Monday, April 30, 2012

Game of Thrones photo recap: "The Ghost of Harrenhal"

This week on Game of Thrones we were treated to a marriage proposal, signs of unrest in King's Landing, and a truly incredible number of references to death by burning. As for Melisandre's smoke baby, that child has left the nest and is doing his parents proud. As usual, the night's best moments are on display in photographic form, while Westeros' wittiest wordplay has been compiled below for your reading pleasure. Make sure your baby dragons are fed, and read on!

The best moments from "The Ghost of Harrenhal": the Night's Watch makes it to an even less hospitable location than Craster's compound, a warlock shows off his abilities, and Brienne of Tarth kicks ass even when she's grieving.

The episode's best quotes: Tyrion is, as usual, on fire (not literally, although that may be coming soon),  Arya stares down Tywin Lannister, and Ser Jorah (almost) proclaims his love.

"Do you want to be a queen?" "No. I want to be the queen." And Margery Tyrell throws her hat (or, rather, extremely low-cut dress) in the ring.

"Myrcella's a sweet, innocent girl and I don't blame her at all for you." Myrcella's betrothal may be less about protecting the girl from Stannis, and more about protecting her from Cersei.

"Tell me, if the vile allegations against my brother and sister are true, do you think it would make Jamie more likely to kill you, or less likely? When I tell him you're fucking her, I mean." "I'm telling you the truth!" "Smart money would be on more likely." "She's making wildfire, I swear!" "Though then perhaps his own unnatural urges would give him sympathy for yours." "The alchemists' guild has been commissioned!" "I suppose there's only one way to find out." The disinterested way that Tyrion keeps going with his train of thought, oblivious to Lancel's desperation, is just wonderful.

"He's very busy. Being repeatedly humiliated by Robb Stark is time consuming." One suspects that Tyrion is at least a little pleased by Tywin's losses.

"You have to admire his imagination." "He's talking about you." "What? Demon monkey!?" It's easy to forget that not everyone sees Tyrion for the hilarious, brilliant badass that he is.

"Stop! We yield." Yara may have appeared for a grand total of thirty seconds, but she uses her moment in the spotlight for the best possible purpose: to mock her vainglorious brother.

"Anyone can be killed." I half-expected Arya to leap at Tywin and strangle him to death right here. The girl is that fearsome.

"I was always a girl." "And I was always aware." Jaquen H'Ghar could either be a highly useful friend to Arya, or a very fearsome foe.

"Beautiful isn't it! Gilly would love it here." When you do get married, Sam, maybe let your wife plan the honeymoon.

"What do you think they were like, the first men?" "Stupid. Smart men don't find themselves in place like this." A little sarcastic humor goes a long way north of the Wall.

"You would not dare insult my order whilst Aerys Targaryen lived!" "Well, he's not living anymore." Bronn for the win!

"Men like to talk about other men... when they're happy." Daenerys is the subtlest pimp on Game of Thrones, which is really saying something.

"There are times when I look at you, and I still can't believe you're real." It's a good thing that the show aged Dany up from the books (where she was 14); that way, Jorah's love is sweet, rather than creepy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Atlantic proves that the New York Times doesn't have a monopoly on fantasy bashing

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) bares all on Game of Thrones. (That "all" is not included here, as a
consideration for anyone reading this at work or in front of small children.)

Apparently Ginia Bellafante and Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times aren't the only writers who let their anti-fantasy bias inform their opinions of Game of Thrones. Ta-Nehesi Coates at The Atlantic took on the issue of gratuitous nudity on the series, which in and of itself can be a very productive discussion. But instead of actually looking at the problem critically and coming up with a reasonably explanation, he fell back on the frustratingly prevalent explanation that fantasy is only liked by nerdy male virgins, and nerdy male virgins like to look at naked chicks:
If there's one thing I've enjoyed about exploring French film it's that the film-makers don't always come off as bunch of nerds compensating for something that did--or rather didn't--happen in high school. There's a strain of thought here (and maybe abroad) which holds that violating manners is--in and of itself--an aesthetic good, that art which makes your grandmother uncomfortable has, for only that reason, advanced society. (You see the same strain of thought in "ironic racism.") I'd rather art that considers manners largely irrelevant.
First of all, comparing Game of Thrones to the French New Wave is somewhat facetious, as they are entirely different works that are working towards divergent ends (and I say this as a fan of both French film and Game of Thrones). And saying that Francois Truffaut wasn't "compensating for something that did - or rather didn't - happen in high school"? Has Coates ever actually watched Jules et Jim? Because - and I say this again as a fan of Truffaut - the character of Katherine, like so many of the director's women, is clearly his attempt to deal with romantic rejection by resigning himself to the fact that women are, like, complicated and confusing, man.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fringe gets a thirteen-episode fifth season

Per J.H. Wyman's Twitter page, as of last night Fringe has been picked up for a thirteen-episode fifth season, which hopefully means that we will get to find out more about the dystopian future, the bald-headed oppressors' ultimate plan, and what happened to Olivia.

Of course, in the alternate universe, Fringe gets ten million viewers every week and will run for at least six seasons (and possibly a movie?), but on this Earth we're just grateful that the writers are being given a chance to wrap up the storyline. Talking to, executive producer J.J. Abrams promised a "wild and thrilling" conclusion, while showrunners Wyman and Jeff Pinkner thanked the show's "enthusiastic fans," and guaranteed that season 5 will be a "conclusive thrill ride."

And yes, there is somehow already a trailer for the fifth season. Enjoy, and tune in tonight, when you can finally watch an episode of Fringe without feeling a lurking sadness in your soul.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

THAT Scene: A Bollywood number exemplifies the highs and many lows of Smash

Katharine McPhee in "A Thousand and One Nights," a Bollywood number from Smash's "Publicity."

THAT Scene is a new recurring feature that takes a closer look at a single scene that exemplifies a particular show, theme or moment in time. The scene might be good or bad, but it will always be memorable and worth talking about.

Smash is an incredibly frustrating series. It contains certain moments that are absolutely sublime and transporting in the way that only musical theater can be, but those moments are surrounded by absurdly over-the-top drama and conflicts that, rather than feeling like a natural outgrowth of the storytelling, seem as if they were dropped into the action to create false conflict. And while some of the characters - notably Tom, Derek and Eileen - are fascinating creations, they tend to get overshadowed by the soapier elements.

"A Thousand and One Nights" (also known as "the Bollywood number") encapsulates Smash's wildly uneven tone and and lazy storytelling perfectly. The number starts out as a bizarre exercise in WTF-ness, escalates into a wildly entertaining piece of musical theater, and completely falls apart after a moment of sober analysis. Plus, it's derailed in the middle by the appearance of Julia, Frank and the hilariously inept actor who plays their equally inept son.

I'm not going to lie; I really, really enjoyed this number the first time or five I watched it. And I continue to enjoy the hell out of it now, despite the many, many problematic elements at play. The tune is catchy enough that I've been singing it in the shower for two days, the choreography is incredibly fun (as a dancer, I'm a huge sucker for good choreography), and the costumes are shiny and brightly colored. "A Thousand and One Nights" is no "The Higher You Get, The Farther The Fall" or "Let's Be Bad," but it is a solid piece of theatricality, which is something I greatly appreciate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Donald Glover on playing Tracy Jordan, and a promo for a Law & Order-themed Community

As you may have heard, Donald Glover will be playing Tracy Jordan in this week's live episode of 30 Rock. And just in case you weren't excited enough about this news, here's Donald Glover talking to Gowhere Hip Hop's Miss Info about the history of his Tracy impression.

My favorite moment? "Some days, it'd be like, 'What happened?' 'Tracy stole a cruise boat, he can't come to the thing,' so I would stand in for him." Super pumped for Thursday's episode.

Also happening Thursday: Community's Law and Order episode. Which, based on the promo below, is going to be awesome.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Game of Thrones photo recap: "Garden of Bones"

"Garden of Bones" saw the return of Daenerys, Tyrion being an incredible badass, Joffrey reaching new heights of sadistic awfulness, and an ending that I can only interpret as a set-up for a Lost crossover episode. As usual, a gallery of the night's best, most memorable and weirdest moments can be found below, and a rundown of the most memorable quotes will follow.

"Garden of Bones" best moments: we find out how hot dragon fire burns, Renly proves he can best his brother in the charm department, and the episode ends with what is perhaps the strangest thing that has ever been seen on this earth outside a Lady Gaga video.

The night's most memorable quotes: Tyrion and Renly compete for the title of Westeros' Funniest (sadly, Yara was not with us tonight to offer a challenge), Littlefinger has no sense of timing, and Daenerys has a hard time with foreign words.

"Careful now. We don't want to get blood all over your pretty white cloak." Bronn: a perfect combination of hilarious and menacing.

"Bronn, the next time Sir Merrin speaks, kill him. That was a threat. See the difference?" It is really unfortunate for Tyrion that no one else in King's Landing is up to his intellectual level.

"There's no cure for being a cunt." Bronn understands Joffrey all too well.

"The whole notion of marriage seems to confuse you, so let me explain. My husband is my king, and my king my husband." Win: Margery Tyrell. Loss: Petyr Baelish.

"Joffrey. Cersei. Illynpayne. The Hound." You know that you're a badass when your nightly prayers are more threatening than most people's actual threats.

"I've loved you since I was a boy. It seems to me that fate have given us this chance to..." It's nice to see that Littlefinger has a heart somewhere under all his business acumen, but his sense of timing is about as bad as it can be.

"I suppose if we used the same one the battle would be terribly confusing." If I were Stannis, I would have yielded in the face of Renly's onslaught of quips.

"No no, I'm relieved. Never really believed you were a fanatic. Charmless, rigid and a bore, yes, but not a godly man." Stannis might not be able to take a joke, but Renly sure can make one.

"Born amidst salt and smoke? Is he a ham?" Honestly, given what we've seen of the various gods people worship in Westeros, a ham might be an improvement.

"Listen to yourselves! If you were sons of mine, I would knock your heads together and lock you in a bedchamber until you remembered that you were brothers!" See, Catelyn can be pretty convincing when she isn't endlessly discussing the coming of winter.

"My name is..." "Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen." I love Daenerys more than any other character on television, but the girl does suffer from a tendency to constantly proclaim her name and title.

"The beauty of Quarth is legen..." "Qarth." "Qarth." If the city was really legendary, one would assume that people would know how to pronounce it.

"You'll do no such thing. This one's a girl, you idiot." Tywin Lannister: quicker on the uptake than 90% of the inhabitants of the Seven Kingdoms.

"Your own father, Lord Tywin, when I was named the king's squire, he told me to obey her! In everything!" "Did he tell you to fuck her too?" Well, he didn't use those exact words, but it was implied.

"I could swear that I had not harmed a single hair on his head, but that would not, strictly speaking, be true." Tyrion might not be, strictly speaking, honest, but he is without a doubt the baddest of the bad ass mother fuckers.

"And it gives me four less fingernails to clean." "Fewer." "What?" "Four fewer fingernails to clean." Really, Stannis? You're sending Davos to a spot under the walls of Renly's fortifications, with an enchantress who is about to birth a spirit from Hell, and you're concerned about the guy's grammar?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fringe recap: The day the Observers stopped watching

Henry Ian Cusick, Blair Brown, Georgina Haig and John Noble talk under a reminder of the omnipresent
Observers in "Letters of Transit," the 19th episode of Fringe's fourth season.

The New York Times honored Fox's 25th anniversary (which happens to be today) with a piece that discussed the way the network changed the television landscape, by consistently airing innovative shows that no other network would touch. The Simpsons, Married... With Children, were considered too low-brow and crude; The X-Files had a premise that, as the Times noted, was treated with derision and mockery. It's only fitting, then, that Fringe celebrated its network's anniversary with the kind of insane, out-there installment that could really only be pulled off by two shows: Fringe, or its parent series The X-Files.

"Letters of Transit" opened with a crawl that filled in its backstory; in 2015, the bald, taste-impaired Observers stopped watching and started acting, taking over our world and subjugating humans, now referred to as Natives (all of this meant that this was a very easy episode for Spot the Observer, the game that I succeeded at for the first time in last week's "The Consultant"). The episode revolves around the resistance efforts of Simon (Lost's very own Henry Ian Cusick, who has earned himself my undying love through his portrayal of Demond Hume) and Henrietta (Georgina Haig), a Fringe agent with psychic abilities. These two want nothing more than to release Walter and his team from amber captivity so that they can continue work on a device that will destroy the Observers and free humanity from subjugation.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Community recap: Virtual perfection

Danny Pudi and Alison Brie in "Virtual Systems Analysis."

If "Virtual Systems Analysis" had contained nothing more than Troy Barnes breaking down and revealing all his secrets, it would have been a pretty solid episode of Community. Throw in Dean Pelton, dressed as a half-man, half-woman (someone has been reading Todd VanDerWerff's Carnivale coverage!) in a moment of crisis when he realizes that he has to go to the bank in this ridiculous outfit, and the half-hour gets bumped up several levels until it reaches "great" territory.

And then you add in a superbly constructed, highly emotional story arc that focuses on the unexpected pairing of Annie and Abed - and includes a killer soap-opera parody to boot - and what comes out is an absolute standout episode, the type of installment that demonstrates why, when Community is on its game, it's one of the best shows on TV.

I don't know if "Virtual Systems Analysis" will, in the long run, be considered one of the show's greatest episodes, like "Remedial Chaos Theory" or "Modern Warfare." But I suspect it has the makings of a stealth classic in the vein of "Critical Film Studies" or "Mixology Certification"; the kind of quietly great installment that combines some serious character development and pretty hilarious comedy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HBO's Girls is a victim of its own hype

Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham and Allison Williams in Girls, the HBO series created by Dunham.

Given the hype that preceded Sunday's premiere of HBO's Girls, it was probably inevitable that the show itself was a bit of a let-down. After all, the series - which was created by Lena Dunham and counts Judd Apatow among its producers - was lauded by New York magazine, The New Yorker and The New York Times (I'm sensing a trend here) way back in March. The Daily Beast called it "the best new show of 2012," and Salon applauded the show's portrayal of female friendship. The acclaim was so immense that the inevitable backlash began a week and half before the pilot episode even aired. (And it just keeps going; as Alexandra Petri put it, "Now I think we're in the backlash to the backlash - or possible the backlash to the backlash to the backlash.")There was no way that any TV show was going to completely deliver on that kind of hype.

The fact is, everyone who tuned in to Girls on Sunday had probably already made up their mind about the series. Which, really, is quite unfair to Dunham, because it puts her show in the awkward position of being judged not on its own merit, but on its ability to perfectly, subtly, realistically portray an entire generation.

Girls doesn't manage to do that. Despite my status as a member of the series' target audience (young, urban, female, recent graduate of a liberal-arts college), I didn't feel that the series was an accurate reflection of me or my life. I certainly didn't identify particularly with any of the women at the center of the narrative; not with Hannah (Dunham), who throws a tantrum in a restaurant when her parents refuse to keep supporting her; not with Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a European free-spirit who romanticizes dying of tuberculosis in a garrett, like Flaubert, and whose sexual liberation has no place for birth control; not with the barely-glimpsed Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), whose character is, at least in the pilot episode, reduced to a flurry of breathless femininity and a love of Sex and the City.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Game of Thrones Photo Recap: "What Is Dead May Never Die"

"What Is Dead May Never Die" was a pretty great episode of Game of Thrones, despite the unconscionable lack of Daenerys and the somewhat more conscionable lack of Stannis and Robb. If last week's installment was all about the dangers of being a woman in Westeros, this episode was all about power, and the strategies that those who have power use to hold onto it. From Tyrion using his wiles to sniff out a spy, to Renly trying (and failing) to keep his sexual desires secret, to Sansa pretending love for Joffrey in order to stay alive, the characters spent the hour trying to get power, to hold on to power, or to fight a power against which they could not win.

The episode's best moments: Shae is tired of being locked up, Theon is torn between his two families, and the return of Hodor!

The best quotes from "What Is Dead May Never Die": Yara continues her quest to be the best comedian in Westeros, Tyrion seriously overshares, and Catelyn Stark reminds us all that the seasons are about to change.

"When I take King's Landing, I will bring you Joffrey's head." Everyone would really love it if you would do that, Renly. As soon as possible.

"They are the knights of summer, and winter is coming." Leave it to Catelyn Stark to be the Debbie Downer who is always reminding everyone about winter.

"The Sea Bitch. We thought she'd be perfect for you." She is, Yara. She really is.

"Every man who has tasted my cooking has told me what a good whore I am." Between last week's comment about Varys' fondness (or lack thereof) for fish pie and this, Shae is really on a roll with the zingers.
"I shouldn't have to tell you to do things, you should just do them." Just when I start to feel bad for Sansa...
"Oh, thank the gods! I haven't had a proper shit in six days!" I don't think that any of us really needed to know that, Tyrion.

"Is Joffrey going to kill Sansa's brother?" "He might. Would you like that?" "No. I don't think so." Apparently Cersei's kids don't start out evil; they become evil after spending too much time with their mother. At least, that appears to be the case with Tommen. We can probably assume that Joffrey was always a sociopath.

"Oh he could get you started, I wouldn't mind. Or I could turn over and you could pretend I'm him?" Apparently the Tyrells are rather sexually uninhibited. Renly may have found himself the perfect wife.

"Leave me out of your next deception." "That's a shame. You were to be the centerpiece of my next deception." Tyrion and Littlefinger's relationship might not be quite at the level of the Imp's relationship with Varys, but they have some pretty good banter nonetheless.

"Filthy old stoat. Almost hate to interrupt." "No, you don't." "No I don't." Tyrion and Bronn have a really wonderful bromance going on.

"Cut off his manhood, and feed it to the goats." "There are no goats, half-man." "Well make do!" The Hand of the King just hates it when his men can't improvise.

"A very small man can cast a very large shadow." Half inspirational speech, half short joke, all Varys.

"I always hated crossbows. Take too long to load." Yoren dies as he lived: one bad-ass mother fucker.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Is Rachel Dratch unemployable because of her talent, or her looks?

Steve Buscemi on Boardwalk Empire, and Rachel Dratch on Saturday Night Live.

Yesterday, Slate's DoubleX blog ran a post by Torie Bosch that challenged recent claims put forth by Rachel Dratch in Girl Walks Into A Bar..., her recently published memoir. In the book, Dratch claims that the rejection that has faced her since she left Saturday Night Live - she was famously replaced by Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock, and her big leading-lady moment Spring Breakdown was relegated to the direct-to-DVD wasteland.

Bosch, however, disagrees. She writes:
But was Dratch really a victim of Hollywood’s insane beauty standards? What if her particular brand of acting—and she has admitted that she is more a character actor—just isn’t right for leading-lady-dom? Am I betraying feminism if I say that I’m just not a huge Rachel Dratch fan? She seems like a lovely person. Girl Walks Into a Bar’s discussion of her unexpected, late-in-life pregnancy is funny and honest and poignant. I’d love to get drinks with her. But as much as I strive to support smart, funny women on TV and in the movies, Dratch’s work doesn’t appeal to me.
I actually sort of agree with Bosch on this one, at least to the extent that Dratch's acting style has always turned me off when it appears outside of sketch comedy. In particular, Bosch's claim that Dratch's appearances as various characters on 30 Rock didn't really fit with the tone of the series was, I thought, pretty spot-on.

But that doesn't mean that Bosch's argument is airtight. The biggest problem on display is her assertion that Dratch "isn't right for leading-lady-dom" because she is a character actor. The writer appears to have forgotten that "character actor" is generally synonymous with "person who is too unattractive for a lead role." Bosch reverses the causality, assuming that it's Dratch's particular acting style that keeps her from getting lead roles, and conveniently forgetting that Dratch's appearance has, in all likelihood, consigned her to these sorts of roles.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Doctor Who news: guess what villain will be back this season?

Photo courtesy of Follow the link for more pictures.

For those of you who need something to fill the emptiness that Doctor Who's hiatus has left in your hears, has just released some seriously spoiler-rific photos from the New York City set where Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are filming part of the seventh season. Many of the pictures, like the one above, simply show the Doctor, Amy and Rory being their charming selves, but one set of images teases the return of one of the series' all-time great villains, whose identity will be revealed after the jump for those of you who want to go into the season with your minds untouched by any prior knowledge.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek in ABC's Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.

The unfortunately titled Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, which takes over Happy Endings' time slot this Wednesday at 9:30, has some big shoes to fill. Happy Endings may have begun as a somewhat uneven Friends clone, but it grew into something wonderful, and the sitcom's second season was one of the most consistently funny series on TV this year.

Apartment 23's first two episodes, which are currently available on Hulu and in advance of Wednesday's premiere, don't quite fill the hole that Happy Endings left in the schedule (and in my heart), but the show certainly has potential. The show may have a very slight premise - at this point, the plotting is very secondary to the jokes - but it has two fascinating characters at its core: titular bitch Chloe (Krysten Ritter) and a wonderfully smarmy, self-obsessed James Van Der Beek (played, in a spectacular piece of casting, by... James Van Der Beek.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Game of Thrones photo recap: "The Night Lands"

It's that time again. Another hour of Game of Thrones' goodness has come and gone, and again there are too many plot points, new characters, intrigues and gorgeous images to describe in words. So I present a new, recurring feature: the Game of Thrones photo recap and quote roundup! Check out the gallery below, then check out the best quotes from "The Night Lands." (And yes, most of them belong to Tyrion. As they always will.)

The episode's best moments: the introduction of Pyke, Arya is discovered, a glimpse of a White Walker, and more.

The best quotes from "The Night Remembers"; Tyrion makes a threat, Sam shows a woman some respect, and Yara mocks her amorous brother.

"Another king. How many is that now, five? I've lost count." Cersei's confusion certainly resonates with this viewer.

"You should taste her fish pie." "I don't think Lord Varys likes fish pie." A vagina joke and a eunuch joke in one comment! Tyrion and Shae should form a touring comedy act.

"Wish I grew up on a farm." Poor virginal Sam; vow of celibacy be damned, that boy needs to get laid.

"I'm not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I'm denying its existence." Tyrion Lannister, comedian, continues to kill. Figuratively, of course. (Although literal killing can't be far off.)

"I can't steal her. She's a person, not a goat." Samwell Tarly is the Westeros equivalent of Ryan Gosling.

"You shouldn't insult people who are bigger than you." "Then I'd never get to insult anyone." Well, Arya, you could insult Tyrion. But I wouldn't recommend it.

"So good to see you, brother. This is a homecoming to tell my grandchildren about." If Theon could keep it in his pants, he wouldn't run into these accidental-incest situations.

"You're a woman!" ""You're the one in skirts." Yara Greyjoy is not only the lone woman in Westeros who is allowed to wield power like a man; she's also taking on Tyrion in the "Westeros' Funniest" contest.

"You don't know how persuasive I am. I never tried to fuck you." Salladhor Saan is a man confident in his own abilities.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fringe recap: Let's talk about Lincoln Lee

Seth Gabel and Anna Torv in "Everything in Its Right Place."

Two-thirds of the way through last night's sublime installment of Fringe, "Everything in Its Right Place," Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) has a moment of connection to the episode's Freak of the Week, a malfunctioning shapeshifter who goes by the name of Canaan. This man, who is broken in more ways than one, tells Lincoln about the woman he loved and her son, to whom he was devoted. She left him, taking the boy, Daniel, and the shapeshifter's voice starts to break when he says, "they just went on living their lives, as if I was never there. As if I meant nothing to them."

Using the current week's case to reflect on the personal trials of the characters is nothing new for Fringe, but there was something special about this week. Much like another stellar season four outing that focused on a secondary character - "Making Angels," which followed the two Astrids - "Everything in Its Right Place" made an emotional impact by focusing on fan favorite Lincoln, and looking at the many small, subtly heartbreaking ways that Peter and Olivia's reunion has affected the people around them.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

NBC Thursday Night Recap: or, Conceptual, Tired and Sweet

Clockwise from top left: Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski in "Nothing Left to Lose"; Maya Rudolph and Megan
Mullaly in "Hey Jealousy"; Krakowski; Donald Glover and Danny Pudi in "Pillows and Blankets"; Chevy
Chase as the Pillow Man in "Pillows and Blankets."

This recap is meant to be read in the reassuring but powerful voice of a documentary narrator. Morgan Freeman, maybe. Or that guy from The Cape. He seems like he's pretty good at this type of thing.

It is a Thursday night on NBC. The network is desperate for higher ratings, as it is consistently beaten by the Spanish-language network Univision. It responds by airing a high-concept episode based on PBS documentaries; a comedy that no one thought would last more than one season that has hung on for six; and a series starring an actor best known for a critically acclaimed, prematurely cancelled sitcom. What could go wrong?

8:00 p.m., ET.

Community airs an episode about the dissolution of the show's most innocent, joyous friendship, structured as a Ken Burns documentary about a campus-wide pillow fight. The episode brilliantly captures the sadness of a friendship that will never be the same again, while also capturing the foibles of the Greendale study group with amusing efficiency.
Narrator: Troy would later say of the war, "It was awesome. But, it wasn't?"
Narrator: Unfortunately for Britta, and millions of photographers like her, just because something is in black and white doesn't mean it's good. 
Jeff: Guys, I wasn't going to show this to anyone, but it's pretty profound, I kind of nailed it.
"Pillows and Blankets," however, is not content with merely exploring, with great precision, the subtleties of friendship and the idiosyncrasies of its characters. It also gives the viewer a chilling glimpse of a future in which our exploits are not documented by beautifully written prose and the detailed descriptions of historians, but by text messages and Facebook status updates.

Friday, April 6, 2012

It's really sad to be NBC right now

Big Brother may be watching you, but he sure as hell isn't watching NBC.

Seriously, it is really, really sad to be NBC right now, although that can only mean good things for Community (via Splitsider):
These last couple of weeks have been pretty great for Community, which saw its ratings shoot up higher than ever before. But alas, what goes up, must come down — at least on NBC. Last night's (really great) episode lost a whole lot of last week's audience, hitting a season-low of a 1.3 rating and 3.1 million viewers. But hey, it could be worse for our friends from Greendale: every NBC show hit its season low last night, meaning Community still won the night for the peacock. And it's kind of tough to justify giving the axe to Community for a 1.3 when 30 Rock had a 1.2 and Up All Night had a 1.1 (The Office was a repeat, yet again). Silver linings?
I mean, those ratings are just sad. Think of it this way; if Fringe was on NBC Thursdays, it would be solidly in the middle of the ratings heap. The Vampire Diaries, which airs on perennial ratings loser The CW, would have tied Up All Night. Rules of Engagement, which I continually forget is actually a show, got three times the viewers that 30 Rock did.

On the bright side, this is probably good news for Community, because NBC can't fire the study group without canceling a good chunk of their other programming. Of course, it's also looking increasingly likely that the network will just go bankrupt and stop broadcasting. Maybe Subway will be willing to give them some financial support...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Epic Community Promo For The Day The Feathers Flew

Apparently it will be quite the epic battle this Thursday on Community. Feather will fly, monsters will emerge, and Annie will send a text message on "Pillows and Blankets." Given how great "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" was, I'm pretty damned pumped for this.

Of course, the real question is, who is the man in the pillow suit? The voice sounds like it could be Pierce, but I'm hoping it's Subway/Richard, the 1984-loving, sexually twisted corpo-human coming to the rescue of his one true love, Britta Perry.

Or Starburns. It could also be Starburns.

Smash's best (and worst) musical moments

This week's episode of Smash, "Heaven and Hell," was, surprisingly, pretty good. Both Karen and Ivy had likable moments, Ellis got put in his place, and coverage of Julia's personal life was... brief. Plus, we were treated to a great new musical number (albeit not from the newly-title Marilyn musical, Bombshell): "The Higher You Get, The Farther You Fall" from Tom and Julia's previous success, Heaven on Earth. So, in the spirit of that particular, charming number, let's recap the best (and worst) musical moments from Smash's run so far.

"The Higher You Get, The Farther You Fall," from "Heaven and Hell"

I literally have no idea what Heaven on Earth could be about, but this clip makes me want to see it all the same. Despite Ivy's total unprofessionalism (I know she's supposed to be upset about losing Marilyn, but no actual chorus girl would turn in that lackluster of a performance), the tune is catchy, the choreography is appropriately clever, and Norbert Leo Butz is charismatic (can we get him as a series regular? Please?). I finally understand why people are so into Tom and Julia's work.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Game of Thrones: The best moments from "The North Remembers"

Those of you who tuned in to last night's second season premiere of Game of Thrones were treated to an excellent (if somewhat exposition-heavy) episode. There were dragons, sorcery, poison, direwolves, wholesale murder of babies and, the show being what it is, lots of sex (much of it of the incestuous variety). If you happened to catch my live blog of the episode you already know some of my thoughts, but there was a whole lot happening in "The North Remembers." Since a written description is a poor substitute the lavish sets and costumes and lovely camera work, I've put together a gallery of last night's best moments.

Pencils Down, Pass the Remote: now with pictures! (All photos are, obviously, courtesy of

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Game of Thrones live blog happening tonight!

Loyal readers, I know that you are as excited as I am for tonight's second season premiere of Game of Thrones. Get ready to get even more excited, because I will be (almost) live-blogging the episode, called "The North Remembers," tonight at 9:00 p.m. central time!

I say "almost" live-blogging because, due to my lack of both a television set and the money required to pay for a cable subscription, I can't watch the episode until it appears on HBOGO. So the live blog will be happening an hour after the episode begins on the east coast, in order to allow for the episode to be uploaded. So, tune it at 9:00 p.m. tonight for my brand-new, live thoughts on "The North Remembers"!