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From Gazettetimes.com


Take a bite out of bad media (angel mention)

By John Ginn

Saturday 22 May 2004, by Webmaster

Bits and pieces, odds and ends, misinformation and disturbing trends

Nothing earthshaking this week, just random thoughts, commentary and observations. Just catching up with recent things on the entertainment scene.

American Idol

A few months ago, I begged readers of this column to steer clear of watching the new "American Idol" season. Nothing good could come of it, I said, and recent events have borne that out.

I don’t watch the show, but by all accounts what fans face now is a thrilling runoff between finalists of inferior caliber. The best of the contestants are gone now, through voting mix-ups, phone jamming, vote canceling, or whatever.

The upshot? After seeming years of winnowing through hopefuls, fans of the show are now faced with the important task of voting for substandard talent to be our next "American Idol."

Well, you read it here first all those months ago. I told you then that "American Idol" was a mediocrity contest and now here we are. Millions will soon tune in to decide which of the substandard finalists wins the prize.

Holy cow, folks, if you have even the tiniest shred of self-respect left, just don’t call in! The outcome doesn’t matter. Your vote doesn’t matter.

Van Helsing

A couple of weeks ago, Roger Ebert’s review, printed in the Entertainer, gave a thumbs up to the movie "Van Helsing." I’ve since seen the movie and feel compelled to offer a counter opinion: THUMBS DOWN! Yikes! It’s awful.

One of the most dull, overblown, leaden movies I’ve seen, merciless in its intent to beat you down with its unrelenting action. Let’s put it this way: if reading this column was equivalent to watching the movie, we’d be into our second overdone effects sequence by now.

The movie is supposed to be "fun," it’s supposed to be a roller-coaster thrill ride, and it is, in a way. It’s a roller-coaster thrill ride that goes on and on for two and a quarter dull, repetitive hours. It’s not scary, it’s not particularly funny. It’s just not good.

It’s supposed to be tribute to the Universal monster movies of the 1930s and ’40s, but there is not one tiny shred of the soul, heart and poetry of those films. Any one scene from James Whale’s "Bride of Frankenstein" is better and more worthy of your time than the whole of "Van Helsing." Skip "Van Helsing" and try to rent the newly released box set of Universal Monster DVDs instead.

The End of Angel

As I write this, I am anxiously awaiting the series finale of "Angel," the spinoff series from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which concluded its run last year. As much as I liked "Buffy," I think I have come to like "Angel" even more.

Some of its plotlines have touched on far darker and morally ambiguous themes than Buffy ever went near. For the most part, Buffy always won. On "Angel," the heroes won many battles, but rarely achieved an overwhelming victory in the ongoing war against evil.

As the series ends, Angel and his band of heroes - still holding together in spite of the numerous blows, both physical and moral, they’ve suffered this year - are preparing for a final, possibly suicidal showdown with the minions of their longtime enemies, the trans-dimensional lawyer firm Wolfram & Hart. They do this knowing beforehand that the best they can hope for is to deal a devastating setback to Wolfram & Hart’s plans.

In a way, their struggle, for me, is very much tied to Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon’s own struggle to bring something new and different to the broadcast spectrum. "Angel" was gathering some of its best ratings ever, and still was cancelled.

What bothers me most is that after Wednesday’s finale, "Angel" will be gone while horribleness like "The Swan" is probably already set for a new season - ("The Swan II": If you thought the first season’s females were ugly and useless, you ain’t seen nothing yet!).

A couple of years ago, the "Swan" concept would have made a horrifying episode of "Angel." Cordelia would have had one of her visions: A vanity demon would have risen from the depths of hell; Angel and gang would investigate and find a roomful of bandaged women, all of them sure they had nothing to offer the world other than physical beauty.

Angel and gang would try to rescue the women, but the demon would be too powerful. The spell is too strong; bandaged and in agony the women can’t pull themselves away from the demon’s mirror. The gang would be forced to leave the women behind, waiting fruitlessly, endlessly, for permission to remove the bandages, hoping against hope that when the permission does come the mirror will show them worthy and validated human beings.

Angel and his gang showed the power of small victories. One battle at a time. Column readers can claim a couple victories of their own by opting out of the pointless "American Idol" voting or handing over their hard-earned money to soulless movies like "Van Helsing."

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