Lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend about myself: I don’t get as excited about things as I used to. Perhaps it’s a merely function of getting older – I just hit the big 3-0 six months ago, after all – or, maybe, all the years of crushing cynicism and relentless snark has finally caught up to me. Passion, perhaps, is the provenance of the young and the unencumbered, and I’m no longer either of the two. For example, it would have shocked the ten-years-younger version of myself, maybe even the 2009 model, to learn that it took me, a devoted Wes Anderson-ophile, two months to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, especially after making a pilgrimage to see The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic during their respective opening weekends, and attending a screening of The Darjeeling Limited by myself because I just couldn’t wait any longer, even if that meant sitting alone in a small theater on a Tuesday afternoon. Likewise, I’ve yet to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, and that’s already been out for a whole week and is possibly the X-Men movie that I’ve been praying for these last fourteen years. There are spoilers abound and I run the very real risk of having the movie ruined before I get around to seeing it. It’s a danger I’m well aware of, and one, for some reason, I’m at peace with. Perhaps most egregiously – and this something I’m very much ashamed to admit on this blog – I’ve yet to watch last week’s Survivor finale. Yes, I was out-of-town for two weeks, but I’ve been back for four days already. Really, what good excuse could I possibly have for not immediately marathoning the last three episodes, including the two hour-finale and post-show live cast reunion? Heresy, is it not? Not only am I liable to inadvertently stumble upon the final result at any turn, removing any drama upon viewing, but shouldn’t this be tearing me up inside? It’s Survivor, the subject I’ve perhaps committed more space to on this blog than any other, and, yet, I’ll get to it when I get it to it. Urgency, shockingly, I do not feel. It’s not apathy or indifference – that would be truly alarming – but, rather, caring a bit less, being more patient. It’s an odd, peculiar, somewhat concerning notion to not experience the same sense of pressure, immediacy, and life-or-death importance about these shows and films and bands that I always did. Am I depressed? Should I look into Lexapro? But the change is also freeing in a way. There is a flipside to caring a little less. It means that it doesn’t hurt so much when something you love is taken away from you.
Tag Archives: Joel McHale
Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because It Happdeaned: Five (and Maybe More) Seasons of ‘Community’ and the Truly Jumping the Snark
Absent, or maybe just ignored, among all the words committed to The Tonight Show plan for succession has been a discussion about what will happen to The Late Show with David Letterman and its lead-out The Late Late Show. Like Jay Leno, Dave has been at this game a long, long time. Unlike Jay, Dave seems to not care about ratings (possibly because he knows he’s likely to lose), does not appear to be that concerned with being well-liked (which has worked to his advantage, and has paradoxically made him more revered) and is not in any imminent danger of being forced out by the network brass, basically been given carte blanche by CBS to stay as long as he wants and, essentially, to do what he wants. When one jump-starts a late night franchise from scratch, we guess he’s granted some amount of immunity. But, unlike Jay, Dave doesn’t have a younger, hipper, potential replacement nipping at his heels, which makes the future of The Late Show even murkier.
While Craig Ferguson has built up a small but very loyal, impassioned following, and has received rave reviews for years from critics, we don’t have the sense that he’s long for his job, or at least eying the 11:35pm slot. In that small studio (we’ve been there) in CBS Television City, without a house band or announcer, Ferguson can deliver long, meandering monologues (verging on soliloquies) straight to camera, as if the audience and the viewing public wasn’t there, and engage in extended, intimate irreverent conversations with a diverse pool of guests. The Late Late Show interviews occupy that space between the celebrity shilling meant for the masses that one can observe on most late night talk shows and the quiet, introspective, one-on-one interviews conducted without a studio audience on past programs like Tom Synder’s Late Late Show. Sometimes it feels like The Late Late Show is performed for the studio audience, and then broadcast to millions of homes as an afterthought. Which isn’t to say that Ferguson couldn’t do a more traditional, more accessible late night show if he were bumped up to the main slot, we’re just not sure he wants to. Signed through 2014, when Letterman’s current contract runs through, it feels in some ways like he’s only there as long as Dave is, his relaxed, low-key, mischievous Scottish wit a complement Dave’s acerbic bitterness.
We’ve admittedly, regrettably, been remiss with our recaps and analysis of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. There was a time when we provided weekly thoughts on ‘The Office’ (luckily our neglect kicked in just around the time when Friday morning post-mortems on that show would have been unbearable) and periodic temperature checks on ‘Parks and Recreation.’ With the season already complete for half of these shows, and the other two concluding their runs this week, we thought it was high time that we put aside some real estate to check in on these programs, starting today with a discussion about ‘Community’ (whose season (and not series) finale airs Thursday night (preceded by two other new episodes and the ’30 Rock’ closer).
NBC announced their Fall 2012 pick ups last week and, despite lots of rumors and hand-wringing, Community will return for a fourth season. That much wasn’t quite a surprise to us. Could NBC have axed the criminally low-rated comedy? Sure, and they would have the cold, emotionless Nielsen numbers to back it up. But, at the same time, they know what they’re getting with Community. Will it ever break out into a Friends or even These Friends of Mine sized hit? Unlikely at this point. But does it have a devoted, die-hard fan base? Absolutely. Attractive cast? You bet. A smart, discerning, relatively affluent audience? We guess. Close to reaching enough episodes for lucrative syndication? Definitely. So the renewal, especially for the 13-episode order it received, is not all that shocking to us. What was unexpected, however, was the announcement at the NBC Upfronts that come this fall Community will be found on Fridays, as the lead-in to…Grimm?
Unbelievably, we’re about to enter our third calendar year in existence. It seems like just yesterday we were scrambling to put together our best of the decade lists (which makes sense, because we didn’t actually post one of those until this week). In 2011 we hope to be even more timely, on-point and just plain better. Until then, let’s try to end 2010 on a high note with our not-at-all anticipated Best Shows of the Year:
1. Community: This was an absolute no-brainer. Far and away Community was the most original, ambitious, rewarding, warm, funny, creative, fearless show of 2010. It was just a little over a year ago when the show delivered its holiday episode, “Comparative Religion” (featuring mustachio’d Anthony Michael Hall), and we began to feel then that the show was truly building towards something special. When Community returned in January of this year it began what should be considered one of the greatest runs of any comedy series in television history, playing “can you top that?” with itself from week to week. Solid episodes like “Investigative Journalism” with Jack Black, “Physical Education” with a nearly naked Joel McHale, and the truly superb Goodfellas tribute “Contemporary American Poultry” culminated in the single best episode of 2010 across the board, the paintball-splattered, action movie homage masterpiece “Modern Warfare” (we know that we’ve already proclaimed the greatness of this episode, but it’s worth doing over and over again).
Yesterday Joel McHale visited Live! with Regis and Kelly (who themselves are visiting Las Vegas this week), pitting McHale against the source of much of the material shown on The Soup (or, as Regis calls it, simply Soup). But, much like his recent appearance on Today‘s interminable fourth hour, McHale demonstrated that he has no reservations about biting the hand that feeds him, as he deftly inserted a Regis-is-as-old-as-the-Wright-Brothers crack within the first minute, and continued to harass the irascible Philbin for the entirety of the segment.Vodpod videos no longer available.
This is something we’ve come to adore about McHale (add it to the list), that he doesn’t make nice with objects of his scorn when he appears on their shows. Instead, he continues to call them out for their incompetence or insidipity, but still being careful to show appreciation for their existence, as they are the reason he’s able to feed his children (at least until Community came along). And despite his snark, we can tell that McHale does respect Regis and many of the people he mocks, and I think they in turn admire him for being genuine, sarcastic yet gracious (although, with Regis, it’s hard to tell if he even realizes he’s being derided. Or that he’s on TV. ZING!). So cheers to McHale for being an inveterate smug prick, whether in the comfy confines of The Soup studio or behind enemy lines.
Oh, and Regis revealed his true form.
That explains a lot.
Video courtesy of Gawker.TV.
NBC Thursday Night: Respect Your Friends, Respect your Coworkers, Respect Your Lovers, Respect Your Characters, Respect Your Viewers
Yesterday we gave our brief thoughts on the then impending return of the NBC Thursday night comedies, reflecting on the last season while looking forward to the next. And on the morning after, how do we feel? Impressed, pleased and disappointed, in that order. With the night going from Community to 30 Rock to The Office, we found that the first continues to improve, the second is showing encouraging signs of life, and the third is still struggling to return to its glory days. Taken has a whole, it was a good night, and two out of three ain’t bad. But really, we don’t want “ain’t bad.” We want great, we want three out of three. And, unfortunately, that just didn’t happen.
It seems like May sweeps was just yesterday, but here we are on the cusp of the return of Thursday night TV-pocolypse. Luckily for our DVR, Survivor was shifted back to Wednesday nights, and Parks and Recreation is (egregiously) on the shelf until mid-season (of course, while that might be good for our DVR, it’s terrible for our collective well-being). But we’re still left with what is now the NBC comedy old guard, The Office & 30 Rock, and the returning sensation, and probably the best of the bunch, Community. And later we have a little cable fun with It’s Always in Philadelphia and Delocated (if you’re eyeballs aren’t bleeding by then). But, for now, let’s quickly focus on the NBC line-up.
The big story on NBC Thursday nights, as we noted above, is not what’s on, but what’s not, that being Parks and Recreation, benched in favor of the already critically reviled Outsourced. Sure, NBC has the right to air whatever it wants, and if it thinks another show will be more successful, and has the potential to be an anchor the way that The Office is and shows like Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier and Cheers were, then we can’t begrudge them that. But Outsourced hasn’t even aired yet and it seems the verdict is already in: it’s a waste of valuable space. One has to wonder if NBC, who proved with the Jay Leno Show that they’re willing to sacrifice quality programming for profit, chose to promote Outsourced because it’s an in-house production, even knowing its an inferior program. Because even if it pulls in rating as low as Parks and Rec, maybe even lower, NBC will still grab a bigger slice of the pie. That’s just conjecture at this point, but there’s certainly a precedent for it, and we know that TV, network television in particular, is a business above all. Let’s just hope that Outsourced is so terrible that it’s yanked sooner than planned and Parks and Recreation can reclaim its rightful place (especially since they rushed the show back into production for its third season to accommodate Amy Poehler’s pregnancy).
The Emmy’s were handed out three nights ago, and in the internet world that’s about the equivalent of a fortnight, and everyone who can say it better than me has already said it better than me. But, just to put it on the permanent record, and to get us ready for the impending fall TV season, we thought we’d follow-up with a few humble thoughts of our own, in concise bullet-point form:
- Loved the opening bit, even if it was somewhat of a rehash of 6-Bee‘s glee club rendition of “We’re Not Going to Take It,” a performance that we still giddily cue up on our screen on a regular basis (as well as an audio version on our iPod). But with Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale, Jorge Garcia AND Tim Gunn it was like the Ocean’s 11 all-star version of the original Late Night piece, and it truly demanded some freak out control. Our worlds colliding, but in an amazing way.
- Speaking of Jon Hamm, now that his comedic genius has finally been exposed to a wide audience (30 Rock is still critically adored but commercially ignored, his appearances in viral videos only legitimately reach a small segment of the online viewing public, and even two turns hosting SNL don’t necessarily make you a household name these days), can we start having him be funny full-time? He’s so gifted, and so natural, it honestly feels like a waste forcing him to be so stoic and dour and cold on Mad Men (and we know we sound like a broken record on this, but we’re going to keep bring it up until it happens. Or until Mad Men becomes a farcical satire. Maybe in season 5). Sure, he’s magnetic, sexy and mysterious on the AMC drama, but it’s when he’s allowed to do comedy that he truly lights up. But after being seen dancing like an idiot on HDTVs all across the country maybe someone will give him a chance to headline a comedy. Perhaps something in the Apatowian genre. I think that’s a hit.
- And if and when Hamm gets that nod can they please place Joel McHale alongside him? Please?
Continue: more overdue and rambling considerations, compliments and criticisms…