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Die Hard Must Die

A Good Day to Die Hard? That’s not my title, that’s the actual title of the next Die Hard sequel. Sure they could just call it Die Hard 5 or Die Hardererer, but this is dumber.

Why should you look forward to A Good Day to Die Hard? It comes to you from the writer of Wolverine, Hitman (the movie not the game) and the A-Team. All three of those movies were horrible failures. But he did Swordfish ten years ago. And it comes from the director of Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix and Max Payne. Those are at least better movies than Wolverine and Hitman.

But that’s not the problem with A Good Day to Die Hard.

Do you know who John McClane is? He’s a cop. Ordinary guy who somehow stumbles into extraordinary situations and stumbles through them while running with bloody feet and cursing. That is what made Die Hard work. Then John McClane got jammed into an adaptation of a novel that wasn’t about him, but it still worked a bit. Then he got dumped into a buddy cop movie in the middle of New York City. That didn’t work that great, but it sorta worked. All of those movies were on some level still grounded in the ordinary nature of John McClane, who can kill a dozen bad guys, but does it by the skin of his teeth and never intended to dive into this.

All that came to a complete end with Live Free or Die Hard. It’s coming to a bigger end with A Good Day to Die Hard which is set in Russia. Yes Russia. Because when you think of John McClane, you think of Russia.

Now A Good Day to Die Hard is very obviously borrowing from Taken. But it’s actually worse than that.

Q. What can you say about the story?

A. McClane and Jack are very estranged, but like any parent it doesn’t matter how estranged you are from your kid, you still feel for them. He discovers that Jack is in trouble in Moscow and he goes to try to help, but he’s got the wrong end of the stick. Jack is not the person he thought he was and he’s mixed up in some very serious international business, and John finds himself in the eye of the storm. He finds himself in a situation that he, at first, screws up for Jack, but ultimately finds himself in a position where he helps Jack put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Q. Fox chairman Tom Rothman said that Jack was more badass than John. Is that fair to say?

A. I think it’s probably fair to say that what was accidental in McClane Sr., coming face-to-face with international turmoil and bad guys who stay up late at night coming up with very clever stuff, is very much much a career choice for Jack McClane.

So get this FOX is making a Die Hard movie that’s about John McClane’s son being a superspy whose goal seems to be to turn the Die Hard franchise into a Bourne franchise starring McClane’s Australia son. FOX couldn’t have done a better job of missing the entire appeal of Die Hard if it had set a bunch of giraffes on fire and filmed it as a romantic comedy.

I don’t know about you, but what I really wanted was not just a Die Hard sequel, but a Die Hard sequel in which we discover that John McClane’s son is Bourne.

It’s obvious how this horror was born. Studio executive looks at Bourne and at Taken, two top action movie franchises. Then he decides to marry them and graft them onto an existing IP. Mission Accomplished.

This is a different kind of fix. This is for people who get a kick out of the Bourne movies.

So says John Moore. But easy question, why not just make a Bourne movie? Because FOX doesn’t have a Bourne IP available. They do have Die Hard.

This is why Die Hard should have died long ago.

The Birchum Pilot is Actually Kind of Funny…

This is the Birchum pilot. It wasn’t picked up. And it’s kind of not bad.

Birchum. Yes I know it’s Adam Carolla and everything. The politics are a bit too up front, but it has a King of the Hill meet Daria vibe. I don’t know that I would actually watch it, but it’s better than American Dad or Bob’s Burgers or The Clevelands or the rest of the animated crap that FOX airs, including the Simpsons, which has a 1/80 success ratio now. Their only good episode in years was the one with Brent Spiner voicing the robots.

birchum Adam Carolla

The odd thing is it kind of works. The visuals are okay. The voices are fine. And it’s actually grounded in a working class meets Zero Tolerance craziness school system. Of course Birchum didn’t get picked up. There’s some bigotry, but not enough to meet the high standards set for bigotry at FOX by Seth MacFarlane. There aren’t any talking animals. There aren’t any talking racist animals. Not much sexism. No catchphrase spewing babies. So Birchum never had a shot.

But can you imagine if Seth MacFarlane had done Birchum? There would be a talking animal. Birchum’s fellow teacher would talk like he just stepped out of The Jeffersons. Within 2 minutes there would be a gay joke, an incest joke, a celebrity mention, an Asian stereotype and somebody falling down the stairs for 15 seconds and then hitting his crotch/head against the wall.

Who knew that Adam Carolla’s problem is that he isn’t offensive enough? That’s why Seth MacFarlane is such a genius.

Futurama’s Back… and No One Cares

Futurama’s 7th Season has arrived and no one has noticed. Except die hard fans maybe. For a show that people once cared about, Futurama can hardly get anyone to pay attention to it. To understand why, all you have to do is watch the first few episodes of Season 7.

They’re not uniformly bad, but two of them, The Bots and the Bees and Decision 3012 are genuinely awful and the third, Farewell to futurama sucksArms has some funny moments, but it’s a rehash of older Futurama episodes.

When Futurama was first cancelled, I felt more upset than I should have been. The show was already past its sell by date and FOX wasn’t wrong to cancel it. It was on the way to becoming the Simpsons with one note characters, outdated topical jokes and producer sneering. Now it actually is the Simpsons.

Watching an episode of Futurama is like hearing an old comedian do the same old gags. Take my wife, please. That’s Futurama now. Fry will say or do something stupid. Bender will steal something and laugh. Leela will sigh. The Professor will snort. Zoydberg will root through the trash. Nixon’s head will snort. Zap Brannigan will do something incompetent and Kip will sigh. This is Futurama condensed and this is all you get.

Futurama may only be beginning its 7th season, but it’s old. It began before the millennium in 1999. That makes it 13 years old. And the age shows. Its producers still think Nixon jokes are hilarious because they’re old. The writers and producers churning out Season 7 have done better episodes in the past, but the material is too old and they can’t think of anything to do with it. Their only resort is to do a grandiose SciFi concept, which occasionally works or default to sitcom mode.

The Bots and the Bees is a retarded concept, but it’s also a sitcom concept. It’s a sitcom concept that the Simpsons made fun of with a Robocop as single dad parody. A Farewell to Arms has its moments, but it’s a rehash of old material. Decision 3012 is Obama fanfic and it’s one of the rare times that I felt embarrassed for whoever wrote it.

Futurama needs new writers. It needs new energy. But mostly it needs to go.

Some shows get cancelled before their time, but Futurama got cancelled after episodes about robot farting causing global warming and Kip getting pregnant. Not to mention an episode about flag burning. There were still plenty of good episodes in Season 4 but the writing was on the wall.

Nine years later Futurama is moving into unwatchable Simpsons territory and unlike the Simpsons it never had a built in audience who would watch it no matter what.

Prometheus Bombed at the Box Office

Prometheus film posterPrometheus’ second place release opening wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. Sure it got its ass kicked by the threequel to a kiddie movie that had long since lost any reason for being. But Prometheus’ actual per theater was better than Madagascar 3’s Stop Me Before I Make Another Sequel to What Was Once a Cute Movie.

Prometheus’ 15,000 per theater average showed that it was the movie that packed them in. It was the one people were curious about. And then they saw it. This week Prometheus is still second, but it’s a distant second. Its per theater average has dropped sharply. Much more so than Madagascar 3’s. There are still people talking about it, but in a mostly bad way.

Ridley Scott wanted a 250 million dollar budget and a more grown up movie. The studio wanted a 160 million dollar budget and a script written by the guy who wrote the ending for Lost. The studio got its way.

Prometheus will cross the 100 million dollar mark two weeks from now. If it gets really lucky, it may cross it next week. Next week it will be up against Pixar’s Brave, which will suck a lot of money out of Madagascar 3 and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, which plays to the same demographic as Prometheus. Both are going to sweep into 3000-4000 theaters, which will give Prometheus a hard shove.

Internationally Prometheus has taken in another 128 million. Don’t look for FOX to lose money on this, but do look for them to put it down as more evidence that the Aliens franchise is dead except as a low budget Aliens vs Predator 3 type of thing.



Breaking In What?

Few shows get a second chance at life after being cancelled. Many that do probably shouldn’t. Case in point, Family Guy. But the relaunch or reboot or rewhatever of Breaking In has to be the most baffling butchery of a TV series ever. Or at least in the last few years. Sure what FOX did to Human Target was inexcusable, but at least there was some way to understand it. Take a producer and some people off your other action series, even if that action series is as lame as Chuck, transplant them to a series like Human Target that seems to have potential, and let them work their magic by ruining it, and then going back to Chuck and killing it too. But that still makes sense.

But take Breaking In, a show with lots of young attractive people who break into places in a wacky security company run by Christian Slater. The show had some potential, its humor was edgy, but not really streamlined and the cases weren’t that interesting. It needed some tinkering. FOX canceled it. Business as usual. Then Breaking In comes back after having added Megan Mullally to the cast, but not just to the cast, but as the central character, while playing the most annoying possible character that you can imagine Megan Mullally playing.

To make this move just that much more insanely baffling, the show has been redesigned as an office comedy. That’s right, Breaking In, an action show about wacky young people who break into places, is now a really annoying version of The Office (except The Office, Parks and Recreation and a bunch of other NBC shows are already really annoying versions of The Office). To get how this works, imagine adding Stanley from The Office to the A-Team and rebooting it as an office comedy.

The only way to understand this is like a fox chewing its own leg off to escape a trap and then wondering if life after that is even worth living. Breaking In got to second two through the most ridiculous means possible. Cut the budget, add Megan Mullally, pretend this thing is now an office sitcom. It doesn’t work, it makes no sense, it’s unwatchable, but everyone involved collects a paycheck for a bit longer.

The Breaking In website with a poster that looks like it was salvaged from a 90’s NBC sitcom gives you some idea of what happened. “BREAKING IN is a half-hour workplace comedy that takes office politics to the next level of genius.” Genius might not be the word for it.

Did this horrible and desperate move work? Nope and nope. Breaking In has been canceled again after apparently five episodes. Those episodes had a third of the viewers that the old series did on average. But here’s the thing. Overall Breaking In had pretty good ratings in Season One. Something happened in its season finale, it may have been the rescheduling, but overall it was running decently for a TV series today. The YAM demos for it were not spectacular, but it was beating its competition. Shockingly adding Megan and turning it into an office sitcom broke the YAM ratings completely.

That’s the strange part of this whole thing. Most networks want a show to go younger. Breaking In went older. Sure there was a mandate to win over female viewers. That’s what killed Human Target. But Breaking In could have added more female cast in a less crazy way. Did FOX really think that airing an office comedy was a good idea when going up against The Voice or Dancing with the Stars?

You can blame some boneheaded network moves on known factors. Terminator’s cancellation on FOX’s relationship with Joss Whedon, his fanatical fanbase, Eliza Dushku and her boyfriend who happened to produce half the cartoon crap on the schedule. But understanding what happened to Breaking In is so much more difficult.

Breaking In Pilot Review

Breaking In could be entertaining, but it echoes its star’s previous turn on Reaper too closely without the same symmetry. Once again he’s a man child whose life is hijacked by a supremely cool substitute father figure who thrusts him into an adult role playing on a next level battlefield, lusting for the girl he can’t have for some reason and forcing him to grow up at the same time. But as cool as Christian Slater is, he lacks the satanic glee that Ray Wise brought to the part in Reaper.

Breaking In tosses in too many characters, all of whom are extreme in a way that can only be lifted from studio notes. There’s too much energy in the room and none of it goes anywhere. Three co-workers, beginning with his boss, bully and humiliate Cameron. Even when his crush’s boyfriend shows up in the form of Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum, it’s more of the same.

Breaking In has to try so hard, because when you subtract the characters, it’s not original at all. This show has been made over and over again and the producers are relying on the character dynamic to pay off. There are good things about it. Christian Slater finally gets to play the character he should have been playing all along. And I would love to see the show be about him, instead of wading through another sad sack performance by Bret Harrison.

Fringe Finale, I Wish I Cared

Give Fringe some credit, the two universes idea isn’t bad. Even if it’s the only thing that Abrams, Lindelof, etc keep hammering at over and over again, from Lost to Abrams Trek. Was there any reason to expect a disappointing ending from the guys behind Lost and Abrams Trek? Yeah. And and that’s what we got.

The whole storyline never worked all that well except when everyone was crossing universes. And turning the leads into the chosen duo was the big mistake too many shows make today. Driving it home with a crucifixion machine. Just tacky. A future flashforward. Not a bad idea for a penultimate episode, but weak for a finale. And the final twist was more of a cliffhanger setting a tedious search next season where someone will somehow remember and begin searching for, etc.

Fringe used to be more investigators in the X-Files sense, but the more the episodes have focused on backstory and explaining what’s going on, the more arcy they’ve become and less interesting. The arc is one of the things killing SF TV and one reason these shows have so much trouble keeping their hold on viewers. And trust the Lost people to blow their own arc. As usual.

Killing Breaking In

Crash, smash, bam. I wasn’t a huge fan of Breaking In or a fan at all, but FOX’s treatment of a promising show was stupid and self-destructive. Obviously FOX was never really sold on Breaking In, they just threw it in there, and maybe throwing a male skewing show on after American Idol wasn’t a perfect idea, but the initial ratings were good and the show had promise. FOX casually killing it to make way for another hour of AbramsCrap that will be cancelled, unless it’s dumped in with Fringe on Friday nights leaves a bad taste.

Breaking In wasn’t perfect, but it appealed to the demos that FOX wanted much more than Alcatraz will. Jettisoning it this quickly was not smart. Especially after giving Matt Miller a whole year to torture Human Target to death in its mutated second season. The only good news is this frees up Christian Slater to do something better. Or something worse. He’s an obvious choice to replace Sheen on Two and a Half Men, but it looks like they’re going higher profile.

I’m not going to send protest whatevers over Breaking In. It wasn’t that good a show. But it could have been a successful one. It’s bad enough when FOX kills shows that are good, but not ratings winners, but when it kills shows like The Sarah Connor Chronicles that perform to make way for shows whose producers it has sweetheart deals with, like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, then something is really wrong here.

Human Target Canceled

Far as I’m concerned, Human Target was canceled at the end of Season 1. Matt Miller’s Chuckifed Human Target was just adding insult to injury. And this finalizes it. Whatever combination of network notes and production company crap put Matt Miller in charge of turning Human Target into a doily lace version of its old self, failed badly.

And this is why campaigns to save shows are not always a good idea. Human Target made it past the bubble, but only by killing everything good about itself. The cast and crew kept their jobs. But the show was a nauseating shadow of its former self. FOX used its failure as proof that it never worked. When actually it did work.

Human Target aired to decent ratings which began falling off. But not that much. The problem was demographics. You would think an action oriented series wouldn’t have too much trouble in that department. But it did. Season 2 trashed the show to court female viewers, but alienated both genders. The falloff was bad.

So what was Human Target’s real problem? The show kept being moved around. Human Target’s DVR ratings usually boosted the show, but not enough. FOX only aired half a season for its first season, making it a show that was easy to forget about. Then there’s American Idol. Idol draws a desired audience to FOX but cripples the rest of its schedule by building shows around that audience. Human Target was really canceled to make way for the X Factor, another Idol wannabe.

Terra Nova, Spielberg’s Dino Fetish Returns

Funny thing about this Terra Nova promo, the show only looks interesting for the first minute or so that it’s set in the future. The idea of people escaping a destroyed world by going into the past is a decent gimmick. But the show is just Jurassic Park in the past and there all interest is lost. Pretty scenery, dinos, family bonding and people causing problems. After the promo you know that you’re going to spend a lot of time being annoyed by the family, the Dinos aren’t that impressive anymore and human conflict will show that people can escape the future but they can’t escape the problems they cause. Dark Skies at least looks interesting because it thrusts characters into a less predictable situation. Terra Nova looks like Jurassic Park meets every show about families going to live in Africa or Hawaii or the West with more social commentary.

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