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Check it: Splitsider’s best sitcom episode tourney

1 Feb

Good stuff over at comedy site Splitsider. Three episodes immediately come to mind for me:

#3: Seinfeld, “The Marine Biologist” (Obvious.)

#2: Arrested Development, “Ready, Aim, Marry Me” (Key quote: Uncle Jack’s “To the nuts!”)

#1: The Office (BBC), “Training” (“Free Love Freeway” … “There’s been a rape up there!” … “Two lesbians, probably. Sisters. I’m just watching” … I could go on. Best episode of the best comedy ever. Easy #1.)

I’m sure I’ll think of a ton more but those are my top-of-mind favorites. Best sitcom episode ever: what say you?

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“Breaking Bad”: a scattershot of bullets

10 Oct

You’ve obviously gotten your fill of recaps of last night’s “Breaking Bad” season finale, so I won’t rehash what happened, but I felt like chiming in with my thoughts. Since I’m not skilled enough to weave them into a coherent narrative, you’re getting a hail of bullets. Join me as I think way too intensely about made-up people from a fictional TV show!

{+} First off, here’s the awesome song from the final scene. And this blog has the mp3 — at least for now — so hurry up and grab it while you can.

{+} I spent a ton of time after last week’s episode poring through blog comments, and a decent number of people rightly concluded it was Walter that poisoned Brock. I was a non-believer at first, but the idea that it may not be ricin was enough to sway me. So, I wasn’t as floored as I’m guessing the less-obsessed were, but that ending shot of the plant still more or less blew me away.

{+} The story of Walt poisoning the kid only works if it was non-lethal and he knew the kid would recover. I understand the show is documenting Walter’s metamorphosis to Scarface, but he’s still got a ways to go yet. If it had actually been ricin and the kid died, it would have been too big a leap for me. That said, if Walt is already this far gone, next season is going to be insane. Tough to continue upping the ante after an episode full of child poison, bombs and exploding labs.

{+} Lots of people theorized that Gus had a mole in the DEA, but the fact that Gus went after Tio after Tio visited the DEA offices tells me he didn’t. If he had, the mole would have called Gus immediately after Tio left to say, “Yeah, he was here, but he was just fucking with us and didn’t say a thing. You’re being set up, brah.” So, no mole. Gomez: you’re in the clear.

{+} Some people seem to take issue with how perfect Walt’s plan was executed, that it worked too perfectly. The show has been guilty of that before (obvs), but I’m not seeing it that way in this case. To me, it was a series of desperate audibles that just happened to work out. Kamikaze Tio was not his Plan A.

Walt was likely hoping Jesse would immediately suspect Gus of the poisoning. When he didn’t, Walt had to improvise and try the car bomb. When that went awry, he got some help from Jesse in the form of the nursing home tip. Only then was he able to (literally) rewire his plan to make the murder happen. Walter didn’t suddenly turn into a strategic criminal mastermind, he’s the same bumbling, desperate maniac he’s always been. The only difference between this plan and his earlier foibles is that this one somehow worked out, possibly because this time he really and truly had nothing left to lose. If Jesse had pulled the trigger and blown his brains out, well, that was bound to happen anyway.

{+} I tried my hardest to be a good sport about the final act of Gus straightening his tie with half his head blown off, but…nope, sorry, can’t do it. Just a little too campy/cartoonish for my tastes. They could have hammered home the “he was two different people” message without turning him into the goddamn Terminator. (Also, negative 100 points for the effects team. He didn’t look even slightly human, unless maybe Chileans have metal skulls?)

{+} As for the season and series on the whole: I’m a notorious over-thinker when it comes to TV shows and movies, to the point that I’m a world-class snob and I bristle at even the slightest hint of poor or careless writing. Details matter way too much to me. “Breaking Bad” has had about a thousand supernatural moments through the seasons (I started to list them but it got too long and I started to get bummed out) and is a perfect candidate for my scorn, but its intensity and inventive plot twists are enough to overcome the absurdities. That insanity will probably keep it from landing atop my list of all-timers, but it’s up there.

As for next season…

{+} Jesse definitely finds out it was Walter that poisoned Brock. He was emotional on the rooftop when telling Walt it wasn’t ricin poisoning, but soon enough he’ll start wondering where the ricin went. I’m guessing he figures it out pretty quickly (maybe the beginning of next season?) and goes apeshit. There is just no way they don’t revisit the mysteriously missing cig.

{+} I wonder if that shot of the “Pollos Hermanos” rearview decal logo in Gus’s car is a form of foreshadowing. Maybe Gus had a brother who’ll seek revenge? Seems like a potential retread story — Walt and Jesse fending off dealers/cartel from the South — but I wouldn’t be surprised if something happened on that front.

{+} I will be severely bummed if we never find out Gus’s origin story and why his Chilean past prevented Don Eladio from killing him back in the day. Gotta happen at some point.

{+} Obviously the meth-making will be a big part of next season, and I get Walter wanting to continue production because he’s a power-hungry lunatic, but Jesse seems to have plenty of money and no motive to keep cooking. What would bring him back into the fold? Will Walt use the Gale murder as blackmail? (That probably makes no sense.) Will the video of Jesse cooking in Mexico resurface? Will the Chile cartel make an appearance and have Jesse & Walt running/cooking for their lives? Lots of options, not sure which strikes me as most plausible.

{+} Walt HAS to die in the series finale, right? I don’t see a way around that.

My favorite scene from “The Office”

20 Sep

Dwight’s exasperated expression realizing he overreacted, Michael’s glee when he hears about the fake sale…I have no idea how these guys managed to not crack up for even one take. I give “The Office” a ton of shit for its evolution into the full-on cartoon it basically is today, but it’s had its moments. This is tops on the list for me.

This montage is the BEST montage

16 Aug

Because it’s 84 seconds of Bob Odenkirk screaming during various Mr. Show sketches. Nobody flips out better than Odenkirk. So best.

Hey look, an interesting Grantland article

25 Jul

Closed-circuit to those of you who’ve given up on Grantland: (1) Smart move, it’s been a pretty huge disappointment. It is shooting daily holes in my theory that it doesn’t matter what you write about so long as you do it well. Some of the best writers in the world haven’t been able to overcome the indescribably boring topics thus far. Hoping for a turnaround soon.

And (2) you did,however, miss one hell of an article: An Oral History of “Friday Night Lights.” I’m gonna stop there before I start gushing about how much I loved that show because once that happens I oh too late here come the waterworks again.

How the sausage is made (sausage in this case being a sitcom)

9 Jun

And the answer is: You take a can of snake oil, and you dump it down the storm drain in front of the audience and you go, “This isn’t the business that we’re in, I swear to God.”

I realize only a small amount of people are interested in hearing a showrunner talk about the process of making a TV show, but for those few people, Dan Harmon’s thorough breakdown of Community’s second season is pretty goddamn incredible.

"You had me at meat tornado"

6 Jun

You might not realize it but all you want to do right now is look at screenshots of Ron Effing Swanson talking about meat. Here you go.