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Monday, Mar 8, 2010

Upright Citizen Brigade creators, Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts have returned to television with a new show called Players on Spike TV. The show’s concept is that Matt and Ian are brothers that have opened a sports bar in Phoenix, a framework in which the improved chaos and hilarity will ensue. Personally I have a deep hatred for sports, so I’m a little worried about the subject matter. I’m a little put at ease by the fact that I’m a huge fan of Walsh and Roberts work, especially their work in UCB. I also quite enjoyed Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin’s first show, which was based around an ESPN-like sports show, so I know it can be done. The show premiered last Tuesday, and it airs every Tuesday at 9:30 pm central on Spike TV. Check out the official trailer and a hilarious faux press piece that they shot to promote the show. 


 



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Sunday, Mar 7, 2010

The Academy Awards used to be one of the biggest annual events on television, but up until last year, its TV ratings kept going down. Though some people are clearly heavily into the whole thing by throwing “Oscar parties” and betting on who will win what, most people won’t even bother to watch the whole show. Some people argued that this was because the movies that America cared about weren’t usually nominated. This year’s show, with its ten best picture nominees, will either prove or refute that theory.


In years past, however, a major portion of the audience just tuned in to see what everyone was wearing. The Oscars were more than just the source to see the most famous people in Hollywood celebrating the best movies of the past year; it was also a major pop culture event. It was big news in 1973, when Marlon Brando refused his “Best Actor in a Leading Role” award and chose Sacheen Littlefeather to make a speech in his place. In 1985, Sally Field drew laughs because she said, “You like me! Right now, you like me!” during her “Best Actress” acceptance speech, and in 1998, everyone talked about how Roberto Benigni climbed up on the seats on his way to accept the “Best Foreign Language Film” award. However, in today’s 24-hour news cycle, instant YouTube world, nobody misses anything big. There are multiple entertainment news shows on air that will tell you about everything that happened and many websites, PopMatters included, that will list who won what.


That’s why I won’t be watching the Oscars, even though most of the broadcast networks have bought into the hype, with only CBS offering anything new. They’ll be showing an episode of The Amazing Race based around the sites in Germany where the Beatles got their start. If you’re lucky enough to have cable, there’s a few former Oscar winning movies on, including The Dark Knight on Cinemax, Goodfellas on AMC, and Saving Private Ryan on TNT. Alternately, you could have a DVD marathon of your favorite movies and avoid all of the commercials while you’re at it. After all, you’re not missing anything.



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Friday, Mar 5, 2010

This Funny Or Die video features almost all the iconic presidential impressions from Saturday Night Live all in the same room, some reprising roles they haven’t played since the ‘70s.


The only notable absence is Phil Hartman’s Ronald Reagan. Hartman is sadly no longer with us, but he is impeccably replaced by Jim Carrey, who used to play Reagan back in his early days logging time on In Living Color.


All in all, a pretty momentous event for comedy and political enthusiasts alike.


Here’s one of the old legendary Phil Hartman sketches…



Tagged as: funny or die
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Thursday, Mar 4, 2010

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I can actually remember information gleaned more than five minutes ago. Sure, in an increasingly Twitterized world, if it didn’t just happen, maybe it never happened at all. But are there really people over two weeks old who don’t know who John Lennon is?


That’s apparently Sean Lennon’s fear. How do I know? Because the deceased former Beatle’s youngest son said exactly that on his official Twitter page. Or rather that’s what he tweeted. Twittered? Twaddled? Forgive me—I’m too consumed with moral Beatle outrage to keep up with the terminology.


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Thursday, Mar 4, 2010
Better Than Advertised

NBC desperately wants its new family dramedy Parenthood to be a success. For months, the show has been advertised online and in magazines with such tired clichés as “Parenthood is realizing you’ve become your father” and “Parenthood is reading more Dick and Jane than Moby Dick”. Its premiere episode was hyped as “brought to you with limited commercial interruption by Nissan”, so I thought I was in store for a rip-off of Brothers and Sisters or Modern Family that served as a cheap infomercial for minivans. Furthermore, the show is loosely based on the 1989 movie of the same title that started Steve Martin. However, it’s better than advertised.


One problem with the show, though, is the fact that there are so many members of the Braverman family to keep track of. A large focus of Tuesday’s episode was single divorcee Sarah (Lauren Graham) who picked up her spoiled brat daughter, Amber, and seemingly normal teenage son, Drew, and moved back home to her parents. However, a more interesting character on the show is Sarah’s brother, Adam (Brian Krause). After losing his position as Little League coach when he fights with the umpire over a call involving his son, Max, he argues with his pushy dad (Craig T. Nelson) over a nosebleed he apparently caused by pushing Max to play basketball. After a violent outburst in school, Max is diagnosed with Asperger’s Disease. The two most poignant moments in the episode dealt with Adam and his wife, Kristina, dealing with this news and the grandfather’s realization that “something’s wrong” with Max. Less interesting is the plight of Sarah and Adam’s slacker brother Crosby (Dax Shepard), a recording engineer who reluctantly agrees to have a baby with his record producer girlfriend within three years, after learning that she was looking for a sperm donor. A supposed cliffhanger is his discovery that he fathered a son named Jabbar with a stripper named Jasmine. What I find more interesting is Braverman sister, Julia, (Erika Christensen) a working mom who is beginning to realize that her daughter, Sydney, prefers her stay-at-home dad to her.


As typical of a family drama, family crises occur. Amber gets herself and good-girl cousin, Haddie, arrested for drug possession and Drew runs away to live with his father after seeing his mother slugging wine in the kitchen with her new date. Also, Sarah believes her father could be having an affair. By the end of the episode, the whole clan comes together to cheer on Max at another baseball game.


For a show that proclaims to be all about family, it’s ironic that Parenthood is not a show that a family could watch together. It’s too soon to know where the series is headed, but with a little tweaking, Parenthood could become the next 7th Heaven or Eight Is Enough, or at the very least, be the show that Life Unexpected pretends to be.


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