September 2006 - Chris Ullrich dot net
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September 2006

Fall TV Wrapup

In the interest of full disclosure I actually wrote this piece for LAist but I think it’s kinda funny so I’m going to put it here as well. Plus, a little comedy after that last post is probably a good idea. Enjoy.

Battlestar Galactica

Now that the majority of the new TV season has been paraded out in front of our collective eyeballs, we can make a few somewhat informed predictions as to how these new shows, and returning ones, will fare. Some of the new ones will, of course, do better than others. In the mix there are always one or two that breakout and become hits.

Mostly, however, there are far more that die a quick death on the alter of sacrifice to the TV gods. Plus, there are several returning shows this season that may have true staying power and many others that should know when to quit while they still have a shred of dignity left.

Here then are some of our predictions for the Fall TV season:

New shows that are going to die sooner rather than later:

Happy Hour – Even drunk this show still sucks. Trying to be funny isn’t the same as actually being funny.

’til Death – Marriage isn’t pretty and this comedy isn’t funny. Time for a divorce.

20 Good Years – John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor don’t want to grow up. We sympathize and understand but still, who cares?

Justice – Another legal show from the brain trust that is the Fox Network. Loud, obnoxious and destined for the chair.

New shows that are going to die (most likely this season) but will hang around awhile just to spite us:

Vanished – Bad writing, bad direction, bad acting. Just bad, bad, bad. Vanish already.

Heroes – Really wanted to like it because it tries to do something different. But even Ali Larter’s fantastic and prominently-featured ass won’t be able to save this show from itself. And besides, we already saw this before when it was called “Unbreakable.”

Six Degrees – Not interested in the characters or their problems. Even the photographer who hasn’t worked in years still looks liked he stepped out of a fashion magazine. Whatever.

Smith – When the main character is the least interesting of the bunch you have a problem. Make the show about Mrs. Smith and her torrid affair with Amy Smart’s character while they do crimes and you might have something. Until then, no thanks.

Jericho – How can a show with Skeet Ulrich and Major Dad be bad? Trust us, it can. The only thing that might have saved this show was the super hot Ashley Scott and she’s headed out of town at the end of the pilot. Too bad. Did we mention that she’s super hot? Just wanted to make that clear.

Returning shows that have outlived their usefulness already and/or “jumped the shark” this season and should be put out of their misery:

Bones – Not even Dr. Brennan’s brains and beauty can save this show from turning into a rotting corpse. The cast is fun to look at but they need to do something else to keep the show going. Something interesting instead of doing basically the same show every week. Find the corpse, identify the corpse, reconstruct the corpse’s face, flirt with the FBI agent but never consummate then solve the case with a touch of righteous indignation. It started out promising last season but has clearly lost it’s way.

ER – Is there anyone who understands why this show is still on the air? Seriously, we’re really asking? Should have been put out of its misery long, long ago. Right around the time George Clooney left to do movies.

Desperate Housewives – We love a good soap opera but seriously, how much bad shit can happen in one neighborhood before people start to move? Rent the u-haul its time to get the hell out. There’s a sign on the front lawn and that sign says “crap”.

Grey’s Anatomy – The problem with an ensemble show where the cast is all getting famous is that they all need screen time and they all need some big crisis every week. That’s just too many crises to deal with. Plus, in the season premiere they use the old “patient has the plague so the two doctors who are both in love with the same woman are stuck together in quarantine so they have to explore their feelings about each other” plot. Come on, ER did that in season five and it was lame then. And really, why they’re fighting over Dr. Grey is beyond us. She’s a drunken slut. Move on.

Crossing Jordan – Someone who works on this show must have photos of Jeff Zucker with farm animals or something. That’s the only thing that explains this show still being around. Cross Jordan off the list, we beg you.

How I Met Your Mother – See above about trying to be funny not being the same thing as being funny. And trust us, having a laugh track doesn’t really help. Mother, meet the door. Don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.

Ghost Whisperer – Jennifer Love Hewitt’s cleavage talks to ghosts. No wonder they keep coming back. We would. And who deosn’t love a girl that eats at Taco Bell and Sizzler in real life (its true, we’ve seen her)? We love Love but this show has to go. Give her something else to do and we might watch. Until then, this show is a ghost to us.

And last but not least, new or returning shows that will stick around and entertain us at least until they start to suck and/or annoy:

The Office – Still funny this year without trying to be. What a comedy should be.

My Name is Earl – Much like “The Office” in quality and disarming charm. Comedy from situations and characters. Not a situation comedy. There is a difference.

Men in Trees – Funny, cute and with a heart in the right place. We love that blonde, crazy, ex-lesbian. She has spunk and spunk is good.

Numb3rs – Like the smart kid in class that you wanted to beat up only this time, what he’s saying is so interesting you actually pay attention. And who knew you would really use math in the future like your teacher said you would? We though they were full of crap for sure.

The Unit – David Mamet meets “The Shield.” Sign us up for another tour. Plus, President Palmer kicks serious ass. The rest of the cast is good too, especially Robert Patrick as the unit’s boss and Abby Brammell as the wife of a unit member he’s having an affair with.

Plus, the show is called “The Unit”. Get it? “The Unit”. Nevermind. Testosterone-fueled men with machine guns who blow shit up is good fun. Embrace it and learn to love it.

Shark – Even though it’s clearly “House” with lawyers (we can hear the pitch meeting now) we like James Woods. Can’t help it. Plus, having Jeri Ryan in the show is not a bad idea either. Although it didn’t help “Boston Public” much. But really, nothing could have helped that steaming pile of “art” so we can’t really blame Jeri now can we?

We might be a little biased about Jeri, though, due to spending some time with her back in the day when she was a struggling actress working on a small movie. She’s a hoot and a pretty good pool player too. Where’s that five bucks you owe us Jeri?

The Nine – Interesting premise. Interesting characters and a cliffhanger that makes us want to come back to see what happens. All you can hope for from a new show. At least all the “Party of Five” alumni seem to be getting work now. Maybe Lacey Chabert will show up on “Lost” this season and get into a mud-soaked tussle with Evangiline Lilly’s character over Jack just to make things interesting? It could happen.

America’s Next Top Model – Don’t say a word. This show manages to be funny, poignant and highly entertaining all without really trying. Call this our one guilty pleasure. Plus, hello, hot models.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – Even though Aaron Sorkin is clearly “influenced” by many other great writers of the past, he is still one of the most consistently intelligent and interesting creative forces working in TV today. He may be preachy and self-righteous sometimes but whatever he has to say, we’re listening. Plus, we love that Sarah Paulson and Amanda Peet.

Some of the male cast members are ok too. We like that Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. They’re just fine. Also, kudos to Timothy Busfield and Evan Handler for staying on and getting on the Arron Sorkin express, respectively. They’re good and they deserve the work. Sadly, some of the other cast members aren’t quite up to the job just yet. Yes Hughley, we’re talking about you.


Finally, let’s keep in mind two of the very best shows on TV that have not had their official premieres yet this season but will most certainly still be on the air for years and years to come. If you are not watching these shows, you don’t know what you are missing. Get with it. We’re talking about, of course, these:

Veronica Mars – Funny, intelligent, scary and many other positive adjectives that don’t really do it justice. This show manages to walk the line between teen drama and noir thriller with equal facility for both genres. Kristen Bell is great as is the rest of the cast, particularly her father, played by Enrico Colotoni. We guess Exec. Producer Joel Silver isn’t such a dumbass after all, inspite of the “Matrix” sequels and a little movie called “Fair Game.”

Battlestar Galactica – This is the best show on TV that you’re not watching (unless you are in which case, kudos). We know, its sci-fi and that scares you. We know that the original ‘Battlestar“ left something to be desired in the quality department (but we loved it anyway). We also know that if you watch the show you’ll be hooked. Time Magazine can’t be wrong (at least about this) so give it a try and follow Exec. Producer Ron Moore’s plan. He won’t let us down.

That’s it for now. If LAist were one to bet we’d put our money down that our predictions are spot on. Anyone wanna take that action? Not that we advocate gambling. But if we did, we’d break the bank for sure.

Looking Inward and Some Cool Comic News


First, a little business. As some of you may know I have started writing more for other people at other sites. And, not only that, I have started writing a weekly Mac column at LAist called “Ask the MACist”. Plus, various other articles for various other places. Consequently, this particular blog has suffered from lack of attention. I have no excuse other than writing every day when people actually expect you to deliver on a deadline or they won’t pay you is harder than I thought. Not harder because I can’t do it but harder because of the expectations of others.

It’s been some time since I had to write in more of a journalistic style or do more feature-type articles. Normally, I just ramble on here for a few paragraphs and call it a day. Writing here and in the first person seems somehow easier or something. Or, its probably more that writing here, while very important to me, doesn’t carry with it the added pressure of readership or pay. When you throw readership and money into the mix, people expect results.

They expect you to be really good and for people to not only read what you write but to actually like it or at least, in some way, react to it. If your work brings new readers and keeps them coming back because they, for some reason, like what you say and how you say it, that is a huge added bonus (for them but not necessarily for you as then you have to try to be even better next time to continue the trend).

At this site, I am my own boss and basically write here because I have a compulsion to do so, not because I expect anyone to read, understand or care. Writing is really some kind of sickness that drives people to do it all the time or they will explode. I have to write because I have to get this stuff out of me. So, in that way and by writing here, I am less burdened by the pressure to be entertaining or even good. That is not to say that I don’t care. I do. But there is a certain thing that happens to people, at least to me, when someone is expecting you to perform in order to get paid. For me, it becomes more work and I tend to be far more critical of what I write in those circumstances than I am for things here.

I want things to be good here and I want people to read this and like it or hate it or ion some way react, but don’t expect them to. But I can’t say for sure if anyone is even reading this stuff. So, there is less pressure to be good or entertaining. Perhaps I’m just lazy at heart and only care if I’m getting paid to care. In some ways that might make me a whore except that in most cases, if not all, the whore is only pretending to care and doesn’t actually, really, give a crap. That’s the difference, I guess. In this case, I’m the whore with a heart of gold and I care. Really. Now give me fifty bucks. Don’t look at me, I earned it!

You have to love a place where the author refers to themselves as a whore. But really, when I think about it more, I have been a whore many times in my life. For example, almost every time I ever did a movie or a music video or a commercial that I didn’t believe in. I only did it for the money in those cases but also in those cases I did care about how it all turned out. I wanted the results to be good and worked very hard to make sure that they were. it didn’t always work out but it wasn’t because I didn’t care or didn’t try, there were other factors that influenced the outcome. It wasn’t me. I was in there swinging for the fences but the fences kept getting moved farther and farther away.

What does any of this mean to you? Well friends (yes you, you and you) here’s where I pull it all together. In your life, it’s ok to not be great sometimes and its even ok to fail once in awhile. As long as you can go home knowing that you tried to do your best, you’re still a winner. And, its ok to be a whore too sometimes. We are all like that once in awhile. You haven’t sold out as long as you keep fighting for quality. If you ever stop fighting to make things better, even when nobody else gives a crap, then its over and you are just a whore who’s faking it. And faking it is not good. Unless you’re the President of the United States. In that case, its all good.

On another front, somebody put together a list of the best comic book covers of 2006.I think that’s kinda cool. I know the year isn’t over yet but what the hell. Check it out here. Plus, I thought the picture was somewhat appropriate to the above diatribe. That’s it. Stay classy San Diego (or LA or New York or London or wherever you are).

Ask the MACist

My latest column is here. So much writing to do so little time. I’m gonna have to link here occasionally but i will try to update as well. But for now . . .

Soon I will relate the story of why I decided to go back to my 12“ Powerbook and not keep using my 13” Intel MacBook. Until then.



Blackberry Blogging (again)

Its fun and so good for you. Well, not really but it could be. Just testing something. Sorry to bother. More and better soon.

I know, I know, how could it get much better than this?

Five years.


Five years? Damn, five years seems like a long time. It isn’t really. I only wish I could feel better about things like how our government is handling our safety. But from where I sit it seems like we are less safe than we were before.

I’ll feel better when our current President is out of office. Perhaps then we can have a leader that builds alliances instead of tearing them down, puts his people’s welfare in front of his own fundamentalist agenda and generally tries to ensure that what happened five years ago does not happen again. Ever.

It’s a very important goal and one that I hope our next President takes to heart. I wonder, though, with the current crop of Democrats, who that might be. Kerry? Gore? Clinton? Who knows. Whoever it is, I hope they are prepared to learn from the past so they are not doomed to repeat it. Smart person, whoever said that. Can’t remember. Maybe it was me.

I was remembering where I was five years ago today as many people are, I’m sure. I was in bed when we got the first phone call telling us to turn on the TV and that we had been attacked. Attacked? What does that mean? So, I crawled out of bed, went into the living room and turned on the TV. I didn’t get up again for at least twelve hours.

Everyone knows the images of that day and everyone should remember them. I know I will never forget.

If you want more about today, go here, here, here or here.

Also, here’s writer Cory Doctorow’s first post from the morning five years ago. Even now, it was hard for me to read it. I didn’t blog back then. Don’t know if I would have been able to anyway.

To brighten things up a bit and get a little humor, try this. Although, this one may make you angry more than it makes you laugh. I had both reactions. I will say that the laughter helps you get through the anger so try it, it may help you. It did for me.

At least for a little while.

Ask the MACist

Just in case you don’t get enough Chris in your day I am now writing a weekly Mac help column for LAist called “Ask the MACist”. Today is the first one so please take a minute and check it out.

And, if you have any Mac or Mac-related questions, feel free to send them in. Maybe I will be able to answer one for you and as an added bonus, you can see your name in print! What could be better than that?

Nice weekend all.

Dress like a Mac

Now this is useful. Go here for the full scoop. Now, I’m off to get me some cool Mac threads!


Format Wars – HD DVD and Other Stuff

Over at LAist I have posted a rather good (IMHO) article about the HD DVD format wars. So, as I don’t have anything cool or witty to say
here, how about just going over to LAist and reading the article? That would be great, thanks.

Here it is.

Or, if you insist, here are a few other great things to read. One, written by me and others, written by some equally intelligent and fantastic people.