Saturday, June 01, 2013

We're all Gonna Have so Much Fun We're Gonna Need Plastic Surgery to Remove our Smiles

National Lampoon's Vacation

In Hollywood’s never-ending quest to ruin my childhood, it looks like we will be getting a National Lampoon's Vacation reboot in the near future focusing on a grown up Rusty Griswold. But instead of getting a return of Anthony Michael Hall, Johnny Galecki, Ethan Embry, or even Jason Lively (that is actually a pretty impressive lineup of then unknown actors, certainly better than the former Audrey’s which is just Juliette Lewis and three actresses no one remembers) Ed Helms will star in Theme Park Vacation. Granted I would still watch if it involved strapping a dead Chevy Chase to the roof of the car.

But like many reboots and remakes, no matter how bad it will be, it will not taint the brilliance of the original Vacation, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame. The movie was not just a comedy but a horror film for any child facing a long trip stuck in a station wagon with their family where anything that can go wrong does like getting stranded in the desert or when your aunt does en route to her son’s house and you have to strap her to the roof of your car.

And reaching your destination is no oasis either when you find the amusement park you drove thousands of miles to go to is closed for repairs. So the Griswold’s would do anything an sane family would do, kidnap the security guard, the always funny John Candy, and make him run free in the park. We have all been there.

Many kids these day may just know Chevy Chase today as they bumbling old dude who just got fired from Community, but Vacation came at a time when he was about to make the funniest run at the multiplex possibly ever. He followed up the Vacation with Fletch, European Vacation, Spies Like Us, and ¡Three Amigos!, all released over a three year span. I defy anyone to find a funnier concentration of films by anyone ever. Unfortunately after completing a string of sequels in 1989 (Caddyshack 2, Fletch Lives, and Christmas Vacation) he really has not been that funny since. Anyone remember Cops And Robbersons? It may be better if you did not.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Around the Tubes: 5/31/13

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on Merlin, The Bridge, Paranormal Witness, Killing Kennedy, Oprah's Master Class, Mountain Men, Ring of Fire, and Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear.

= Tonight is the series finale of Merlin at 10:00 on Syfy. Here is a clip to get you ready:

- We still have a month until the start of The Bridge but FX continues to release more promos, here is the latest:

- Syfy’s original series Paranormal Witness returns on Wednesday, June 5 at 10: with the first of 20 new episodes featuring chilling first-person accounts of real-life hauntings told through terrifying dramatic reenactments. Season 3 begins with “The Long Island Terror,” featuring intense demonic activity at a house in Long Island, NY. Following the tragic death of her husband, the widow of a New York City Fire Department lieutenant killed in the line of duty, attempts to rebuild her life in a newly constructed home. Unbeknownst to her and her family, the property’s original owners were cultists and they soon find themselves being haunted by an evil spirit awakened by the renovations. Check out a promo below:

- After the success of Killing Lincoln, the question was not if the National Geographic Channel would adapt Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy, but when and who they would cast. Production start in June and premiere later this year timed to the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination. Rob Lowe (who recently narrated the channel’s recent The 80’s: The Story of Us) will be playing John F. Kennedy, with Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time) as his wife. No word on who will play Lee Harvey Oswalt yet, but his wife will be portrayed by Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in his first Russian speaking role.

- On this Sunday’s episode Oprah’s Master Class, the talk show host will welcome Lenny Kravitz to talk about how his mixed cultural background influenced his signature retro music style and how he challenged the industry with his unconventional image.

- New to DVD next week include History’s first season of Mountain Men, and the Lifetime Original Movie Ring of Fire with Jewel as June Carter Cash.

Tonight at 9:00, Chiller presents the debut of its first-ever anthology film, Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear. The film comprises five unique – and hair-raising – takes on the human senses, each the vision of select up-and-coming writer/directors (including 20-year-old phenom Emily Hagins, who recently debuted her newest feature, Grow Up Tony Phillips, at SXSW 2013):
Smell: Nick Everhart (2012 Doomsday)
See: Miko Hughes (Directorial Debut; Actor: Pet Semetary, New Nightmare, Steve Niles’ Remains)
Touch: Emily Hagins (Grow Up, Tony Phillips; My Sucky Teen Romance)
Taste: Eric England (Madison County, Roadside)
Listen: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton (YellowBrickRoad)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Previewing Fish Tank Kings

Fish Tank Kings

Just when you thought reality has exhausted all the random jobs anyone could possibly think of, Saturday sees the premiere of Fish Tank Kings at 9:00 on Nat Geo Wild. As the title suggest, the people followed on the show build fish tanks. Not just normal fish tanks that you can pick up at your local pet supply story of course, they build custom, one of a kind fish tanks. If you can think of it, they can build it for you.

Case in point, the premiere features a car dealership owner who drives to the boys of Living Color in a forty year old Volkswagen that he wants to have a fish tank installed in the back of the van so anyone who sits in the driver’s seat can look behind them and see a stingray looking back at them. And for those that have never been in the back of a Volkswagen before, there are some weird measurements and random edges which makes placing a form fitting aquarium even harder.

The old men of Living Color are even getting a new employee this season. No they do not hire the greasy old dude who applies; of course they hire the hot marine biologist as an intern and are quick to get her into a bikini as the hunt for fish to put in their custom made tanks. In addition to the Volkswagen, the guys (and new lady) this season will also try contract a new fish tank for the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, an educational facility and rehab center for sea turtles and they have to meticulously create a seascape that mirrors a sea turtle’s natural habitat. They will also be tasked to build a pair of outsized fish tanks around a fireplace at a private residence in Orlando.

Fish Tank Kings airs Saturdays at 9:00 on Nat Geo Wild.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Previewing Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic

I am of the age that when I think of Richard Pryor I think of such great films like The Toy, Brewster’s Millions and See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Okay, I realize now looking back that The Toy was hugely racist considering it was about a rich white kid who “buys” a black dude to entertain him. I bring this up because this part of Pryor’s career was basically breezed over in the documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic premiering Friday at 9:00 on Showtime. The film comes from director Marina Zenovich who also did the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

Since I missed his “golden age” when he was the greatest stand up alive, it is nice to look at retrospectives like this to see the comedian at his best and not how I usually remember him when I was a kid and he had already “sold out.” We first see Pryor in the film at the start of his career in 1963 with his first trip to The Tonight Show (it is weird to watch these old talk shows and hear the N-word flow so frequently when today you do not even hear black people say it except occasionally when it is unbleeped on basic cable talk shows) and his attempt at being a more “mainstream” comedian in Vegas before transforming his act into the comic’s comic he would become.

This is a warts and all documentary that does not shy away from Pryor’s more erratic behaviors like of course the time he lit himself on fire, his fights with NBC over his television show (which will probably have you searching Amazon after hearing about it) where he had a consultant to make sure he was “Black enough”, how the movie studio would not let him star in Blazzing Saddles, and a bizarre set he gave at a Gay rights rally.

The documentary features his contemporaries and followers like George Lopez, Bob Newhart, Mike Epps and more but most of the commentary comes from Pryor’s lawyers, agents, wives, girlfriends and the friends who knew him best. If you only remember Pryor from his awesomely cheesy eighties movies or are even younger than me and only know him by name if at all, you definitely will want to check this out to see why most comedians think Richard Pryor was the greatest stand-up comedian to ever live.

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic premieres Friday at 9:00 on Showtime.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The 10 Greatest Hate-Watching Television Shows of the Past Decade

Hate Watching seems to be a new phenomenon. I do not remember a show in my youth that I really hated watching (granted younger people are easier to amuse). I am sure the first question is why do you watch television shows you hate? The answer is quite simple, I really like complaining, I like it almost as much as I do watching great show (and let’s face it, it is a lot easier to find shows to hate watch than great shows). Plus I am a completist. If I watch a second episode I will be watching the show until the series finales. I can count the number of shows I quit from the past decade in the middle of it run on my hands. So in honor of The Killing returning this Sunday, here are the 10 Greatest Hate Watching

1. Lost
How Far Did I Get Through? Watched every 121 episode as well as all fourteen recap specials.
When Did it Go Bad? The first season finale.

Not only is this number one on the list, Lost for all intents and purposes invented hate watching. The first season was really good, it built this mysterious island, filled it interesting characters; there were intriguing flashbacks where people would randomly run into each other. And then the extremely three hour season finale came and nothing happened and everyone realized that the writers were making it all up as they went along. The characters spend the entire back half the season trying to open the hatch, and when they finally did… fade to black, see you next summer. I never truly enjoyed the show after that but had to stick around to see what everything meant. As it turned out, it meant nothing. If I could, I would sue the show to get six years of my life back.

2. The Killing
How Far Did I Get Through? Watched the first two seasons, have no intentions to watch the third (though ask me Monday to see if I could stay away)
When Did it Go Bad? After they spent four episodes with the teacher as the main suspect only for him to be cleared and were back at square one with no leads.

Prior to The Killing AMC billed itself as the “Place Where Stories Matter” they were racking up awards with the well received (and overly pretentious) shows Mad Men and Breaking Bad, so anticipation was high and The Killing lived up to it. But as each episode passed, everyone started to realize maybe it was not the best idea to stretch out an episode of Law and Order for an entire season. But at least we could rest in the solace that we would learn who killed Rosie Larson in the season finale. So the finale rolls around, Linden catches the city councilman and it is finally over. Except then you look at your clock and wonder why there is still five minutes left. Oh wait, evidence was faked, the mayor did not do it, come back for season two to find out who killed Rosie. What the frack! So I had to sit through another horrible season that somehow managed to be worse than the first only to find out who did it and the reasoning was extremely lame. If I start to watch the third season, please someone kill me. You can even have my aunt knowingly push a random car into a lake with me in the trunk.

3. Heroes
How Far Did I Get Through? Once they killed off Kristen Bell, I was out. Heroes was one of only three times I stopped watching a series mid-season (Jericho season one and Supernatural season two are the other ones).
When Did It Go Bad? Some would argue that the show went downhill in its second season; I would argue it never was any good.

Really, the only good episode in the series was the one written by Bryan Fuller (can you image how much better the show would have been had Fuller created it). The storylines were lame, the acting was worse, and the Big Bad was laughably bad. Even worse, Kristen Bell, fresh off the great Veronica Mars, got stuck slumming it with some horrible actor is an extremely silly plotline. I actually cheered when she was killed off because that meant I had a reason to stop watching and it freed Bell to move unto something better, which she did not because all she did afterwards was a string of cheesy chick flicks. (As rumor have it, Bell was offered the role of Charlotte on Lost at the same time but choose Heroes because she had just spent a couple months in Hawaii, where Lost set up camp, filming Forgetting Sarah Marshall.)

4. Survivor: Redemption Island
How Far Did I Get Through? Begrudgingly watched every episode, and every episode since.
When Did It Go Bad? The moment they cast Boston Rob and Russell Hantz.

There have been some bad seasons of Survivor but I never thought we would ever see one as bad as the season the porn star won. Then they announced Redemption Island which was curse from the start. Again Survivor has introduced some stupid twists, but Redemption Island was the worse. And it turned out to be a failure. Every person voted out would not actually leave the game but instead be exiled to Redemption Island where they could fight their way back into the game. Except in the two seasons that used Redemption Island, all four contestants reintroduced into the game were promptly voted off again. And if the cheesy gimmick was not enough, the show reintroduced my two least favorite returning players ever, Boston Rob and Russell. Thankfully Russell’s tribe was smart enough to dump him first but Rob stuck it out to the end and his airtight alliance with some of the dumbest people ever to play the game made the post merge episode painful to sit through because nothing happened. On the bright side, the season did give us Andrea, the Hottest Token Hot Chick in the History of Survivor.

5. How I Met Your Mother
How Far Did I Get Through? Have watched every episode so far and with only one season left will undoubtedly make it through all ten seasons.
When Did it Go Bad? It really was a slow decline but if I had to pick one singular moment, I was always disappointed when Victoria left the show for the first time, I was always hoping she would turn out to be the titular character.

This show is on the list simply because it has ran way too long especially considering its concept. Ted has been telling the story of how he met their mother for nine years now and we just met her during the most recent season finale. Keep in mind, just the audience met the mother, Ted has not even met her yet. Who sits through a story that long? Apparently I do.

6. Smallville
How Far Did I Get Through? When Lana Lang left, so did I.
When Did It Go Bad? Seriously, you do not let the Token Hot Chick leave.

Much like the previous selection, the show just went on about twice as long as it should have been. The show started out as a high school show and the series with Clark out of high school ended up bring more than two times longer than he was taking classes.

7. The Walking Dead
How Far Did I Get Through? Watched every episode so far (including a couple episodes of Talking Dead) and will continue to do so).
When Did It Go Bad? Even though the first season was slow, the farm sucked massively.
This probably should be higher on the list because it is worse than many of those shows, but as long as I get to see one zombie die violently per episode, I do get some enjoyment out of the show.

8. The Real World
How Far Did I Get Through? Las Vegas was the tipping point for me.
When Did It Go Bad? Vegas was just too trashy for me.

The Real World started out as great voyeurism that touched subject matter than even scripted television shows would not touch. I met my first gay homosexual (Norman), first HIV infected person (Pedro), first hot lesbian (Genesis), and the first person to ever wire their mouth shut to lose weight (Tami). Then in Chicago, the producers put camera in the bedroom where we watched Cara have sex live on camera with some random dude (and this is after a groupie hook up with who my sources tell me was Big Head Todd of the Monsters fame). Care then opened up the floodgates for Las Vegas which was like Sodom and Gomorrah: the Reality Show thanks to Trishelle. At the same time, MTV launched The Challenge where I still got my Real World fix.

9. Political Shows
How Far Did Get Through? 24 hour news remains my go to when avoiding commercials.
When Did it Go Bad? Probably when Fox News went hard right and MSNBC tried to be the counterpoint by going hard left.

As a political junkie, I cannot not watch the talking heads on the twenty-four news networks (with the exception of Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity, you have to draw the line somewhere) even if they have gotten deeply partisan over the years. You have conservatives complain that MSNBC treats the president with kid gloves while tingles ride up their legs while Fox News rails against the mainstream media even though they are the most watched cable news station, it does not get much more mainstream than that. At least W. Kamau Bell has the common courtesy to call his show Totally Biased. And it looks to only get more partisan in the upcoming months when One America News launches which is being sold as a new station for people who think Fox News is too liberal. Great. It is a shame the most balanced news show on cable is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

10. Once Upon a Time
How Far Did Get through? Have watched every episode not including the recap specials) and will probably continue to watch next season along with the presumably just as bad Once Upon a Time: Wonderland spin-off next season too.
When Did it Go Bad? With the introduction of magic in the first season finale.

Considering what is number one on this list, I probably should have avoided anything “from the writers of Lost” like the plague, but like Lost, the set up was too interesting to pass up. And hopefully the writers from Lost would learn from their mistakes. They did not, there are still plot holes so big you can sail the Jolly Rodger through it. And though the writers deserve to have plenty of poetic license, they go too far like ruining Neverland and what moron decided to cast an Abercrombie model as Captain Hook or even include Dr. Frankenstein at all? Much like Heroes, it is hard not to wonder how much better this show would be if it were being run by Bryan Fuller. But if the show were created by Bryan Fuller, it would have been canceled already. With that said, I will probably not only still watch next season but will probably watch the Wonderland spin-off.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 5/26/13

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

I Could’ve Been Your Girl – She and Him

I was less than impressed with the third She and Him album, but at least they created an entertaining music video even if it is very reminiscent of the Saturday Night Live French café dance sequence skit which I a pretty sure Zooey Deshanel was in once (are I am just assuming she hosted around that time because of Abby Elliot’s Zooey impression).

Love Somebody – Maroon 5

This looks like the type of video that some weird alternative band would have made that only got played during 120 Minutes during the nineties not something a boring pop band like Maroon 5 has become would release.

Red Hands – Walk Off the Earth

We have seen plenty of one take videos in the history of the medium, but this is the first one I can think of where the video was show out of order in one take and then edited in order post production. To see the Walk Off the Earth video without the edits, check out the Unedited Version of the video.

Fixurlifeup – 3rdeyegirl featuring Prince

What is Prince doing being “featured” in this video? Everyone knows this is a Prince song and 3rdeyegirl is the backing band. Maybe he knows that this garage band version just does not stack up with his previous catalogue and using the backing band to already distance himself from it.