Could Snowe become Democrat #61 in the Senate?
Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist


If I were to speculate on recent events, given the Arlen Specter switch to the Democratic party, along with the insane "You're either with us, or you're against us!" rhetoric that has infected the Republican discourse for some time now, I might look at Olympia Snowe's (R-ME) latest op-ed in the N.Y. Times and think that she's practically DARING them to give her a reason to switch as well.
It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of “Survivor” — you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party.
It's an interesting analogy she makes, and really speaks to the discomfort she must feel right now. In many ways, it IS like Survivor - one of the most common mistakes players make on that show is believing that being the hardest worker, or the best at challenges, is somehow going to endear you to the rest of the tribe. The game isn't about physical survival, it's about social survival. Similarly, Snowe and Collins seem like they think the game of the day is about rational governance, while the rest of the party is playing my favorite party game, known as "Principled Self-Immolation."

While I'd love to see a true Moderate movement spring up, spear-headed by reasonable, true centrist leaders like Snowe, I must acknowledge that for now the Two Party system is the only system on the horizon for the near future (despite polls that suggest that 38% percent or so wouldn't mind officially declaring for a well implemented Independent Party). Glancing at her Wikipedia entry, she seems like the kind of lady I could really like in politics, despite our occasional disagreements.

So, my question is, what is Snowe up to here? Is she secretly hoping that being outspoken will draw enough criticism from the GOP that she'll be able to easily switch parties by making them seem like the ones who are being unreasonable here? Is she signaling to the Democratic party that she's open to being approached again? Or is she simply drawing a line in the sand and standing up for the last shred of reason that might remain in her party?

Why she would switch:
  • If the Republicans attempt to punish her for her op-ed and recent public comments, I think the old "Spartan spirit" in her might just tell them to go fuck themselves. I find it unlikely that the Republicans would go after her, offficially (since they'll leave that job to the trolls at FOX News and other outlets), but you never know...
  • Perhaps the Democrats dangle the right committee to her, or under take some other aggressive recruiting measures. Based on her comments, she seems primed to hear the argument that the Democrats are now the party that is best able to deliver on the principles she finds most important: strong national defense, individual opporunity, and so on (they'll probably never sway her on the fiscal aspects of their platform).
  • Following Anonymous Liberal's advice, Snowe could also just declare herself an Independent, much as Jim Jeffords did.
Why she wouldn't switch:
  • Again, looking at her recent public statements, she's pretty firm right now about feeling like a Republican (albeit an endangered variety of one). So maybe she's just resigned to the apparent fate of the party.
  • She's massively popular in her state, and doesn't really need the GOP's support to win her seat year after year. So why rock the boat, when she already enjoys a powerful position as a swing vote, and the respect of the Democrats for being one of the only rational Republicans left?
  • That same massive popularity affords her the room to attempt to steer the party back onto the course that she wants. Best case scenario: the GOP listens to her and begins to rebuild. Worse case scenario: they don't want to hear what she has to say and are a bunch of dicks to her, but she doesn't care because, again - she doesn't need their support and approval to keep trucking along as she has been.
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Republicans trade Specter to Democrats
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Apparently Arlen Specter is changing parties and will become a Democrat.

Sources report that in exchange, the Democrats will surrender a first round and third round pick in next year's National Politico League (NPL) draft. Two staffers, known for their pass blocking and coffee retrieving prowess, were also traded to the GOP.

At a press conference, Specter held his new blue jersey aloft (emblazened with #60 on the back), stating, "I'm really happy to be joining this new team. I look forward to working hard, joining the guys at training camp and working on learning the new PR playbook."

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Dollhouse Episode 10 Review
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Shows that have strong network support and creators with a defined vision are able to break away from TV conventions to give their viewers excellent serial drama week after week. Lost is a perfect example - from the very first moment, it was compelling and it demanded that you tune in week after week to follow the on-going stories, because EVERY story was important to the main arc of the show. The people involved with the show, from the higher ups to the show runners to the crew, all believed in the strength of their main story enough to trust that the viewers would keep coming back.

Dollhouse, sadly, is not one of those shows yet. And so, after 3 glorious episodes chock full of meaty, long term story-telling goodness, we're shackling with a MOTW episode ("monster of the week" - internet slang started to describe X-files episodes that were self-contained stories that did not contribute to the overall mytharc).

The main plot involves Echo serving as a host for the reincarnated mind of one of Adelle's close friends, Margaret. Margaret is a former Miss Lonelyhearts client of the Dollhouse herself, and had begun a series of regular "backups" of her brain, for fear that someone would try to murder her. I'm not sure I buy this, since it appears that she adored her husband, had no clue her son or daughter resented her, and hadn't seen her suspicious brother for 13 years, prior to the day before her death (weeks after her last backup session) - so who, exactly, did she suspect would want to off her?

It doesn't really matter, because it sets up an intriguing moral question: is the Dollhouse that close to being able to offer immortality to people? Because it sure seemed like Margaret could have kept Echo's nubile young body, if the Dollhouse would have permitted that. Again, this series teases me, because there's all this fascinating potential power in their stories, but it's easily brushed aside for the more conventional "Who murdered mommy?!" plot.

I'm with Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club, who makes this excellent observation:
Having the conscience of a newly dead woman imprinted on the young, fresh body of an active opens up all kinds of existential possibilities, even before you learn that the woman was murdered. Haven’t we all, in our vainest moments, wondered what the scene would be like at our funeral? Or even more generally, to listen into conversations about what people really think about us? Then again, perhaps we’d pay for our vanity: Maybe the people we thought would be weeping copious tears turn out to be stone-faced and indifferent. And maybe also our perceptions of who we were and how we thought others felt about us were, in fact, completely wrong. Those would be some damned painful revelations. Now that I think about it, the biggest problem with “Haunted” is that there’s any need for a murder mystery at all. Just the drama of Echo as Margaret, the dead heiress, coming back to her life incognito in the body of another woman would be more than enough to sustain an episode.
There's been some complaint about Eliza's questionable acting ability, and this episode didn't do her any favors. I'm personally fine with Eliza - it's just that I often find Echo's solo plots very hit-or-miss, and I find myself more interested in what the other characters are up to. I squeed when Victor popped in, masquerading as a horse buyer, and was far more interested in the B plot, which touched on one of the recurring themes of this show - the need for companionship, to connect with another person, even if it's just for a fleeting moment. To that end, we follow Topher, who uses the excuse of running a diagonostic test to create himself a playmate that would indulge his need for nerdy fun. Sierra gets enlisted to serve as Topher's BFF for the day, and they play videogames, toss the football around and engage in a little laser tag action. This seemingly fluffy plot turns sad and touching by the end, as we realize that Adelle is well aware of what Topher's up to, but permits it once a year, because it's his birthday.

This fits nicely with the other theme the pops up, which is that EVERYONE at the Dollhouse is broken in some way. The Dollhouse permeates every nook and cranny of these people's lives. Dr. Claire hasn't left the building for months (or even years). Topher's existence also seems focused exclusively on work, to the point where he doesn't seem to have a single real world friend to celebrate his birthday with. Meanwhile, Olivia Williams continues to show the other actors how it's done, as just the slightest clench in her jaw communicates volumes about how lonely Adelle herself is, how envious she is that her friend Margaret found a real world Pretty Young Thing who truly loved her.

In the C plot, Paul Ballard continues to be fairly worthless. He is a terrrrrible actor (Paul, not Tahmoh) and can barely contain his contempt and disgust for Mellie, now that he's aware the she's a Doll. He manages to score some fingerprints off a wine glass and sneaks into the FBI (which.. yeah... I doubt that) to get his old friend to help him look up the prints in AFIS. Much to his surprise, he sees a dozen or so aliases pop up, with pictures of Mellie, before the system suddenly deletes everything. I have two problems here. One - if the Dollhouse has that sort of power, why didn't they just delete the records a long time ago, when Mellie was first captured? Two - I dislike having to feel like Paul is an incompetent moron, but it bugs me that at no point does he think, "Gee, if they built in a logic bomb to delete the records the minute someone looked up these prints, shouldn't I be concerned that they know I'm on to them? That maybe the system could have also sent an email to someone letting them know that Mellie's records have been accesses?"

Anyhoo, I will say this: I would LOVE to play poker with one Paul Ballard, because he cannot hide the feelings on his face at all. Paul goes home and has hot hate sex with Mellie, because luckily she's dumber than him when it comes to reading the room. So, long story short: King's Ransom isn't the only stallion that gets mounted this episode.

Things we learned this episode:
  • Mellie has been quite the busy bee in her spare time, even before she was embedded in Paul's life.
  • Apparently, Echo's new handler is the worst handler ever. Because even though everyone knew that the murderer was still at large, there was no backup within miles of Echo when she needed it.
  • Topher has no friends. Even though he's an annoying twerp sometimes, that's still sad. Brings back my own childhood memories, having no one around willing to play D&D with me and so forth... Anyway, it really speaks to his loneliness and his sincere desire just to have someone around who gets him, since he didn't make one sexual crack or look at Sierra the whole time they were playing.
  • Even regular people can get brain scans that create a perfect replica of their thoughts, memories and personality traits.
Things I still want to know:
  • Are people at the Dollhouse aware that Mellie's cover has been blown?
  • What is the real Mellie like? Would the real version of her even be into Paul?
  • What charges, exactly, does Paul plan to bring against the Dollhouse? Is what they're doing even technically illegal? While it is definitely controversial and morally wrong, is it against the law, particularly since they do have legal papers signed by the Dolls stating they agree to be in the state they are?
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White She Devil Dominates Box Offfice
Monday, April 27, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
I'm not sure anyone else out there has seen one of my favorite sleeper comedies of all time, Undercover Brother, but here's the skinny:
Eddie Griffin plays the title role, an afro-ed, platform shoes-wearing, kung fu-fighting brother with a social conscience who unwittingly stumbles into the path of the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., a top-secret organization dedicated to fighting the Man, the shadowy figure behind myriad conspiracies to keep African-Americans down. Brother becomes the organization's secret agent.
The film makes some sharp commentary on race, particularly once "Becky", played by Denise Richards, comes along. Becky is sent in as an agent of The Man, to serve as "black man's kryptonite," playing off the stereotype that African American men are unable to resist hot white chicks. The extra fun part comes when Becky is revealed to be a super agent of evil known as White She Devil. She then has a fantastic and hilarious fight scene with Undercover Brother's main love interest, Sistah Girl.

Now, imagine my surprise when I saw the trailers for this weekend's box office champ "Obsessed" starring Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire)/Beyonce Knowles/That Blonde Chick From Heroes (no not the cheerleader, the other one) . Because it sure seems like Ali Larter is pretty much set up as the White She Devil character, using her sexuality to try and destroy the African American hero played by Elba.

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G.I. Joe cartoon done by Warren Ellis
Thursday, April 23, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Warren Ellis writes new G.I. Joe animated feature for Cartoon Network

This is the greatest thing I have seen in a long time. Imagine G.I. Joe, updated to the current year, and geared toward an adult audience. The animation is gorgeous - it looks like the Afro Samurai cartoon. The plot is actually really exciting, and the violence level is at a healthy PG-13 rating. Highly recommended.
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Pirates!
Monday, April 20, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Recently, my podcast "Across the Nerd-a-verse" was approached by a small music label about one of their musical acts. Since we're always looking to expand our audience, we checked it out, and the music did indeed seem like the kind of thing our audience would enjoy. The label agreed to hook us up with the head of the group so that we could do a phone interview with him for the show, and they also passed along some mp3s that we could feature.

The group we interviewed was an act called Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew. They're a nerdcore group of rappers. A quick primer on the Nerdcore genre of music:
A largely white subgenre of hip-hop that celebrates the solitary pleasures of science fiction, computers and bad teenage movies, nerdcore is emerging from the shadows of the Internet, where it spent the last half-decade as an in-joke. This do-it-yourself brand of rap, part self-expression and part self-satire, has inspired two documentary films, and its own festival, Nerdapalooza, in California.
Captain Dan's group is interesting in that they focus almost exclusively on rap songs about pirate stuff.

Anyhoo, I wanted to alert you folks to the newest episode of the podcast, featuring an in-depth interview with Dan. A few things to know in advance:
  • Captain Dan does the ENTIRE interview in character
  • We learn how a young boy grows up one day to be the head of a pirate rap group
  • Yes, we do discuss Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Captain Dan also joins us for our recurring segment: Essential Nerd Films. It should not surprise you that this episode's theme is pirate films.
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So Long and Thanks For The Memories, John
Thursday, April 16, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
So, John Madden has officially announced his retirement from broadcasting.

I'm pretty bummed out about this - Madden was one of my favorite announcers and I'm going to miss his presence on Sunday Night Football.

I know a lot of people made fun of him for various things, such as his patented Madden-isms where he stated some pretty obvious stuff ("The team that has the most points at the end of the game is the one that's going to win.") He was also mocked in certain circles for his love of the digipen, going crazy with the virtual X's and O's on the video playback.

However, what a lot of fans fail to realize is that football needs a guy like Madden around. What Madden did was make the game accessible to the casual fans out there. While I myself found his commentary a little simplistic from time to time, I also realize that there are a lot of casual fans out there that don't understand formations, basic referees decisions and so forth. For the girlfriends, wives, and yes, boyfriends forced to sit with their sports-loving significant other, Madden provided a great entrance into the often confusing world of professional football. 

I'll miss crazy ass John, with his traditional Turducken Thanksgiving meal, and his big old bus (Madden had a fear of flying and insisted on driving to all his games in his tricked out bus). I'll miss the insight he brought to every game (for every basic football tip he shared, he was sure to give out at least 2-3 quality insights about some advanced aspect of a play). 
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Dollhouse Episode 9 Review
Monday, April 13, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
I'm going to say up front that this was hands down the best episode of the season yet. Wow... just a great ride from beginning to end. Now, on to the review...

What was fun about this episode is that it had several great "Holy crap!" moments. And the nice thing was, those moments were crucial in shaping the character and destiny of several major characters in this show, and gave us a real sense of forward momentum. Let's recap those first.

Top "Holy crap!" moments of the episode:
  1. "Miss Lonelyheart" from a previous episode (believed up till now to be some old lady cougar looking to score with Victor) was really Adele! And no one knows that she's dipping her proverbial pen in the company ink, as she has been using a pseudonym (Katherine) for her 10 (!) liaisons with Victor/Roger
  2. Dominic was secretly an NSA mole!
  3. Mellie/November revealed her true nature to Paul!
The structure of this episode was really interesting. It played out in 4 segments, each one following a different Doll's imprint. While there was some overlap (filling in blanks glimpsed in previous segments), each Doll had their own unique roll to play in the overall story.

Let's start with November and Victor first, since both of their plots played on themes of trust, love, need and so on. Both Mellie and Roger (the personas) have similarities - both are fairly well-informed on the actual nature of the Dollhouse, in that both of them have been confided to by their lovers, Paul and Adele. Despite this knowledge, it hasn't occurred to either of them to question whether they're a Doll or not. And, most tragically, both are sincerely in love with a person who knows their true nature and cannot fully love them back in that same, selfless way.

Paul has apparently devolved into a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy nut in Mellie's absence, so his way of welcoming her home involves shoving a gun in her face and babbling about the Dollhouse, while ignorning the rising look of panic on her face. Mellie speaks for all of us when she suggests that a naked Paul busy using his lips for kissing is better than a clothed and dirty Paul using his lips to blather on about his stupid investigation that is going nowhere because he is the Worst Agent EVER. However, the same mole that programmed Echo with hidden parameters in episode 6 has done the same thing to Mellie, and the kiss fest is rudely interrupt with Paul's world being shattered by the knowledge that he's been sleeping with a Doll. Mole-programmed Mellie tells Paul that it's important that Dollhouse-programmed Mellie not realize that knows about her true identity. To keep up the facade, Paul is forced to do the only thing he's good at, and that is sexing up Dollhouse-programmed Mellie, who is still blissfully unaware of her own nature.

Adele has been a cypher up until now, but this episode did a great job giving the character a lot more range and depth. We now understand that it's lonely for the lady at the top, and she struggles under the burden of secrecy that the Dollhouse demands. We see that she's invented a British lover - Roger - for herself, one who she can speak freely to about the Dollhouse, one who loves her unconditionally, no matter what sins she commits in the Dollhouse's service. We see that Adele is just as trapped by her life as everyone else caught up in the Dollhouse - you see her struggle with Roger's request to run away with him, to give it all up and just spend the rest of their lives sipping mai tais on a beach somewhere. But in the end, Adele knows that she can never be free, and so returns to her post at the Dollhouse, giving up Roger (and by proxy, the dream of love and freedom he represents).

Sierra's plot was fun, but didn't reveal much about her real personality. It was a fun Mission: Impossible style segment, but ultimately was a smoke screen for the final segment. So let's just note that Dichen Lachman kicks lots of ass, and move on.

Last, but not least, we get a lot more detail about Echo's continuing awakening, and we also get a feeling for why various individuals may want to let that evolution continue along. First, I must say that it was absolutely stunning to see Echo climb willingly into the chair, asking to be imprinted. In a nice bookend, we see Echo at the end of the episode, back in the chair but still bending the Dollhouse to her own desires, as she willfully ignores the call-and-response dialogue from her new handler and instead makes it clear that her words of trust are directed at Boyd, and Boyd alone. In any case, it's clear that even in Doll form, Echo is manifesting a level of autonomy that far exceeds what any other Doll (save maybe Alpha) has shown.

Echo's plot is important not only because she ferrets out Dominic as the NSA mole, but also because her investigation does a lot in 3 minutes to establish the feelings and motivations of most of the Dollhouse employees. Up till now, many characters, including Topher, have been difficult to read, because we were never sure how much their words and actions were driven by the situation at hand, versus their true feelings. For example, last episode, when Topher was talking about how the Dollhouse does good in the world sometimes, did he really believe that, or was he just trying to keep Echo from putting a bullet in his brain. In this episode, however, the characters were allowed to speak freely and really reflect on central questions, such as "Why did you choose to work for the Dollhouse?" The best, and I believe most important, line was delivered by Boyd, who cynically remarked, "We're pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic kind of way." This harkens back to Adele's plot, where she laments to Roger that in her previous life (growing organs for people from stem cells), she could talk about her work with pride, and the knowledge that it was truly helpful to people. Now she's the queen of the kingdom of pimps and killers, and she may feel as conflicted as Boyd does about that.

However, at the end, no matter how much we may have learned about Adele's softer side, we also got a great look at her harder side as well. Even after taking a bullet, she barely flinched, and she put off getting medical attention so that she could be sure that she was looking Dominic in the eye as she took away all his memories. And at the end, she rejected both a literal anesthetic (offered by Dr. Claire before stiching her up), and her metaphorical anesthetic Roger, because Adele has chosen to endure the pain of her reality full bore from this point on. I think it's a comment on the fact that anesthetics have a way of putting you to sleep - in this case, her emotional need to suppress her pain with Roger led her to be sloppy when it came to Dominic and sensing the danger that he represented.

Things we learned this episode:
  • Dr. Claire (my favorite "need to see more now!" character) hasn't left the Dollhouse once since the Alpha incident. That was just heart breaking for me, and it showed just how deeply traumatized the good doctor really is.
  • The NSA is well aware of the Dollhouse's existence, but seeks only to help contain it. They have little interest, apparently, in shutting the Dollhouse down. This suggests to me that there's another mole inside the Dollhouse, someone who's a lot cleverer and careful than Dominic was. My money's still on Dr. Claire right now, but we'll see.
  • I felt a real sense of happiness in the way Boyd announced that he wanted to remain Echo's handler because he "needed to take care of her." While Boyd may be conflicted over his role overall, you definitely feel the fatherly love he holds for Echo. He may be a pimp and a killer, but I so *heart* Boyd.
  • Adele is a pretty darn good fencer. She is an ugly crier, though. Still, overall, Olivia Williams is a foxy looking lady for her age.
  • Eliza Dushku can ROCK a dominatrix outfit. Damn, girl.
  • The dominatrix outfit did lead to an interesting exchange between Boyd and Dr. Claire, where we learned that Dolls are only sent out as doms, never as submissives. From what I know of that world, that actually makes a lot of sense. A good dominatrix is always in high demand, so I can see why a client would hire a Doll to serve that purpose. And I can't really see a true dominatrix enjoying a Doll as a submissive, since there would be a layer of artifice to the encounter that would probably be a turn off (after all, can someone truly submit if they're a Doll with pre-programmed responsess?). Lastly, it sets the Dolls up to take physical damage, potentially, if they're sent out as subs, so I can see why the Dollhouse would have a policy against that anyway.
  • Paul may be upset that the Dollhouse used Mellie against him, but that's not going to stop him from using her right back, in a way.
  • Mellie is a special kind of Doll, according the the Dollhouse mole.
Things I still want to know:
  • What about Mellie is special? Is there something about her brain that makes her able to hold a sleeper personality as well? Or is it just "special" in that most Dolls are not programmed with the extra sleeper personality?
  • Why did Mellie activate right before they were going to jump in the shower? It's asking a lot of Paul to switch back and act like everything is okay, after having such a huge bombshell dropped on him. He must have a johnson rod of steel, if he could still manage to get turned on enough to keep Mellie from suspecting the jig was up. It would have made more sense if Mellie had activated while they were sleeping - giving Paul time to think on what he learned before she woke up and expected him to be the loving boyfriend again.
  • Who's the deep mole in the organization? Who are they working for?
  • What would Dr. Claire have said to the question "Do you have any friends outside the Dollhouse?" if she hadn't been interrupted?
  • Is Adele's romance with Victor part of the reason she wanted the Victor/Sierra thing stopped? Did it bother her that in his real state, he'd choose Sierra over her?
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Today's Moment of Unintentional Hilarity
Friday, April 10, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Today's moment of humor is brought to you by Karl Rove:

Karl Rove called Joe Biden a “blowhard” and a “liar” in response to some of the vice president’s comments about the Bush administration.

"He’s a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind I would say he’s a liar, but it’s a habit he ought to drop,” Rove said on FOX News. "You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the vice president of the United States.”

Oh Karl... just when I needed a good laugh to get me through my never-ending work day, you come along with just the right thing.
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New Shows Premiere! Be The First On Your Block to Join the Fan Club
Thursday, April 09, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
An unusually large number of new shoes are premiering this week, so I thought I'd put up a quick note to let you all know, so you can get on the fanboy boat early for them.

Comedy

The most high-profile entry is the new Office spin off that isn't a spin off, called Parks and Recreation. P&R stars the always excellent Amy Poehler, along with Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones (the yummy Karen from The Office, though she's playing a new character here). Early reviews are mixed, but with a cast this great and a producing staff like this, I'm in for the long haul. Remember that The Office took almost 15 episodes to really find its groove. After all, Baby Mama was a terrible script with a weak central story, but Amy Poehler's performance went a long way towards making it a film I wanted to watch more than once (and I have, and she's still awesome the second time around).

The first 4 episodes of Better Off Ted have already aired, but if you missed it, you can still catch up on ABC's website. Seriously, this charming little show is laugh out loud funny most of the time, and it's still in its infancy. Portia di Rossi totally steals the show as Ted's ice queen boss Veronica (the scene of her assessing a line of children at the company daycare facility for a child cute enough to be her protege is particularly hilarious), but the rest of the cast also performs admirably. This week's episode dealt with the subject of race, and knocked it out of the park (Central plot: the new motion detectors installed by evil corporation Veridian Dynamics refuse to register the presence of black staff members, whose skin can't reflect enough light to make the sensors work. The company's solution? Hire white minimum wage workers to follow all the black employees around to open the doors and make the drinking fountains work. Hilarity did indeed ensue.).

Drama

New show Harper's Island sounds like it should be awesome. It's a cross between Survivor and Agatha Christie's 10 Little Indians. Basically, a group of friends and family have arrived on the private Harper's Island for a wedding, but a serial killer is on the loose. Over the course of the show, the killer works his way through the island's occupants, with the show promising that a cast member will die every week. It stars Christopher Gorman, who I've loved in all his other roles (Ugly Betty, Popular, Jake 2.0). It's the kind of show that's fun if you're watching with friends and essentially playing along at home trying to figure out who the killer is before the big reveal. Reviews are mixed for this, but if you follow zap2it.com's 10 handy tips for enjoying the show, it might just be the kind of sweet televised confectionary treat to start your spring off right. Also, even if you hate some of the characters, you can enjoy the thrill of seeing them brutally murdered at some point!

A new cop drama premiered last night called The Unusuals. Normally, I'm not thrilled to see the TV schedule cluttered with yet ANOTHER cop show, but in this case, I may make an exception, due to the excellent cast assembled here: Amber Tamblyn (loved her in Joan of Arcadia, curious to see how she does playing an adult for once), Harold Perrneau, Adam Goldberg and Jeremy Renner look like they might be a lot of fun to spend Wednesday night with (consider the show a nice chaser to go along with your dose of Lost for the week). Jace over at Televisionary has good things to say about this show:
But don't let the series' innate quirkiness get to you. The Unusuals is clearly positioning itself as NYPD Blue crossed with Barney Miller. Yes, there are homicides and other crimes typically found in every single cop series, but there's a levity and humor here that's not often found in most straightforward police procedurals. And there are also some other interesting approaches at work here that might make you a believer in the unusual as well.
.....
Ultimately, The Unusuals is an offbeat and compelling police series that offers a tantalizing blend of bizarre cases, eccentric characters, and an overarching mystery that seems to involve the secrets of every single character in the precinct.
Sounds good - I've got the first episode DVR'd and will post my thoughts in a bit.

Last, but not least, one more cop show that might strike your fancy - the new John Wells show Southland, premiering tonight. Former O.C. hunk Ben McKenzie stars, and is joined by , Tom Everett Scott, Kevin Alejandro, Shawn Hatosy and Michael McGrady, along with the always welcome Regina King. Televisionary isn't as glowing in his reviews of this show, but if you feel like you need another gritty cop drama to go along with the eight flavors of CSI and Law and Order already on the air, it might not be a bad way to pass your time. Maybe it's another slow starter that might just grow on you as the season progresses.
The Dollhouse Cometh
Thursday, April 09, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
For those of you who question whether something like The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Dollhouse could ever truly happen, here you go:

Neuroscientist successfully use chemicals to erase select memories

For those of you who gave up on Dollhouse earlier in the season, I suggest you check out episodes 6-8. They may sway you into returning to the show. Great stuff has been happening there, and I now feel invested enough that I'm actually looking forward to the rest of the season.

Also, listen up you beautiful bitches, because I'm about to fuck you up with some truth: Kenny motherfuckin' Powers will be back for a second season of Eastbound and Down! If you missed this excellent 6 episode show on HBO, go run out and find it OnDemand. It's very dark, but it totally grew on me by the end.
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Dollhouse Episode 8 Review
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Boy howdy - this was one sad episode, y'all.

The episode opens with Paul Ballard's wet dream about making out with Echo. Seriously. I mean, yes, it descends into a nightmare scenario where Mellie confronts him about his attraction to Echo, and then it looks like Echo is dead (apparently one of Paul's greatest fears), and then Mellie also starts bleeding from her head as she accuses her him letting "Them" hurt her. Three things to note in this scene: First, Paul has his shirt off again, so yey for that. Second, Paul really does have a romantic interest in Echo, as well as the desire to be "needed" by her, in terms of love and rescue. That... sort of squicks me out, if I'm being honest, but more on that later. Third - this dream does have some purpose, as DreamMellie's words tip off our loveably dense agent to the fact that his apartment is probably bugged. Paul spends the rest of the episode looking for the bug, looking everywhere first save for the most obvious place. Anyhoo, he finds the camera, and goes looking for answers.

In the main plot, the one we really care about, Adele calls a staff meeting to discuss the increasing problem of glitches experienced by Echo, Victor, Sierra and November. Topher suggests changing the gaseous cocktail of hallucinogens and mood suppressors they pump into the Doll sleep chambers. Dr. Claire takes umbrage to that suggestion, and then Dominic decides to make the conversation that much creepier by recommending that the handlers treat their Dolls not like children, but like pets.

Later on, our intrepid foursome, along with one Doll named Mike (a.k.a. RedShirtGuy) wake up fully aware in their pods. After some mild claustrophobic freaking out, they get up, and try to figure out their situation. After they encounter the other Dolls and realize that there's something seriously wrong with the blissed out way the others are acting, they quickly hatch a plan to escape.

Meanwhile, we are aware the Adele is monitoring the whole situation, and that we're meant to look at this as some sort of live exercise to test the facility's security. She and Dominic watch as the Dolls attempt to escape. RedShirtGuy doesn't make it, but the other four get into the garage and steal a car. Did I mention that Victor's real personality seems to be 30% adorable teddy bear, 30% take charge leader, and 40% sheer awesomeness? Because he rocks this episode.

Anyway, at the last minute, Echo stays behind, because she and Paul share more than just their blinding hotness as individuals. They also both suffer from total White Knight syndrome (a.k.a. savior complex). So Echo breaks back into the Dollhouse, with the intent of freeing all the other Dolls from their zombie-like existence. She totally fucks up one of the female handlers (and boy, isn't that lady going to be pissed when she wakes up and finds out that the higher ups let the Dolls escape on purpose).

Meanwhile, Mellie remembers that she's a mother in her real existence, and wanders off to find her daughter. Sierra and Victor decide to go confront the man who made Sierra a victim in the first place. This confrontation is hands down the creepiest, grossest past of the episode, as we realize that Sierra was never given a choice to become a Doll - the client bribed and manipulated enough people to get them to take Sierra in the Dollhouse against her will. And then the client hired her back as a willing sex slave. Victor and Sierra pop the scumbag a couple of times in the face, but then are forced to leave before the job is finished when security shows up.

Then we get to the final act, where the show rips our hearts out, tosses them on the ground, and digs their heel in. It turns out that this whole exercise wasn't about testing security, but rather, giving the Dolls what they needed psychologically. Echo confronts both Topher and Adele (almost wiping Topher's brain out in the process) and sets about freeing all the Dolls, Sierra learns that Victor cares for her and he'll always try to protect her, Victor gets to kiss the girl of his dream (in a very Squeee! worthy moment), and Mellie visits the grave of her dead (!) daughter.

The zap2it.com recap (linked below) brilliantly points out that this episode revolves around desire. Echo desired fulfilling her role as savior of the day. Sierra desired revenge over the man who took her power away. Mellie desired the chance to grieve for her dead child. Victor just wanted to get the girl. And the minute these desires are fulfilled, the Dolls literally shut down, and are carried like limp rag dolls back into the place they thought they had escaped. Echo's face, lit up by the sunlight as she blissfully lead the Dolls to apparent freedom, was just heart breaking, particularly the way she collapsed right after she crossed that invisible line to the outside.

In the final scene we learn that the whole plan was actually the brain child of Dr. Claire. There's a fascinating scene between her and Boyd (I won't recap it - just go watch it and see, because I can't do it justice), where they both debate the nature of their involvement with the Dolls and the moral dilemma between "caring" for them within the Dollhouse, versus caring for them in a larger human sense.

Things we learned this episode:
  • Mellie had a daughter who died. That made me really sad. However, it also illustrated a fascinating point that Adele made (which I hadn't considered before now): the Dollhouse doesn't necessarily have to coerce people into signing up. There are plenty of people who were "broken", as Boyd says, way before the Dollhouse ever got their hooks into them. That changes the whole dilemma when examined from that perspective. Are the Dolls really victims of the Dollhouse? While it's clear Sierra is, previous episodes suggest that Victor might also have a good reason to want to forget his past. Mellie clearly qualifies. If a person chooses to forget, chooses to let their body be used for possibly nefarious purposes, is the Dollhouse the lone villain anymore?
  • All of this assumes that the Dollhouse is straight up with these people about how they'll be used while in Doll state. And since one of the things I learned tonight is that Adele has the honey-tongued skills of the serpent, even under pressure, I seriously doubt that's the case.
    From what little we saw of her interactions with Echo and Sam (from Episode 7), many Dolls seemed to have been talked into signing their lives away under less than ideal circumstances.
  • I said in a previous post that I didn't see a reason why Paul Ballard is even on this show, and this episode frankly just reinforced that idea. What's starting to freak me out a little is that I'm starting to wonder why I should care about Echo either. All the themes they're trying to address with Echo are illustrated far better by the other Dolls, particularly after what we learned about their backstory this week. Victor's romance with Sierra is sweeter and more organic than the weird Echo/Paul thing they're trying to push. Victor seems more like the lead, in terms of stepping up and leading the group to safety. Sierra is a more compelling victim than Echo, partially because she didn't apparently do anything wrong (whereas Echo was a dumbass and got her boyfriend shot). Mellie's issues are deeper and more tragic, since Dead Baby trumps Dead Boyfriend anyday.
  • Since Paul isn't going away, I guess it's a good thing that he located the camera in his apartment, and then got a phone call from Echo tipping him off that the Dollhouse is located in an underground facility somewhere.
  • Sierra has a long term nemesis (who will hopefully die horribly before the show ends).
  • Reason why they need to hire me to be the continuity expert on shows like this: remember that big fuss in Episode 4 where Topher figured out Alpha was alive and he needed to have his clearance bumped up? Well, forget all that, because now apparently everyone knows that Alpha isn't dead, since Boyd mentioned Alpha in the staff meeting in front of everyone and Dominic said "Whereabouts unknown." Hello? Doesn't that just confirm that the guy who's supposed to be dead, is in fact, alive?
Things I still want to know:
  • How old was Mellie's daughter when she died? What were the circumstances of that death?
  • What happened to Victor when he was a soldier?
  • How much does the Dollhouse tell the candidates about what they'll be used for?
  • Does the Dollhouse only have one chair? It looked like Echo really wreaked their setup, so it was surprising to see them all pacified so quickly.

Other people who write great stuff about Dollhouse:
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Dollhouse Episode 5-7 Review
Thursday, April 02, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
To the 2-3 people out there who actually enjoyed reading my little reviews of Dollhouse, my apologies for not posting in a few weeks. I got a little distracted (I blame BufBloPoFo 09), and let it fall by the wayside.

Nonetheless, starting with Episode 8 up to the finale, I'll be doing my regular Monday posts on the latest episode. In the meantime, here's some quick thoughts on the three most recent episodes:

Episode 5 - True Believer

Synopsis:
Echo gets programmed to believe that 1) she's blind and 2) God has called her to a particular cult compound in middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, the ATF (with an assist from Boyd) works to figure out if the cult poses a threat or are keeping members against their will. Long story short: the cult leader tries to burn everyone alive, and Echo ends up saving the day. Dominic secretly flies down to the location and attempts to murder Echo, but fails, because he is the worst at everything. In the B plot, Victor has a hard on (literally) for Sierra.

Things I liked:
  • Eliza Dushku looked gorgeous in her true believer get up. She's a pretty girl, and it was a relief to have a week where she wasn't gussied up in ridiculous high heels and short skirts.
  • Eliza also really sold me with her acting this week. The luminous look her features got when she was in full believer mode was wonderful.
  • Dr. Claire was funny in her reaction to Topher's juvenile panic about Victor's erections. It was very "high school health teacher deals with junior high student" in nature. Also, the term "Sneeze-ure" made me laugh out loud, I must admit.
Things I didn't like:
  • Echo's persona was so convincingly blissed out that I just didn't buy her rapid conversion to ass kicker at the end of the episode. While I believe the character may have realized that it was stupid for everyone to die in the fire, the way they wrote her in Acts 1 and 2 make me believe she'd never utter the line "He has a message and that message is 'Move your ass!'". I was expecting something more religious, a la "I realize I was sent here to warn you about this false prophet" or whatever.
  • I realize that Dominic may have been trying to cover his tracks, but if he really wanted to kill Echo, he should have just shot her in the head and blamed the cult leader. In all the confusion, I'm not sure who would have suspected anything else.
Episode 6 - Man on the Street

Synopsis:
This episode is also known as "The One Where It Finally Gets Good". Thankfully they weren't kidding. This episode was very Paul Ballard-centric, as we see Paul harass an internet mogul (played by Patton Oswald), take his shirt off (yey!), sleep with Mellie, meet Echo in the flesh, and then lose everything at the end. Also, Victor still loves Sierra, but Sierra has her own problems, since her handler has been secretly raping her on the side. Yeah... dark stuff there. Oh, and we meet the latest Doll, November - and it's Mellie!

Things I liked:
  • I thought the show did a brilliant job faking me out on Mellie. At first, I was leaning towards suspecting she was either a doll or a soon-to-be victim. Then Paul slept with her and I was pretty sure she was a doll. Then they totally and completely fooled me by apparently sending the rogue handler off to murder Mellie. So I was blown away when the answering machine picked up and we heard Adelle's voice giving the activation command. Up until this episode, Mellie came across soft and weak, but holy shit was it scary when her head snapped around and her crazy blue eyes stared intensely forward.
  • I liked that the show acknowledged how ridiculous Paul sounded threatening Joel the internet mogul, especially since he was the one committing assault, as well as trespassing.
  • Victor broke my heart with his puppy dog crush on Sierra, and the way he said, "She makes me feel better." Speaking of heart-breaking, Dichen Lachmen totally brought it this episode and really made me feel Sierra's distress.
  • I really enjoyed the fight scene between Paul and Echo, especially once they moved into the alley.
  • This episode was chock full of meaty answers for those of us who have been patiently waiting for the show's central mythos to be more filled out. There were also several, "Whoa! OMG!" moments, particularly in the last 15 minutes.
Things I didn't like:
  • I thought it was an unnecessary detail to have Joel sleeping with the doll. I think the show would have injected a lot more pathos and moral dilemma into the discussion had it been a more chaste, "I just wanted to see the look on her face" situation. But no, in the end Joel had to be just another pig. There's rich dramatic potential in the idea of dolls as theraputic, without the icky sex stuff, but the show didn't go there, which was disappointing and took a lot of the impact away from the ending when you see Joel get his wish fulfilled.
  • Why doesn't the Dollhouse have cameras in what seemed to be a fairly large room behind that frosted glass? I mean, it was big enough that Boyd was able to hide in there without the rogue handler detecting his presence.
Episode 7 - Echoes

Synopsis: We're introduced to one of the power players behind The Dollhouse, in the form of the "Rossum Corporation." Rossum joins Veridian Dynamics, Massive Dynamics and the Sheinhart Wig Company as the new villain du jour of the millennium - the big, evil corporation that doesn't value the lives of the little guys. Anyway, a psychotropic drug gets released on campus, and the Dolls are sent in, since it's believed that their specially altered brains will be immune to the drug's effect. The outbreak happens to occur at the school Caroline (nee Echo) attended, so we're also treated to a series of flashbacks that show us how Echo landed herself in a situation that made her a candidate for the Dollhouse. It turns out the drug is either airborne, or transmitted by touch, and soon enough every single regular is tripping balls, and it's fucking hilarious. In the B plot, Mellie breaks up with Paul because he won't abandon his quest for the Dollhouse, and then she returns to the Dollhouse, where she comes within one uttered key word of flying into a murderous rage on Adelle and Topher. Topher takes his pants off and it is not nearly as great as Paul taking his shirt off last episodde.

Things I liked:
  • There were lots of fun comedic moments in this episode. Reed Diamond (Dominic) was particularly great. I enjoyed watching him grouse when he released that the Dolls "outranked" him in their current personas, and it was hilarious when he was pouting about how heavy his gun felt as the drug made him trip out.
  • For a minute I thought Topher and Adelle were going to replicate the Joyce Summers/Rupert Giles hook up from the infamous "Band Candy" episode of Buffy. Olivia Williams was great jumping up and down on the trampoline like a kid.
  • Boyd plays the piano! I *heart* Boyd at this point, people.
  • The scene at the end where Adelle was recruiting Sam (the "bad guy") was really chilling and effective. It was a nice parallel to the Caroline recruitment seen in the pilot.
  • Victor's flashback was intriguing - did something happen to him in the war that would make him voluntarily want to forget some past trauma?
Things I didn't like:
  • Caroline was a flaky animal rights activist? Really? I mean, I support animal rights, but I'm not sure I'm keen on my heroine being some ridiculous co-ed championing some idealistic cause. They didn't do a good job building up her case against Rossum either. It seemed very abstract, and it made Caroline come across like some PETA nut.
  • Continuing that train of thought, I hated how they walked into the lab, saw some animals sitting in cages, and looked at one computer screen, and then promptly started blathering about how "big" this was going to be when it got out. Um.... what exactly do you think you know based on that VERY limited look at the research? It just doesn't sell me on the idea of Rossum being this evil Big Bad. It felt more like, "They're up to stuff. I can't say exactly what that is, but it's... it's stuff, dammit, and it's bad, and they're just meanies! Look, they have pictures of fetuses, and they have puppies in cages! Boooo....."
  • I get that Echo was working as a sex object when she was triggered to go to the college, but it still felt extremely gratuitously having her run around in those stiletto heels, lacy white stockings, and tiny mini skirt that totally revealed her ass cheeks.
Things we learned these past 3 episodes:
  • Dolls can be programmed with an active personality and a sleeper personality. They can be triggered by key words said in their presence.
  • Dolls are not as sexually chaste as we first thought.
  • There are 20 different Dollhouses around the world! According to articles I've read, we won't see these other houses this season, though they'll be mentioned again, but if there's a second season, we might get to do some international travel to see how things are run at the other Dollhouses.
  • There's a mole deep inside the Dollhouse, and he/she is using Echo to communicate to Paul. The mole is smart enough to know how to re-program the Dolls (and fairly quickly too, given how little time Topher was actually away from his desk). My early money's on Claire, but we'll see.
  • Best, creepiest and most intriguing line this season so far: "[referring to the Dollhouses]Fantasy is their business, but it is not their purpose."
Things I still want to know:
  • Then what exactly is their purpose?!?!
  • How long can Doll go undercover? It seems like Mellie has been around Paul for a long time now.
  • Who is the mole? I'd guess Claire, but that seems too obvious. It would be brilliant if it were secretly Adelle herself (or even better, if Adelle were a sleeper Doll just like Mellie!)
  • What purpose, dramatically, does Paul Ballard serve? Because the previews for episode 8 make it look like the Dolls are about to free themselves. And I'm happy with that - the notion that they needed Paul to rescue them has always seemed silly. Aside from his White Knight complex, there's not a lot of reason for Paul to be so emotionally invested. I've always thought that it would make a lot more sense, story-wise, for someone like Boyd to be the savior.
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Who Will Win the Jay Cutler Sweepstakes?
Wednesday, April 01, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Well, it's official - Jay Cutler is now on the trading block. I've blogged about this before, and I stand by my position that it's Denver who's going to be the worse for wear after this whole saga is over. Regardless of who ends up labeled the villain here, the fact is that Jay Cutler is the kind of QB you can plug into your offense and be stable for the next 10 years. Some team is about to get very very lucky.

Here's a list of suitors for Cutler's hand in holy football matrimony, with some analysis on where he might end up:

Detroit Lions

Why They Want Him: Detroit's struggles are well documented. They've been bad for quite some time now, and part of the problem has been the lack of a franchise QB to be the face of the organization. Their current options at QB are very very limited. They have Daunte Culpepper in place right now, but he's been injury-prone over the last few years, and there's no sign that he'll ever return to the player he once was. Despite Cutler's growing reputation as a prima donna, Culpepper also has some questionable attitudes of his own, partly due to his insistence on serving as his own agent. Culpepper, even if he's successful, only gives this franchise maybe 2-3 good years at the position.

Detroit has massive problems, particularly on defense, that they MUST address in the draft. In a way, landing Cutler would be a blessing. They could be free of the financial burden of the #1 draft pick, which means committing over 30 million in guaranteed dollars to a player who's never taken a snap in the NFL. Don't be fooled by the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco last year - they had time to grow as players, landing in franchises stacked with a tremendous run game and hellacious defenses - most QB need years to truly blossom into the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of tomorrow. Cutler is entering his fourth year as a starting QB, and he brings with him a massive throwing arm and experience carrying the team on his shoulders. From all reports, he's an amicable teammate (flying his linemen to the Pro Bowl with him as a thank you gift, etc), and he'll be ready to step in and prove that Denver made a huge mistake dealing him.

If I'm an offensive coordinator, I'm salivating at the prospect of Jay Cutler throwing the long ball to Calvin Johnson (poised to be one of the best receivers in the league) in a nice warm dome.

Why They'll Get Him: Detroit is well positioned to make a run at Cutler. They're awash in draft picks (#1, 20, 33, 65, 174, 192, 255) and they can sacrifice any of those without hurting the rest of their draft. Given that Detroit is probably at least 2-3 years away from true success (I'm being optimistic here), Broncos' owner Pat Bowen gets the added satisfaction of making sure Cutler goes to the franchise most likely to fail this season. Cutler's agent Bus Cook also represents Calvin Johnson, so he has a relationship with the franchise already.

Why They Won't Get Him: Denver MUST replace Cutler with a QB somehow. Detroit has no QB worth trading, and while they could offer up a juicy draft pick, it's unclear whether Denver is sold on Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez. Detroit also must understand that they're not poised to make a playoff run anytime soon (despite the wretchedness of the NFC North last year), and they may decide that a franchise QB won't help a team that gave up 52 sacks last year. Detroit may be better off going with Culpepper and spending all their draft picks on building up the offensive line and defensive secondary, especially since 2010 may see hot college QBs Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and John David Booty available on the board.

New York Jets

Why They Want Him: The NY Jets are a team built to win NOW, particularly with the addition of key defensive players and the excellent Rex Ryan at the head coaching position. They only thing this team lacks is a true starting QB. It's pretty clear that Brett Ratliff and Kellen Clemens aren't going to cut the mustard for this team. While Ryan will undoubtedly be defensively-focused, when you play Tom Brady, there's a good chance that you may need your offense to put up big numbers, so having a gunslinger like Cutler at the helm would certainly help in that situation.

Why They'll Get Him: As we saw in the Brett Favre situation last year, the Jets are able and willing to make an aggressive play for a player if they really want him. And I have to believe that the Jets, more than any other team on this list, desperately desire Cutler. In the Jets' favor is the fact that Bus Cook was Favre's agent, so they're certainly used to dealing with him. If I'm Jay Cutler, this has to be one of the teams I'd most want to to go, as they are ready to win now, play in a big market, and are willing to throw whatever it takes at him to make him happy.

Why They Won't Get Him: The Jets are poor in draft picks (only have #17, 52, 76, 115, 193, and 228) and have no viable QB to trade to Denver in return. To land Cutler, they'd likely have to surrender at least two picks, which would leave them either with no picks in the first two rounds, or trading away 2010 picks as well. Also, given Baltimore's success last year, Rex Ryan may opt just to go with the "Steady, average QB" approach, and rely on the run game and defense to win games. Since they lost Lauverneus Coles in free agency, they only really have one true star WR in Jerricho Cotchery, so they might not get a lot of use out of Cutler's arm anyway. Also, it's been well documented that to survive in New York, star players must have incredibly thick skin to survive under the intense scrutiny of the fan base there, and Cutler's antics in Denver may have the Jets thinking he doesn't have the emotional fortitude to succeed there.

Cleveland Browns

Why They Want Him: Poor QB play last year helped run head coach Romeo Crennel out of town. They just acquired star WR Lauverneus Coles, and if Braylon Edwards can get his head in the game and start catching the ball, you'd have a deadly 1-2 WR tandem just waiting (correction, Coles went to the OTHER Ohio team) If Braylon Edwards can correct his dropped passes, he's a great target for the right gunslinger QB to air it out to them. They aren't sold on either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, and were planning a QB competition for the second straight year. However, the fans are definitely soured on Anderson, who was booed and heard fans cheer when he was seriously injured in a game, and it's unclear whether Quinn is ready to blossom at the position yet.

Why They'll Get Him: Of all the contenders, the Browns are the ones best poised to get Cutler, if they so desire. They have both a high draft pick (#5) plus not one, but TWO viable starting young QBs they can trade to Denver. The Mangenius (head coach Eric Mangini) certainly appreciates a gunslinger style QB, since he seemed happy with Brett Favre last year.

Why They Won't Get Him: Cleveland may decide they don't want the drama of Cutler, or they may decide that Brady Quinn is ready to take the next step in his evolution (going into his third year this season). The Browns also may decide to play Kingmaker, and be a pivot point in a three team trade that would see them trade either Anderson or Quinn to Denver, in exchange for a bushell of draft picks from another team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why They Want Him: We know that Tampa was one of the original teams in the attempted three way trade that started this whole drama-rama in the first place, so it's obvious they want Cutler badly. Reports from insiders indicate that the team owners are both very enthusiastic about signing Cutler, so the added weight of owner support make Tampa one of the most serious contenders. They have a solid run game, and just added one of the best TEs out there, Kellen Winslow, to the lineup. They also acquired RB Derrick Ward from the Giants, giving their offense extra pop. If they hadn't imploded in the final 4 games of last season, they would have made the playoffs. This is another team built to win now, if they can just answer the question at the QB position.

Why They'll Get Him: The team has proven they're willing to be aggressive in pursuing Cutler. This is a desireable franchise for Cutler to go to, so it makes sense that he might be willing to make some sacrifices to end up here. The owners may be willing to put together an impressive package to acquire him. Most of their needs are filled, so it may make sense to go for broke to fill the one massive trouble spot left on this team.

Why They Won't Get Him: Tampa doesn't have much to offer in return, honestly. They only have 1 low pick in the first 2 rounds, with little else to show (#17, 81, 120, 155, 191, 217, 229, 233). They also don't have a good QB to offer to Denver in a trade. Acquiring Cutler may be a pyrrhic victory, that may require hurting the franchise by trading away top picks in future year's drafts as well.

Other contenders:
  • San Francisco could be a likely destination, as they've already courted another big-armed QB in Kurt Warner this off-season. However, I doubt Mike Singletary, who is an old school, hard-nosed general who values keeping problems in-house, is a good personality fit for Cutler. Also, it's unclear whether SF would be able to unload Alex Smith to Denver. However, they do have an attractive collection of picks (#10, 43, 74, 111, 146, 171, 184, 219, 244) that may allow them to play the pivot point in a three team trade.
  • Carolina is another team loaded with offensive talent, ready to win now, that may enter the mix. While they may have forgiven Jake Delhomme's inexplicable implosion that ended what was an otherwise excellent season, many fans have not. Plus, Delhomme is at the end of his career, so getting Cutler now may be intriguing. Carolina could deal Julius Peppers, who's been very vocal about his unhappiness with the club and his desire to be traded, giving them youth at the QB position to go with the best WR in football in Steve Smith, and the deadly RB tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
  • Washington owner Dan Snyder is always willing to gamble draft picks and big money to acquire win-now players, and he may not be 100% sold on young Jason Campbell. Campbell has performed solidly enough to be a decent acquisition for Denver, but he isn't a good fit for the style of offense they want to run under Josh McDaniels.
  • Minnesota could use Cutler, but they just acquired Sage Rosenfels, plus they seem committed to trying out the Tavaris Jackson for at least one more season before pulling the plug completely.