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May 10-14, 1999

This log is a bit top heavy on news of Homicide's cancellation and Star Wars. You've been warned.

Lots of reactions have been posted to, here are some of my favorites thus far: From Dan The Man, Dianne Millen, Bob Cradock, bilal, and Dave Locke.

My thoughts (as posted to on the cancellation of my favorite TV show:

How do you mourn a TV show? I don't know. It'd be nice if we could all gather at the Waterfront as it once was, to toast the show. It is time, as someone said better than I can, for the sax to play, the salute to be given.

I can't help but be a bit bitter and feel as if NBC did the equivalent of saying "No honor guard" to us and to the fine folks who work on the show. If ever a show deserved a proper send off-- this one did. Rather than this not knowing limbo we've been in-- worse still-- that the cast and crew have been in.

At least I've heard some good reviews of what will be the last episode, I hope it's good and a decent end.

So we're all doing our own salutes in whatever way we can. I find this is hitting me much harder than I thought it would, it's not as if we didn't think it might end up this way. And that it might even be for the best. Yet . . .

It's incredibly hard to say goodbye.

And I ended my post with these quotations from the show:

Russert: What are you doing back here, Tim?
Bayliss: I think the real question is, why would I ever leave here? Because unlike Frank, I love my job. I love it here, I love it here so much, that I think I'll just stay here forever.


Meldrick: You go when you're supposed to go, and everything else is homicide.


Munch: What if it's a trick on a grand scale, like an epic trick? Huh?
Russert: That's really paranoid Munch.
Munch: Thank you.


Bayliss: Let me ask you something, Gee. How do you know when to stop caring?
Gee: I've been a cop a long time. I can tell you how to sweet talk a confession out of a stone cold killer, sidestep the politics of me and the bosses. I can tell you how to work a case until there's nothing left to be done but to file the paperwork. But the one thing I can't tell you, is when to stop caring.

Wanna make your stomach churn? Look at Lisa de Moraes article about what new shows the networks plan to give us next season. :-( I honestly kept hoping I was reading The Onion by mistake. It'd be funny if it weren't true.

As always, the place to go for the latest news and all info relating to Homicide is Homicide: Links on the Sites. Created by Dave Locke, now maintained by Jim King. I'm prouder than I can say to be a contributor to the site. Online Wake in, too.

Reaction from fans and folks who worked on Homicide in Baltimore:

Pat Moran, who started her showbiz career as a crony of John Waters and last year won an Emmy for her work as the show's casting director, was in tears yesterday. Word of NBC's decision, she said, "was like being hit with a punch.

"It was the darling of the critics, but it wasn't stupid enough to be the darling of the masses," she said. "They'll probably put `America's Stupidest Videos' in its spot."

Dee's reaction:

Added Captain Gary D'Addario, who went from being a character in David Simon's book to technical adviser and occasional actor on the show, "I really thought the network might give it a different time slot, which I firmly believe would have improved the ratings. But it was great while it lasted. It was one of the highlights of my life."

The Baltimore Sun has front page coverage of the cancellation of Homicide. David Zurawik's article is great. Here's what David Simon had to say:

"We expected to be canceled after nine episodes, after 13 episodes, after 33 episodes," said David Simon, producer for the series and author of the nonfiction book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," on which the Peabody Award-winning police drama was based.

"Ultimately, we ran for 122 episodes, which is longer than the vast majority of network series. It was a blast and I'm proud to be associated with it," he said.

Barry Levinson:

"But it's not often that you have a show that, ultimately, really makes its mark in television history, and I think we did that," he added. "We affected storytelling and camera style, and also pointed a camera at another place rather than the traditional New York-Los Angeles world."

And I'm trying to look on the bright side, to keep this in mind:

Syracuse University's Thompson [director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University] said, "While it is always sad to see a great series like `Homicide' get canceled and know there will be no more new episodes, we should remember that when Melville wrote the last chapter of Moby Dick, folks didn't go, `Oh no, what are we losing with the end of Moby Dick?' Or when Shakespeare finished `Hamlet,' people didn't do that.

"And I think we have to keep in mind that we are not, in fact, losing `Homicide.' All of those great episodes stuck to the tape. NBC's not going to erase them tonight. The episodes are still around. You can see them on Court TV, and I am sure we'll be watching them for a century or more in all sorts of other venues."

People likely think I'm nutty for comparing a TV show to great works of literature, but it's a valid comparison. The show was that good. Watch the first three or four seasons of it and you'll see what I mean.

Aaron Barnhart also talks of the death of Homicide at TV Barn. An article that has more details about the shows NBC is picking up. Final schedule from NBC comes out Monday.

David Bianculli reports cancellation, too.

Ultimate TV piece on the cancellation of Homicide is a bit rough and mostly echoes other reports, though they try to cover the online angle:

Reaction of [sic? presumably "to the cancellation of" maybe?] the show has been swift, especially on the Internet, which has housed a near-fervent following for the show. Hundreds of messages popped up in forums dedicated to the show, and while almost every message expressed dismay and sadness about the move, there was no call for a writing campaign to save the show. Instead, most fans were appreciative for the time they had, since the show has always been a show on the verge of cancellation.

I suppose that's accurate, I've seen a few calls for a boycott of NBC (not just over this decision, references have been made to the cancellation of Another World and NewsRadio). (Newsradio bit hasn't yet been reported in the papers, but it was reported by folks close to the show in They wanted to let the fans know before it hit the papers).

Salon has a list of reasons not to see The Phantom Menace. I think it's a bit too hard on George Lucas and could've been a lot better. I think I agree on the Harrison Ford and Jar Jar bits, but not too much else.

New York Post reports cancellation of Homicide, how bizarre that one of the reasons NBC gave for cancellation is this:

"They also said that, because [NBC] never reruns 'Homicide,' it's a financial loss for them. They just got out all their calculators and figured it out."

Gosh, it's not like NBC couldn't opt to rerun episodes of a show that they own and air on their own network. Would it kill them to ever rerun an episode? In it's usual timeslot or maybe give it a try on another night? Not as if they don't run Friends and Frasier reruns on every night of the week to fill slots.

Yeah, I'm bitter.

Confirmation of the cancellation of Homicide: Life on the Street, Tom Fontana speaks with the New York Times:

The network, which is to announce its new lineup of programs for next fall Monday, called Fontana with the news Wednesday night. "They said it came down to the economics," Fontana said.

"Homicide," never a hit, has slipped further in the ratings this season, losing about 2 percent of its viewers. It ranked 60th among all the network shows in prime time this season.

It was, however, among the most critically praised shows of the past decade, routinely selected as the favorite show by newspaper critics.

This isn't unexpected and yet I'm feeling more mad and sad than I thought I would. And I really feel for the crew and the folks in Baltimore:

"We had seven seasons; that's a respectable run," Fontana said. Still, he said, some of the other staff members on the show were devastated by the news. "I've been through cancellation before, when I worked on `St. Elsewhere.' It's like a death in the family."

He also noted that the cancellation would have its greatest impact on the production crew in Baltimore. It was the only television show produced there.

Fontana said the producers had anticipated the possibility of cancellation and so he had written a final episode, "which kind of ties a lot of things up." That will be broadcast Friday, May 21.

Associated Press is reporting the cancellation of Homicide: Life on the Street:

NBC has rubbed out the critically acclaimed but low-rated ``Homicide: Life on the Street.

The show won't be on the network's fall schedule, a source close to "Homicide" who requested anonymity said Thursday.

Its seventh-season finale, airing May 21, will be the series' last new episode. Representatives for the network and the show had no comment.

John Wesley Harding is playing at Schuba's in Chicago on Friday May 14th and Saturday May 15th. If you're in the area, go see him. Really. I like him enough that I seriously considered driving to Chicago from Minneapolis for those shows (he's doing two each night!). Yes, I thought about it even though I'll get to see him in Mpls at the 400 Bar on May 16th. He's that good.

Here's the complete (as of now) list of tour dates (he hits St. Louis, Cincinatti, Pittsburgh after Minneapolis). This tour is likely a bit different as he's supporting his latest album which is trad stuff (excellent, don't want to imply otherwise), but JWH always has a segment of the show devoted to requests. And I'm sure he'll be playing material from previous albums, too. Whee! Yeah, I'm counting the days 'til the 16th.

Top Ten Bad Things About Having A Summer Time Share With Darth Vader:

10. Claims those long-distance calls to the Death Star aren't his.

9. Uses Jedi powers to shake up your root beer right before you open it.

8. He's always accusing you of hiding his asthma inhaler.

7. Claims he paid you the rent "a long, long time ago."

6. Dances around in nothing but cape and cowboy hat while doing "Darth Brooks" routine.

5. For once he could use Force to life his wet towel off the couch.

4. That scary music that plays when he enters a room gets old real fast.

3. You feel like an idiot saying, "No, Darth isn't here. He's on the ice planet Hoth."

2. Not easy cleaning burnt Ewok fur off the barbecue grill.

1. Constantly doing his lame James Earl Jones impression.

And the extra items that didn't make the cut for the top ten:

Jabba the Hut lounging poolside in a too-small towel.

When drunk, uses "The Force" to make your girlfriend's bikini pop off.

Won't let you borrow his light saber to light the hibachi.

Security deposit as good as gone after his little drunken lightsaber trick.

Every morning there's at least three stormtroopers passed out on your living room floor.

You wouldn't know it, but he uses a ridiculous amount of hair care products.

Says, "What are these dollars you speak of?" to avoid paying his share of bar tab.

Constantly inviting women to "buff his helmet."

More funny stuff than usual in today's TV picks. Wheee!

Have I mentioned that Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie? It is. Though the first film is magical, of course. And I think I like Return of the Jedi more than a lot of people do. I've always felt the work Irvin Kershner did on Empire was underappreciated. Fabulous to see a salon interview with him, well worth reading:

When Kershner was giving seminars at USC, what impressed him was a short picture Lucas made called "6.18.67," about the filming of an expensive Hollywood western, "MacKenna's Gold." "George's film was different from what anybody else had done," Kershner says. "First of all, he shot these extreme long shots of the little tiny group of filmmakers with their umbrellas way in the distance against the mountains -- nobody does that. He really shot a picture that was his vision. And boy you look for it, especially in Americans. I see it much more with Europeans and Japanese and Chinese -- a vision. Not just a bunch of pictures all put together with people talking, but a way of seeing. My theory is that the artist is primarily an observer, and one of the problems with modern art is that there's no observation -- the artists observe each other, they observe each other's paintings. Perception has to be developed, that's where depth comes in. I don't see it much with American directors. The reason is we don't reward it -- it's as simple as that. You do something highly personal, really different, it will either not be understood by the executives it has to go through, or will be considered noncommercial, which is to bring hell down upon you."

I'm quoting extensively here, but I'm leaving out a ton of good stuff, too. Read the whole piece. I love this:

"My career," he snorts, "is a disaster. After 'The Empire Strikes Back' I got to make big films that I didn't care about, 'Never Say Never Again' and 'RoboCop 2,' but not my films, and then I got too old." Nonetheless, for a decade and a half he's been preparing a film about Puccini and the last love of his life, a young diva named Cecilia. "What better love stories are there than 'Madame Butterfly' and 'La Boheme' and 'Manon Lescaut'? I've integrated arias from them to move my story forward. I think I've brought it a real drive and dramatic punch. But you tell one of these 30-something executives that you want to make a movie about Puccini, and they ask, 'Does he design men's clothes or women's clothes?'"

If Kershner's film on Puccini does get made -- and it's close -- he vows that it will be a big-audience movie, with an operatic form as far as "The Empire Strikes Back" was from the naturalism of "The Hoodlum Priest." "I love my early movies," he says, "but naturalism is an artist's early style. Now I want to deal with feelings, dreams, an acceptance of irrationality. I want films to haunt an audience, to give them something to remember and be able to talk about -- not the totally forgettable images of 'Twister' or 'Armageddon' or 'Independence Day,' which just take up space on your hard drive and threaten to crash the whole system."

Samuel L. Jackson and Liam Neeson on being Jedi Knights with Jedi toys:

Jackson, who admits to having been blown away when he saw "Star Wars" as a struggling young thespian, found it a little easier to get in touch with his inner Force minder. "I walked into my dressing room, and there was my Jedi outfit," says the 50-year-old actor. "I was like, okay, WOW. So I s-l-o-w-l-y put it on, then I stood in front of the mirror and struck a couple poses and had someone take some pictures of me."

Neeson, who helped out with the initial sketches for the "historical, noble-looking and samurai-esque" do he wore in the film, was still more taken with his groovy lightsaber than his character's personal style. "George (Lucas) came out with this beautiful velvet lined box and opened it like he was offering a cigar and said, 'Pick your lightsaber," says Neeson, 46. "The 10-year-old boys (inside of us) were very, very close to breaking out a few times when we were using them."

Jackson's inner 10-year-old surfaced in its entirety. "You clip the saber on, and BOOM, you're there," he says. "When nobody's looking, you take it off and click the button to see if it's going to go VROOM. It doesn't, but you can go stand in the mirror and pretend it's there, make some sound effects, have some fun. It's kind of cool."

It's seriously cool.

Ty Burr on Phantom Menace hype and backlash:

Still, I'm feeling a little bullied at the moment. I'll see "Menace," of course, but not opening day. Maybe not even opening week. And the whole circus makes me appreciate a movie event like "The Matrix" -- where the hype came honestly, from people who had seen the film, and where Hollywood was left looking vaguely stupid for so thoroughly missing the boat.

It sure is quite a contrast. You've all seen The Matrix by now, haven't you? Have I mentioned that it rocks? Best movie I've seen this spring.

Entertainment Weekly take on the Star Wars lines.

Somebody stop me before I order erasers, page points, pens, pencils, notebooks, bookmarks, bookstands, ink, and other fine products from Levenger. Yeah, I got another catalog from them in the mail today. And then bopped over to the webpage, too. I tell myself I'm just toying with gift ideas for my Dad, but actually I'm coveting bookshelves.

At least I can talk myself out of pencils and erasers (when was the last time I wrote anything down in pencil?), address books and most notebooks (I keep most of that stuff in my PalmIII), and expensive pens (my uni-gel RT's do the trick just fine). Well, most of the time.

Anyone else get bit by the online ordering bug? It's no longer just books and CDs I order online. Suspect it's 'cuz more and more companies are online, more and more catalogs I receive are also available on the web. And somehow it's far easier for a geek like me to order online than it is for me to pick up the telephone and call someone to place orders. Easier than going out from store to store, too. Funny thing, I used to enjoy shopping, the lure of the bargain, wandering from store to store.

At least I haven't yet broken down and ordered Tae Bo tapes or anything. Not that there's anything wrong with that . . . but. I'm now thinking of Steve Goodman's fabulous song Vegematic:

Fell asleep last night with the T-V on. Oh, what a dream I had.
I dreamed I answered every single one of those late night mail order ads.
And four to six weeks later, much to my surprise,
The mailman came to my front door, and I couldn't believe my eyes

When he brought the Vegematic, and the Pocket Fisherman too,
Illuminated illustrated history of life,
And Boxcar Willie with a Ginzu knife,
A bamboo steamer, and a Garden Weasel too,
And a tie-dyed, dayglow souvenir shirt from Six Flags Over Burbank.

Saw Saving Private Ryan on Wednesday night (yeah, for the first time). Eh. An impressive movie, yet I thought it could've been a lot better. A better story would've helped. Or if we'd gotten to know individual characters a little more. Good direction, some really good performances, but I still felt disappointed. And now I'm even more glad that Shakespeare in Love got the Best Picture Oscar (it was better as a whole than Ryan). All IMHO, naturally. Worth seeing on a big screen if you haven't seen it yet, is showing at cheap/late run theater here in the Minneapolis area (I saw it at the Hopkins theater, if any locals care) and probably still in other parts of the world.

Saw The Mummy on Monday night. Good movie. Impressive effects, good cast. Gotta like Brendan Fraser. Definitely in the Indiana Jones tradition. Escapism. Plenty scary, but not horror film gruesome. Not great, but worth seeing on a big screen, definitely worth bargain prices, IMHO. Arguably worth full price if you really like this type of adventure film. I went in with relatively low expectations, for what it's worth. Guess who's also in the movie? Colonel Crittendon. Er. If you watch Hogan's Heroes, you know the guy I mean. And it's a lovely role.

Opera 3.6 is out, if you hadn't yet noticed. I honestly can no longer stand to use IE or Netscape for browsing, I only use 'em for testing purposes and if I have serious problems getting a page I really want to see to show up in Opera (rare). If you've not tried Opera lately and there's a version available for your OS, try it.

A fine fray piece re Star Wars and memories [via CamWorld]:

It's 1984. I'm ten years old, and I still can't get Star Wars out of my system, even though Return of the Jedi has been gone from theaters for a year. It doesn't matter; I want to be Boba Fett for Halloween.

I make gauntlets and chest plates out of cardboard as my mom makes a papier-maché helmet by wrapping strips of newspaper around an inflated balloon. I carried my old Han Solo blaster with me as I went door to door. "Oh, a space man!" one old couple cried after another. I don't think I could have explained to them who I was.

I probably couldn't have explained the Boba Fett Underoos I had, either.

I've been meaning to write up some Star Wars memories of my own, this just inspires me a bit more. One of these days I'll do it, better do it now before the new movie hits.

Aw man, why'd they have to call Luke a Cancer? Star Wars Astrology [via]. Darnit, now I'm whining like Luke did in Star Wars . . . not helping my case, am I? Next thing you know I'll be whining about power converters.

I somehow didn't know there was a Windows version of CVS. [via]. Good to know, may have to give it a try sometime.

PCMag look at ReplayTV and TiVo [via robotwisdom].

A parody of the NYTimes, New York Tomes, from the folks at the Yale Record. Has some funny bits. [Via Whump's More Like This].

Plenty of goodstuff, as usual, at memepool. It's always jarring when they link to stuff I've had in my bookmarks for years, though. Still cool to see such things mentioned.

Some recent cool memepool finds:

Find Your Star Wars Twin. A personality test with a Star Wars twist.

B Monster claims it has "cult film news you can actually use."

Ambigrams are cool.

Cool! You can listen to Rare on Air tracks online.

Lileks with a sensible take on shoot 'em up computer games:

Or should we just swear off reviewing that type of game altogether? Given the recent furor over violent computer games, it might seem callous to look forward to playing the new first-person shooters. Anyone who expresses enthusiasm for Quake III must feel a little like Charlton Heston taking the podium at an NRA convention. Nevertheless, these games aren't going away, and if they're going to be part of the cultural landscape, we need to be clear about what we're discussing before we pass laws, or overreact.

Parents need to know what their kids are playing. A rating system, while helpful, isn't really necessary. Any parent who wonders whether a game called BLOOD or MASSIVE DEATH is appropriate for 13-year-olds is too stupid to read the rating, let alone interpret it. The box ought to give you a clue; if you're unsure, take a look at the game yourself over your kid's shoulder. If a game offends thee, uninstall it.

Bah humbug. TNT's new timeslot for Babylon 5 is Saturday mornings from 6-8am CST. Two episodes every Saturday. Silly me, I'd just decided to try to tape the whole run in SP mode, with only two episodes per week this is gonna take awhile. I was rooting for the weekday morning timeslot. So long as TNT keeps the show on long enough to air all the episodes, I guess. My pet peeve is when networks put shows on once a week then switch timeslots before the show makes it once through it's run.

Fabulous tidbit I missed from the recent Lone Gunmen episode of The X-Files, that Autumn Tysko caught:

I don't know whose idea this was, but they ought to be pleased with themselves: when Frohike and Byers come to cart Modeski's body away. Frohike's latex gloves have the fingers cut out of them just like the leather numbers he is so fond of.

Philip Michaels with an accurate, funny (and true) look at the recent Noah's Ark miniseries (go read the whole thing already, really):

After all, would a loving God allow Jon Voight -- playing the part of Noah in tonight's atrocity -- to wander around the entire four-hour production with what looked like a dead raccoon affixed to his scalp? Would a just God, in His mercy, permit actors purportedly portraying a race of people from the Middle East to speak in comically stilted British accents? And what exactly is a supposedly beneficent deity doing, allowing characters in a biblical movie to make like Henny Youngman? Take Lot -- please -- who notes the passing of his recently vaporized wife by quipping, "She always did like to say she was the salt of the earth."

Cripes, they simply don't pull this kind of flim-flammery with the Koran.

Those of you with a passing familiarity with the Bible may be puzzled as to what exactly Lot is doing in a miniseries about Noah, in that Lot doesn't appear on the scene some two chapters and several hundred years after Noah checks into that big ark in the sky. But then, this is TV, after all, and if you go around getting your religious inspiration from Hollywood, well, then you probably think that Jesus cat bears a striking resemblance to Ted Neely.

I just set up a discussion list and an announcement list for this site. If you like this log, it seems a safe bet you'd enjoy talking with other folks who like it on a mailing list. Well, one can hope. Check out the lists and give 'em a try if you'd like.

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