Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stupidity & Falling Skies Season 1: A Review

Falling Skies is an entertaining series that is deeply riddled with problems (at least, so far with season 1).  I love post apocalyptic stories and I love space aliens, so combining the two is a nice touch and won my attention.  With season 1 now finished, I am conflicted with this series, but I must say I watched the entire season and plan to watch season 2 (I cant say the same for "V").  I love the premise and the overall narrative, but am extremely frustrated with so many items scattered throughout the show.  Granted it is a worthy show (albeit not great) but worth continuing. Below are my problems with season 1:


Screaming Uncontrollably to Blow Your Cover
This happened twice that I can remember off hand and it was just so incredibly stupid:
Scene 1:
The first was when the gang took a day trip to rescue some kidnapped kids (one of which being Noah Wiley's son). They had a strict plan of attack.  Note: all the kids have an alien harness attached to them so they are drones and they are all overlooked by several aliens in mech warriors - something you can't do much to.  So when they are hiding nearby, watching the kids do your standard slave labor, one of the guys sees HIS son!  Can you believe it??  We'll, this is an interesting plot point if they didn't throw up on it: this guy starts SCREAMING his son's name.  Now, this act is stupid for three reasons: 1 - his son is a DRONE and won't react and 2 - you are calling attention to you, and everyone else on the mission, and 3 - you just threw the plan off coarse and will be responsible for the death of your team, if not everyone.  THEN, as if you thought the stupidity was over, he jumps up and runs over to his son.  THEN, before he just grabs his son and runs away, he tries to talk and reason with him with conversation, as if it cant wait until they both aren't about to be killed.  "ITS ME!  DAD!"

Scene 2:
Near the end of the season, a few guys go on a mission to scout and they make a discovery (and awesome one - probably the best of the season) - that the aliens they were fighting all along are actually ENSLAVED by another alien-species. Later in the episode the gang finds a stranded woman who lives by herself.  She in turn, is in communication with the aliens: she trades insider (human) information about the resistance or any human movement in exchange for food and to not be killed.  The guys find out the hard way as they are almost killed and track back to the woman to find out what is going on and when they do, they wait for the alien to show up and communicate with her.  A nice touch about this show is the communication between aliens and humans (when it happens) is through enslaved children (the drones).  They control the kids and speak through them, etc.  So (getting to my point), the crew is waiting in this woman's house and a small girl arrives at the door and delivers food.  The girl (a drone child controlled by an alien) and the woman have a short conversation.  The crew realizes two things: an alien (a BAD ASS superior alien) is standing next to the girl and that the girl is someone they know.  What does the crew do?  Well, Noah's son goes apeshit and starts SCREAMING that they have to save her! The rest quickly muzzle him and pin him down until the alien and girl leaves.  Again, this is stupid for the plain fact that he is going to get everyone killed.

Surely there are better ways to express extreme emotional change than blatant screaming that is so obviously stupid as to get everyone killed.

Crowds of Pure Joy and Ecstasy
You know in movies or shows when there is a crowd and something good happens and everyone cheers?  Have you ever realized how fake and stupid this is? Like when an evil villian says his master plan and all his goons start laughing?  LAUGHING! Pretty dumb, right?  Falling Skies does this alot.  While everyone may be happy, not everyone needs to scream in joy, wave their arms about, and hug each other as if they are experiencing the most profound orgasm.
No need for specific examples here because this happens a lot.  A LOT.  A crowd of people are gathered and something good happens.  Either they discover something new or the captain gives good news.  What happens?  EVERYONE makes noise. EVERYONE throws their arms up. EVERYONE moves around.  Have you ever done this?  While this is a standard movie cliche and helps the audience understand that the people are happy, it's over the top and fake (and stupid, of course).  Keep an eye out for these scenes and pinpoint ONE GUY in the crowd and watch him and see what he does.  Kinda stupid when you see him individually instead of as the collective group, right?
  1. Not everyone needs to do something. While it's a cliche that you may feel needs to happen because a silent crowd is bad, we don't need to be looking at a crowd that is similar to Green Bay Packer fans at the super bowl.
  2. A lot of times, this is after a death or something terrible, so it contradicts how they should really be feeling (or they should be seeking immediate help!)  "Didn't 5 guys just die 5 minutes ago?  Who cares.  YIPPEE!"

Mech Warriors and Their Loud Noise
These things are cool, but do they need to make a loud noise ALL the time?  The sound is iconic and frightening, but tells everyone where it is!  Yes they have loud foot steps and rattle the nearby area, but why the noise?  What causes it and why does it emit it so often? It's as if they want everyone to know where they are.

Characters (or lack there of)
Noah (right) is the only character we care about and he does a damn good job in this show.  We care about him because... well, uh- I don't know.  Why do we?  Because he does an amazing job acting?  Probably.  Also, because he is the only rational person in this show (for the most part if you don't include the chick he totally tongue tied at the end of the season).  That's a bad reason to like someone.  To be fair, he is loyal and hard working, etc, etc, so he has a least some connect-ability (since we saw this happen and experienced it with him).  But everyone else on this show is pretty much a pointless character.  In fact, they not only have no character, they are stricly "character conflicts."  I made that up just now: they are pre-determined personas that we can't relate to because we are told who they are and they just react predictably so we don't care.  That and they act so OVER THE TOP to their "conflict destination" (made that up too) that its very frustrating. Below are a few problematic characters (of the many):

This kid is really annoying.  Every line out of his mouth is "i wanna fight," or "I wanna help," or "I wanna be a big boy!"  We get it.  Shut the hell up or say something to make us want to not punch you in the teeth.

He was in a few episodes as a "nemesis" to Noah.  How do we know this? Because someone told us. "Oh man, those two don't like each other!"  We didn't have enough interaction between the two.  So, aside from "knowing" this guy is a dick, he continues to be 200% dick when they capture an alien (a sub-alien, not one of the super ones).  There is a classic argument between Webber and a rational chick

We should communicate with this alien so we can learn more about it.


But if we learn about it we can learn why they are here and/or learn how to kill them better.


I am going to talk to this thing and try and save humanity.


There is a girl who is religious on this show!  WOW!  Her only point so far is to tell people to have faith in God.  Again, that's all she does and since she does nothing else, it's over the top.  Also, all conversations are so pointlessly generic and stupid that you want to fast-forward when she is on screen.
Why do you pray?

I pray to God for everything I am grateful for.

Why, we are dying? humanity is nearly extinct.

Yes but we have lots to be thankful for.

Oh wow, I see things differently now, thanks.

What does God have to do with the 10% of your day not living in pain or fear?


Will Patton, the guy who was the lead villain in the postman is the lead captain  in this show.  I distinctly remember him because when I saw that terrible movie I thought "Wow - this movie is horrible and the main villain was horrifically miscast!  While he is amazing, he looks like a big teddy bear and I want to hug him!"  So with his casting slot as a captain, I like it.  He can be nice and a dick but he is ultimately a good guy. So - my problems with this guy is that since he is a "captain" he obviously needs to create conflict by going against logic (Noah).  There are a lot of internal conflicts (between humans) in this show for a series about defending the human race against invading space-aliens.  While he is a good character, a lot of it is illogical, the most frustrating aspect being the last episode:

This guy becomes irrational because he is addicted to sleeping and waking pills.  He becomes delusional and with the plan of a final attack against the aliens, he is about to lead everyone to a suicide mission since he is covering up the fact a few other armies (they are supposed to join) have been killed.  Noah tries to stop him and gets locked up but eventually saves the day.  How?  He talks to the captain at gunpoint and he magically changes his mind.  I DONT CARE ABOUT THIS! (I said to myself throughout most of the episode).

  1. The two make-up and are friends again instantly (cute) despite they wasted a lot of time and captain is a big dick (the bad kind)
  2. Captain says he stopped taking the pills.  WHAT? So why was he acting CRAZY? WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION TO THIS?
  3. They go on the suicide mission anyways but instead of leading men blindly into it, he is upfront and asks for volunteers instead of commanding everyone.  This results in the SAME crowd who would have gone to go anyways and the same results happen!
OVERALL (Characters)
Too much of this show is based on internal conflict. Or at least TOO much of the internal conflict is forced, over the top, and stupid. I am not against the human conflict and I agree that a large portion of the show should be humans only, but this season was a little too much.  Everyone always has a problem with everyone else! That and too many characters are just extreme personalities with a purpose only to create conflict.  I DON'T CARE.  Make the people more human and give them interesting, realistic dialog about their lives or the world, etc - THEN jump into why they don't trust each other or why they would risk the lives of hundreds of people to prove a stupid point.

Two kids who were drones are saved and back as normal, but they have some problems. One is more of a problem because he still feels connected to the aliens. This kid acts and feels like he belongs with the aliens and pities the human race for "killing each other" since aliens "would never do that."
  1. I highly doubt that ANY advanced species stop killing each other. (or have never from day 1).  YES, in an advanced civilization the majority can be good but not everyone can achieve bliss and therefore, some will resort to crime or murder to stay alive, etc. While this is an argument for philosophy, this doesn't fit into reality for me.
  2. WHAT?? This kid was a SLAVE to the SLAVES of the SUPERIOR ALIENS.  What does he know about anything? What is he basing this from? He loved his slaved leaders who were slaves themselves?  Maybe he feels a connection but... it sounds pretty stupid. (and this was an episode cliffhanger!)

Make-up on the Hot Chick
As you can probably guess, there is a hot chick on the show.  What you may not predict is that she hasn't found a pool or lake to swim in yet. She hasn't even worn anything that revealing!  And you thought they hit up ALL cliches!  The problem with her is that she is in FULL MAKE UP.  All actors need makeup because of lighting and image capture, etc - but she has the full REVLON thing going on.  Instead of giving her makeup to keep her logically attractive, they decided to give her full blown make-up so on camera, it looks like she spent 45 minutes in the morning applying it to her face. This makes no sense because 1 - there isn't make-up in their environment and 2 - she has no purpose or time to apply it.  Most movies do this, but at LEAST it is under normal circumstances.

Naked Aliens
There are two alien species so far - both are naked.  Why?  They don't wear clothes?  Even our cavemen wore clothes!  There are theories that as a species evolves they will turn into bundles of energy without mass.  So somewhere along the line we will lose interest in sex and our genitals will be rendered useless and fall off - maybe.  Whatever your theory of evolution is or how far advanced these aliens are, they are still physical forms and whether or not they have sex, they most certainly go to the bathroom to some degree (so there are some parts they may have shame with).  Why do both not wear clothes? Maybe because they look more badass without wearing their favorite lucky red baseball cap.

The ending of the season 1 was a very nice touch. Noah successfully blows a ship up as it is landing in the alien structure over Boston and this grabs the attention of the super aliens, who land a ship in front of Noah's joyride back home and ask him (through the same drone girl - apparently she is their favorite) to join them in their ship.  Noah says no and the aliens say "you dont have much of a choice.  For some reason, Noah is still under the impression that it is still a choice AND this choice must be made in order to save his son, Ben.  Um, what about the human race? Or the fact you dont have a choice?

Woops-sorry, I was talking about the end being a nice touch.  IT WAS.  Of course the aliens want to pick his brain since he is sort of in charge of the most successful resistance effort yet.  Aliens want to figure out how to make it all stop.  While plenty of people complain its a "Close Encounters" ending or others say "how stupid it doesn't make any sense," I say it makes perfect sense and just because he gets on the ship doesn't mean its the same thing as Close Encounters.  The overall concept of this show is great, they just need to stop doing these cliches that nearly ruin the show!

What I would like to see in Season 2
  1. More of Pope (character).  He conveniently lived and is one of the few genuine "characters" on the show.  Plus, there is great room for his character to grow and evolve.
  2. Noah has to ask to use the bathroom when on board the alien ship.
  3. The alien's questions to Noah on the ship needs to be similar to the scientist questions to Woody Allen in "Sleeper"
  4. Answers about what the aliens want and where they come from (not too much though).
  5. Details about the skidders (the sub-alien-species).
  6. The 2nd Mass (current group of humans) find a way to communicate long distance with other humans
  7. Hot chick wears less make-up (and less clothes maybe? She can get into a fight and tear something...)
  8. Religious girl loses a hand (maybe a limb every season?)
  9. There should be a cut-away episode that follows the Taliban
  10. Aaron Eckhart needs to make a guest appearance
  11. What makes humanity worth saving? (a good topic to bring up)
  12. Let's see some awesome super-alien mind-bending long-cons! Since they are in communication with us now, they should have some badass tricks up their sleeves. They have lived far longer than humans have, so their history books must be piled high with all the tricks and cons of warfare.  Let's see something brilliant (that only Noah can stop).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tom Hanks confirms Sequel to 1988's BIG with 'Little Dandy: Big 2'

Amidst rampant rumors over the last 10 years, Tom Hanks announced today that the long awaited sequel to the iconic smash-hit "Big" (1988) will film this summer. "James [Brooks] and I have been trying to get this thing off the ground for years and it's finally happening. We are all very excited," Hanks told E! news.

The detailed plot surrounding "Little Dandy: Big 2" is yet to be announced but producer James L. Brooks shed some light on what to expect. "Big was essentially a science-fiction film when you think about it but few people thought of it as such, so we want to make that theme more relevenat in the sequel," Brooks said. "Terminator 2 was essentially the same thing as Terminator 1 with a few added elements and we want to play off the similarities between the franchises. Big 2 takes place in the year 2030 and Josh Baskin is 55 years old and still very much in love with Susan, played by Elizabeth Perkins, who is imprisoned for her satutory rape of Josh. The two are very much in love but the complexity of the relationship takes a toll on Susan's mental stability and no longer finds herself attracted to Josh as he ages through his mid fifties. It's a very character rich script and I can't go into the specific details, but Josh makes a wish to be a dandy again to win back Susan's heart. His wish comes true and he becomes a 32 year old man. For the scenes of Josh as a 32 year old we will utilize unused footage from the original Big along with Hank's other early films, including, 'Punchline,' 'Everytime We Say Goodbye,' and 'The Money Pit,' all of which we bought the rights to. Jack Nicholson was attached to star as a rival dandy who has shed 40+ years off his life and we were going to use clips from his earlier works, but he dropped out. He is really pissed at me for some reason."

Little Dandy: Big 2 is scheduled to begin filming in July and McG is slated to direct.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Paris Pass Website
I recently visited Paris for 9 nights (split in the middle with a trip to Italy) and purchased a 4-day Paris Pass for both myself and my wife to enjoy the museums and places of interest.  This came highly recommend to us and we were deciding whether to buy it or not...until one day, they held a 2-day sale so we took advantage without thinking much more about it - to save the 10%. Turns out they do this 10% gimmick often - worked for me, right?  I immediately bought a pass for each of us and as soon as I purchased the passes I had an initial feeling of doubt.  We just paid $370 for 4 days worth of museums (and this was the sale price!).  Was this a deal?  I quickly did some math and crunched some numbers on the museums we would want to visit and the museums we could actually visit (you can't visit 10 museums in a day, obviously).  With our sale price of $370, this requires us to spend $47 a day, which isn't too bad. But that's only to break even!

Here's the kicker: all museums cost 8-12 Euros.  You can't visit more than 3 museums in a day (sometimes only 1 or 2 depending) without already being pressed for time, since museums are often only open from 10-6pm and Mondays or Tuesdays are days many museums are closed, you may be out of luck to save money or time with this bundle.

Basically, if you visit 3 museums a day (and most places you won't want to run in and out within 30 minutes so three is plenty) you will be saving $42 in museum costs plus a few extra bucks on the free metro pass.  This is nearly the same as doing it on your own pace (breaking even in cost, and that's on the 10% sale price).

Of course, this is more than just a "get into museums free." You get a free metro pass for zones 1-3 (which is NOT explained well at all on their website: zones 1-3 cover most of paris and is not related to districts).  This pass often took 2-3 times through the machine at each station to work, but it served us well.  You also get a 2-day red bus pass, which we didn't use since its a cheap gimick, but this is one of their highlights of saving you 27 Euros!

If I were to do it again, I would not have purchased this.  Why?  It didn't save us either money or time.  Yes, we skipped two lines and didn't have to pay each time, but we broke even at best.  Plus, we were in Paris for 9 nights and had to cram in all museums in a mere 4 days just to use the pass and make sure we broke even (something which was a waste to constantly think about) verse going when we want and spacing things out. This was nothing but stress to try and schedule everything to merely not loose too much money.

Don't be fooled into thinking there are countless items in this Paris Pass deal.  A lot of it is junk.  River boat cruise?  We did it because it was on our list but I would not recommend it.  It was cheap, basic, nothing much to it, and slammed with 10 different tour busses and schools and noisy as hell.  I am glad I went, but it was nothing special.  This is the same for half of the museums on this list.  Not to mention their raving about discounts around the city, which are mere 10% off and terrible gimicks like "free ice cream with purcahse of full-priced entree at this chain restaurant."  These aren't savings: they are gimicks for you to waste your money. If they were truly savings, they would offer you more than a 10% discount or wouldn't require you to spend a lot of money for a cheap $2 reward.

  • Do your math before buying. List out all museums you WANT to see and how much it would cost for you to see them with the Pass and then on your own (also consider your restricted time frame on the Paris Pass)
  • If you buy this, don't pay full-price.  They will do that silly 10% off sale here and there.
  • The Louvre and Palace of Versailles are two attractions that can take up an entire day (if your daily pro-rata Paris Pass allocation requires at least 50Euro to be on track, visiting these two museums will cost you triple the money!  If you have extra days in Paris, visit these two places outside of your Paris pass days so you can get more bang for your buck when you stay central. Other museums are large, but these are the largest and can easily take up most of the day.
  • If you decide to buy this pass, make sure you don't use it on both a Monday and Tuesday since many museums are closed on one of those days.

It's a neat idea, but it's a gimick that won't save you any time or money.  I was frustrated to cram in everything "on the clock" when I could have spent the same (if not.. LESS) money doing it, and doing it on my own timeline without constantly worrying about losing money.  With our discounted passes, we had to spend $47 a day in order to "break even."  If we saw 3 museums and used the metro a few times, this would... BREAK EVEN.  It's hard to do more than that between 10AM and 6pm. I spent a lot of time planning out the best options and schedules each day of when to see things, which was a waste of vacation planning and the vacation itself.  I ended up not saving money, and spending too much of my vacation worrying and stressing about losing money on this. In the end, we lost a little bit of money for this waste of time.

Save your time and stress in researching this gimick and pass on the Paris Pass.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I just visited Florence, Italy and here are a few things I could not find online prior to my trip, so I hope this helps someone out there.  The information below is current as of April 2011, so keep in mind the current date. Also, EU = EUROS.

Take a taxi.  The airport is just outside the city and its a quick drive and the service my hotel recommended had a 20-EURO flat rate fee plus 1-EU per bag, so our total was 22-EU.  This is a tiny airport (probably the smallest I have EVER been in) so if you look into those shared vans/shuttles, you will not only pay more, but will have to wait for a designated pick-up time (every 2 hours) and THEN drop other people off before you.  Not worth it - go with a cab.  BEST to ask your hotel for their recommendation on a service for the cheapest rate.  Remember, it’s a pretty quick drive. The 20EU service we used (and I was able to make the reservation myself) is through TAXI 4930 at

Florence doesn't not have a subway system, only busses.  Buses cost 1.20EU and you need to buy the tickets before you get on the bus.  You CAN buy them on the bus, but then they cost 2EU each.  These tickets are different than the standard magnetic strip & scan system you find in major USA cities.  They are basic tickets that you get time-stamped on the bus when you first board to show when you boarded.  You then have 90 minutes to use that ticket on any other line (free transfers).  I was very confused where to buy the ticket at first, thinking it was a magnetic system and also looking for a Kiosk at select stores.  This is not the case.  Tickets are sold at virtually every tobacco/lottery shop and are sold by the cashier, just ask for "bus biglietti" and they have a book of them. For maps and info, go to the bus website at

While this is not as "hot" of a tourist spot as Rome, it is still flooded with tourists and many restaurants and services cater to tourism.  Most people speak English, so don't worry, but don't assume (or be ignorant...) that everyone will speak it or speak it well.  Know your basics: questions, directions, restaurant lingo, etc.  Always best to speak a few sentences first before asking if they speak English – it’s the polite thing to do.

If you are in Florence for more than a couple days, you should take a day trip.  The city has numerous museums, but it’s not that big and you should explore.  I must say the museums here are above expectations as I only had a few in mind to visit and there was so much more.  Basically, you can see the city in a day, but to see all the museums will take a long time.  If you are here strictly for the museums, great, otherwise take a day trip or two.

TRAINS: you can buy an ALL-ITALY pass before your trip through EURORAIL.COM.  I did this and was happy about it.  EXCEPT… it was more expensive than doing it in person.  Since this is a service that helps you manage your trip, you pay more for it.  Also, we bought a 2-person all-Italy pass for 1st class.  Then… some trains require reservations because they fill-up, so you need to buy your seat reservation too, so the prices add up.  While I don’t know the best way to go about it: do your math.  If you don’t need a special ticket, don’t buy a special ticket, especially if you are not going on any wild adventures or multi-city tour.  You can always buy your individual train tickets through tranitalia.  If you want to take trains to other countries, they have passes for this too, so check it out. ALSO, my last note on Eurorail, is that we didn’t plan ahead too well and didn’t make our seat reservations far enough in advance (we already started our trip and were in Paris before heading over to Italy).  The cost of all our seat reservations came out to $166 through Eurorail, but they could not let us buy them because they required to print them out from their offices and mail them to us, which was too late (1 week in advance…).  This made us panic but we stepped into the Florence train station on day 1 and bought the reservations without a problem days before our travels.  And get this, it only cost 46-EU, which is approx $65…. A HUGE discount compared to that Eurorail wanted to charge us (good thing we planned poorly on the reservation front!) All good things, visit the site at

There are good places and bad.  Obviously, the expensive places are very nice and the cheap ones are well, cheap.  We found a great sandwich shop we returned to that was cheap, and we ate at a few quick places that were sub-par.  In Venice, we found a great Kabob place that was DIRT CHEAP and was great.  Price doesn’t dictate quality, but one thing sure does: location.  You will notice a lot of SH*T near the tourist landmarks: bad food, crazy un-related merchandise (fake Rolexes near the tower of Pisa? Gimmie a break).  If you are randomly walking around looking for a place to eat (without any recommendations from books or online) try to find a place not on a tourist street, away from a tourist hot-spot, that doesn’t cater toward convenience of hot, sweaty, loud tourists. Even one block away from a tourist "route" will house many great looking places. Now, remember that Europe is really old, so it’s possible a restaurant has been there hundreds of years before the street turned into a shameful tourist crowd, so don’t disregard anything. We ate at a few good places in Italy, and a few bad.  The good were not in the path of tourists from point A to point B.  Look up what books say is good and decide for yourself if they are worth going to.  I’d say of the fun places we tried, half we stumbled upon and the others were one of the many mentions in a travel book. Another note, if you are searching online, see what college kids from the USA eat at - they will write their review in English and on English forums/review websites and are great means to find places that appeal to you.

As I mentioned above with the TAXI being best for the Florence Airport, when we landed we had a reservation for a shared van, which was not pleasant.  We were scheduled for the 3PM departure, but I was told a guy would have a sign with my name on it.  This did not happen and instead of jumping outside and frantically looking for the van about to leave, I looked around for the guy with the name sign (since this is what I was told to do).  Never found him and in my print outs I saw that the next shared van pick-up was 5pm.  TWO HOURS away for a 20-25 minute drive!  I was very upset (and realized how much of a crock these shared vans were in Florence – again, get a taxi, you can find one for a 20EU flat rate).  There is an APT office for tourists in the airport and they have all sorts of maps and they speak English.  Even if you already have your transpo sorted out (which is what most people are in the office for) this is a great place to stop by: maps, multi-linguists, and helpful information. It’s a small airport so it’s easy to find.

I figured this out before the trip but it took a while to researtch, so here it goes: Europe electrical outlets give out 240volts when USA only gives out 140voltes or so.  THEREFORE, if your electronics are not equipped to handle the 240, they will blow up.  So when traveling, you need to do two things:
    1 – See what electronics you want to bring will handle the 240 volts
    2 – if they CAN handle 240 volts, buy the appropriate adapter (so your prongs will fit into the wall)

There are two things to know here: adapters and converters.  An adapter is a simple $5 plug that allows you to plug in your USA cords to European outlets (makes the prongs fit).  This is only good if your items can handle 240volts.  Most important things can: battery chargers and computers and smart phones (but always best to check first).  If you need a power converter (reduced power to USA so it won’t blow up) these are hard to find, heavy, and not really worth it. Most expensive electronics are good for 240voltes and if your cheap ones (hair dryers, etc) don’t, its probably best to buy a cheap one when you land.

Most of the European Union has a standard 2-prong outlet, but Italy has a 3-prong outlet.  Now I don’t know how it works across the country, but the two prongs MAY OR MAY NOT work in Italy (it all depends on the specific wall outlet size, etc).  I bought a special Italy 3-prong converter for my USA items and it worked fine, but noticed that the lamps in the hotel were 2-pronged.  No idea what the country does, but the $10 investment for 2 adapters was well worth it.

I hope this helps SOMEONE out there – let me know!