Thursday, September 24, 2009

Parks and Recreation - The Stakeout


Leslie is such a active member of the the Pawnee landscape that she literally has started a community garden in the vacant pit. Can you blame someone for growing pot in said garden? I cannot.

The Stakeout was an interesting episode for Parks and Recreation. I liked it for a couple of reasons. for starters, it featured considerably less Leslie Knope. This is a positive move considering the writer's seeming over reliance on her character. Tonight's episode spread the wealth in such a way that I didn't feel The Stakeout was about any particular character but instead about the cast as a whole. It was about everyone and no one all at once. Mark and Ann's date, Tom's idiocy in the name of racial profiling, Ron's hernia, and Andy's decent into the literal pit of hell. I liked The Stakeout for it uniformity.

A couple of other notes on the episode. It isnt easy making a guy just sitting totally still and doing nothing funny. Damned if Ken Tremendous and the gang didn't do it tonight. Ron's creepiness and stoicism in the face of excruciating hernia pain wash hilarious. This is a testament to the writing and acting. The humor was built totally of the auxiliary character's reactions to his silent ordeal. I loved every second of it.

I know I talk about Tom a lot (who couldn't) but one of favorite things about him is his willingness to do anything with Leslie. This could be in the name of his own personal laughs but he proved at the end of the episode that in spite of his disdain for her naivety, he actually cares about her. I thought this was an interesting step in the show that needed it.

Highlights:

- I was born ready. I'm Ron Fucking Swanson.

- Great addition of Louis CK to the crew. I didn't tons about this guy until my buddy James sent me a link to his stand up a few weeks back. In all honesty I was just happy to now who he was.

- Hos before bros.
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Saturday Night Live Weekend Update


The name just rolls off the tongue doesn't it? Watched this tonight mostly because I didn't want to just watch the first half hour of Flash Forward (thoughts on this show coming tomorrow). I have a few, non too original thoughts on this SNL in primetime format.

In all honesty I'm surprised Saturday Night Live hasn't tried this sooner. Their product is more than viable evidenced by the show having been on television and fairly relevant over the last 150 years. Considering NBC decided to chuck Leno on five nights a week, having the SNL cast out there for a half hour on Thursdays leading up to Parks and Rec and The Office seems totally logical. They aren't reinventing the comedic wheel, but what NBC is obviously going with a low cost (and possibly low return) solution for primetime. It makes perfect sense. Why develop a whole new show, hire new staff, film, promote and whatever else goes with a new show when the talent is already just sitting around 30 Rockefeller.

Weekend Update
had its moments. I laughed here and there. Mrs. Channelup giggled. I checked the clock a couple of times. It was fine. Whatever. But the writing is on the broadcast wall. This is the future of television. Keep it simple. Keep it cheap. Grab some laughs. Move on.

Highlights:

- I love when SNL makes fun of New York Governor David Paterson. They are unrelenting and tonight was no different.

- Daryl Hammond's Bill Clinton being confused that he wasn't on the real SNL. (and claiming his family was "completely out of politics.")

- A Guiding Light tribute with Megan Fox that included a great deal of wide eyes and surprised looks

- I love a good swine flu strategy guide from the worlds biggest college dork

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Glee - Preggers


This week Fox announced that they had picked up Glee for a full season run. This is huge news in Fox’s commitment to a show that has gotten progressively better each week. Tonight’s episode “Preggers” was not only Glee’s best (by far) but a testament that a show can mix music, humor, drama, high school, and real world issues into a perfect mix of television.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sons of Anarchy - Fix


A couple of years ago I thought about getting a second job to earn some extra cash. After some careful deliberation I decided on getting my real estate license. Man do I wish Sons of Anarchy had been on at the time because I could have saved myself some time and effort by just making a living running some guns (or at least gone legit and financially backed a porno studio). So goes the life of SAMCRO.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis


This summer Mrs. Channelup was dying to see "The Nightman Cometh," Its Always Sunny's broadway-esque rendition of the Charlie's season 3 ending play. I balked, but now regret it to some degree. The gang would have probably made a fairly hilarious spectacle.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is like Curb Your Enthusiasm for the young, drunk and stupid crowd. I mean this is the best possible sense. The formula of Ridiculous premise + inane ranting dialogue + actors and actresses that can pull it off = comedy fucking gold. There aren't many funnier shows on television. Consider tonight's season premiere where Dee strives to become a surrogate mother strictly for the cash and residual benefits while the rest of the gang exploits a family foreclosing on their home. Does any other show make so much light of two topics more unfunny? That the gang is too stupid to pull either ploy off makes the show that much better.

I always wonder how much of Its Always Sunny is scripted and how much is just the actors spouting off whatever comes to mind. I envision a scenario where the Dee, Dennis, Charlie, Mac and Frank just try to one up each other in crassness before they realize the censors would just shut the whole thing off if they went any further.

There are times when Its Always Sunny misses the mark. It happened plenty of times last year when random episodes would seem to roll on and on without any kind of point. I guess this can happen when you make a literal show "about nothing." But when it hits, it hits hard. Judging from the season premiere, we are off to a good start.

Highlights:

- The good realtor / bad realtor concept is something that needs more exploration. I would love someone threatening me to buy a house.

- Kudos to Charlie for being a self-proclaimed expert in "bird law."

- I will have the baby vs. house debate any day of the week.
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The Office - Gossip


I love a good rumor. I love spreading said rumor. I like embellishing it and I especially enjoy telling everyone within earshot. In this way I can 100% identify with one Mr. Michael Scott. Everyone hates being the last to know.
Jim and Pam are pregnant. We discovered this at the end of season five (a truly great moment of television). They have decided to not tell the rest of the office in an effort to avoid the annoying questions and inevitable over emphasis on the situation. I can identify with this thought. I dreaded telling my coworkers about getting engaged to be married. It wasn't that I didn't want to share the joy. I just knew the next couple of months would be an incessant barrage of wedding questions and comments. It will be the same when Mrs. Channelup gets knocked up. I'll never hear the end of the oooohs and aaahs.

Michael strives to become the center of the rumor mill. Unfortunately, he sits around the periphery of the office gossip. But when he accidentally catches on that Stanley may be having an affair, all bets are off. He tells everyone leading to Jim scolding his big mouth antics. This leads to Michael "fixing" the situation by creating rumors about everyone in the office. When his "rumors" about Pam being pregnant and Andy being gay turn out to be true and probably true respectively, I really started hoping he had become the office Kreskin. Kelly would have an eating disorder, Dwight would use inferior manure, and Kevin was actually two small people combined.

Not the case, but still a pretty great episode proving The Office is still at the top of the comedic game. They continue to turn out episodes with the characters, rather than the ridiculousness, as the major focus. That the characters themselves are so funny is a testament to a group of writers and actors that work real, real hard at their craft. The Office has pulled off no easy feat. They are a non-laugh track mockumentary with substantial laughs and deep characters. Name another show that does this. None exist. The Office just keeps getting better.
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Parks and Recreation - Pawnee Zoo


Leave it to Leslie Knope to unwillingly stick herself right in the middle of the gay marriage debate just by doing something as innocent and cute as marrying a couple of gay penguins at the zoo. She has always been a champion for gay antarctic animal rights.
Parks and Recreation returned tonight picking up somewhat where it left off in the ridiculous factor but without many ongoing storylines. Sure we have the Leslie as a political wanna-be powerplayer but beyond that what is there? Where The Office always had the running Jim/Pam will they or won't they debate, Parks and Rec lacks much of the week-to-week questioning. Instead it relies much more on the characters' (read: Leslie's) individual antics to carry the storyline. This isn't bad persay, as Parks and Rec is a pretty funny show, but it isn't a formula for long term success. We need more than "Leslie wants to be popular" as a reason to tune back and in. I don't think the Ann and Mark possible love affair is enough to get us there so where do we go? I, of course, petition to get a shitload more of Tom, but my wife said his character was goo "as is" so I don't know. There just needs to be more than a few laughs for a show to remain endearing. The season two premiere of Parks and Recreation didn't give me a great deal of confidence.

Highlights:
- Tom's appearance on "Pawnee Today" was the highlight of the episode. He schmarmy attitude is something I just want to hang out with.

- The Bulge party with Leslie doing a little "Poker Face."

- The return of a suited-up, yet degenerately homeless Andy Dwyer made me happy as much as sad. .
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sons of Anarchy - Small Tears


Before I get to this week’s Sons of Anarchy recap I wanted to take a second to applaud FX. Too often networks spend time leading up to a show by half-ass promoting it, throwing a few commercials here and there during primetime, teasing the audience only to show three episodes, move the time slot, stop promoting it all together and promptly cancel it. Not FX. No boy.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ellen as Idol Judge? Channelup is a fan?


Yesterday Fox announced that Ellen Degeneres would be the new judge replacing 1/3 of the Idol panel that makes me want to punch babies. (Simon is safe. The other three should have been voted off at the end of last year). Ellen is an interesting, and not totally unappealing choice to replace Paula.

I am not the biggest Degeneres fan in the world. I don't hate her persay. I am just generally ambivelant to her brand of humor. But in all honesty, Fox could have gone a lot worse that her. Hell they did it last year when She-who-Shall-Not-Be-Named took as over as a Paula insanity buffer. If anything the removal of Paula as judge was weird to me because Kara seemed to steal a great deal of the stupidity spotlight away from her fellow female judge. Alas Paula gets bounced in favor of the fast talking, and occasionally funny Degeneres.

Look, we all know you don't need a Amadeus Mozart-like ear for music to judge this competition. It either sounds good or it doesn't. The song worked or it didn't. You liked it or you hated it. Being able to spout off tired music-speak and retread phrases like "pitch problems" or "you can sing the phonebook" is something I could learn to do pretty fucking quickly for a hell of a lot less than the judges make. Degeneres has the chance to bring unpretentious humor and actual intelligence to a panel desperately needing both. The other part I like about the Degeneres addition is that she is ALREADY FAMOUS! She doesn't need Idol to reboot a career or bring her out of the shadows. Everyone already knows her and seems to handle fame relatively well. That leaves her free to judge honestly without fretting on how the media will react. One judge down. Two to go.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Glee Recap - Showmance


The true highlight of Glee is Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). Anyone who has seen The 40 Year Old Virgin or Role Models knows Lynch is a true scene-stealer. Her deadpan delivery of the most inane and contemptuous lines make her one of the main reasons Glee is so enjoyable. It is a show making fun of itself. Her seeming life goal of destroying Glee Club by any means necessary only enhances her comedically-menacing character.
Continue reading this recap at Cinemablend.
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Sons of Anarchy - Albification Recap


Season two opens with the gang taking target practice while the rest of Charming goes about its merry business. One of my favorite things about Sons of Anarchy is the dilemma the gang causes in the town (they are its biggest threat and biggest protector) as well as the inner turmoil among many members as they struggle with their day-to-day family and work duties along with maintaining the outlaw life.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sons of Anarchy - Season 2 Review



Last year Sons of Anarchy was one of television’s true surprise gems. The FX drama focused on the members of a violent (and very mafia-like) motorcycle gang. With story arc, action, deception and suspense that very closely resembles a Shakespearean play (with a lot more booze and guns) FX proved it can continue to turn out hard-hitting dramas.


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