Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Everybody Loves Raymond (1996)
A show where nothing ever goes right for the main character is a sitting duck. The plots are guaranteed to be thin and repetitive; the acting is guaranteed to be bad; the writing is guaranteed to be flat; and the characters are guaranteed to be mean. Shows where things don't work out for the main character rarely succeed. "Married... with Children" fell flat on its face because of this, and this show falls just as badly.
Ray Romano was never funny at all. Gearing a series around him was a bad idea, but then the producers/writers/whatever inserted the notion of nothing ever going right. As if this wasn't clichéd enough, the writers gave him a vicious wife, cutesy twins, mean parents and a somewhat stupid brother. Then they hired television standbys to "act", put in plots where everybody blames Ray for everything, and skipping down the path they went, not realizing that the path was the Hellbound road.
I am typically not of the sort to laugh about somebody else's misfortunes. Many comedies have been based around this idea, but the best of them- "Sanford and Son," "NewsRadio," "Seinfeld"- have always provided some sort of comedic foil to offset the misfortunes of the main character. In "Sanford and Son", typically either Fred or Lamont would be in trouble, and the other one would make fun of him. Thin, but it worked. "NewsRadio" gave you the powerhouse quartet of Bill, Jimmy, Matthew and Beth to provide comedic relief whenever Dave was in a tight spot. "Seinfeld" gave you the insanely out-of-luck George on one hand, and Kramer, Newman and Uncle Leo on the other. Balance and equilibrium.
"Raymond" doesn't do this. It gives you one guy who does everything wrong, and a bunch of snotty, selfish, intensely self-assured people to totally hate. And yet you're supposed to sympathize with Raymond, despite every force telling you otherwise. Any series that does something like this puts itself in a bad spot. Because of all the negative elements about it, I'm willing to call "Everybody Loves Raymond" one of the worst series of all time.
A pretty good show
Why this show was canceled so early, I do not know. The comedy herein bears Al Franken's trademark brand of satire, a wry, subtle kind of humor that I wish more people could get into. The shows were consistently funny and in some cases came scarily close to looking and sounding like real news programs. Possibly the best example comes in the episode "Error Apparent", when a new correspondent plays his tape of a local news report he did: "But for many dogs like Fluffy, the race ends where the race begins. *Bang!* *Squeal...*" (For the record, the funniest moment of the whole series is Franken's impression of Henry Kissinger.)
The ensemble cast is full of terrific characters and actors. Probably the best character is Catherine Lloyd Burns's Mona, who comes so close to being an actual secretary you could pick her up from the show, drop her at any office building and she'd fit in perfectly. Second best is Ajay Naidu's Raji, who is hilarious yet manages to come off as something other than a parody of Indian people. The rest of the characters are great, too. Robert Foxworth shines as a self-centered, pompous, womanizing news anchor. (This is what I imagine them to be like behind the scenes.) Al Franken himself plays a correspondent that nobody likes and always gets really lousy jobs, like standing in the world's most toxic bog- there's a correspondent like this for every news show. Oh, and don't forget Megyn Price playing a neat associate producer.
All in all, this is a great show, the kind of thing that I like to watch. Highly recommended.
The best show out there
It's ironic that "Mythbusters"- a show hosted by two (pyromaniac?) guys who look like my uncle Gordon that attempt to prove myths of all strifes false- is the best show out there, trumping all the sitcoms, dramas, news-hours, sports programs and "car" shows out there. Why? Well, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have figured out how to entertain, and they've got it down to a science.
Hyneman is the more reserved of the two hosts, and also the most memorable, with his penchant for cleanliness and his neat beret. He's usually the one who figures out the basics of a myth and possible ways to "bust" it. Savage is the younger, louder and more energetic one of the two. He usually comes up with the "rigs" used to test the myths. Both are intensely crazy and cool, and are the kind of guys that I look up to, even if they are obsessed with explosions.
Supporting these two wackjobs are a team of nutties that I happen to like very much, collectively called the "Build Team". The two that have stuck around are Kari Byron, a beautiful, enigmatic woman who fits the show well; and Tory Belleci, who I don't like very much, as he's a bit of a camera hog, and tends to play the idiot. Two others left just before the second season ended: Scottie Chapman, who is easily the best of the builders, as she is very intelligent, works well with the others, and is the embodiment of cool. Christine Chamberlain is not a personal favorite of mine, as she seems too serious to be around the rest of these guys and doesn't share everyone else's sense of fun and humor. Coming in at the end of the second season is Grant Imahara, who, while not the best builder, could well be the definitive cast member: a smart, humorous guy who is slightly nerdy and is an electronics expert.
All in all, this nutso gang attempt to "bust" myths of all sorts, from Civil War legends to modern high-tech tales. Not once have their attempts to try out a myth seem contrived, calculated or (most of all) deadly serious. And yet, they manage to deliver educational material along with their terrific sense of fun. Everybody could like this show, from teachers to scientists, from little kids to their hard-nosed parents. I wholeheartedly recommend this show. It, for me, is the benchmark against which all nonfiction shows are measured, and is the second best show of all time.
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Excellent stereotype comedy
I learned of the "stereotype line" one day in my public speaking class. We were doing a game in which you had a partner who would observe you at close range while you were walking around the classroom. This partner would then have to exaggerate your walk twice: first a little bit, then a lot. Everyone laughed at the first bit of exaggeration, but everyone knew that the second part was going too far. Thus, the stereotype line: you can't take your stereotypes too far.
I also have a theory that works a little like the Uncanny Valley. If you're going to have stereotypes in your movie, you can't take them too far, but you can't take them too lightly. Thus, the perfect point to be is just before the stereotype line. If you can manage to get there, your movie will be funny. "Revenge of the Nerds" hits that point. And as such, it is very funny.
"Nerds" is home to a whole bunch of stereotypes: your giant-glasses nerds, your gay black guy, your super-smart kid, your lazy drug-maestro guy, your big dumb jock who doesn't say much, your football coach who hates everybody, your Bob Balaban school dean, your nerdy guy who tries in vain to play the violin, your Japanese immigrant who doesn't speak English all that well, your nerdy woman. However, this film manages to get the stereotypes to just the right level, making each and every character extremely funny.
It also doesn't hurt that the plot works. Yes, the plot may be a little generic, but somehow it works here. It's probably because of the occasional deviations from traditional slapstick comedy structure that this movie really works. In truth, I may have never seen a funnier movie. I certainly have never seen one this funny with a score this good and a cast that works so well together.
My recommendation? Just go buy the movie. You'll thank yourself for it.
Bad, bad, bad
George W. Bush impersonations are the comedic equivalent of duck hunting in a 2*2 pool loaded with 50 ducks. There's no way you can't get something- in the duck case, meat; in the Bush case, laughs. Everybody has picked up on funny Bush mannerisms. They've heard his laughs and seen his shakes. They know he's a "good old boy." Not everybody laughs at Bush, but a lot of people (especially in Canada, where I live) do.
Comedy Central apparently knew this when assembling the guest list for their "Roast of Jeff Foxworthy." They knew that they had to at least get either some respected comedians in some form or some really funny non-celebrity comedians. They partially succeeded here- they got some really funny big-time comedians. Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy had to be there- they did Blue Collar! Most of the big-shots came up on tapes, like Jay Mohr and Denis Leary. That's fine with me. I just want to laugh.
I couldn't laugh with this special. It stank. It paled in comparison to the original Martin roasts. What really annoyed me about it was that almost all the comments included either profanity in the form of a four letter word beginning with "F", insults about Jeff's TV show and how bad it was, gay jokes or insults directed towards some Jeff routines that didn't include profanity.
Let me give you an example. The original Martin roasts are Ex. 1; the Foxworthy roast is Ex. 2. Ex. 1: You lightly tap yourself on the head with a screwdriver. Sure, it hurt a little bit, but not really. It was mostly in your mind. You could do this over and over before getting even a bump. This is like the Martin roasts: they did insult people, but the insults were mostly funny and even the celebrities who were getting roasted laughed at them. In fact, they more made fun of the celebrities than insulted them. Good, clean fun. Ex. 2: You drop a 500 pound weight directly onto your chest. You will either break your ribs, your skull, collarbone, arms and legs, or you will die. This is the Foxworthy roast. Comics getting up and delivering really bad insults. *Really* bad insults. They were insulting just to insult. The only exception is Ron White. This man is a genius. He can make just about anything funny. He went up and delivered good, clean jokes that more made fun of Jeff and his buddies than insulted them. He actually delivered the one good laugh that I got out of the entire evening: "This guy's been releasing CDs forever. I have 'You Might Be A Redneck' on vinyl, and when you play it backwards it goes 'heeere's your sign!'" See? A harmless little joke, referencing Bill Engvall's signature line. The rest was horrific. I couldn't watch it and actually got physically ill after Lisa Lampernelli's "performance." If you have this special on tape, burn it. If you have it in any way shape or form get rid of it. It was not good. It stunk.
In fact, it stunk so bad, I'd like to make "Roast Of 'Roast Of Jeff Foxworthy.'" -lpokeefe
That's So Raven (2003)
This show undershoots the mark on some episodes, overshoots it on others and hits it in the bull's eye on some. However, even on episodes that missed, there is still Rondell Sheridan to laugh at. He is the reason to watch this show. He is the funniest actor on it and he plays his part well. Kyle Orlando Massey is just plain irritating. Raven can be funny, but in most cases she was better on The Cosby Show-and that's saying something. Anneliese Van Der Pol is well cast but her character grates on me. Orlando Brown is quite good as is Crystal Keymah. Disney has produced far worse shows (cough*Lizzie Mcguire*cough) but they have managed to squeeze out better shows as well. This show is good about 1/3 of the time so watch every third episode.
Quite good, but has its weak points
This concert film was shot at Sting's Malibu house and the Mayan Theater in L.A. It features most of the songs from Sting's new album performed in a much sparser, seemingly more improvised manner. This is particularly evident on "Never Coming Home" which actually sounds better than what's on the album. However I do have my pet peeves about it:
A) Kipper. The guy is great and crazy talented, but the sound that he puts into Sting's music makes it sound cold. Sting sounded best in about 1992 with "The Soul Cages" and Kipper has screwed up Sting's music with his synthesizers, programmed drums etc. etc. etc.
B) Where's Manu Katche? This drummer is one of the best ever and is for some reason not here. Sting even said he dropped drums and drummers because they were too loud in rehearsal, and brought in Kipper's drum pads. Thank God Sting brought Manu back for the greater portion of the Sacred Love tour.
C) Electronic piano. Undoubtedly the most talented player here is Jason Rebello, so why in the world would they put him on an electronic piano and continue to credit him as playing "piano?" To paraphrase Kevin Murphy, That's like putting gin in grape juice and calling it wine.
Overall though, even with these problems the film is good. 7.5/10
Good Eats (1999)
The best cooking show ever
I can tell that I like this cooking show simply by the camera angles: Instead of panning behind counters, the camera goes all over the place. Alton Brown has a terrific sense of humor and always shows you exactly how to make a recipe. He seems like a normal everyday guy, and that's why I like him. The recipes are also always nice and seemingly good. In many cooking shows you just get some lame recipes for "slow roasted beef in wine sauce", but here you get French toast/vinaigrette/etc. Alton also shows you what tools to buy and for what reasons. Some people say the show is irritating; I don't find it irritating at all. What about you? This show is always original. Long live Good Eats!