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News Around the Net!

Let’s begin today with these fantastic clips from The Simpsons Live, the recent Simpsons musical extravaganza at The Hollywood Bowl featuring Conan O’Brien, Jon Lovitz, Hank Azaria, and others.  These clips are amazing.

Prepare to lose several hours from your day perusing this ranking of the 114 greatest characters from The West Wing.  The ranking is ridiculous, but the character write-ups are great and the videos accompanying many of the write-ups are phenomenal, wonderful highlights of some of the best moments from that great show.

This is awesome: What Star Trek the original series would have looked like in widescreen.  Check out how gorgeous that 48-years-old television show looks!!  Unbelievable!!

Speaking of Star Trek, with the amazing HD remastering project of Star Trek: The Next Generation nearly completed (the seventh and final season comes out on blu-ray in December), I am desperate for CBS to do the same with Deep Space Nine, my favorite of the Trek TV series.  I really mean desperate.  Bill Hunt from the phenomenal web-site The Digital Bits has an excellent editorial on the topic, addressing this question of whether or not CBS will take the plunge and remaster DS9.  When I first started buying blu-rays, as astounded as I was by the picture and sound quality, I looked at my vast collection of DVDs and vowed to myself that I wouldn’t go out and re-buy blu-rays of films I already owned on DVD.  Many years later, and I am proud of myself for sticking with that vow, almost 100%.  With one huge glaring exception.  I have bought every single blu-ray set of a Star Trek TV show released so far.  The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Enterprise.  I am such a huge Trek fan that I just couldn’t resist.  The improved picture quality was irresistible.  Even more so were the INCREDIBLE special features on Next Gen and Enterprise, produced by Roger Lay, Jr. and Robert Meyer Burnett.  (Those special features really set the standard for what I wish EVERY great TV show or movie had on their DVDs/blu-rays: exhaustive documentaries made with love, along with lots of other fun stuff including deleted scenes and out-takes.)  CBS, I am ready to give you my money!!  PLEASE release a re-mastered version of DS9, and DOUBLE PLEASE let Mr. Lay & Mr. Burnett continue their efforts to finally produce substantial making-of special features for this, the greatest of the Trek TV shows!! #ds9onblurayplease

Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny has released another phenomenal installment of his series Film Nerd 2.0, in which he discussed his approach to guiding his two young sons through the world of media, when and how he introduces them to … [continued]

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This is fantastic: Tom Hiddleston (who played Loki in both Thor movies and The Avengers) doing a phneomenal impression of Owen Wilson, had Owen been cast as Loki.  Check this out.

West Wing fans!  Did you see this clip of Allison Janney performing The Jackal on The Arsenio Hall Show?  This is an obscure reference, but one that any die-hard West Wing fan will appreciate:

This blog from Kevin Smith gives an intriguing update on his fast-developed, absolutely bonkers weird-sounding new movie, Tusk.  Click here for even more info.  Despite being an enormous fan of Kevin Smith, I still haven’t seen Red State.  I want to see it, for sure, since I can’t imagine not having seen one of Mr. Smith’s films, but it just doesn’t interest me that much.  So far, I am bummed to say that Tusk is trending the same way, but it’s such a loony concept that I am intrigued.  It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

This is a great short little retrospective of Jim Henson’s life and work.  I very much want to read Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson, it sounds like a really fascinating book.

OK, this is a very geeky link, but I loved this.  An enterprising photoshopper has created images showing how awesome the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast would have looked in Original Series uniforms.  So great.

There are a lot of stories cropping up about behind-the-scenes issues on the pre-production of Star Wars: Episode VII.  Seems Disney is pushing for that 2015 release date, come hell or high water.  More info here.  I hope it’s all just talk.  I don’t have much hope that I will ever again in my lifetime see a great Star Wars film, but that little ember of hope does still exist, deep inside me.  Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe!

Chris Claremont is, I would argue, single-handedly responsible for the incredible popularity of the X-Men today.  Mr. Claremont wrote The Uncanny X-Men comic book, and a truck-load of spinoffs and mini-series and annuals and other special events, for a jaw-dropping seventeen years, from the ’70s into the ’90s.  (In one of the great injustices of the medium’s history, he was sort of pushed off of the series when his work began to be overshadowed by the popularity of the superstar artists working at Marvel in those days.)  A new documentary about his career — focusing on that incredible seventeen year run on the X-Men — has just been released, and I am dying to see it.  This is a fantastic article about a recent screening of the film, followed by a Q & A [continued]

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Josh’s Least Favorite TV Series Finales!

Last week I waxed poetic about my favorite TV series finales.  Today let’s examine the other side of the coin — what I feel are the three WORST series finales that I’ve ever seen!

One quick note, before we begin: St. Elsewhere is renowned for having one of the most ludicrous series finales ever, in which it was revealed that the entire show was just the dream of an autistic child.  However, since that wasn’t a show that I ever watched, it’s finale isn’t on my list.

So what is?

The West Wing — “Tomorrow” — I thought the show would be lost after the departure of Aaron Sorkin at the end of season 4, and the limp season 5 didn’t do much to discourage me of that notion.  Season 6 started off just as badly, but about halfway through that season the show completely reinvented itself.  Suddenly the story focused on the race for the White House, following a variety of characters, new and old, through their involvement in the primaries and, ultimately, in the Presidential election.  Not only did this change bring a lot of new energy and intensity to the show, but by moving the show outside the confines of the White House and into new territory, it made it easier for viewers to stop comparing the new episodes to the Sorkin classics.  I got really into the show again, and was very excited for the finale to wrap things up in grand style.  Sadly, what we got was a tepid, boring hour in which nothing really happened.  The much-heralded return of Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) turned out to be barely more than a cameo.  Many long-running characters and storylines were ignored entirely (Toby doesn’t appear at all??  No resolution to the long-simmering Charlie-Zoey romance?) or handled in an entirely trivial, superficial manner (Gee, President Bartlett sees Charlie as his son?  That was obvious ever since the first season!).  Most disappointingly, the first episode of season seven had opened with an intriguing “three years later” flash-forward.  It had seemed clear to me that the questions raised in that scene would be addressed in a book-end scene at the end of the finale.  And yet, nothing!  Why include that scene at all in the season premiere if they weren’t going to go anywhere with it?  What a let-down.

The X-Files — “The Truth” — Although the show definitely should have ended after the seventh season, when David Duchovny (who played series lead Fox Mulder) left, I’m not one of those fans who thought the final two seasons to be entirely without merit.  There were still a lot of great spooky adventures to be had, and I … [continued]