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PopFilter vs Thankfulness

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Get ready to bring Jason and Ryan into your family’s Thanksgiving festivities, as they countdown the five things in pop culture that they are most thankful for. Do a shot of gravy every time they mention Chris Pratt.

Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 — #74: The Silence of the Lambs

“Good evening, Clarice.” It’s one of the great misquoted movie lines of the 21st century. It’s right up there with, “No. I am your father.” But it exists within a movie I’ve seen far fewer times. In fact, before this weekend, I wasn’t certain that I’d ever actually seen The Silence of the Lambs in its entirety and in one sitting. When you’re as big a fan of Movies as I am, a question like that will nag at you, particularly with a movie so culturally pervasive as this one. Finally sitting down and removing all doubt is like finally being able to scratch that itch that started on the bottom of your pedal foot while you were driving on the highway. Satisfying doesn’t quite begin to describe it.

… No… that REALLY doesn’t describe it, either…

The Silence of the Lambs focuses on an ambitious young FBI Academy student, Clarice Starling, who is hoping to make a name for herself in the Behavioral Science Unit. When her teacher and BSU agent, Jack Crawford, asks her to interview infamous serial killer Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, she jumps at the chance. Her goal is to consult the brilliant and beyond-insane Lecter on another case: Buffalo Bill, the guy who keeps killing chubby chicks and skinning their pieces. Clarice develops something of a rapport with Dr. Lecter and begins to suspect he knows Buffalo Bill personally. When Buffalo Bill abducts the daughter of a Senator, Clarice (per Crawford), offers Lecter a deal — if he gives them Buffalo Bill’s real name, the Senator will approve his transfer to a cell with a view. The deal’s a fake, but the Senator makes it real when she finds out her name was used without her knowledge. Finally, Lecter gives a name: Louis Friend. Clarice spots it immediately as a fake and works it out to be an anagram of Iron Sulfide. Fool’s Gold. Her visitation rights revoked, Clarice sneaks in to Lecter’s temporary holding area and begs for the name. As she’s dragged out by local cops, Lector gives back Bill’s file and tells her all the info she needs is inside. Ten minutes later, Lector brutally murders two of those cops, wears one of their faces like a mask, and escapes. Clarice discovers, with the help of Lecter’s cryptic notes, connections in Bill’s file that hadn’t been explored before. Through a wacky boy-is-my-face-red turn of events, she finds herself alone in the home of Buffalo “Makin’ a Woman Suit Out of Women” Bill without backup. Clarice almost dies, but kills Bill and saves the girl instead. When he calls to express his congratulations, Lecter tells Clarice he has no intention of coming after her and he would appreciate the same courtesy. Then he heads off into the sunset to eat the Smug Pompous Warden from Act I.

Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs is to the world of movies what The Beatles are to the world of modern music. Neither is particularly innovative or progressive. In fact, both are fairly simple and accessible to all audiences. But both take simple and accessible and do it masterfully, in a way that allows them all to continue to reach audiences long after their times. For The Beatles, it’s just the right harmonies and strategically placed “oooohs” or bass lines that keep modern bands listing them as an influence. For Demme, it’s the perfect extreme close up or the minute details the FBI consultants ensured were accurate. It’s his way of simply describing or showing reactions to gore so that the little bit of viscera he finally does show has real impact. It’s the way he builds the charming and beyond-classification-crazy Dr. Lector character, then yanks him away mid-movie, reminding us that — oh yeah! — we’re supposed to be finding that maniac who keeps dropping skinless women in rivers. And it’s the way he then builds the suspense all over again until Clarice is grasping around in a blackened basement while Buffalo Bill watches from inches away through night vision goggles. The Silence of the Lambs isn’t perfect, of course. No Pop Culture icon is flawless — even The Beatles had “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”  — and different groups seem to have pretty vocal opinions on which flaw is most in need of correction. We could debate the merit of these claims all day, but it would be nothing more than a distraction from the most disturbingly inaccurate portrayal of all.

SOTL Credit

Just … look at it.

The above photo is a screencap of the opening credits. For the first few minutes of the film, their appearance on screen at regular intervals dominates the view. They’re jarring, obscuring and distracting from the action occurring behind them. This specific title credit, though, is perhaps the most distracting, especially at the time of release. Think about it. It’s 1991. Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” video is basically playing on a loop on MTV. You know the one — that little black and white short featuring the musician himself rolling around on a beach with a topless Helena Christensen that causes men and women to stop, gasp, and stare. To see his name in bold and imposing letters on screen like this makes you think he’s going to have an important role in the film, if not a large one. Paul Lazar and Dan Butler, for example, play Pilcher and Rodin, the scientists who identify the rare moth from the poster for Clarice. They provide the only, much-needed comic relief in the film and are ultimately instrumental in the success of Clarice’s search for Buffalo Bill. They’re not major characters, but they are imperative to the progression of the plot. Chris Isaak, on the other hand, plays “SWAT Commander” and has about 4 lines in his maybe minute and a half of screen time. Aside from his very recognizable face, he’s almost indistinguishable from any other cop in the solitary scene in which he appears. He doesn’t even die gruesomely at the hands of an escaping Lecter! He appears on screen in a feeble moment of blatant stunt-casting, points at his eyes and makes some gestures with  his fist like SWAT guys are supposed to, then fucking disappears again for the rest of the film. There were easily hundreds of other actors in Hollywood in 1991 who would have seen that amount of face time in this movie as a pretty big break! So what the hell was Demme’s motivation behind giving it to a guy whose face was just pretty and famous enough to divert attention from the action and suspense at hand? The world may never know. I presume incriminating photos of some kind or another. — KSmith

PopFilter Podcast Episode 173

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On this episode of the PopFilter Podcast, the friends get all up in Private Dick game. What does that mean, you ask? Well, they build a mountain to all of the best P.I.’s in the history of pop culture and then go real hard on “The Long Goodbye”. They also discuss the merits of three new hopefuls into the PopFilter Hall of Fame.

Oh, and they talk about “State of Affairs” with Katherine Heigl.

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

Review us on iTunes!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

The Super Hero Hour Hour 11/21

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Mike and Ryan dig into this week’s episode of The Flash, discussing Barry’s battle with Colossus, and Iris’ battle with being boring. They also recap this week’s episodes of Arrow, Gotham, Constantine, SHIELD, and The Walking Dead.

PopFilter Versus: Jason Versus The Private Eye

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The journey of Jason’s comic education continues with Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s digital comic, “The Private Eye” (Check out http://panelsyndicate.com to read along!). The friends delve into the story, the message, and the platform of the book before eventually deciding whether or not Jason’s forced journey will continue!

 

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

Review us on iTunes!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

#musicreview

PopFilter Presents:

The Tune-Thousands

Music, as a pop culture medium, is unusual. In more modern times, music has a way of defining decades through song. The 20’s have swing, the 50’s have big band, the 70’s have disco and the 90’s have grunge and alternative. Yep, one or two styles of music pretty easily define every decade. And with very few exceptions, everyone agrees with the music that defines a decade and/or generation. As the need for nostalgia increases, however, more and more people are eager to define an increasingly recent past. And while I am just a humble music fan/critic/lover, I have tasked myself in defining the decade that was the 2000’s in tunes.

There is no clear voice of the decade that most recently was. Some might point to the fact that a diverse group of artists were able to make an impact on the music scene through previously unavailable channels as the reason. Others may point to the fact that we are too close to be able to see the big picture of the aught decade. Others still may point to their butts because they miss “real music” and think today’s music sounds like farts. Opinions and that weird third group of people aside, there is something that will define this decade musically, and I aim to find it.

Over the upcoming months, I will be cataloguing the 100 songs that define the 2000’s. These are not necessarily the best, or most catchy or even songs that I personally like, but if done correctly, we will all have a pretty clear picture of what music made the previous decade. What songs will bring back the memories of the summer of 2003? What artists helped you through that nasty break up in 2007? Which album could you not live without from 2005 through 2007, with a brief break in October of 2006? All of these insane questions and more will be answered as we delve into the heart of the last musical decade. Yes, the next time you hear from me, I will be presenting you with songs 100-91 that define the 2000’s.

So get ready to laugh, puke and fudge your undies, because this shit is going to be awesome.
With Love,

Jason R. Noble

 

P.S. – Let me know your suggestions for the list. If I like them, I will steal them mercilessly and give you no credit. Hit me up at jasonnoble@yourpopfilter.com.

P.P.S. – If I don’t like your suggestion, I will respond to your email kindly and professionally.

Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 – # 75: In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night is one of The Top 100 I’ve been looking forward to watching since I began this project a few months back. I knew Sidney Poitier starred alongside possibly Carroll O’Connor and that, whoever the portly white dude was, he was supposed to call Poitier “Mr. Tibbs.” Based on that and the fact that it was a Sidney Poitier film from the 60s, I also figured there were going to be some racial tensions that resolved themselves once everyone learned that, in the end, we’re all just people after all. I wasn’t too far off, either. All I missed was the sweaty, controversial murder that drives the film along. Well, that and the fact that Carroll O’Connor was only in the less awesome 80s TV show remake.

Explain to me how Rod Steiger & Carroll O’Connor aren’t the same guy.

In the Heat of the Night begins with a smalltown cop in Sparta, Mississippi, on his nightly rounds. He grabs a soda and a wedge of pie from the creepiest, smarmiest diner cook ever, then drives by the house of a pretty little exhibitionist enjoying her own soda naked by the window. After a few moments’ pause to enjoy the view, Smalltown Cop drives on. He eventually happens upon a body in the middle of Main Street that turns out to be the New Factory Tycoon upon whom the entire town had pinned its hopes. In an effort to wrap the case up quickly, our Smalltown Cop arrests the first likely suspect he passes — a black man quietly waiting for the train in a nice suit with money in his wallet. As Chief Gillespie interrogates his suspect, he discovers that the man they’ve arrested for Existing While Black is actually Detective Virgil Tibbs, a homicide expert from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (REPRESENT!). During a phone call to his chief to verify his identity, Tibbs is ordered to stay in Sparta and solve their murder for them because, “They’ve got a murder on their hands. They don’t know what to do with it.” From here, Tibbs out-cops the chief, out-autopsies the ME, and gets chased and attacked by a bunch of Good Ol’ Boys for his efforts. He and Gillespie bond over mutually tragic bachelorhood and acknowledge their own prejudices, which allows Tibbs to realize the murderer wasn’t the racist Cotton Baron who slapped him and called him “boy” after all! It was actually Creepy Diner Cook all along because he had to pay for Exhibition Girl’s abortion somehow! And, in the end, we’re all just people after all.

You don’t bitch-slap Sidney Poitier. Or a Philly cop. YOU ESPECIALLY DON’T BITCH-SLAP SIDNEY POITIER WHEN HE’S PLAYING A PHILLY COP.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: In the Heat of the Night is an abysmal excuse for a crime drama. It’s jumpy and disjointed with a surprising lack of actual detecting ever shown. Tibbs apparently has an unbelievable amount of CSI-type knowledge — an amount  usually supported by an entire ensemble cast that includes obscure specialists and genius science nerds — but we see very little of it in action. In the first few minutes of the film, Tibbs corrects the ME’s time of death with pinpoint accuracy simply by rubbing the corpse’s jowls. It’s impressive and leaves every racist asshole in the room agog. After that, though, he basically just says things that turn out to be true. Valid reasons or sciencey explanations are sort of given, but we never actually see how he arrives at these conclusions. At one point, Gillespie is trying to keep Tibbs safe from a roving band of lynch-happy rednecks when he finds the detective alone at the remote construction site of Dead Tycoon’s new factory. When Gillespie chastises Tibbs for being exposed and unprotected, Tibbs simply tells him that the FBI Crime Lab found pine bits embedded in Tycoon’s crushed skull. Obviously, that means he was murdered at his own construction site with one of those wooden stakes tied with orange ribbon, then dropped in the middle of Main Street afterwards. Later, Gillespie arrests Smalltown Cop for the murder because he made a large bank deposit in roughly the amount found to be missing from Dead Tycoon’s wallet. But when Exhibitionist Girl comes in to report Smalltown Cop for rape, Tibbs realizes Smalltown Cop must be innocent because he can’t drive two cars at once! If that last sentence doesn’t make sense, it’s not my fault. I’m only working with what I’ve been given and, in the way of coherent detective stories, I wasn’t given all that much. Of course, a coherent detective story isn’t what puts In the Heat of the Night on the AFI’s list.


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 Scenes like this are what puts it on the list. 

In film school, I was presented with the concept that society creates media creates society. That is, a society can be influenced and directed by the mass media it generates and consumes. This idea is something that has since shaded everything I watch. In this instance, the murder case that appears to be the heart of In the Heat of the Night is really just the backdrop. It’s nothing more than an incredibly contrived excuse to place an educated and strong black [Philadelphian!] character in the middle of 1960s Stars-and-Bars-racist Mississippi to literally and figuratively smack down some ignorant fucking white people. And it. Is. Glorious. If you slept through that year of high school, it might interest you to know that there was a turbulent period in US history (also known as roughly the first 200 years) where openly hostile and violent racism was socially acceptable, particularly those states below the Mason-Dixon line. Sidney Poitier actually had to refuse to film in Mississippi because of that time he and Harry Belafonte were almost murdered by the KKK. A film like this — a film that bucked stereotypes on both sides, acknowledged that we all harbor preconceived notions about others, and dared to light black actors so they’d show up on screen as more than just eyes and teeth — was the sort of controversy we needed on the big screen to help facilitate change. I may crack jokes about how, in the end, we’re all just people after all, but in 2014, I (sort of) have that luxury. Almost 50 years later, we don’t really see lynchings or burning crosses in the US anymore. Hell, most modern bigots highlight themselves by prefacing bigoted statements with things like, “I’m not racist, but…” or “The shooting of that unarmed black teenager wasn’t racially motivated because….” At least in 2014, even most racists know it’s not socially acceptable to admit to it, let alone be vocal and violent about it. And that’s something … right? … Right? — KSmith

TOP TEN- BLAST FROM THE PAST

THE POP FILTER TOP TEN

BLAST FROM THE PAST:

We at YourPopFilter are aware how intimidating it can be to wade your way through years of back content. And we’re aware the viewership is growing all the time (thanks for that bt dubs!). So every once in awhile we’ll pull something from the murky past and throw it at you again.

CREEPIEST HERO/SIDEKICK RELATIONSHIPS

10-Booster Gold and Skeets
Booster Gold, Skeets, JLA
So let me get this straight.  Skeets is a robot from the future armed with centuries of knowledge about human events and yet he somehow doesn’t know that he’s named after a cum shot?  There’s no way that’s logical, so it’s pretty clear that Skeets is some sort of futuristic sex robot and that Booster Gold is his golden haired frat boy lover.  I mean what other explanation is there for this extremely intelligent machine to align itself with a pompous douchebag like Booster unless he was getting some sweet human/robot love.  In 52 we even see Skeets get infected with a parasitic being that is clearly some metaphor for robo-AIDS.  While they may not be the creepiest sidekick/hero duo on the surface, these two take the cake for best undercover creepiness in comics.-ASW
9-Jay and Silent Bob
Jay, Silent Bob, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith
Jay and Silent Bob weren’t the first creepy sidekick-y duo, but they certainly dove into it with the most vigor. One has to assume that Jay is the hero (boggles the mind) and Silent Bob is the sidekick (he doesn’t fucking speak), though I might make the argument that they are mutual sidekicks, which is inherently creepy.  It is as though they were both destined for sidekick-ery, but were never paired with their true heros.  Nothing creepier than that, I gotta say.  But they really make up for their misplacement by having creepy dialogue, which is impressive that it really IS dialogue even though Jay is almost always the only one talking.  Bob’s creepy silence mixed with his eyes (and those eyebrows!) give him more than half of the conveyed dialogue…which leads me to believe that Silent Bob is the hero and Jay is his jester-like sidekick.  Either way I am just glad that I am neither one of those guys-LF
8-Mr. Roarke and Tattoo
Mr Roarke, Tattoo, Fantasy Island

I’m not going to lie, I only remember bits and slices of Fantasy Island. The only thing I can remember about it was how creeptastic the relationship between Mr. Roarke and Tattoo was. If this were an Island that can make anything happen… why one earth would Mr. Roarke want Tattoo as his go to sidekick, partner in crime, amigo!? Couldn’t he have any kind of fantastical help on his side? Why wouldn’t he choose a talking monkey or something ultimately fantasy based- like a unicorn. Sure they aren’t as a practical as a little man, but dude should have conjured something just a little bit more awesome- or at least less of a thick accent so everyone could understand him??- MV

7-Green Arrow and Speedy
Green Arrow, Speedy
Everyone knows Green Arrow is basically a backup batman, except people who don’t know who Green Arrow is. Batman has no powers but a lot of skills? So does Green Arrow. Batman has a ton of money? Green Arrow too. Douchey real name? Lives in a made up city? Sometimes inexplicably hates superman? Triplecheck. Here’s what I’m getting to: we all know Batman and Robin are the great grandaddies of creepy sidekick relationships, but that means Green Arrow went out and got himself a Speedy just because Batman has one. That’s no reason to take an orphan under your care and it really shows, especially after Green Arrow loses his fortunes and basically starts ignoring him. Speedy joins a band and starts doing Heroin. Green Arrow’s response is to punch him in the face and throw him out on the street, presumably for playing that damned rock-n-roll music. Speedy later loses his arm. Green Arrow replaces him with an HIV positive ex-child prostitute. Are we doing a saddest heroes/sidekicks anytime soon? -DT
6-Indy and Short Round
Indiana Jones, Short Round
The thinking behind this is simple: Short Round was added to the Indiana Jones series for the same reasons that characters get pregnant in the fifth season of TV series. The writers/producers are worried that people will get bored, and they need to throw a kid in there to mix it up. Indiana Jones becoming a family man would certainly have been a turn for the worse, so in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, we get a sidekick named Short Round. In the case of the movie, a backstory is unnecessary. Let’s just get to the action and go, which Temple of Doom does, if nothing else. But as we look back on what is now known as “No Longer the Worst Indian Jones Movie”, we can wonder exactly how these two found each other. My guess? Indiana Jones had a lab with a giant amplifiers, and Short Round would regularly come over to play the guitar, turning the amp so loud he would blow himself across the room. Yeah…like that makes sense. – RH
5- Doc Brown and Marty
Doc Brown, Marty McFly, Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd
How did we just gloss over this one for so long? How can one of the favorite movies of an entire generation not demand an explanation for this? We got two sequels, sure, but how about a prequel? How come Marty never said “Wait a second…I’m going to take this time machine back to 1982, when I met Doc, to see how a mad scientist living in suburbia became the best friend to a high school student”? It’s not just that these guys are neighbors, or have friends in common. They love each other. It’s not in a gay way; it’s a pure, wholesome passion for each other and their company. There are so many moments throughout the trilogy where they fight for each other, scream for each other, and put their lives on the line for each other, and although I’m sure discovering time travel in the parking lot of the Hill Valley Mall together is quite the bonding experience, there has to be more. And did Marty’s parents, pre or post Biff getting knocked the fuck out, ever have any questions as to why their son’s best friend is the neighborhood quack and community pariah? So many questions, so very few answers – RH
4- Crimson Bolt and Boltie
Crimson Bolt, Boltie, Rainn Wilson, Ellen Paige
In the affairs of the hero and sidekick relationship, we blame the hero for the awkward creepiness. It’s usually the hero that seduces the younger, more impressionable sidekick into a life devoted to solving crimes or beating up badguys or being a professional protege. And why not? It has to be a huge ego-boost. But in the case of Bolty, she brings every bit of crazy that her sidekickee was missing. Now don’t get me wrong, the Crimson Bolt obviously still has issues. Bolty, played by Ellen Page, however, has much deeper problems going on and fortunately, for us and no one else, wears them on her sleeve. The whole relationship takes a turn for the creepiest when the erotic thrill of being a superhero becomes too much for Bolty to handle, and rapes the Crimson Bolt. That’s right, fanboys: Juno rapes Dwight. Get in to it, which you’re allowed to do, because girl on guy rape is not as looked down upon as the reverse sitch. – RH
3- Samwise and Frodo
Frodo, Samwise, Elijah Wood
Frodo’s to-do list is pretty large today. Get a new circle door, smoke some of that hobbit sticky-icky, throw a giant ring in a volcano.  He’s going to be busy. He’s going to need some help. And sure, at least one of every type of character is going to throw their weapon into the middle of the circle, stating that they’re going to help. But who’s the only one who is going with him, all the with way with him, so to speak, who has no discernible talents or skills whatsoever? That’s right, it’s Sam. Sam steps up and says “I’m going to be by your side for every step of this journey, even though I can’t do shit, I’m some how shorter than you are, and I’m obsessed with potatoes.” I’m sure Frodo is a little confused, if not saddened that his sidekick couldn’t be someone other than a fat Goonie, but in the end, everything works out OK. I guess. I can’t really remember. – RH
2-Smithers and Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns, Smithers, the Simpsons
Maybe creepy isn’t the word. I mean, what’s creepy about a decrepit, dusty, male Caucasian who’s rich as fuck and completely evil employing a skinny, sensitive, masochistic semi-genius who programs a saggy pasty nude picture of his boss into his computer start-up process? Oh,wait; when I put it like that, I kinda see how that’s weird. And the creepiness is unexpected, because you would expect all things nasty come from Mr. Burns,but (in this one case) it is not the horrible old evil man who is creepy. Smithers, an otherwise healthy young man, takes the creepy cake for his desire to see and partake of a withered sack of skin loosely draped about a centennial-plus skeleton. Why? Why, Smithers? Seriously, fucking why?-KA
1-Batman and Robin
Batman, Robin, Adam West, Burt Ward

This relationship is…unreasonably creepy. The boy wonder? The capes and masks? The ‘holy whatever-I’m-looking-at Batman’? All of this adds up to two dudes that are more than a little into each other. And though I’m well aware that Robert Smigel created The Ambiguously Gay Duo as a nod and a parody, they’re not really that creepy. With Ace and Gary, the duo is very obviously gay. They drive around in a car that looks like a wiener, their preferred fighting position is Brokeback and they often hump dudes into submission. Gay is foreign to me but certainly not creepy on its own. Creepy people that do creepy things are creepy. Being that there are no creepier people than Batman and Robin, putting them together gives you the creepiest duo ever.With Batman and Robin, they just wear really tight clothes and occasionally stare adoringly at each other. And while that sounds like a lovely first date, it’s a lousy way to fight crime. And a creepy way to live. – JRN

PopFIlter Podcast Episode 172

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This week, the friends build a monumental mountain in honor of pop culture’s best step dads. Why? Because they’re an often overlooked and under appreciated cog in society. Is that a good enough answer? Well, it should be.

Oh, they also discuss TV on the Radio’s latest offering in “Seeds”, “22 Jump Street” gets a real talking to and there’s a couple other tricks up their sleeves. Mostly magic tricks, which makes this the most magical episode to date.

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

Review us on iTunes!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round 3

 

JANE THE VIRGIN

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VS

The-affair_612x832

THE AFFAIR

 

When the writers at the PopFilter headquarters, or the hosts of the various PopFilter podcasts, have to review a television show based only on the pilot they form an opinion filled with caveats and asterisks. There’s no way of knowing what changes the show will make after its first episode. Just recently, the second episode of Constantine had to do the job of both a pilot and a second episode, thanks to all the changes the network made after the pilot was shot (this didn’t stop them from airing the pilot anyway.) With the Fall TV Bracket, we thought we’d be able to sidestep some of these problems. In the first round of the bracket, all 33 shows had to compete with just their pilot,with each round introducing new episodes, giving us a better sense of which shows were good and which shows didn’t have what it takes to make it to the finals. It could only help each show, having more time to flesh out their characters and explore their themes and premise, right?

 

The Affair had an incredible stable of talent, from the cast to the show creators. It had a cushy spot, Sundays on pay cable, which all but guarantees quality thanks to the spotlight on that night. And it had a pilot that, despite some tonal flaws, showed a lot of promise. It had all of the makings of television crack: a prestige drama with a mystery done Rashomon style making awards AND rabid returning viewers all but a done deal. Each episode did a mostly decent job of rewarding viewers with a little scandal, a little sex, and a couple of questions answered with twice as many questions asked. It didn’t seem like it was going to replace Breaking Bad as the new show an entire nation could champion, but it was at least a step up for Showtime, who has bludgeoned us over the head with their bullshit shows for the last couple of years. And then the fourth episode aired – the last of the episodes to be reviewed for its battle against a fucking CW show, of all things – and everything fell apart. It turns out that the worst thing a show about two people having an affair could do is air a two-hander featuring just the man and woman involved in the affair.

 

Instead of showing us both Noah (Dominic West) and Alison’s (Ruth Wilson) different takes on specific moments of their affair (boys and girls see things differently, just so you know), episode four gives us Noah’s angle leading up to the couple having sex for the first time, and Alison’s angle of the aftermath of the sex. This essentially removes the main gimmick from the show, but that’s fine. The gimmick needed a break, anyway. What it also does, though, is keep Noah and Alison together. With each other. In almost every scene. Talking. Sometimes screwing. Mostly talking. It turns out – and I don’t know how I didn’t notice before – that Noah and Alison are fucking morons, whose complete lack of anything interesting say makes for negative chemistry. Whatever pulse this show had in previous episodes must be the supporting cast and the impending destruction of their families as opposed to these two Cary-Grant-and-Katherine-Hepburn-ing it up throughout the Hamptons. Every time this particular episode goes to do something interesting, like one character needing the other to talk him or her in to or out of the affair, the other character follows it up by saying something blindingly stupid. It’s not necessarily contrived, like the writers needed the characters to do something a little off in order to get them where they needed to be. It’s more like the writers spin a giant wheel of random phrases and responses, and whatever the wheel lands on is what needs to happen. Is this just an off-episode for The Affair, and it will find its bearings by episode five? Maybe, but it no longer matters. You only need to fuck up once to get your ass handed to you by one of the best new shows of this fall; a show that has the strongest first four episodes of any show in recent memory.

 

Jane the Virgin is a runaway train of sheer fucking glee. It would have been hard for any show to keep it out of the finals, off-episode or not. I want to make it perfectly clear that this isn’t one show winning thanks only to another show taking a dump. This was a much-anticipated drama getting throttled by a telenovela-inspired CW show. The world of TV is a wacky place where anything can happen.

 

The most impressive thing about Jane the Virgin is that this is an impossible sentence to finish by just picking one thing. The show began with so much confidence and self-awareness – more so than many good shows do with their second season premieres – and builds on those things every episode. One of the secrets of Jane‘s success is not just its ability to spin an absurdly soapy web of plotlines with each web shooting out into different webs, but that it wraps up some of those plotlines as it moves along. In other words, it tells a story as opposed to planting an endless row of seeds in the hope that it can trick you into coming back every week, whether you want to or not. And if that makes it seem too daunting to just jump in on the fifth episode, fear not: an incredibly pithy narrator with a silky smooth voice is on hand to help you along whenever you need it, while never slogging down the show for the viewers that have been there since the beginning. There are shows that Jane the Virgin is easy to compare to – The O.C. comes to mind, because it always does for any situation – but if you think about it, there’s really only one show to compare it to: What other show in TV history had this many well-rounded, compelling pyschopaths, each demanding more screen time than they get, and involved in so many plotlines a joke-telling narrator is necessary in order to help us understand everything? OK, so it’s not on that show’s level yet, and the comedic tones are totally different, but you’d be surprised how close the comp is.

 

The show mainly focuses on three generations of Latin women living in the same house, so I’d like to focus on the only white male supporting character, because I just don’t think they get enough publicity in general. Jane’s fiancee has to deal with the fact that she’s pregnant with another man’s baby, the fact that she wants to remain a virgin until married, and the fact that she might have feelings for her baby daddy. He is conniving, manipulating things to make sure that Jane doesn’t decide to keep the baby, forcing him to raise another man’s child. And both despite and because of all of these things, he is an incredibly well rounded, three-dimensional character, who never falls into the trap of selfish, douche-bag boyfriend, or a boring Dudley Do-Right. The shit he does makes sense. And he might be the most underwritten character on the show. Even the characters who would normally not need to be anything more than walking plot devices, like Jane’s baby-daddy’s wife, the character who does the most fucked up, soap opera-y things, is still a human whose actions make sense according to the character she is and the situation it is. It’s so easy to write JTV off as a bubbly fun parody/homage to the fucking-nuts world of telenovelas, a show that does a good job of having its pastel and comerselo, too. It is that, but it’s so much more. It’s proof how important it is to come out of the gate strong, confident, and with a story to tell as well as how much more impact a story can have if you actually give a shit. If this is the last battle in the tournament that JTV wins, it’s still an amazing story. It’s also getting scorched in the ratings, so if you people watching fucking Scorpion every week leave me with another Terriers on my hands, I’m not going to be happy.

 

After two-and-a-half months, we’re on to the finals people, where the first five episodes of Transparent will take on the first five episodes of Jane the Virgin. Good luck to both shows. The winner will be revealed on a special episode of the PopFilter podcast, so watch out for that on this website, or your iTunes feed.

 

COME BACK NOVEMBER 21ST, WHEN WE WRAP UP

THE TOURNAMENT AND REVEAL THE WINNER!!!

 

– Ryan Haley

The Super Hero Hour Hour 11/14

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Ryan and Mike dish about Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD starring Michael Chiklis. Also includes many mini-reviews of Arrow, Constantine, The Flash, Gotham and the Walking Dead and Kim Kardashian’s butt.

PopFilter Versus: Saturday Morning Cartoons

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In this edition of PopFilter Versus: Bracketology, Ryan and Mike square off against the Saturday morning cartoons of olde. The board handed them a list of 16 ‘toons, and they fight to the finish bracket style until there only remains one. Which show will reign supreme as the BEST Saturday morning cartoon ever? There’s only one way to find out! (Hint: Hanna-Barbara ain’t got shit to do here)

 

 

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

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The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round Three

UNCLE

uncle_preview_screencap

VS

images

JANE THE VIRGIN

Click here to see the Bracket

(This round compares the first three episodes of Jane the Virgin and Uncle)

 

Jane the Virgin is telenovela whose premise involves a virgin who gets accidentally gets artificially inseminated. Uncle is about a slovenly dickhead who redeems himself by connecting with his 11-year-old nephew. Each of these shows has one thing in common: they are both trying to squeeze into an already crowded creative marketplace. This round will go to the show that handles itself the best through its well worn genre/premise. Because there are things about each show that have been done to death, originality of presentation becomes the most important qualifying factor. After all, it takes a crazy stupid amount of creativity to revitalize something people already think they know. Portable hard-drives have existed since the 80s, but Steve Jobs put a headphone jack in one, called it an iPod, and all of the sudden the entire music industry has to reconsider its business model. This is about unfamilarizing the familiar.

 

If you’ve been keeping with the bracket, you already know where this is all going. You’ve read that Uncle lacks a certain amount of originality, but has made it this far because of how well it balances the scummy with the schmaltzy. Plus the fact that it comes off as having no idea that any of this stuff has been done before. Uncle is watchable and likeable. It’s just not doing anything remarkably new or fascinating. It’s an enjoyable Sunday drive in your home town.

 

Jane the Virgin isn’t really a telenovela. It’s more inspired by a genre to tell its weird story. Because where else but a telenovela can a virgin engaged to a cop get accidentally artificially inseminated by the sister of the sperm donor, who owns the hotel Jane works for, and whose wife is being investigated by the fiancee cop? All this is made palatable by the show’s ability to ground itself with good acting, grounded characters, limited and appropriate schmaltz, dramatic irony, expert pacing, and interjecting humor at every single opportunity. Not to mention it’s intended for English speaking American audiences whose only real exposure to this genre is tenuous and through parody (think Senor Macho Solo from 30 Rock.) So, because of its originality, Jane moves on to the final four.

-Stephanie Rose

Check out tomorrow’s article where Jane the Virgin takes on The Affair!

Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 — #76: Forrest Gump

In July of 1994, an event occurred that irrevocably altered the world as we knew it. Girls named Jennifer cringed at the way their nickname — preferred or not — was now pronounced by all.  People began comparing daily life to a Whitman’s Sampler. And never again would anyone be able to casually pick up their pace in public without the fear that someone nearby would yell, “Run, Forrest! Run!” The whole planet had been Gumped and, to this day, we’re still dealing with the repercussions. I’ve lived in a world without and a world with Forrest Gump. For my money, I’ll take the post-Gump world any day of the week.

Well. No. Not really. I mean. Whatever, just keep reading.

Forrest Gump is the eponymous tale of Greenbow, Alabama’s local idiot, his mother, his best friend and true love, and the breeze that blew his life in precisely the right direction. With an IQ of just 75, Forrest gets by on his kindly and literal view of the world, as well as his ability to run like the wind blows. His speed gets him into college on a football scholarship and saves him and some of his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. His courage — disguised as stupidity — earns him the Congressional Medal of Honor. His sense of honor and morals lead him to financial gain in the shrimping business and his desire to care for his friends leads them to ensure he’s cared for, as well. His fantastic and surreal life places him at or near some of the most turbulent and brutal events of the 60s and 70s, and allows the audience to see these emotional and powerful events through his simple and optimistic eyes. In the end, his optimism pays off and he marries his true love — if only for the short time before her death — and lives on to raise their son.

I can’t explain all this in one paragraph. JUST WATCH THE MOVIE.

In 1994, CGI effects were still in their infancy. Pixar hadn’t quite shown us what they could do with cartoons and everyone else was dipping into the well only sparingly because, well, just go watch what George Lucas did to the Original Holy Trilogy only three years later. But Forrest Gump did something that left the movie-going masses aflutter — it altered history. Instead of hiring look-alike actors to portray presidents or celebrities in fictionalized reenactments of momentous events, Robert Zemeckis inserted Tom Hanks (almost) seamlessly into existing archival footage. Sure, 20 years later, the seams catch your eye just a bit, but in 1994, it appeared as though someone had finally perfected the flux capacitor and was using it for the selfish purpose of creating guaranteed box office gold. Of course, Zemeckis didn’t just alter history — he also effectively and believably stole Gary Sinise’s legs. Chroma Key — green screen to you and me — wasn’t new technology in 1994. However, combining it with the newly available CGI techniques allowed Gary Sinise to play a double-amputee who could actually be seen on-screen leaving his wheelchair unaided. With 34 battles under my belt, I know that cutting edge technology like this is probably enough for the AFI to recognize a given film. Thankfully, cool tech isn’t the only thing Forrest Gump has going for it.

Watch this and tell me you don’t think Gary Sinise is just really method and had his legs removed. 

When Forrest Gump was released in theaters, record stores had evolved into music stores because they mostly sold cassettes and CDs, but they still very much existed. 12 at the time, these stores were rapidly becoming my favorite place to spend an afternoon, but my CD collection was still very small and very weird. My first  CDs were Boyz II Men – Cooleyhighharmony and Green Day – Dookie. I didn’t know what I was doing or where to go now that I had outgrown my NKOTB and MMC tapes. Thankfully, my older and wiser sister was home from college that summer and had brought with her the Forrest Gump soundtrack. These 2 discs became the soundtrack to my summer that year and, ultimately, my primer to the evolution of rock music. In just 36 tracks, I had inadvertently found the tools that would allow me to connect the dots from the golden oldies my mom favored to the unwashed dudes from the Pacific Northwest that were currently and angrily monopolizing my FM dial. From Aretha Franklin to The Doors to The Supremes to Creedence and The 5th Dimension (just to name a woefully incomplete few), the Forrest Gump Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is perhaps the most expertly comprehensive movie soundtrack to ever be compiled. In a decade where movie soundtracks were sometimes far better than the movies themselves (Singles, I’m looking at you …), that’s no small feat. Still, it’s only part of why Forrest Gump is guaranteed to be an immortal piece of the Pop Culture Hive Mind.

Every great movie has at least one iconic, recognizable scene by which it’s known. King Kong on the Empire State building. Ben-Hur’s chariot race. Sometimes there’s even a catch phrase of sorts that you’ll talk along with each time you watch, like, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” or, “You can’t handle the truth!” Even the great movies are lucky to have more than one or two of these scenes. Forrest Gump, however, is 142 minutes of nothing but these scenes. From the first shot of that feather floating down to the ground to the last shot of it floating back into the sky, there’s not a single scene in the movie that isn’t a least a little bit quotable or worthy of a reference in everyday conversation. Every minute viewing is spent thinking either, “Ooh! Yes! We’re almost at the scene where–” or, “Shhhhh!!! It’s the part!!” From charming to sweet to funny to gut-wrenching and any of the thousands of emotions in between, every second of the film is engaging and engrossing. Forrest Gump is such an impeccable example of storytelling that, when I found out a few years ago that it was actually based on a novel, I didn’t immediately try to read the original. Yes, that’s right — I think this movie is so good that I can’t possibly see how reading the book could improve it. The AFI definitely made the right choice with this one, even if they low-balled it way down at #76. — KSmith

PopFilter Podcast Episode 171

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This week, ALL of the friends get together and build a mountainous monument to Nicolas Cage’s best film roles. They also discuss the new Big K.R.I.T. album, “Cadillactica” as well as “How To Train Your Dragon 2″. As if that’s not enough, they introduce a new batch of hopefuls to the PopFilter Hall of Fame and some new friends show up to close out the show. It’s pretty fucking amazing.

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

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The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

ROUND TWO

Uncle

uncle_preview_screencap

vs

index

Friends of the People

 

I can’t explain my resistance to Uncle. Maybe it’s because I hate British people, and I’ve never had the balls to admit it until now. Maybe I think it’s unfair how they do their television, and it gives them an unfair advantage in the tournament (they make quality shows, and only as many as they want to. Bullshit.). But it’s probably because, as I mentioned when Uncle kicked Constantine out of the tournament, the premise is so tired and overdone that there can’t be anything left to explore. And Uncle isn’t necessarily mining the idea of a piece of shit finding redemption and friendship in a small child for any gold that we haven’t seen before. But, through two episodes, it’s doing everything with such an incredible confidence, particularly when it comes to balancing hearts and farts, that these two early victories shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise.

 

Friends of the People is a scripted TV show, which is the only thing you need to be to be included in the tournament, but skit shows are at such a disadvantage in something like this. I wouldn’t say that Friends is good…but it is severely likeable, so much so that it’s easy to wade through the skits that don’t work. The feeling that this is a group of kids having a bunch of fun makes it seem OK that this cast doesn’t have anything new or profound to say. The concepts are high, and when they don’t work, the cast knows how to bail on it and move on to something else. I have no idea who these actors are, or if anyone is watching this, but don’t be surprised if a couple of these skits go viral before the end of the season. But Uncle handily moves on to become the last member of the Elite Eight, and will move on to take on Jane the Virgin.

 

– Ryan Haley

 

NEXT:

ROUND 3 CONCLUDES WITH UNCLE VS JANE THE VIRGIN!!!

The Super Hero Hour Hour 11/07

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Mike and Ryan take their first deep look at Gotham since the first episode of this podcast. Reviews of Arrow, Constantine, and The Walking Dead.

PopFilter Versus: Cartoon Families

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Cartoons can be a whimsical escape from reality, or a warped, animated mirror showing us everything that’s wrong with the world. The best cartoons do both, while also making you feel like part of the family. Even if it’s not a family you want to be a part of. In this week’s versus, Ryan and Mike count down their top 5 animated families. Enjoy!

 

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

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Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

PopFilter Podcast 170

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This week on the 170th episode of the PopFilter Podcast, the friends all discuss who should be on a mountain dedicated to the best spies that should eventually end up in a movie together. They then build that mountain. They also discuss “Benched” as well as Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final film, “A Most Wanted Man”. Does shit get cray? Of cays. Becays it hays tays.

Email us to get your opinion on the show: contact@yourpopfilter.com

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP

 

Review us on iTunes!

 

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Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round One

FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE

index

VS

The-McCarthys-TV-Show-Cast-Wallpaper-3949

THE MCCARTHYS

See the bracket at http://challonge.com/popfilter

We’ve reached the last bout in round one. We are only five short articles away from determining a winner. Which probably won’t be either one of these shows. Here’s why…

 

The McCarthys is about a sports loving, Irish-Catholic family living within a block of each other in Boston. The twist? One of the sons is gay. I’m stoked we have reached a place in history where an openly gay character can lead a sitcom and have his sexuality casually interjected into the story without being the butt of every joke. And I suppose the gay community can be proud that a gay character has made it into the pantheon of cheesy, paint-by-numbers, laugh-track overusing, nothing-special sitcoms. Congratulations gays! Welcome to cultural mediocrity. Not so fast, ladies, this congratulations only really extends to gay men. There’s still too much about lesbians that’s confusing and scary for the general public, but that’s rant for another article. It’s 2014. A laugh track? Seriously? I don’t know whether the writers knew ahead of time that there would be a laugh track so they didn’t bother writing jokes, or the jokes they wrote were so god-awful, the editors added canned laughter in post. Either way, it reeks of laziness and and a lack of faith in itself.

 

One thing I feel compelled to mention: it’s a universally acknowledged fact that Laurie Metcalf, who plays the mother McCarthy, is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Her range is utterly impressive, from her days as Aunt Jackie on Roseanne, to her chilling portrayal of Dr. Jenna James in Getting On. She pops in on Big Bang Theory every once in a while to play Sheldon’s mom and her character is by far the best thing to come out of that show. She is better than The McCarthys. She is the one thing that really works on this show. Well, maybe not really works, but her experience and professionalism shine through in a way that I don’t see reflected in any other aspect of this show. Hers is a beacon of scattered light struggling to stretch across an atmosphere of thick, gray fog. TL;DR This show sucks despite the presence of Laurie Metcalf.

 

On the other side of today’s bracket we have the comedy sketch show Friends of the People. I had never heard of this comedy troupe before. But after watching the pilot, I can see they are fresh faced, lack a little necessary polish, but get across a crackling New York energy that’s hard not to like (á la  Broad City but, you know, not nearly as skull-fuckingly amazing). It reminded me of a modern day In Living Color, so I wasn’t surprised when I found out that this show rose out of the ashes of an attempted ILC reboot. FotP has a lot work to do (getting some fly-girls aside.) Some of the sketches need to be tighter and they’re going to have to go for some bigger laughs. However, I see some potential in the cast; Jermaine Fowler’s my pick for the breakout star. For these reasons, The McCarthys stays behind while Friends of the People moves on to the second round.

 

-Stephanie Rose

Coming up Friday:

FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE VS UNCLE