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by Crispin Kott

23 Jun 2010

William Shatner’s delivery has long been an over-tapped well of material for hack stand-up comics. But while Captain Kirk has gone under the microscope, his co-stars have often escaped similar scrutiny. For the purposes of this review, the regular crew of the Enterprise gets a pass. After all, they crammed a five year mission into just three seasons of television. Plus, a measured critique would also have to include Chekov’s wig and Spock’s goatee.

Instead, let’s focus on the co-stars, many of whom clearly relished their roles as intergalactic rogues, vagabonds and ragamuffins. So much scenery was chewed by bit players between 1966-69, it’s no wonder the series was forced off the air.

by Elizabeth Wiggins

21 Jun 2010

A tense moment in The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Growing up in New Jersey, jammed all the way out on the East Coast and in between a bunch of people, it’s hard to imagine what life is like in the rest of America. In school, the memorization of the capitals of other states mostly seems like an act of politeness. Sure, the capital of Wyoming is Cheyenne, but it’s not like that knowledge is being stored for an actual trip there. This dynamic of awareness of other place ‘out there’ and standoffishness (who cares?) works in both directions; while New Jerseyans have trouble imagining life elsewhere, the population west of the Delaware River has some ideas about how things go in New Jersey that relate to big hair and strong accents. Until recently, this was all residents of New Jersey had to worry about when defending themselves throughout the United States and abroad. However, the recent focus on New Jersey as a site to mine for reality television gold raises some questions about the tension between celebrating a local identity and engaging in troubling self-parody.

by Nathan Pensky

17 Jun 2010

The overwhelmingly positive media reaction to Betty White’s guest star appearance recently on Saturday Night Live seemed to be about two very different dynamics: A) Classic live comedy performance and B) Classic live variety performance. Because, really, watching Betty White perform at her age on live television was a lot like watching someone juggle a bunch of flaming bowling pins, except here the juggling represents being really, really old. That Betty White is a good comic actress is undeniable. But so is every SNL cast member. Television viewers’ fascination with White’s performance had to do not only with her spot-on comic delivery, but also with their anxious protectiveness of her legend status. The watchability of the actual telecast hinged in equal parts on these two feelings, as if the viewer was always caught between saying to oneself, “Wow, that was funny!” and “Wow, good job for actually pulling it off!” Viewers were concerned for White’s safety in the same way they would be for their own grandmothers, except instead of braving a particularly steep stairwell, White was looking slyly through a television screen and talking about her dusty muffin.

by Jessy Krupa

10 Jun 2010

Before Supernatural ended its fifth season a couple of weeks ago, most of its viewers knew that the series had been renewed for another season. The internet buzzed about writer Sera Gamble’s admission that the apocalypse plot would be resolved in the season finale, which was rumored to include the death of a beloved character. Some of its more media savvy fans knew that stars Jensen Ackles (Dean) and Jared Padalecki (Sam) had signed six-year contracts, so rumors spun that either Misha Collins (Castiel) or Jim Beaver (Bobby) would be leaving the show.

On the season finale, Sam allowed himself to be possessed by Satan so he could lead him into a trap that would render him powerless. During the struggle, his half-brother Adam (Jake Abel), who was possessed by the angel Michael, fell into the same trap and they all vanished. Castiel went back to Heaven, and the prophet Chuck stated that Dean gave up the hunting way of life and wouldn’t see Bobby for a long time afterward. As we seen Dean sit down to dinner with his ex-girlfriend and her son, Sam (or something that looked just like him) was standing outside of their home. Then Chuck mysteriously vaporized away.

by Henry Guyer

3 Jun 2010

The initial success and, subsequently, the over-saturation of the superhero genre has brought us two distinct schools of thought: that of a hyperbolic superficiality that revels in its camp comic-book world or an approach directed towards realism (as close to realistic as the supernatural can conceivably be). The former has had its share of utterly forgettable fiascos—Daredevil, Elektra, The Fantastic Four—films and franchises that will continue to be made because, the sad fact is, money talks above all else. But it has also had its tongue-in-cheek successes in the likes of Iron Man and Spider-Man. They can work when they don’t take themselves too seriously and play their cards just right.

The latter category, however, has explored the human aspect in the genre, from man’s ability for good to its many flaws. This is the path explored by The Watchmen, The Dark Knight, and, to a much lighter extent, NBC’s Heroes, a show that tried to tread both paths or was confused to which group it belonged. With the show’s descent into disappointment and, finally, cancellation, there is now room for a new show to take over the superhero mantle on television, maybe one that can prove to be a little bit more brave.

I’m not talking about No Ordinary Family, the forthcoming ABC show that looks to fill this niche next fall. Instead I’m turning my attention towards the other side of the pond for the latest (and brilliant) addition to the canon—Britain’s The Misfits.

//Mixed media

The Hills Are Alive, But Nobody Else Is in 'The Happiness of the Katakuris'

// Short Ends and Leader

"Happiness of the Katakuris is one of Takashi Miike's oddest movies, and that's saying something.

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