Friday, December 7, 2012

YES, BUT CAN HE PLAY THE MUSIC AND LIGHT THE LIGHTS?  Apparently, none of the human cast for The Muppets will return for the sequel, but your new human lead?  Emmy winner Ty Burrell (after negotiations with Christoph Waltz fell through) will play an Interpol inspector investigating something the Muppets are doing.
I SAVED LEAP DAY! AND CONNECTED WITH MY SON! AND SOLVED A BIG CASE OF MURDER!  The Writers Guild of America has announced its nominations for the best of television in 2012, with separate honors for comedy and drama, for new series and returning series, and for episodes of particular note.  Breaking Bad has 4/6 of the dramatic episode nominations (with another going to the most infuriating episode of Mad Men); Modern Family 3/6 of the comedic.
MY SISTER IS WAITING FOR US IN CHINA. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO HER IF WE DON'T GET HER? Vulture notes the highlights of 2012 in hatewatching: Smash, The Newsroom, The Killing, and Gallery Girls.
#FIRSTWORLDPROBLEMS DESK: Look--I love Fandango--it's an easy way to check not only what's showing at local theatres but also to know whether things are selling out before I make plans.  However, when a movie is showing in multiple formats, there is no way to get all showtimes in all formats displayed on one page, as Fandango considers each format a separate film.  For instance, The Hobbit is showing in four formats in the NYC area next week--2D, 3D, IMAX 3D, and High Frame Rate 3D (it's also apparently showing in IMAX 2D in some markets, though not in NYC)--that means I have to look at each format's listings separately or browse by theatre to get a full list of showtimes.  Any reason they can't fix this?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

DEAR NFL NETWORK: I like football, Cee-Lo Green, and the Ramones. Cee-Lo Green singing football-related words (lyrics, whatever their precise aesthetic definition, are better than this) over the music to Blitzkrieg Bop is nonetheless utterly -- I emphasize: UTTERLY -- unappealing. If you must have Thursday Night Football intro music, please do better. If you're just doing this reflexively because the broadcast networks do it on Monday and Sunday nights (and you're still kind of figuring this whole thing out after seven years) please consider doing something else instead.
A BANKRUPT LOUDMOUTH AND CHILD SUPPORT CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR:  Mike Tanier evaluates Warren Sapp and the other 14 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

added from the chronic brain trauma desk:  Roger Goodell is floating an idea to eliminate kickoffs by giving the kicking team a "4th and 15" from its own 30, effectively replacing a kickoff with a punt and an onside kick with a normal offensive formation from 4th and 15 (or fake-punting). It is weird. It would change the game significantly.  But if this is what the research shows might lead to a safer game, it has to be considered.
THE DIRECTOR INITIALLY THOUGHT IT HAD A "NINETY-FIVE PERCENT CHANCE OF BEING AWFUL":  And yet Rocky das Musical is a hit in Germany, and the Stallone adaptation may come to the States. Here's a trailer.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I WANT THE TINY DOG TO GO WITH THE STATUETTE: From a quick spin, looks like Frank Ocean, the Black Keys, and fun. dominated the Grammy nominations, but a few other things of note:
  • Even more departure than usual between Record of the Year (for the recording artist) and Song of the Year (for the songwriter) than usual, with only "Stronger" and "We Are Young" making both categories.  Interestingly, the Grammys split on teen pop confections, giving a Record nod to "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" but a Song nod to "Call Me Maybe."
  • Carly Rae Jepsen does not get into the Best New Artist field, which pits fun. and Frank Ocean against one another.  Indeed, the Canadian Cutie is up only for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance (which interestingly is 5 women--used to be separate male/female categories).
  • EGOT Watch--Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Matthew Broderick (principal soloists on nominated cast albums), Ellen DeGeneres (spoken word), and Bret McKenzie (for Man or Muppet, up against two Hunger Games songs and Let Me Be Your Star)
  • Because of the Grammys' bizarre rules, the album Watch The Throne was eligible last year, while tracks on it are eligible this year--"No Church In The Wild" and "N****s In Paris" both rack up in the rap category.
  • Interestingly, I think we have our first nominee for score from a video game, with Journey (a PS3 network game) getting nominated alongside Tintin, Dark Knight Rises, and Hugo.
  • Blanked?  Justin Bieber.
PERHAPS THE MOST EVEN NUMBER OF ALL: The BBC would like to remind you that zero is an even number.
MIKE AIN'T MIKE NO MORE:  Damn you, Pelecanos.

We enter "That's Got His Own" (see also Ariano) understanding that bad things are going to happen -- just as the people of Baltimore are trapped in systems which resist sweeping change and only allow for tiny nuggets of hope and progress, so too does The Wire seem trapped in a dramaturgical system in which nothing can stop cruel outcomes in the penultimate episode of a season.

I was about to say "cruel fates," but it wasn't fate. Michael had choices, even at the end of this episode when it came to staying by Cutty's side or showing allegiance to his crew. Randy, as Alan details, has had a score of bad things go badly for him, and now it's up to him to decide whether to give up on the system based on how he's been let down, his you gonna look out for me? rant every bit as devastating as Dee's where the fuck is Wallace? in season one. Dukie,with no stable home, and no more Prezbo do to his laundry? It's hard seeing hope for him, and as the assistant principal notes there are many more Dukies in Prezbo's teaching career to come next.

And then there's Namond, raised in the most stable and middle-class of environments, but with the worst values being impressed upon him by his mother. Is it because he grew up more comfortably that he resists the gangster ethic? Is it because of Bunny? Who knows? But the kid has a chance ... for what, I don't know. What happens when he's no longer in Bunny's class?

Other things happened too: Carcetti's shit-eating tour continued in Annapolis; Lester worked the politics so he can now open up the vacants; Herc took his punishment like a man (just as De'Londa said Wee-Bey did);  Omar has his most audacious heist yet (love the cameo from The Greek's crew); and Bubbs ... okay, kinda saw that coming. But damn you, Pelecanos.
NOT SO PRECIOUSSSSS: It seems that early reaction to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been rather mixed, with particularly mixed reaction to the high frame rate version that some theatres will present.  Given that, studios seem to have made a rash decision to pile up all their big releases for from the 19th-25th.  This weekend, we have only the terrible-looking Gerard Butler soccer movie and next weekend only The Hobbit as a new wide release.  In contrast, between December 19 and 25, we have SEVEN new wide releases, plus several interesting limited releases for Oscar play--Zero Dark Thirty, The Impossible, Not Fade Away--and, I'm assuming, further expansion of a few other Oscar hopefuls (most notably, Silver Linings Playbook).  Admittedly, I'm still behind (likely fare this weekend is Lincoln and perhaps a trip to Bring It On: The Musical before it closes), but isn't there room here?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A GLASS OF BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM, TOPPED OFF WITH A SHOT OF JAMESON, DROPPED INTACT INTO A PITCHER OF GUINNESS STOUT:  God bless the Fourth Estate; the DN's Molly Eichel tracked down the guy who completed the Irish Bus Bomb at the P&P Club from the end of Anthony Bourdain's Layover trip to Philly. The episode is a wonderful valentine to what Bourdain calls "a town with a low tolerance for bullshit and a whole lot of heart," and I commend it to you all.
DOWN BY THE RIVER WHERE IT'S WARM AND GREEN:  It looks like starting next season, the NBA franchise in Louisiana will abandon its once-buzzworthy nickname from its Charlotte days to become the New Orleans Pelicans. Runner-up appellations included "Krewe" and "Brass".
BECAUSE SKATING WITH CELEBRITIES WAS ALREADY DONE: Because of several "13 and out" shows (Private Practice, 666 Park Avenue, Last Resort), as well as the need to fill between cycles of Dancing With People You Might Be Vaguely Familiar With, ABC has a bunch of midseason stuff.  Of particular note:
  • Despite the floppage of Last Resort ratings-wise, ABC is sticking the similarly-themed Anthony Edwards-led conspiracy thriller Zero Hour into the Thursday leadoff spot, where it will assuredly be massacred by the mixture of Idol and Big Bang Theory.
  • Between-Dancing-cycle fillers on Tuesday include what looks like a Top Chef-type competition (with hosts Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson) and Celebrity Diving, which is exactly what it sounds like.
  • Suburgatory, which has had a dynamite second season, loses the plum post-Modern Family slot in April to a Sarah Chalke sitcom.
Good news is that it looks like Happy Endings isn't being touched--I'd been afraid that its low ratings, it might get yanked early.
FAMILIAR QUOTATIONS: Vulture is already in full-steam year-end wrap-up mode, and one of their features is a list of pop culture quotes of the year which covers film, TV, and music.  Sadly, it contains a Zero Dark Thirty semi-spoiler (apparently a memorable Jessica Chastain line, which I can guess the context for, despite not having seen the movie), but it's hard to find flaw with a list that manages to include both Jesse Pinkman shouting about magnets and Tony Stark on Middle Eastern food.
IT WILL NOT BE BETTER THAN BEFORE:  If Christine McVie is not involved, does it really count as a Fleetwood Mac reunion tour?

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'M GOING TO PIG OUT ON ALL I CAN GET FROM UCLA:  Now enrolled as a freshman, Justine Bateman is not receiving satisfaction when her fellow calculus students keep yammering in class.
THE WINTER OF OUR CONTENT: January season premieres: Justified, Cougar Town, Community, Downton Abbey, Girls, plus that singing show. Have Januaries always been this way, or is saving the good stuff for winter a new thing?

Unrelatedly, I just saw on the HBO web site that they're doing a (mini?) series of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I kind of wish I could sit in on that pitch meeting: "well, it's kind of like a road movie with Henry Rollins and Thor's dad ..."
KEEP ON PUSHING:  Sports Illustrated has named Lebron James as its 2012 Sportsman of the Year. It'll sell more magazines than a Usain Bolt cover would have, which is the only other name which immediately comes to mind, but it's hard to complain about this choice.
WHEN THE LEGEND BECOMES FACT, PRINT THE LEGEND:  Having finally seen Argo, I strongly recommend it on its own terms, but with a big caveat. Lord knows I will love any movie set in 1980 which puts a 2-XL into a kid's bedroom, but there are limits. Spoilers after the break: