Showing posts from 2005

The Dilettante's Guide To Hornblower

Hornblower, the lavish series of made-for-television movies based upon C.S. Forester's novels about the titular British naval hero, first aired in the United States on the A&E cable network in 1999 after premiering in England on ITV the previous year, and was an instant ratings hit and critical darling. It took home the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries, and rightly so: Hornblower is deliriously entertaining. Life in His Majesty's Navy in the final years of the eighteenth century looks like hell: the sanitation is sketchy, the food is crawling with maggots, floggings are a daily occurrence, limbs routinely get blown off by errant cannonballs, and everyone is forced to wear goofy hats. It's a curious blend of chaos and propriety: war is conducted under a series of polite, civilized rules adhered to by all parties, and yet it still manages to be vicious and appalling. The end result is perversely fascinating.

The Strange, Sick, Sad Career of Jonny Lee Miller

(Archived from my now-defunct Geocities site)

I blame my weird fascination with Jonny Lee Miller entirely on Orlando Bloom. Specifically, I blame it on the fact that the lovely Orlando, of the fierce cheekbones and stunning blond wig in "Lord of the Rings," has, as of this writing, an exact total of one movie available on video and nothing due in theaters until "The Two Towers" hits in December. Earlier this year, I started a new job I was pretty sure I really, really despised. Few things are more reliable for taking the mind off of daily drudgery than films starring cute boys with great bone structure. Because of the dearth of fresh Orlando material, I figured one attractive, talented English lad was as good as another, and decided to investigate the films of Jonny Lee Miller.

For the uninitiated, Jonny is the bleached-blond Brit who was terrific in "Trainspotting" and -- well, he was actually pretty bad in "Hackers," but he looked great, which…

The Dilettante's Guide to The Hardy Boys

(Archived from my now-defunct Geocities site. Originally written in 2000.)

I discovered "The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries" in 1999 after the good folks at the cable network TV Land briefly added this gem to their lineup, thus unwittingly filling a void I hadn't realized existed, a gaping chasm in my soul that could only be bridged by a couple of earnest teen boys with feathered shag hairdos and white flared pants. Based upon the time-honored children's adventure books penned under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon, the 1977-1979 ABC series featured Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as plucky teen investigators Frank and Joe Hardy. Hardy Boy episodes alternated weekly with Nancy Drew episodes, with Pamela Sue Martin as the feisty detective heroine. The show was produced by Glen A. Larson, the unparalleled purveyor of flared-pants-and-feathered-hair entertainment (see "Knight Rider" and "Battlestar Gallactica" for further evidence). Less notably…

The Dilettante's Guide to Gundam Wing

(Archived from my now-defunct Geocities site.)

The subdivision of Japanese animation that seems to hold most twelve-year-old boys in thrall is mecha anime, in which gigantic mechanical anthropomorphic weapons, usually controlled from within by human pilots, whale the hell out of each other. A prime example of mecha anime is Japan's esteemed Gundam franchise, consisting of a number of different series and movies centering around powerful mobile suits known as Gundams. As I am neither adolescent nor male, the appeal of mecha anime is, for the most part, entirely lost on me. However, mecha anime on occasion happily crosses over into that most delightful of anime subdivisions, which I fondly refer to as the gaggle-of-boys genre, where a group of highly attractive young men are forced to band together to save the world from imminent destruction. This is the kind of stuff I live for. If the aforementioned gigantic weapons happen to be piloted by beautiful boys, mecha anime gets my undiv…

The Strange, Sick, Sad Career of Michael Rosenbaum

(Archived from my now-defunct Geocities site.)

Let's make one thing clear: Michael Rosenbaum owns "Smallville."

Oh, sure, if you look at it in terms of billing or total number of scenes or overall importance to the collective national pop culture consciousness, then yes, Rosenbaum's dewy co-star Tom Welling, who plays emerging superhero Clark Kent, would seem to have the better claim to the show. But really, who are we kidding? "Smallville" belongs in no small part to Rosenbaum's marvelously complex Lex Luthor. Smooth, shrewd, polished, devious, slutty, generous, laid-back, and, on occasion, stark raving nuts, Lex is at times the only thing distinguishing "Smallville" from the glut of other teen-oriented shows on The WB. Lex, in short, rocks.

(Note: A convincing argument could be made that John Glover, who plays Lex's charmingly evil father Lionel, actually owns "Smallville," but that's a Strange, Sick, Sad Career essay for…