Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One Down

Aaaand we're done with "Heroes."

Over at the Entertainment Weekly recap, Marc Bernadin mentioned the phrase "Who's carrying the idiot ball this week?" to ask which character will have to do something unreasonably stupid just to move the plot along.

Watching this show is like watching some kind of high-speed Idiot-Dodge-Ball game being played, where characters launch their idiot balls at each other only to get pummeled in the face by three balls themselves.

Let's run down a partial list - from THE LAST THREE EPISODES:
- Hiro opens a vault his dad specifically told him NOT to open because he "Wants a quest." Because Hiro has the emotional complexity of an exceptionally stupid 5-year-old.
- A strange man in an African desert he hands Parkman a bowl, which he drinks out of without question. THEN he asks, "Hey, what was in this?"
- Nathan survives multiple gunshot wounds and suddenly becomes religious. Even though last year he was brought back from massive burns and had no such epiphany.
- Mohinder drinks a special potion and then is surprised it has dangerous side effects.
- Sylar hangs around the Company to "see where this goes," even though all he's ever wanted to do prior to this episode was to escape the Company so he can keep killing for powers.

I could keep going, or focus on all the bungled plotlines (Clone-Nikki, show? REALLY.) but honestly, why? A clean break, that's what's needed. Besides, "24" will be back on at the same time in a few months, and I'm gonna have my hands full keeping track of all the nonsense on that show.

I mean, they just proudly boasted that they even came up with an ending for this year's arc, like that's a novel new idea to them that stories should have beginnings, middles, and ALSO endings.

So I get the feeling that idiot ball's gonna be getting a lot of use over there.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"The Mentalist": Not Bad At All

As previously stated: I am not a procedural fan. And so, by extension, not really a fan of anything on CBS. I will take personality over verisimilitude any day. And considering half the science of the "CSI"-style shows is way off anyway, why not focus on the things that make crime interesting: People?

With this in mind, “The Mentalist” was very enjoyable. Which has me on guard, because it’s on a network that tends to cancel their more original fare, and it’s on opposite “Fringe,” which has gotten a crapload more attention.

Anyway. “The Mentalist” features Simon West as Patrick Jane, a former fake-psychic in the John Edwards (no, the other one, think back – yeah, remember that asshole?) mold. After the murder of his family at the hands of a serial killer who didn’t take kindly to the BS “psychic” assistance he was giving the cops, Jane dropped the shtick and started using his keen observational skills in conjunction with a made-up-sounding but actually real California Bureau of Investigation (so just be happy the show’s not called “CBI,” which I guarantee you was the subject of at least one production meeting).

The smartest thing the pilot does is to have a sort of mini-pilot within the first five minutes that succinctly shows what Jane does, how he uses those skills, and his general attitude towards his work (his calm response to police who burst in just a leeeetle too late to stop a suspect’s shooting: “This isn’t as bad as it looks.”).

There’s a level of confidence in the episode that’s rare and appreciated in a pilot. Confidence in the strength of the show, yes, but also confidence in the viewer.

We’re allowed to grasp the specifics of the upcoming series without a lot of spoonfeeding or exposition to beat into our brains What It's About. We get that Jane is talented by watching him use those talents. We get to know the supporting players through their behavior: Cho’s staggering insensitivity, Rigsby’s quiet consideration, Van Pelt’s rookie mistakes, and Lisbon’s…well, right now she appears to be Cuddy to Jane’s House, but the show is basically "What if House actually solved murder mysteries instead of medical mysteries...and also was more pleasant to be around" (or, to address the obvious, "What if 'Psych' wasn't so damn wacky?"), so the taskmaster/babysitter role has to be there.

I also liked that the characters actually seem to know and like each other – which feels rare on investigative shows. They eat dinner together, they tease each other, they disagree without it becoming a major dramatic point. When Jane shows his atheist leanings to the Christian Van Pelt, neither one comes off as stupid. It’s refreshing.

(And there’s also a nice little jab at crime-scene procedurals, when a CSI enthusiastically describes his take on the murder, and Jane responds with mild distain, “You enjoy your work too much, my friend...I find you irksome.” Which is a word that needs to get more play.)

Now: A good pilot does not mean a good series. So, assuming this one doesn't die quickly, I recommend "The Mentalist" with reservations. We’ll just have to follow the show’s magician's-secret tagline advice and “Watch closely.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Be Smarter, TV! (Part 2): "Heroes"

Characters realizing they have some essential skill sets they’re not using – like, say, basic human intelligence – would reeeeallly help out “Heroes,” which just returned with a bombastic two-hour premiere.

There’s a lot to like about “Heroes” – for one thing, there’s nothing else like it on TV right now. It is a full-on superhero soap opera. But that's part of the problem - it seems to be taking a lot of cues from similarly-soapy mid-70’s Marvel comics, ignoring the fact that those stories were based less on logic and more on the limited amount of pages they had to tell a tale.

So the writers have a lot of real live people behaving as stupidly as a hastily-written comic book character might, while hoping real live viewers will accept it.

Let’s take the series’ most consistently stupid character: resident scientist Dr. Mohinder Suresh, ironically enough. The writers seem to be following the character template of X-Men character Dr. Henry McCoy, The Beast.

Way back when, McCoy concocted what he thought was a cure to his mutant genes. When bad guys came to his lab looking to kill him and steal the formula for nefarious ends, he hastily swallowed the potion, and as a result mutated further, growing blue fur and fangs.

Now on “Heroes” we have Mohinder, who – after studying the body chemistry of a girl who is basically a walking plague whenever she gets upset – develops a potion he thinks would give anyone superpowers. Which is all of a sudden important to him for some reason that's never come up before.

Plague-Girl quite rightly points out that this formula at least needs further study, and at best should be destroyed. So let’s play “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Does Mohinder:
A) Dispose of the no-doubt toxic sample in a proper, EPA-approved way, like any half-smart scientist would know how to;
B) Contemplate tossing the sample into New York Harbor despite its potentially catastrophic effects on the local sea life, or
C) Cram the whole thing straight into his veins for no apparent reason?

If you guessed A, I’m sorry, you terribly smart readers. That was a trick - on this show, it was never even an option. No, our genius sticks it straight into his veins.

Then, after an initial high of superpowers, he’s surprised – shocked, even! – to find bits of skin peeling off him. Well, yeah, MOHINDER.

With very few exceptions, every character on the show exhibits highly variable levels of intelligence. This is not rare on TV, unfortunately. Dramatic tension is usually a byproduct of people not asking obvious questions at opportune times (see: "Lost," season 2).

But…come on. This isn’t “Why didn’t Peter use his telepathy to see if a guy’s telling the truth?” That’s the nitpicking you just have to ignore with a show like this.

This is “What self-respecting scientist would inject himself with a chemical even he admitted needed more testing?” It’s a character ignoring basic human reasoning skills for the sake of a character arc.

The well-founded complaint of season 2 was that things moved too slowly, that old characters treaded water while new unconnected characters were introduced haphazardly (see: complaints about “Lost: Season 2”). But in its haste to course-correct, “Heroes” has started season 3 by overcompensating and having its characters Doing Stuff, no matter how poorly-conceived.

I still have high hopes for the season, because, well, I’m an optimist at heart (ha ha). Also it’s got Kristen Bell guest-starring. And lest we forget, things didn’t look so rosy on “Lost” at the outset of season 3, either.

But then, “Lost” didn’t seem to be tying all of its stories into the fact that half the characters were actually related (Sylar's a Petrelli? C'mon, what does that add?) and the grim fate of the world needed to be averted yet a third time (thanks to yet a third nightmarish vision of the future).

There are stories to be told here. Invincible Claire starting to question her own humanity if she can’t feel pain. Whatever arc Noah Bennet is going to go through. The existential dilemma represented by the fact that the mere presence of all these superpowered folk means the world is on the brink of destruction no matter what they do. These all point to a show with a bit of cleverness.

But somehow I’m lacking confidence. It might be because the guy who should have a faint clue as to what’s going on is absolutely confounded why he’s sloughing off skin after sticking Plague-Girl’s blood inside him.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Be Smarter, TV!: Part One

TV shows should be better than they are.

Yes I know that’s a stupid statement to make, but just go with me here.

I first noticed this problem during a recent episode of “Burn Notice” where the lead character, ex-spy Michael Westen, is confronted by another burned spook. As Michael realizes what a desperate and amoral maniac the guy’s become, we get a “There but for the grace of god” kind of story, the end.

Except what that episode really did was point out the “A-Team” problem the show has.

The “A-Team” problem: Here’s a bunch of highly trained special forces guys with nothing to lose, hiring themselves out as mercenaries to people in need. And they have guns and explosives and everything. But when the time comes to run the bad guys out of town, what do they do?

The shoot their M-16s at the bad guys’ feet. Or flip the bad guys’ car over, making sure they can crawl out shaken and deterred, but not exactly damaged.

If the show made any logical sense, the A-Team would’ve killed at least a couple of guys here and there to show they meant business, right?

Same problem with the Michael Westen character. It’s well implied he’s been doing black-ops stuff around the world for years, and yet when confronted with a local drug runner or what have you, he always opts for elaborate cover identities and scams to run the bad guys out of town. Which is weird, because he must know that, more often than not, a little bit of creative violence would do the same job for half the time and money.

I’m not saying the guy maims or tortures every half-tard criminal he’s hired to scare off – because that show wouldn’t be terribly enjoyable – but he doesn’t even seem to realize it’s an option.

It’s moments like this I really wish the show weren’t on USA. Fox, FX, even TNT, there’d be a possibility of real emotional concern: Michael realizing those horrible tools are at his disposal and fighting to keep from using them, because he's trying something new.
But USA’s got "Monk" and "Psych." Characters Welcome, and all that. It won’t ever be anything but light, escapist fare.

But the lead character’s a talented ex-espionage agent. So I’m saying there should be a few more dark nights of the soul for him, where he realizes he’s not utilizing his simplest, most dangerous skills.

It would make “Burn Notice” a better show.

(Tomorrow, the reason for a two-parter: The "Heroes" Season 3 premiere.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

RE: The Emmys

1) Yaaaay, "30 Rock"! Yaaaaay!

2) Is there anything cooler than The Smothers Brothers? Unfortunately, considering how politically minded and ahead-of-his-time Tommy Smothers is, I feel bad that his chief influence on me was wanting to learn yo-yo tricks when I was a kid. So much so that to this day, I find those motorized yo-yos that automatically "walk the dog" to be absolutely abhorrent.

2A) Has Steve Martin been botoxed or something? He looked a little...waxy. I suppose all older stars have their HD issues.

3) I'd be willing to bet that if the "House" producers had submitted the episode where House is holding an Emmy and pretending to give an acceptance speech, rather than the dramatically awesome season finale, Hugh Laurie would have actually won. This is how out of it the actual Emmy judges are, I think. Still, Bryan Cranston's cool. Eh, at least it wasn't Spader again.

4) Betty White: Always a pleasure.

5) Once again: "30 Rock"! Yaaaaaay! And Tina Fey actually managed to throw in "Watch the premiere October 31st" before the music cut her off.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sons of Liver Failure

I wanted to give FX's new "Sons of Anarchy" a shot, because, hey! Ron Perlman! Katy Sagal! Biker shenanagans! Why not?

Keeping in mind that I have yet to watch a single FX program - other than "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," of course - that I've stuck with for more than six episodes. It's not that they're bad shows, really. It's just I feel like they're trying too hard to be edgy, so I'm always put off.

We know you're bad-ass, FX. You're like your danger-loving parent company Fox. Except you're so tough you don't even need that pussy-ass "O." We get it.

Short version: it was...eh. Sagal and Perlman are cool, but you can hear the creator pitching it as "'Sopranos' meets the Hells Angels meets muthafuckin' HAMLET, DUDE!"

But rather than blather on, I instead invite you to play the "Sons of Anarchy Drinking Game."

1) Invite friends over and a bottle of your favorite poison.

2) Turn on the "Sons of Anarchy" pilot. (Comcast subscribers: It's onDemand! In Hi-Def! (Where available!) )

3) Drink every time you see the words "Sons of Anarchy" or hear a character reference the biker club's acronym SAMCRO.

4) Whoever's liver doesn't fail wins.

4a) Alternatively, depending on how BAD-ASS you are, whoever's liver doesn't fail is some kind of nancy who can't handle liver failure like a BAD-ASS!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Death to Vinnie Chase!

Spinning around in a reality just to the left of ours is an alternate Earth. And on that alternate Earth, there’s an alternate HBO, airing a Bizarro-version of “Entourage.”

The Bizarro-“Entourage” would take its plot points from the fact that its main character, Vincent Chase, is some kind of zen asshole, casually indulging in expensive vacations and sex with hot morons because despite his working class roots, he’s become a gigantic Hollywood cliché. And the friends he brought out to Hollywood with him, to keep him “real,” have the unenviable task of explaining to him just how much he’s pissing his career and (supposed) talent away every time he indulges his whims by performing in shitty vanity projects and then acting like the negative consequences are someone else’s problem.

It would be an interesting show. An inside look at how easy it is for a once up-and-coming star to end up headlining direct-to-DVD movies and becoming the butt of industry jokes.

Unfortunately, we don’t live on that alternate Earth. We live with this reality’s HBO, which features a version of “Entourage” wherein Vinnie Chase’s massive fuckups result in him having no problem lounging on a Mexican beach and fucking morons every day while his friends placate his ego and find him another high-paying job he balks at. Which is just fine, because the plots don’t ever delve into just how badly he’s fucked up. Oh, they’ll give lip service to it, but it never amounts to any real lasting change in the characters or plots. Why bother with that? There are a lot of really nice boobs to show instead.

Every time the series threatens to veer into interesting territory (such as last season’s finale, where a Harvey Weinstein analogue buys Chase’s awful film for one dollar), it backs off because…well, I really have no good explanation, other than “Nice breasts need to be filmed.”

I continue to watch “Entourage,” mostly because, well, what the hell else is there to do on a Sunday night at 10 PM? But I watch it because A) I like the Ari/Lloyd banter, and B) because I like to think of Eric’s evolution as the main thematic thrust, even though the show’s ongoing focus on just How Cool It Is To Be Vinnie Chase continually proves me wrong.

In other words, I am a Spite-Viewer. Every time I watch “Entourage,” what I’m actually thinking is, “I hope it all ends with Vinnie Chase starring with fucking Carrot-Top and wondering what the hell just happened.”

Also, he starts losing his hair.

(I'm a very spiteful viewer.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Your Awful Friend, "Saturday Night Live"

"Saturday Night Live" manages to sucker me in at least once every year.

It's nobody's fault but mine. I like to check in, see how it's doing. Like hanging out with an old friend you haven't seen in a while. An old friend whose annoying qualities far outway any good reason to maintain a friendship with them. But you put in your time, hoping like hell maybe this go-around you won't kinda want to punch them.

And so you usually end up with about 10 minutes out of a 90-minute hanging-out session that you can qualify as "Not so bad."

In the interim, you spend the rest of the night:

- Marveling, as Michael Phelps, like all athlete-hosts before him, tries his damnedest to read cue cards properly, while at the same time adding inflection. Bless his heart, he managed to do almost one of those things at any given moment (to his credit, he did it while cracking up less than Jimmy Fallon).

- Staring confusedly, as Andy Samburg performs yet another vaguely science-fictiony, humor-free digital short. Begging the question: is he such a grating presence that Lorne Michaels is using this "digital short" scam just to keep him out of the studio during regular business hours?

- Wondering, just what so many funny actors (Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, et al.), who have all been genuinely amusing elsewhere (30 Rock, Apatowe comedies, etc.), are doing on a show that seems to be crushing their sense of funny.

- Scratching your head at the sad reality that one skit actually cribbed its concept from the often-escruciating Aaron Sorkin dramedy "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

Not the best old friend to spend a Saturday night with, is what I'm saying.

But we here at the ISTV Global Stronghold have special futurey technology called "linking" (which Andy Samburg CAN NOT HAVE) that allows you to speed through that awful night with your awful old friend, in order to get to those gloriously not-painful 10 minutes.

(We would have special technology called "imbedding," except Blogger's being a bit finicky tonight. Expect a move to Wordpress very, very soon.)

First, Amy Poehler and special guest Tina Fey open the show with the inevitable Sarah Palin/Hilary Clinton bit:

Then, an ad-spoof premise I've often wondered about: In the T-Mobile "Fav-5" commercial where the dad tells his daughter she "shouldn't have such hot friends," what does that conversation turn into?

There. You're welcome. Now you don't have to hang out with this "friend" of yours again. At least until some actor or band you REALLY like shows up. Or Christopher Walken.

And then the cycle of pain will begin anew.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Vampires: Eternal Poseurs of the Night

I’m not a “vampire guy.” Find a new angle on it, and I might be interested, but it’s not an innate selling point. On the negative end of the spectrum, Anne Rice had made the subject silly in its pompous romanticism. On the positive end, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”/”Angel” had pretty much locked in what a TV show with bloodsuckers should be for me.

So I was curious what HBO’s new vampires-in-the-south show “True Blood” would try to do, to make the “monsters are people too” subject interesting.

This is an easier task than trying to make the Deep South interesting. Usually it comes off as mocking, or…no, it always feels like there’s some outdated idea of The South that creators are trying to winkingly play into or subvert.

By the end of the first episode, I found myself enjoying the southern aspect while still being frosty on the vampire side.

“True Blood” starts pretty shakily, pulling the “That goth guy isn’t a monster; the everyday-lookin’ fella behind you is!” trope that’s already pretty old-hat. Then, after a brief bit of exposition/Bill Maher product placement about The State of Vampirism, there’s the introduction to the rural Louisiana town. It’s the standard assortment of twangy, folksy southern types – the slutty townies, the wary bartender who just wants to keep things quiet, the sassy black gal, the waitress who wishes she’d gotten outta this dump.

But over the course of the hour, the show did a good enough job of making a few of them feel like actual characters, rather than an assortment of voice-coached accents. In particular, Anna Paquin, essentially playing a sunnier version of her Rogue character from the X-Men films. The fact that our viewpoint character is open-minded, likeable, and, well, adorable, helps us accept the rest of her people.

When an overarching murder plot was introduced midway through the episode, I thought, “I could actually watch a ‘murder in a small southern town’ kind of show like this.”

Which makes the supernatural aspect feel that much more unneeded and intrusive.

So no, I’m not at all sold on the vampire element yet. Vampire-as-vampire has been given up for the most part in pop culture, in favor of vampire-as-metaphor. In terms of the first episode at least, now that readily available synthetic blood has allowed vampires to publicly join society, the metaphor is homosexuality. Which lets the southerner-cliches react to a bloodsucker in town a lot like we’d assume they’d react to having their first Resident Gay. It feels a bit forced.

(FYI: They do, actually, have a Resident Gay, a mildly annoying motormouthed fry-cook.)

Not helping is the fact that the new vampire in town – despite the pedestrian name “Bill” – behaves with all the preening, posing, and glowering mannerisms that make Anne Rice’s material seem so ridiculous. REALLY not helping is that the actor playing him looks like Paul Rudd doing an amusing impression of “menacing.”

The show’s definitely worth watching a few more episodes – I’ve yet to watch an HBO show that didn’t need a few episodes to really make its intentions known – but so far, it’s Anna Paquin’s supreme lovable-ness that’s going to bring me back for the next episode.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fall TV: It is, as they say, "Time to Face the Hole"

The 10.5 most amazing things about Fox's “Hole in the Wall”:

10) Brooke Burns says everything in the same weirdly halting yet totally excited cadence. “You’re the team captain, right!” and “Introduce me to your team!” sound like the exact same sentence. It’s really bizarre.
9) The two teams in the first episode were made of “Six-Packs” – guys on the shortish side who are “personal trainers,” but from their descriptions sound more like unemployed bodybuilders – and “Beer-Bellies” – radio employees who likely think “The Jerky Boys” was the apex of comedy. In other words, there are no winners here. Only losers.
8) There are actually lifeguards on duty when the contestants fall into the 5-feet-deep pool. At least, I think they’re lifeguards, because they’re wearing Baywatch-style swimsuits and holding those pontoon thingies. Once again: for the 5-feet-deep pool. That a camera man is standing in.
7) Before every…ah, let’s just be charitable and call it “event”…there is an explanation – complete with cute visual aids – of what the next challenge will be. “This time, TWO contestants need to jump through the holes.” In case the whole concept was just too confusing for the average viewer.
6) After every commercial break, there is a recap of the results of the previous jump through the hole. Again, just in case viewers were having trouble keeping up.
5) In addition to Brooke Burns on the sidelines, there’s a host up in a balcony, whose best moment came when he referred to one of the very white, American, Californian bodybuilders as “an Iraqi war veteran.”
4) The grand prize is $100,000. For jumping through a cutout in a Styrofoam wall. Just let that sink in.
3) The show’s attempted catchphrase is, “It’s time to face the hole.”
2) This show is 22 minutes long, when by all rights, it’s hard to make a case for it being longer than 2 minutes.
1.5) Watching this show, you are actually likely to utter the words, "Y'know, I think I'd probably be pretty good at this."

And the #1 most interesting thing about “Hole in the Wall”…

1) There will actually be more than one episode of a show called “Hole in the Wall,” wherein obnoxious people attempt to jump through a cutout in a Styrofoam wall.

Will I be watching this show again? …Possibly. I’ll definitely watch it after it follows the “Fringe” pilot. But if I can’t be bothered to plop myself down on the couch Thursday nights at 8 to watch “My Name is Earl” – a show I actually kinda like – it’s not too likely I’ll make time for this one. No matter how many oddly-shaped contestants they promise to shove through those holes.

Then again, “It’s time to face the hole” is a phrase I’d really like to see used in regular conversation.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall On My Face (Part 1: Preview Night)

Dear god, the new fall season. What the hell, man. I mean, really. What The Hell?!

"Knight Rider"? "90210"? A shitload of "Gossip Girl" knockoffs (which itself is a "The OC" knockoff)? Come on. You're wrecking all of our important TV/world-domination equipment here at the I Speak TV Global Stronghold.

If you look at last year, there was a lot that was interesting - worth checking out, at least, even if it wasn't actually any good.

Last year, I checked out "Bionic Woman," "Chuck," "Life," "Reaper," "Pushing Daisies," and "Journeyman." Lot of sci-fi/genre choices. Only "Pushing Daisies" was really worth anyone's time, although "Chuck" and "Reaper" were both in their own ways enjoyable light-weight fare.

This year, the new series schedule's pretty bare. So here's what I'll be focusing on in the coming weeks.

- Fox's "Fringe" earns a few weeks to see what it'll become. (Poke around the site and you'll find my review of the pilot.)

- Its thematic competition is "The 11th Hour," based on a solid BBC series. Dark City's Rufus Sewell takes over Patrick Stewart's fringe science advisor role, which is a point for the show. Unfortunately, it's on CBS, which has a certain shallowness to all its pilots, so that's a point against.

- "True Blood" has a premise I already find sort of grating - vampires living in the open among southerners. But it's HBO, so there's no harm in watching at least a couple of episodes, assuming it's not another show about the perils of being a psychiatrist.

- "Life on Mars" was another very good BBC series, so I'm interested to see what ABC does with it. Other than totally retooling the cast, setting, and creative team. Which is always a great sign.

- I want to see if Christian Slater is as miscast in "My Own Worst Enemy" (NBC), a Jeckyll & Hyde/"Alias" mash-up, as I assume he'll be, so yeah, I'll watch an episode or two here.

- "Crusoe" (NBC) - exactly what you think it is - may be the dumbest idea for a series since the WB's ill-fated "Tarzan" series a while back.

- "Hole in the Wall" (Fox)...Well, c'mon. Based on the Japanese gameshow (and that should sell you right there) of people trying to fit themselves into shapes cut out of styrofoam. Proving that Fox doesn't need to ask people embarrassing questions about themselves to show viewers a good time. Because Fox does, in fact, think viewers are that stupid.

In a weird reversal (likely due to the writers strike, which forced networks to greenlight a lot of fall shows without actually looking at them), midseason is the time to get interested in TV, with NBC's modern David & Goliath retelling "Kings," Joss Whedon's new Fox show "Dollhouse," and Rob Thomas's redux of his 1999 ABC series "Cupid" showing up.

Watching TV: Always a weird experience. Always worth the wasted time. Place your faith in the ISTV Global Stronghold. We won't steer you wrong. And if we do?

Well, we've finally built our deathray, so you won't feel a thing.