DID YOU READ

Why I don’t like the new rules for TV spoilers

Why I don’t like the new rules for TV spoilers  (photo)

Posted by on

SPOILER ALERT: articles about spoilers are contentious.

Everyone has an opinion about spoilers. Even people who don’t care about spoilers don’t care about them passionately. Case in point: The New York Times Magazine‘s Dan Kois, who has written before in defense of spoilers, has just written a new piece entitled “The New Rules for TV Spoilers.” Kois’ argument, in a nutshell: Twitter has created an incredible outlet for real-time conversations and freaking out about spoilers gets in the way of that conversation. In a slightly bigger nutshell, here’s what he has to say:

“It’s truly time to start thinking about the twists and turns of your favorite TV program the way you think about news and sports. Twitter is a big room full of people who are interested in the same stuff as you. So the statute of limitations for spoilers on Twitter is, for all intents and purposes, zero minutes zero seconds. And that’s the way fans want it! That’s the way you should want it, too, if you are a fan of, say, ‘Breaking Bad’ or other popular, potentially spoilable shows. If you care enough to get mad about being spoiled for ‘Breaking Bad,’ then just watch ‘Breaking Bad,’ for Pete’s sake. And stay off Twitter until you do. We’re having a conversation over here, and if you yell at us about it, then you’re the spoiler.”

Kois’ argument is an inherently technological one — Twitter gives fans the power for instant discussion and dissection, hence holding anything back is a waste of that outlet — but I think he’d actually have a better argument in a less tech-savvy time. Thirty years ago, if you wanted to find out who shot J.R. you’d better be in front of a TV set on November 21, 1980. If you missed it, you really missed it; television spoilers were almost irrelevant because you couldn’t catch up with that episode of “Dallas” after it aired even if you wanted to. In contrast, if the big “Dallas” reveal aired on November 21, 2011, and you had to attend your son’s piano recital that night, it wouldn’t be a big deal. You’ve got DVR, DVD, Hulu, iTunes and more at your disposal. Arguably, these premiere-prolonging services make sensitivity to spoilers more important than ever before, not less. (In fact, a savvy network looking to boost ratings should adopt Kois’ rules as a new ad campaign. “Don’t Run the Risk of Spoilers! Catch It Live!” could be the new “Must-See TV.” Seriously.)

What I find particularly confusing about this stance (and Kois is far from alone in holding it) is the distinction between “TV spoilers” — which I find tend to be far more tolerated on Twitter — and “movie spoilers” — which people are generally much more sensitive about. But why are the two any different? “Paranormal Activity 3″ opened last Friday; it’s been out for four days now. Anyone who wanted to see it had the whole weekend to go check it out. Kois says if “you love ‘The Wire’ so much that you’d be angry to find out who died before the DVDs get released, it’s time to pony up for HBO.” So does that mean if you liked “Paranormal Activity 2″ you’ve got to see “Paranormal 3″ by Monday or it’s open season on spoiler-heavy Twitter discussions? If TV equals sports, and (widely released) movies are just as available as TV, then it would seem so. If the counter argument is “Unlike movies, TV shows premiere at a set time when everyone can tune in simultaneously,” I refer back to my argument above. Because of DVRs, DVD, Hulu, etc., there’s less urgency than ever to tune in live. Of course the same goes for movies: if I can’t make it to the theater, it’ll be on VOD. Or after that DVD. Or after that Netflix. Which is why it’s not cool to blab about what happens at the end of “Paranormal Activity 3,” either.

Personally, I’m not terribly offended by spoilers. Listeners of the old IFC podcast know we used to defend our right to spoil movies with appropriate warning, and I think that’s the main problem with Kois’ new rules. To me, spoilers are fine on ANY topic as long as they are carefully marked in advance, something that Twitter, with its limited numbers of characters and instantaneous updates, isn’t particularly well-suited for — yet another reason why it pays to be more spoiler-conscious there, rather than less. In other words, spoil away (with appropriate warning) in your recap of an episode of “Breaking Bad,” but don’t spoil that same information in the tweet you send out linking people to the article. It’s not about spoiling people’s fun. It’s about courtesy for those who haven’t had time to join the fun yet.

How do you feel about TV spoilers on Twitter? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter (duh).

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

Development on “Arrested Development” movie slightly less arrested

Development on “Arrested Development” movie slightly less arrested (photo)

Posted by on

The folks who made “Arrested Development” have no one to blame but themselves. They’re the ones who closed their series finale with one of the characters pitching the idea of a television series that sounded suspiciously like “Arrested Development,” then had series narrator and executive producer Ron Howard, playing himself, going “No, but maybe a movie.” From that day forward, all anyone could talk about in interviews with “Arrested Development” alumni was the possibility of an “Arrested Development” movie. We’ve talked about it here, and here, and only about a gabillion other places.

So series creator Mitchell Hurwitz was at The New Yorker Festival on Sunday: what are the odds he talked about the “Arrested Development” movie? Pretty freaking good, obviously. But according to The New York Times‘ Dave Itzkoff, Hurwitz dropped some actual news about an actual movie actually happening. Actually. Plus, a legit bombshell: “Arrested Development” may also return to television.

From Itzkoff’s report, here’s what Hurwitz told the New Yorker audience:

“We don’t completely own the property, there are business people involved and studios and that kind of thing. Just creatively, I have been working on the screenplay for a long time and found that as time went by, there was so much more to the story. In fact, where everyone’s been for five years became a big part of the story. So in working on the screenplay, I found even if I just gave five minutes per character to that back story, we were halfway through the movie before the characters got together… [Instead] we’re trying to do a limited-run series into the movie… We’re basically hoping to do 9 or 10 episodes, with almost one character per episode.”

Hurwitz said they want to film everything, the new series and the movie, next summer with releases planned for 2013. But don’t go breaking out the celebratory frozen bananas just yet: there’s still plenty of corporate hurdles to clear — synergizing a TV network to air a series in concert with a film studio and a movie, presents some logistical hurdles that still need to be cleared. And apparently all negotiations on Hurwitz’s end are being handled by Bob Loblaw, so it could all fall apart any moment.

I kid because I hosted “Arrested Development” Live on IFC.com and I have the entire series lodged in my brain and I might as well use it somehow. Though I’ve long since developed an immunity to feeling excitement about the possibility of an “Arrested Development” movie — I’ll believe it when I see the nevernude jorts — it sounds like the development of this movie (and new TV show!) is actually getting a little less arrested.

Do you think the “Arrested Development” movie will ever happen? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

That’s what “Animal House” was missing: a laugh track!

That’s what “Animal House” was missing: a laugh track! (photo)

Posted by on

This week’s installment in The A.V. Club’s always essential Inventory column is called “Of ’30 Rock’s and ‘Studio 60’s: 38 TV Doppelgängers;” television series that premiered alongside a nearly identical twin — “ER” and “Chicago Hope,” “Transformers” and “Challenge of the Go-Bots,” and so on. It’s a great list across the board, but the entry that really blew my mind was the one about “Delta House,” the little-seen TV spinoff of “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” that aired on for one season on ABC.

“Delta House” is one of the most notoriously bad movie-to-TV adaptations of all time, but I’d never seen any of it until today. The Inventory piece included this embedded video clip which completely blew my mind. Why? There’s John Vernon — a.k.a. Dean Wormer — sitting in his office, talking to some ROTC flunky, while from some distance plane of the space-time continuum, someone, somewhere is laughing. A laugh track? In the world of “Animal House?” I know laugh tracks were customary on all single camera sitcoms in the late 1970s, but slapping canned yuks on something so funny and anarchic as “Animal House” — even if it’s just “Animal House”‘s declawed, network TV equivalent — just feels like sacrilege. Take a look.

I realize it’s a small sample size, but judging from that clip I don’t know how the show even lasted thirteen episodes. It should have been cancelled before the first commercial break. How did this come from the typewriters of Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller, the screenwriters of “Animal House?” It’s inconceivable. I love the fact that there is a laugh track beneath that Dean Wormer scene, but the laughs are more chuckles and groans than full-on guffaws. Even the laugh track didn’t find this stuff funny!

I encourage you to read all of this week’s Inventory, which is loaded with great clips, including the lead actor of the TV spinoff of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” calling a cardboard cutout of Matthew Broderick “two-dimensional” and then taking a chainsaw to it. What? Not funny? Must be because “Ferris Bueller” didn’t have a laugh track.

What’s the worst movie-to-TV adaptation of all time? Give us your pick in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

“The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu,” reviewed

“The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu,” reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

We perceive documentaries as records of truth; these things happened, the camera recorded them. “The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu” is a record of a lie. Yes, these things happened, and yes, the camera recorded them. But why did they happen and how? And what was going on when the camera wasn’t around? Because of its unusual structure, the film doesn’t say. But attentive viewers will realize this “autobiography” presents an incomplete view of history.

It comes from the perspective of Nicolae Ceausescu, Communist dictator of Romania from 1967 to 1989. A man with a taste for the spotlight, Ceausescu rarely missed an opportunity for a photo opportunity, and he filled his nation’s official archive with hundreds upon hundreds of hours of himself at work and play. The footage is extensive but not comprehensive: lots of speeches and meetings with foreign heads-of-state, occasional travels abroad or hunting expeditions, but no mentions of food shortages or public demonstrations against his regime. Director Andrei Ujica screened all of it and assembled this three-hour film. There is no voiceover and no interviews with experts or historians, just 180 minutes of a life lived inside this impenetrable bubble of peace, prosperity, and propaganda. If you had no outside knowledge of Romanian history, you might be taken by surprise when Ceausescu’s end comes, seemingly out of nowhere. From his insanely warped perspective, he was a great leader caught in a sort of modern day Greek tragedy. Near the end of “The Autobiography,” after Ceausescu’s been deposed, he responds to the allegations that he ordered the execution of protestors by insisting “What you’re saying is all lies, mystifications, provocations!” One of the most interesting things about “The Autobiography” is the fact that it suggests Ceausescu not only fabricated his own reality, he bought into his own self-inflating mythology as completely as anyone else. This guy didn’t just read his own press clippings, he shot footage of himself reading his own press clippings and smirking while a bunch of lackeys stood around applauding.

Of course, beyond the boundaries of Ujica’s frame were real tragedies which afflicted the people of Romania for decades. But Ceausescu’s Communist media machine didn’t record them, so they don’t appear in the film. Aside from one very vocal critic who pipes up to protest Ceausescu impending reelection in front of Congress and is quickly and aggressively shouted down, there isn’t a single voice of dissent in the entire movie. Instead, we watch the small cracks begin to form in the facade of Ceausescu’s carefully constructed fantasy world. The crowds for his public appearances start to thin out. They still applaud for him, but not so intensely. Some of the sequences are just surreal. On a visit to California, fabricated realities collide when Ceausescu tours the backlot at Universal Studios. He appears to be taking very careful mental notes.

Ujica’s film is a major accomplishment for historians and documentary scholars and it is a powerful indictment of politically manipulated media. At three hours it’s also really, really long. Occasionally, I grew a little weary of the endless parade of contextless footage of dignitaries and state functions. With my limited knowledge of Romanian history, and without a narration or intertitles to guide me, I’m sure a lot of Ujica’s subtler points went right over my head. I began to believe the director could have made his point just as powerfully in half the runtime. But upon further consideration, the size of the movie reflect the size of its subject’s ego. Both are a little bloated.

“The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu” opens today in New York City. If you see it, tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

“The Raid” busts our brains with a sick red-band trailer

“The Raid” busts our brains with a sick red-band trailer (photo)

Posted by on

Last night my Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree with buzz from the Toronto Film Festival. An Indonesian action film called “The Raid” had kicked off the festival’s Midnight Madness cult movie sidebar, and apparently it was amazing. MSN Movies’ James Rocchi even went so far as to call it “the best Aristotelian-unity action film since “Die Hard.” Holy crap. That’s insane.

The enthusiasm didn’t diminish with the full reviews that hit the web this morning, either. Drew McWeeny over at HitFix called it “a near perfect action movie” and The Hollywood Reporter breathlessly described a screening had “people cheering, wincing and shaking their heads in disbelief.” They also gave some interesting backstory about the film’s director, Gareth Evans. Though the film was made in Indonesia, he’s originally from Wales. He married an Indonesian woman and became enmeshed in the local film scene. Holy crap. That’s insane too.

One of the problems with film festivals — although they’ve gotten better these days thanks to some clever independent distributors and the magic of video on demand — is that they get you psyched for movies you can’t see for months or even years. So hats off to whoever was behind the decision to drop a sick red-band trailer for “The Raid” on the internet the day after the glowing reviews. That is some smart marketing right there.

Here is that trailer, courtesy MTV News. It is pretty bloody, so unless you work as a really imprecise coroner, it’s NSFW. The film has been acquired by Sony — who, Deadline reports, have brought Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda on to write a new score — but no release date has been announced yet. Based on this trailer, I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Is that the craziest action trailer of the year? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Powered by ZergNet