Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Unscripted Television Show"

And the Hulie goes to....

Kitchen Nightmares!

Kitchen Nightmares becomes the second piece of content to garner multiple Hulu Awards, coming off of a big win in the "Best Competitive Reality Show" category. In order to win this highest aggregate award, KN had to steamroll the biggest and best names in the reality show business.

Here's what we had to say when Gordon Ramsay cursed his way to the top of the competition:

The celebrity in question is bad boy chef Gordon Ramsay, a man whose constant stream of furious expletives has turned him into the unlikely face of British fine cuisine. American viewers may not be aware that Ramsay's hit "Kitchen Nightmares" is a British export that has been given a slight makeover for US viewers.

The formula is as predictable as a sunset, yet compelling in its details. A local restaurant is on the brink of financial ruin. Desperate to keep the doors open, they ask Ramsay for help. He comes in, tastes the food, and pronounces it inedible. He spends the next couple of days exposing any dirt he can, with the focus on filthy kitchens and unhelpful personalities. Typically, he identifies a scapegoat, whether that's the owner or a manager. He berates the owner on everything he can until the owner breaks and agrees that major changes are needed. Then Ramsay retools the menu, gussies up the dining room, and hosts an event that fills the restaurant to the brim with paying customers. Afterward, Ramsay pronounces the restaurant cured of its ills, and rides off into the sunset.

The success of the show is based on Ramsay's proven entertainment factor, as well as the innate interest we have in seeing behind the scenes of the local restaurants that serve us our food.

Fans will be excited to hear that Fox has announced a third season for this fall.

There's also a lot of buzz on the web regarding the actual fortunes of the restaurants featured on the program. How many failing restaurants are actually given a new lease on life by Ramsay's one-week visit? According to Wikipedia, 10 of the 21 featured restaurants have been closed down, with two others changing ownership since they were made over by Ramsay.

By one measure, this is a pretty dismal score. About half of the restaurants are gone, despite Ramsay's much-ballyhooed best effort. On the other hand, half of the businesses have actually been saved by a simple makeover. It's a glass half empty/glass half full kind of thing. I think the show would be better served by being a little more honest about the rickety ground that some restaurants have been left on at the end of the week.

Still, there's another measure of success for the show. In a Hulu-landscape chock-full of crappy reality shows fueled by crappy reality stars, one man stands head and shoulders above the rest. Congratulations to Gordon Ramsay and the other minds behind Kitchen Nightmares!

After 20,000 votes, the Audience Favorite is "Top Chef"

The other worthy nominees were "Biggest Loser", "Project Runway", and "30 Days."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Comedy TV Show"

(Please welcome guest presenter Toni Rankin, whose many accomplishments include three blogs: Fanatic Space, Watching Sitcoms, and Watching CW )

And the Hulie goes to....

Arrested Development!

It is interesting to me that although Arrested Development was up against many other really great shows, some that are more current or that were on the air much longer, the little underdog beat out all the competition for Best Comedy TV Show. I'd have to say it was because of the great ensemble cast, who worked so well together and pulled off three great seasons of television that I want to watch again and again. I'm not even sure I could pick out a favorite episode, if I had to.

Trying to find one clip for this show was really hard. Not because there were no good clips, but because there were far too many. In the end I went for one that definitely shows off the zany and somewhat uncomfortable humor of the show, as well as the acting chops of Jason Bateman and co-star David Cross.

Hopefully, talks of a movie in the works will come to fruition soon.

Nearly 20,000 audience votes were registered, and even though the fan favorite was Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which got my vote, too), the judging panel's votes outweighed the audience, pushing Arrested Development to victory.

The other nominees in this category, that moved their way up through the voting process to be the best of the best were "30 Rock," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The Office," "Saturday Night Live," and "The Simpsons"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Horror Movie"

(Please welcome guest presenter Sam Christopher, who, along with his cronies, runs the awesome SciFi site Axiom's Edge)

And the Hulie goes to....

28 Days Later!

Seems the fans and panelists were on the same wavelength here, as both chose this seminal work as the Best Horror Film on Hulu, over such worthies as John Carpenter's The Thing.

And it is a seminal work; what Romero and Russo did in inventing the modern zombie picture in the original Night of the Living Dead (see Best Classic Movie) writer Alex Garland and Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle did with this film, which reinvented that sub-genre for the postmodern era. Gone were the slow-moving reanimated dead whose sole purpose was to feed on the living, replaced by relentless sprinters with a biological imperative to do nothing more than spread the disease which made them the blood-thirsty automatons they've become.

The story is simple: Animal rights activists in England break into a laboratory and free a monkey infected with a new disease called Rage, which sweeps the nation and wipes out virtually the entire population in weeks. Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes from a bicycle accident after 28 days to find a nearly empty London. He then hooks up with other survivors Selena, Frank and Hannah (Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and Megan Burns, respectively). They then end up in a military facility run by Major West (Christopher Eccleston), where Jim makes a wonderful, and somewhat devastating discovery.

The isolation-- the desolation-- that Jim must feel upon waking to find that everything he's ever known is gone is captured very well by this film. We as an audience are drawn into his personal hell as every step, every corner he turns leads him further into this Twilight Zone-esque scenario. We feel his fear as he wonders, "Where is everyone?" And then we feel his abject horror as he wonders, "Where are my parents?", especially as more and more of the reality of the situation is revealed. Then, whereas Jim is our Everyman, we are given a tour of how others would deal with this situation: Selena is the survivor who will do anything to protect herself, Frank and Hannah are the people who hide away hoping the situation will work itself out, and Major West is the military man who holds his team of young men together by any means necessary. While none of these people are completely us, we see pieces of ourselves in each of them.

This is a marvelous film that, in the tradition of the best in sf (speculative fiction), uses an extreme situation to tell us something about ourselves and about the world around us.

After 20,000 audience votes, the Audience Choice was also "28 Days Later," with a hefty 51% of the vote.

The other nominees were "John Carpenter's The Thing," "Naked Lunch," "When a Stranger Calls," and "Christine."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best TV Drama"

(Please welcome guest presenter Scooter McGavin, who runs the excellent site Scooter McGavin's 9th Green)

And the Hulie goes to....

Friday Night Lights!

Friday Night Lights is an unassuming show. On the surface it would be easy to dismiss it as One Tree Hill with football or a serialized version of Varsity Blues, but for anyone who has actually seen an episode, you know there is much more from much better acting and writing. There is a grandeur about Friday Night Lights that you just don’t see in high school dramas. There are no bored rich kids in Dillon, just football, it can be your ticket out of town or keep you around where all you have are your memories of a state championship long ago. Like real life, the characters are much more than their label, there is laughter and tear, and you want to root from each of them. With the conclusion of the third season it may be time to stop debating if it is the best show currently on television and start to debate if it is the best show this decade.

After tabulating nearly 20,000 audience votes, the audience favorite was House, with a shopping 34% of the votes!

The other nominees in this category were "Bones," "Burn Notice," and "ER."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Cartoon Series (non-anime)"

(Please welcome guest presenter Tamara Brooks, a regular contributor to the excellent site Zap2It)

And the Hulie goes to....

The Simpsons!

Way back in 1987, an animated family skit appeared on "The Tracey Ullman Show" on FOX. These squiggly, somewhat unconventional characters earned their own show in the 1989-1990 season and twenty years later, "The Simpsons" is still going strong. Not only is it the longest running US sitcom in current history, it's also the longest running animated series and just surpassed "Gunsmoke" as the longest running primetime entertainment show.

The genius of the show is the way its heartfelt moments are surrounded by sightgags, pop culture references, sarcasm, mischief, and double entendre. And really, how many cartoons have created words that have ended up in Webster's Dictionary? With five rotating full episodes and well over 1,000 glorious clips from it's illustrious run, you could spend hours checking out your favorite moments in Simpsons history.

The other nominees were "King of the Hill", "Family Guy", "Wallace and Gromit", and "Futurama".

After 20,000 votes, the Audience Favorite is...Futurama!

Creator Matt Groening is a double winner in this category. Taking some of the same sensibilities of "The Simpsons" and time-warping them to the 31st century, the adventures of cryogenically frozen 21st century Philip J. Fry and an assortment of oddballs had a rough run.

Originally airing on FOX, it was yanked around the schedule for four seasons before being canceled in 2003. But you can't keep a good show down. Thanks to syndication by Cartoon Network and Comedy Central, the show found new life and has gone on to make new direct-to-dvd movies - four and counting.

Much like "The Simpsons", "Futurama" can be enjoyed in bite sized pieces. There are a little over 300 clips available from five seasons.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Classic TV Show"

And the Hulie goes to....

The Dick Van Dyke Show!

That's the opening from the very first episode, which you can watch in its entirety on Hulu (interestingly, in this pilot, the main character is played by Carl Reiner, not Dick Van Dyke). Hulu also hosts the entire 64 episode run that makes up the show's first two seasons.

We did get a brief note from "Friend of the Hulu Review" Doug Denoff, whose father, Sam Denoff, was involved with the original show as a writer, producer, and occasional bit player. Doug is also Andy Kaufman's cousin, for those of you keeping score. He writes:

"Thanks for the honor. Cool site!"
He also tried to coordinate a statement from Carl Reiner or Dick Van Dyke himself (which was an exciting possibility for me, let me tell you), but we were unable to get the statement before press time. You can get all of your current "Dick Van Dyke Show"news at the official site of the show, here.

After 20,000 votes the Audience Favorite was also "The Dick Van Dyke Show," with 36% of the vote.

The other final nominees were "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Bewitched."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Movie Comedy"

(Please welcome guest presenter Tamara Brooks, a regular contributor to the excellent site Zap2It)

And the Hulie goes to....


Here's what the good folks over at Ghostbusters Central had to say about their award:

Upon hearing of its recent Hulu "award," the group denounced the hoax, seeing through the ruse to lure the group into an alternate paranormal universe. After learning that Hulu is not one of Zuul's demon henchmen, but in fact a well-respected, totally non-evil video site, the Ghostbusters would like to retract its initial rejection of the award and express their gratitude for such an honor. To celebrate, the group released Ghostbusters on Blu-ray High Definition.

And, after 20,000 votes, the Audience Favorite is also Ghostbusters!

People just can't resist the glory of Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston. Infinitley quotable, funny, smartly written, well-acted, and awesomely directed, years and dozens of viewings later it's still one of my favorite movies of all time. And clearly I'm not the only one who feels this way.

The other contenders in this category were "Eddie Murphy: Raw", "Men In Black", "Raising Arizona", and "Three Amigos" - all fine, hilarious nominees.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Announcing the Hulu Award for "Best Classic Movie"

(Please welcome guest presenter Sam Christopher, who, along with his cronies, runs the awesome SciFi site Axiom's Edge)

And the Hulie goes to....

Night of the Living Dead!

And here, accepting the Hulie for Best Classic Movie is Kyra Schon:

I am deeply honored to have been asked to accept the Hulu Award for Best Classic Movie on behalf of Night of the Living Dead, and I am thrilled that this movie was chosen, among the greatest classic films in history, to claim this award.

Full credit for the film must go to the extraordinarily talented group of adults who were involved in its creation, and not to the nine year old kid who, through sheer luck, happened to land a small part in it.

The "adults" and creative geniuses behind the production were co-producers and actors Russ Streiner and Karl Hardman, co-writer and actor John Russo, and the brilliant and dedicated ensemble cast members, Judith O'Dea, Bill Hinzman, Duane Jones, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Marilyn Eastman, Charles Craig and George Kosana. Many more people generously contributed their time and talents on-screen and behind the scenes to help create what would become a classic in the horror genre.

The "Night" crew was fortunate to count then-fledgling director and co-writer George A. Romero among its friends and colleagues. Night of the Living Dead was George's first feature film, but his style was already clearly in place. George consistently brings sanity, soul and a sardonic sense of humor to his film projects, encouraging us to recognize persecution and injustice. His socio-political views have most often found their voice in the guise of horror films, but there's much more to them than just zombies. They reveal the stupidity of racism, sexism, abusive and overreaching government, social inequity, mindless consumerism, class warfare and, yes, the threat of zombies. His voice has resonated through generations of horror film fans who recognize the subtext as more than meets the eye. Without George's direction and editing, Night of the Living Dead may have been a far different film.

On behalf of the "Night" family, I extend heartfelt gratitude to the awards panel for bestowing this special honor on Night of the Living Dead.
Many thanks to Kyra, a Friend of the Hulu Review, for taking the time to personally accept this award. You can check out here latest pursuits at her website, The Ghoul Next Door.

After 20,000 audience votes, the Audience Choice is "Some Like it Hot."

One of the great comedies of all time, this film boasts a stellar cast including Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, and a bunch of other people you've heard of. The story is that a couple guys are hiding from gangsters dressed as female musicians. And, of course, one of them falls in love with Marilyn Monroe (I know, I know, if you only had a nickel, right?), and the other... well, you just really need to watch the movie.

The other nominees were "Wuthering Heights" and "Pride of the Yankees."