There’s always money in the banana stand

I’ve been re-watching Arrested Development in anticipation of the new episodes to hit Netflix next month. This brilliant set of “album covers” by Josh Cox really shows off how many ridiculous running gags and memes the show had.

There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

Lucille on the Rocks

Jessica Walter really perfected that creepy wink…

(via kottke)

The return of television

So I’m giving $h*! My Dad Says a try. I’m not sure why… of course I am. It’s William Shatner. He cracks me up just being himself. Regardless, the son is already annoying me and the one-liners from Shatner just aren’t enough to carry it. About the midway point it’s time to switch the channel and see what’s on the DVR. Honestly, there haven’t been any new series that grabbed my attention, so it’s all leftovers:

The Big Bang Theory – Have I mentioned how in love with this show I am? Correction: we am? I only caught a few episodes the first season and found it funny but not very captivating. Sometime during the second season it popped back on my radar and it was clear they had really developed an understanding of geek humor. While Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper steals the show, all 4 of the guys hit on different nerd stereotypes that make me cringe with recognition. While I had initial doubts about Kaley Cuoco’s “normal girl” being anything but a pretty face and object of affection, her regular verbal sparing with Jim Parsons has become a real highlight. Even The Woman looks forward to new episodes. Oh yeah, Wil Wheaton as Sheldon’s nemesis? Possibly the greatest TV idea ever!

Community – IF YOU ARE NOT WATCHING THIS SHOW YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME. Sorry, but it had to be said. Not until we stumbled across an early season mini-marathon did I even know anything about this show. And now it’s like an obsession – honestly it reminds me a bit of Arrested Development. By using the study group as its central “location”, Community avoids the typical pitfall for ensemble casts in which many of the characters fall through cracks having almost no screen time for weeks (see 30 Rock). While not all of them are on equal footing (obviously McHale’s Jeff Winger is the main guy), they all have regular parts that keep the humor just enough off balance. And, of course, the meta-humor is stupendous – driven largely by Abed’s obsession with TV and movies. Heck, they made fun of $h*! My Dad Says before it even premiered.

30 Rock – Sure, it’s not as great as it was the first couple seasons (they really need to get the secondary cast members involved more), but a below average episode of 30 Rock is funnier than 80% of whatever else is on. And the addition of Matt Damon, even if only as an occasional guest star, was a great move.

Medium – This one’s mostly for The Woman, but I enjoy it, too. We’ve only watched it sporadically until last season. Now it gets the full DVR experience. It’s a kooky enough procedural show to take the place of the ones we liked that ended (Monk) or that we lost interest in (House).

Parenthood – I definitely did write about this one before, but my intended follow-up never happened. After a few episodes this quickly vaulted to the status of “must watch” – although the hour long format and 10PM time slot means that we take awhile catching up each week. The show settled down some after the initial torrid pace of crises and allowed each of the characters to grow in their roles of parents, spouses, and kids in different parts of their lives. From the “perfect family” now dealing with a teenage daughter who has become secretive and a son diagnosed with Asperger syndrome to the irresponsible, single brother figuring out how to become a dad to a child he didn’t know existed. It still sometimes feels like Erika Christensen’s character doesn’t belong in he family and that she, her husband and daughter are almost shoehorned in, but that’s probably the weakest point. The family dynamic really developed well over the course of the first season – the first 2 episodes of this season are still on the DVR.

That’s pretty much it for now. The rest of the DVR is filled with Miffy, Maisy and Arthur episode for the little one. Am I missing anything good? Any great premieres to check out?

The (possibly) last word on Lost… for now

Had I seen these posts before mine I would have, at the very least, included them at the end of my write-up. Or else I would have simply directed you to more eloquent words on the ‘Net than I typically provide. As it stands, both Matthew Baldwin and Ken Jennings seem to share my opinion (or some form of it) regarding the Lost finale. That means a lot to me, because Matt is far funnier than I could hope to be and Ken is far smarter than I could hope to be. In addition Jason Kottke posted this amusing video regarding the mysteries that “don’t matter” even though “all of this matters”.

‘Tis better to have loved Lost than…

So I used to watch this TV show about these people who crashed on a tropical island with polar bears, dead people, smoke monsters and lots of mangoes. There were all sorts of mysteries about the reason for the people being there, the origin of those already on the island, why the winning lottery numbers were evil, where the Egyptian statue with 4 toes came from and how a 10 year-old boy grew 6 inches in less than a month. It was called Misplaced or something like that… Lost! That was it. Lost.

Anyway, the audience grew frustrated because after a few years all we had learned was that polar bears don’t do well in Tunisia (although they are smarter than Sawyer), Jack has the world’s lamest tattoo (next to Megan Fox), DUIs will get you killed off the show, Cheech Marin is still the go to Hispanic filler actor  and Kate will screw up even the most fool-proofed plan. Maybe some more was revealed, but thanks to the writers’ strike episodes were spaced out months apart and everybody soon forgot what the show was even about. Rather then stretching the agony out over a few more generations and risking a “Heroic” drop in ratings, the mysterious guy in Jacob’s cabin decided to end the show after season six. That meant yesterday.

At this point you should have been able to figure out that I’m talking about the Lost series finale – an episode so hyped that it fell only 93 million viewers shy of MASH’s viewership record. Maybe some people are just planning to watch it at a different time when they can fast forward the 45 minutes of commercials…

You’ve probably heard about how the show polarized the audience much like a high-frequency sonar fence, with dedicated Losties on one side and a power-hungry evil smoke monster on the other. Personally I’m sick of everybody either hating or loving something – can’t anybody have a lukewarm reaction these days? Just stick me in the middle and fry my brain with those sonar beams, because the finale didn’t provoke me too much either way.

For starters I did, in fact, like the ending. Sorta. You see, I liked the explanation of the “sideways” timeline. I liked the gathering in the church. I liked the cyclical nature of the closing shot (I’m a sucker for cyclicals…). There were a lot of things to like. But I also feel that I just saw watched the finale for seasons 5 and 6 and am waiting for information regarding those pesky first 4 seasons. I’m certainly no hardcore Lostie – The Woman didn’t start us watching it till the show was halfway through its second season and we never really gave much thought to the Internet tie-ins – so there’s bound to be some “questions” I have that were “answered” in some form elsewhere. But that isn’t exactly my problem.

To some extent I guess I really just wanted some acknowledgment of it all. Speaking to a co-worker who liked the finale better than I, she suggested that just a little shoehorning of the DHARMA Initiative into the grand scheme of finality would have worked. Something along the lines of showing how they were one of many ways that civilizations had tried to understand the Island over the centuries. Right now it feels like 80% of the first 4 seasons was like Communism – merely a red herring.

Don’t think that I’m trying to convince anyone that they shouldn’t have enjoyed the episode or the series as a whole. Also don’t think that I’m fishing for explanations. I’m nearing 600 words into this post and don’t really feel like putting together a list of questions about the identity of the man in Jacob’s Cabin or how Walt was special or the origin of the statue or even why Aaron ended up in purgatory (bummer, man). Maybe it’s the fact that those questions were even asked at some point that’s bothering. It seems as though many of the “mysteries” were completely irrelevant – in a way it makes much of the series seem not as good in retrospect.

After all of the hype and whatnot I feel, as my sister said, “unfulfilled.” It was far from the lowest point the show hit, but didn’t hit the high point either. Oh well, it is… was… is just a show. And on the bright side I’ve already enjoyed excellent season finales from Community (the best show on TV), 30 Rock and Medium and look forward to more tonight with How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Then I can enjoy life with an empty DVR.

Parenthood

Anybody else catch that new fangled dramedy NBC’s been hyping like they suddenly had a massive hole at 10 PM and their late night ratings depended on it? It seems like I couldn’t watch TV for more than 10 minutes without catching an ad for Parenthood these past couple months. That wouldn’t have been so bad had the commercials occasionally used more than the same 5 or 6 clips. Regardless, the show seemed to be up my proverbial alley and thus piqued my curiosity enough to set the DVR. And with 2 episodes down the verdict is… not in.

Not that I expect every new series to perfectly sell itself immediately, but Parenthood has left me a tad befuddled. The thing is, I like most of the characters. Alright, I don’t necessarily like them as people, rather they are all somewhat flawed characters that are being forced to deal with their limitations. That would normally be a pretty solid formula for success in the world of dramedy except for one tiny detail – the conflicts setting the stage for their growth are all INTENSE and IN YOU FACE and coming at you at 100 MPH!

Like I said, there have been 2 episodes. In those 2 episodes we’ve had the single mom move her family back home with the grandparents, 2 teenagers get arrested, another runs away, yet another is diagnosed with Asperger’s, one of the arrested girls gets held back in her new school, the slacker/carefree brother finds out his girlfriend is trying to get pregnant then finds out he has a 5 year old son from a previous relationship, all while the career-minded sister begins to realize her daughter is more attached to her stay-at-home dad whom she begins to suspect is cheating. Oh, and Craig T. Nelson still has condoms in his desk drawer. Did I miss anything? That sounds like material for a good 6 or 7 episodes, not 2 hours of TV viewing.

Maybe it’s the new parent in me, but I was kind of hoping for a show that touched upon the minor and major issues that families face. Does everything always have to be an emergency? Possible the only “normal” kind of situation was Peter Krause getting angry over a possum that kept waking him up at night. Everything else has been meltdown-worthy. Then again TV shows these days often seem to be nothing but disaster after disaster. Can we get a little subtlety, please?

I’m not going to give up yet. I do like Lauren Graham’s character as the single mom, as well as how they’ve handled the aspergers situation with Peter Krause playing a father who has to overcome his feelings that kids like that are freaks. Craig T. Nelson is annoying, but in the way you might expect an “overly supportive” father/grandfather to be. I’m having a hard time buying Erika Christensen as part of the same family, but she had a particularly cringe-worthy scene this week so I’ll cut her some slack.

Parenthood has a lot going for it, but I’m afraid that at this pace there will be hostage situations or mysterious comas by mid-season. Why do I have a feeling that NBC can’t help but screw up a solid idea like this?

Why does Heroes suck?

If you follow my ramblings outside this here blog you may already realize that I made the big mistake of catching up with Heroes. Yeah, yeah, I realize you all stopped watching by the end of the second season – good for you. Me? I needed real confirmation that the writers never got their heads out of the asses. And boy did I get it.

So right now I’m watching the second episode of the final season of Lost – another “sci fi” show with an excellent first season that suffered through some down times – wondering how they managed to avoid the same pitfalls. And then it hit me – Heroes tried to be Lost, while Lost was content being itself.

While the writers of Lost have spent plenty of time (too much on occasion) developing characters, they realize that the driving force behind their show is the mystery of the island. As convoluted as the show gets, we’re all just sitting on the hypothetical edge of our seats waiting for the final pieces to the puzzle to be revealed. And that’s what keeps the show moving forward and, more importantly, keeps the audience interested.

Heroes, on the other hand, found such success in its first season thanks to the intrigue of watching people discover their powers all while moving forward to a singular goal. While there were some mysterious elements (e.g. “The Company”, who was really good or bad) that was all secondary. Yet they decided that, after a season of horrendous teenage love angst, those should be the driving force. But how many times can you really debate over whether or not Sylar is bad? (He is) Or whose side HRG is on? (His own) And its not just those characters, any new characters (or old ones brought to the forefront) get the same exact treatment. Did anyone, even for a second, buy that Nathan and HRG’s government agency was a good idea for anyone? Or that this stupid carny character was anything but evil? No. So why pretend that it’s a mystery?

And this is skipping over the fact that the writers seem to think intrigue is developed simply by characters not telling each other anything. Or that a pseudo-lesbian “subplot” was thrown in out of nowhere. Or that Sylar is practically unstoppable, yet every time he is stopped the “heroes” let him go. Or any number of other ridiculous plot devices bogging down what was such a solid idea all those years ago…

Will I watch next season? Maybe the same way I did the second half of this season – online while skipping through about 80% of it. But I’d rather they just cancel the series right now. Who cares if the finale left the door open for the next chapter. Does anyone believe the next one will suddenly stop sucking?

Sunny day sweeping the clouds away

Kayleigh most likely called today a “sunny day”. I’m beginning to think that she doesn’t know what the word “sunny” means. But it’s a habit she’s picked up from one of her two favorite TV shows – Sesame Street or, as she calls it, Murray Street. It’s pretty amazing to realize that the show my baby girl is growing up with debuted 40 years ago today – almost 7 years before her dear old dad was even born.

And yes, Sesame Street has changed over the years. It is now geared towards a younger crowd, with a greater emphasis on toddler favorites like Elmo, Zoe, Rosita, and Abby and they’ve revamped the opening to give it a more modern feel. Not too surprisingly, people who grew up with the show get aggravated about this, often under the mistaken impression that everything they enjoyed in their childhood was equally enjoyed by their parents. The reality is it can all get at least a little annoying to adults – even those classic antiquities from our own youth.

All that matters to me these days is that the Sesame Workshop still puts out a decent show. One that can engage and entertain kids of different ages without making us parents want to go on murderous, puppet-killing rampage. A couple weeks ago Kayleigh was watching the video “Elmo Loves You” – one that I’ll admit to actually enjoying myself – while we had some company and you know what? My neighbor’s 8 year-old son sat down with her and watched it, too. Imagine that…

Hearing Kayleigh get excited for the theme to “Elmo’s World” doesn’t bother me – I find it cute. As much as the newer characters have taken over the spotlight, she also goes nuts for Grover, Cookie Monster, Oscar, Ernie and, to a lesser extent, Bert. And as far as “hip” guest stars go, Feist’s appearance is now a classic in my mind and one that I enjoy regularly with my little girl:

So while the original opening may be the best as far as we’re concerned, 30-somethings overly attached to their childhood aren’t really the demographic.

Thank you, Sesame Workshop, for 40 years of sweeping those clouds away. Here’s hoping that my baby will someday get to watch new episodes with her own little one.

Now as for that purple dinosaur…

I try to be good hard worker man…

My friend in the Gray Flannel Suit decided to add a “suggestion box” to his blog courtesy of Skribit as a way to generate ideas for new blog material. Being a “smartass” I couldn’t help but take advantage of a new text box and decided to drop in the line “I try to be good, hard worker man but refrigimator so messy, so, so messy.” Sadly, he is not a NewsRadio aficionado so the humor was on the more confusing side.

Since it ranks as one of my top 5 favorites shows of all time, I feel this world needs more NewsRadio aficionados. And thus I direct you all to the complete “Complaint Box” episode. For one of the all time funniest scenes, skip ahead to about 13:30. But when you have time, watch the whole thing and then hop on over to Hulu and enjoy the first 4 seasons.

So you think you can…

The Woman and I watch So You Think You Can Dance a day late, owing to her work schedule, so we just watched this performance last night. But I felt it needed to be shared, even if I’m late as usual.

I guess I already handed over my “man card” by mentioning that I watch this show regularly, so it’s safe to go ahead and say that this performance had me in tears. Yes, there’s a whole lot of made up drama in these “reality” shows, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any real emotion.

Where time becomes a loop

Can I get a “Hell yeah!” from my fellow Lost fans?

So far this season has been a blast. They’ve got a good pace going and they actually seem to be revealing key information in every episode. I like the direction it’s going in, and have a feeling that the writers might just be able to pull together a solid conclusion that brings the show together in the end. But my biggest fear is that it will be nothing more than a conclusion to the show.

What I mean is that Lost has been a rather sprawling and convoluted show that has dragged its viewers through a lot of ups and downs. To end the show by simply tying up all of the loose ends and some logical explanation would be a bit of an injustice. There needs the be some sort of meaning behind it all. No, I’m not looking for deep philosophy from a TV show, but if they all wake up from a dream there’s going to be a lot of rightfully pissed viewers.

I’m not one to engage in much speculation, but recently this theory on Lost‘s time travel passed across my browser (WARNING: A whole lot o’ speculatin’ goin’ on over there). And let me just say this: if Jason is right, I’ll be one happy camper. I actually got excited at the prospect of his theory being the idea the writers are working on. So any of my fellow fans that are interested in looking at possible answers, click on over and tell me what you think. Normally I’m better at just waiting ’til the end, but this one has set the proverbial donkey wheel in motion.