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This show points out an intense sadness...
I worry that other countries watch programs like this and think that it is indicative of American culture. The problem is, this show isn't satire. It isn't lampooning anything. They're actually representing that doing bad is "not recycling" and doing good is refraining from telling ridiculously dramatic and emotional people that they're idiots. The clichés in this show go beyond simple cliché to the point of being a political cartoon. Boys are are simply dogs with huge genitals with the words "sole motivation" tattooed on them, girls are represented by bear traps chained to a big metal ball that has "needless drama" chiseled into it, and homosexuals are represented by a "Martyr" brand bottle of maple syrup with a big "Can do no wrong" slogan underneath their name, and all of these things are jumping up for a brass ring that says "Popularity" on it. I used to teach and if a girl in my class came up and said, "I feel the need to express myself, I would have advised her that she was absolutely free to do that after class on her own time." And if you play football and you throw a slushy in an Asian girl's face because she's in glee club, I might not be able to get you expelled but I guarantee, you would be my bitch for the rest of the year. And if you threaten to kill a gay kid because he's gay, I might not be able to get you expelled but, again, you'd be my bitch for the rest of the year. I really like Jane Lynch and the musical numbers are entertaining at times but gosh this show is awful. I've come away from the episodes I've seen just feeling frustrated that this is a cultural phenomenon.
Just accept what you see...
I really liked this movie. I think a lot of people didn't because they got hung up on the potentially confusing aspects of the concept. It doesn't come out and hit you in the face with the rules for this game that the characters play which is a good change for people who like smart, understated stories and don't need everything spelled out for them in suppositional monologues from secondary characters. This is a great movie for just collecting data about the story until the end. Has great themes of sacrifice and redemption and pretty good cinematography too. Lots of other movies have tried to be serious about quantifying "luck" and where those movies failed, this one succeeds because it doesn't hang itself with specifics. There's no way to guage how "special" you are. Just spin the chamber and hope for the best. You will get a lot more out of this movie if you don't try to "figure it out". Just accept what you see until the movie's over, then appreciate the poetry of it.
Let's be fair...
Yes, this is a great vehicle for Nathan Fillion because he's gets to play the lovable scoundrel, which truly is his bread and butter. I was worried when I saw the pilot that they were going to shoot their premise in the foot but was impressed at the end when they gave you a new basis that could last longer than a few episodes. Now if we're fair and judge this show on it's writing and acting rather than on our excitement that Nathan Fillion is back then we must conclude... that the show is still pretty good. I have been impressed with the story lines up to this point and while the short description of the "who-dun-it" may sound like scenarios we've heard before, these writers aren't satisfied with a "Law and Order" ending. They've already thrown out the triple and quadruple switchbacks with the uncovering of the culprits. And all the while allowing Nathan Fillion to fill the screen with his smarmy charm and allowing him to cavort with an attractive, albeit, hard-boiled female cop.
The great part about this show is that they haven't really set up Fillion as a Sherlock Holmes. He is playing a seemingly educated street-wise poetic guy, but he isn't the one with all the answers. For every conclusion he draws, the female lead makes just as many and may refine Fillion's, which is wise on the writers' part because his character works because of the inherent flaws that come with being a writer rather than a detective.
It's a clever show that's a must-see if you're a Fillion-atic and a pretty good hour even if you're not.
The Mentalist (2008)
I've only seen about four of five episodes of this show and I liked it, but as others have said, it follows a rather familiar vein. Trying not to compare it to anything else though, I found it to be enjoyable at face value. The lead character is likable and keeps the interrogations and methods of discovery light and conversational which is nice. I like that his part isn't really dark and sinister, which was an avenue obviously available to the writers given the main character's back story.
I liked the charisma between Baker and Robin Tunney and I like that his character doesn't take himself to seriously. Yes, the writers do ask you to suspend your belief occasionally and to get viewership the writers have had to make the stories bizarre and convoluted, which isn't necessarily a problem, it just makes it look like they've got heat from network people to make it edgy when it could be more mind-bending instead.
It's a fun show that can be watched at leisure and enjoyed without a serious dedication to it, which can be nice in an age of shows with year-long story arcs. If you miss one, you're not totally out of loop. If you've got an hour to spare, give it a shot. It's enjoyable.
Arrested Development (2003)
A bright light went out the day this one was cancelled...
I might be this shows biggest fan, and I can list for you the reasons that this show didn't reach its full potential.
1. Fox has a horrible marketing department and has never learned that the way big shows are made is by treating them like they are a big show before they are. This show got so little positive marketing it's mind-boggling. Fox made no attempt to get people to watch it, that weren't already watching it. They treated it almost like it was a variety show, rather than the incredibly written and interwoven brainy comedy that it was.
2. A show like this that includes an overall season story arc as well as smaller multiple-episode story arcs has to be promoted out the wazoo. The only reason Lost ever got off the ground is because ABC promoted every episode like it was the "Roots" finale, and they showed every episode multiple times so that if you missed it, you could catch it the next time. This show required that kind of care, but didn't get it.
3. I'll admit the first time I watched the show I didn't like it. I had a friend buy the first season and told me to watch it. I watched the first six episodes and didn't like it. It seemed too hectic for a weekly comedy. I stuck with it, and by the end of the first season I realized how good this show actually was. This show is almost tailor-made for DVD. If you watch one episode and have to wait another week for the next, you kind of miss out on the subtle genius that weaves through the whole series. I've watched it several times and see jokes or gags that I missed the first few times I watched it even now.
4. The title. Once you've watched an entire season or the entire series you realize how appropriate the title is, but as a show that you've not seen and are deciding whether to watch versus something w/a reputation for quick humor, you won't pick "Arrested Development". It sounds like a house flipping show on the Home and Garden Network. Which is too bad, because this show missed a lot of potential devotees with the name.
5. The humor. This show had everything that makes comedy funny. If you were to try and be impartial and write up a list of everything that is funny in life, this show had it. Wordplay, mistaken identity, slapstick, characters of fickle moral character, parody of both classic and pop culture, ambiguous sexuality, innuendo, teen angst, language barriers and misunderstandings, and anything w/Tobias. I think this show was too funny. The majority of viewers in America have short attention spans, and can only concentrate on one aspect of humor at a time. This show could throw five or six of these humorous events into one 90 second scene. It was too brilliant for network television.
This show truly was so far ahead of its time that America wasn't ready for it. It gets compared to Seinfeld or other ensemble comedies, but it surpasses all of its contemporaries by never wasting a line of dialogue or one single opportunity for a plot twist.
As despicable as the characters were, you liked each one, and rooted for each of them every episode. No matter how convoluted the plot, no character was left out and every character was funny. Even the theoretical "straight men" had hilarious dialogue. A bright light went out when this one got cancelled
Good subtle humor+fun musical numbers+low budget feel=Horribly entertaining
This little musical by Joss Whedon is clever and well written yet could be easily financed by a college freshman. The music is catchy, the lyrics are entertaining and fuel the story, the characters are memorable and quirky and the ending will disappoint people who want a schmoopy lovey-dovey ending. Those of us who are fans of Firefly will watch because we love Whedon's writing and Nathan Fillion's acting. Fillion's "Captain Hammer" is the shallow superhero nemesis of Neil Patrick Harris's Dr. Horrible, the latest in a long line of villains who have somehow had time to get their doctorate. While the video only adds up to just under 45 minutes, there are several story lines within the story that are very entertaining. The singing is by no means operatic, but is always pleasant and enjoyable.
Neil Patrick Harris is great in this. Felicia Day is beautiful and Nathan Fillion is memorably ridiculous.
This is a fun little sweet from Joss Whedon's bag of candy.
The Riches (2007)
This is a good show. There are several areas where it is lacking i.e. believability, charisma between leads, but besides these, this show is truly original. Even if you look at the similar titles that IMDb might offer at the bottom of the page, none of them are even remotely close to this show. The idea of the American Gypsy is a rather undocumented story and this show gives a rather entertaining glimpse at an unraveled corner of it.
I'm a huge Eddie Izzard fan and while he might not be suited to this character as such, he is still phenomenal. He plays it a lot less seriously than another actor might have, and definitely less seriously than the rest of the cast, but I think this gives his character a slight quirkiness that makes for incredibly entertaining situations at the law firm where he works. The charisma between Izzard and Minnie Driver seems strained and actually Izzard has better back and forth with Gregg Henry who plays his ethically-challenged boss.
There is a constant feeling of urgency due to the rather convoluted-ness of the plot. The characters and the way of life that they are living seem to be hanging by a thread and every episode they have to out-think about a dozen different scenarios that threaten to cut it.
It's entertaining television and if you've got time for another good series, this one is worth watching.
The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
This is a fantastic family movie that kids can watch and enjoy and those of us who love the Tim Conway-Don Knotts combination will get our money's worth as well. I know the movie is about Bill Bixby and the kids but really, it's all about Conway and Knotts. They worked so well together that even if the rest of the movie was worthless, they made it incredible. If you watch the scenes with the two of them moving the ladder, you'd swear that all of that was storyboarded and choreographed, but according to Conway on the special edition DVD, they improvised all of it. The bit with Knotts drinking out of the beer glass and Conway trying to get a drink out of too is some of the greatest schtick in movie history. This is a great movie with a great cast including Slim Pickens and Harry Morgan and some of the finest character actors of the day. It's great and even if you don't like live-action Disney movies, you should still be able to appreciate the comic genius of Conway and Knotts.
30 Rock (2006)
As a rule, I don't really think women are funny in sitcom style TV shows. This may sound sexist but it really isn't. They are rarely given parts that aren't token and rarely is the writing for them clever at all. But what I do like is intelligent looking and sounding women who aren't afraid to be the butt of the joke. What I have always liked about Tina Fey and her writing is that she seems to be able to take as good as she gives. She doesn't seem to take any one crusade too seriously and doesn't get too preachy about the crusades that she has. She has also found a cast of character actors that have found their niche in the characters on this show. Many of them, I haven't really liked on any other show, but on this show they shine. Even Tracy Morgan is funny, and Tracy Morgan is never funny.
Secondly, Alec Baldwin is hysterical, period. He could easily have been a comedian his whole life. He has that quality of treating scenarios and dialogue that are absolutely ridiculous with the utmost seriousness. Plus his character is in a position where he gets to expect that others go along without questioning, no matter how absurd he seems.
This is a great show. The comedy is subtle where it's funny to be so, and outlandish when called for. Each character is valuable and the show would actually suffer if it lost one of them.
Slow but worth the wait.
This movie was very good. I know a lot of reviewers were bored and didn't like that there wasn't subtitles for the Japanese. Admittedly the issue with the subtitles would have made the movie easier to understand. In the middle of the movie there is some confusion about what exactly has transpired between Pitt and his Japanese contact and why the initial interlude between Pitt and the Japanese concubine occurs in the first place but these don't seem to be so dear to the plot that you can't remain in the dark and still get the point of the movie.
The landscape is breathtaking, the acting was great by every member of the supporting cast. I like Michael Pitt, but it seems like he can only play one character and it's the throaty sensitive guy. I was surprised that Keira Knightley took such a minor role but the punch at the end gives her character quite a bit of intrigue. As always she is wonderful and I liked Alfred Molina as well.
The cinematography was good and understated. The script was simple and it didn't seem like they wasted any words. Quite the opposite in fact.
I understand why others didn't like it but I get the impression that this is due to a lack of patience on their part.
Good movie. Try it out.