Skews younger…with juries and such

So, Arrested Development is back on Netflix. This is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is getting to see Alia Shawkat in stuff again. (Loved her since State of Grace )

But this seems as good a time as any to get in to one of my weirder obsessions, which I’ve hinted at occasionally in the past.

It’s time to talk about Scott Baio.

Sometimes the early teen heart wants what it wants

Sometimes the early teen heart just wants what it wants

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Mr. Baio’s work, I’d like to know what in the hell you did with your childhood, because you were clearly not watching Happy Days reruns and that makes me sad for you.

Anyway, on Happy Days, he played Chachi, who was the young and slightly less smooth cousin of Fonzie.

If you don’t know who Fonzie is you should probably just jump off of a bridge.

Anyway, I loved him. Not in a, “this is an amusing character way,” I actually loved him. In a creepy fangirl download pictures and have bizarre fantasies about him way. This lasted until I was about fourteen. Of course by then Charles in Charge had moved to Nick at Nite, and it was hard to escape. It was a fun little joke for a while, and everyone in my life sort of let it go.

Katie still brings it up from time to time, but only because we bonded over it when we first met. (Her thing was for Ron Howard…)

But regardless it was one of those “there’s a little truth to every just kidding” situations. I did, and still kind of do, find the young Scott Baio very attractive. Despite the hair…or possibly because of it. Whatever.

Then when I was in college along came Arrested Development…I mean, it was already off the air for a few years when I watched it, but I loved the whole “Bob Loblaw” bit. Baio was playing the Bluth family’s new lawyer, an ambulance chaser named Bob Loblaw, replacing their old lawyer, Barry Zuckercorn, played by Henry Winkler.

If you don’t know who Henry Winkler is, please go climb back under your rock now, and watch some Happy Days reruns. Seriously.

This is him. He's the Fonz.

This is him. He’s the Fonz.

 

I also loved the line to clearly remind people of who they were, “This is not the first time I’ve replaced Barry Zuckercorn. I can do everything he can do, and skew younger. With juries and such.”

Either way, how exciting was it when in Episode 4 of the new Netflix season when Bob Loblaw was defending Barry Zuckercorn, and Barry actually shouted “Chachi!” at one point?

No? That was just me who was excited about that, then.

Keep on Trekking…

Into Darkness Poster

I went in to see Star Trek: Into Darkness literally forty five minutes after watching Star Trek for the first time in years. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge Star Trek fan. I’ve seen a few episodes of the original series here and there, and I’ve seen the original Star Trek movie as well as Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Generally, when I watch Star Trek,  I feel like I’ve been lectured at about race relations and I can’t take it seriously because I had to watch some beautiful woman try her hardest to pretend that she was actually attracted to William Shatner.

Largely, I usually feel like I wasted my time and not in the good way, like, “I wasted two hours having a lot of fun and it was awesome,” but more like, “Huh, well, that was two hours that I could have been sleeping or DOING JUST ABOUT ANYTHING BUT WATCHING STAR TREK.” Even with this attitude, I really liked Star Trek (2009). I watched it again this morning and still really liked it. I was even pleasantly surprised, because I forgot the Chris Hemsworth plays George Kirk and getting to see Chris Hemsworth do anything, even for just a few minutes makes the world brighter…

Anyway…

The new Star Trek universe has two things really going for it:

1. A clean slate, I’m pretty DC’s whole “New 52” initiative came from this same idea that J.J. Abram’s decision to take the characters and situations that people love, blow up their past adventures and move on, with all new ones. DC screwed it up, and from a lot people’s perspectives, it seems Abrams did too. I’m not so sure. I thought that Star Trek was a gamble, and I’m thinking that Into Darkness is just continuing the game. We’re still waiting for the payoff.

2. It’s cast. The flaws of these movies are huge. They’re far from perfect. They have large gaping plot holes, an inability to let go of the past, and overly manic directing style. But the shiny new Star Trek cast is wonderful. Chris Pine is wonderful. Zoe Saldana is amazing. Karl Urban is fantastic. John Cho and Anton Yelchin are great. Simon Pegg is one of the greatest gifts ever given to cinema. If I were to try to explain Zachary Quinto in one word, it would be “Wow!” I love this cast individually, and they’re just wonderful together.

Added to the mix this time around was Benedict Cumberpatch at Khan. I love me some BBC stars, even though I don’t understand the fanatical devotion to Sherlock, and I think he’s a very good actor. I was excited to see him take on this iconic villain.

Into Darkness had all of the elements of a great movie, but it didn’t quite land, stranding it as merely good. We open with a traditional Star Trek scene, Kirk and McCoy are running through a jungle trying to keep from violating The Prime Directive. (Which is then laid out by Spock for Trek newbies. I did know what The Prime Directive was, I’m not that clueless.) Of course, this is Chris Pine’s trigger happy version of Captain Kirk, and violate the directive he does, flamboyantly and spectacularly so. Spock reports him, which kind of ticks him off, since during the mission Kirk saved the Vulcan’s life.

Kirk is then busted down from Captain to Commander, and The Enterprise’s command is handed back to Admiral Christopher Pike. Bruce Greenwood’s performance as Pike is also great, as it was in the first movie. He once again pulls Kirk back from the edge in a bar. Spock is transferred to a different ship.

Meanwhile, in London, Sherlock Holmes tells Mickey Smith that he can heal his daughter…sorry, that was my CSD acting up. But the Starfleet analyst that “John Harrison” (Khan) is blackmailing was played by Noel Clark, who played poor put upon Mickey Smith back in the early days of the Doctor Who reboot. I always loved and pitied poor Mickey, who was left behind over and over again. Anyway,  in exchange, the analyst blows up a Starfleet archive which puts the Federation into emergency mode, which begins with a meeting of Starship captains and first officers. I bet you can guess how that ends.

They get blown up. Pike dies. Kirk and Spock are sad. Kirk becomes Captain again. All is as it should be. Except, Kirk requests to be sent after Harrison, (who, need I remind you is not actually that guy, but Khan.) and Old Guy Who Is Clearly Not To Be Trusted (Admiral Marcus), says, “yeah, go for that, and take these new experimental torpedoes to kill him with.” Kirk, being Shiny New Trigger Happy Kirk, who’s mentor just got blown up, is all, “Okey Dokey.” When Spock and Scotty point out that this smells fishy, he just gets indignant and Scotty quits. Luckily, Uhura and Spock (who are a couple in this universe don’t forget) are currently in the middle of a lover’s spat, so she sides with Kirk, basically out of spite and maybe a little bit out of residual sexual tension between Saldana and Pine.

They capture Harrison (KHAN!) and put him in a nice clear prison cell just like Nick Fury did to Loki in The Avengers. Then Khan, Kirk and Spock chat for a while and we find out that he’s Khan. (Duh) There are a few more plot twists involving the introduction of Carol Marcus, who Kirk clearly wishes to bone. (He later “welcomes her to the family” and it’s severely creepy) And they wind up finding out that Admiral Marcus is a bad dude, they get Scotty back, and he Kirk and Khan raid Marcus’s ship. Spock calls New Vulcan to talk to Spock Prime about Khan. Prime says he vowed to not interfere with the new timeline, and that Spock Two has to make his own mistakes. But of course, he then tells them not to trust Khan, he is very dangerous. When Two asks Prime how they defeated Khan, Prime’s response is that it was with a great cost. That cost, of course, was Spock Prime’s life.

While I was psyched to see Leonard Nimoy (I mean, really, why wouldn’t anyone be? The man is great!) this was to me a major instance of the movie being too self aware. Like I said, one of the great things that this series has going for it is a clean slate. Having Spock Prime in the first movie was a respectful nod to fans, and helped establish a new clean time line. But if they’re going to haul him out for subsequent adventures, just to give advice to Spock Two it cheapens the idea.

They beat Khan and this time it is Kirk that pays with his life, not Spock. I liked this twist, because it unleashed Spock’s full on wrath. Zachary Quinto does angry, very very well. Also, seeing him do the full on long scream, “KHAAAAAAAANNNNNN!” was way more fulfilling than anything Pine could have done. This is not a criticism of Chris Pine, who is really great at playing Captain Kirk, I just feel like Quinto is better at everything than most people.

Thankfully, due to a MGuffin of Khan’s blood having regenerative properties, (discovered by McCoy when he injects it into a dead tribble…another cute but unnecessary Trekkie nod.) we will be spared Star Trek III: The Search for Kirk, because they just revive the dead Captain. It’s a nice scene when he and Spock make up, and we flash forward to a year later, and The Enterprise crew gets their 5 year long commission to go “where no one has gone before.” (I hate changing gender pronouns for no reason, by the way. It’s pandering and insulting.)

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. Like I said, I love this cast. I think they’re great. Urban took a bit of a back seat this time around to give Pegg the shining number 3 spot. (1 and 2 belong to Pine and Quinto, as it should be). He delivers possibly the greatest line ever, “Well, if it isn’t Captain James T. McPerfect Hair!” Saldana  steals a couple of great scenes and seeing her speak Klingon was a lot of fun. Cho and Yelchin are both so perfectly suited to playing Sulu and Chekov respectively I have trouble even analyzing what they do, and just sit back and enjoy watching them. Cumberpatch was good, if not great in his quiet intensity.

Visually the movie is a huge improvement on it’s predecessor. The lens flares are still there but much more muted, Kronos, the Klingon homeworld is a rotting bit of beauty and The Enterprise herself looks great.

Like I said, the elements were all there, the movie just didn’t gel. And it’s way too long. I don’t care how good it is, almost two and half hours of people flying around in a spaceship is too long. But I give it like a 7/10.

Trailers:

My God is the Anchorman 2 teaser brilliant. It’s so brilliant.

Elysium will probably be the best movie of the past five years and no one will talk about it after the first few months. Just like District 9.

I don’t know why I didn’t realize that Kevin Costner was playing Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel, but that makes me way too happy. I hope there’s a scene where he and Clark play catch. Anyway, the new trailer was so good I actually found myself crying. I’m yoyoing so hard on my expectations for this movie that I’m going to get whiplash, but right now I am firmly in the “excited” place.

Despicable Me 2 will be the best movie of the summer and again, no one will talk about it. It will be unfortunately overlooked because it’s “a family movie.” This makes me sad.

So far these are my summer movie season standings:

1. The Great Gatsby (with a bullet)

2. Iron Man 3

3. Star Trek Into Darkness

Next week we get Now You See It and After Earth. I haven’t decided which I want to see first. I really want to see Now You See It, but I’m also really excited that Will Smith is teaching his son how to fight aliens…

525,600

It’s been a year since I started. I’m pretty happy with how this all has gone, but there are some people I really need to thank:

My family, who share a house with me and sometimes listen to me babble on for long strands about topics they care nothing about in order to work out ideas. All 4 of you are amazing and I love you endlessly. Especially Mom, who has admitted to not reading, but always likes every facebook post, so that it shows up on her friend’s newsfeeds.

My friends, but in a very special way Chrissy, Katherine and John. You guys are endlessly funny, and I know you’ve probably recognized your words and conversations in these posts.  Also, I’m sorry for internet outing you Chrissy, and thanks for forgiving me! I’ll miss you so much when you leave the Garden State this summer, but there will have to be many road trips. And Katherine, when you introduce me to your writer, actor and director friends as “My friend Reenie, she’s a writer too!” it always makes my night. So please keep doing that. And I’ll keep the faith alive that someone will give Sophia Bush a role worthy of her. Also, I’ll introduce you to my friends as a director, because you are and you’re kick ass at it! John, I’ll try to not call you a sexist again, but I’m not making any promises. And I promise to not be too effusive in my praise of Man of Steel, because I’m probably going to love it, and you’re probably going to hate it, and we’re going to have to deal with that.

My coworkers & bosses at the hotel. I don’t know if any of you guys read this, but if you do, you basically saved my sanity these past six months. I felt on the edge about to lose it before you came in to my life. Especially my boss. Seriously, if you hadn’t hired me, I don’t know what exactly I would have done, and I’m really glad I’ll never have to find out.

Thanks to Daniel O’Brien, everyone who is at all involved in The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and everyone else who made the DCAU, Joss Whedon and the Nolan brothers for giving me so much amazing stuff to write about in the past year. And DOB, I’m still single…just throwing it out there.

And finally, a big thank you to YOU, all you who are reading, and commenting and liking. Thanks for hitting the follow button.

One of these days I am going to finish watching Buffy. I really, really will.

But for now, just thanks, and we’re headed in to a new year. We’ve got a new season of Arrested Development, an amazing movie season which includes the movie of City of Bones (we will have so much fun untangling the crazy web that is The Mortal Instruments…)Game of Thrones to finish, The Newsroom to begin, the Doctor Who 50th anniversary (The return of David Tennant! SQUEE!) and a new Thor movie to discuss. It’s going to be a good one!

I will return

Thor The Dark World

I’ve been thinking as more details about Thor: The Dark World come in to focus, that it is becoming abundantly clear that this movie will be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first attempt at a love triangle, in the form of Sif/Thor/Jane Foster. I mean, it’s the first if you don’t count Pepper/Tony/Tony’s Ego (I sort of half count it.)

I’m excited for this development for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I love love triangles. I just adore them. Bring on your Dawson/Joey/Pacey, your Jack/Kate/Sawyer, your Brandon/Kelly/Dylan, your Kelly/Dylan/Brenda. I want your Edward/Bella/Jacob, your Ron/Hermione/Viktor Krum, your Lancelot/Guinevere/Arthur, your Galinda/Fiyero/Elphaba. I want them all. I thirst for love triangles and drink deeply from them analyzing the good and bad aspects of each relationship, as if I were choosing a college I, in fact, probably put more thought in to deciding if I was Team Jack or Team Sawyer than I did into choosing a college. For the record I am actually Team Sawyer/Juliet. Kate can suck it.

“Well, I understand that Edward is her soulmate, but Jacob is alive and her dad loves him!”

“Sure, Dylan had a vision quest where he saw that he and Kelly were married in a past life and that’s great, but Brandon actually bought her an engagement ring and hid it in roller blades and that’s adorable!”

I have these conversations, sometimes with friends, usually with myself.

But I’m particularly excited about this one because of the characters involved. Obviously, I don’t love the character of Jane Foster. I mean, she’s fine. I just really hate Natalie Portman.

I don't care how many Oscars she wins. She can't erase these "love" scenes

I don’t care how many Oscars she wins. She can’t erase these “love” scenes

But I appreciate that all three characters, Sif, Thor and Jane are all autonomous individuals with their own personal goals and motivations outside of their love story. Sif has her service as a soldier to Asgard. Thor has his whole quest to protect the nine realms thing. Jane is a scientist, she has her research. No one’s world is going to fall apart because their romantic desires are unfulfilled and that’s a cool and very different way to go in to a love triangle.

So, kudos, MCU, for doing that. You get a big old feminist high five from me for this one.

Now, if you could follow this up with Cap/Black Widow/Hawkeye in The Avengers 2, I will be one seriously happy lady.

Just saying.

Of The USS Enterprise and Old Friends

Going in to college I definitely had a little bit of the nerd thing going on. Mostly concentrated on my love of musical theatre and the bizarre Mighty Ducks fanfiction thing, but extending into the mainstream nerd-fests of Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings, and obviously Batman.

But I was deeply closeted. Like a midwestern Baptist gay kid on a Ryan Murphy show, I was about to discover my true self. Because for the first time in my life I was spending my time around other nerds almost exclusively.

Because generally speaking, “cool kids” don’t attend small liberal arts colleges in North Eastern Pennsylvania and join the choir and student theater group and the yearbook. Do you know who does do those things? Nerds.

But it was mostly because of Jen.

Jen was my freshman year roommate. Jen owned her nerdiness in a way that completely awed me. She didn’t scribble fanfiction in her journal in the middle of the night and hope no one found out. She just laughed when I finally admitted to it and talked about playing Redwall RPG’s. Jen didn’t silently thank the TV powers that be that The West Wing ended our senior year of high school because then she didn’t have to admit to her new college friends that she loved it. No, Jen owned and displayed her West Wing box sets proudly. (Only the first 3 seasons, anything post Sorkin was not worth her time or attention.)

Jen and I sat around late at night talking about C.S. Lewis or Arthur Conan Doyle. We watched Futurama reruns and introduced some of our favorite things to each other. (Jen to Me: Quantum Leap, Me to Jen: Kevin Smith and Orlando.)

Pictured: Me feeding Jen to Jaws at Universal Orlando. The girl looking away is our other friend, Jenna.

Pictured: Me feeding Jen to Jaws at Universal Orlando. The girl looking away is our other friend, Jenna.

Then, one night, we watched a Star Trek marathon on TV Land. I’d never watched Star Trek before. Basically, everything I knew about it was from Futurama. One of the episodes that I clearly remember, was the episode “Mirror, Mirror.”  In this episode Captain Kirk travels to an alternate universe where everyone is evil, except Spock, who is Spock with a beard.

I don’t know. It made an impact, because I thought it was pretty stupid but still gave a crap. Also, I understood the premise as it was the same as Bizarro world from Superman. Anyway, with the switch of Good Kirk and Evil Kirk, of course Good Kirk had to have sex with someone, a character that Jen and I still refer to, to this day as “Bizarro Space Whore.” I wasn’t hooked on Star Trek. I still didn’t love the show. It was too slow, too cheesy, I came to it too late in life. But I understood now, I got why people did love it. And I found my own things to love.

When the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie came out, we were both wary. Jen because she loved Star Trek and me because I didn’t, but loved Lost.

We went to go see it multiple times the weekend it came out. We loved it. It had it’s problems, but we loved when Kirk found Old Spock on Hoth (I mean, that other Ice Planet, that was totally not Hoth.) we loved Karl Urban as Bones, we loved Anton Yelchin as Chekov.

With Star Trek: Into Darkness coming out next week I was just thinking about Jen, and how lucky I was to have someone who was so at home with herself and didn’t care if I was just myself. She’s a great friend and I miss her very much.

Live Long and Prosper, Jennifer. I’ll always think of you when I notice a red shirt. And of course I’ll be thinking of you next weekend when I go to see Into Darkness.

Borne Ceaselessly Into The Past

I just got home from seeing The Great Gatsby with my mom tonight. This was a big deal because I was going to go alone today regardless, and my mom goes to the movies maybe once a year. Seriously, it’s a big deal.

Charleston! Glitter! Dense symbolism about the American Dream!

Charleston! Glitter! Dense symbolism about the American Dream!

Anyway, I really enjoyed the adaptation. Once you get past the Baz Luhrman of it all, (I’m a huge fan. I even like Australia.) The Great Gatsby is a remarkable film and an incredible adaptation. Not a surprise, Baz nailed every inch of Gatsby’s symbolism. This story is more of a parable than anything else. With Nick as The American People, we see Jay Gatsby as The American Ideal, Daisy Buchanan as The American Dream, and Tom Buchanan as The Establishment. This is all abundantly clear in Baz’s interpretation of Fitzgerald’s story.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers. I love him, his life and his work. When I read his short stories my senior year of college I literally sat on my bed gasping. His work is mesmerizing. Except The Beautiful and The Damned. Skip that shit if you can, because I was bored out of my mind trying to read it.

Anyway, like any good lit nerd, I fantasize about hanging out in Paris in the 20’s with Scott and Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter. Drinking and going to parties and feeling existentially disconnected.

No one articulated that disconnect better that Fitzgerald. And he never did it better than he did in Gatsby. Anyway, back to the parable.

By the time that Nick (The American People, unassuming, willing to work and open) encounters Gatsby (The American Ideal, self made, disciplined and wide eyed) he has already been corrupted by the yearning for Daisy (The American Dream, money, prestige and legacy) who has hitched her wagon to Tom (The Establishment, which is self explanatory.) No matter how hard Gatsby tries, he can never quite reach Daisy, she is chained by her own mind and the way the world works to Tom. But as The Ideal, Gatsby can’t let go of Daisy, The Dream. He says it himself, “I knew it was dangerous for a man like me to fall in love.” He was going to focus on his dream until the end.

I got a few of my wishes when it came to this movie. We have a clearer picture of Gatsby, he truly is a caricature of himself. He’s formed his entire life to the ideal, that’s the most important thing. Gaining Daisy is no different to him than the money, the parties or the house. She’s the cherry on top of his sundae. This is proved when she offers at several times to run away with him. When she says, “You ask too much,” she means it.

Additionally, my big problem with previous adaptations has been the shift of focus from Nick. Baz’s Gatsby is very much about Nick. Without spoiling film specifics, he uses a rather ingenious framing device that I didn’t completely love, but totally understood, in order to do so. Tobey Maguire is relate-able and holds your attention, which is basically the point of a narrator, specifically of Nick, who’s an everyman. In fact all of the performances are spot on. Leonardo DiCaprio, who I have never seen give what one can call a “bad” performance was exceptional. Joel Edgerton scowled and bullied his way through Tom Buchanan beautifully. Isla Fisher is remarkable as poor doomed Myrtle Wilson. I loved Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker (a character I’ve always loved, for her sarcasm and complete disdain for those around her.) But Carey Mulligan is truly amazing.

I loved Mulligan in An Education, and of course her turn as Sally Sparrow in “Blink” the most frightening episode of Doctor Who ever is completely legendary. But she is Daisy, which is amazing, since as I’ve said before, Daisy isn’t so much a person, as an image. To Gatsby, she is the image of his dream. To Nick, she is the image of goodness corrupted. To Tom she is the image of his dominance. To Fitzgerald, she was the image of everything he could never touch.(Scott considered Nick the man he was, and Gatsby the man he wished he could be. It’s so sad that this man died believing the world thought he was a hack.) But Mulligan makes you care about her, as if she were an actual human being. A feat that Mia Farrow, as much as I love her, was not able to pull off.

Overall, it’s a very good adaptation, and whether Baz’s vision will hold up in a few years is going to be worth seeing. It was less manic than his previous work. Compared to Moulin Rouge! it was downright slow, but in the hyper Baz energy, you missed some of the languid pained summer heat silences that are described in the book.

But overall I enjoyed it.

Trailers: I was shocked that this Warner Brothers released movie had no Man of Steel trailer. I’m still really excited for Star Trek: Into Darkness, even though there was nothing new there. August: Osage County looks like a great excuse for Ewan McGregor to use another southern accent, so there’s that.

Goodbye, Norma Jean: A Requiem for Smash

I rarely complain about shows I love getting the axe early. Honestly, I get it, TV is a complicated game, and I have weird taste.

And it seems to be, you lived your life, like a candle in the wind...

And it seems to be, you lived your life, like a candle in the wind…

But I’m super sad that Smash isn’t getting a third season. Not because it actually deserves one. Let’s be real here for a minute. Smash is a ridiculous show that has an audience appeal of like 6 people, 4 of whom are related to me. But I’m so sad that we’ll never get to see some of the amazing storylines that could have come in the future. Here are some of them:

Tony Night! Bombshell wins Best Musical, Julia and Tom win the writing awards and in touching speeches dedicate their wins to Kyle’s memory. Jimmy uses this rejection as an excuse to go on a bender and say mean things to Karen, who immediately forgives him. Meanwhile, Karen wins Best Actress for Hit List and Lee wins Best Featured. A Tony-less Ivy gets drunk and hits on Jimmy to make Derek pay attention to her again. Special Guest Appearance by Neil Patrick Harris, because it’s the Tonys, and he would be hosting.

Anything involving Derek’s gay father who we heard mentioned once and then never again.

Michael Swift returns to play Jay Gatsby in Julia’s new play and she has an existential crisis about it and treats Tom like crap in recompense, even though he had nothing to do with it.

Tom and Sam get married and adopt a daughter who they name Julia Ivy. They hire Ellis to be her nanny, because no one on this show ever learns anything. He tries to kill her with peanuts as revenge for some imagined slight. Ivy hallucinates that her little name sake is scheming against her and Sam and Tom just pat her on the head and tell her she’s pretty.

The night before his wedding to Ivy, Derek shows up drunk at Karen and Jimmy’s shared loft. Karen kicks him out but Ivy calls off the wedding when she finds out because any mention of Karen causes her to have a nervous breakdown. They wind up getting married anyway, because Jimmy has a heart to heart with her, about accepting the inevitable stupidness that is Karen and Derek.

Season long plot line of Bombshell the movie. Karen, having become a recording sensation after the whole Hit List thing, is cast as Marilyn. Ivy, no surprise, has a nervous breakdown. Tom and Julia clash with the screen writer, played by special guest star Anthony Rapp, and Derek gets the job as director, which as he and Ivy are now married, doesn’t help her nervous breakdown. Tom and Julia eventually collaborate with the screen writer to write an awesome original song, that wins the Oscar. Derek also wins. Karen does not. Ivy is vindicated, especially when in his Oscar speech Derek says, “I would absolutely never have been able to do this, none of us would without the amazing determination and vision of Ivy Lynne.”

Series finale should be a time jump to the closing of Bombshell, which includes an encore of Karen and Ivy onstage after the curtain call singing “Let Me Be Your Star.” (Do you have chills? Because I got them while I was typing it.)

I have clearly been thinking about this a lot. Although for some reason, none of my imagined story lines have much to do with Eileen. I love her, really, I do, but I kind of just want to her to drink martinis and call everyone a genius all the time.

Anyway, I will miss you Smash. I will miss getting drunk and live tweeting to you. I will miss Derek’s musical hallucinations. I will miss everything about Miss Ivy Lynne. I will miss “The Magical Karen Cartwright.” I will miss getting “History is Made At Night” stuck in my head. (I probably won’t miss this actually, because I still have the Bombshell “Cast Album” on my I-Pod…) I’ll miss seeing Christian Borle perform once a week. I’ll miss the Marilyn drag, and I’ll miss the cast of Rent popping up where you least expect them.

Alas, though, you’re gone Smash. So, I will now have to dedicate my obsessive nerd energy towards, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Which, looks amazing, incidentally.

The Community Ripoff Progression 211

One of my original intents for this blog was to explore certain “questions” of geek and fangirl/boy culture, create analytical essays and land on my own opinion based on that analysis. That didn’t exactly happen although I have hit there a few times. Now comes one that is so obvious, I can hardly ignore it.

Last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory was a fun character builder based around the gang playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Now, I know that the internet probably exploded at some point last night, since two years ago, a similar episode of Community aired.

There is a small but vocal contingent of people that love Community and really hate The Big Bang Theory. I’ve never quite understood why, I think it goes back again to the Sondheim v. Lloyd Weber thing I touched on last week, I get that two shows can exist in the same genre, use similar tactics and come out with something completely different, but anyway, as the episode wrapped, I realized that I was going to have to do it eventually, and why not now? I mean, an entire book could be written about these two shows with pages upon pages devoted to comparing Abed Nadeer to Sheldon Cooper, but for now, let’s focus on these two episodes, shall we?

So here it is:

A side by side analysis of the Season two episode of Community: “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” with the season 6 episode of The Big Bang Theory: “The Love Spell Potential”

Big Bang Community

“Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” is one of the best episodes of Community. It’s a strong illustration of it’s characters and general thesis, plus I always like when the show is gentle and loving. It centers around a tertiary character, known as “Fat Neil,” Neil is as described fat, and as an escape from the constant ridicule he received in high school and at Greendale, he plays a lot of D&D. Sensing one day that Neil has slipped in to depression, Jeff Winger feigns an interest in D&D, and learns how the game works. Later, Neil gives Jeff his D&D materials stating that he won’t need them anymore. Recognizing the cry for help, Jeff and Annie get the gang together, and host a D&D game. They decide not to invite Pierce and Pierce crashes the game trying to ruin it. Imaginary hijinks ensue, and Neil finds a reason to live.

“The Love Spell Potential” on the other hand focuses on a weekend for the BBT gang. The girls, Penny, Amy and Bernadette are off to Vegas and the guys are spending the weekend playing D&D. Then with some contrivance, the girls wind up stuck and home and join in the game. Aside from being an excellent outlet to get to see Simon Helberg’s Nic Cage impression (Studio 60 fans rejoice, it’s as awesome as ever!) it leads to a moment where Bernadette and Penny decide to help Amy and Sheldon’s relationship along by putting their characters under a love spell. This leads to a touching moment in Sheldon’s bedroom where they role play a sexual encounter.

Here’s the thing, my favorite episodes of Big Bang focus on a character opening up in a way you didn’t expect. Sheldon’s character is centered around how he doesn’t always understand how his quirks and limitations effect those around him, but this episode made it clear that he understands very much how his fear of physical intimacy is tough on Amy. It was a lovely moment when he took out his twelve sided di, and rolled to see where their characters would touch one another, and still very funny. Jim Parsons is a terrific comic actor and Mayim Bialick does wonderful work opposite him.

So the character growth shown was great, and I hope that this is a path they continue down for this show.

“Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” is still the winner here though. First of all, it’s one the earliest “softer side of Jeff” episodes. While he does think that D&D is stupid, he’s willing to forgo his usual disdain for everything to help out a friend. Abed’s voices as he plays the different characters the gang encounters remain some of my favorite creations by Danny Pudi. (Who is also an excellent comic actor!) There is also a roll played sexual encounter between Annie and Abed here, with Annie’s D&D character, Hector the Well Endowed taking a young elf maiden in a barn. It’s funnier than it sounds. And it has one of my favorite lines by Troy, “Shouldn’t there be a board, or some dice, or something to Jenga?”

What I like about both episodes is that they capture the sort of bizarre excitement of RPG. Neither show does much visually, it’s just a bunch of friends sitting around a table describing things. It’s great. Neither goes the route of cutaways or props. (Granted, Community would be the more likely one to do that.)

In the end though, “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” beats “The Love Spell Potential” if only because of the quality of the writing. It was during the “golden days” of Community, about halfway through season 2, when the show was still, you know, about a community college, but had found it’s weird little heart. “The Love Spell Potential” is taking place in the current season, which while not terrible, isn’t as strong as the show once was.

So point Community, and that’s not something I do often.

I’m kidding, of course, internet, I love Community, it is the most perfect show ever. I promise. (Please don’t hurt me)

Lies Musical Theatre Told Me: The Cast of Jersey Boys is a band

Summer is coming on quickly, and I started thinking about my past summers. Usually, due to the fact that I have an abundance of free time on my hands, I wind up getting obsessed with something. You guys all saw last year’s obsession. The only other time I worked full time during a summer, I was socially isolated because I was commuting at weird times and couldn’t drink legally yet, so I still had a load of time on my hands, and wound up becoming obsessed with Twilight.

I'm not proud of it, OK?

I’m not proud of it, OK?

This year, I don’t know if the obsession with come, because I have a full time job and will be participating in a community theatre production. But of course, I got to thinking about some of my past obsessions. It’s weird when there’s a very visceral reaction to something from your past. The other day I was listening to the Beach Boys Pandora station I’d created, and had a major flashback.

This is not the forum to argue about Brian Wilson's genius. As if there was an argument.

This is not the forum to argue about Brian Wilson’s genius. As if there was an argument.

Anyway, “Sherry” came on. But not “Sherry” as performed by The Four Seasons, it was as performed by the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys. If you weren’t a high school theater geek from New Jersey in 2006, then you might not fully grasp how deeply important Jersey Boys was. Of course it was kind of important in general for theater that year. It won the Tony after all, but I feel like it affected my friends in a very specific and deep way.

If you haven't gone to see it, you probably should. It's amazing.

If you haven’t gone to see it, you probably should. It’s amazing.

I didn’t know a single kid who had every done a show who wasn’t completely obsessed with the show and it’s young super talented cast that year. John Lloyd Young basically was Frankie Valli as far as we were concerned. The four guys performed on every talk show, and we watched every performance. They became their own phenomenon.

I immediately switched to my I-Pod and listened to the OBC Recording. Again, I can’t stress how ubiquitous this was that summer. I’m pretty sure I blared their version of “Dawn” with my top down over and over again. Not to mention the brilliant, “leaving” medley from act II, which includes, “Stay,” “Bye, Bye Baby (Baby Good bye),” “Let’s Hang On,” and others was the top play on my I-Tunes for a good month. My guy friends had their own version of “Sherry” that they burst in to at the slightest provocation.

While I was listening I started not exactly remember details from that summer, although I do remember sitting next to my mom watching the show and seeing the tears running down her cheeks during “Rag Doll,” (Long complicated story involving her younger brother…) but just some of the feelings. I was sitting in Central Park on my lunch break yesterday, and felt my own tears come out as I listened to “Who Loves You.”

Here’s the thing, I’ve been very lucky to be loved by and love amazing people in my life, and some of the people who I love the most, my relationships with them cemented that summer before I headed off to college. I’ve always been grateful for it. That song brings back that time. So I get emotional.

Anyway, if you were around that summer, if you were a part of my life and are now reading this. Thanks. It was a cool year, and it’s been cool to think about it for the past few days.

Also, I know this wasn’t formatted the same way as the other “Lies” posts, but it’s a different kind of thing.

Get Ready For Spoilers: My Iron Man 3 Review

Here we go!

Here we go!

After seeing Iron Man 3 with Chrissy and another friend from our esteemed collegiate days, Dennis, we headed to a Chevy’s to debrief on what we just saw (and eat “Mexican” food and drink margaritas.) I said, I was thinking of doing a spoiler free review, and Chrissy said, “Why?”

Why, indeed. Look, aside from the fact that I am very, very bad at spoiler free reviewing, most of what I really enjoyed about Iron Man 3 was the more spoilery stuff.

So, let’s begin shall we? The evening started off with some great trailers, including Star Trek: Into Darkness, (looks amazing), some movie where Channing Tatum saves the president played by Jaime Foxx (will probably watch it on cable and love it), The Wolverine, (which looks bulky and boring, love Hugh Jackman though I do) and of course Thor: The Dark World (there is not enough squeeing in the world to describe my inward reaction to this). Then we got in to the actual movie.

We started off with a blank screen and Tony doing a voice over, talking about how we create our own demons. Of course, Tony Stark talking about this does ring more true than other people. Throughout the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Tony has spent a good amount of time and resources cleaning up his own messes. The thing about Iron Man 3 is that this is a new Tony. Gone is much of his arrogance and his cock sure attitude. I was hoping they would go in this direction with the character post The Avengers. How could he be the same sarcastic lovable asshole we’ve all come to know and love after what he went through?

He admits that he hasn’t been sleeping, and we early on see the difficulties he is experiencing with the latest version of the Iron Man suit, the Mark 42. This is significant, because at the end of The Avengers he was using the Mark 8. That means that since defeating Loki, he has created 34 Iron Man suits.

That’s staggering, even for a character as focused and obsessive as Tony. I’m not sure of the exact timeline, but it’s probably only been a matter of months.

We get a few quick updates about where everyone is. Pepper runs Stark Industries, and seems to be doing well. Rhodey has been “rebranded” by the government, he’s no longer War Machine, but is now The Iron Patriot. Tony hates this, and as Chrissy put it, “He looks like Iron Man cosplaying as Captain America.” Happy is running security for Stark Industries and is feeling listless.

Meanwhile, a terrorist called The Mandarin, played superbly by Ben Kingsley, is blowing up lots of things. When Tony asks Rhodey how he can help, the response he gets is basically, “New York was a game changer, we need you focused on bigger threats, this isn’t superhero stuff.” Tony also is having anxiety attacks, and refusing to confront what happened to him. At one point he confesses to Pepper that she’s the only thing keeping him from losing it, which she finds touching but it’s not quite enough of a balm to heal their relationship.

Then enter bad guy number 2. The movie started with a flashback to 1999, where on New Years Eve, Tony had a drunken one night stand with the beautiful and brilliant Maya Hansen, while humiliating young think tank founder Aldrich Killian. Killian shows up at Stark Industries, all hot now. (Yay Guy Pearce!) and pitches a few ideas to Pepper and also kind of hits on her. And by kind of, I mean, he hits on her, like a lot. Pepper turns him down, both for the business and the other part, though it does seem to give her pause. Basically his idea was about creating regeneration for humans. While this intrigues Pepper, she thinks it has too much weaponizing potential, and since Stark Industries doesn’t do that anymore, she pushes him out.

Happy meanwhile, whines on his I-Pad to Tony that he’s bored and misses his bro. Tony mocks him, and then Happy chastises him for ignoring Pepper who is now probably getting touchy feely with this other guy. Tony brushes it off and Happy decides to tail Aldrich’s body guard who was behaving oddly. He winds up getting blown up in a Mandarin attack, and Tony decides that its time for the gloves to come off. He offers the Manadarin a direct challenge, even announcing his address to the core of press stationed outside the hospital where Happy is being cared for.

Then things get good. Maya shows up a the house, just as Pepper is packing her bags. She’s not leaving Tony, though it’s clear that’s in her mind, she’s just insisting that they get out before, you know, a terrorist comes and finds them. Tony meanwhile, ignoring Maya, insists that if they leave he can’t protect them, because the suits are in the house. This is a valid point, but aren’t there also suits at their apartment in Stark Towers in New York? Or is that in full on Avengers renovation at the moment? Anyway, the Mandarin blows up the house and Pepper gets to wear the suit for a minute and everything is awesome. Then, while encased in the suit Tony flies off, lands in Tennessee and befriends a little boy.

While I know it’s a cliche and people are going to hate it, I loved this kid. He was funny, and showed what a child Tony really is at heart. This kid had the jump on him. Anyway, the armor needs to recharge, but Tony still needs to do some superheroing, which was cool to watch. The idea that Iron Man can be a hero without the suit is both disconcerting and satisfying at the same time. At one point he breaks in to a broadcast van to steal their computers and hack Rhodey’s account. (Oh Tony, you and your high profile cyber crime! Just so incorrigible!) The van belongs to Max from Happy Endings. His entrance is punctuated by “Oh my God! Tony Stark is in my van!” Which is pretty much the only thing you can say in that situation.

Eventually, Tony tracks down the Mandarin, he and Rhodey save the president. And it turns out, and this is a biggie, Ben Kingsley isn’t the Mandarin at all. He’s an actor hired by AIM, the collective owned by Killian, and employing Maya! They have been developing the Extemis virus and the explosion are what happens when the body rejects it. They’ve kidnapped Pepper and are using her as both a test subject and incentive to get Tony to fix the virus. Or something.

I was so excited by this plot development I can’t even tell you. It was incredibly brave an unexpected. When explaining it to Chrissy, I said, “The Mandarin is Iron Man’s Joker. He’s that important. To turn him on his head like that is so unfathomably brilliant, but fanboys are going to hate it.” I then outlined the idea of fanboy rabies, which means being so fanatically devoted to source material you can’t see why making a change in adaptation is brilliant. Those who suffer from this are not going to like this twist. Those that see why it was necessary is this particular narrative, will love it.

Whatever, it lead to an epic fight scene, Pepper eventually getting super powers and Tony making the decision to finally have the shrapnel removed from his chest, and thus removing his arc reactor. The movie ends well. As Tony tosses his chest piece into the ocean he states it plainly. “You can take away my house, my toys, my distractions. But you can’t take away one thing, I am Iron Man.”

The credits roll. I was blown away, but left feeling a bit floatey. I didn’t know how I felt about it. Iron Man without his chest piece? Possibly without the suits? I’m not sure what it’s going to mean and I also can’t wait to find out.

Of course this is the MCU, you don’t leave until the last frame. And boy, was it ever worth it this time. I’ve never walked out of a Marvel movie anything less than extremely satisfied with the good time I had. I had that already, and then it was just piled on. After the credits the voice over kicks in again. Tony talks about “how good it feel to get this all off of his chest.” and how “you’re a really good listener.” The camera focuses in and there is Tony lying on a couch, as if in a therapists office and moves back, and Bruce Banner is sitting, barely focused, definitely asleep as Tony drones on and on. When Tony notices Bruce is sleeping he calls him out on it, and asks, “Where did I lose you?”

“Um, you were on an elevator in Switzerland?” Bruce grimaces (the first five minutes of the movie.) They then bicker about how Bruce is not a therapist. It’s brilliant. For one thing, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo have amazing chemistry. We saw that in The Avengers. Also, their hey buddy, super genius scientist dynamic is so endearingly fun, I was glad to see it back.

With the fade to black after this scene we got one more word in: “Tony Stark will return.”

This is found interesting Tony Stark will return. Not Iron Man. This opens up a work of possibilities for The Avengers 2 that I don’t think anyone had thought of.

We’ll have to wait until November and Thor: The Dark World for more hints, but I’m pretty excited about it.