WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Carbon copying the already overly convoluted idea from the previous Final Destination movies the latest worst installment continues on the theme of one unlucky twentysomething being able to predict who’s going to die and when; this time it’s Nick. After attending a NASCAR race with his girlfriend Lori and their friends Hunt and Janet Nick has a premonition about an elaborate horrific accident that threatens everyone present. Naturally it comes true — and even though plenty of people die in the stands Death (you know the bogeyman) has only just begun. But Nick realizes that he might be able to save the survivors of that day by remembering the order in which they're supposed to die and warning them of their imminent demise. Unfortunately though not everyone believes him and they carry on with their dangerous activities ... like going to a hair salon or — gulp! — through a carwash.
WHO’S IN IT?
Up-and-coming actor Bobby Campo plays the main pretty young thing and he makes the best of what is ultimately an untenable and God-awful role to have to accept. Still fresh faces capable of pulling off his part are a dime a dozen and Destination’s past leads like Mary Elizabeth Winstead at least left us feeling their fear. Supporting actresses Shantel VanSanten as Lori and Haley Webb as Janet are there for little more than eye candy and ear-shredding screams while former MTV 'It' dude Nick Zano as the obnoxious clichéd — and obnoxiously clichéd — Hunt can’t even provide the occasional comic relief for which he was brought on. The lone bright spot comes courtesy of an evidently desperate-for-work Mykelti Williamson (aka Bubba in Forrest Gump) who plays a widowed security guard adding a shred of cred to the otherwise disposable cast (which includes a barely there Krista Allen).
Clocking in at a mercifully brisk hour and 15 minutes the makers of TFD find one way to not essentially call us stupid: They know we want our scares quickly and they deliver — except for actually scaring us. Aside from its running time the aforementioned credible performance by Williamson is literally all the movie has going for it.
Wow where to begin? Destination another in a loooong line of wholly unnecessary sequels is riddled with problems — from the are-you-kidding-me? “special” effects (even in 3-D) to the jaw-droppingly horrendous writing. Director David R. Ellis (helmer of the infinitely better Final Destination 2) should bear much of the blame. He seems uninterested in delivering anything that people go to the movies for; this Destination is nothing more than tenuously connected scenes of video-game-like deaths that try to one-up each other. And not one of the sequences is even mildly suspenseful or scary — just disturbing in the sense that some people will actually smirk in earnest at the cartoonishness of it all.
The writing though is the real culprit. Eric Bress’ (also an FD2 alum) script is incredibly unimaginative merely recycling similar but better executed scenarios from the three previous movies and swapping out the settings. With ideas so bad Bress makes it abundantly clear that there’s no inane death massacre left to explore at this point; it's basically a metaphorical surrender. And yet the dialogue is even worse — with stock stereotypical block characters muttering it to boot.
LEAST FAVORITE SCENE?
Not to completely give it away — lest we make the movie predictable! — but one of the death scenes is just so far beyond ridiculous that it transcends even sarcastic laughter. Hint: It involves water and it’s about midway through the movie … if you dare stay that long.
Even if you’re not a cinephile and you couldn’t care less about things like character depth and plot development and you’re looking for a very quick thrill The Final Destination is well beneath you. It makes recent straight-to-DVD releases look like fully coherent masterpieces. Whether in 3-D or 2-D it’s a mustn't-see!
Although NBC was one of the big winners at the Emmys Sept 22 , the ratings for some of their returning series are beginning to show wear and tear this season.
Several of NBC's powerhouses, including The West Wing, ER, Frasier and Providence, have seen a decline in popularity. Nielsen Media Research shows the ratings for the Emmy-winning West Wing are down 23 percent compared to last season's first three episodes. The medical drama ER is down 15 percent, while Providence is off 19 percent. Even with high ratings for its season premiere (Niles and Daphne's nuptials), Frasier has dropped as well.
According to some experts, this could spell trouble for NBC. "A network always needs to be concerned about the health of their returning series, simply because they are the pillars of their schedule," Stacey Lynn Koerner, a television analyst for Initiative Media, told the Associated Press. "It's a lot easier to replace a new show that is not living up to expectations."
ABC is still trying to recover from last season's drops in their favorites such as The Drew Carey Show and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Other analysts say drawing conclusions after only three weeks of ratings may be a bit premature, especially compared to last year's post-Sept. 11 television rating boom.
"I think you have to wait a few weeks to see what's really happening," Steve Sternberg, an analyst for Magna Global USA told AP
Still, the peacock network is keeping a positive outlook. NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker told AP, "Everyone is trying to write the 'NBC cracks' story, but we're in a different universe. We're happy. There's no question that The West Wing is off to a slow start and Frasier' is down. Beyond that, we're thrilled."
Zucker pointed out how pleased the network was with the performances on Sunday nights of new show American Dreams and on Monday nights with Fear Factor. With ER, Zucker was particularly proud of its showing despite the many cast defections, including Anthony Edwards at the end of last season.
"ER is probably our biggest success story of the season," he told AP.
As reality and primetime game show programming booms, the networks are scrambling to fill their slates with the latest and greatest.
Not just because the shows pulls in the ratings. The networks need a final answer to the looming writers and actors strikes.
Each major network has made serious plans to include this relatively cheap but very popular form of programming in their schedules. This ranges from the tired and true shows, such as ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire and CBS' Survivor, to NBC's newest game show entry The Weakest Link and Fox's Boot Camp.
These shows will not be affected in the event of the strikes. The programming would easily fill spots left empty by sitcoms and dramas -- and television audiences can't seem to get enough of them.
Here's a look at what's coming up:
The Weakest Link This widely popular game show in Britain is finally getting its U.S. airing this week at 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The contestants play as a team in seven rounds of rapid-fire questions to win money. If a player is considered "weak," he or she is voted off. Only one contestant will walk away with the money.
The show's host, Anne Robinson, has been called a British Cruella De Vil because of her sharp tongue and nasty comments to the players. The marketing surrounding the show has been relentless, with half the nation already quoting, "You ARE the weakest link. Goodbye!"
Lost!: Three pairs of strangers are let loose in New York City with few essentials and little cash. They must find their way back to the starting point to win the game.
Jeff Zucker, NBC's new entertainment president, told the Hollywood Reporter that the Peacock network is ready to step up its reality and nonfiction development. Zucker and West Coast president Scott Sassa are aware of the need to deliver reality programming in keeping with the network's upscale image, he said.
"We're not going to do reality shows just because we don't have any on the air right now," Zucker said. "We're fully conscious of the network's profile."
Survivor: The juggernaut that is Survivor continues to build momentum as the second installment, surviving in the Australian Outback, repeatedly beats its competitors in the 8 p.m. Thursday timeslot. The network is nearing production on a third installment, its location still be announced.
The Tiffany Network also is developing several more reality-based shows, including an updated, more innovative version of last year's Big Brother. The show features a group of people who must stay in a house and be watched 24-hours a day.
According to sources close to the network, The Amazing Race also is in development. Eleven couples race around the world. The first to cross the finish line wins $1 million.
CBS is preparing for the strikes with reality programming, miniseries and made-for-TV movies. But based on a study conducted by New York-based advertising agency TN Media on how the strikes will effect television viewership, Stacey Lynn Koerner, the agency's vice president of broadcast research, told The Associated Press: "CBS is more of a mystery. It's hard to tell whether they're less prepared or whether [CBS president] Leslie Moonves is holding things close to the vest."
Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Even if the ratings are down overall, this popular game show with the tireless Regis Philbin remains ABC's top-rated program. Recently, it received a major boost in ratings when one contestant won more than $2 million, the biggest prize ever won on a television game show.
The Mole: ABC's reality show, which aired earlier this year, did not do half as well as Survivor, but did well enough to warrant a second installment. In the show, a group is stranded and must survive. At the same time, the group must discover who among them is a "mole," someone who sabotages plans.
ABC also is developing The Runner, an interesting concept loosely based on the sci-fi story by Stephen King. This would includes the use of Internet. The premise: a contestant who will win $1 million if he or she can travel around the country for 28 days without being caught. The catch is viewers can participate via the Web site by finding clues on the player's whereabouts. If a viewer becomes an "agent," by signing up on the Web site and help "catch" the contestant, they will win prizes.
According to the TN Media report, ABC looks the best at riding out the storm if strikes were to happen. With Millioniare on four times a week, plus the two reality programs and NFL's Monday Night Football, the network may not have to show as many reruns.
Boot Camp: Even as CBS is suing the show, calling it a Survivor rip-off, the ratings are strong. Regular folks are faced with extreme challenges, all the while berated by an irate drill sergeant. The third episode, which aired Tuesday, won its time slot. Expect a second edition of Boot Camp next year.
Temptation Island: The somewhat amoral but hugely popular reality program, which aired earlier this year, will return. The premise: couples are sent to a romantic and remote location to be "tempted" by strangers of the opposite sex.
Fox also could be sitting pretty during the strikes. It will not only have Temptation Island 2 but will be airing the baseball playoffs and World Series, as stated in the TN Media report. The network has stockpiled at least 55 episodes of new series.
Koerner doesn't anticipate a long strike doing lasting damage to the business as a whole.
"Viewers love television," she said. "They may get annoyed for the period of time that their favorite shows are off the air, but once they're back on the air, they will come back."
And viewers have the added bonus of watching a lot of regular folk doing outrageous things for roughly a $1 million to look forward to.