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Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 — #81: Spartacus

After a two week vacation in Ireland followed immediately upon my return by the wedding celebration of friends, I think it’s a fair argument to say that I was maybe not quite full of the necessary energy or sobriety needed to consume an almost three and a half hour long Roman epic directed by Stanley Kubrick. I was certain I knew what I was in for — maybe 30 minutes of iconic, mind-blowing footage intercut with hours upon hours of slow, cryptic, infuriating bullshit. From what I’ve seen of his work*, that’s Kubrick’s M.O. and, if Spartacus was made in 1960, I figured it had to have started somewhere. Still, Spartacus was next on the list and skipping Battles won’t win me the war, so I trudged through each and every one its 198 minutes. At least concerning my expectations, I wasn’t disappointed.

The movie Spartacus is based on the novel Spartacus about a real guy named Spartacus who was a Thracian slave working in Libyan mines under Roman rule. After chewing through a guard’s hamstring with his bare teeth, he’s purchased by foppish Roman specializing in the gladiator trade. Still a slave, he at least now gets decent meals, weapons training and, with good behavior, the occasional company of a random woman of the guards’ choosing, apparently. Spartacus ultimately falls in love with one of these women, though they’re not even technically allowed to speak to one another as slaves. When she’s sold to a visiting Roman dignitary for whom Spartacus was made to fight another prisoner to the death, he starts a riot that ultimately leads to a complete escape from and takeover of the prison by the inmates. As the dust of the violence settles, Spartacus discovers the former slaves forcing Roman captives to fight to the death and convinces them through impassioned speech that they are better than the Romans. They are so much better than the Romans, in fact, that they could start their own Army, march to the sea, and hire boats to take them all back to the nations from which a conquering Rome originally stole them. So they do. They give Rome a good, solid run for their money, too. Still, as history tells us they almost always must, Rome’s politics and steel ultimately crushed the rebellion. Yet, even in defeat, Spartacus’ followers are still devoted. When the Roman army offers not crucifixion to any slave who will turn in Spartacus, the slave army en masse claims his identity and fate instead. So, they all get crucified anyway, Spartacus included, but not before he can have the satisfaction of seeing his infant son carried off into the freedomy sunset by the love of his life.

That’s right, R2. It is a bittersweet ending.

If the above paragraph sounds like a pretty decent plot to you, you’re not wrong. Unfortunately, plot alone does not a timeless movie make. You need someone skilled in the art of storytelling to truly make it stand up to 50 years of scrutiny. What I’m about to say is something that will get me in a lot of trouble with pretentious film snobs, but it’s something that someone needs to finally have the courage to say: Stanley Kubrick has a crippling issue with pacing. From my incomplete but not necessarily limited knowledge of Kubrick movies, I’ve learned that if the film has a runtime of more than 2 hours, you should probably be prepared to think the movie is about to end at least 25 minutes before it’s actually over. Spartacus only further supports my theory. Throughout the film, Kubrick intercuts countless and extended shots of men on horses or children eating and laughing or gladiators training. All of these details serve to create a richer environment, but I don’t need them to account for nearly half of the screen time at any given setting. If you’re going to show me 3 minutes of gladiator slaves training poorly and getting beat up by wooden swords, then it’s not necessary to directly show me another 3 minutes of Spartacus kicking their asses. Pick one or the other, place your emphasis firmly, then continue briskly towards your point that Spartacus is smarter, faster, and stronger than the average bear.

And a good thing he was, too, since his fate may have just as easily been “outsmart the average bear or die.”

Spartacus has also been recognized as having one of the greatest ensemble casts possible for the time. This recognition is also deserved, from Kirk Douglas’s mesmerizingly manly and cavernous chin dimple (chimple?) to Laurence Olivier’s cruel and calculating Senator to Peter Ustinov’s opportunistic slave trader to … Tony Curtis’s Bronx accent? How the hell did that get in there? Usually, I really like Tony Curtis. Slap him and Jack Lemmon in dresses next to Marilyn Monroe and you have an instant classic. But as the sort of adopted son figure to Spartacus? As the self-proclaimed Singer of Songs who doesn’t actually sing, but does pronounce his G sounds like he has a permanent head cold? This is where you lose me. To be fair to Mr. Curtis, his performance wasn’t bad. But in a movie so heavily focused on the natural accents of its performers that British actors were cast as the Romans and American actors the slaves, how did no one notice that a kid who sounds like he should be screaming at someone to go get his shinebox might be a bit distracting to the audience?

Somehow, this Tony Curtis isn’t distracting in the least.

Overall, Spartacus isn’t exactly unwatchable, I guess. If epic period dramas involving dudes in togas are your thing, then Spartacus should probably be on your watchlist. They’re obviously the AFI’s thing, since at least 3 made it to the list. Unfortunately, they’re just really not mine, and I think I finally figured out why. Films of this nature from this era are nothing more than that generation’s Die Hards or Lethal Weapons. They’re action movies, plain and simple, with the same child-like level of overt storytelling and character development. However, they’re wrapped in the pompous and grandiose packaging of epic social commentary that deserves to be preserved for the ages. For my money, I don’t want my action stars to be pretentious and haughty, intent on giving me some some higher message to contemplate when the story is done. I want my action stars to be cowboys who just went out to the coast to have some laughs and accidentally had to save the world from German terrorists in the process. Call me crazy. — KSmith

 

*The only Kubrick I’ve seen to date that I truly understand and love.

The 2014 PopFilter Fall TV Challenge

Round 1

MULANEY

mulaney-season-1-key-art

VS

REMORSE

SURVIVOR’S REMORSE

 

Follow the action at challonge.com/popfilter

 

The entire nation remember’s Seinfeld much more fondly than they do Entourage. They also think that stand-up comedian John Mulaney is much funnier than LeBron James. That makes this competition totally lop-sided in Mulaney‘s favor, right? Obviously not. You need to learn how to not get duped by an intro.

Survivor’s Remorse isn’t perfect, and in the second episode, we’ll get a chance to see which of the holes are really there, and which of the holes are because of pilotitis. But with Mulaney, it’s impossible to care about which problems will eventually be fixed. There are so many holes that fixing a few of them will just make the show look worse, somehow. At the very least, the second episode won’t have to introduce us to this endless parade of uninteresting characters, something the pilot struggles to do. But we’ll still have to spend some time with them all, right? I mean, even just a minute or two? And the only respite from all of this mediocrity, Mulaney himself, is just standing there waiting to do one of his stand-up acts that has been very smoothly re-purposed into conversational dialogue. Just when you think that a turd on fire could not be lit on more fire, Zack Pearlman knocks on the door. I think I hate Zack Pearlman.

I’m sure Pearlman is a very nice guy in real life. And I haven’t even seen that much of his work, so my hatred isn’t so much for him. It’s for what he, and many actors that look just like him, represent. Far too often, when shows feel like their cast is devoid of chemistry, or when all of the actors just aren’t “wacky” enough, they will cast someone who usually has a beard, is usually fat, and is usually a ginger. They come in, say some vulgar things, and – for some reason – everyone in the cast puts up with them constantly in their lives. Andre, the character played by Pearlman, could almost be seen as the postmordern version of this stereotype, if the writers of Mulaney had anything to say. Instead, we just get the most poorly conceived character in a long line of poorly conceived characters. He’s called their drug dealer, but he never deals any drugs. They say they can’t stand him, but they still let him hang out. They say he’s the worst, but he never does anything or says anything to show us how or why. Andre represents a lot of what’s going on in Mulaney. If you were to ask the creators why any single part or aspect of the show is in there, they’d respond with “Duh I don’t know, because other shows have it in there?” Andre sucks, Mulaney sucks, and Survivor’s Remorse gets a second chance to work out its wonkiness. More about that next week.

–  Ryan Haley

 

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR THE FIRST BATTLE OF ROUND 3:

TIM AND ERIC’S BEDTIME STORIES VS GOTHAM!!!

 

PopFilter Podcast Episode 166

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This week, the friends all discuss PopFilter Hall of Famer Jeffery Tambor’s latest show Transparent (and it’s on Amazon! What?!), Robert Bresson’s final film L’Argent, build a mountain dedicated to the best breeches roles and FINALLY rank all seven of the Bresson films they have analyzed until their eyes fell out. It’s a really great time. You’re going to love it.

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

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

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

TOP TEN – Grown-up Musicals

Grown-up Musicals

Most musicals are for the kids, or at least billed as fun for the whole family. But when you can’t quite identify with High School Musical anymore or are in the mood to sing along with something other than “Let it Go” for a change, maybe one of these will speak to your mature soul. Oh and apparently ‘mature’ mainly means sex and drugs, that seems to be the theme here.

Cabaret (1972)


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In a time before she was the wacky and slightly pathetic butt of jokes, Liza Minnelli was at the height of her pre-Lucile 2 fabulousness in this story of sex and disillusionment in an increasingly Nazi-ish 1931 Berlin.   Bob Fosse’s multi Oscar winning triumph is the movie Moulin Rouge wanted to be, equal parts glitter and grime.
Why it’s not for the kids: That depends on what age you want to explain the finer points of threesomes, abortions, strip clubs or gas chambers.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)


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It’s only the glowing Technicolor granddaddy of classic musicals, chock full of film history, old-fashioned slapstick and bombastic musical numbers. Of course sometimes Gene Kelly’s lengthy dance sequences border on self-indulgent, especially considering he was both star and Director.
Why it’s not for the kids: Those who have the attention span for old movies may enjoy it, and there’s nothing remotely resembling sex or violence here. But those over 25 will more appreciate the nostalgia fest, and behind the scenes scandals.  Kelly worked Debbie Reynolds so hard her feet were bleeding by the end of some takes, she’s quoted as saying “Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life.”

Rent (2005)

 


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AIDS! AIDS! AIDS! Everybody has AIDS! Oh wait, sorry wrong AIDS musical. Despite the parodies (or maybe because of?) Rent is an institution and just so emotionally satisfying. Of course everyone says the film isn’t as good as the stage show and of course they’re right. It loses a little something in the polishing for the big screen but they get damn close, mainly because the majority of the cast originated the roles on Broadway. And you know Idina Menzel always brings it, before she was playing witches and ice queens for Disney she  rocked the Nederlander as bi-sexual performance activist Maureen.
Why it’s not for the kids: Not because of the AIDS, drug use or diverse representation of sexuality, I mean kids all learn about that from the internet anyway right? No this one is dangerous because of how damn cool it makes squatting in a tenement with your slacker bohemian friends look. Seriously if I’d seen Rent at 15 I would’ve dropped out right then and there to run away to NYC and spend my days finger painting or something…and probably lots of heroin.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)


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This video would normally be an excerpt from the movie, which is absolutely fantastic. But nothing beats Neil Patrick Harris’ drag performance of “Sugar Daddy” at the Tony’s, particularly when he licks the glasses of one very surprised Samuel L. Jackson.

Hedwig rocks so hard! Yes it’s a little sensationalist, I mean it’s about a botched sex change operation. That angry little inch is right there in the title, but the themes of love, sacrifice and acceptance are strong and surprisingly resonate with almost everyone…even if you are not a transgender rock star who ran away from the fascism of East Berlin.  And the tongue-in-cheek portrayal of modern America and the general decline of society has some really hilarious moments and messages. Everything about this movie is fantastic but nothing more so than the simply amazing soundtrack of really innovative rock show tunes. Seriously you’re going to be singing “Wig in a Box” for days.
Why it’s Not For The Kids: I’ll let the bridge of the title song will do my explaining for me “The wound healed/and I was left with a one inch mound of flesh/where my penis used to be/where my vagina never was/A one inch mound of flesh with a scar running down it/like a sideways grimace/on an eyeless face/Just a little bulge’/t was an angry inch

All that Jazz (1979)

 

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Written and directed by Bob Fosse, this movie loosely based on his life has one of the very best death scenes of all time…and the main reason it’s only semi autographical. That and Jessica Lange’s personification of the Angel of Death whom apparently Fosse is desperate to bed already. The movie centers on a passionate and driven chorographer and director (hint hint) who pushes himself too far with sex, booze drugs and work until it kills him in a glittering and extravagant hallucination of a stage show featuring everyone from his past.
Why It’s not for the kids: If that last sentence didn’t convince you this one is best watched after the munchkins go to bed, then you deserve having to explain to little ears all about addiction and why some people might actually want to die.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)


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King of the midnight movie circuit, RHPS has been attracting throngs of dedicated fans clad in fishnets and combat boots since Tim Curry first appeared onscreen in all his smirking, corseted glory. And how could it not? It’s a sci-fi musical about a mad scientist from outer space building himself a sex Frankenstein. The music excels at being both rocking (see Meatloaf on a Motorcycle belting “What ever happened to Saturday night?”)  and ear-wormy (see “The Time Warp” at every Halloween party you’ve ever been to.)
Why it’s not for the kids: What was once the height of avant garde depravity is now fairly tame by today’s standards and most of us discover this gem at some point in High School. But Glee’s watered down travesty of an homage was proof that the word “transsexual” is sadly still too racy for some people.

Tommy (1975)

 


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I shouldn’t even have to convince you to watch this one, it’s obviously awesome…I mean it’s The Who. Not to mention Ann Margaret, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Jack Nicholson all singing their hearts out. Yea, Nicholson sings and it’s just as sardonic as you imagine. Tommy is the classic tale of a kid who goes deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing his father’s murder, gets fucked with a bunch, becomes a pinball wizard then starts a cult. It’s all kinds of psychedelic fantastic.
Why it’s not for the kids: Other than the murder, brainwashing, torture, and molestation? It’s also pretty blatantly anti-organized religion if you know, that kind of thing bother you.

Velvet Goldmine (1998)

 


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Another movie loosely based on a true story, but this one wasn’t written or even endorsed by those it was about. Velvet Goldmine reimagines the glam rock era and the friendship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop. But Bowie hated the script and so it’s not really about him, simply the tale of fake rock stars Brian Slade and Curt Wild with a whole bevvy of new fake 70’s songs.
Why its not for the kids: Mainly because Ewan McGregor flops around completely naked for like 5 full minutes…flops being the key word here.

Gypsy (1962)


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This jaunty showbiz musical is the origin story of famous burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee and her overbearing mother’s drive to make her daughter a star. After all nothing says motherly love like pushing your daughter into stripping to feed your own ego. Rosalind Russell is perfectly cast as the pushy and dynamic Mama Rose and Natalie Wood’s shy, sweet Louise is so heartfelt her first (borderline involuntary) strip show really does feel like a twist.
Why it’s not for the kids:  It’s a tossup between the classic song “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” wherein three dancers give Louise pointers on novelty stripping, and when Rose tells her daughter “I’ve got to think of a new strip for us” and the cringe worthy mental image that produces.

Hair (1979)

 


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Draft dodging has never been so fun! Naïve farm boy Claude signs up for the Army but falls in with the dirty hippies of Central Park, fully embracing their ways of free love and LSD. In a fit of wacky hippie hijinks his friend Berger switches places with him at the Army base and gets shipped off to Vietnam, where he of course dies immediately due to definite lack of combat training. This is somehow supposed to be the catalyst for the peace movement, I don’t know I kind of don’t see how the government is at fault for this one other than keeping terrible track of their guys. Why its not for the kids: You expect public sex and hallucinogens from the hippies but its pretty discomforting to see the mom from Christmas Vacation tripping balls.

– Amelia Steinmetz

 

 

The Popfilter Fall 2014 TV Challenge

ROUND ONE

BAD JUDGE

bad-judge

VS

gracepointcanren1

GRACEPOINT

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

Dear Everyone Involved with Bad Judge,

Shame on you. You’ve managed to produced a show devoid of any redeemable quality whatsoever. Your lead, played by Kate Walsh, is essentially that girl from freshmen year who instead of developing interests and a personality partied too hard, slept with an entire fraternity and dropped out by second semester. Instead of bartending, the only job suitable for this person, you situate her as a judge, the most respectable position in law, and allow that absurdity to be the crux of the show. What were you thinking? What are you, anyway? I’m a bit confused, are you about a workplace sitcom about cheeky female judge or is your focus her life surrounding her job? Pick a direction. Or better yet, stop this thing forever. This show is a train wreck from start to finish. The dialogue is insipid and the story goes nowhere. The script seems like it was written by aliens, in that it has no understanding of what human interactions are like. And the speech! The speech she gives as a keynote speaker at the end is so bad I had to watch it multiple times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I assume you were stoned when you wrote and/or filmed it so you remember it as being brilliant, it so here it is verbatim:

 

The exhilarating and terrifying truth is that nothing adequately prepares you for what it feels to uphold the law. Is there a chance that you will be swallowed whole by your job? Yes. Absolutely. Before you know it you will be using the nearest teaspoon as your makeup mirror or to adjust the knot in your tie. And it will freak you, by the way, because no one ever tells you that you appear upside down in a spoon. But you do. And its an excellent reminder because the very spirit of the law is about making things right side up, and doing whatever you can to keep it that way.

*Applause *

 

If anyone can tell me what the hell that means I will eat my shoe. I saw a baby vomit all over his mother today and I found that a harder hitting and more compelling story than anything going on in this disaster of a pilot.

You went against Gracepoint in this bracket. Gracepoint could have been two stars worse than it was and still beaten you. Have you seen it? It stars a Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn and Dr. Who’s David Tennant. The pilot is the first of a 10-part series that delves into the mysteries surrounding a boy’s death in a sleepy suburban town. The pilot does an adequate job of setting up its universe and introducing its characters (though some scenes linger uncomfortably long.) It shows a spark of promise, which is more than I can say for you.

The truth is that you never had the dream of a prayer of a chance against any of the new fall shows. You are the worst thus far. Pity you, I do.

Devoted TV Fan,

Stephanie Rose

NEXT: SURVIVORS REMORSE VS MULANEY

Popfilter’s Fall TV Challenge

ROUND ONE

STALKER

stalker-official-trailer

VS

a-to-z

A TO Z

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

Ryan and I are about halfway through round one! It’s very exciting. But so far, our matches haven’t made a lot of sense. We often compare two shows that are diametrically opposed to one another, i.e a 30 minute comedy and a 90 minute procedural (as is the case with today’s pairing.) But there’s a strange logic to it. It forces us to compare the larger components that make up a show instead of going beat for beat on which show told the best jokes or what had the most compelling story. It becomes an issue of which pilot presented the best, period. A to Z and Stalker don’t need to have anything in common other than they are both premiering this fall. One is a better sitcom than the other is a drama; no accounting for taste. But here’s why:

The remarkable thing about A to Z, an NBC comedy, is how it fits an entire romantic comedy into a 22-minute episode. In order to do this, it forced the characters to act in a way that no human being would ever act just to hurry along the plot. It also relied on the disembodied narrator, played by the AMAZING Katey Sagal, to tell the audience the things the show didn’t have the time flesh out. But if we forgive it that, it was a cute, relatively tight, schmaltzy story about two people falling in love. It wasn’t so encumbered by the breakneck pace that it wasn’t enjoyable to watch. And based on the check that the pilot wrote, that the show will tell the story of their seven-month relationship, it’s going to have to slow way-the-hell down to cash it. That’s because networks capitalize on audiences’ hatred of letting go of TV characters. They like money, you see. It took Ted Mosby nine seasons to explain to his kids how he met their mother, something my father could do in the nine steps from the kitchen to the dining room. Although, I can watch Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman (who I always confuse with Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas) bumble around a little while before it gets stale. They go really well together.

Stalker is a freak-of-the-week procedural that centers on a special unit of the Los Angeles police department that handles, you guessed it, stalkers. For a show that opens with a woman being burned alive in her car, it’s pretty boring. The show rests on the shoulders of Beth Davis, who’s got the ice-queen-with-an-edge thing down pat, and aging dream-boat Dylan McDermott who play detectives working the unit. In his article comparing NCIS: New Orleans and Gotham, Ryan established a set of rules for procedurals. Number 1: Turn fun facts into a show. Did you know 1/6 females and 1/19 males are victims of stalking? Check. Number two: The story takes 44 minutes to tell. The pilot had a B-plot about a college boy who is stalked by his former roommate. This served to distract from how absurd the murderer in the main plot was, but neither felt dragged out or rushed through. Check, but not great. Number three: Have a little mystery. Here’s where the show goes off the rails. During some unsubtle glimpses into who these characters are, we find out that she’s a former victim of a stalker and he’s stalking the mother of his child. Check, but in the hackest way possible. And number four: No cheating. Stalker actually doesn’t cheat. There are no computer programs that make a low-res picture crystal clear through enhancing nor short-cuts to information there is no reasonable explanation for anyone having. McDurmott gets lucky, but that’s not the same as cheating. I can accept luck. They catch their killer through deductive reasoning and police work. Done and done. Number four alone makes Stalker better than its procedural peers. However, it’s strengths do not overcome its flaws enough for it to go any further in the bracket. That leaves A to Z’s charming cast and comprehensive storytelling moving on to round two.

 

-Stephanie Rose

Next up:

BAD JUDGE VS GRACEPOINT

 

THIS WEEK AT YPF

What You Missed This Week at YourPopFilter.com :

In the YPF Fall TV bracket, Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories fought Madame Secretary, Scorpion faced off with Gotham , Happyland battled Transparent , and Selfie took on Manhattan Love Story .

 

On the podcast side of things, PopFilter Versus Heat Checks (which means anytime someone did something strange with their career), on Popfilter Podcast 165 the friends pretty much talked about Prince the whole time, and a new show got added to the empire!

 

Keep coming back, because it works if you work it!

 

 

 

Superhero Hour Hour (Vol.1)

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Popfilter Presents: 

The Superhero Hour Hour 

superhero_tv_cover-01

The  newest show in the growing YPF podcast empire, the Superhero Hour Hour will tackle ComicBook Television every Friday. Ryan and Mike from the PopFilter Podcast will be discussing comic adaptations on TV, new comic TV news, and a whole bunch of other shit every Friday.

Volume 1: Letter from the Editor(s), News, Gotham 101-102, Agents of SHIELD 102-102, Future Volumes.

Enjoy Filterinos!

The PopFilter 2014 TV Challenge

Round One

 

SELFIE

abc-upfront-selfie

vs

Manhattan-Love-Story-Poster-ABC

MANHATTAN LOVE STORY

Follow the bracket at challonge.com/popfilter

 

I’d like to add the title of the new ABC sitcom Selfie to the List of Things People Need to Settle the Fuck Down About, right after bacon and mustaches. Yes, it’s not a very good title. Maybe it will be embarrassing for all involved to look back at this show in 30 years, shocked at the fact that they would ever name something Selfie. But if there was a show that came out in the early 90’s named Pogs, or in the 70’s called Polaroids of Bellbottoms, we probably would have hated them then, but 30 years later thought the titles were cute. Or, much more likely, 30 years later we wouldn’t think of them at all. Yes, it’s a bad name, not just because of how it will be instantly dated, but because it’s generic. But they didn’t want to call their show My Fair Lady 2.0, and they couldn’t think of any thing better. Let’s all move on and discuss the show.

Selfie is another entry into that ever blossoming world of shows with main characters who are terrible, vapid people, also known as the Don’t Trust a Show Starring a B rule. This is a tough corner to put yourself in, and nine times out of ten a show can’t figure out how to do it. Selfie already seems like they have figured it out. The pilot was by no means perfect. I wouldn’t even call it good. But it does seem to have this on lockdown. Here’s a couple of rules of thumb that Selfie gets right:

1. Have your character lack self-awareness. This is how we were able to put up with Michael Scott all of those years. Shitty people suck, but shitty people who love how shitty they are are much harder to watch.

2. Casting, casting, casting. I’m not a Dr Who fan, so the only thing I knew about Karen Gillan going into this was that she was one of Thanos’ daughters in Guardians of the Galaxy. One of the greatest performances of all time, sure, but not really enough to know she could headline a show like this. So far, it seems like she can.

3. It seems like writers enjoy challenging themselves, seeing if they can create the worst character that has ever been the lead of a TV show or a movie. This is a boring thing to do for antagonists, much less protagonists. Even though you want your lead character to be something of a twat, you still have to make him or her fully fleshed out, with strengths and flaws. You can focus on the flaws a little bit more, since you really, really want that challenge, but there has to be something resembling three dimensions.

The clunkiness of Selfie never fell further than average pilotitis. Manhattan Love Story, however, let its pilotitis doom itself from the start. The first scene of the show tried so hard to establish its premise, in which we can hear the inner thoughts of the boy and the girl as they begin a relationship, that we’re given the now legendary “boobs and purses” scene. For those who haven’t seen it yet, the first scene of Manhattan Love Story lets us know that men love boobs and women love purses. It’s a laughably bad introduction to a episode that shows a little bit of spark in its midsection, but can in no way come close to pulling out of its nosedive. Selfie moves on to Round 2, but it has a lot of work to do if it wants to sniff Round 3.

– Ryan Haley

 

THE FIRST ROUND CONTINUES TOMORROW WITH STALKER VS A TO Z!!!

The Popfilter 2014 Fall TV Challenge

Round One

HAPPYLAND

happyland

VS

MV5BMzY2MDI5NTEzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA3OTMxMTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

TRANSPARENT

See the winners and losers at http://challonge.com/popfilter

 

Today’s fight is brought to you by MTV and Amazon.com. It’s not enough to say that one show is better than the other. One show is clearly better than the other. This is Pacquiao versus a middle school junior varsity wrestler named Todd. Pacquiao has the fighting acumen that comes from thousands and thousands of hours of training, hard work and intense, regimented discipline. Todd barely maintains a C average and gets a pizza party if he wins a match. It’s a woefully unfair fight.

Transparent is the story of a family whose patriarch comes out as transgendered. The pilot does everything right. It builds its world skillfully. It manages to communicate that it’s more than a premise. The characters and their relationships to each other are introduced naturally. This show is a workshop on how to give characters time and space to come alive. The transitions are sleek and the production value is way up there. The pilot is fortified by the amazing talent of Jeffrey Tambor and Gabby Hoffman. Based on the strength of this episode, this show entered the lineup of things I watch regularly. So far, it’s the contender all the other shows need to beat. My money is on it to fight it’s way through the bracket and take the belt home for the entire fall TV challenge.

Happyland is about a disgruntled teenager who works at a faux Disneyland with her mother who plays the princess. It’s the classic girl meets boy, boy kisses girl, boy turns out to be girl’s half-brother. The flaws of this show are glaringly obvious, especially when compared to Transparent. First of all, MTV has been producing dramas since 1992’s Catwalk. That’s 22 years! Yet Happyland looks like a chintzy, amateur, dollar-store version of a television show. Every scene is saturated with cheapness, from the bad acting to the idiotic premise.  MTV has had two decades to figure this stuff out, so why does this look like the premier of a cable-access-channel show? Second of all, the girl who plays the best friend is the worst actress I have ever seen and it hurts my brain to watch her. How she found work as a professional actress is mind boggling. And finally, the first part of the premise is actually kind of interesting. She’s a girl who works at a theme park she was practically raised in. Her job is to work behind the scenes, holding up a facade of perfection while her life at home with her single, immature mother is anything but. Why in the hell did they throw in the angle about her getting flirty with her brother? That is just utterly weird, and drama just for the sake of drama.

In a bout that surprises no one, Transparent leaves Happyland bruised and beaten on the floor and coasts triumphantly to round two.

-Stephanie Rose

 

Next time Ryan will pit

MANHATTAN LOVE STORY VS SELFIE

PopFilter Podcast Episode 165

Play

It’s all Prince all the time, in this extra-special Prince filled episode! Listen to the friends review 1999, Purple Rain, Sign O The Times, and Bresson’s The Devil Probably (because he’s the Prince of Lies). And it all kicks of with a Rushmore of Princes!

 

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 Popfilter 2014 Fall TV Challenge

ROUND 2

SCORPION

CBS_SCORPION_101_CIAN_IMAGE_404462_640x360

VS

Gotham-TV-Show

GOTHAM

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

 Sometimes is very difficult to weigh the merit of one show against another. Comparing two shows, what each show did wrong, what each did right and declaring one better than the other can be challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to choose a winner. This, however, is not one of those times.

Gotham is doing something that I haven’t seen before. For lack of a better term, I’ll call it dramatic camp. That means it’s campy on purpose and still takes itself seriously. The camp is applied with a light touch. Comedians are cast in serious roles and play them straight, but with a slight twist. The gunfight looks like a live action Dick Tracy cartoon. The bosses of the crime syndicate are legit bad guys who you’d find in any police drama while the bad guys familiar to those who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series (The Riddler, Penguin etc) are gobers. No one is winking at the camera and there is no attempt at irony. That’s a bold move for a show that is primarily targeted at the aging, irony-loving hipsters of my generation. Gotham is in touch with its superhero-show heritage at the same time as being a semi-procedural drama about a police force.  It shouldn’t work. Nothing about what I just wrote makes this show seem watchable. But some-crazy-how it comes together in a way that makes sense for the story it’s telling. Gotham has my attention.

I just watched Scorpion’s second episode in a room filled with my dog’s noxious farts. After finishing it, my dog’s farts didn’t smell so bad. That’s how much Scorpion stinks. (Jones is fine, she just got into the garbage and when she eats trash she gets toxic flatulence.) The things that were wrong with the pilot are also wrong with the second episode. All this show does is cheat. It cheats its way through a deliriously incoherent second episode and cheats its viewers out of their precious time. It uses genius in place of making sense. “This sick little girl has a virus bioengineered to be infectious only to her! Yes that’s a thing! I figured it out when I looked at her laptop and saw it had a virus specifically targeted to it. Who cares how I figured it out? Fuck our audience.” That was only paraphrased slightly. I’m just happy to drop kick this show out of the bracket and never have to watch another episode. Don’t watch it. But if you have seen it, and feel like I feel, please write to Nina Tassler, President at CBS Entertainment, 7800 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039-2112 and let her know this crap is unacceptable and insulting to the intelligence of the stupidest people on the planet: people who watch CBS regularly.

-Stephanie Rose

NEXT UP:

TRANSPARENT VS HAPPYLAND

 

The PopFilter 2014 TV Challenge

Round 2

 

TIM AND ERIC’S BEDTIME STORIES

tim-and-eric-s-bedtime-stories

vs

MADAM

MADAM SECRETARY

 

Follow the action at http://challonge.com/POPFILTER

 

The second episode of Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories finds Bob Odenkirk playing a doctor that specializes in toe removal. The second episode of Madam Secretary finds Tea Leoni and crew essentially reading the same script as the pilot, but with a different bad guy (the first episode starred AIDS, the second episode features an ISIS-like terrorist group). Now that we’ve entered the second round of the tournament, with the first round hopefully serving as a way to skim off the garbage, we’re no longer comparing pilots, those wacky bastions of crazy bullshit. Now we get a better feel for what the show is going to be. And as slick and well done as Madam Secretary appears to be so far, it’s easy to see what’s scary about the show.

 

Madam Secretary has already set itself up to be a proseerderal (better name coming soon), a procedural with serialized aspects. Just for the record, if two characters in an NCIS show have a growing flirtation throughout the course of a season, that’s not a proseerderal. That’s still a dumb procedural that can’t even get being a procedural right. The serialized aspects of Madam Secretary actually take a step forward in the second episode introducing an illegitimate, college-aged daughter who is clearly just there to stir shit. It’s a much needed stir, though, and will probably be appreciated by most Madam Secretary viewers. It’s the procedural part of the show that basically settles the series softly into a coma. You see, Madam Secretary (of Madam Secretary fame) doesn’t play by the rules. If she has an idea that the Chief of Staff doesn’t like, she goes over his head, the president gives the thumbs up, the plan works perfectly, she gets high fives, the Chief of Staff awkwardly smiles and tells her not to do that again. Sure, it’s only happened in two episodes, but at the same time it has happened in ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE EPISODES. And based on the history of shows like Madam Secretary, there’s no reason to think that that trend won’t continue for the rest of its run. That doesn’t matter for this competition, though. I can only comment on the first two episodes, which were slick, tight, and boring.

 

Tim and Eric took a huge step up from the first episode, however. Neither of the titular actors were in this episode, which wasn’t necessarily the reason for the improvement, but it gave us a break from their oddly accurate impressions of white suburbanites. Instead, we get a horror story (maybe?) crossed with a cautionary tale (I think?) that weaves its absurdity into its plot, instead of into its editing. I could send Tim and Eric to the third round for no other reason than the odds are much better I won’t be bored while continuing to watch this show. But – believe it or not – the show works on so many more levels than Madam Secretary does, or has even attempted. Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories, welcome to the Elite 8.

 

– Ryan Haley

 

MORE ROUND 2 ACTION LATER TODAY WHEN GOTHAM TAKES ON SCORPION

PopFilter Versus: Heat Checks

Play

There are times in everyone’s career when they’re absolutely killing it, raking in vast sums of money and vast sums of admiration of fans and vast sums of dim sum for their mouths. Often, when they’re riding high on MSG and false love, they get cocky. Or a yes man whispers in their ear telling them they can do anything. Or they want to implode. That’s when they heat check and something completely unforeseen in their career. Think of it as the opposite of Tim Burton, who only does exactly what you’ll assume he’ll do. This is the Top 5 Heat Checks Countdown!

 

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 Popfilter 2014 Fall TV Challenge

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

_1400004135

VS

index

BLACK-ISH

See the bracket at challonge.com/popfilter

 

Today’s installment of the Fall TV challenge pits two ABC shows against one another. Black-ish is kind of a modern Jeffersons. It’s a 30 minute family comedy in the vein of Modern Family. It stars Anthony Anderson as the father who struggles to maintain a black identity for his family while raising his children in the comfort of the upper-middle class. The pilot episode did all the things that all pilot episode needs to do but you wish it wouldn’t, most of which can be attributed to pilotitis (i.e issues that are present in almost all pilots.) The premise was pushed so hard that it flattened the story. It’s jokes aren’t as tight as they could be. This is clearly a Anderson vehicle, and the episode relies on him just a hair too much. The best moments in the show come from these little moments he shares with the other cast resulting in some crackling chemistry. Given its problems, it’s a really solid debut. It’s likeable and has strong potential for the future. This one comes out of the gate with a strong voice that actually has something to say.

 

How to get Away with Murder is a whole other Oprah. It’s an hour long legal drama from Shonda Rhimes, a screenwriter best known for show running Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. This is an well done pilot. Rhimes knows how to form a well paced, nuanced narrative that manages to do all the things a pilot is suppose to do without bogging down the audience with too much information. Viola Davis turns out an insane performance as the law professor whose students become entwined in a mysterious murder. She manages to be both scary powerful and believably vulnerable. Give the woman her emmy, already.

 

Murder’s pilot had so much going for it. A great performance in a well crafted episode. But Murder lacks layers, and though it’s compelling and will probably remain a quality show, it’s about as deep as a swimming pool. It relies on clever hooks to keep audiences addicted. That isn’t a bad thing. Compelling TV can be great. What I can say about Black-ish that I can’t say about Murder is that Black-ish is better than the sum of its parts. And comedy is a lot harder than drama. And I’m sure if these two shows went head to head in the third, or even the second round, Black-ish would come out on top because it’s going to be the better show. It has something legitimate to contribute and all the kinks will be worked out starting with the next episode. But this Fall TV Challenge isn’t about potential nor does it award bonus points  to the more difficult job. It’s about which episode was better. In this round, though it pains me to take it away from a show that I believe is better, Black-ish’s pilot was just out matched by Rhimes and her writing staff’s incredibly proclivity for writing a tight story that leaves the audience wanting just a little bit more.

 

Next up:

TRANSPARENT VS HAPPYLAND

-Stephanie Rose

TRAILER TRASH

TRAILER TRASH

In which we review the films opening this weekend, just based on the trailer, to 100 percent accuracy.

THE EQUALIZER


Download YouTube Video | YouTube Converter | Advanced Video Downloader

REJECTED TAGLINE: More Saving. More Doing. More Denzeling.

REVIEW: Since 2001, Denzel Washington has played a morally ambiguous badass in all of his roles. Every few years, one of his movies actually has some character development, but as a society, we stopped caring about that. In his newest film you’ll receive the entire range of DW’s trademark performance: a cold stare, a sarcastic laugh accompanied by repeating whatever was said to him, and a terrifying smile while interrogating a henchman. But wait! There’s more! If you order within the next 15 minutes, we’ll add makeshift weapons from a hardware store! *Hands over $14* Theatre 8 on your left.

SPOILER: You’ll never be rude to a Home Depot employee again.

RATING: **(out of ****)

 

THE SONG


Download YouTube Video | YouTube Converter | Advanced Video Downloader

AKA: Walk The Line

REVIEW: The singer of Mumford and Sons stars in his breakout role in this startling original screenplay. There’s no fucking way that you’ll be able to guess how a marriage becomes tested when a newfound rock star becomes surrounded by fame and fortune when his wife is at home taking care of his kids. This movie is going to be so original and every guy with a beard or girl with a tattoo of a feather will be happy to explain to you how it is so.

SPOILER: Your girlfriend will unjustly compare your relationship to the relationship in this film.

RATING: **1/2(out of ****)

The PopFilter 2014 TV Challenge

Round One

GOTHAM

GOTHAM

vs

NCIS New Orleans - What Can We Expect

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS

 

As of this article I am contractually obligated to not talk about Gotham. We are just two days away from the debut of the brand new PopFilter Podcast, The Superhero Hour Hour, which is a show completely dedicated to comic book television. This will also most likely be the last chance I will ever get to discuss NCIS: New Orleans, so let’s shift our attention towards that.

 

When you have been watching and writing about television for as long as I have, you sort of have to come to grips with procedurals. They’re out there, they’re popular, and you can’t just write off an entire genre like that. That being said, I’ve developed some rules for what I, someone who hasn’t liked a procedural since elementary school, need from them:

1. A couple of cool fun facts turned into a plot.

2. A story that takes exactly 44 minutes to tell. Not 22 stretched to 44. Not 90 crammed into 44. A 44 minute story. It seems hard, but the professional television writers that work on procedurals are FUCKING PROFESSIONAL TELEVISION WRITERS.

3. A little bit of mystery. They all bow down to the almighty Procedural Formula, but if there’s maybe one or two things that surprise me I’ll be more tolerant.

4. No cheating.

 

If you think rule number two is hard, rule number four seems to be impossible. There is a rule on Pixar’s now-famous list of writing rules that explains that stories can cheat their characters into conflict, but they can’t cheat them out. The characters in procedurals are never actually in danger. Think about it. They stand around people who were in danger, but are now dead. And if they do find themselves in danger, there are no stakes because everyone always lives to see the reset at the end of the show. It’s all part of the formula, and I’m not begrudging them that. But the other half of the Pixar rule, regarding characters cheating themselves out of conflict, is constantly part of the formula and constantly bullshit.

The second scene of the new NCIS pilot involves the New Orleans team investigating a murder. The only evidence is the severed leg of an African-American man. The third scene involves one of Scott Bakula’s old navy buddies telling him that a navy soldier Bakula was mentoring is missing. We see Bakula remember that his protege was black, and then realize that that the leg he found EARLIER THAT MORNING was probably his.

If that’s not enough evidence, later on in the episode a random four-digit number sounds familiar to a different member of the NCIS team. It finally comes to her: pineapples. One of her ex-boyfriends was sexually into fruit salad (I shit you not), and that four-digit number is the code grocers use for pineapples. She remembers the four-digit codes of all fruit because of her ex-boyfriend. Fucking what the fucking fuck. If you are sexually turned on by watching people remember things, or fruit salad, then procedurals are the shows for you.

 NCIS: NO is so middling and benign that it won’t come close to factoring in to worst of the year lists; Mysteries of Laura is so much more painful than this. But that doesn’t make it good.

Tune in to the new podcast on Friday morning to hear Mike and I discuss Gotham and the new season of SHIELD. We’ll just call this a sneak preview: Congratulations, Gotham. Welcome to round 2.

– Ryan Haley

 

 

TOMORROW!!!

BLACK-ISH 

VS

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER!!!

 

 

#musicreview

#musicreview is back, bitches!!

This man scares me.

That’s right, Filterinos. I know it’s been a little while since you’ve gotten a good ol’ fashioned #musicreview and since I thought you should know what’s going on in the musical scene, here I am. Normally, this article focuses on an album or series of songs. Today, and just for you swell kids at home, I will be talking about Cheef Keef’s latest jam, “Wait” and the drill genre as a whole. Get ready; it’s a wild ride.

Hold on to your hats and glasses.

Apparently this Cheef Keef gentleman comes from a particular Chicago-based subset of hip-hop called “drill”. The best way to describe what these guys are doing is taking the hip-hop scene from L.A. in the early nineties and applying it to modern day Chicago. And while they have higher production values, the idea of bringing the real, gritty bitterness of a city to life through overtly violent and criminally minded lyrics is the same idea applied to a different city and time. Cheef Keef, the man of this particular hour, is one of the first and most prominent members of this subgenre to breakthrough with the mainstream in any way. When you listen to his stuff, it becomes obvious as to why.

Cheef Keef is considered a visionary in a relatively new sub set of a relatively new genre. This gives him the most insane amount of street cred any one person can have. And, like any good pioneer, he is trying to change the game as fast as he helped make it what it is. He is tending to veer away from the overt violence while maintaining the characteristic bleakness of the genre. Musically, he is also tending more towards trip hop and dream pop than anything else in the genre.

Also like a good pioneer, he has 7 axels and only 4 pounds of food left…

You may be asking yourself why any of this is important. Why does any of this shit matter? Well, as with any new thing, it seems like a complete and utter novelty. This seems like something that should be going away as quickly as it came. But, like rock n’ roll, rap, and boy bands before it, this is a trend that is more powerful and culturally significant than you could ever imagine. And if you are still asking me why any of the shit is getting precious #musicreview space, the answer is simple: this music is important.

This is important.

Are you even old enough to remember grunge? I almost am, and what I find the most fascinating about the genre is its ability to be a bridge and not much else. There aren’t a lot of grunge acts on the market today but the role that those bands played in taking us from hair metal to a more straightforward brand of rock n’ roll cannot be overstated. And so it is with drill. As rap and hip-hop in general have increased their market share, grown and evolved, drill is a necessary answer to rappers that still insist on telling everyone how great it is to be rich and famous. I get it. It’s great. What else ya got?

Nirvana, circa 1992.

 

In the world of drill, they seem to have a lot more to offer. It isn’t ever going to be easy to listen to Good Kid Maad City, but the musical style makes the coarse realism of what’s going on in L.A. a little easier to swallow. Drill comes at you with warts and all. There is not metaphor, simile or clever word play. All you have is an angry person telling you how much harder they have it than everyone else. And while that might sound bleak and uninteresting, there are few things in the world more passionate than that.

I guess this is where I should talk about the song “Wait”, as I promised you I would. The song itself isn’t the most engaging but the way that one man can sound like 15 is incredible. Add that to the fact that an oversaturation of auto tune makes everyone in the genre sound like Stephen Hawking (and it works!) and you have yourself an incredibly difficult song to process. Listening to it for the fifth time gives you little more than answers, both for the song and for the genre. But, if you can find a way to give it your undivided attention, you might realize how rebellious and cerebral all of this shit is.
Or you might not. I don’t care. I’m just leading you beautiful horses to water. What you do with it once you get there is up to you.

 

With Love,

Jason R. Noble

The Popfilter 2014 TV Challenge

Round One

FOREVER

_1400004135

VS

Scorpion - New Key Art 13-8-14 [www.imagesplitter.net]

SCORPION

You can see the bracket at challonge.com/popfilter

 

Here’s the debate about television: instead of it being this art form that is presented to an audience for sheer entertainment value, it is actually a mirror held up to the general public that reflects our mores and values–who we are as a people in this place, in this time. The mirror that Forever and Scorpion hold up to society is that the general public is a bunch of mouth-breathing dummies who can’t be trusted with sharp scissors let alone anything important. Each show relies on the general public thinking of genius as a superpower that grants those who have it with ESP. They both use genius the way computers are often used in storytelling; they assume people won’t question something beyond their understanding. So they so they use a character’s “genius” abilities to quickly push through any part of the plot they can’t explain through regular exposition. These TV geniuses make somersaults in logic that I’m just suppose to except because I’m a normie. It’s insulting and it’s lazy.

Scorpion is about a group of social-outcast geniuses that hang out with a beautiful waitress who helps normalize them. Wait, no, that’s Big Bang Theory. Scorpion is about a group of social-outcast geniuses who hire a beautiful waitress who helps normalize them. There it is. The geniuses in Scorpion look and act like hipsters. Do you know why everyone hates hipsters? It’s because they are nerd posers. Ever since Rivers Cuomo started strumming his guitar and signing about Buddy Holly and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started raking in billions, nerds have been it in pop culture. So much so that we have created a term for people who are inauthentically nerdy, a term that has the prefix “hip,” no less. That being said, there is a lot that is really inauthentic about this show. It suppose to be about smart people (Big Bang Theory) but requires you to be stupid in order to watch it. (BIG BANG THEORY!) The show attempts to create this aura of mystery around its characters but it doesn’t understand the culture of the people its suppose to be about. By the end it degenerates into a Michael Bay-esque action sequence. Yikes guys, just yikes.

Forever is about a doctor who cannot die and is inexplicably a genius who teams up with a pretty lady cop to solve a crime. The show is part Sherlock Holmes, part Dr. Who, part NCIS and all stupid.  The pilot is all over the place. Some scenes forget elements of the plot established in earlier scenes. Like why does she take him with her to question a person of interest if he is her number one suspect? That’s not exactly protocol. Ioan Gruffudd, who plays Dr. Henry Morgan, is disgustingly smug, but the director appears to be completely in love with him. The discrepancy is too much; it rips open a black hole in the universe whose gravity is so strong that no charisma can escape.

Both shows are garbage. The difference in how much is negligible. But we have to pick a winner so screw it. Scorpion moves on to the next round. Next time Ryan will present his case for

GOTHAM VS NCIS NEW ORLEANS

-Stephanie Rose

The PopFilter 2014 TV Challenge

Round One


mr-pickles-poster

MR. PICKLES

VS

MADAM SECRETARY

MADAM

 

SEE THE BRACKET AT challonge.com/popfilter

Ahhh…fall is back. When the leaves change color, children are buying new stencil sets for their stencil classes, and a nation of television watchers mildly prays for mediocrity. Please, oh please, at least just give us mediocrity.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Greatest Event in Television History, Moral Orel, NTSF: SD: SUV, Rick and Morty, Childrens’ Hospital, The Eric Andre Show, Metalocalypse, Newsreaders, The Venture Bros. This is just a small sampling of the shows that the PopFilter staff watches and recommends wholeheartedly. I’m writing this as proof that there’s no anti-Adult Swim agenda here, despite the fact that they have had two shows trounced by us in the last couple of days. I don’t think that it simply boils down to the fact that Adult Swim has an audience they are looking for, and I don’t fit in it. I think it’s even simpler, and much more accurate, to say that Adult Swim is capable of hitting game winning home runs, but when they swing and miss, everyone in the stadium gets windburn.

Mr. Pickles is the story of a dog who has the power of Satan. Or something. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that someone thought that that premise was so brilliant that there was no need for jokes or coherent storytelling. As you watch this dog run around fucking with the townspeople – people so horrible they deserve everything this dog can throw at them and more – you begin to wonder if you’re one of the townspeople, and the way that Mr Pickles is fucking with you is by making you watch this show.

And then we have that sweet, sweet blast of mediocrity we were praying for. Madam Secretary is everything you’ve come to kind of know and barely like in a CBS drama. It’s simple, it’s formulaic, and it’s just barely entertaining enough to make you say “I’ll never watch this again,” but in a way that you’re not upset about. This makes casting Tea Leoni as the titular secretary one of the most ingenious moves of the fall. Tea Leoni is no one’s favorite actress, but they are never sorry to see her. They don’t mind that her range is small, or it sometimes feels like she isn’t trying, because she’s just naturally talented enough. She comes in, does her job, and no one complains or falls in love.*

 

*All of these things also describe Madam Secretary, in case you were wondering.

 

I’d be surprised if Madam Secretary has the chops to make it out of round two, but in a first round filled with demonic dog shit, she wins in a landslide.

 

NEXT UP:

FOREVER VS SCORPION