Media Maven: Musings on TV/Film/Music & Stuff



Hello all current and future readers. This post will be my last here at I've made the jump from Blogger to Wordpress and I'm there to stay. Wordpress has a much cleaner, better interface and the community there is much more interconnected than here at Blogger. Blogger's been good to me, but it's time for a change.


From now on, you can get your Media Maven fix over at

See you over there!


Lost - Season 3, Episode 22/23 - "Through the Looking Glass"

Now this, Tim Kring, is how you do a finale. Where Heroes could not deliver, Damon Cuse and Damon Lindelof, writers/creators/exec producers of Lost, have made television history with one of the best season finales for a serialized show, well, in history. As much as I love to focus on how great I find NBC programming, I really must tip my cap to ABC on this one, for, as I'll explain in a bit, Lost has consistently proved itself to be the most innovative serialized narrative on television, with this finale cementing that statement firmly.

Before I get into the most important aspect of the finale, the "rattlesnake in the mailbox," as Cuse and Lindelof have been referring to it as, I want to do a more typical Media Maven analysis of the show.

Aside from the big twist, what made this episode fantastic was not that it answered a lot of big questions (in fact, it didn't really answer any), but that it had such fantastic narrative momentum. We were swept up in the episode's proceedings in a highly visceral way, perched at the edge of our couches, hearts racing, eyes wide, for the full two hours, though it seemed to fly by in only a matter of minutes. We still don't know a thing about Jacob, Ben's agenda, the monster, Walt, Locke's strange healing powers, and countless other mysteries, and frankly, I don't know that all these questions will ever be answered. But with everything else this episode accomplished, and more importantly, with the implications it has for next season, I don't think anyone (myself included) minds leaving a few unanswered queries by the wayside.

Plot-wise, there are few major issues to touch on:
1. Charlie's Death-- I have mixed feelings about this death. Let me begin by saying that more than anything, I appreciate the willingness of Cuse and Lindelof to pull the trigger on killing off a main character like this, and I think the execution was nearly perfect. Charlie (Dominic Mongahan) had nowhere else to go in terms of character development. We've seen him as an addict, we've seen him drop the addiction, we've seen him find meaning in his life with Claire and Aaron, and though he brings a distinct flavor and energy to the scenes he's in, there just isn't really anything left for him to do. I applaud Cuse and Lindelof for recognizing the needs of the story and choosing to honor those over the conventions of television, something that is nearly unheard of in the world of tv.
In a way, I was very happy for Charlie that he could die like this, with bravery and poignancy. As if it weren't enough to swim down to the Looking Glass, unjam the signal by using his musicianship, and ensuring the rescue of everyone on the island, I loved that with his last breaths, Charlie wrote "Not Penny's Boat" on his hand, delivering a final message to Desmond that I'm sure will play hugely in next season's premiere. For a character I didn't like all that much, these final moments redeemed Charlie in my mind.
The one thing I didn't like about the death? How pointless it seemed! Why did Charlie lock himself in that room? It makes no sense! The water began to pour in, but Charlie surely had the extra .5 seconds it would've taken for him to jump outside the room and slam the safety door shut behind him. I know that Charlie needed to die, and that Desmond's visions needed to be true, but I thought the physical execution of this moment was a failure. I keep replaying it in my head: why did Charlie lock himself in there? Surely the Looking Glass couldn't have flooded in two seconds. And moreover, why didn't Charlie try to swim out of the busted porthole? As the room filled, the pressure of the water pouring in would have decreased, Charlie could've taken one final breath and then made a break through the hole to the surface. However, I refuse to allow these shortcomings to diminish the effectiveness and importance of Charlie's death.

2. Locke & Walt -- WTF??? I was excited for this Walt sighting from the second I saw that Malcolm David Kelley guest star credit in the opening scene. I was a tad disappointed to find that by growing a few inches and having his voice drop a few octaves, Walt wasn't nearly as creepy or engrossing as he has been in the past (best Walt moment-- when Shannon sees him dripping wet and whispering in the middle of the jungle. Speaking of which, what happened to all those barefoot people chillin in the jungle? They got bored after season one and peaced out?) Walt and Locke must have some kind of strange connection, both to each other and the island, and I will be very interested to see how this plays out in the future.

3. Jack -- Welcome back, Matthew Fox. This episode was by far the best performance Matthew Fox has ever had, and the first one in which he's been the central character in a long time. To borrow the cliche, Fox's performance is a veritable roller coaster of troubled emotions, the most powerful of which are on display as Jack makes the decision to let Ben kill Sayid, Bernard and Jin in order to secure the rescue of everyone else. The conflicted pain on Jack's face is gut-wrenching, as is pretty much every moment he's in this episode. The scenes with Jack off the island are just heartbreaking, for once he's home, it seems as if Jack is more "lost" than he ever was on the island. Take away everything else in this episode and it would still be my favorite because Matthew Fox was just so damn good.

4. Ridiculous Action-- Hurley runs a dude over with a VW bus, seven Others get blown up by dynamite, Desmond shoots Mikael in the sternum with a spear gun, Locke nails Naomi in the back with a throwing knife, Sawyer shoots some bro point blank in the chest, and Sayid snaps a guy's neck with his legs. And these weren't even the most exciting parts of the episode! Holy crap was this episode ridiculous or what?! You paying attention yet, Kring?

5. Some other random stuff-- Alex and Danielle reunite by typing Ben? Awesome. Jack tells Kate he loves her? Great. Sayid, Jin and Bernard don't die? Wonderful. Sayid has a sniper rifle with a scope? Where the hell did that come from? Ben gets the snot beat out of him? About time. Penelope makes contact with the island? Sweet. Locke has strange healing powers? Neato. I love this freaking show.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. Let's talk about that rattlesnake in the mailbox. When I describe Lost to non-watchers, I often touch on the fact that one of the show's defining characteristics is that each season has an entirely different focus that is determined by the previous season's finale. Season One was about discovering the castaways and The Island, Season Two was about The Hatch, and Season Three was about The Others. And now we've got an entirely new and fascinating focus for Season Four-- The Future.

Though I guessed the twist about ten minutes into the program (once I saw Jack with a beard looking depressed, I knew it didn't fit in anywhere with his past timeline), it doesn't change the fact that it revolutionizes an already revolutionary show. As TV scholar Jason Mittel discusses on his blog, the finale's cliffhanger is less about "what happens next" (the narrative), and more about "how will they tell us what happens next" (the narrative discourse, the way the story is told). Just when it had begun to feel like we've seen just about as many flashbacks as we can handle (we know EVERYBODY'S deep dark secrets and past by now), Cuse and Lindelof have done another 180, and now it looks like we'll be getting flash-forwards from this point on. This is genius. This is television at its best. This is a wonderful example of the operational aesthetic, a concept Mittel discusses at length. According to this notion, the pleasure we derive from watching serialized television shows (basically, shows that have continuing story arcs across a season/series), comes not only from engaging with the story itself, but also through our engagement with the machinery of the storytelling. Think about how much the narrative discourse of shows like 24, Battlestar Galactica and of course, Lost, contribute to our enjoyment of these shows. The way these stories are told is as much a part of the show as the stories themselves. Lost has always been the first to break storytelling and television boundaries, and it should come as no surprise that they've done it again.

The finale leaves us at a point where we know the past, we know the present, and we know the future. The only time left unexplored is the time between the present and the future, which, according to the news clipping in Jack's hand, is about two years later (the clipping is from April 5, 2007). I think the questions left unanswered by this finale are far more interesting than any we've been left with before. There are the more incidental ones (Whose funeral was Jack at? Who is Kate's husband?), but also a handful of mind-blowing, crucial ones: Why does Jack want to go back to the island? Why was it bad for them to be rescued? Where are the other survivors? What happens between the present and the future that brings us to this point?

This is the sort of television to which all other serialized television should aspire. It's highly engrossing on every level: we're invested in the characters, in the narrative, and in the narrative discourse. The show creates new rules, twists them, bends them, and when the time is right, breaks them in favor of new ones. Even when it comes at the price of a few dud episodes per year (which the new 16-episode length and May 2010 end date will hopefully prevent), the show continues to raise the bar higher and higher and is not afraid to take risks on any level. I promise you, this show will go down in history as one of the best ever. You've got 9 months until Season Four. If you don't already watch, you've got plenty of time to catch up, so that as this show continues forward, you can say "I was there when", and be a part of one of television's most important and groundbreaking shows ever.

Episode: A+
Season: B+

Favorite Scene: The standoff between Ben and Jack, when Jack has to bear his choice to let three of his friends be murdered so that the rest of them can be saved. Television acting at its very highest. He better get an Emmy nod for this one.

Favorite Line (tie): "We have to go back, Kate. We have to go back!" --Jack
"That's for taking the kid off the raft." --Sawyer, after shooting Tommy (the Other)


Heroes - Season 1, Episode 23 - "How to Stop an Exploding Man"


Oh, Tim Kring, how could you do this to me? How could you do this to us, your loyal fans, who have supported and followed this show since Day One? How could you end one of the best seasons of television ever with one of the single worst finales I've ever seen in my life? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS ME?

If you are a fellow Heroes watcher, than you have my deepest sympathies because no fan should have endure crap like this. Let's break it down:

1. Hmmmmm. I actually have to think about this. Ok. Got one.
Good power uses. Every single hero used their power (well, not including those whose powers we don't know like Mama Petrelli, Charles Deveaux and Simone-- believe me, she'll be back). Nathan flew, Claire regenerated, Peter read minds, was invisible and blew up, Hiro teleported and time traveled (more on that later), Micah restarted the elevator, DL went through another wall, Nikki used her super strength to hit Sylar with a parking meter, and Molly located Sylar. Even if the rest of the episode sucked, at least no one is shy about using their abilities anymore.

2. Some cool new information was dropped on us. According to Molly, there is a villain even worse than Sylar on the horizon, a villain so powerful that when Molly thinks of him, he can "see" her. This has fantastic potential and is a great hook for the second season. Also, we learned that Charles Deveaux has some sort of ability (time travel? dream talking?), which should hopefully play out next season.

That's it. Time for the tirade.

1. SO many inconsistencies I don't even know where to begin. I think its easier to do them in list form.
a. Sylar-- He is powerful enough to kill dozens of heroes, and he has supersonic hearing, but Hiro is able to jog up to him and smite him with a samurai sword? HUH? Really?
b. In one scene, Hiro is able to teleport across a room, grab Ando, and teleport to Japan before Sylar can even turn his head. But when Sylar throws him in the final scene, he accidentally travels to 17th century Japan? Come on!
c. Where is the damn Haitian? He's around all season-long and then when all the shit goes down, he's nowhere to be found?
d. Isaac's comic book-- In one page of the book, Hiro is stabbing Sylar. This comes true. In another page, Ando is dead. This does not come true. How can it be both? Ando being alive or dead has no effect on whether Hiro succeeds?
e. In one scene, DL is collapsed on the ground with a bullet in his stomach, unable to move. Moments later, he's running around and then chillin outside with his wife and kid. Give me a break.
f. Last week, Candace alluded to the fact that she hides her true form because she is really fat and ugly. But when Nikki knocks her out, she reverts back into pretty Candace form, not into some behemoth dogface. If Kring and Co. try and pull some crap move in the future where Candace is not actually the pretty brunette, I will be more than pissed.

1. Veronica Mars- 2 hour finale. 24- 2 hour finale. Lost- 2 hour finale. Heroes - 63 lousy minutes.
2. Matt Parkman gets hit in the chest with like 5 bullets and he isn't dead?! I know he's best friends with Tim Kring, but that shouldn't matter! If you don't want him to die, don't shoot him with 5 bullets! Damn you and your nepotism, Kring! Damn you!
3. Mr. Bennet's name is Noah. Whoop dee frickin doo. Now I can die happy. Thanks, Kring, you giant ignoramus.
4. Sylar gets stabbed! But wait, he's not dead, don't worry. Oh no, DL got shot in the gut! Oh wait, he's not dead either. Holy moly! Matt Parkman got shot several times in the torso! Oh hang on. HE'S NOT DEAD EITHER. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???
5. If there's one more speech about love or family or hope on this show, I'm going to stop watching and instead, I'm going to watch Sesame Street, because at least on that show, they have musical numbers and giant puppets to accompany the saccharine cliches being rammed down my throat.
6. I'd like to quote a few lines for you here, to illustrate one of the most preposterous moments of this ludicrous show:
[The scene-- Kirby Plaza. Sylar has been temporarily defeated. Peter is about to explode. Claire is pointing a gun at him.]
Peter: Do it. Do it! You're the only one, Claire.
Claire (in tears): Tell me there's another way please!
Peter: Shoot me. There is no other way.
[Suddenly, Nathan flies in from night sky, landing in between his brother and daughter.]
Nathan: Yes there is, Claire.

Aaaand scene. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Does Nathan have supersonic hearing also? Or is this like the episode of Arrested Development where Tony Wonder just waits in the dumbwaiter for an hour until someone says the word "wonder"? Do they really think we're so stupid and so absorbed in this terrible finale that we won't notice someone finishing a conversation they could not possibly have heard? If I had Ted's power, I can assure my hands would be turning red right now.

7. I start a new paragraph here because I want to now discuss the most important disappointment of all. This finale was fecal matter, my friends. Pure feces. They spend the first 45 minutes wasting time, jerking us around until the last 5 minute showdown (think about it-- nothing happened in the first 45 minutes. Nothing.) And you know what? I could've forgiven them for that if they gave me the epic final battle we were all expecting and deserved. Save the cheerleader, save the world, right? Well, what the hell did Claire have to do with anything? Why didn't Peter even use a single power to stop Sylar? Why was the final showdown between the ultimate hero and the ultimate villain less exciting than an infomercial for the Magic Bullet? And think about this-- aside from Nathan flying Peter away (because for some reason, Peter couldn't do it himself), not one hero did anything that actually had to do with saving the world, and in the end, the evil villain got away.

And you know what? I could've even forgiven that if the preview for next season had been mindblowing, like we were all sure it would be. But then we get Hiro on some grassy knoll with a bunch of ancient samurai? As David Spade would say, "Really, Tim Kring? Really?"

Before I close, let me leave you with some info and questions about next season:
1. SPOILER ALERT-- As the laws of tv can tell you, if you don't see a character die on-screen, they aren't dead (We'll see how true this law is if Peter is still alive on Weeds). Plain and simple. And so, as you can all guess, Nathan isn't dead and has a contract for next season to prove it. What a load of garbage. Think about it-- in the episode before the finale, we had 3 deaths, but in the finale, not a single one. How lame can you get?
(If you don't believe me, check the latest Ask Ausiello. Thanks to Greg for the heads up.)
2. Speaking of people not dying, even though the name of the last Heroes graphic novel is "The Death of Hana Gittelman" (also known as Wireless for those of you keeping score at home), Hana "dies" but is still able to communicate through wireless communication. So that's a cop-out too.
3. Next season, we will find out what Sylar does to peoples' brains. We will also be introduced to the even worse than Sylar baddie to which Molly alluded.
4. What is Mama Petrelli's power? I must know!
5. What's the deal with Sylar and cockroaches? There was one in his cell when he was first captured by Noah Bennet and now there's one crawling on the manhole through which he escaped (which, by the way, makes me wonder: did none of the 8 other people standing around doing nothing notice a stabbed man drag himself several feet across the ground, open a manhole, and climb into a sewer? COME ON!)

As this blog can attest, Heroes was my favorite show of the year. But like a final exam, the finale is worth 50% of the final grade and this finale gets a D for being worse than the episode that preceded it, the worst episode of the season, and the most anti-climatic episode of tv I may have ever seen. When I average this grade with the rest of the episodes, the first season of Heroes, a season that had the potential to go down as one of the best first seasons of television ever, finishes with a respectable, but unremarkable B+

Pretty please, if you watched the finale, share your thoughts! Do you agree with me? Disagree? Let me know!

Stay tuned for posts on the VMars series finale and tonight's Lost season finale!


Lost - Season 3, Episode 21 - "Greatest Hits"

If I were compiling a list of Lost's Greatest Hits, I can assure this episode would NOT be on it. It's a shame too because the last half-dozen or so episodes have been consistently fantastic, and this episode certainly had the potential to continue the streak.

I'll keep this post brief, because honestly, there just isn't that much to say about this fairly run-of-the-mill installment.

1. The showdown for the finale has been set up nicely. We've got Sayid, Jin and Bernard (yes, you read that correctly) staying in the camp to blow up the ten Others coming to kill them, while Jack is leading the rest of the group to the radio tower to wait for Charlie and Desmond to unjam the radio signal so that they can use Naomi's satellite phone to contact her boat, which is 80 miles off-shore. Charlie is currently a captive of two women in the strange, underwater hatch known as The Looking Glass, so something must going down there in next week's finale.

2. Ben has flown off the handle. He's making irrational decisions based on secret, selfish motives, and as we all know, when anyone in television has a good plan and throws it out the window in favor of a rash, uncalculated commitment of passion, it's bound to fail. I'm very excited to see how this shakes out in Wednesday's two hour finale (gotta love the two hour finale format. It's almost as good as the two hour pilot format.)

3. Oh wait. That's it. No more good things.

1. A Charlie-centric episode? What is this, season one? Maybe we cared about Charlie's past when he was a main character, but now, when he's just a whiny Brit who can't stop fawning over Claire (who CLEARLY doesn't love him, but more on that later...), no one gives a twig. It was especially bad because the flashbacks told us absolutely nothing. Nothing relevant at all. Who cares what Charlie's favorite moments in his life were? I wouldn't even care to watch MY favorite moments on tv for an hour, let alone those of an obnoxious fictional character.

2. When will Charlie get it through his frosted tips that Claire doesn't love him and is only using him for his superior babysitting/butlering skills? I've never seen a less appreciative or interested woman than Claire. Charlie has basically adopted her son Aaron as his own, has saved her life several times (risking his own in each occasion), and is at her beck and call at all times. And he gets one reluctant kiss as a reward? I don't know whom to scoff at more: Claire, the Aussie Ice Queen, or Charlie, the Ingratiating Ingrate.

3. This episode was all set up, no action. I can be a little forgiving about this because I understand that awesome finales may require a lot of build-up to really take off, but I can't be too forgiving because as Heroes showed this past week (THREE characters killed off! Are you kidding me?! How could this show possibly be any better?), you don't necessarily need to sacrifice action for the sake of exposition.

As lame as this episode was, I must say I am VERY excited for the finale. If the past two season finales are any indication, this season's will not only be jaw-dropping and action-packed, but the final minutes will most definitely flip the series onto its head and take it in an entirely new direction for season 4 (which, by the way, is only 16 episodes long and will not debut until February 2008. Now would be an excellent time to catch up on the past 3 seasons if you have not yet done so.)

Desmond and Charlie were alone on a boat, about to do a dangerous mission from which and what did Desmond say? NOTHING. It was a perfect opportunity for the delivery of one of my all time favorite lines in the history of tv, coined by Desmond in season one: "See you in another life, brotha." But did he say it?! NO.

Something I noticed-- usually, episodes written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, two of the show's executive producers and creators, are of a much higher caliber than those written by staff writers. The premiers, finales and other marquee episodes are all by Cuse and/or Lindelof. It's a pretty good indicator of what the quality of the episode will be. This week's was written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. They sound like they should be my lawyer and my dentist, not writing my television shows.

In hindsight, I like this episode even less than when I watched it. In fact, I hate this episode. It gets a C

Favorite Scene: When Ben returns from his trip to Jacob and moves up the attack to NOW.
Favorite Line: "Tomorrow? No. No, they're coming tonight. They're coming right now!" -Karl


CBS - Proving Me Right Once Again

In the past few days, the big 4 networks have announced their new prime time schedules to advertisers and to the world, and as usual, the good folks over at CBS have stuck with mass over class and ratings over quality (see my recently posted paper for more on Quality TV and CBS programming).

What has transpired would be a perfect epilogue to my paper. This year, CBS had one show that won a significant Emmy (The New Adventures of Old Christine- star Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for Best Actress in a Comedy Series), and one new show that garnered critical buzz and respect (Jericho, about the rebuilding of a small Kansas town after a series of nuclear attacks on the U.S.). You would think that CBS would be proud of both of these programs, as awards and critical praise are almost anathema to The Tiffany Network. But lo and behold, Jericho has been canceled and Christine has only been given a 13 episode order and a midseason start date.

Want to know the best part? Both shows have significantly more viewers than, for example, any of the four NBC Thursday comedies or Friday Night Lights, a show that was at the bottom of the ratings barrel but was the most critically lauded new show of the year (FNL PLUG-- Watch this freaking show. If you take anything away from this blog, dear god let it be that. Catch up on season one in time for next fall. I promise you won't regret it.) At its peak, Christine was averaging triple the viewers of Scrubs or double those of The Office.

Even with some new fall shows that sound good on paper (Viva Laughlin, a "drama with music", and the Lord of the Flies-esque Kid Town chief among them), I will continue to boycott this network that constantly eschews quality for cash. Believe me, I understand that television is a business and as such, the goal is to make moolah. But there's a reason we go to The Palm instead of McDonald's when we want a quality meal, and I refuse to join the rest of the mindless dudes in line for something fast and easy at the billion-dollar corporate fast food joint when I can spend my money on something far more succulent and rewarding.

I urge you friends: join me in my cause. Let's show CBS that it'll take more than 8 versions of the same episodic procedurals and old-fashioned sitcoms of yesteryear to earn our eyeballs. We only have so many hours to spend in front of the television, so let's be choosy about how we spend them. I know we all need that Mickey D's fix every once in a while, but honestly folks, there's enough truly Quality TV on the airwaves that you shouldn't have to spend a second you don't want to watching anything else.

So make the worthwhile choice, and I'll see you at The Palm.


TV Studies Papers

Hey readers,

Thanks to those of you who signed up for the update list. Still plenty of room for more!

Hot Fuzz review is almost done, sorry for the delay. In other news, I've posted two television studies papers I wrote for school this year. You can download them here.

The "Day Break Paper" is an elaboration on the Day Break posting I did earlier this year. I go into a bit more detail in the paper. If you want to read about what I thought of the series as a whole, its strengths and shortcomings, check out this paper. It's short, about 4 pages.

The "CBSNBC Paper" is a 15 page research paper I wrote, discussing the differences in programming choices between NBC and CBS. This paper is an elaboration on the "cultural divide" piece I posted here earlier this year. It's an evenhanded examination of the different approaches each network takes towards programming, with respect to each network's individual mission and respective audience. It also includes my own definition of "Quality TV" and how it's different from regular television. It might be a bit long for you casual readers, but for those of you interested in scholarly television pursuits, I think you'll find it compelling and thought-provoking.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I did get an A. I don't want to boast-- just want you to know that it's credible work.

Please leave me some comments! Did you read the papers? Did you agree/disagree? Interested/bored? Let me know!

Hot Fuzz

NERD ALERT-- Hot Fuzz is a veritable hotbed for movie nerddom-- it's made with nerds, by nerds and for nerds. I say this with a great deal of respect of course, for it takes quite a bit of dedication to be a true movie nerd. One must be 100% devoted to the watching of films, both popular and obscure, the memorization and regurgitation of key scenes, lines, themes, etc., and a constant desire to discuss the merits of said films. So I'm a movie nerd, wanna fight about it?

A member of the same merry band of modern cinephile directors as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez (co-directors of Grindhouse, an homage to B-horror movies), Edgar Wright, director of Hot Fuzz, offers with this film his own loving contribution to the Cop movie genre. Just as his 2004 sleeper hit Shaun of the Dead is a hyper-intensified parody/homage to zombie movies, so too is Hot Fuzz both a joking and worshipful take on the cop movies Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg so clearly adore.

Hot Fuzz follows the travails of Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Pegg), the world's best cop, who is transferred by his jealous superiors to Sanford, a small village that hasn't seen a murder in twenty years... or have they?! What ensues is a typical Wright combo of high-octane, video game style action, lots of physical and homoerotic comedy, and several frame for frame homages to Wright's favorite cop films (Point Break and Bad Boys II chief among them).

I really enjoyed this movie. I found Wright's hyper-stylization (lots of quick cuts, close-ups and loud sound effects on seemingly menial tasks like opening a door or putting on a shirt) and fast pace to be quite compelling and very effective in setting a distinctly Wrightian tone. Simon Pegg and sidekick Nick Frost (as Police Constable Danny Butterman), the duo we came to love in Shaun of the Dead, work brilliantly together, sharing moments both hysterical, touching and often times, overtly homosexual (such as when they fall asleep on the couch with their heads touching one another. Very silly). The action sequences are great, with loads of stylized stunt work, great fight sequences, and lots of unnecessary (read: highly necessary) blood and gore apropos of an Edgar Wright film.

There are also some great cameos, such as Martin Freeman (The U.K. The Office's Tim) and Bill Nighy (who appeared with Freeman in Love Actually, among others) as Metropolitan policeman, director Peter Jackson as an insane Father Christmas, and Cate Blanchett as Nick's ex-girlfriend.

The cons? While the film would still be entertaining, some of its magic could conceivably be lost on those who don't grasp what Wright, Pegg, and co. are trying to do. As with Shaun of the Dead, one can't go in expecting a run of the mill genre film because Wright's films simultaneously mock and hail the respective genres in which they're a part. The film can be enjoyed by all, but is probably most enjoyable for fans of action/cop movies, fans of innovative auteurism, and for those who pay enough attention throughout the film to catch the many pay-offs to the setups scattered throughout the narrative.

More importantly, Hot Fuzz's genre-bending hinders its enjoyability to some degree, in my opinion. It lacks the full suspense and non-stop action of a true action movie (because it isn't one) and isn't loaded top to bottom with the non-stop comedy of a true comedy (because it isn't one). It's sort of on par with other comedy/action films like Rush Hour, though the artistic element is far more sophisticated and gratifying in Hot Fuzz.

Basically, while this a great and certainly worthwhile film, it isn't likely to be many people's favorite, unless action/comedy/art-house hybrids are your genre of choice. However, judging the movie on its own terms and by its own intrinsic merits alone (did it accomplish what it set out to do? Is it the best film it can be?) this film is a great success, and I therefore give it an A-