Month: September 2009

Today is Elephant Appreciation Day.

September 22 was declared Elephant Appreciation Day in 1996 by Mission Media, a graphics and publishing firm who got the day included in “Chase’s Calendar of Events.” Why bother celebrating elephants? Mission Media says elephants deserve a day of their own because they are the largest land mammal of our era and are undeservedly threatened with extinction.

What better way to celebrate this magnificent occasion than to show to the world the best picture ever taken: an elephant eating a giant pumpkin.

And in these tough times, everyone needs to cheer up:

Ha ha.

The Emmys still fail.
There, I said it.
Despite Neil Patrick Harris doing an incredible job (obviously way superior to last year’s abysmal opening), most of the results did suck.

Obviously, there were no major surprises regarding who won the major awards.
Overhyped much?

On a completely random subject, I was surprised to see Elisabeth Moss kissing Fred Armisen.

Turns out, they’re engaged.
(Yeah, I’m not one to peruse the E! Online pages)

And was that a dig from Glenn Close at the poor writing from Damages’ Second Season?
Said Close:

I wanna begin by thanking Todd, Glenn and Daniel for giving me, probably, maybe, the character of my lifetime — depending on what they do this season. (awkward laugh)

Anyways, Little Dorrit garnered the most Emmy wins of the night with a total of seven, closely followed by Grey Gardens.
I was pretty disappointed that Generation Kill didn’t win best mini-series. Poor Flight of the Conchords never had a chance either.
30 Rock is at five, one more than…Pushing Daisies, the second TV show on the list!
Kristin Chenoweth winning was both surprising and well-deserved.
HBO dominated the Emmys with 21 awards (NBC comes in second with 16, ABC third with 11, and FOX fifth with 10).

It’s funny seeing how the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences categorizes the web-based wins.
For instance, the network (yes) for Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog (which won “Outstanding Special Class – Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program”) is actually
For you Lost fans out there, in case you didn’t know, the show did win something else: “Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media (Fiction)”, thanks to the latest Dharma Initiative ARG.
As you might have guessed, the same thing applies here; is listed instead of ABC or some other studio.
Ironically, this was the worst received of all Lost ARGs.
That, and the website is now dead.

Even the NBC web-based content (such as The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Digital Experience) is not filed under NBC but
It’s certainly an interesting shift to note, especially given the fact that this year’s broadcast seemed to be under the theme of network failure.

Moving on to the other wins, I was very happy for both Bryan Cranston and Michael Emerson and was even more ecstatic to see Kristin Chenoweth win.
Cherry Jones is a great actress but her 24 material was pretty weak compared to the extraordinary In Treatment.
Sadly, Colbert didn’t win anything. I’m awaiting the fallout next Tuesday.
There was a bit of an emphasis this year on Battlestar Galactica (probably since it was its last season).
First, a few clips were shown in the “One Year of Drama” section. Pretty late in the game for that, especially given the quality of the final season.
Also, Bear McCreary’s fantastic score for the series was used for the same section.
Pretty neat.

However, perhaps the most talked-about moment from last night’s show was the “surprise” appearance of Dr. Horrible.

Now that was great.

On the polar opposite, we have CBS advertising in the middle of an acceptance speech the In Memoriam!

What the hell?!

Despite this little mishap, and a few skits that bombed (like that “greatest TV fan badly seated” one), these 61st Primetime Emmy Awards were definitely enjoyable, if only for Neil Patrick Harris.
Certainly not for their results though.

I read the script last night for the über-secret science-fiction comedy Paul. The film is being directed by Superbad/Adventureland’s Greg Mottola and was written by Simon Pegg & Nick Frost.
Albeit long (120 pages), the story was so immersive I read it all in one go.

Check out this incredible cast:

1st row: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Kristen Wiig
2nd row: Bill Hader, Jane lynch, Jason Bateman
3rd row: John Carroll Lynch, David Koechner, Jesse Plemons, Joe Lo Truglio
Not pictured: Blythe Danner, Jeffrey Tambor, Sigourney Weaver
Here’s the movie in a nutshell:
Alien (Paul) escapes from Secret Service.
Geeks (Clive and Graham) meet Alien.
Geeks and Alien go on the run from Secret Service Agents (Zoil, Haggard and O’Reilly).
Geeks and Alien kidnap on their way a religious freak (Ruth).
Geeks and Alien go on the run from said religious freak’s father (Moses).

The movie is not part of Pegg and Frost’s “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy (comprised up til now of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz).
Actually, Paul reverses the standard dynamic between the two by putting Frost as the lead and Pegg as the sidekick.

As usual though, they play the two main characters, respectively Clive Gollings and Graham Willy, two (sorta) stereotypical nerds. Clive authored Jelva, Alien Queen of the Varvak, a not-so-popular sci-fi book.
As they leave Comic-Con to visit Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway (and Area 51), they encounter, you guessed it, Paul the alien. Seth Rogen will “MoCap” the character.

The Paul character would probably be best described as a cross between American Dad’s Roger and the “Take Me to Your Dealer” alien (the poster is actually referenced in the movie).
The former for his intellect and pop-culture knowledge, the latter for his physical appearance…and because he smokes pot.
I guess that’s why they chose Seth Rogen (ha, ha, ha).

Wiig will portray Ruth, a Bible thumper that is both smart (!) and knowledgeable (!!). She gets (somewhat) inadvertently kidnapped by the group. John Carroll Lynch will be her dad, neither smart nor knowledgeable.
Jason Bateman plays the main Secret Service Agent, Lorenzo Zoil. He is followed by two other agents, Haggard and O’Reilly (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio). Jeffrey Tambor is their boss, nicknamed “The Voice.”
David Koechner and Jesse Plemons play Gus and Jake, two stupid meatheads while Jane Lynch depicts Pat, a waitress at the (real) Little A’Le’Inn.

As for Sigourney Weaver and Blythe Danner, I’m having a problem pointing out their role. While IMDb lists Weaver as playing Tara (the woman that pulled Paul out of his Roswell wreckage some 60-odd years ago), it seemed to me like it would fit more Danner (hell, Weaver wasn’t even born in 1947).
That said, I have no clue what the extra character is.

There’s also in the movie a cameo by a famous director (you might guess which), and as well a few scenes at Comic-Con.
At one point, Michael Biehn even makes an appearance (Clive is hoping to ask him if he feels that “the killing of Hicks and Newt in Alien 3, invalidates Ripley’s struggle at the closed of the previous installment.”).
Which makes you wonder what’s going on in the movie since Weaver (aka Ripley) has a role (not as herself), and there are no meta-joke about that either.

Anyways, now that you know the story and the characters, time to talk about the movie itself.
What’s interesting to note is how atypical some of the things in the script are.

First, regarding the obligatory references.
Pegg and Frost know their way around pop culture, so it’s obvious they’re having a blast when they write those nods at many SF movies/TV shows.
What is funny however is that those nods aren’t blatant at all.

For instance, there is at one point a Heroes reference (yes, that one).
Only, this is not a “Hiro/Claire” type of reference, it’s more, let’s just say, obscure.

She called her dog Paul?

Least it wasn’t Mr. Muggles.

Yup, they just talked about the Bennet family dog, Mr. Muggles (dare I say a detail on Heroes).

The same can be said about every other nod in Paul (regarding their subtlely).
There are Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and Back to the Future allusions, but they do not involve jokes around Cylons, Spock/Kirk or Hoverboards.
There’s even a Pokémon that gets mentioned (and no, not Pikachu or Mudkip)!
Other “tip of the hat” include (among many, many other movies/shows) The X-Files, V, E.T., and Encounter of the Third Kind .
By “tip of the hat” I’m not talking about reenactments (with one notable exception), rather verbal winks like above.
Some other references are even more subtle, and even more random.
Case in point with Jason Bateman’s character. He’s named Lorenzo Zoil, an obvious hommage to the 1992 film Lorenzo’s Oil.
I have no clue why they chose this particular movie though.

The characters from the movie are also (for the most part) actually smart. Even Ruth the Evangelical is, like I pointed out before, knowledgeable!
Obviously, she doesn’t believe in science, but at least she knows about it, and probably knows more about geography than our two hero nerds combined.

This leads me to my final point, and I know I’m burying the lead here, but Paul is a smart comedy.
Actually, it’s way smarter than it might appear at first glance.

If anything, it tackles really well the whole Religion vs. Science debate, mixing both comical dialogues with sensible arguments.
Here is just one of the numerous examples contained in the movie:

How can he be from another world? There is only one world. Our world, created by God the Father.

PAUL sits down next to GRAHAM. RUTH whimpers.

Look, if it makes you feel any better, my existence only disproves the notion of the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian God, as well as all single earth theologies. Science still hasn’t categorically rule out the notion of divinity, even though evolutionary biology suggest the non-existence of a creator by probability alone.

How could that possibly make me feel any better?

Jesus Christ, I was just trying to be nice!

Hopefully, all those dialogues won’t lose their “serious” edge once they’re done by Seth Rogen.

Nevertheless, Paul has what many comedies do not have: both heart and brain (and the funnies). Here is an example of a good, funny, and smart, R-rated comedy (unlike that other one).
The incredible script coupled with, yet again, a great cast, makes me think this will probably be Pegg and Frost’s best movie to date.
As for its precise date of release, there is none yet, though it should come out in 2010. In the meantime, check out the many video blogs left on the official website.

Hi there!

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.

I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

693 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.

Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.

I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.

Write on.

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