What We’re Watching Friday Through Sunday

I’ve covered Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and now here’s the rest of the week. Our weekend viewing isn’t nearly as regular as the rest of the week, but I figured there’s no problem in being complete.

FRIDAY10:00pm – THE SOUP (E)
I absolutely love The Soup and have for years now, even back in the Talk Soup days. No one one television is more honest than Joel McHale, though Joan Rivers on Fashion Police which follows the soup at 10:30pm is doing her fair share of celebrity skewering nowadays. The pair actually make for a pretty damn refreshing hour of television and more laughs than whole blocks on other networks.

SATURDAYSaturday’s a football day. I’m a big Notre Dame fan and luckily their games are usually played on NBC or one of the other major networks so I don’t miss too many games. One of the strange things about living in New York is that, since there’s no real big college teams around here, they show games from all over, which is great. I’ll get to the negative side of this coin in Sunday’s section. 11:30pm – SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC)
I am a long time and die-hard SNL fan, so I watch whenever I can. Consider our social lives have slowed down lately, we’ve been able to catch most of this season’s episodes, though we did miss Emma Stone and John Hamm’s recent ones. I think the episodes have been pretty damn funny lately and think the series is on a significant upswing so it’s a good time to watch.

SUNDAYWhile the area I live in offers a bevy of college football options, you’re stuck with basically two teams when it comes to the NFL, the damn Jets and Giants. Blech. Being a Steelers fan, none of that interests me. Even though Pittsburgh is just a few hours’ drive from where I live, I’ve only been able to watch two or three games all season. You’d think the local TV networks which service the biggest city in the world along with people from the outlying areas and also happen to stretch into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut would have a little bit more varied viewing options. I know there’s a problems with NFL Network and licensing and all that, but come on, I’ve seen more tennis and yachting competitions advertised on certain days than football games. 8:00pm – AMAZING RACE (CBS)
The missus and I kind of stumbled onto Amazing Race because there wasn’t a whole lot else to watch on Sundays. We have fun watching the couples/pairs trying to work together while running all over the world. Fun stuff. I don’t really have a problem with The Simpsons, but can’t get into any of the other shows around it, which puts us at kind of a weird places as far as having something to watch. With football, Amazing Race generally gets pushed back which, now that baseball season is over, will allow us to watch both. Win win!10:00pm – WALKING DEAD (AMC)
Though I didn’t really like the first episode, I’ll come back for at least a few more of the first season’s six episodes. I’m hoping the next few episodes are a little tighter and more interesting, but we’ll see. If not, I’m sure there’s some movies coming up I’ll want to watch.

So that’s about it for our regular viewing. Sometimes I watch Jimmy Fallon’s show, though watching two horror movies a day during October got me out of that habit. I’m really looking forward to Conan coming back on Monday and will give that show a look on a fairly regular basis.

What We’re Watching: Monday & Tuesday

I find myself with a strange feeling this TV season: a lack of interest. Sure, I’ve got favorite shows I like tuning in to, but it feels like I’ve got a lot less of them to look forward to, possibly because Lost is gone. There wasn’t another show in the history of my television watching career that engrossed me as much as that one and got me so excited about an hour of TV. Maybe it’s because most of the new shows aren’t so good. Here’s the break down for the first section of the week as far as regular viewings go.

For all the years I’ve been in New York, I’ve been looking around for a good syndicated block of reruns between 6 and 8 that would stay consistent and, for the most part, I’ve been unsuccessful. That is until recently. VH1 scored Saturday Night Live reruns from the 90s which have been a lot of fun to watch, even when I’m reminded that that was an era when skits tended to run WAY too long. It’s still fun to see a lot of today’s big stars and musical acts on the show both in the cast and as hosts. It’s even more fun to see long forgotten folks like Finese Mitchel and Sysqo perform. That takes care of the 6 to 7 block and then we bounce over to a local station called My9 which runs How I Met Your Mother. The only problem I foresee is that, with only a few season under its belt, I’ll be rewatching these episodes over and over again.

MONDAY

8:00pm – HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
I’ve already gone on record with the potential problems I see with HIMYM, but I still enjoy this show better than most of the others I watch on a weekly basis. I’ve grown to really enjoy these characters, but I still think there needs to start being some resolution to the overhanging “mysteries” or else this one could start feeling a little tedious. Like I said though, great cast and still one of my favorite, most looked-forward-to shows.

8:30pm – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS)
Rules of Engagement is a show we only started watching because it was on right after HIMYM and nothing else was on, but I’ve actually come to enjoy it. Sure, it’s a jokier type of sitcom with lots of jokes being tossed around that aren’t hilarious, but funny enough to get a laugh. I like seeing Patrick Warburton and David Spade doing their things, plus I find the dumb neighbor/friend guy oddly charming. I’m in it with this series, though if something more interesting came on I think we’d jump ship in favor of that. 

9:00pm – THE EVENT (NBC)
AS regular readers might remember, I wasn’t really all that into The Event when it premiered. I’m even less so now and barely still pay attention while the missus watches. I think she’s getting pretty sick of it too. I spent way too many episodes wanting to slap Jason Ritter for saying “My girlfriend!” so much that I don’t think we can ever be okay again (at least not on this show). I appreciate that they’re trying to move things along at a faster clip, but I just do not care about any of these people or what’s going on. I have the vaguest interest in what’s happening with these supposed aliens (though my money’s on dimensional or time travelers), but I could really just look it up in Wiki at some future date and feel satisfied. Probably moreso because I wouldn’t be wasting my time watching a lackluster Lost wannabe. 

10:00pm – CASTLE (ABC)
I almost feel bad for not liking Castle more. I really like the cast and the dynamics of the characters, but it just feels so hacky lately. From the wacky set-ups for crimes this season (steampunk AND time travel in one episode?!) to the increasingly formulaic plot, I’m getting worn down. How many times can they run across a suspect who lies so well that they completely buy his story and move on only to come back to him or her later in the episode to realize he or she is really the killer? It’s boring and, personally, I expect more from a show with Nathan Fillion on it. Hopefully this one will pick up because the missus still LOVES it, while I just keep thinking about how much better Bones is and wishing Netflix would send the first disc of last season already so we can start the long road to catching up.

TUESDAY

8:00pm – GLEE (Fox)
This one’s completely because the missus likes the show. She’s a big fan of musicals and show tunes and whatnot, so this is right up her alley, which is unfortunate, because I find it to be one of the most wildly inconsistent, sloppy and increasingly gross shows around. Anyone else see the Rocky Horror episode tonight where the teacher actually considered and planned on dressing up in gold shorts and performing a sexually charged number with one of his students? Sure he practiced with the hot red head teacher, but he was actually planning on jumping in and doing that. He’s just one of the many headache-inducing characters on a show filled with them. I’ve heard the argument made that you’re not supposed to expect anything from Glee but high school drama and musical numbers, but I call bullshit on that. The very basis of ongoing fiction of any kind is based in consistent characterization and this show lacks it for the most part. However, I do love Brittany’s throwaway lines. Those are just solid and sound like they’re being written by someone from 30 Rock.

9:00pm – RAISING HOPE (Fox)
I can’t remember the last time I watched this much Fox programming on a single night, but I find myself really liking Raising Hope. It’s clear the show was created by the brains behind My Name Is Earl as both showcase small town folks without much money doing what they can to get by. Hope revolves around a guy discovering his one night stand turned out to not only be a serial killer on death row, but also pregnant with his child. Now he’s raising the kid with his parents who had him at a really young age (his dad looks about the same age as him at times) and his mom’s grandma played by Cloris Leachman. Hope can be a little too weird and a little too jokey at times, but I think it’s starting to hit its stride. Plus, the Halloween episode featured homemade Batman and Robin costumes, so bonus points for that.

9:3opm – RUNNING WILDE (Fox)
Running Wilde, on the other hand, is not a show I’m enjoying much and I’m starting to get the feeling I’m not the only one as Fox decided to run two episodes of Raising Hope tonight instead of one of each, like usual. I am a huge Arrested Development fan, so I should like this show with its use of Will Arnett, David Cross and that fact that it was co-created by Mitchell Hurwitz, but Wilde suffers from two afflictions. First off, it’s not very easy to jump into. We missed the first episode and had trouble figuring out what the relationship between Arnett and the still-hot Keri Russell was. That’s not a good thing for a new show and something that AD suffered from (I still have trouble describing it to friends who missed out the first time around). The other problem is that it just feels like a rehash of old material. Arnett’s playing GOB from AD, Russell feels like Felicity though I never watched that show, plus the premise is a more exaggerated version of Dharma & Greg without the love. I’ll be curious to see what Fox replaces this show with if it does get the axe.

10:00pm – PARENTHOOD (NBC)
Parenthood continues to be one of the best written, most solid shows on television. I’d honestly put it up there with Mad Men. There’s a lot more in Mad Men considering it’s a period piece, but like that show, the Parenthood creators do an amazing job of juggling a small army of fast talking characters, giving each their moments to shine and great lines. Great writing mixed with a great cast makes for great TV, but for some reason I don’t find myself looking forward to this show on a regular basis. I’m happy when it’s on, but never excited for it. I wonder if that’s because it’s a drama and not an action show. I’ll have to think about that. I’ll be back on Thursday with more shows I’m watching. What are you viewing on Monday and Tuesday?

Drive-In Double Feature: Going The Distance & The Other Guys (2010)

The missus and I have been wanting to head to the Warwick Drive-In all summer, but the pairings of movies have either been uninteresting or we’ve either been out of town on good weekends. See, they’ve got three screens set up and each one shows two movies. We had never been to this drive-in, but we had a great time when we went last night to see Going The Distance and The Other Guys. As an added bonus, I could see the screen showing Expendables and kept peeping the awesome action scenes while listening to Other Guys.

Before getting into my review of Going The Distance, which I dug, doesn’t that not look like Drew Barrymore in the poster to the left? It’s kind of unsettling. Otherwise, I dig the poster.

Anyway, the movie’s about Barrymore and Justin Long a pair that meet in Brooklyn’s Barcade (one of the few hip places I’ve been in the city, though I could barely handle the overabundance of hipsters, go fig), but the problem is that Barrymore is an intern at a NYC paper and will be heading back to California in a few weeks. They don’t plan on making a big deal of their relationship, but find that they really dig each other and give the long distance relationship thing a shot.

Sounds kind of formulaic, right? Yeah, it kind of is. Both Long and Barrymore have sexy friends and coworkers of the opposite sex who make the partner jealous. But, even with all of that, I thought the movie was surprisingly funny. I didn’t realize it was rated R and they really go with it, having the usually disgustingly saccharine Barrymore dropping F bombs and drunkenly telling a huge biker to suck her dick. So, I went in expecting yet another Barrymore romantic comedy with Long’s awkward comedic stylings (which I like for the most part), but with the inclusion of Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as Long’s friends and Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan (who is the only comedian in recent memory to make me laugh so hard I cried) as Barrymore’s sister and brother in law there’s a lot of funny moments going on like when Day, Long’s roommate, starts DJing Barrymore and Long’s first hookup and they’re both okay with it. Those unexpectedly funny moments made me laugh.

The problem with some of those moments and others where they seem to be letting Sydeikis or Applegate riff is that the movie feels about 10 minutes too long which is fair considering it’s 102 minutes. I’m a strong proponent of comedies not exceeding the magic 90-minute marker. Instead of cutting the funny bits, though, I would have just gotten rid of Applegate’s sexy British work friend who winds up disappearing after an awkward moment between the two when Barrymore gets super drunk. All in all, though, I was surprised at how funny the movie was and how much I didn’t mind the tropes of the romantic comedy genre shown by some legitimately funny actors and actresses.

I’m not a huge fan of writer/director Adam McKay’s but I’m getting there. Anchroman befuddled me when I first watched it, but I think that’s because I didn’t know what to expect and definitely wasn’t thinking it would be a life-like cartoon. Talladega Nights and Stepbrothers were pretty good, but didn’t blow me away, however, I really loved the shorts he did with his daughter Pearl “The Landlord” and the like. Plus, he wrote tons of sketches for SNL that I’m sure I loved during his long tenure on the show where he met up with Will Ferrell, the star of all the aforementioned movies and videos.

The Other Guys is about two low-men-on-the-totem-pole cops played by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg who go after a low level criminal which winds up being a huge deal, referencing many of the financial problems we’ve seen in this country over the past few years. The plot reminds me of a lot of 80s and 90s buddy cop action movies I like, which is fun because they reference that genre by featuring the Rock and Sam Jackson as your action-packed cops.

I was glad to see Ferrell not playing his usual manchild character. Sure, he’s cartoony, but this time around he’s more buttoned up, but has a dark side. Meanwhile, Wahlberg plays the caricature of the pent-up cop perfectly. You’ve also got actors like Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan and Eva Mendes doing great, funny work in the movie that makes it a lot of fun to watch. There’s lots of silliness going on here, but I think it’s the most grounded movie that McKay and Ferrell have made, which would probably also make it the most accessible (having Wahlberg and Mendes can’t hurt either). I dug this movie and appreciated that I could watch the action scenes in Expendables and not miss any plot points. Speaking of action scenes, the one in the beginning of Other Guys features the Rock and Sam Jackson in a car chase that gets stuck in a double decker bus. It’s awesome.

Both movies were set in New York, so it was fun looking for the few locales I’m familiar with. The two movies also had some interesting connections for Six Degrees fans: Rob Riggle appears in both as an asshole and both feature The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, a driving range that overlooks the Hudson River. I’ve never been there and didn’t even know it existed until I saw Long, Sudeikis and Day hitting balls there in the first movie and then a helicopter landing on it in the second. Fun stuff!

The drive-in experience was a lot of fun. We took the missus’ car which has a hatchback and built ourselves a nice little nest in the back. I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be lying in the back, but it was pretty great and the weather was perfect. The food we bought there wasn’t too bad, but the snacks we brought in were kind of unnecessarily and I wound up with a stomach ache (combining hamburgers, chewie Jolly Ranchers, soda and Kit Kats is not the best idea). Hopefully we can get a few more double features in before the end of the season! Also, I think I might have seen a UFO!

Quick Movie Review: Foul Play (1978)

I added this flick to my Instant Netflix queue for one reason: it’s a Chevy Chase movie I hadn’t seen. Sure, there’s probably lots of his movies I haven’t seen, but this is vintage Chevy from right after he left Saturday Night Live and a few years before Caddyshack and Fletch. Plus, Goldie Hawn!

As it turns out, though, this isn’t really Chevy’s movie. He’s in the last quarter or so of it, but the plot revolves around Hawn, who finds herself with a series of assassins after her because of a chance encounter with another killer. The stranger hands her a pack of smokes which she just assumes are regular cigarettes, but they actually contain some kind of secret plans. It’s your basic case of mistaken identity kind of a movie, but even though the plot is familiar there was something about Hawn being the one in the role that made things feel a little more tense.

Maybe it’s because you usually see a man in this kind of part and the Cro-Magnon part of my brain wants to KEEP…GIRL…SAFE. There’s also plenty of scenes with her trying to tell people what’s going on and no one believes her either because the evidence is no longer there (the guy who gave her the smokes dies in a movie theater, but while she runs out to tell the manager, someone moves the body) or because the whole thing just sounds so crazy (a dwarf might be after her and a huge albino definitely is). Those kinds of stories always give me the heebee jeebies. Or maybe it was the few drinks I had while watching.

Anyway, I really dug the flick for its weirdness and fantastic cast. In addition to Chase and Hawn, Dudley Moore pops up and turns out to have one of the swankiest and skankiest bachelor pads on film (he’s got a blow-up doll filled with helium), Brian Dennehey plays–here’s a shocker–a cop and Burgess Meredith plays Hawn’s snake-loving, kung-fu-practicing neighbor.

What I love about the movie is how offbeat it is. I went in thinking it would be some kind of romantic comedy. Then some serious stuff starts happening with people trying to hurt or kill Hawn. But then she winds up with Moore and things get amazingly ridiculous. After that it gets serious for moments, but never loses it’s quirky, funny charm. Even Chase doesn’t come off in his usual slick guy mode early on in the film when Hawn basically shoots down his Fletch routine. In the end, the flick comes together in a pretty confusing plot that oddly reminded me of one of the Naked Gun flicks, though I can’t remember which one it was (it’s been a while since I saw those movies).

For once a movie not matching up to my expectations (low or nonexistent as they might have been) was actually a pleasant surprise that resulted in a fun, quirky movie I recommend to my fellow Instant Netflix users looking for a fun, offbeat comedy/mystery/adventure.

Did You Know Kristen Wiig Was On The Joe Schmo Show

This should come as no shock to anyone who reads the blog on a regular basis, but I’m a big fan of reality television. So, when I was in college in 2003 and I heard about Spike’s The Joe Schmo Show which was a fake reality show built around tricking one guy into thinking the whole thing is real, I thought it sounded rad. It really helped that Matt, the mark, turned out to be an incredibly nice guy who happened to remind me of my buddy Jacob who I watched the show with every week (along with Real World Vegas). It was cool because there was all this tension around whether Matt would figure out everything was a ruse or not, which was a possibility every week as the actors were doing all kinds of improv and trying to remember their stories.

Well, Spike is replaying the show today which is awesome and I was surprised to see that Kristen Wiig was one of the fake contestants! I’m not a huge fan of Wiig on SNL because I think her and her writers are getting a little lazy and only creating one trick pony characters for her (I hate Gilly with a firey passion), but dig her in movies like Knocked Up and she was great in Whip It. It’s always fun seeing a star in her early days, the funny thing is that she’s basically playing the kind of “whacky aunt” character she’s become famous for on SNL. This almost makes me want to not leave the house and just watch the whole season (it’s only 9 episodes).

UPDATE 1: Wiig would go on to get sent to the hospital in a sumo game where Matt knocked her on her ass. Her character left the show as part of a deal related to the prize Matt gave her for accidentally hurting her. Dr. Pat got some cash, voluntarily left and no one was sent home.

UPDATE 2: The dude playing the jerk character named Hutch was played by David Hornsby who would go on to play Rickety Cricket in Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Drew in Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem.

UPDATE 3: Series writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese would go on to write Zombieland as a TV show which eventually got turned into a movie. The pair is working on a Deadpool script. Reese apparently also did “additional screenplay material” on Monsters Inc. and wrote Cruel Intentions 3.

Self Serving Links

Best LolCat ever. Anyway, I’ve been really bad about posting links lately, so here’s a flood of them.

WTF Star Wars?! continues to be one of the most fun things I’ve written in a long time and the daily work is much appreciated. But that’s not all I’ve been working on for The Goods. I reviewed Superf*ckers and Super Spy The Lost Dossiers and did a series of lists including Iron Man Action Figures and Toys We Want To See, Essential Saturday Night Live Movies and The Best Star Wars Alien Action Figures.

Of course, the fine folks at Marvel have also been keeping me sufficiently busy with stories about Jeff Parker’s new Agents of Atlas series, the best Iron Man video game appearances, my buddy Jim McCann talking about Hawkeye & Mockingbird, Karl Kesel talking about his five favorite Avengers, colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser talking about her exclusive Marvel contract and the many costumes of Captain America.

My 9 Useful Items for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse list went up on Topless Robot. Start shopping now!

And, as always, my Maxim TV column keeps chugging along. Here’s this week’s.

Oh, also, ToyFare #156 is on stands now. I wrote a lot of that bad boy, from the Incoming section to the DC Direct Arkham Asylum and ToyFare Hall of Fame features.

Any Frank Zappa Suggestions?

I was watching some episodes of Saturday Night Live from the second season DVD set and was completely mesmerized by the performances, mostly the above “I Am The Slime.” I know Zappa’s got a crazy number of records, but can anyone tell me a good place to start? If not, definitely enjoy the videos. I can’t remember another musical performance on SNL that did this much, from having Don Pardo participate to the goo running down the monitors. Inspired!