Category Archives: TV

Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is Here

What’s your favorite Kimmy Schmidt moment from the entire series?

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Bombing at Ariana Grande Concert in UK

Hey 3.5 readers.  Very sad news as I’m reading that at least 19 are dead after a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in England.

Sad news.  Sad news indeed.  This is not the same world I grew up in.

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TV Review – Staying Alive – Tracey Morgan Comedy Special (2017)

Tracey Morgan is alive and doing his best to stay that way.

BQB here with a review of Tracey Morgan’s big comeback to standup comedy, now available on Netflix.

We often try to pretend like tragedy and comedy don’t go together but honestly, they do.  The best comics are people who have waded through a sea of bullshit only to make it safely to the other side.  If life has always gone your way, then it’s doubtful you’ve ever had a chance to develop the sarcastic nature needed to point out all of life’s foibles with a sense of humor.

The best comedians have not only experienced tragedy but can turn tragedy into comedy.

Case in point.  Comedian Tracey Morgan of SNL and 30 Rock fame was chilling in a party bus one night when a damn Wal-Mart truck hit the vehicle he was in, leaving him with all sorts of physical damage.

I mean, WTF?  The dude goes from being able to name whatever film he wants to be in to  having to learn how to walk again.

Some people might get so jaded that they just give up on life altogether, but not Tracey.  Not only does he come back with this Netflix special, he pokes all sorts of fun at Wal-Mart as well as the resulting problems the crash caused him.

From the opening scene where he walks around New York wearing John Travolta’s signature 1970s white disco suit with the black shirt and high collar, pulling out wads of cash from a Wal-Mart shopping bag (presumably, his lawsuit settlement in physical form), you know America’s favorite retailer is in for a vigorous haranguing.

But Tracey doesn’t stop there.  Alas, he tells us that all sorts of family members have been crawling out of the woodwork with their hands out.  So many family members are demanding that he pay their children’s college tuition that Tracey laments he might have to go out and get himself hit by a Fed Ex plane.

Throw in all the conversations he claims to have had while he made a brief appearance in Heaven and you’ve got a great comedy special, one where a notoriously funny man took a tragedy and turned it into a comedy.

It’s clear that Tracey is not done with comedy yet and it will take a lot more than a Wal-Mart truck to keep him off the stage.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Stream on Netflix.

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Johnson/Hanks 2020

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Tom Hanks jokingly claimed on SNL a plan to run for President and Vice-President on the season finale of SNL last night.

Would you vote for them?  Something tells me that just becomes the Trumpster won doesn’t mean that it would work for any celebrity.

Sigh.  The Rock is right though.  America is only in agreement on one thing – that these two are great.  Getting into politics would ruin that for them.  After all, the best anyone can ever do as President is to make 50% of the people happy at any given time.

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TV Trailer – Young Sheldon (CBS)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

So on The Big Bang Theory, scientist Sheldon Cooper has often referred to his difficult upbringing in rural Texas, raised by a family that did not understand or particularly care for his brilliance.

CBS, in keeping with Hollywood’s trend of never being original, has devised a Big Bang spinoff, Young Sheldon, chronicling the life and times of Sheldon as a ten year old high school student in the late 1980s.

Gotta admit, the idea sounded terrible to me until I saw the trailer.  Then I found it really moving.  So perhaps, on occasion, a spinoff has the potential to be great.

For example, in the trailer above, Young Sheldon becomes a boy narc, ratting on every student he sees for trivial rule violations.  To Sheldon, this seems only logical.  People do something wrong, they should be called out on it.

However, Sheldon’s dad explains that he was once a football coach, and he saw some inappropriate activity and reported it.  Was he applauded?  No.  He was fired.

Thus, Sheldon learns a valuable lesson – that his father isn’t the failure that he thought he was and also, there’s logic and then there’s social etiquette.  Bottomline – pick your battles.  Suck up and look the other way on the petty stuff so that you’ll be prepared when the time comes where you really have to report a serious wrong.

Looks great.  I’m a little iffy on whether or not it will have any long lasting staying power, but it’s worth a try.

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TV Review: Norm MacDonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip and Trickery

Norm.  Normy.  The Normster.

He was a staple of 1990s SNL.  A former Weekend Update anchor, he developed a following based largely on his incredibly dry, deadpan delivery.

Half the time, what Norm has to say might not even be all that funny coming out of the mouth of a regular person but when Norm says it in his sardonic monotone, it’s comedy gold.

When I was growing up, there was a divergence of opinion vis a vis Norm, or at least there was one amongst the people I knew.  Some, like me, found his droll wit hysterical.  Others didn’t get him at all.

The people who didn’t get him tended to be squares.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Norm has always struck me as a comedian that a lot of people probably told him to not get into show biz.  He’s not flashy.  He’s not stylish.  He’s not a hunk that all the ladies want to be with.

In his early days, he tried his hand at movies.  “Dirty Work” is a cult classic and depending on who you ask, they’ll tell you it’s garbage or hysterical.  I fall into the latter camp, but I also know someone who actually walked out of the theater twenty minutes into the movie.  There just doesn’t seem to be a happy medium with the Normster.  People either love him or hate him.  Personally, I love the guy.

No, he never became the “It” guy that Hollywood would tap for box office gold.  Far from it.  Even so, he often shined as supporting characters in comedy films.  Despite it all, he found a following and a long career thanks to a fan base of nerds who got him.

The man’s an inspiration to every nerd who ever tried his hand at comedy, wasn’t universally loved by anyone, but essentially said, “Eh, screw it.  I’m here now.  What else am I going to do?”

No, the man’s not a show horse.  He’s a work horse.  But hey, let’s face it.  That horse pulling a cart is a lot more respectable than that pretty horse that just shows up to get his picture taken for the cover of “Horse Magazine.”

In many ways, I think if I were ever to become a stand-up comedian, I’d be a lot like Norm.  “Hey everyone, here are my jokes, let me muddle through here and you’ll find the most comedy in my delivery, so let’s get this over with.”

And it was never lost on me that the best impressions he ever did were of people who had similar dry, “This is me, take it or leave it” personalities.  Burt Reynolds.  1996 Presidential candidate Bob Dole.  Larry King.  Yikes.  Blast from the past there.  I know my high school buddies and I would walk around doing Norm’s Larry King impression, based on Larry’s USA Today column where he made incredibly obvious statements – “You know gang, when it comes to rape, I’m against it!”

Love is the name of the game with this comedy special, now available on Netflix.  Ironic, because Norm never struck me as the sentimental type.  But, as he points out, dogs are better than humans when it comes to love.  They love their owners unconditionally, no matter what.  Even Hitler had a dog that loved him.

It’s a little tough to see Norm has gotten older.  It feels like it was just yesterday I was a teenager trying to explain to some stuck up girl why Norm MacDonald was funny.

Long story short.  She didn’t get him…and I didn’t get any.

:::Pulls out my Norm MacDonald style mini-tape recorder:::   “Note to self.  Learn how to pick battles.”

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2 Broke Girls Cancelled – Is this the End of Politically Incorrect Comedy?

Sigh.

Dry my tears, 3.5 readers.  Another one of my faves has been slapped onto the chopping block.

For the past six years, Max and Caroline (Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs) have been living a modern day Cinderella story, full of epic crudeness, disgusting-ness, all around raunchiness and epic debauchery.

The show was so bad that it was good.  I think the writers and cast even realized it.  The jokes weren’t just crowbarred in.  They were shoved down your throat with a plumber’s helper.

It was insensitive and super politically incorrect in a time when political correctness matters more than ever.

Gay people on the show weren’t just portrayed as gay but super flamboyant “Hey girl” lisping gay.

The girls’ boss, Asian diner owner Han Lee (Matthew Moy) was ridiculed about his height  (or lack thereof) by the girls to no end.

Hipsters were routinely dumped on.  Shameless trend followers were pooped on with reckless abandon.

In short, the show dove head first into every stereotype imaginable and yet, they managed to pull it off with a, “We’re sorry for doing this, but we really do love everyone and think everyone should get an equal shot at success in this crazy world” kind of vibe.

Comedy, and sitcoms especially,  unfortunately have a habit of reducing people to stereotypes.  It’s not always fair or even right but what else can you expect when there’s only twenty minutes (figuring for commercials) to tell a tale?

Max was born poor.  Caroline was born rich only to lose everything and for six years, Max served as Caroline’s friend and life coach, teaching her how to get by on nothing – literally nothing.

It’s a story young adults could jive with, especially in the post 2008 economy.  You thought you were going to get a big shot job and make a million dollars?  So did Caroline.  Sorry.  Those jobs don’t exist anymore.  Go grab an apron.  You’re a waitress now and no one cares if you have a fancy college degree.  It will look nice on your wall as you struggle to pay back the loan for it until the end of time.

And sure, all the characters on the show were stereotypical cookie cutter cartoon characters.  Oleg the cook was an unapologetic pervert.  Sophie the next door neighbor was built like a linebacker yet told the whole world she was hot and you were not.  Earl the cashier would occasionally pipe in with sassy jokes.

But the girls were cartoon characters too.  Max was a big boobed hustler who reviled in her ability to get men to do her bidding with the power of her boobs.  Caroline would walk around in her pearls as if this whole poverty thing was a setback and she’d be back to living the high life in no time.

I guess the point I’m making is that the girls lived in Brooklyn, a melting pot if there ever was one.  On there quest to become cupcake baking tycoons, they suffered all manner of mistreatment and setbacks but along the way, they made friends with people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds and walks of life.

Yes, everyone was reduced to being a cartoon character because that’s all the sitcom style allows for, but Max and Caroline, for all of their faults, stuck up for people.  Yes they made fun of people, but the people they made fun of would often turn the tables on them.

The moral of the story was that these girls were two wide-eyed dreamers who thought the world should go their way…and sometimes they’d crap on people in their way…and sometimes it would be fun to watch as the crapped on people crapped back on them…these were often people who had suffered more than they had and were willing to let them know that the world isn’t designed to go their way.

Yes, they ridiculed Han without mercy…but yes, they’d also bitch slap you if YOU made fun of him.  Han was like their brother.  They teased them out of love.

Although yeah, at times, I suppose it did come across as just two super hot, stuck up bitches dumping all over an Asian immigrant who was just trying to make a living.

At any rate, when the girls would get out of line, they would be reigned in.  Han used his wits to give them their comeuppance many, many times, often with hilarious results.

To be honest, I have no idea why this show was cancelled.  Maybe it was ratings.  Maybe it was business.

All I know is I invested six years into this show, wondering if the girls would ever become un-broke.  The show would always end with a running tally of how much the girls had saved on their quest to not be broke anymore.  They need to come up with some sort of resolution, as I deserve to know whether or not they become un-broke.

Recently, I also lamented the cancellation of Last Man Standing, another show that, while much, much, much more reserved than 2 Broke Girls, did not fit the PC mold.

Political correctness and comedy.  Comedy and political correctness.  They go together like oil and water.

No one wants to hurt another’s feelings but at the same time, if we all continue to walk around on pins and needles, we may never laugh again.  

2 Broke Girls offered a different approach.  If the stuck up former rich girl makes fun of you, make fun of her back!  Sometimes the most satisfying part of the show came when Caroline thought she’d gotten away with a diss on Han only for Han to turn around and say something in a completely cool, collected manner that would totally wreck her day.

Yes, we should always be nice to each other and not assume the worst of people based on whatever group they are in.  But at the same time, laughter is important and if we keep taking the bite out of laughter, then comedy is going to quickly go out of style.

I’m convinced that by 2050, the world will have become so politically correct that SNL will be nothing but an improv troupe coming out on the stage every week to recite the “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke a hundred times, followed by a half-hour apology to chickens everywhere and people who are offended by chicken jokes.

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Last Man Standing Cancelled

Dang it!  I just discovered this show and they already cancelled.

3.5 readers, as you know, I don’t like to get political on this blog, but on this show, which I enjoyed, Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) was a conservative with one conservative younger daughter, a liberal wife and two older liberal daughters.  They sparred, they made fun of each others’ ideas and preferred candidates/political viewpoints but at the end of the day, they all gathered around the table, cared for one another and were there for each other.

This country is too big and there are too many different groups, opposing viewpoints for people to not be able to agree to disagree and be there for each other despite their differences.  “You disagree with me so you’re the enemy now!” is how civil wars break out.

Am I saying this show could prevent civil war?  No.  Am I saying that it is nice to see a family with different viewpoints coming together?  Yes.  America needs more of this.

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TV Review – Better Call Saul (2015 – Present)

Drugs!  Crooked lawyers!  Cinnabon!

BQB here with a review of the Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul.

Once upon a time, Bob Odenkirk brought the comic relief to Breaking Bad as notorious ambulance chaser, Saul Goodman.  On that series, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) informs meth cook partner Walter White (Bryan Cranston) that they need a “criminal” lawyer, emphasis on the criminal – not just a lawyer who specializes in criminal law but one who engages in criminal activities to get his clients off.

And the rest is history.

Better Call Saul is a prequel of the life perpetually down on his luck attorney, Jimmy McGill, led, long before he took the name Saul Goodman or became Walter White’s lawyer.

You’ve probably seen shows that paint the law as a fantastic profession to be in.  TV lawyers are often portrayed as wealthy, fast talking beautiful people who drive fancy cars, eat at the best restaurants and make out with other beautiful people.

This show gives us a look at the grimier side of the legal profession.  Jimmy McGill practices out of a literal closet in a nail salon, drives a car with mismatched doors and barely makes ends meet.

He has a love/hate relationship with his brother Chuck (Michael McKeen), one of New Mexico’s most respected lawyers.  Chuck is a rabid electro-phone, meaning that he is convinced that anything that uses electricity is sending electric waves into his body that could kill him.

Michael McKean displays some of the best acting of his career as he sits in a dark house, eats food out of a cooler full of ice instead of a fridge, forces visitors to leave their cell phones in his mail box, and covers his home and his body with tin foil space blankets.

Meanwhile, there’s an on-again/off-again romance between Jimmy and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), an attorney that actually strives to do honest work.  Sometimes she serves as Jimmy’s conscience.  Other times, she gets dragged down into Jimmy’s world of crap.

Rounding out the cast is grizzly ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut, the fan favorite of many a Breaking Bad viewer.  We find Mike in a lowly state at the beginning of the series, working as a parking lot booth operator who regularly feuds with Jimmy over his inability to remember to obtain the required parking validation stickers.

From there, the two start going down the rabbit hole of the Mexican drug cartel world, that same world that Walter White gives a big giant enema to in Breaking Bad.

To be clear, the show is nowhere near as good as Breaking Bad.  That’s not an insult to Better Call Saul but rather, a compliment to Breaking Bad, as that show captured lightning in a bottle and is a rare commodity.

However, just as its predecessor took an unlikely concept, i.e. a terminally ill chemistry teacher who stops giving a shit and rises through the drug underworld to become a kingpin, and spin it into gold, this show does the same with an unequally unlikely idea, namely, that the comic relief of the previous show should get a show that’s all about him.

The show has heart.  Jimmy has a dream to become a great, powerful lawyer, yet there are so many obstacles in the way.  Maybe you, the viewer, never tried to become a lawyer, but you probably had some dream.  Maybe you achieved it, maybe you didn’t but either way, most people can relate to obstacles getting in the way of their dreams.

The show features Vince Gilligan’s signature storytelling style.  It’s “show, don’t tell” to the max.  The viewer is presented with a lot of mysterious, ominous stuff.  None of it is clear at first but if you keep paying attention, the mental energy you expend will not be wasted.  Everything that happens in the show means something.  There’s very little filler or fluff that can be cast aside.

I admit when I heard this show was in the works, I had my doubts.  Breaking Bad could never be topped and perhaps if this show sucked, it would taint the legacy.  But somehow, the show, while not surpassing the first show, still holds its own and is a boon to fans who still want to see that Gilligan style on the screen again.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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The Empire Strikes Back – Tonight on TNT

Hey 3.5 readers.

It’s Star Wars day on TNT.  They’ve been playing the prequels today and they’ve been advertising that Empire Strikes Back will be on tonight.

So, if you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars films in awhile, now’s your chance.

 

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