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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Smallville 9x6 - "Crossfire"


This week's special DC Universe Guest Star:
with a mention of:

A better title for this episode would have been "RAO Speedwagon". Three major developments on Smallville:

1) Tess Mercer is building a solar tower that will harness the power of the sun and power all of Metropolis (kind of the opposite of Max Shreck's capacitor in Batman Returns.) Zod wants this solar tower built so he and his Kandoran buddies can harness the sun's rays and regain their missing powers. That basic idea makes sense. Everything else, from Zod now suddenly strolling around as suit wearing, espresso sipping CEO of "RAO Inc." and his boasts that he has planted Kandorans in Luthorcorp to give it the best technology on Earth doesn't make sense.

Zod asks his Kandoran minion who looks the most like Billy Zane to interrogate Tess about where The Blur is and kill her, in that order. Instead Tess somehow killed Billy Zane off screen and sent his bloody dog tags back to Zod. Don't fuck with Tess Mercer, especially if there's a scene change.

2) In the more enjoyable DC geeky development that homages Pretty Woman wholesale, The Green Arrow has found his Speedy. I don't know what the Smallville writers' fascination is with underground fight clubs, but Oliver finds prostitute Mia Dearden improbably beating on a guy twice her size. Then she's suddenly helpless when her gangster pimp shows up and threatens her. Despite watching her gangster pimps manhandle her out of the fight club, Oliver ignores this completely and decides to pick up Mia and turn her into his employee/sidekick. 

The Pretty Woman homage goes into full effect. Those thigh-high leather boots Julia Roberts wears? Mia has them. The blonde wig? Mia has one. Oliver should have presented her with an arrow in a box, slammed the box shut on her fingers and Mia laughs. Mia goes off Pretty Woman script, betrays Oliver, steals his Ferrari, and tries to pay back her debt to the pimp but the whole thing ends up with Mia, Oliver, and Lois nearly being shot to death, except for Clark's timely interference.

None of this bothers Oliver in the slightest and he retains Mia under his employ. Something about knowing all about going to a dark place and wanting to give someone else a chance. As long as she's super hot. And can learn to shoot a bow and arrow. I enjoyed Oliver's sudden devotion to his hot little hooker friend. Hopefully Speedy doesn't give Oliver the AIDS.

3) Lois and Clark kissed! OMG! Clois finally locked lips! Lois and Clark ended up trying out as morning talk show hosts for Good Morning Metropolis, and nearly got the job for their off screen banter, despite Clark being stiff as a board when the cameras are rolling. The whole thing, including Oliver declaring his love for Lois and getting shot down because she loves Clark (which Clark, who can hear ladybugs sneeze in Taiwan, didn't hear), was an excuse for Clark to finally admit he wants Lois. So he up and plants his Superlips on her right in the Daily Planet. They got fired from the morning show gig and replaced with Cat Grant. That means the Lois and Clark poster for the morning show that's a direct lift off of the Pretty Woman poster goes to waste.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Parks and Recreation 2x7 - "Greg Pikitis"

They cast the right kid. I hated Greg Pikitis.

Finding a new purpose for Andy on the show as Leslie's new friend/employee/Smithers was a smart move. Andy is gold. Both characters named Andy on Thursday night NBC comedy are comedy gold. (Conversely, Alison Brie's Annie on Community is funny while Rashida Jones' Annie is not really.)

Best line was the meta-line when they were looking at the statue:

Andy: "He looks like Ron Swanson. Is that who this is based on?"

April and her boyfriend and her boyfriend's boyfriend made a hilarious comeback. Something I forgot to mention last week was April and the black woman's absence; presumably because they were still in Venezuela. April's back, but is the black woman still with the Venezuelans?

Also, both Parks and Rec and 30 Rock made jokes about how awesome gay Halloween is. It must be true.

Community 1x7 - "Introduction to Statistics"

Otherwise known as the Community Halloween episode. Otherwise known as Mexican Halloween, "which is quite offensive to those who know Mexican Halloween as a sexual position."

Executive Producer and creator Dan Harmon Tweeted that "Mexican Halloween Sexual Position" was the number 3 Google search last night. Also, they made it up. Honestly, I searched for it... for... clarification.

Abed as Batman, specifically his rambling rant at the end, murdered me like the Joker.

I initially thought Pierce was dressed as Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans (complete with Golden Owl) and not the Beastmaster. Either way, I'm old.

Troy was dressed as Eddie Murphy in Delirious and had my favorite line:

"Can I ask you something I've always wanted to ask the real Batman?"
"Am I good looking?"
"You're a very attractive young man."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Office 6x7 - "Koi Pond"

Raise your hand if you didn't automatically know what a koi pond was when the episode started. My hand's up.

Is this the first episode since the beginning of season three where Jim and Pam were both in the episode but had no scenes together? That was rather refreshing.

Andy kissing Pam's belly was wonderfully uncomfortable and disturbing. The woman they were trying to sell to didn't catch that Pam had a wedding ring and Andy didn't. Or maybe she did and that's why they didn't get the sale. Plus more references to Andy's regular crying.

Jim was kind of a dick for purposely not grabbing Michael so he could fall in the koi pond.

The tag at the end of Pam's reaction to Erin thinking Andy is like Marlon Wayans and the coolest guy ever bodes well for the Nard Dog.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hulkamania Comes to TNA

The biggest bombshell in the history of TNA: Total Nonstop Action wrestling hit today: Hulk Hogan has signed with TNA. And with him, Eric Bischoff.

In terms of being able to stake a claim in the general public's minds that they are indeed serious about becoming the kind of powerhouse promotion WWE is (or WCW was when it challenged the WWF in the 1990's), signing Hulk Hogan is the greatest move possible for TNA.

Whatever impact (pun intended) Hogan's presence has, specifically whatever benefit/damage to the status quo (firing Vince Russo is the top of my personal list) or to whatever the elements of TNA are going to be upended by him (will Samoa Joe and AJ Styles be eating the big legdrop, brother?), in terms of public perception - and TNA has very, very little to the general public - Hulk Hogan's name, stature and star power gives TNA instant credence.

There are really only three true free agent megastars that TNA could bring in to give them the kind of recognition they need to be considered a rival - or they hope, an equal - to WWE:

Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock.

Everyone else, including Ric Flair, is a just wrestling star, no matter how big a wrestling star. Those three guys are household names transcending the wrestling business. Rock and Austin are pipe dreams for TNA. Hulk Hogan is the biggest score they'll ever have.

TNA, by the majority of credible accounts I've seen regarding their business, was just not growing. With Hulk Hogan's name and Eric Bischoff working with them, given what they did for WCW (not to WCW, because that's a whole different ball of wax) TNA has the best chance they've ever had to be seen as an equal to WWE. What they do from this point on will be hotly debated, dissected, complained about, but it may also work.

I'd say congratulations to all parties are involved. I would suspect that today, for the first time probably ever, Vince McMahon took some time out of his day to seriously consider what TNA is and what this means to his business.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Office 6x6 - "The Lover"

First off, Ryan's fedora was fucking awesome. It practically stole the thunder from the A story of Pam finding out Michael's sleeping with her mom and the B story of Dwight, Jim and the wooden mallard. I loved how he was just wearing it in the meeting with no explanation and with all the stuff going on in the conference room, there was Ryan wearing a hat with a smug look on his face.

I watch repeats of The Office on TBS and in syndication now and Pam is light years beyond the mousey secretary she was when the series started. That Pam would never have lost it in front of Michael over and over. 

Jenna Fischer went from acting really cute when they were giving Michael the rum ("I feel like a Puerto Rican.") to screaming in the parking lot, which I thought was great. Never seen Pam lose it like that before. 

I liked that Pam and Jim at the end did acknowledge that Pam went too far in screaming at Michael, who is still her boss. I also liked Oscar and the others kind of taking Michael's side that Pam was overreacting. And Jim was a prince in trying to straddle the middle.

All the Toby interaction was great too, from Jim screaming at him to Michael pretending to befriend him so he'd talk to Pam.

Really good episode this week.

Parks and Recreation 2x6 - "Kaboom"

Andy took a couple of weeks off but he came back with a vengeance. I loved the line "He couldn't find a place on the surface of the Earth to live in so he decided to live below it."

I also liked taking off your thinking caps and putting on your doing caps. Tom: "I have two in my wallet. That's what I call condoms."

Mark: "Are you willing to break the rules?"
Leslie: "I won't murder."

I really like Leslie now. She's come so far from being a female Michael Scott clone. Even at the start of the season, she was still iffy but she quickly evolved in a very likeable lead character in the last few episodes.

Big leap forward in the main storyline of the series that they got the pit filled in. I wonder if the park will actually be completed by the end of the season?

Community 1x6 - "Football, Feminism, and Me"

I definitely like Center of the Universe football hero Troy more than dumb guy Troy.

The Dean does look a lot like Moby, and he's a lot more manipulative than he originally seemed. Also like Moby.

The Human Beings mascot killed me. "Not being racist is the new racism."

Hope Abed doesn't lay low next week. The tag at the end where Troy and Abed run into the black and Arab security guards was great.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Paranormal Activity (no stars)


 *** SPOILERS ***

A tremendous crock of shit masquerading as a horror movie phenomenon, Paranormal Activity literally has nothing up its sleeve beyond a few parlor tricks. Made on a shoestring budget of $15,000, one is still left wondering where all that money went, because it isn't on the screen. What is on the screen are two of the most boring people ever committed to high definition video occupying a million dollar four bedroom house that I'm not convinced they could even afford. (She's a student, he's a "day trader". Sure.) The house is too well-appointed to be creepy or claustrophobic and creates zero atmosphere for horror. Also in the house with them is a demon, or something, that's haunting the girl. So says a "ghost psychic" who, in one of many LOL moments (although this one was probably intentional), couldn't wait to get out of the house. The girl is told that leaving the house wouldn't help and that the demon would follow her, but it's never clear why the leaving the house option is never explored anyway. (Best guess: there was nothing in the budget for shooting exteriors.)  The couple are haunted over the course of 20+ boring days and nights.  The demon or whatever takes for-fucking-ever to pick up its game, going from spoooky things like turning on the hallway lights and loud stomping noises to setting fire to a Ouiji board to finally getting physical. The demon is out of the bottle when one quickly realizes the demon will only do as much as the budget will allow. After an interminable amount of stalling, Paranormal Activity empties its bag of tricks in the final minutes for a startlingly banal payoff.  The fact that Paranormal Activity has made 100x its production budget at the box office is a testament to the ability of Paramount Pictures' marketing department to bamboozle moviegoers. They're laughing all the way to the bank.

For a similar idea to but a much better movie than Paranormal Activity, try The Strangers.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are (***1/2)


Where The Wild Things Are, a gorgeous little film about a lonely, angry little boy played by Max Records befriending lonely, big monsters, isn't so much for children as it is about one particular child.  The Wild Things themselves feel completely alive; they're a triumph of practical effects, CGI, and voice acting by James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Forrest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Paul Dano, and Catherine O'Hara.  All of the characters, human and Wild Thing, struggle mightily with issues of loneliness, abandonment, rage, longing for acceptance, and the questions of what is right and wrong.  To the credit of director Spike Jonze and his co-writer Dave Eggers, these issues are not spelled out blatantly nor wrapped up and solved for the audience. Though Max enters a fantasy world of escape, the movie is light on whimsy. There are unexpected moments of real fear and real uncertainty, along with a genuinely troubling event that take place between Max and his mother, played by Catherine Keener.  These are balanced by some beautiful, vibrant sequences set to the music by Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and the Kids.  The story itself, expanded from Maurice Sendak's beloved children's picture book that contains just nine sentences, feels unwieldy and incomplete. Max's adventures with the Wild Things, who reflect aspects of himself, his family, and what's missing in his life he can't quite articulate, don't feel like it reaches a conclusion as much as it just stops. But to honor the farewell request of one of the Wild Things, I'm happy to overlook the flaws and say good things about them.

Moonraker (**)


Following up the runaway success of The Spy Who Loved Me and attempting to infringe on the runaway success of Star Wars, the Bond producers literally shot for the stars with Moonraker. 007 investigates the disappearance of the Moonraker space shuttle, which takes him from California to Venice to Rio De Janeiro and, lamentably, to outer space. Moonraker's reputation as one of the worst Bond films belies the fact that much of it is rather good. The pre-titles sequence of Bond and Jaws battling while skydiving features some truly spectacular aerial photography. A second confrontation between Jaws and Bond on top of cable cars suspended high above Rio is just slightly less awesome. Roger Moore is at maximum swagger as 007.  Unfortunately, the sheer excess on display rakes Moonraker over the coals.  The winking self-parody is over the top, from Bond's outlandish gadgets, like his rocket-powered gondola on wheels in Venice, to the themes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Magnificent Seven playing as gags.  The villain Hugo Drax is as evil as he is boring and has the same basic "destroy the world and start humanity over" scheme as Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me, substituting living in outer space for living under the sea.  The only thing exciting about Lois Chiles as Dr. Holly Goodhead her name, though just about every other Bond Girl in the movie is positively smashing. Everything set in outer space, from the laser gun battles to Jaws falling in love with one of Drax's space girls, is pretty much unforgivable. Unfortunately, that last half hour is Moonraker's legacy. In space, no one can hear 007 or audiences scream.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Man With The Golden Gun (**1/2)


Christopher Lee is Scaramanga, The Man With The Golden Gun, the world's greatest hitman out to kill James Bond, the world's greatest secret agent.  Roger Moore's second outing as 007 has its ups and downs. The Man With The Golden Gun takes Bond to some splendid exotic locales: from Beirut to Macao to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Scaramanga's private Vietnamese island. There, Scaramanga not only has a luxurious four star resort he couldn't wait to show off to Bond, plus a solar laser weapon (!), but he has also spent his millions to build a totally ridiculous funhouse of doom that would be more typical of a local traveling carnival, run by Herve Villechaize pre-Fantasy Island. In the chase for Scaramanga, the eyeroll-inducing bullshit Bond ends up doing includes fighting off an entire school of kung fu fighters, barrel rolling a car in mid-air, and worst of all, running into the redneck sheriff from Live and Let Die in probably the worst recurring character cameo in franchise history.  Moore's Bond is at his misogynistic best, whether spying on Maud Adams showering and then slapping her around in her hotel room or barking at Britt Ekland, who plays his airhead secretary Mary Goodnight. In Ekland's case, Bond can hardly be blamed for being cross at her for her terrible acting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Invention of Lying (**)


The Invention of Lying is the best movie of the year.  I'm lying.  Ricky Gervais co-writes, co-directs, and stars as a fat loser who lives in an alternate world where no one in the world ever lies.  Everyone tells the truth all the time.  Not even lying by omission exists, or little white lies.  Hard, cold truth always.  The first 20 minutes or so were really good, with every character blurting out any thought they have no matter how negative or insulting. Gervais' self-deprecating style of humor involves his character calling himself a fat, dumpy loser followed by every one else calling him the same. The novelty of brutal honesty for laughs quickly wears off, however, and the concept reveals itself to be a clever SNL skit dragged out to 90 minutes.  The all-star appearances by Louis CK, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Rob Lowe, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, Jonah Hill, and Edward Norton each momentarily distract from the wildly unbelievable turns the story takes and the rote, formulaic conclusion it reaches. The first act promised a different, better movie than what it eventually became.  I did like the clever, underlying themes of how the little white lies we tell in real life actually do help people and can make life better.  Lies don't always make Baby Jesus cry.

The Office 6x5 - "Mafia"

Honestly, I wasn't too into the A plot of Michael being afraid of the Italian insurance salesmen possibly being in the Mafia. I thought Andy had some great lines and moments and Dwight was his usual funny self, but it didn't click for me. It all felt like overly familiar ground.

The B story, however, of Kevin in Jim's office accidentally getting his credit card canceled absolutely killed me. As did Oscar's being the sole voice of sanity and wanting Kevin to spell out why he thinks Oscar would enjoy prison. [Kevin looks knowingly into the camera.] Jim and Pam's irritated phone voices was good too.

I had a few conversations with friends about last week's weddings and Kevin has really grown to be a breakout popular character now. He's really awesome.

Also loved Toby's reaction about his mentally "checking out."

Parks and Recreation 2x5 - "Sister City"

Bringing in Fred Armisen and the Venezuelans was a great vehicle to bring out Leslie's idealism and protectiveness over her town and country. This was the most sympathetic and admirable Leslie has been yet. And then Tom shows a heart by giving his money anonymously to the park fund.

The jokes were on point with the commentary on the merits and problems with the democratic system. I especially liked Tom's willingness to be a gopher for the Venezuelans' money and April shooting down the Intern's pleads to go away with him. The tag at the end of April and the black woman the Venezuelans all wanted in Venezuela was awesome. As was Ron playing with the golden gun.

My favorite line was probably the line from Leslie about Hillary Clinton being a punching bag. "She's the world's strongest, smartest punching bag."

I thought everything really came together beautifully this week. This was the best all-around episode of the season - and the series - so far in my book.

Community 1x5 - "Advanced Criminal Law"

Solid episode showing off the strong points of the show. 

An episode with Senior Chang, the Dean, Duncan all together in the trial scene is a winner. Plus I got my Annie and Pierce Marvel team up that I asked for last week. Plus Abed and Troy were back together. 

"What language is that?" "Probably Arabic." 

Plus Star Burns' real name!

The trial also came to a conclusion I think all the Britta haters appreciated: that bitch is crazy!

continues to earn its gold stars.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Maria Menounos and Me

Every now and then, the fact that I can string a few words together pays off in fun ways.

I had a Twitter interaction with WWE Monday Night RAW guest host Maria Menounos today.  It all started when I noticed that she was ReTweeting articles about her RAW appearance, including the article about her. 

I really enjoyed Maria Menounos and Nancy O'Dell hosting RAW.  They did a great job. And God knows I wouldn't miss a chance to suck up to a hot female celebrity, so I slapped together a WWE Universe blog.  What the hell?  Maybe she'd read it.

JohnOrq @youromegagirl  A WWE Universe blog I wrote in praise of your RAW appearance. Hope you enjoy! [Note: I've since disabled my WWE Universe account. Read the blog below.]

She did read it.  Within an hour, this appeared on my News Feed:

youromegagirl Gr8 article! RT @JohnOrq: @youromegagirl A WWE Universe blog I wrote in praise of your RAW appearance. Hope you enjoy!

Then this appeared as a Direct Message to me:

youromegagirl Thank you sooo much for your kind words! I truly appreciate it and really....raw was the most electrifying night of my life!

That's pretty cool.  I made Maria Menounos happy.  I responded:

JohnOrq @youromegagirl Awesome. I'm so glad you liked it. Can't wait for Serial Buddies (and your WWE return...)

I figured that was the end of it and was more than satisfied.  Next thing I know, another Direct Message:

youromegagirl Thnx! U gotta tell ur peeps to follow me on twitter so I can stay in tune w/wrestling fans!

Talk to wrestling fans?  Maria, why would you want that?  I kid.  Sort of.  Anyway, do what Maria asks, WWE fans, and follow her on Twitter. She's super cool.  (Maria changed her Twitter to @mariamenounos)

Reprinted below is the blog in question that started it all:


In the weekly procession of RAW guest hosts, there have been winners (Shaq, Ben Rothlisberger), losers (ZZ Top, Jeremy Piven) and welcome comebacks (Trish Stratus).  Access Hollywood hosts Nancy O'Dell and Maria Menounos join the winners category with a bullet.  And while O'Dell got to "run RAW" and was given the storyline role of initiating the blockbuster Diva Trade that rearranged the women's division on all three brands, it was "special correspondent" Maria Menounos who truly stood out and made memories.

A lifelong WWE fan, Maria was clearly excited to be at RAW.  That was evident from every minute she was on screen.  What's more, she appeared to be knowledgeable about the WWE product, which is the most important aspect to loyal WWE fans for a celebrity outsider entering "their world" to be.  Menounos made no faux pas like Piven did when he called Summerslam "Summerfest."

Maria fulfilled what she called a lifelong dream to enter a WWE ring and compete in a six Diva tag alongside Kelly Kelly and Gail Kim against Beth Phoenix, Alicia Fox, and Rosa Mendes.  Though limited as to what she could do because she pulled her hamstring while training, Maria still impressed by tossing Fox around and slapping Beth Phoenix (before making an opportune tag and getting out of there lest get torn apart by the angry Glamazon.) No one would confuse Menounos with fellow Greek goddess and WWE megastar Trish Stratus in the ring, but for a celebrity guest she performed admirably in the squared circle.

There was a YouTube video that briefly made the rounds a few days ago showing that Menounos took her WWE appearance very seriously: training in an AWF ring and executing some eye-opening maneuvers for someone who is not an actual wrestler. The video showed that Maria listened carefully, trying to absorb as much as she could about what it takes to be a pro wrestler.

It's a shame the Divas match was so short and Maria couldn't show off that cool looking handspring elbow (Kelly got to do the honors).  Still, for a non-wrestler, Maria did a great job and looked like she belonged.  And why not?  She's a real fan.  She gets it.  And standing next to the other Divas, she was clearly as hot as any of them.

As fun as her wrestling debut was to watch, Maria really rocked as a backstage interviewer.  No surprise she'd be more than comfortable with a microphone in her hand as she has interviewed all of Hollywood's top celebrities.  But Maria was really phenomenal interviewing Legacy and dropping the bombshell that they wouldn't be wrestling together at Bragging Rights and would be facing John Cena in a Triple Threat match.

The standard forevermore in being a great backstage interviewer is Mean Gene Okerlund.  No one could ask a question, instigate and feign offense at a heel like Mean Gene.  Maria must have dug up some buried memories of Mean Gene from when she watched WWF as a kid because she was right on point talking to Legacy.  Better than many of the backstage interviewers actually on the WWE payroll.  My reaction when she strutted away smugly to close the promo was, "Wow, that was phenomenal!"

As far as I'm concerned, Maria Menounos is welcome back in WWE any time.  And when she's back, she hopefully won't need to show Triple H how to do a headscissors for 15 minutes again.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Smallville 9x3 - "Rabid"


Special DC Universe guest star:

I can't believe it took Smallville 9 seasons to do a zombie episode. Seems like a no-brainer. (Thank you, I'm here all week.)

Last week was the big Metallo episode where Metallo gave Clark a big speech about how he doesn't have the right to appoint himself the savior of humanity while standing apart from it and not living like humans do. The Man With the Kryptonite Heart hit Clark where it hurts because he realized Metallo was right and returned to the Daily Planet to resume his life as Clark Kent by the end of the episode. Thank God.

Lois and Clark are back in the saddle, which is the best part of the current incarnation of Smallville. Immediately, they're hit with a zombie infestation (a rage virus), swiping cheerfully from 28 Days Later and even referenced by Oliver as "Resident Evil." Tess became a zombie (after a rather cool fight scene where she gets bitten while hacking zombies to pieces in the Mansion), then Lois gets Zombiefied.

Dr. Emil Hamilton and Chloe used liquid Kryptonite to draw Clark's blood to create an antidote which they then seeded in the atmosphere so it would rain on Metropolis and cure all the zombies. This gave us a touching scene of Clark holding Zombie Lois in the rain until she reverted back to hot human Lois. (I assume Tess broke out of the hospital and also got rained on. They kinda forgot about her.)

Later we found out that the rage virus was started by one of Zod's men, posing as a scientist from the Smallville version of the CDC, and borne from the DNA of Davis Bloom, in a head-scratcher of a plot to either kill humanity, reveal who the Blur is, or both. Zod kills his underling and now suspects Jor-El is on Earth. I'm now jonesing to hear Callum Blue say "Son of Jor-El!".

Also, Oliver is sinking further into the self-pity abyss and burned his Green Arrow costume in an alley. For some reason Dr. Hamilton thinks it would be bad if he found out Chloe has been spying on him and the rest of the Justice League. I'm not clear on whether Chloe even knows that everyone else in the cast knows where Oliver is and has been interacting with him but her. I'm just not clear on what Chloe does all day sitting in front of those monitors at the Watchtower? Where does her money come from? How does she buy groceries and pay the electricity bill?

Final thought: Clark in the black suit and coat is bumming me out. There was a joke where Lois said he's got a long way to go before he can wear red and blue, but Superman just doesn't look right in all black. I'd actually prefer Clark back in his trademark red jacket and blue jeans.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Office 6x4 - "Niagra"

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly from Scranton, Pennsylvania, both employed at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, finally tied the knot. The long awaited Jim and Pam nuptials on The Office last night were worth waiting six seasons for.  It was probably the best TV wedding I've ever seen. "Niagra" had a little bit of everything. 

The Office's writers (episode credited to Greg Daniels and Mindy "Kelly Kapour" Kaling) were wise to not repeat the antics of Phyllis' wedding in season 3 and make it all about Michael Scott. In fact, Michael was generally subdued and often lamenting how he was denied the place of honor he felt he richly deserved as Pam and Jim's boss.

The writers spread the comedy to the entire cast, plus the guest stars of Jim and Pam's family and friends (including Pam's surprisingly hot sister and bridesmaids). Man, do I hate Jim's brothers. Except when they needed a whoopie cushion and Michael had one on him as advertised.

They even found new levels of uncomfortable wedding humor in how, after a rather moving speech about "waiting for my wife" (met with a truly great reaction shot by Jenna Fischer, and that's saying something), Jim bungled the reveal that Pam was pregnant ("Pam's an alcoholic.").  This was immediately followed by Michael's attempt to save them by justifying Jim and Pam living together and having unprotected sex. "Frankly, it's a different sensation... It's not necessarily different for the woman..." To waiting! 

I think my favorite exchange was:

Jim: "I can't believe it was me."
Michael: "I know, I can't believe it was you either. I actually think it takes a lot of pressure off of me."
Jim: "Is there something about being a manager that makes you say stupid things?"
Michael: "I have not found that to be the case."

Bits I really liked:
  • Oscar becoming so incensed that Kevin could be confused as his boyfriend.
  • Kevin's hairpiece and Kleenex shoes, then resting his feet in the ice machine after the wedding.
  • MeMa complaining about Bruno on her television. Later, Michael promising they'd name the baby after her.
  • Dwight's Three Wolves Howling at the Moon shirt and his being a stud with the ladies. (Callback to the night out with Ryan and the Hobbit in New York during season four.)
  • Andy injuring his scrotum while dancing (callback to "Cafe Disco" last season) and all related humor in the aftermath
  • The actual wedding, the real one that took place on the ship, and the one in the church with all the dancing. I'm unfamiliar with the YouTube video they referenced* but Jim and Pam's reaction shots to the idiots they work with and are related to making asses of themselves were great.  (Who didn't burst out laughing when Kevin knocked over the flower display and Dwight kicked the girl in the face?)  Both John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer did some of their very best-ever non-verbal work in that entire sequence. 
It was a fitting wedding for the First Couple of The Office.  Just a terrific hour of comedy and sweetness. The entire cast and production team of The Office should be proud of themselves for living up to and triumphantly exceeding expectations for the Halperts' wedding.  I do hope we get no Jim and Pam next week. I think everyone deserves that honeymoon break from them (and especially vice versa).

My only quibbles: Not enough Ryan (a complaint for the episode and the season thus far) and Michael and Pam's mom = gross.

* I've heard all about it by now and no, I don't want/need to see it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Community 1x4 - "Social Psychology"

If episode four can be remembered for one thing, it's the coming out party for Allison Brie's Annie.

From the nose to nose confrontation with Senior Chang in the cold open for her "hurtful, racist" evaluations to her making nice to Abed for making him wait 26 hours ("I was livid.") by buying him the three (good) Indiana Jones movies, to everything she did in between, Allison Brie just ruled this episode. She's an 8, which is an English 10.

Although I think Troy had the best line: "Do they experiment in the butt? Do you get paid more if they experiment in the butt?"

Pairing off the characters in odd couples and seeing what happens is working. Looking forward to when Annie and Pierce get an episode together.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Zombieland (***)


Pretty much exactly what I'd expect a movie called Zombieland to be like. There didn't actually seem to be enough zombies, with a lot of time for the characters played by Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Woody Harrelson to get to know each other and steal each others' cars. Actually, it was just Stone and Breslin stealing the cars.  For a bunch of survivors presumably hardened by the zombie apocalypse and wary of the zombie penchant for suddenly appearing out of nowhere, they did a lot of dumb things like driving around with the windows rolled down.  Stone and Breslin's journey to a theme park seemed more like a suicide attempt than a chance to give Breslin a sweet childhood moment in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, but it worked out all right. The cameo by and fawning of Bill Murray was the best, although you could see his departure from the movie telegraphed a mile away.  There was a moment when Eisenberg and Breslin started watching Ghostbusters where I considered that I'd also rather be watching Ghostbusters than ZombielandZombieland is still better than every Resident Evil movie combined.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Office 6x3 - "The Promotion"

Three best lines, I think:

Kevin: "In the memo line, I'm gonna write, "To love's eternal glory."

Creed: "Why haven't we ever--?" Meredith: "We have."

Oscar: "Where could Catholicism be without the Popes?"

Two heads aren't better than Michael's one head, especially when one of those two heads is still Michael's.

The problem with Jim's promotion, which the writers hit on right away, is that his coworkers don't respect him as an authority figure. They don't respect Michael either, but they're used to him. 

Jim's idea to only give the sales staff raises would obviously be seen as a maneuver to benefit Pam and him, but Jim couldn't even see that, blinded as he often is by his own good ideas. (Like when he wanted to combine people's birthday parties.)

It's a weird dichotomy to the Jim character that he's so against Michael wasting everyone's time but he loves wasting his own time to mess with Dwight.

Episode was okay.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (*)


If I were 12 years old, I'd still think this was really dumb. President Lex Luthor (snicker) frames Superman for the murder of Metallo (the Man With A Kryptonite Heart!) so half of the superheroes and super villains of the DC Universe come after Superman and Batman to collect a bounty of... one billion dollars!  Adapted from the comic book series written by perennial nominee for Worst Comic Book Writer Ever Jeph Loeb, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies shows the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight as bosom buddies taking on friend and foe alike while racing against time to stop a Kryptonite meteor from colliding with the Earth.  For anyone knowledgeable about the DC Universe, the way most of the supporting characters are used is insulting.  Loeb displays either a pathetic lack of understanding of these characters or worse, a complete disregard for who the characters are, choosing instead to shoehorn them into his insipid plot any lamebrained way he sees fit. For instance, a bunch of super villains attack Superman and Batman, who wonder why some of them, like say, galactic planet-killer Mongul, are coming after them for a billion dollars.  Superman figures they must be mind controlled by a telepath.  Batman realizes, "Of course! It's Gorilla Grodd!"  Sure enough, Gorilla Grodd is mind controlling his fellow villains. Okay, but why would a talking telepathic gorilla from Africa want a billion dollars?  So he can buy pants? Later, a bunch of superheroes working for Luthor (because "he's the President!") come after the World's Finest Team.  Among them are Black Lightning and Katana, who used to work for Batman as The Outsiders, and Starfire, who was a Teen Titan and used to bang Batman's first Robin Dick Grayson.  At no point does a conversation take place amongst these characters who know each other about why they're suddenly shooting lasers and lightning bolts at Batman.   And that's all before Superman and Batman get to Japan and meet a 13 year old billionaire genius who has built a giant rocket shaped half like Superman and half like Batman, then get attacked by President Lex Luthor wearing a green and purple battlesuit.  Even for a gratuitous superhero cartoon smackdown, this is some pretty retarded shit.