Tag Archives: TV Reviews

TV Review – The Big Bang Theory

Nerds.  So many nerds.

BQB here with a review of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory.  SPOILERS ABOUND.

Now in it’s tenth (my God, time moves so fast) season, this show follows the shenanigans of Cal Tech scientists Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj (Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, respectively).

Oh, and all but Raj have significant others.  As of the tenth season, Leonard is married to hot next door neighbor babe/non-nerd struggling actress turned pharmaceutical rep Penny (Kaley Cuoco), Howard is married to short, sweet sounding yet gets angry often Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and Sheldon is currently dating Amy (Mayim Bialik in her best role since Blossom.)  Alas, Raj remains single and strikes out with the ladies on a regular basis.

The one thing I notice when I talk to people about this show is that they either love it or hate it, but there’s little room for opinions that are in-between.  People who hate it feel this is a show that gives you a stereotypical view of a nerd, i.e. that all nerds are scientists and love comic books and so on.  My usual reply is, “Yeah.  Nerds are nerds and nerds do nerd things.”

In the show’s defense, it would be one thing if all the actors/actresses weren’t nerds in real life.  One thing I hate is the Hollywood version of a nerd, i.e. where they take a hunk or a babe and just whip a pair of glasses on him/her.  That’s essentially engaging in “nerd face” if you will.

I get the impression that all of the actors/actresses are nerds in real life, save Kaley Cuoco who is not a nerd and that is fine because she plays the hot neighbor girl that Leonard drools over.  Jim Parsons, in particular, strikes me as a super deluxe mega nerd, so much so that I’m not sure if his career as an actor would have ever taken off had he not landed the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

By the way, don’t we all know a Sheldon Cooper of sorts?  Perhaps not to such a Sheldony degree, but surely we all know someone who we wish would show more empathy, someone who is super smart when it comes to book learning but incredibly dumb when it comes to human interaction.  FYI if you don’t know anyone like that then you might be that person.

Further criticism might come from the fact that Leonard lusts after Penny rather than, say, a nerd girl in his league.  My reply is that a) in earlier seasons Leonard, finding it impossible to gain any ground with Penny, does give nerd girls a try and they treat him just as shabbily.  In my personal experience, sometimes when it comes to the dating world, nerds can be worse to fellow nerds than non-nerds and b) at times, the show has flipped the script and made it out as though Penny is the one at a disadvantage, i.e. having never gone to college yet dating a scientist with a doctorate.

Ultimately, there’s a give and take, back and forth between Leonard and Penny that’s fun to watch.  We male nerds tend to chase after hot non-nerd babes like dogs chase after cars.  In this show, Leonard basically shows us the hilarity that ensues when a nerd actually catches a hot babe, i.e. he’s that dog who catches the car and now needs to figure out what to do.

Throw in creepy weirdo Howard and perpetually single Raj and you’ve got a sitcom.

Count me in as one of the people who like the show.  Admittedly, I did not watch it for years, but only because for years it was up against the NBC Thursday mega block that featured The Office, Parks and Recreation, Thirty Rock and Community.

Once that block ended, I started binge watching Big Bang and now I’m all caught up.  And yes, there are nerds who have tried to tell me that Community was the better nerd show.  To that, I just wonder why the nerd shows just can’t get along.  The more nerd shows, the merrier.

I’m impressed by the show’s ability to make jokes about incredibly complicated scientific concepts.  Sheldon and Leonard will be working on an experiment and say something complicated yet funny.  I won’t understand the complications but oddly, I’ll still understand why the joke is funny.  There are also little things, like the way Sheldon rips on Howard for being an engineer.  I never knew scientists dumped on engineers.

Ironically, it is possible to be a geek and not a nerd.  Nerds are super smart and love comics and fantasy.  Geeks also love comics and fantasy, yet aren’t necessarily super smart.  That’s why I’d say Community was more of a geek show than a nerd show, but again, geeks and nerds must learn to love one another, largely because we’re so nerdy and geeky that no one cool will have us.

To the show’s credit, there’s even a geek.  Stuart (Kevin Sussman) regularly appears as the gang’s not that bright but super geeky pal/comic book store owner.

Also, the girlfriends make the show.  The early seasons, where Leonard, Howard, and Raj are single sad-sacks are a tad depressing.  Sheldon is single in those days too but he’s sort of beyond human emotion and doesn’t seem to notice or care.  While Penny is Leonard’s love interest from the beginning, things get funnier when Bernadette and Amy are brought into the mix.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  My one complaint is I feel like it has been ages since Penny put Sheldon to sleep with a rousing ballad of “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur..”

Tagged , , , , , , ,

TV Review – One Day at a Time (2017)

A single mom, two kids and a hot eighty-five year old reboot the Norman Lear classic sitcom, exclusively on Netflix.

BQB here with a review of One Day at a Time.

As a Gen X-er (I swear we exist), I have vague memories of the original One Day at a Time.  Single mom Bonnie Franklin balanced raising two daughters, a job and a friendship with a wacky landlord during a time when TV viewers were just starting to accept seeing divorced characters in lead roles on TV.

I recall the show being mildly interesting but it wasn’t, say Facts of Life or Family Ties or one of those 1980s shows that has been handed down through the ages.  It was one of those shows that you’d watch while you were waiting for one of those other big shows to watch.  I can’t remember much from it other than it introduced the world to Valerie Bertinelli.

The show’s been rebooted with a modern flair with a Cuban-American family.  Justina Machado stars as single mother/Afghanistan war veteran/nurse Penelope.  She juggles her day job, raising two kids, her “I’ve made a deal with the devil to keep looking this young” mother Rita Moreno and a friendship with wacky landlord Schneider, who has been given a hipster makeover for modern times.

It has all of the sitcom cheesiness: canned laughter, silly jokes, formulaic plots and so on.  The family faces millennial problems that Bonnie Franklin couldn’t have dreamed of, i.e. daughter Isabella refuses to have a quinceanara because she thinks it is an outdated, misogynistic ritual, for example.

At any rate, the show is a good example of a reboot done right.  It takes a show that was popular back in the day but didn’t really develop a long lasting, post-run fan base, capitalizes on the name and the plot formula, yet makes it fresh and new.

And besides, Schneider was a hipster before hipsters even existed.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,

TV Review – Last Man Standing (2011-Present)

If you were alive in the 1990s, chances are you, at least one time in your life, turned on your TV to watch Tim Allen grunt like a gorilla as he played with power tools.

Home Improvement was born out of Allen’s stand-up schtick in which he poked fun at men who begin playing with power tools only to feel surges of testosterone that cause them to regress into primates.  The schtick evolved into a show in which Tim would work on his home improvement television show by day then be a father at night.

I’m very late to the Last Man Standing party, mainly because I believe that by and large, the sitcom formula, though not technically dead, is certainly on life support.  Cheesy jokes, holding back on swears, formulaic plots, cookie cutter characters – all out the window ever since cable TV started producing their own television shows.

However, I noticed it was on Netflix the other day and feeling nostalgic for my youth in which Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor was one of celebrity father figures my TV offered me, I checked out and yeah, I have to admit, as cheesy as it is, it offered me an occasional laugh or two.

Allen has recycled his gorilla grunting tool man schtick into the form of Mike Baxter, an executive of sorts at “Outdoor Man,” a large Bass Pro Shop/Cabella’s type sporting goods store.

By day, Mike sells crossbows, knives, and hunting equipment, complaining about how unmanly men have got all the while.  By night, he reconciles his macho tendencies with the fact that he is outnumbered in his own home by his wife (Nancy Travis) and three daughters with no one but his infant grandson Boyd to turn to.  At times, he finds allies in the form of his hard ass boss Ed (Hector Elizondo) and his daughter’s boyfriend Kyle.

Gorilla grunts have been traded in for complaints about millennial hipsterism.  Baxter is sort of a less offensive Archie Bunker-esque character, unabashedly unapologetic with his conservative views yet twist his arm enough and he might try to see everything from the millennial hipster’s point of view.

An episode in the first season sums up the character.  When his company’s baseball team is forced to go co-ed (let females play), Mike is torn between his belief that men should be allowed to have their own time when they can grunt, snort, burp, drink beer and tell dirty jokes without worrying about offending women.

Co-ed sports are lose-lose for men as Baxter explains that if a man beats a woman at baseball he’s considered a bully, but if he loses to a woman he’s considered an embarrassment.

On the other hand, as a father of three girls, he dislikes the idea that someone might tell his daughters they can’t do something.  Ultimately, he recruits his most tomboyish daughter for a spot on the team and she crushes all the dudes.

Mike, who rants regularly on in videos on his store’s website, sums up a feeling that a lot of men think but few are willing to say out loud, “I want a world where women can do everything a man can do…and just don’t want to.”

Tim Taylor has grown up and morphed into Mike and Mike, like many of us modern men, suffer from an identity crisis.  Women have no idea what they want us to be anymore and we’re just as equally clueless.

But one thing’s for sure – we men need crossbows, and beer, and hunting equipment, and on occasion, the ability to burp and drink beer and tell obscene jokes without being judged by the women folk.

We’re just too evolved now to tell the womenfolk that they can’t join in on the outdoor crossbow hunting trips, but they’d better start burping and drinking beer and telling obscene jokes if they want to keep up.

File under – “Women Have the Right to Act Like Men Now…But Why Would They Want To?”

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Available on Netflix. Good show for when you need something not too complicated to watch for twenty minutes before you fall asleep.

Tagged , , , , ,

TV Review – Haters Back Off (Miranda Sings)

“Hey, where my baes at? Wicky wicky!”

Slather on some extra lipstick and hike up your pants, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Miranda Sings’ TV debut with Haters Back Off, streamable now on Netflix.

As a pop culture nerd, I’ve been aware of Miranda Sings’ YouTube channel for awhile. I can’t quite put my finger on when I first learned of her. Rather, it seems like the sun or water, she’s just always been there.

The character is so larger than life that you might be surprised there’s a real person under those pants.

Colleen Ballinger (honestly, I never knew the name of the person behind Miranda until she got her own Netflix show) has explained the genesis of her alter ego and I’ll try to do it justice (with some of my own assumptions that may or may not be accurate.)

Years ago, Colleen was an aspiring singer and as such, she was surrounded by all kinds of egotistical “look at me girls” who performed song covers in their bed rooms in front of video cameras, posted the videos on YouTube and then immediately thought doing so would launch a music career.

The odds of getting discovered like that aren’t great, so rather join them, she invented Miranda and made fun of them.

It was 2008, the early days of YouTube and Colleen aka Miranda became a comic genius.  She not only lampooned the egotistical “I want to be a success overnight by posting dumb videos” phenomenon that so many millennials have become swept up in, but she also got the chance to make fun of a variety of music stars in the process.

Great plan if you ask me, because if you head on over to YouTube and do a search for your favorite modern pop hit, chances are, if you scroll down far enough, you’ll see Miranda with her poorly applied lipstick and Steve Urkel-esque pants singing a cover of the song terribly yet congratulating herself on a job well done in her nasal voice anyway.

To Colleen’s credit, she’s embraced Miranda to the hilt low these many years.  She’s gone on tour and appeared on TV shows as Miranda and only as Miranda i.e. similar to the way Sascha Baron Cohen would go on a TV show as Borat and everyone would treat him as Borat.

Like Lady Gaga, Colleen has kept her poker face. Go to Miranda Sings’ Twitter and you’ll find a bevy of misspelled yet egotistical tweets as Miranda compliments herself on her latest activities whilst being clueless as to her skills, talent, or rather, lack thereof.

And Miranda has even developed all sorts of catch phrases. With “Haters Back Off” she has essentially immunized herself from YouTube criticism.  YouTube commenters are notorious for savagely ripping into YouTubers, often being a little too harsh on people who are just trying to show the world their interest in song, dance, entertainment or what have you.

But since Miranda is already parodying the “Oh my God someone wrote a bad comment about me on the Internet and it has ruined my life” lifestyle, it is hard to bring her down with a negative comment.  (Well, its hard to bring Colleen down. Miranda, for humorous purposes as we see in the first episode of her show, gets emotionally ruined by the slightest online criticism.)

Her other catchphrase is, “No porn.”  Miranda fancies herself classy.  If you dress in a skimpy outfit, she’ll likely accuse you of “doing porn.”

Social Media has truly exploded over the last decade and not always for the better.  This election, with friends and neighbors squabbling over their preferred candidate, is proof of that.

But the best thing about social media is it has allowed people with talent to shine and be discovered in a way that is usually reserved for people with connections, contacts, agents, and/or just a tremendous amount of luck.

Therefore, I tip my hat to this YouTuber as she took an idea, produced it out of her bedroom, nurtured, grew it, kept it going and eight years later, has her own TV show.

Now with many pop culture sensations, a TV show or movie based on said sensation usually ends up being crap.  Hollywood suits get together, attempt to ride a popular name for as long as they can, but then don’t give a lot of thought to the plot.

That’s not the case here.

In this show, we see Miranda’s life, and not just the parts from YouTube.

A homeschooled nerd devoid of style, manners, common sense, and/or talent yet overflowing with (you might say undeserved) self-confidence, the show begins with Miranda recording a poorly performed song and loading it to YouTube.

Miranda’s Uncle Jim is an assistant fish store manager and is as clueless and egotistical as Miranda is, convinced that he’s going to manage his niece’s entertainment career all the way to the top.

FYI Jim is played by Steve Little who you might remember as Kenny Powers’ clueless weirdo friend from HBO’s Eastbound and Down. Steve did such a good job with that role he is apparently going to be playing clueless weirdos forever now.

Eh, there are worse jobs, right?

Angela Kinsey (Angela the accountant from The Office who was always judging Pam when she wasn’t busy being Dwight’s creepy love interest) plays Miranda’s mother Bethany.

Bethany is convinced she has undiagnosed fibromyalgia (but more likely has hypochondria) and has a dress and a casual wrist brace, neither of which are necessary.

She nurtures Miranda to a fault and encourages Miranda’s unlikely music career and caters to her every egotistical whim (Miranda bosses her mother around similar to how Zach Galifinakis bosses his mother around in The Hangover.)

Rounding out the family is Emily (Francesca Reale) who is Miranda’s sister and the only normal, level-headed member of the family.

As I saw Emily reading a book entitled, Living with Crazy, I caught the point of the show.

Yes, a bunch of people got together and figured out a way to make a buck off the Miranda Sings character, but this show is much more than that.

This show puts “the other half” on full display, in all their glory.

So many shows are filled with beautiful people with beautiful people problems.  “Oh no, which of my many suitors will I pick? Everyone loves me, whatever will I do?”

Or worse, there are so many sitcoms with perfect parents and perfect children.

In the real world, real families have real problems.  Sometimes families aren’t even traditional, as in the case of a hypochondriac mother and a creepy uncle raising an egotistical daughter who is convinced she should be a superstar and another daughter who just yearns to live a normal life.

There’s something for everyone to relate to in this show.  Maybe YOU are the one in your family with a crazy problem.  Or maybe you are like Emily and you just want to be normal but you’re forced to deal with your family’s craziness.

And ultimately, the show is a lampooning of the quest for Internet fame.

Yes, people, you do live in an age where it is possible to bypass agents, auditions, and entertainment industry decision makers and gain notoriety on your own.

BUT – just because the technology is there doesn’t automatically mean you have the talent to make it happen.

Because you can do it doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it…and you just might make an ass out of yourself along the way.

Ahh, but here’s the rub.  “Get some confidence” is the advice we’re always told when we pursue our dreams.

What happens if your confidence outweighs your talent?

Such is Miranda’s dilemma.

I hand it to Colleen/Miranda.  Had she opted to be just another girl singing covers in her bedroom and posting the videos to YouTube, the odds are she wouldn’t have gone anywhere, but by creating a character to poke fun at these girls, she created an empire with little more than a pair of hitched up Urkel pants, some caked on lipstick, and a nasal nerd voice.

I hope this TV success doesn’t mean that Miranda is going to leave us anytime soon.

However, after seeing Colleen as herself on Jimmy Fallon, I can tell that it won’t be long before Hollywood starts knocking on her door with parts that are reserved for starlets and not nerds.

She deserves it but as her star rises, I just hope she doesn’t throw those hiked up pants away.  She needs to keep them in the back of her closet to remember that so many of her fans are, in fact, more like Miranda than they are like a Hollywood star.

I’m in awe of people who got in on the ground floor of the social media craze.

My initial reaction then was, “Eh, this is interesting but why the shit do I want to be on a website where everyone talks about what they had for lunch and posts a photo of their lunch?”

But Colleen found her niche, made a bold decision to be funny and not take herself seriously by inventing a hilarious character and eight years later, people are taking her seriously now.

Impressive.  Where my baes at?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

TV Review – Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)

This is the best show that you probably never saw.

Dead revival powers + lighthearted mysteries + awkward (and dangerous) romance = Pushing Daisies.

BQB here with yet another TV review.

It often astounds me what the network suits decide should be cancelled and what should stay on.  It was truly a “grave” (ha, puns!) injustice that this show didn’t get more seasons.

How to explain it?

As a child, Ned learns he has a mysterious, supernatural power – he can bring the dead back to life with his touch.

Of course, nothing is that simple and there are some catches:

  • If he brings a dead someone or some thing back to life, a live someone or some thing in the surrounding area will die to balance things out.
  • If he touches the revived dead again, he/she/it will die again, this time permanently, and the touch will not work on that subject again.

As an adult, Ned (Lee Pace) has opened up his own pie show, “The Pie Hole” but it is failing financially.

So, he teams up with private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride).  Ned touches murdered people, he and Emerson ask them how they died and (hopefully if they know, who killed them).  They only have sixty seconds to make their inquiries and then Ned must touch the person before someone else in the area dies in the revived dead person’s place.

Emerson then passes it all off as though he solved the crime through his masterful detective skills and splits any ensuing reward money with Ned.

The situation becomes complicated when his childhood friend Charlotte aka “Chuck” (Anna Friel) returns to her hometown, but not as Ned would have hoped.

Chuck has been murdered, but when her body is shipped home for burial, Ned brings her back to life.

Chuck is grateful and joins in Ned and Emerson’s crime solving routine.  Alas, Ned and Chuck must figure out a way to keep their romance alive despite Ned not being able to touch Chuck ever again because if he does…she’ll die.

Without giving too much away, it involves a lot of plastic wrap.

I’m not sure where you’ll be able to watch it, 3.5 readers. At the time of this writing, I wasn’t able to find it on Netflix.  I’m sure it must be around somewhere and I suppose if you have the dough and love the show enough you could buy it but if you know where it can be streamed let my 3.5 readers and I know.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , ,

TV Review – Weeds (2005-2012)

“Little houses, little houses, and they’re all made of ticky tacky…”

What the hell is ticky tacky?

Oh well.  Hot mom + marijuana = Showtime’s Weeds.

BQB here with another TV review.

This is another show I never watched when it was on for the first few years, then I got into it once streaming media came around in a big way.

Uber MILF Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise-Parker) has her life turned upside when her husband dies from a heart attack unexpectedly at age forty.

She’s been a suburban housewife forever, but with two kids to raise and bills to pay, she turns to a life of crime i.e. marijuana dealing.  Her product comes to be known as “MILF weed” due to her Milfyness as well as a chance encounter with Snoop Dogg (playing himself)

The first few seasons are the best of the series.  Here, the story isn’t so much about the marijuana as it is about hum drum suburban life, how Nancy is able to make tons of money selling to her neighbors who, on the surface, are stuck up yuppies but given the chance to spark a doob and party, they do – often in funny, sometimes in tragic ways.

Kevin Nealon as family friend Doug Wilson helps Nancy in her illegal endeavors.  His role in this show as a degenerate scumbag is his best work since SNL.

Meanwhile, Nancy ruins her chances at being nominated mother of the year by bringing her young sons into the business. (Hunter Parrish as Silas and Alexander Gould aka the voice of Nemo in 2003’s Finding Nemo as Shane.)

What really makes the show early on is the love/hate relationship between Nancy and her frenemy Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins).  Celia is that super perfect/judgmental mom who serves as Nancy’s foil, first by trying to ruin her and later as joining her in the drug game.

While the first few seasons in suburbia are the best, the show eventually moves on and the Botwins find themselves in crazy situations every season.  Often, it seems like series creator Jenji Kohan (now the creator of Orange is the New Black) was trying to outdo herself in each season with the wacky, borderline but not quite shark jumping predicaments the Botwins get into (Nancy marrying a Mexican drug kingpin, the Botwins going on the run being two big examples that stand out in my mind.)

Overall it is funny, and there are some interesting cliffhangers and plot twists.  Not to repeat myself, but IMO, the suburbia seasons were the best and then it gets a little goofy from thereon.

I credit this series with giving us more of Mary Louise Parker.  Though she’d been an actress for years (she had a role in 2002’s Red Dragon that springs to mind) this was the show that really put her over the top and now I get to see her in more stuff.

Works for me because she is fabulous.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , ,

TV Review – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

“Dayman!  Uh ahh ahh!  Fighter of the Nightman! Uh ahh ahh!  Champion of the Sun!  You’re a master of karate and friendship for everyone…Dayman!”

I can’t believe this show has been on the air for ten going on eleven damn years.

BQB here with a review of FX’s long running comedy series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I can’t quite put my finger on the exact date but at some point in the early to mid 2000s, the traditional sitcom format died.

Don’t get me wrong.  Surf the channels enough and you can still find that sappy “the dad is so dumb and the kids are so smart and mom’s the best” show somewhere, but by and large, people started gravitating towards non-traditional sitcoms.

Always Sunny does involve a situation – four friends and their elderly friend/step-father (depending on the character) own and operate a dive bar in Philadelphia.

In their spare time, which they have oodles of because they avoid hard work and contributing to society at all costs, they undertake a series of schemes, scams, and cons in a never ending quest to get rich overnight without having to do anything for it.

Situation? Check. Comedy? Check. Traditional? No.

Our characters are:

  • Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) – the bar’s janitor and rat killer, naive dummy, epically disgusting dumpster diver, eternally obsessed with a woman we are only introduced to as “the waitress.”
  • Ronald “Mac” McDonald (Rob McElhenney) – Obsessed with 1980s action films, physical fitness and martial arts.  Always wears sleeveless shirts to show off his guns.  He’s not really that cut but believes himself to be.  Constantly checking out other men’s physiques, claiming purely as an appreciator of muscles but the running joke is he is clearly gay and overcompensates to avoid admitting it.
  • Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton) – Narcissistic sociopath.  Obsessed with himself, literally no lie he isn’t willing to tell or bad act he isn’t willing to carry out to get himself ahead or to get into a woman’s pants.  Inventor of the D.E.N.N.I.S. system to pick up chicks.
  • Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds – Dennis’ twin sister.  Good looking woman but suffers low self esteem due to constantly being called a “bird” but her brother and dumb friends.  Dreams of becoming an actress.  Has no talent and sadly, unable to recognize this fact.
  • Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) – Dennis and Dee’s step-father.  Has amassed great wealth due to a variety of illegal activity over the years.  Could live in style but prefers to slum it as Charlie’s roommate. Big time scumbag who teaches the youngsters how to be scumbags.

I’ve watched this show since the beginning and wow has the time flew.

I’ll say this – there are times where I have laughed hysterically, times when I thought it was pretty creative and yes, even a few times where I thought, “well, they might being going a tad too far there.”

How they have remained friends so long, I don’t know. Its nothing but a sea of them calling each other names, backstabbing and trash talking one another and so on.

Every week, they try a new scheme or get themselves into a bind.

Here are some of the most memorable off the top of my head, in no particular order:

  • Dayman/Nightman Song aka “The Nightman Cometh” – Charlie writes a musical and is too stupid to realize that it is filled with sexually explicit innuendo.
  • Kitten Mittens – Just how it sounds. Charlie puts mittens on kittens.
  • “World Series Defense” – the gang explains to a judge a terrible ordeal they had while trying to attend the World Series. Charlie dawns his “green man costume” and a generation of drunk frat boys running around in face-less green suits is born.
  • “Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare” – and to convince the welfare office they’re destitute and hopeless, they acquire and smoke crack….and become hooked. You wouldn’t think crack is a funny subject but darned if they didn’t find a way.
  • “Who Pooped the Bed?” – a poop is found in a bad. The gang, in classic whodunnit mystery style, becomes determined to solve the crime.
  • “Storm of the Century” – a massive storm heads Philly’s way.  Dennis becomes obsessed a well endowed TV weather girl, so much so much so that whenever he spots her ample bosom, he hears the lyrics to the 1980s hit song “Alone” by Heart.  He spots the boobs, he hears and apparently thinks, “Till know…I always got by own my own…” Priceless.

I don’t know. I could go on forever with my favorite episodes. If I do, I’ll ruin them. You should just go on Netflix and watch them.

Above all else, what I love about this show is that it was created by a group of friends who were trying to make a go of it in Hollywood and after struggling for years, got together, made their show, sold it to FX and were even able to get a well-known star like Danny DeVito to not only sign on in the second season but to be willing to completely debase himself over and over again for a decade.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, 3.5 readers.  If things aren’t working out, take a page from the Always Sunny crew and make things happen (but uh, try to not be so alcoholic…or gross…or engage in any of their 9 million bad habits.)

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

TV Review – Archer (2009 – )

Bawk bawk.

I have no idea how this show was ever made or how it has lasted as long as it has.

Mind you, that’s not because it is bad, but because it defies any kind of usual TV show parameters, rules, guidelines or what have you and is therefore laugh out loud funny.

BQB here with a review of FX’s Archer, which has just wrapped up its seventh season with no end in sight.

In this adult cartoon (or should I say cartoon for adults?) H. Jon Benjamin voices Sterling Archer who is essentially a walking personification of the word “douche.” He is a world class spy so he has the skills and looks to back up his cocky demeanor, but he generally treats everyone like crap and gets away with it because his mother, Malory (Jessica Walterowns the independent contractor spy agency (originally dubbed the International Secret Intelligence Service or I.S.I.S which obviously, due to current events, had to be changed a couple years ago.)

  • FYI Jessica Walter played Charlie Sheen’s snooty rich mother on Two and a Half Men as well as the snooty rich mother on Arrested Development and therefore she has a lock on all snooty rich mother roles in the comedy world.  She deserves it as she knocks the snooty rich mother role out of the park.

Archer has an on again/off again romance with fellow agent Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) who suffers the burden of being the only responsible adult in a crew full of dummies.

Those dummies include:

  • Cheryl Tunt  (Judy Greer) – the agency’s insane, oddball fetish having secretary.C
  • Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) – Total nerd who serves as the agency’s comptroller/bean counter who also has the hots for Lana.
  • Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) – Chubby potty mouthed HR rep with impulse control problems, known for her pearls and occasional dolphin hand puppet.
  • Doctor Krieger (Lucky Yates) – Mad scientist. Clone of Adolf Hitler though looks nothing like Hitler. In love with an anime hologram.
  • Ray Gillette (Adam Reed, who is the creator of the series) – Openly gay pilot/agent.  In fairness, Ray has it more together than the rest of the crew, though their incompetence regularly causes him to lose a limb or a body part as a running gag.

Speaking of running gags, the show is full of them. “Phrasing” is the best one that comes to mind. Say something that sounds remotely dirty and Archer will hit you with “phrasing” as in “you could have phrased that better.”

Archer loves 1970s action movies and is a devotee of Burt Reynolds.  Burt and many other stars have made cameos as either themselves or other characters. Being cartoonized as an Archer character has sort of become a sign than an actor/actress has made it in Hollywood (or at the very least, they have a good sense of humor.)

Animation has definitely allowed the show runners to get away with things that would never fly in live action. Somehow drawings of butts make it to TV but real butts are a no no. Oh well. I’m not a prude or anything I’m just wondering how the censors make this distinction.

Six seasons are available on Netflix.  They’re short, roughly twenty minutes long, so a good show to check out if you need a quick distraction.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

Tagged , , , , ,

TV Review – Mad Men (2007-2015)

Dun dun…dun dun…dun dun….dun dun…cartoon silhouette of a man falling out of a window combined with violin music.

Hard drinking, chain smoking 1960s advertising men and Christina Hendricks’s jumbotrons = a compelling historical drama.

BQB here with a review of Mad Men.

3.5 readers, I like to consider myself an educated person. I read books and shit after all.

But few shows brought to life for me the women’s rights struggles as this show did.

Ironically, that’s not what the show is about but it is what I’ll probably always remember it for.

The set-up – Don Draper (Jon Hamm) lives the life of a free wheeling, perpetually fornicating Madison Avenue advertising executive (aka he is a “Mad Man.”)

Because its the 1960s, he’s pretty much free to boink any babe he wants and just tell his wife he had to stay late at work if she asks any questions.

In fact, his comrades at the firm pretty much do the same thing.  His boss, Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and his underling Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) rival Don in their hard drinking, smoking, and extramarital affairs.

We often look to the past as simpler, more innocent times yet this show does put on display things that were commonplace in the past that would turn a head today, the most glaring example that everyone at the firm has their own fully stocked bar in their office and walking around the office with a cocktail in one hand and a smoke in the other happened all the time.

Good luck trying that today.

The formula is pretty standard:

  • Don cheats on his wife because he was once a poor bum who never thought he’d amount to anything and now that he is on top and the world is his oyster he feels this driving need to drink, smoke and boink as much as possible before his life is over.
  • Extramarital boinking is fun for five minutes but then he realizes family is the real deal, that one night stands will never bring him the long lasting happiness that being a family man will.
  • Don decides to straighten up only to start boinking again. In his defense, women just throw themselves at him so it is hard to avoid the boinking. It is easy for me to say that I’m not an evil boinker since no one is offering to boink me.
  • Don’s colleagues at the firm all experience the “be faithful to your spouse vs. boink while you can” conundrum.
  • Along the way, we learn a lot about the history of commercial advertising, how some of the advertising campaigns that fool us into buying crap we don’t need got started and continue today.

There are times when the show seems tedious, like it is going nowhere.  I get the main premise, i.e. love the one that’s loyal to you because the side action will never be as loyal.

If I didn’t bear a striking resemblance to a gargoyle, I would take this to heart and tell the side action to take a hike. Alas, I am too hideous to attract side action.

But maybe I’m the lucky one. Maybe Don would have been better off if he weren’t so damn handsome and having so many women throwing themselves at him, demanding that he be unfaithful.

I mentioned the women’s rights movement earlier.  So, what I noticed is that Betty (January Jones) who is super hot and frankly, would be enough for me (I’d be racing home from the office to get all up in that) basically has to put up with Don’s bullshit.

She’s a housewife. No money. No career. No job prospects. If you’re a 1960s housewife and your husband cheats on you, your choices are a) put up with it and lose your dignity or b) leave and be poor because the best job you’ll be able to find is waitressing if you’re lucky and also you’ll lose the kids because your husband has the money to hire a lawyer and you don’t.

So thanks a lot, Don, you big time douche. Dudes like you who had no idea how good you had it created a world where women had to take charge and alas, I don’t have January Jones waiting for me when I come home now.

Aside from the man drama, you also have Joan (Hendricks) and her enormous sweater cannons, which are basically characters in and of themselves and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) paving the way for women in business, showing what working women had to go through.

Throughout the series, we see Peggy go from mousey secretary to female Don Draper while Joan must navigate her way through a sea of perverts who want access to her sweater cannons on her quest to be taken seriously as a businesswoman.

All seven seasons available on Netflix. Set your TV to widescreen mode so you can take in Joan’s chest rockets in their entirety.

Seriously, its like watching a movie when you the theater is packed and you have to sit in that damn row that’s right up against the screen.  You have to look to the left to see the left boob then crane your neck to the right just to see the right boob.

Very stressful.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

TV Review – Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

I am the one who reviews!

High school chemistry teacher with cancer + his former student who calls everyone “bitch” = show that most critics would agree is the best television show of the twenty first century thus far.

BQB here with a review of Breaking Bad.

When this show came out in 2008, someone close to me had just died from cancer, so I wasn’t interested at all.  I saw the previews for it and was like, “eh” then I saw the previews for Showtime’s The Big C, a show that came out around the same time about a woman trying to keep her life together while fighting cancer and I was just like, “Look Hollywood, cancer is not funny or glamorous and it is the last thing I want to see on TV when I’m looking for an escape, thank you very much.”

So the years passed and then somewhere in the early 2010s I heard people talking about this show so I gave it a chance on Netflix and was immediately hooked.  And from what I’ve heard, the invention of streaming media breathed life into this and a lot of other shows.

Because when you think about it, a show about a high school chemistry teacher dying from cancer doesn’t exactly sound like good time appointment viewing, but once it was available in a format for people to check out when they had a free moment, boy howdy did they get hooked.

And truth be told, the show isn’t so much about cancer as it is a study of a) the sadness people feel when they reach the end of their lives feeling like they never reached their full potential and b) how much the legal system keeps us all behaving like good doobies without us ever realizing it.

Remove a) the fear of dying because you are already dying and b) the fear/humiliation of ending up in prison (because you’re dying) and the nicest person you know might end up walking down an evil path.

The set-up – Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was, in his youth, a promising chemistry scholar who starts a business with friends Elliot (Adam Godley) and Gretchen (Jessica Hecht).

Walter sells his share of the company early, the company becomes huge, like Facebook huge.  Meanwhile, Walter grows old and bitter, having spent his life in mediocrity as a high school teacher with a part time job at a car wash just to make ends meet.

Somehow he manages to snag a hot wife, Sklyer (Anna Gunn) while his son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) oozes happiness and gets along as a typical teenager despite a handicap.

When Walt is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his despair over his untapped potential haunts him. He’ll die without using his genius brain to make it big.

Alas, his brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris), a DEA agent, takes Walt on a ride along.  Walt catches a glimpse of just how much cash a good drug dealer rakes in and the little hamster starts rolling around the wheel in his brain.

What begins as an idea to use his chemistry know how to cook crystal meth in order to leave some extra cash behind for his family turns into a long journey into the proverbial heart of darkness, as Walt uses his smarts and fearlessness (because, hey, he’s dying anyway) to rise to the highest ranks of the criminal underworld.

He takes on Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), his former student turned junkie as his partner in crime and together, they become expert meth cooks.  As Jesse becomes like a second son to Walter, their relationship is sometimes tragic and sometimes even hilarious.

Add to the mix criminal lawyer (the show stresses you are to read this as a “lawyer who is a criminal”) Saul Goodman (veteran comedian Bob Odenkirk) who steals the show with his obnoxious TV lawyer ads.  Saul teaches the boys how to launder their money, dodge law enforcement, get out of trouble, etc. etc.

Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is the old ex-cop/problem fixer that Walt works with. The combination of the grizzled old man who has seen and done it all and the chemistry teacher who sees things through gentrified eyes is comical.

Meanwhile, Giancarlo Esposito as crime boss Gus Fring is one of the scarier bad guys on television.

Throughout the series, Walt struggles to keep his public and private lives separate.  He continues to pose as a good dad and husband while sneaking off to cook meth and deal with criminals with Jesse.

All the while, lovable Hank, and I do mean lovable, is chasing some criminal without realizing the man he wants is his beloved brother-in-law that he spends the weekends with grilling burgers and shooting the breeze.

If anything, the Hank/Walt dynamic is what really makes the show. The show runners could have made Hank the stereotypical tough guy cop but instead they made Hank an average joe.  He loves his wife, Skyler’s sister Marie (Betsy Brandt), loves his in-laws Walt and Skyler, loves his nephew Walt Jr. and brews beer in his garage as a hobby.  He is, one might say, a true mensch.

The star of the series is Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator and man behind the scenes.  Every detail, every little thing that happens means something.  Take notes as you watch because if someone so much as sneezes it will turn out to be important later. Not letting a single second of time go wasted has become Gilligan’s signature.

So many shows take off and then descend into chaos.  The actors get too big for their britches and want to leave for bigger, better things.  Ironically, prior to this show, Bryan Cranston wasn’t that well known, his other biggest acting gig having been as the father on Malcolm in the Middle.

Like Walt, Bryan found fame and fortune late in life (albeit legally) but he never forgot the viewers and juggled all the big movie roles that came his way with Breaking Bad, keeping it all together to keep the show going.

And sometimes writers run out of gas, but Vince and company keep viewers on the edge of their seats to the very end.

In fact, if you’re a wannabe writer, I highly suggest checking out this show. (At present, all five seasons are available on Netflix.)

And catch the prequel, Better Call Saul on AMC. It doesn’t have a lot to do with Breaking Bad but you get to learn how Saul and Mike worked together before Walt came along.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,