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June 2010

Digital

Who couldn't use a game of Robo-Pong?

By Mike Shields on Fri Jun 25 2010

Robo-pong

I just clicked on my first banner ad in probably seven years, and who could blame me? Have you seen these ads for Newgy's Robo-Pong? The Ping Pong you can play by yourself!?
  "Play Ping Pong without a partner anytime you want!" reads the ad. So many things are great about this ad and product. First of all, I encountered this banner while reading about the Obama/McChrystal smackdown on Politico of all places. Talk about contextual relevancy. Way to go, Robo-Pong media team! I assume you bought this inventory directly from Politico's sales team, right? Second—and the best part—is that in the video on the company's site, a woman named Holly, who identifies herself as "a working parent with a hectic schedule," extols the Robo-Pong's virtues. According to Holly, among the reasons to enjoy Robo-Pong is that it's fun for the whole family, it helps you get better at Ping Pong, and best of all, it helps you get in better shape! Per Holly, with Robo-Pong, "you have a fitness partner in your home." Obesity problem solved, America.
  I know we just missed Father's Day, and Christmas is a long way off. Honey, can I have this for a Fourth of July present?

Sports

A look back at some other long sports days

By Craig Russell on Fri Jun 25 2010

Isner

After watching John Isner outlast Nicolas Mahut in the longest tennis match in history (6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 at Wimbledon after 11 hours and five minutes of play), I got to thinking about other memorable sports marathons—most notably, the 1987 New York Islanders-Washington Capitals quadruple-overtime thriller. Here's my take on that, plus a few others that won't soon be forgotten.

New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals
April 18-19, 1987
Landover, Md.
  My brother and I watched the entire game, known as "The Easter Epic," waking my parents up more than once that night into morning. The 69 minutes of overtime ended at 1:57 a.m., on a goal by Islanders star Pat LaFontaine, roughly seven hours after the opening faceoff. It also just happened to be the deciding Game 7 of the Patrick Division semifinals.

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Broadcast TV

'Lost'-ies, here's your Dharma alarm clock

By Will Levith on Fri Jun 25 2010

Dharma

A colleague forwarded this link to me, regarding the Dharma alarm clock, to which I immediately joked, "As long as it doesn't reset every time it hits 1:08." (I didn't specify a.m. or p.m., because I assumed it wouldn't matter.) Apparently, you can either take the requisite 108-minute naps in your Dharma jumpsuit like the geek in the how-to video below, or you can set it to real time if you have a life and need to get real sleep (and to work in the morning). It's creative, nonetheless. I knew as soon as Lost ended that the profiteers would come out of the woodwork in droves, licensing things like Dharma lite beer and ranch dressing and specialty items like this. Would I buy it for $49.99? Probably not. Good thing it's an April Fool's gag.

Broadcast TV

Fallon, Williams kick the slow jams again

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Jun 23 2010

Renewable energy is sexy! At least it is in the hands of Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, with cameo king Brian Williams providing the steady voice-of-reason beat to the second appearance of Slow Jamming the News. Late Night gave us the first slow jam comedy bit—and a lot of dick jokes about the health-care reform bill—a few months back. Judging from Tuesday night, and Williams' deft ability to set up a "roof is on fire" reference, it could be a recurring skit. If Stephen Colbert can dumb down the day's news, like he did the other night with a first-grade-level, monosyllabic "Where the Wild Things Were" version of the BP oil spill disaster, Fallon might as well sex it up. Go for it, boys.

Cable

Sad that 'The Tudors' is over? There'll be plenty more where that came from

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Jun 22 2010

Pillars

In the twilight of his life, King Henry VIII had ostracized—or killed—so many of the people close to him that he was virtually alone at the end. And miserable. And filled with remorse. Or so the season finale of The Tudors Sunday night on Showtime would have us believe. Personally, I think he would've done away with yet another wife—the "religious heretic" Catherine Parr—if only he'd had the strength. But he was too beaten down with age and injury to have her whacked. Lucky for her. Though the Michael Hirst-written series came to a natural and satisfying conclusion after four seasons, it's tough to let go of an absorbing—and super hot—historical drama like The Tudors. But find some comfort, fans, in knowing there's plenty more period soaps where that came from. In fact, it may have been the buzz around The Tudors that spawned this next wave of projects.

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Cable

'True Blood' fans including Snoop Dogg rewarded with a fourth season

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Jun 22 2010

The good news for True Blood fans today is that HBO has renewed the camp-vamp series for a fourth season. More gory soft-core porn! The dozen just-ordered episodes will air next summer. This follows Sunday night's episode, which featured Nazis and werewolves and gentry—oh my!—plus one of the best bonuses I've ever seen. If you missed it, take a gander at Snoop Dogg's musical ode to Sookie Stackhouse, the clairvoyant diner waitress around which everything in Bon Temps, La., seems to revolve. Seems the big pimpin' Dogg is her No. 1 fan. At the very least, he wants to whisk her off to Los Angeles while her boyfriend, gentleman vampire Bill Compton, is being held against his will by the courtly king of Mississippi. (At least his detention includes a lovely blood-based multi-course dinner with gelato at the end.) Obviously, Snoop is prepared to take advantage of the situation. But if Sookie fell for every smooth talker around, she'd already be hooked up with tall-drink-of-water vamp Eric Northman. Alas, she's a one-(dead)-man woman. Sorry, Snoop. The series, which has pulled in the best ratings for the premium network since The Sopranos, had 5.1 million viewers for the recent season 3 premiere, up 38 percent from the prior season's launch.

Broadcast TV

Catching up with my lost season of '24'

By Will Levith on Tue Jun 22 2010

24-season-2

One of my greatest regrets over the years was missing season 2 of Fox's serial action drama 24 when I was living in Spain. (While there, I got my Spanish-speaking roommates into the show, which was replaying season 1 … dubbed in Spanish.) I never got around to watching the season because, well, other TV like Lost got in the way. That first season of 24, I admit, I can't remember much about. I remember Jack Bauer's wife being murdered in cold blood by slippery CTU operative Nina Myers. And I remember being sucked into the show quickly and thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was like being tied to a ticking time bomb every Monday night. Without DVR, too, it was pretty hard to take pee breaks (and when I did get a DVR, my bladder thanked me).  
  This past weekend, I finally cracked the first several episodes of season 2 via Netflix, and it was like a trip down memory lane. It reminded me of how great the series was in its heyday—believable terrorists, gnarly action sequences and that signature complex syndicate of bad guys (the guy you think is the main bad guy always has a boss). At some point, though, all the layers come off, and the last bad guy is left standing—and facing the snarling face of Jack Bauer, who will, more than likely, kill him. It was also nice to see some familiar faces from other down-the-road series in this season so far. A few Lost vets pop up in decent story arcs: Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) appears as a SWAT team leader, and John Terry (Christian Shephard) plays a freelance CIA operative and prime terrorism suspect.  
  More than ever, without cable, I find myself turning to my computer to catch up on the series I've missed out on. I'll update you soon on my late rating of 24's second season.

Broadcast TV

'Friday Night Lights' recaps, episodes 4-6

Posted on Fri Jun 18 2010

Fnl

Season 4, episode 4: "A Sort of Homecoming"
  Setup: Eric looks into the history of East Dillon's football program; Riggins & Saracen bond on a hunting trip.
  What Happens: Eric tries to drum up community support for his team; Jess talks her father into hosting the pep rally.
  Favorite Scene: Buddy showing up for dinner at the Taylors' and saving the day.

Click to read more »

Food and Drink

Nothing says summer like a burger with grilled-cheese sandwiches for buns

Posted on Wed Jun 16 2010

Grilled-cheese-burgermelt

The summer solstice is less than a week away. The longer, warmer days give me a hankering for one thing: two grilled cheese sandwiches encasing a cheeseburger, courtesy of Friendly's, which has been advertising its new monstrosity on the morning news shows. Growing up in a large-ish suburban town, I had a plethora of summer treats to choose from. We had Carvel, Dairy Queen, Herrell's and Friendly's. A scoop of Friendly's chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles (shots, jimmies) on a sugar cone was a perfect ending to a day at the beach. It's just not that easy anymore. Now, we have to settle for a refreshing snack of poultry. Thank you, Friendly's (and for that matter, KFC). New summer memories are just a heart attack away!

—Posted by Cindee Weiss

Broadcast TV

First impressions: Fox's 'The Good Guys' and ABC Family's 'Pretty Little Liars'

Posted on Fri Jun 11 2010

Good-guys

Summer's here, and along with it a few TV premieres. Here's my take on two of them.
  The Good Guys (Mondays on Fox) is pretty much as expected—a throwback buddy-cop comedy. Colin Hanks plays it straight to Bradley Whitford's stuck-in-the-'70s, mustachioed macho man. Remember Sledge Hammer! with David Rasche as the cop who slept with his gun? Whitford's Dan is cut from the same cloth: all about "bustin' punks." His tie is adorned with a handcuffs pin. The only thing missing is the constantly angry police chief.
  It's a bit surprising that Guys clocks in at an hour, and there weren't many big laughs in the pilot. But Whitford and Hanks play well off each other, and the situations are funnier than the script. For now, Guys is a nice summer breeze. With Fox planning on bringing it back in the fall, its shtick could get old fast.
  ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars (adapted from a series of young-adult novels) is a completely different animal. Borrowing from Gossip Girl and Veronica Mars, it revolves around four teenage girls whose lives are forever changed when their friend Alison disappears. The pilot opens by revisiting that fateful night: a ridiculously quick revisit. Before you have time to blink: Alison's gone, and it's one year later.
  The girls have since drifted apart (yet we'll surely get flashbacks in upcoming episodes). And of course, they have plenty of baggage: Aria's father cheated on her mother. Hanna's got a thing for shoplifting. Spencer has an obsessive rivalry with her older sister. And Emily might prefer girls to boys. Alison's the only one who knew all their secrets.
  The first hour concludes by bringing the estranged friends back together, whether they like it or not. The best moments are more laughable than shocking. Liars is a so-so guilty pleasure, and nothing more.
  What did you think of them? And what other new shows are you tuning in to this summer?

—Posted by Craig Russell

Pretty-little-liars


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CONTRIBUTORS

  • Katy Bachman
  • Marc Berman
  • Michael Burgi
  • James Cooper (co-editor)
  • Anthony Crupi
  • Alan Frutkin
  • Will Levith
  • Lucia Moses
  • Tim Nudd (co-editor)
  • Craig Russell
  • Mike Shields

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