Crazy Uncle Ryan's favorite quotes

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."— Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Merlin – Jolly good show!

So, in an attempt to lift the caliber of summer TV, NBC decided to import a couple of foreign shows to add to their summer lineup. I had the pleasure of watching both of them. The Listener, a hit Canadian program from last year about a mind-reading paramedic, got pulled after only 8 episodes due to low ratings. I was sad about that but fortunately, the other show stayed. That other show was Merlin.
Merlin (which, not surprisingly, comes to us from the U.K.) follows the adventures of the teenaged, budding sorcerer Merlin as he comes to Camelot and becomes the servant of the than Prince Arthur. Merlin has the ability to perform magic but must keep it secret because Arthur’s father King Uther Pendragon has outlawed all magic and is ready to execute anyone who he thinks is practicing (or even capable of practicing) magic. I’m sure that there are many who are more familiar with the Arthurian legend than I am who are simply groaning when they see the amount of artistic license and the numerous anachronisms present in the show. Of course since most scholars agree that there was never a King Arthur in the first place it doesn’t really matter that much. I mean, since it is pure fiction why not have a bunch of Polynesians living in 6th century Britain? Anyway, I loved this show. It was fun, imaginative and significantly more family friendly than the majority of my TV shows. In fact, my wife actually enjoyed watching an episode with me every once in a while. I really enjoyed the interaction between Arthur and Merlin. In a lot of ways it reminds me of me and my little brother Shane when we were younger. Just like Arthur and Merlin we both liked each other very much but neither of us were willing to admit it.
So, since the season finale a few days ago I have been keeping an eye out for information about whether NBC is planning to bring it back next summer. If they don’t they can expect a sternly worded e-mail from me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harry Potter 6 comes to the big screen

So, a few weeks ago my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I have to say I was very impressed with the movie, much more so than I have been with the last few Harry Potter film adaptations. I felt like they did a good job of keeping the important stuff in the show while keeping the superfluous added nonsense (like the third movie’s shrunken heads) to a minimum. I really liked the girl who played Lavender Brown. I thought she was very cute and did a great job in the role.

Being that I am such a big fan of these books I have had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that so many of my favorite scenes (like the scene in St. Mungo’s in book 5) and many of my favorite characters (like Peeves, Bill and Charley Weasley, Ludo Bagman and Rufus Scrimgeour) never make it into the movies. In addition to the obvious fact that it is simply not possible to preserve everything when translating a book to the screen I have concluded that the producers likely recognize the fact that most people who watch these movies have probably read the books and can therefore fill in the blanks for themselves without having to have everything shown on screen. Another thing that has often bugged me with these movies is the fact that you seem to see them in class so rarely that you tend to lose track of the fact that they are indeed going to school. OK, now time for Ryan to get on his soapbox and have a little rant. There seems to be an ongoing joke related to these movies that I find really annoying. I find it so irksome because not only it is so ridiculously inaccurate but the people who propagate the joke, for the most part, ought to know how ridiculous it is. The joke is about how the actors who play Harry, Ron and Hermione are getting too old to be playing high-school aged kids. In the really stupid film Epic Movie which spoofed a number of films there is a scene where the main characters end up at Hogwarts and meet parodies of Harry, Ron and Hermione played by fat, middle-aged actors. They continually rant about how it makes no sense that these three are still at this school while the balding Ron, the pregnant, smoking Hermione and crazy Harry insist that they are really teenagers. In the previews for the new Adam Sandler movie Funny People a character makes a crack about how these characters are so old that they must be going for a PhD in Wizardry and asks “how long are they gonna be at that high school.” Now, some of you who are not as big movie buffs as I am may ask yourself, “What’s the big deal? Aren’t they too old to play teenagers?” The answer is no!
The simple fact of the matter is this: In TV and movies high-school aged characters are almost never played by high-school aged actors. Let me give you a few examples to illustrate my point. In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Alan Ruck was about 30 when he played the part of Cameron Frye. Rachel McAdams was about 26 when she played Regina George in Mean Girls. Turning to TV, in the new FOX show Glee high school football star Finn Hudson is played by 27 year-old Cory Monteith and high school sophomore Rachel Berry is played by 23 year-old Lea Michele. I could give more examples but let’s face it; this post is long enough already. Anyway, how does this compare with our three Harry Potter stars? Well, Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter just turned 20 last month. Emma Watson who plays Hermione Granger is 19 (a whopping 2 years older than her character) and Rupert Grint who plays Ron Weasley is just about to reach the ripe old age of 21. So, the truth is, by normal Hollywood standards, these parts were actually cast a bit young. End of rant.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Whole 'Nother Interview

Well, I must sound like a broken record but, I have a job interview on Friday morning. This came as a surprise to me because this was a company I had applied with back in January and had received a rejection postcard from. Well, whilst I was up in Idaho enjoying some time with my inlaws, celebrating Collin's first birthday and learning a great deal about the stock market from my father-in-law, I got an unexpected e-mail. As it turns out there are rare occasions when that whole "we will keep your resume on file" thing they say in those rejection letters is not just a big fat pile of bantha poodoo (that's a Star Wars reference. Ask a nerd if you don't get it.). They have another couple open positions and they want to have me come in to see if any of them will be a good fit. So, I am very optimistic about the interview on Friday. Wish me luck.