Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Future For Jericho?

Earlier this month, CBS announced that Jericho, previously cancelled after one season, will be brought back for a shortened seven-episode run. Having received thousands of pounds of peanuts – alluding to a comment in the season finale – CBS bowed to loyal viewers and changed their decision to leave the show for dead. Jericho fans have reason to cheer, but not for the long run.

Averaging around 8 million viewers as the lead-in to widely popular Criminal Minds, Jericho was by no means a bust. Most networks would kill for a drama averaging such numbers, but CBS, like other networks, is loaded with other, more popular shows including the extremely popular CSI franchise.

As a fan of the show, I too, was dishearten by the initial decision to cancel the show, especially with so many questions left unanswered, but yet I understand CBS’s thinking. Jericho, which is about a small Kansas town that survives nation-wide nuclear terrorist attack, was never thought to even make it to mid-season. Critics scorned the depth and development of its’ characters without the show having even aired. After a few episodes, the ratings were much higher than expected and CBS order a full season. With the order came improved writing, more in-depth character development, and the re-emergence of Skeet Ulrich as viable leading man. After years of obscurity, Ulrich brought a very likable, yet humble Jake, to the small screen. Best known for his role in Scream where he played an arrogant, but charismatic murder suspect, Ulrich has used Jericho to re-launch his career and possibly define his acting future, which for all intents and purposes, was doomed to B-list obscurity. Whereas Jericho may have brought newfound legitimacy to Ulrich, no amount of second season theatrics can solve the problem that doomed the show from the start.

Make no mistake, Jericho deserves a second shot – the ratings are there. Jericho’s fans deserve closure to the story, which seemed to have ended with a standoff between the seemingly wholesome inhabitants of Jericho and the power-hungry attackers from up the road in Dearborn. However, like any other doomsday plot, the show can only be dragged out for so long before the buzz is gone. What more can happen to these people? They’ve witnessed their country blown to pieces, their former mayor killed, and they’ve been attacked by their former friendly neighbors.

In this writer’s opinion, this type of plot is best suited for a feature length movie than it does for the cereal format. When Jericho began it’s successful, but improbable run, we already knew the worst that could happen to the characters, and while flashbacks and character development have made the storyline entertaining and interesting to watch, the climax happened in the first hour of the show. Seven episodes is a generous offering from CBS. All the unanswered questions will be addressed, the fate of the United States will be known, and Jericho will either thrive in the new world order or continue to be a stop along the way for desperate refugees. Regardless of what happens, the creators and writers of the show have exceeded everyone expectations and delivered something different in primetime that doesn’t revolve around crime scenes and various investigative units. I’m grateful to get the chance to see seven more episodes of this show, but also hope that they provide the due diligence the show deserves by tying up loose ends, telling a fun and engaging story, but not dragging out the inevitable.

For those who missed the first season, CBS will air re-runs of the whole first season, beginning July 6th at 9:00 with the pilot. Following weeks will also air on Fridays, but the show will air at 10:00 EST. CBS has also promised a behind-the-scene special to help viewers get up to speed and maybe draw in a few extra folks for the shows' mid-season return in either late December or January, 2008.

For more info, go to CBS.com/Jericho

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Writer's Block

It's that inevitable thing that happens to every writer at some point of whatever project he or she is working on. The ideas stop coming and frustration sets in. A writer can stare at the same page for hours, days, weeks, well you get it, but my block is quite different. So different it's odd and I can't explain it, so figured I would try to write about it here. That idea first came about 4 days ago! Told you...

In truth, I haven't done any writing that isn't insurance-related, for several weeks. What's worse is that I haven't written any fiction for months. I have written some ideas, but no prose or dialogue. I have a draft that is ready to be re-written and sent to a prospective publisher, but I can't seem to get the motivation to do the draft. What gives? So if you are a writer and are wondering why I think this is any different than any other type of writer's block, well that's because I actually think about new projects, characters, writing ideas, memoir ideas, and things that get me excited to write, but then a few minutes later, it's gone. It's like these ideas happen at work, in dreams, while I'm looking at some hot chick's butt at the gym, or any other time that just doesn't work with putting pen to paper.

Maybe just getting this out on here will help, but I don't know. I used to be so obsessed and good about writing a certain amount each day or editing a certain amount each day. Now all I can do is dream about it. Someone help me!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beer League

Spring in Maine means many things to many people. As snow-covered hills turn to mud and later to lush green grass, people search for what it is about the season that makes them happy. Thousands of people take late afternoon walks, some take trips, many get out the golf clubs and hit the links, others find ample time to plant flowers, and then there are those that take part in a true rite of spring – corporate softball leagues. Let’s not confuse the corporate part of the name; these leagues are the great American past time known fondly as “beer leagues.”

For me, it had been more than seven years since I had taken part in such a program, but when called upon several weeks ago, I couldn’t resist. The beer, not so much, but beer league softball is something everyone should try. Last night, my team, Know Skils, took on the aptly named Team 7. While my teammates and I had yet to taste victory this season, the variety of beers, burgers, and laughs have been innumerable.

True, there are some who really take this league seriously and scoff at those of us who get excited by scoring a couple runs or perhaps laugh when we fall on out butts, but by-in-large, everyone is out for fun. It’s a nice Monday evening reprieve from the confines of the office place and an opportunity to bond with co-workers while forgetting all about the work that will always be there on our desks the next day.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Know Skils took the field with a 1-run lead. Sure, we laughed as loudly as ever before, but in truth, we were 3 short outs from win number one. Despite a commensurate number of beer cans in out players’ hands as softball gloves, we staved off our newfound foes and lamented our place in the standings – just one game out of the cellar. So if you get the chance, grab a bat and head out with your friends after work. Get the grill going and start telling lies. It’s beer league season when good times are had by all, even if you don’t drink beer.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Welcome to the Blue World!

Ironically, I'm not even 33-years-old and yet here I am with a blog entitles "33 is the new blog." Why, you ask? First, I will be the aforementioned age in several weeks, but that isn't the real reason. You see, I think it encompasses a state of mind that gets lost among folks our age. We head to work in the morning, come home, kiss our wives or girlfriends on the forehead, have dinner, watch the game on TV, and head to bed. In short, we've become our parents. That isn't a bad thing, it's just that about 3 years ago, I found myself wanting to be younger when I realized that it has nothing to do with how old I am, but rather, how old I feel.

In truth, 33 isn't old regardless of how we think, but the point is, forget about sitting around while the wold happens before you. Get out and take part. That's what I did. I no longer marvel at some young stud ripping it up on the ski slope. I get out there and do it myself. So if the 4-walled-cube has you down, pack up your bags and get out of Dodge! If you get a chance, book a flight to Reno, Neveda, drive about an hour south and immerse yourself in the Blue World. The mountains and lake are you are millions of years old. As for you, well, that all depends on you attitude!