Archive for October, 2009

Video of the Weekend

Whenever they add new characters to the cast of The Office — or, lets face it, to Parks and Recreation, since those characters are basically in the same tableau as The Office — I’m amazed at how they always find a new way for a person to be funny. So many sitcoms rely on basic comedy types: the Overgrown Frat Boy (see Two and a Half Men), the Maladjusted Nerd (see Big Bang Theory), the Sarcastic or Surly Teenager (see any family comedy ever), etc. These types aren’t always used in bad ways — How I Met Your Mother does a great job with Marshall’s Overgrown Frat Boy type — but they’re easy for audiences to spot, recognize, and understand quickly, so lots of comedies use them.

All of the characters on The Office and Parks and Rec are basically Office Workers — they’re all in the same type. The shows have to work harder, then, to make sure that they’re all funny in different ways. They can’t all be wacky, and they can’t all be sardonic. Right now, I’m really tickled by Erin. While she doesn’t get so many punchlines, Ellie Kemper does a great job of making her sweet and people-pleasing, and the fact that she grates on Pam (the pervious sweet, people-pleasing receptionist) really gets me. Erin asking Michael’s permission to put out Pam’s candy (and his thanking her for asking), and her calling Michael and saying “people are asking questions” after he fell into the koi pond, to me was funnier than Michael’s squirm-inducing attempt to mock himself.

This is all just a really long way of saying I’m really pleased that Ellie Kemper is featured so prominently in the video for “Male Prima Donna,” the new hit sensation by Subtle Sexuality. The video is pretty amazing.

October 30th, 2009

An uneasy tension between hot and cute: Jake Gyllenhaal and Elmo

jakeandelmo

Sigh.

The upcoming 40th season of Sesame Street will feature a whole mess of celebrity guests, including a certain gentleman who the courts insist I stay 200 feet away from at all times. Other guests include Cameron Diaz, Adam Sandler, Eva Longoria, Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, Hugh Jackman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Matthew Fox and Michelle Obama.

2 comments October 29th, 2009

Friday Night Lights: East of Dillon

Welcome back to Dillon, Panther fans. And Lions fans! Because we’re Lions fans now. Okay, to catch up. When last we left the good folks of Dillon, Coach Taylor had lost his job as head coach of the Panthers to his conceited QB’s private coach. He is now the coach at under-funded, athletically gerrymandered East Dillon High. Tami is still the principal at the now-renamed West Dillon High. So: conflict. Matt Saracen has been accepted to art school in Chicago. Lyla has gone to Vanderbilt and Tyra has gone to UT and we will miss their pretty, pretty hair. Tim is…going to college? Kind of? And also: Clear eyes, full hearts.

All right, all right, all right.

All right, all right, all right.

Click to continue reading “Friday Night Lights: East of Dillon”

2 comments October 29th, 2009

Mad Men: Jon Hamm’s Emmy reel

don-betty-IMG_1977If you don’t watch Mad Men, you probably know at least a few people who watch it obsessively. While I wouldn’t say I watch it “obsessively,” I’ve been sticking with it pretty faithfully even though I’m tempted to dump it because I don’t think it lives up to the hype.

This isn’t the same battered wife relationship I have with Grey’s Anatomy, where I keep going back no matter how horrible it gets. My relationship with Mad Men echoes my real life relationships, where I keep going back time and time again until I’ve extinguished anything resembling a spark. And I invest way too much time and energy into it because I’m adverse to conflict and decision-making and I don’t want to actually make the move and end it.

Perhaps I’m getting too personal.

Moving on, though, if you watch Mad Men you may agree that Sunday’s episode was probably one the most emotionally compelling episodes of the series thus far.  I would even use one word that I rarely associate with the show: rewarding.

After Betty’s discovery of Don’s Secret Dick Past (SDP), I really didn’t expect her to call him out on it so aggressively. Sure, she’s been known to throw around her fair share of tantrums and ultimatums. And, yes, she did give him some tiny chances to fess up to his past.  But the way she threw down at the end of the episode basically paid off for two and a half seasons worth of waiting for the other shoe to drop on Don’s life of smoke and mirrors.

I was left starved for more. In fact, I wish that the scene with Betty and Don at the kitchen table (with her barking questions and him shaking as he held his cigarette) would have lasted for the last half hour of the episode. Sort of like the episode of Six Feet Under where David gets kidnapped — it’s a normal episode until halfway through, when it turns into a claustrophobic psycho-drama.

This was definitely Jon Hamm’s biggest acting moment to date. Don Draper is rarely caught off-guard and never flustered or vulnerable. To see his besuited, hair gelled shell crack (and crack wiiiiide open) was riveting to watch. Hamm did a great job. January Jones still can’t act her way out of paper bag, but pay no mind.

Now, let’s get Sal back and have him indulge all his ‘mo fantasies.  Then we’ll really be in business.

October 27th, 2009

When singing nerds attack

Did you ever wonder what happens when politics and musical theater have a baby? No, not 1776. This.

I was listening to the podcast from Rachel Maddow’s Friday-night show on my walk home, as I am wont to do, and the first segment had me laughing out loud and gasping in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The chutzpah it takes to do that amazes me. Well done, Billionaires for Wealthcare.

1 comment October 26th, 2009

TVBC: Nip/Tuck, Glee, Dollhouse

Scooter takes a look at the new season of Nip/Tuck now with 100% more mimes. (Scooter McGavin’s 9th Green)

Vance loved what may have been Mia Michael’s last choreography for SYTYCD on So You Think You Can Dance Canada‘s Top 6. (Tapeworthy)

When did Parks and Recreation and Dollhouse get good? Jesse examines the evolution. (TiFaux)

This week, we offered up some valuable lessons ABC, CBS, NBC and the CW can learn from the success of GLEE. (The TV Addict)

October 22nd, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 4

In the short history of SNL running episodes on four successive weekends — this week’s show capped only the third time they’ve done this — the fourth installment has rarely been much good. Usually, predicting SNL episode quality based on logical scheduling patterns proves fruitless; returns after long breaks, which you might assume would result in a build up of decent material, are sometimes disappointing (perhaps because even after a long break, the show is still more or less written and produced in a single week), and often a good episode will turn up during a dismal run, or vice versa. But there was a clear sense of burnout running through this episode that it would be difficult not to attribute to this being the seventh SNL production in five weeks (counting the three Weekend Update Thursday installments).

Gerard Butler was the nominal host, but for some reason the first chunk of the show consisted of reprising bits from last season’s standout Dwayne The Rock Johnson-hosted episode. Johnson himself actually reappeared to play The Rock Obama, a clever riff on the Incredible Hulk that had little to say in its second go-round. Curiously, Johnson wasn’t on hand for a reprisal of the sketch where Bill Hader plays a sportscaster who is clearly a malevolent alien beast; he originally appeared as Hader’s human co-anchor inexplicably attempting to cover up the alien’s nature.  It was one of last season’s most inspired moments, and although there’s still fun in watching Hader’s brilliant physical and vocal work as the alien, no one provided a real reason for essentially remaking the sketch without a sense of surprise.

Click to continue reading “Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 4”

3 comments October 19th, 2009

TVBC: Arrested Development, So You Think You Can Dance, Sunset Beat

blackcoalition.jpgWe keep hearing that the only thing keeping us from an Arrested Development movie is scheduling conflicts, so BuzzSugar checked in on what each cast member is up to now. (BuzzSugar)

For those that may only know The Avett Brothers from providing the soundtrack to Landry and Tyra hooking up will want to check out their latest album I and Love and You. Scooter even points out how you can download the title track for free and legally. (Scooter McGavin’s 9th Green)

Vance agrees with Mia Michaels who said that the remaining Top 4 Girls in the current So You Think You Can Dance Canada Top 8 is the strongest ever. But Vance still loves Vincent best. (Tapeworthy)

If the idea of George Clooney with ridiculous 21 Jump Street hair make you excited, you might want to learn about Sunset Beat. (TiFaux)

2 comments October 15th, 2009

Hey, These Shows Got Good: Parks and Recreation and Dollhouse

We will stare at you until you watch our show.

We will stare at you until you watch our show.

After Arrested Development and Veronica Mars and Pushing Daisies, there were a few months there where I wasn’t watching some wonderful show with the knowledge in the back of my head that I wouldn’t get as many episodes as I wanted. My TV watching was pretty much divided between the safe but not tired veterans (The Office; 30 Rock; How I Met Your Mother); the equally safe ultra-veterans (Saturday Night Live; The Simpsons); and shows that I didn’t care that much about in the scheme of things anyway (I still haven’t watched the last two or three episodes ever of The Sarah Connor Chronicles — though I maintain that the show’s two seasons tell a cooler story than Terminator 3 or Terminator 4).

Then Parks and Recreation and Dollhouse had to go and get good.

In truth, the upswing for both shows happened during their respective first seasons, last spring. In fact, I wasn’t bashing either show even in their earliest, shakiest days. For both, the disappointment seemed a matter of expectations: Park was an amusing little show in the vein of The Office that seemed like it could’ve been better given the level of talent in front of and behind the camera. Dollhouse is a Joss Whedon Experience, and his previous three shows have such vehement cult followings, some people seemed downright angry that his new one was merely entertaining and sort of cool, rather than something to cry over and make retarded Livejournal icons about. Still, there was no disputing that both shows came up a little short of their potential at first.

By the end of their first seasons, though, both Parks and Dollhouse appeared to reach some sort of creative epiphany. The Parks season finale, “Rock Show,” in which the Pawnee Parks Department goes out to see Andy (Chris Pratt) and his band (name constantly in flux), showed the ensemble really coming together, and delivered some of the show’s biggest laughs. Dollhouse did sort of kick into gear, as its creators kept promising, with its mid-season episode “Man on the Street,” with Patton Oswalt as a mourning client interrogated by crusading FBI agent Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett), but saved its best for even later, as the last two aired episodes of the season cooked with tension and humor and trippy sci-fi ideas, and the DVD-premiere postscript, “Epitaph One,” set a bunch of years in the future, was easily one of the best hours of sci-fi on TV this year. Both shows got the nod for a second year despite their middling-to-poor ratings.

Click to continue reading “Hey, These Shows Got Good: Parks and Recreation and Dollhouse

5 comments October 15th, 2009

Coming Soon: Friday Night Lights!

Can you hear it? Friends, can you? The fourth season of Friday Night Lights is coming to DirecTV at the end of the month, and I AM SO EXCITED I CAN HARDLY STAND IT. I have missed everyone so much! Coach! Mrs. Coach! Tim Riggins! Matt Saracen! Julie, now that she’s not acting like an asshole all the time! All those other people! Hell, I’ve missed Buddy Garrity.

If you’ve also missed the good people of Dillon, treat yourselves to this splendid behind-the-scenes video from the production of a promo (yeah, A PROMO, that is how hard up I am) for the fourth season.

Visually it reminds me of last year’s promos, but with, you know, more exploding. It’s just so blissful to see everyone again, especially three minutes in when Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch (yes, I know Tim Riggins is a fictional character. I’m working on accepting that) just wanders through the frame. He’s so pretty.

If you’re watching carefully, you’ll see one of the technical fellows showing off the pre-visualization of the spot on a laptop, and I’m pretty sure the pre-viz we see is of the Tim Riggins scene. In which he looks like Prince Valiant, because that hair, it just does not translate to animation. I laughed.

Friday Night Lights returns to DirecTV Oct. 28. I will be writing about it every week here at TiFaux (and I’m saying that so you all hold me to it). Clear eyes, full hearts.

October 14th, 2009

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