Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Part 1 of 2.


No the McRib is not back at McDonald’s…… is it?

It is nearly new TV time!

Fall is almost here and that means a whole new batch of television programming. I have yet to write about the small screen in this blog and I will now rectify that. After a long, cool, relationship with television programming, one that lasted nearly a decade, I have only in the past couple of years really gotten excited about the boob tube again. There are a whole slew of shows that I love to watch. This post will point out the obvious, cheer on the under dogs, and examine the newcomers for this year’s fall line up.

First let it be said I am much more a sitcom guy, and not a normal run of the mill sitcom guy. I think so much of what is on TV today is rehashed jokes that are canned and reused ad nauseam. Therefore there will be no Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, or other such standard and forgettable sitcom fare in this post. If you love those shows more power to you, I find them all cut from the predictable sitcom cloth, and would prefer to watch something I have never seen before.

For this 1st volume of my 2 part examination we will look at the offerings from the channels which are home to my 2 current favorite TV comedies. FX with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and NBC with Community.

NBC Thursday

Thursday night is a bright shining ray of amazing television in the schedule of an otherwise decrepit TV dinosaur. I hold no love for NBC after a series of increasingly poor choices made it clear that the network would prefer to cater to a decidedly aging (and fading) demographic. The network is trying to redeem itself with a single night of great programming, made even better by the absence of Parks and Rec.


By far the best new show of last year, Community does what others have tried before. It reaches into the gutter of pop culture and brings forth shining gems of comedic gold. The show is smart and witty, it gets what is funny about our modern culture and it throws it back in the viewers faces. I have heard a lot of people say they do not find Community funny, it is usually the same people who take the latest trend way too seriously. The show is great if you are willing (or capable) of laughing at the things that are stupid, even as wrapped up as you may be in them now, or at one time. The cast is fantastic and everyone can find someone approachable in the loveable group of Community College misfits. Community is relatable, but over the top, it helps us to remember to laugh at ourselves, not in an elitist way, but a nostalgic one.

The first season of Community proved what a sitcom is capable of, characters that are real(ish) and fun, they are not one note rip offs of characters we have seen before. The casting is fantastic and Chevy Chase has burst back into the spotlight, and onto the radar of an entire generation that was until recently unaware of the glories of the pratfall, or that Saturday Night Live goes back to before Will Ferrell.

Season One ended leaving me wanting more. I recommend, if you are interested in some fresh prime time comedy, tune in to the season premier on Sept 23, 8pm on NBC.

The Office

key_art_the_office Once the behemoth of television Comedy, The Office is showing its age, and with a series of increasingly poor decisions has set up the ramp, and is revving up the engine in preparation for the jumping of the proverbial shark. With the wedding of Jim and Pam the show has (for all intents and purposes) ended. The viewer is left with a handful of slapdash, and in most cases uninteresting, story lines through which they must slog for tiny bits of the humor which originally made them fall in love with the show. To replace any semblance of a cohesive storyline from week to week the writers have instead chosen to pursue ever more outrageous plots. The sad thing about The Office is it is a GOLD MINE of comedic talent. The actors are fantastic, the characters are well developed, and the setting appropriate. It could be so much better. It was driven to its heights for 3 seasons on the back of a story involving the shows least funny, and least talented members. The Jim and Pam scenario was sustained by good writing and a spattering of sexual tensions and frustration. I refuse to believe that because that part of the show has run its course the writers cannot find a suitable scenario to drive it forward. With talent the likes of Ed Helms, Craig Robinson, Rainn Wilson and Michael Scott himself Steve Carell, the show still cannot produce consistently funny episodes. This is a sign of a sitcom that has run its course, I will not be sad to see it go after this season, unless it breaks out of its box with something new and refreshing. I doubt it. But we can hope.

The Sixth and Final Season premiers Sept 23, 9pm NBC.

30 Rock

30 Rock, last season, was the most hit and miss of the NBC Thursday night lineup. Where Community shined all season, and The Office faded, 30 Rock wandered a middle ground that saw the series hit its highs and lows. I will say, 2 years ago this section of this blog would have sounded a lot like what I have written about Community. I loved 30 Rock, still do. The cast is fantastic (Tracy Morgan is the best thing on TV) and the writing as sharp as anything ever produced. Last season saw mixed reviews.I will hold off on giving up on the show until we see what this season has in store, something tells me it will be great. The shows balance of over the top comedy (Morgan) and almost real life situations keep the viewer teetering. Its a goof of a show that has kept me coming back for more.

This is one I recommend catching up on if you have not seen it before.

The Fourth Season premiers in a new timeslot Sept 23, 8:30pm NBC.


The newcomer in the NBC Thursday night line up, Outsourced is an as of yet unknown quantity in NBC’s primetime schedule. Knowing the network’s track record I will not hold my breath, but I am hoping this new show is worthy of being a part of this mostly abover average block of television. You be the judge, here is an extended trailer for the show.

Culturally insensitive? Yeah, probably.

Hilarious? In parts.

I will definitely be giving this one a shot.

Series premiers Sept 23, 9:30pm NBC


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

imagesIn my opinion this is, and has been for the past 5 seasons, the funniest show on television. It is not standard sitcom fare, and for some may be too brash and or crude. Sunny is the jewel of television comedy and has done so by following a successful formula in a new, and hilarious way. The late night time slot, and more avant-garde network, willing to cater to the younger demographic have given the writing team of the show the freedom necessary to create memorable television. Sunny explores many non-pc themes, including racism, abortion, and mental retardation. The main characters are all unabashed alcoholics, narcissists, and all around bad people. Yet somehow, the viewer finds himself rooting for this group of lovable social outcasts, no matter how terrible their latest scheme may be. This show is is a symbol of what is right with America, a group of people can make it in this country by bashing everything we hold sacred, and make us laugh doing it. If you are overly sensitive one way or another (Political Correctness? Not here. Ultra-Conservative? Nope not for you either) Sunny lambasts everybody and they do it with style.

As the show progresses the stories probe farther and deeper into the sickness of the human psyche. Frank (Danny DeVito) is on the verge of a mental collapse as he copes (not really) with alcoholism and drug addiction. last season also saw the gang rendered homeless and then saved by government bailouts, poisoning their rivals and describing a reprehensible system to exploit women. And all of it is hilarious.

Danny DeVito was made for this role. Frank Reynolds may be the most demented character in television history. If nothing else, the show is worth watching just to see this titan of comedy do what he was made for, inducing side splitting laughs. The rest of the cast holds their own and each brings something fantastic to the table, some of the most well crafted, and finely interpreted cahracters in contemporary television comedy.

Tune into Sunny Thursdays starting Sept 16th, if you think you can handle it.


Terriers is a new show I am willing to give a shot this season due in part to the track record FX has with comedy. Testees and Sunny are two of my all time favorite sitcoms, whereas The League has been a sore disappointment. Despite the hit and miss nature of FX comedies I am eager for Terriers thanks to the comedic chops of Donal Logue, an actor who I feel is vastly underrated.

FX describes Terriers as a “Comedic Drama” But from the following clip it looks a lot more Drama than comedy. I will definitely tune in to find out which way the chips fall. Premiers Sept 10 10pm FX.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inception? More Like Insipid.

This image stolen from Kotaku’s “Bored to Death” Photoshop Contest will sum up this review rather neatly. rawksteady

If it is not readily apparent from the poignant photo to the left, then allow me to spell it out in text. Inception was bad, not good, boring, and unoriginal. I do not have a lot to say about the film other than it seemed an uninspired, thinly veiled rip off of The Matrix. (apparently I am not the first to make the Matrix comparison, that to me proves the validity of the statement)

Conceptually it was interesting, NOT original. Stylistically it was decent, but with this premise so much more could have been done. I am a person that feels like if a movie sucks in every other way, it can still be amazing if it is visually stunning, *cough* Avatar *cough*. While Inception had the opportunity to blow the viewers mind, it did not push any limits with it cinematography, it felt bland and rehashed. Again, I feel the same way with the plotting of the story. So much more could have been done. Maybe the massive marketing budget (which is what makes most people think this film was amazing) could have been slashed to fund another couple rewrites and actually make the film amazing. The story was slow, and it did not take advantage of the neat “dream within a dream” concept to create suspense. I was never once confused as to whether a character was in a dream or not *SPOILER* until the predictable ending snuck up on me like a bull with bells on.

Inception was an M. Night Shyamalan style film. Something that sounds really cool in concept, and in the end is more hype then execution. I could say so much more, but I do not want to spend a lot of time being a hater on this blog.

So conceptually cool, but unoriginal.

Stylistically pretty good, somewhat lacking.

Poorly written and directed.

The cast, however, did a very good job. While no one person knocked my socks off they all turned in strong performances, especially DiCaprio and JGL.

Monday, August 16, 2010

There and Back Again.

Hello faithful friends, Mr. X has returned, just in time, for I felt many of you were getting antsy, yes?

It has been an amazing summer. Some of which you may get to read about, much of which you wont, but fret not, those parts are less than interesting. I will return shortly to blogging about things that matter. Coming up we will have some patented Mr. X takes on books movies and more. I believe next will be a review of Inception.

Until we meet again,

Mr. X

page image stolen from Aykanozener @ Deviant Art show some love, check it out.