The Bachelorette News is No News at All

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

On The Critic Show podcast, I enjoy sharing what people like and don’t like in the world of entertainment.    It’s a given that there will be people who enjoy TV shows and movies that I don’t care to watch…and that’s perfectly okay. However, there are movies and television shows that I can’t figure out why anyone watches.

As I stood in line at a local store this week, I noticed that People Magazine’s lead story was about a woman named Ashley Hebert, who is the latest person to be shocked that happy endings rarely occur in shows like The Bachelorette.  She evidently had some bad experiences with the men on the show, especially the one she wanted to choose for her own.  He made her to believe he was interested in her, led her on and then told her he didn’t really have any feelings for her at all.

Is that terrible?  Yes.

Is it shocking?  Not really.

Is it front page news (even for an entertainment publication)?  By now you would think not.

Granted Ashley’s circumstances might be a bit unique, but it’s consistent with how these types of shows turn out.  Nonetheless, there have been over 15 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and millions of people still tune in to watch and hope that two people find love.   I ask those people, how many times is this going to show cry, “Wolf!” and you come running.

The people that end up together almost never stay together.  This poor bachelorette also seemed to fall victim to a bunch of guys that want to be on TV.  They wanted to be famous.  Well, the public gave that to them for some reason.  I don’t get it.

Remember the “reality” show Temptation Island?  This was yet another great commentary about our culture and what entertains us.   It showcased couples that allowed cameras to film them as they traveled to an island filled with swimsuit models to see if they could break them up.  The only thing more amazing than the supposed shock of someone getting lured away from their boyfriend or girlfriend was how shocked people were in Season 2.  Don’t you know what happens in these shows?  Surely you had to know SOMETHING about Season 1 before signing up.

I ask a similar question to people who still watch these shows.  Why devote your time to this when you know how it’s likely going to turn out?  The person at the center of it all makes their pick and all is beautiful on the day of the finale.  Then the magazine cover comes out to tell you that the reality after the reality show has set in.

It’s then time for the star of the show to find a new mate.  It should also be time for more people to find a new show.

The Politics of a Muppet Villain

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ll admit, when I noticed that the villain in the new Muppet Movie was a “rich oil man”, and eyebrow was raised.  After all, I’ve seen one-sided political stances placed in movies and children’s programs before and I feared this was another example of it.

Evidently Fox News felt the same way, spending a whole segment on the topic.  As I watched this debate unfold, I didn’t hear a great point come from either side. 

First, it struck me that the three people upset over Tex Richman had not even seen the movie.   They didn’t even mention that it’s Chris Cooper who plays him.  At one point, it’s as if they think Tex is a Muppet.

I think it’s important to see the movie.  After I saw it, I felt that Tex Richman isn’t nearly the political message he could’ve been.  You’re not beaten over the head with the fact that he’s an oil man.  More than anything, his sole reason for being there is to give the Muppets a reason for getting back together.

And yes, Tex “Rich man” uses real words to create a name.  However, I would argue that this is less about politics and more about Muppet name generation.  After all, there once was a time that there just so happened to be a guy that owns frog leg restaurants who was named Doc Hopper.

On the other side of the argument, I felt uneasy that she found it necessary to spend time promoting why politics in kids movies is okay and why her point of view should be heard in them.  She would have been better off making the points that I am making now.

How about we meet in the middle?  Yes, politics rears its ugly head in the wrong places in movies in TV shows.  However, are we sometimes guilty of just looking for it and using it as a means to cry foul?

I agree there’s nothing wrong with being rich and there’s nothing wrong with being in the oil industry.  The thing we have to remember is there are bad people in every walk of life…rich, poor, big business, small business, etc.

I think it’s a stretch in this case to think that a child will walk away from The Muppets with a generalization that all rich oil people are bad.

Chris Cooper as Tex Richman

They’re going to get that misleading message in other places.  You’d have an easier time trying to convince me that after watching a murder mystery in which a nurse kills her patients by injecting poison in their bodies and claim the message is that nurses can’t be trusted.

There are plenty of films where it is 100 percent clear that a film is either covertly or abrasively trying to make a statement.  More often than not, people know it and react to it on a grander scale…not in a seven minute debate on one network.

I remember a screenwriting mentor tell me one time, “Don’t write a movie for the sake of sending a message”.  I also had a movie critic friend who would always call out a film when it beat you over the head with a message, but was more forgiving when a message was subtle enough where the audience could come to their own conclusions.

My guess is most right-leaning and left-leaning parents who took their kids to see the movie, left thinking one thing….

It was an entertaining film.

I’m Moving in with New Girl

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

My biggest fear sitting down to watch the season premiere of New Girl was wondering how the show was going to be structured.  Specifically, we know that Zooey Deschanel is very cute and can play quirky really well. I wondered if they would rely on only that in the show.

Does that make sense?

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows where the writers have done this.  They just take the specific talents or shtick of a certain actor and stretch that out in a story or episode and care less about plot and supporting characters.   I was relieved to find out that New Girl cares about everyone in the story.  Yes, Zooey is the centerpiece at the table, but the rest of the table dressings complement her very well.

It was really impressive how these writers manage to introduce the characters, allow them to make us laugh and show us they have heart in such a short span of time. The three roommates are fun and real.  They are guys without being too much of the cliché, overdone beer commercial douchebags.  I use that term affectionately (if that’s possible) due to their use of the very funny douchebag jar.

On a side note…THAT’S DAMON WAYAN’S SON!  Good grief he looks like his dad!  And good grief I feel old now!

From the moment Zooey’s character, Jessica, moves in after awkwardly coming home to a cheating boyfriend, she blends well with the guys…Schmidt (not the best name to have when people make fun of you), Coach and Nick.

The laughs were quality laughs, and I really appreciated the decision by the writers to have the guys make such a heartwarming decision at the end.

It was a nice touch and yet another reason to hang out with them all again next week.

What are Two Broke Girls Worth so Far?

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

On our current podcast Daniel Manu, the executive editor for televisionwithoutpity.com, said that when it came to the sitcom that Whitney Cummings stars in, he wasn’t impressed.  This was mainly due to the constant loud and brash dialogue her character has throughout the show.

However, he did seem to like the sitcom she produces, Two Broke Girls.

As I watched the first episode last night, I could see Cummings’ imprint on this show right away.  The first of the two broke girls we meet,  Max (Kat Dennings), has a very similar personality to Whitney.  She’s blunt, brash and sometimes overly rude and sarcastic.

Later in the show, with the help of some cheesy dialogue, we’re led to believe that underneath all of that attitude is some heart.  The problem is that by the time we see that, we’re 85 percent the way through the show and it’s harder to believe that such an aspect to her personality is even genuine.

Caroline (Beth Behrs) was a bit easier to get used to and therefore,  I was more interested in learning about her.  So far her “rich girl having to get her hands dirty” character hasn’t been too cliché and that’s always a good thing.  You can’t say the same thing for the over-the-top rich woman that Max babysits for.  Yikes.

The rest of the jokes were hit or miss for me.  There weren’t many “LOL” moments.  I was especially shocked that the “Ha!  She’s actually gay” joke was again utilized.  Max accidentally touches lips with a woman when they bump into each other on the subway.  While the “take that off my bucket list” line was funny…the woman later handing Max her phone number was a huge stretch of a gag that fell flat.

I understand that it’s only the first show and I am willing to give this program some time.  At least it wasn’t as bad as watching the first episode of Mr. Sunshine where I knew I wouldn’t be coming back.

I love the idea of counting how much money they make at the end of each show.  For now, I plan on watching them make a little more.

In Defense of the Ewoks

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I am here to officially announce my ongoing, undying support for a little tribe of bears.  These aren’t just any cute little bears, either.  They are a group of highly organized, brave warriors.  Despite being somewhat primitive, they aren’t afraid to wrap their hands (or paws?) around some technology (aka speeder bikes, AT-STs) and use it to defend their home.  May the silent minority be silent no more!  I like the Ewoks!

Many of today’s jaded fanboys will cringe at that statement.  They have to understand, however, that the statement is not the problem.  It just might be them.

As many fans anticipate the release of the Star Wars trilogies on Blu-Ray, commentaries are popping up all over the internet about what we’re going to see.  As with many things the jaded fanboys complain about, I understand their point with some things and roll my eyes at others.

I have never understood the hatred toward the Ewoks.  The only theory I can come up with is that there is just so much testosterone pumping though some fans, that if every creature in the galaxy doesn’t look and sound like Boba Fett, Greedo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader then they don’t belong. Some may even make the ridiculous claim that it’s impossible for them to exist.

The Ewoks can pwn an Empire.

If they don’t use cool blasters, fly cool ships or hold the title of badass bounty hunter, then they’re nothing more than irrelevant peons.  The implication is Ewoks are too cute and too simplistic to play a role, much less help defeat the mighty Empire.

When I hear fans complain about things like this, I am baffled by their lack of knowledge of history, mythology and story.  If you know anything about these topics you know how the Ewoks definitely belong in the Star Wars universe.

Without going into all of the historical and mythological examples that inspire the creation of such characters, let me just remind everyone that the little guy beating the giant is nothing new.  That’s what the Ewoks represent.  Some of the best stories of all time involve an underdog finding a unique way or gaining a fate-driven opportunity to overcome oppression or tyranny.

A tribe like the Ewoks wouldn’t be even living on a planet like that if they didn’t have some sense of how to live and defend their livelihood.  We see that first-hand when Luke and the rebels get caught up in their net.  Think about it, in one big swoop, they incapacitate a Jedi, a wookie and a clever, blaster-wielding smuggler.

You mean to tell me that this huge tribe of inhabitants, combined with the rebellion in a dense forest, couldn’t overwhelm the Empire?

Think about the arguments that were made against the Vietnam and Iraq war.  One of the key arguments of anti-war activists involved the deadly and overwhelmingly challenging terrain the enemies possessed and how that may get many in the world’s best military killed.  The Empire faced that same quandary on Endor.

You can’t just base your interpretation of the “details” in something like this and proclaim it as truth.  Many fanboys took a similar approach when it came to Jar Jar Binks and the Gungans.  The scenario is similar (though Naboo is no Endor) but Jar Jar was the difference maker.

When we first meet Jar Jar, he has been branded as a clumsy, scatter-brained fool who is so useless that he isn’t welcome in his own home.

Before the movie is over, we learn that even people like Jar Jar have a purpose in life.  In this case, he single-handedly brought two segregated societies together in order to preserve life and freedom on the planet. Not only is that a common historical and fictional theme, but in the mythology world, “The Fool” has a significant role in a story.

The Ewoks and Gungans, like it or not, fit into the Star Wars universe on multiple levels.  That is undeniable.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not written anywhere you HAVE to like any character in any story.  Nonetheless, when it comes to how you dislike a character, perhaps it’s best to do something Yoda might ask you to do.  That is, control your anger and don’t let it cloud your judgment.

Personal hatred of any character doesn’t always mean they don’t belong.

Television is Getting my On-Demand Attention Again

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I guess you could say I lost faith in television.  I didn’t trust it.  When it came to sitcoms, I didn’t get it anymore and for a guy who’s easily amused, it has to be really bad for me to feel that way.  When it came to action or drama, I was rarely interested.  So often we see the same kinds of dramatic characters every year maybe with a different police unit, hospital or courtroom.

To be fair, I wasn’t much of a courtroom, hospital or police unit kind of guy anyway.  However, the reoccurrence of these kinds of shows year after year resembled something that many entertainment viewers say today…Hollywood is out of ideas.

And when you’re not a fan of the genres I just mentioned…where do you go?

Fortunately after running away from TV for many years, good shows I didn’t know about have found me in other ways.  They’ve made it fun to be an episodic viewer of SOMETHING again.  Here’s how it happened:

WORD OF MOUTH.  My brother and sister- and-law hounded my wife and I to see a show called The Big Bang Theory for weeks.  My brother especially knew that I would love these characters because I too love Star Wars, superheroes and geeky-themed stuff.

However, I also love the writing, the humor, the actors and the quality of each and every one of them.  Needless to say, my wife and I have seen every episode and are anxiously awaiting the new season.  I actually interviewed Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler) for my September 15 podcast and it was an interview I couldn’t wait to do.

AT THE MOVIE THEATER.  I’m sure many of you have those days where you just get out and want to just go see a movie…even if it means getting to the theater and just randomly pick something.  That was me when Ichose to see a movie called Serenity.

What can I say?  I LOVED it!  Then I found out this was an extension of the cancelled Fox TV series, Firefly.  I couldn’t wait to go get the complete set and enjoy these characters again.  This is a show that should have never been cancelled.  It’s brilliant.  It’s sci-fi done right in so many ways.  Nathan  Fillion talks about the fun of getting into that browncoat and holster and you can’t doubt his sincerity.  Captain Mal is as good as they get when it comes to sci-fi coolness and he’s got a great cast and creator to back him up.

ON DEMAND.  To be honest, I was a little late to indulging in on-demand.  After all, I had little faith in TV.  What was I going to watch?  However, I genuinely want to have something to watch.  So, I started searching.  Have I found some really bad shows?  Yes.  More often than not that has been the case in fact.  However, I’ve also found gems like Legend of the Seeker.   No pun intended, but I don’t actively SEEK out dragons, wizards and swords…but I love this show.  The cast is solid.

I absolutely love Bruce Spence’s character, Zedd.  Nobody else could have played that part like him.  I also can’t take my eyes of the beautiful and talented Bridget Regan.

I like my share of Britcoms and I was very pleased to have Netflix introduce me to a cute and quirky little show called The IT Crowd.  Not every show is hilarious, but the characters are fun.  This is especially true of the character named Moss.  I will say there is one episode that was the funniest of the entire run and that was when they go to the theater to see a play called GAY.

Whether it’s on demand, catching it in real time or seeing it on the web, I find myself looking for ways to have faith in television again.  It’s nice to have shows to love and look forward to.  There have been hits and misses along the way, but I’ve really enjoyed the hits.

As a result, I plan on taking my newly renewed interest in TV and see if there are any shows in the 2011 fall season that can make me a fan from day one.

I have to admit, it’s better than avoiding it all together.

Don’t Trash Harry Potter Fans, They’re Not the Problem

August 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I saw a news story point out the ways grieving Harry Potter fans can handle life after seeing the last Harry Potter film ever.  The story basically highlighted how Star Wars and Star Trek fans had managed to handle similar situations.  I myself am a big Star Wars fan and I feel the pain of the Potter loyalists.  However, it actually wasn’t the story itself that generated an emotional response…it was the comments people left at the end of it all.

I hate to admit that too because it’s rare anything intelligent is ever written in the comments section of most things (except here of course).  It was there that we found the usual barrage of comments taking cheap shots at Harry Potter fans who love the books, characters and movies so much.  You know what I’m talking about:

“America is doomed”

“It’s just a movie”

“And people wonder what’s wrong with our country”

“Another sign of the Apocalypse”

This really ticks me off because my fellow Star Wars fanatics hear this crap too.  Yes, they wait in long lines for a movie.  Yes, they sometimes dress up like characters from the movie.  Yes, sometimes they’re at a convention playing card games that are mainly targeted at kids.  Yes, they can recite the whole dialogue of every film and even impersonate all the character voices.

SO WHAT?

We have people in this country interested and obsessed with things that literally kill and harm other people.  There are crazies in the world who think they’re the second coming of Christ.  Many folks know neighbors, colleagues and associates who enjoy doing and saying things to anger others and make the people around them miserable.  The point is there are much worse things people could be interested or even obsessed about. So, shut up and leave them alone!
I remember when Star Wars Episode I came out.  I couldn’t wait to see it.  Star Wars was a huge and meaningful part of my childhood that has been a part of me ever since, and I was thrilled to see it come back.  No, I didn’t camp out or anything, but I didn’t blame those who did.

At the time, I was working for a media company and we were all watching a news story about the excited fans.  As they showed video footage of the dressed-up, face-painted and lightsaber wielding fans outside the theater, a co-worker kept yelling, “Get a life!”

Believe it or not, many of these folks have a life.  Some of those people in line probably a more meaningful one than the co-worker yelling at them.  After all, where are you in life if a group of movie fans get you all riled up?

The most common phrase heard is that it’s, “just a movie”.  You know what?  That’s not entirely true.  Water for Elephants is just a movie.  It doesn’t rake in millions, inspire generations, give people of all ages a means to escape the stress of the real world, it doesn’t give us characters to love the rest of our lives, it doesn’t give us dozens of scenes to quote from, it’s not great enough to hold conventions and celebrations all over the world and so on.

You should also consider the fact that that was the CONDENSED version of what people love about movies like Harry Potter, Star Wars and Star Trek.

Movies are supposed to provide escape and some do it better than others. The fact is, every once in a great while we’ll get a movie series that does more than that.
When that happens, is it a surprise that in a world filled with war, violence, rough economic times, terrorism, natural disasters and other depressing things that people will indulge heavily in it all?

Not to me.

Potter fans, keep your wands, broomsticks and heads head high.  You have every right to enjoy something you love the way you want to and escape the more annoying things in life.
That includes the clueless people that criticize you.