn star Ryan Idol, who looks like a beefy Marlborough Man as he struts his stuff around the stage. The set is also amazing, an eye-popping display of doors and rooms amidst the winding hallways and cruisy caverns of a three story bathhouse. It’s a very entertaining evening, despite what some critics may have said. And luckily, it is one of only eight Broadway shows that are still running during the current stagehand union strike.

Next on my theatrical agenda will be Disney’s new power show, “The Little Mermaid.” That is, if the current strike doesn’t prevent me from seeing it. But my tickets aren’t until November 20th, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. I mean, they’ll be able to resolve all their issues in two weeks, right? Right? Hello? Is anyone out there?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is iTunes a Music Enabler?

When I was young and records were still in fashion, I remember the eager anticipation I felt when one of my favorite singers or groups released a new album. I would run down to the record store on the day it was released, find the most pristine copy, and then rush home to listen to the entire album in one sitting. And if I really liked it, I’d listen to it all over again. Sometimes for the rest of the day. (Much to the dismay of my parents, whose musical tastes were clearly different than my own.)

Then I went through a cassette phase, where I bought the cassette version of everything I already had on vinyl. After all, you couldn’t fit a 33” record into a Sony Walkman. Not unless you wanted to do some serious damage to your instrument.

After cassettes came CDs, which were much smaller and more convenient than records, and supposedly better quality than cassettes. I must admit I resisted this new innovation for a while, until the Walkman ate my cassette tapes one too many times. (How I hated having to stick a pencil through the spindles of the cassette to try and reel in the tape that had been pulled out.)

The transition to CD was rather easy, and I thought this would be the last time I’d ever have to update my musical collection to another format. How little I knew about technology. For several years after I made the switch to CDs, I was introduced to something called an iPod. And for a while, I must admit that I didn’t really understand the concept of an iPod. How could you hear music playing from such a little box without inserting a cassette or CD first?

The iPod presented a new level of musical appreciation—the ability to have your entire CD collection on one unit. Or at least as much of your collection as you could fit. And you could even create your own dance mix or playlist, so now everyone and their Grandmother had the opportunity to test out their latent DJ skills.

But the biggest musical revolution of the past few decades has got to be that wonderful online store that allows you to download your selections immediately. I’m referring of course to iTunes, which single-handedly changed the way people purchase music.

iTunes is like having your own private Xanadu, a “place that nobody dared to go.” No more running down to your nearest Tower Records to pick up the latest Billy Joel CD, or waiting for your latest package from Columbia House to arrive. In fact, no more running down to Tower Records at all, since the company recently closed its doors forever. (An obvious sign of what iTunes has done to the local neighborhood record store.)

It’s sad to think that music stores might soon become a thing of the past. All those aisles of CDs and Albums and Cassettes you once mulled over for hours have now been replaced by the convenience of a click. And how easy it is to click, especially when most songs only cost ninety-nine cents to purchase. Ninety-nine cents!!!! It’s incredible.

And what’s even better is that you no longer have to purchase a whole album if you only like a few songs. Now you can have your music a la carte. Which makes it so much easier to expand your musical tastes to other genres and artists you might never have considered before. Just browse, click on a song title, and after thirty seconds of sampling it, make the quick decision whether to download it or not. And since it’s only ninety-nine cents, what have you got to lose? If you decide later you think the song sucks, you’ve only wasted ninety-nine cents. (Except those ninety-nine cents really add up if you happen to be a compulsive clicker.)

Today, I have the largest collection of music I’ve ever owned. It’s massive, it’s comprehensive, it’s eclectic. But if you asked me a specific question about a particular song or the artist singing it, I’d probably draw a blank nine out of ten times. Because my music is no longer something I anticipate, or research, or know much about. It’s more spontaneous than that. With only a click, I can have instant gratification and a snappy tune. I don’t have to spend hours staring at the album cover, or reading all the liner notes. All those simple pleasures have now become a thing of the past. Replaced with an online jukebox that is not only convenient, but addictive as well. And therein lies the rub.

I’m Henson. And I’m an iTune-aholic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dear Disney, Make Mine a Magical Menken Musical

When I was growing up, I loved to escape into the fantasy worlds of Disney animated features. There were Heroes and Magical Creatures, Princesses and Villains, Talking Animals and Enchanted Puppets, and lots and lots of singing and dancing.

Then there was a long stretch of time when Disney animated films seemed passé, and going to horror films and serious drama was all the rage. I began to think of Disney as kid’s stuff and didn’t care about seeing those G-rated movies any more. After all, I was in college and wouldn’t be caught dead at a kiddie film.

Then "The Little Mermaid" hit the scene in 1989, and ushered in a new era of Disney animated films, featuring the music of Alan Menken and the lyrics of Howard Ashman. Finally, after decades of tuneless toons, characters were singing and dancing once again. In fact, with the emergence of “Beauty and the Beast” a few years later, musically enhanced cutlery replaced talking animals as the Toon Du Jour. And I found myself loving these movies. They again allowed me to escape into a fantasy world that was safe and happy and musical. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Then Mr. Ashman died in 1991, leaving Menken to work with other lyricists. He finished the musical elements for the movie “Aladdin” with the help of Tim Rice, and then worked with Stephen Schwartz on “Pocahontas” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” My personal favorite was the technically brilliant “Hercules,” which has a wonderfully upbeat score that I find myself singing even today.

And what was really cool is that the openings of these movies became major events. “Pocahontas” premiered in Central Park, “The Lion King” premiered at Radio City Music Hall, and “Hercules” premiered at the newly renovated New Amsterdam Theater, along with a huge electrical light parade and live stage show. The Disney animated cartoon had suddenly become the trendiest ticket in town. Everybody was going to see them.

But then it all of a sudden it stopped, and the Disney cartoon suffered a backlash. People complained of formula scripts that catered to singing and technical wizardry rather than the story and characters. And, of course, computer animation suddenly became the rage, and people began looking at Disney’s 2-Dimensional offerings as archaic.

So Alan Menken went on to write other things, and Disney stopped making musicals. Other than a few songs for the easily forgotten “Home on the Range,” there hasn’t been a big Disney-Menken effort in over a decade. And that is much too long.

I guess all this rambling leads to one thing: I want another big splashy Disney animated movie with a score by Alan Menken and lots and lots of singing and dancing furniture. Or whatever the latest inanimate object to come to life might be. An iPod? A Gameboy? A Blackberry? I don’t care what it is, as long as they burst into song for the big “Be Our Guest” type number, and shoot pixels fireworks all over their keypads.

Okay, enough rambling. Anyone else out there agree with me?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We’d Like to Give this Sitcom “Back to You”

It seems like the must-see laugh-out-loud sitcom is slowly becoming a rare species. Except for “How I Met Your Mother,” "The Office," and the new “Big Bang Theory,” I rarely watch a sitcom these days and experience anything resembling mirth. Most of them seem like tired versions of older sitcoms thrown together in a blender, and spit out as something new.

A prime example of this is the aptly titled “Back to You.” Because after watching one or two episodes of this new Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton vehicle, you’ll be saying exactly that. Not only is the show not funny, but watching it will give you an incredible feeling of Déjà vu. After all, isn’t Kelsey just playing Frasier with a new job? Instead of a talk show host, he’s now a newscaster? (That’s a big stretch.) And doesn’t it seem like Patricia’s character simply ditched Raymond and his obnoxious relatives to become a single mother?

My point is, I don’t see anything particularly original about this series, which still portrays Grammer’s character as a middle-aged self-absorbed snob looking for love in all the wrong places. I mean, am I missing something here? Is there a subtle character variation that I’m not seeing? If so, I must also be missing how different Heaton’s character is from the constantly put-upon wife she played in “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

It’s like when you go to a thrift shop and pick up a macramé belt from the sixties or a hideous velour shirt from the seventies. They’re so old and familiar, they’ve actually become chic again. I’m not sure if this is what they hoped for with “Back to You.” But the predictable scripts and rehashed scenarios feel like they’ve been gathered from yard sales and bargain basements. Quick and easy to find, but not necessarily satisfying in the long run.

This series would have been much more interesting if Kelsey was a middle-aged pre-op transsexual trying to break into local news, and Patricia was his tough lesbian boss with a heart of gold. Now that would have been worth getting back to you about.

Friday, November 2, 2007

To BEE, Or Not To BEE?

Last summer, when I first learned Jerry Seinfeld was starring in a full-length animated feature, I was intrigued by the possibilities. Would Elaine, Kramer and George show up as cameo Bees? Would the movie be as funny as his old series was? Or would it suffer the so-called Seinfeld curse?

While all these questions were swirling through my mind, I witnessed my first real preview of the movie. A long drawn out mini-sketch featuring Jerry in a Bee costume, being hoisted into the air. Not really funny, but this was a live-action skit after all. The real animated movie would surely be better, right?

Then came a few short previews of the actual movie, which started to look sort of cute. And funny. Or at least clever. But definitely something enjoyable to watch.

However, the same can’t be said for the recent advertising campaign featuring the terribly unfunny “TV Junior” skits. What the Hell is a “TV Junior,” anyway? Did anybody ever explain that phrase to us? Because something about it reeks of condescension. Does it mean the producers don’t think we’re ready for TV Seniors, because those type of commercials would go right over our heads? So instead, they decide to pander to the lowest common denominator with a TV Junior? I’m not sure, but I think I feel insulted.

In my opinion, the TV Junior commercials seem a little desperate. And not particularly funny. But maybe Jerry was afraid that unless he made an appearance in the commercials, people wouldn’t come see the movie. Like we might not be intelligent enough to accept an animated version of him, especially if it was in the form of a bee.

I can’t wait until this movie opens, but not for the reasons you might think. I can’t wait because then they’ll eventually pull all those obnoxious TV Junior commercials out of rotation. They’ve been bombarding us with promos for this movie for a year now, and I’m not so sure I even want to see it anymore. At least not until it comes out on DVD.

But if I go to the theater this weekend, am I also sending a message that TV Juniors are a good marketing tool? And would the industry then perceive this as the new “standard” in movie promotion, and inundate us with millions of them in the future? Or by staying home, am I pulling a Norma Rae without a significant cause to rebel against?

So that leaves me in a little bit of a quandary. To BEE, or Not to BEE? That is the question.

What think you, Fair Reader?