Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Words To Live By

January 25, 2010

Feels like just yesterday I was writing about my excitement for a new era in Late Night, but maybe Bobby Frost was right. Nonetheless, these past seven months have only reaffirmed what a genuine, intelligent, inspirational CLASS ACT the man is. I hope to see you again in September?

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Michael & Michael Do Have Issues

July 25, 2009

In case you missed it, Michael & Michael Have Issues premiered July 15th on Comedy Central.  Given my recent travels, I was unable to catch either of the first two shows live, but I’ve caught up to speed courtesy of the worldwide web.

To preface, I’ve loved Showalter and Black for quite some time. The State and Stella were brilliant.  Wet Hot American Summer and The Baxter are personal favorites.  I’ve seen both comedians perform stand-up live. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Black’s I Love the 80’s commentary and Showalter’s mock interview webisodes:

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That being said, I have issues with how disappointing Michael & Michael Have Issues has been after the first two weeks. I’m fairly confident the duo will be adding yet another cancelled series to their repertoire shortly. It pains me to see such talent go to waste. The absurdist delivery that garnered a cult following is now merely a shell of their earlier work, which can be most likely attributed to the show’s desire to appeal to a broader mainstream audience.

I waited patiently, desperately wanting to laugh; unfortunately thus far, I’ve only done so during the “Quiet Weatherman” sketch:

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For the time being, Michael & Michael airs on Wednesday nights at 10:30 pm ET, but I’d much rather be watching a show in the vein of The Michael Showalter Showalter. I hope the network eventually allows the pair to go full-fledged with their ludicrous style before it’s too late.

Keep Cool, My Babies

June 8, 2009

After the months of waiting finally ended and 10:35 CT rolled around this past Monday night, Conan in his new home didn’t disappoint.  I wasn’t blown away by the first night, but his opening week confirmed that we will still get the same Conan we fell in love with in New York.  Over the course of the week, Conan slipped in his signature Late Night mannerisms (much to the crowd’s enjoyment) to coincide with entertaining skits and interviews.

In my opinion, the most memorable part of the week had to be Conan’s on-air acknowledgment of the growing online discussion initiated by SeriousLunch.com’s publication of a hilarious GIF showcasing the similarities between the design of Conan’s monologue background and that of Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom:Vodpod videos no longer available.The Tonight Show demonstrating an understanding of the online world is beautifully refreshing.  The skit embodies the allure of Conan’s comedic style.  His humor is never mean-spirited and, if nothing else, almost always feels self-depreciating.  He laughs with the audience and guests, never at them.  As much as I enjoy The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I appreciate how Conan avoids delivering material with a mocking or pretentious tone, even though he surely has the intellectual ability given his educational background.  O’ Brien genuinely seems like a respectful and polite man, which only makes him funnier in my eyes.

For my 21st birthday, two of my favorite people and I camped outside Rockefeller Center to get standby tickets while I was spending the summer in New York.  Seeing the comedian live in his element only reinforced the beliefs I held of his character from watching on television every night.  That day will undoubtedly always rank near the top of birthday memories.  I hope Conan’s run with The Tonight Show lasts long enough to allow for the opportunity to see him live in his new home someday.  From what I can tell, he seems to be settling in quite nicely.

Live Together, Die Alone

May 19, 2009

I’ve unfortunately been following LOST since the beginning of the second season when all of the third floor Old East guys decided to get hooked together.  At this point, the only reason I still watch is because I feel like I have to know the answer after such a hefty time investment.  Thankfully to all the series followers, the opening scene of the Season 5 finale finally presented a preview of what the island may be all about:

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I’d given up trying to predict any major plot points after Season 3, but I want to write something down before the final season just to compare after all is said and done.  Jacob and his rival (commonly referred to as Esau by many fans due to the show’s frequent biblical undertones) seem to be immortal foes in an enigmatic battle that we really know nothing about yet, other than certain rules cannot be broken.  Although still extremely vague, this battle will undoubtedly act as the metaphor of all metaphors and an explanation for everything the viewers have seen up to this point.

Fan theories are being thrown out left and right regarding representations of good vs. evil, with Jacob’s rival believing the human race is doomed to destroy itself while Jacob feels humanity still has a chance.  I personally think it’s not so much about good vs. evil, but about free will and determinism.  Throughout the series, a theme of duality has emerged.  In the opening scene of this year’s finale, we see Jacob wearing a white shirt met by his black-shirted rival.  This scene reiterates Locke’s backgammon discussion with Walt in the first season regarding the two different colored pieces trying to win over the board:

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I believe the black/white symbolism is less about good and evil and more about opposing views.  Depending on the perspective of the viewer, each character can be characterized as “good” or “bad”.  Each character has been morally ambiguous from the first episode they were introduced.  We have even seen how once notoriously labeled “bad guys” like Ben and Widmore have seemingly acted in what they felt were the best interests of the island.  Everything is a shade of grey.

Revisiting the backgammon metaphor, neither side is right or wrong, only opposites, moving around the board in different directions acting for their own benefit.  Many of the show’s mythological and theological references are also ambiguous (i.e., the story of Jacob and Esau, Taweret and Apep, etc.) In the end, I believe LOST will leave judgement up to individual interpretation, based on our own moral code.  Right now, we generally see Jacob as good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Season 6 tested viewer opinion as we learn more.  It should be noted that Jacob was eating a red herring at the opening of the Season 5 finale…

By using a variety of religions, mythologies, civilizations, and literary references, the writers are highlighting some of the famous proposals made in an attempt of trying to make sense of our world.  LOST can’t be about good vs. evil, because moral assertions are subjective.  We all possess “good” and “bad” qualities, and I feel that the show’s duality-focused imagery alludes to the unity between the two sides.

All that being said, here are some Season 6 predictions before the final EPIC season starts in 2010.  I think the writers want us to be rooting for Jacob’s side, because he wants humanity to be good to one another and work for a better world.  Various factions have fought one another throughout the course of the show.  At times, the audience didn’t even know why the groups were fighting.  When the sides truly unite and work together peacefully, we will see what Jacob has been trying to accomplish.  Rose and Bernard seem to be two characters that already understand this, hence why we saw their story wrap up in this year’s finale.

Redemption has always been a major LOST theme, so I expect it to be a big part of the endgame.  Will Jacob possess Locke’s body on the beach, resulting in two opposing Lockes on the island in Season 6?  When Richard answers that “he who will save us all” lies in the shadow, is he referring to Jacob or Locke?  I’d like to think it’d be Locke considering he’s seemingly been played his entire life up to this point.

Utilization of the free will endowed upon LOST’s main characters (which I see being most important among the characters Jacob met and touched in flashbacks) will be the determining variables in how everything ends.  Regardless of the outcome or how frustrating the plot twists have been over the past 5 years, I am thankful that a television show with this much popularity has the cojones to continually focus on complex philosophical and metaphysical subject matter instead of resorting to a dumbed down approach.  When the final credits roll next year, I hope that the characters’ search for actuality coincides in answers for its faithful followers that have stuck around over the years.

Something I’ve Been Meaning to Get Off My Chest

May 11, 2009

Two things.  First off, Aziz Ansari is funny.  I wish I could say the same about the rest of the Parks and Recreation cast.  I thought he killed this interview and I’m impressed that he made it possible to enjoy watching over 8 minutes of Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show:

As his momentum continues to carry through the rest of the year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he quickly becomes another household name.  Here are three more reasons to check him out if you haven’t done so already:

  1. His blog is fun to catch up on during slower days in front of the computer, regardless of the frequent self-promotions
  2. He’s the funniest member of the TV show that originally put him and his buddies on the comedic map
  3. His cameo in Observe & Report was easily one of the best scenes from the movie (as much as I also enjoy Anna Faris)

Secondly, Aziz is in good company, considering the last person to make me want to watch Kimmel is now my favorite comedian:

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Please let The Hangover meet its potential.  I feel that it will, as long as the Tyson “jokes” are kept to a minimum.  This needs to happen because Zach deserves his big break, especially now that Will Ferrell has simultaneously decided to stop being funny.

CMT Cribs

April 27, 2009

The 0:28 second mark makes me laugh.  I’m not sure how the producers forgot to edit me out after our “YOU’RE IN THE SHOT” moment together:

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Never in a million years would I have ever anticipated being in the house of a country music star during his big Cribs moment, let alone make a cameo in the final edit.  I’m such a sell out.

FUN FACT: I got to be the guy that set up the 4-wheelers in the front of the house.  Jason was busy getting ready and all of the guys in the CMT crew were reluctant to maneuver his toys out of the garage.  Receiving meticulous supervision from the producer, I felt like Austin trying to get the angle just right for the shot.  Who knew that my time at the family lake house would ever come in handy for this moderately “professional” situation…

UPDATE: If the embedded video above stops streaming, you can still watch the full episode here.  The part being discussed can be found at the 14:50 mark.

Mad As Hell

March 13, 2009

After all the hype, the “showdown of the century” turned out to be a one-sided apology instead.  I don’t know when Cramer decided he was going to concede virtually every talking point, but his tail stayed timidly between his legs the entire interview:

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Even though the debate wasn’t as heated as advertised, I left with more respect for Stewart.  Although the financial crisis isn’t specifically Cramer’s fault, he irresponsibly abused the trust of his viewers and Jon drilled him for it.  I recommend reading James Moore’s article on how Stewart has “brought back context to journalism by making people in our drive-by culture responsible for their words and even actions.”

While watching last night’s interview, I couldn’t help comparing Stewart’s on-air attitude to that of the memorable Howard Beale character in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Network:

Although the film was released in 1976, Beale’s famous rant feels especially relevant today.  On a less flamboyant note, The Daily Show replicated the same sentiment last night, and I’m happy that the commentator standing up for the general public wasn’t just part of another “scene in the movies.”