Monday, August 31, 2009

Video Revue: Actor's Studio--John Lithgow

It's all about John Lithgow this week! Johnny and I discuss some of his films, look back (again) at 3rd Rock from the Sun, and look forward to his new TV role (which is almost the opposite of a fun-loving alien...) along with the opportunity we had to meet him! You'll never guess where.

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Questions for the week: What's your favorite Lithgow role? Do you like him better as a hero or a villain?

Send your feedback on this episode or any others to

Coming next week: the start of Joss Whedon September! We're going to talk about the cult classic and personal favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Coming after that is Angel, Firefly, and a double-play weekend with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse to finish out the month. Stay tuned, because it's going to be a ton of fun!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy dance time: "Leverage" has been renewed!

I was on Twitter a few minutes ago and came across an unexpected announcement: TNT has renewed "Leverage" for a third season! I was happily surprised that they renewed it already, because the second season is still being aired. If you've never watched Leverage before, do yourself a favor and start watching. Now. (It airs Wednesday evenings on TNT; cable-impaired viewers can catch some recent episodes on TNT's website or download 'em all from iTunes or Amazon).

So many networks have a reputation for developing a show, attracting viewers, and then canning the whole thing after one season (see: Pushing Daisies, Moonlight, Firefly, Blood Ties, Jericho, Back To You, etc). It's enough to make anyone wary of watching a new show. But when TNT started running ads for a new show called "Leverage" last November, I was hooked from the first promo ("Hey, look! It's Lindsey from "Angel"!). I tuned to the first episode, hoping for some decent entertainment.

I was blown away. This show is AMAZING. The premise: four criminals and an ex-insurance agent team up to steal from the undeserving, greedy SOBs who screw people over. They then give said money to the people who've been wronged. Or, as the leader Nate (Timothy Hutton) puts it: "The rich and powerful take what they want. We steal it back for you." As odd as it seems, this show always leaves me with a smile on my face. It's total schadenfreude. But they have it coming to them. Honestly.

The weekly stories are always fascinating. I love trying to figure out how they're going to rip off the bad guys. They always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else. The writers are fantastic, and the cast is simply phenomenal. In addition to Hutton's ex-insurance agent Nate Ford, we have Christian Kane (the aforementioned "Angel" alum) as Eliot, who kicks ass and takes names; Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, hacker extraordinaire; Gina Bellman as grifter/con artist Sophie Devereaux; and Beth Riesgraf as Parker, the world's greatest thief. The characters are all rich and complex, and the actors are all up to the task of bringing them to life on screen. They have great chemistry. The dynamic is as real as the characters themselves are. Some of my favorite lines in the show come from the little "throw-away" side conversations the team has with each other when they're not on the job. These people all have back stories, and it's fascinating to see them grow closer together over the course of the first season.

Season two is proving to be just as good, if not even better. This time they're taking down bigger, badder guys, protecting more people, taking more risks, and getting closer and closer to being discovered (actually, I take that back. They've been discovered, and managed to turn that into an even bigger win). They seem to be unstoppable (though this means I'm naturally waiting for the other shoe to drop). I can only imagine what they'll be getting up to in the third season.

One final note: Whoever came up with the idea of putting TV shows on iTunes and having new episodes up the day after they air is a genius. I've bought the Season Pass for both S1 and S2 of Leverage (making it one of only 2 shows where I own every episode; the other is Angel) because the only time I've ever had cable TV is when I lived in the dorms on my college campus. Now, I can get every episode of my favorite show without having to shell out $40 a month for cable.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Video Revue: Memory Lane

Sorry the show is late this week. We ran into technical difficulties--but now you can finally listen to our brand new intro!


Anyway, this week Johnny and I discuss both shows we watched as young children and kids' TV shows we still enjoy--some we've only discovered recently. We also have our coverage of the terrific, hilarious live riffing of Plan 9 From Outer Space!

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Comments about this week's show? Want to suggest a new topic? Our email address is Question for the week: What's your earliest TV memory?

We'll be back next week with a look at the career of John Lithgow, and then it's on to our Whedon-tastic September!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Podcast changes and end of summer

I'm sorry there was no show last week--Johnny and I suddenly found ourselves with all kinds of back-to-school stuff we needed to do. Oddly enough, neither of us actually went back to school THIS week. Johnny starts next week and my classes don't start until the week after that. But Johnny had some homework to finish (no, I don't know why they've started giving out homework over summer vacation) and I had to buy all of my textbooks. Anyway, to make up for it we've put some extras into this week's show. We're debuting a brand new intro and outro, and we have a review of last night's live riffing of "Plan 9 From Outer Space"! I don't remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did last night. We had a GREAT time!

And don't forget: in two weeks we're starting our first ever month-long series of shows as we devote the month of September to the evil genius who is Joss Whedon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A classic!

Would you BELIEVE that this thing has been viewed almost 18,000 times since 2007??

Thursday, August 13, 2009

TV on the Internet

Note: This is another one of those blog posts that's probably going to go on for a while without really saying anything important. I haven't done one of those for a while.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it gives people the opportunity to watch television shows and movies without a television, VCR, or DVD player. For someone like me, who watches a lot more television than I'd like to admit, it's exciting. However, it can also frequently be annoying. Why is that, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you why. Because, with instant access to certain shows, I come to expect any episode of any television show to be just a few clicks away--and it definitely is not. Granted, a lot of the new shows are available in various places online, often just a day after they air on TV. But older shows are a lot harder to track down. Or they can be.

Anyway, there are basically 3 different ways to find TV shows on the Internet: free with commercials, free without commercials, and paid.

Free with commercials: This includes sites such as Hulu, Fancast, and the "Shows" section on YouTube. This also includes the network websites. If you're looking for a specific, current show, chances are good you can watch it on the network's web site. Some of the video players are easier to use than others. The other sites have the rights to certain shows from various networks (and, in some cases, only certain episodes from those shows). You can watch them for free, but the videos are interrupted periodically to show a commercial (sometimes the same commercial during every break). They're always adding new stuff when they get the rights to it, so the selection is expanding. They have old shows, new shows, network shows, and even some cable shows--but nothing rated TV-MA (sorry, True Blood fans who don't have HBO!).

Free without commercials: These are usually found on websites with user-generated content, where kind souls have decided to upload shows that they, technically, may or may not have the rights to. Aside from the legal issues, this can be both good and bad. The main advantage here is selection. If you can't find it on Hulu, chances are someone else has it uploaded somewhere. This includes shows you would normally only be able to find on premium cable channels. Websites like Surf the Channel try to collect all of the links into one easy-to-search place. The disadvantages here are that these links are much more unreliable--if YouTube is purging copyrighted content, every episode of a certain show could disappear...for a while. They're constantly being deleted and re-uploaded. Also, Surf the Channel is vulnerable to hackers. My antivirus program doesn't like it.

Paid: This includes websites like iTunes and Amazon, where you can pay to own a favorite episode or show. This is good if it's something you know you'd like to watch over and over again--and if you have the space for it. It's not so good if you've never seen a show before and don't feel like paying $2 an episode only to find out you don't like it--or if you don't happen to have an extra 30 gigabytes on your hard drive. I will say that iTunes has an insane selection, especially with new shows, including premium cable and shows in HD. Netflix also has videos you can watch online (or stream through the Internet to your TV with a special box) but their selection of TV shows isn't nearly as wide as iTunes.

What I'd really like to see is a site that has a wider selection than the free-with-ad sites without having to purchase the episode. Here's my vision: For a monthly subscription fee, you get unlimited access to thousands of shows (more than the free-with-commercials) which you can watch at any time over the Internet. You could even have different levels: a free version would let you watch, say, five hours per month. Or maybe certain shows would only be available with a paid plan. Paid subscribers could have unlimited viewing, and for an additional fee could download episodes to their computers. I like the streaming-to-TV idea that Netflix has--I think the box is from a company called Roku--so I'd make my website compatible with the box as well (no additional charge). There could be an extra fee for HD format. You could even charge extra for shows like Dexter or True Blood or The Sopranos. Personally, I'd make it compatible with iTunes and other portable video players. I doubt Apple would agree to that, but this is all hypothetical anyway...

I'd be willing to pay for a subscription like that. Normally I only use the Internet to pay for items, not services (Netflix being my one exception). But let's say a website like the one I envision would cost $20 a month. First of all, that's cheaper than cable by a wide margin. If it had a wide enough selection of shows, it could actually replace cable TV altogether. And if you'd watch more than 10 shows in a month, it's cheaper than iTunes. Personally, I think the flat rate is better than paying per episode or per viewing, because if I purchase a video and don't like it I feel it was a waste of money. And while I do love being able to carry around my favorite TV shows on my iPod, they take up A LOT of space on my laptop.

Question for the comments: What do you think of my idea? Would you pay for a website like the one I've described? What, if anything, would you change?

(Additional question: who wants to bet this post will be spammed with at least 5 ads for video sites? Should I add a spam filter?)

Monday, August 10, 2009

RiffTrax LIVE: Plan 9 from Outer Space

Yes, in case you haven't heard about THIS, it's going to be awesome! Johnny and I bought tickets as soon as we found out. We're going to have a full review on our podcast (the August 23rd show). If you haven't bought tickets yet, GO! Before they sell out!

Video Revue: Attack of the 80s Movies!

We're back! This week, Johnny and I travel back to the 1980s to discuss the top 10 grossing films from each year, particularly those we've seen. From "Witness" to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," from "The Empire Strikes Back" to "The Little Mermaid," we discuss everything eighties. This idea was suggested by our long-time listener Rob in Oregon (thanks, Rob!). If you have an idea for Video Revue, we'd love to hear it! You can e-mail us any time at

As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Question for the week: What should we watch next? Also, what's your favorite eighties movie?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Video Revue: Tim Burton

We're home from vacation! This show has been up for a while, but now that we're home I can finally post it here. Johnny and I take a look at the weird and wonderful world of Tim Burton in this show. As always, you can find us on iTunes or Podshow.

Our next episode should be up soon, as Johnny and I talk about some of the best movies of the 1980s.