Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Movie Review: The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

May 16, 2015 5 comments

henry 2 thirds

This post is part of the My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon in celebration of National Classic Movie Day (May 16th). Click here to view the schedule listing all the great posts in this blogathon.

After finishing both the Wolf Hall miniseries on PBS, and the two books from which it was adapted (Booker Prize winners both, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel), which I read pretty much in tandem with, or just ahead of, the miniseries, I decided to really overwhelm myself with some Tudor mythology. I rewatched the fantastic 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII (directed by Alexander Korda). Other interested parties should know that, in addition to being on DVD, the film streams at Hulu (with a Hulu Plus subscription) and for absolute free at

The movie is the story of a former king of England, Henry VIII, the one we know had six wives in succession. This movie opens on the day of death of Anne Boleyn, wife #2, and continues through wife #6, showing how the different women drifted in and out of Henry’s life, how they pleased and disappointed him in their own unique ways, and how Henry, powerful as he was, never managed to marry a good woman and keep her. I love this movie, because I’m completely in the bag for any story set amidst the Tudors, especially the larger-than-life Henry and his iconic daughter Elizabeth I (who makes only small cameos in this film). (Well, that’s why we needed Cate Blanchett.)

The film is overall a bit sunnier in appearance than more modern palace intrigue films; the vogue now is to film inside cramped spaces lit by a single candle so everyone and everything is in shadow and we can understand how brutal it all was. The action is mostly concentrated inside, so we don’t get any jousts, though there are choreographed dances and a wrestling match. The relationships are the feature and the draw. But further, there is something odd and beautiful in the narrative structure that even after this, my third or perhaps fourth watch, I can’t quite put my finger on.

The story unspools strangely. The first scene (after the titles which give the viewer a brief orientation in Henry’s marital history) is an unlikely one: a gaggle of women, seamstresses or embroiderers, giggling over Henry’s bed and speculating what it must be like to sleep with a king. A double-edged sword it is, really, as indicated by this particular, a day when Anne Boleyn will be executed for treason, and when, once the death is verified, Jane Seymour will marry into her place. Being married to a powerful man means also being vulnerable to the man’s power.

In the first few minutes, we also get to meet the townies who are settling into the bleachers, primed and ready to watch Boleyn’s death, and an English and a French executioner posturing over who is more qualified to behead a queen. Then courtier Thomas Culpepper goes to fetch Jane at the king’s behest, and the two of them run, childishly, from one end of the palace to the other, to return to him. The odd playfulness of the moment renders it almost dreamlike. Certainly, it does not adhere to any sort of standard biographical film template (which may not have even existed at the time).

Anne, played by Merle Oberon, floats languorously through her few scenes, getting prepped for her death in the Tower (“will the cap hold my hair, when—when—“) and speaking philosophically about her death, all while seeming tragic and scared. The film draws a direct parallel from Anne to Jane by having Anne remark ironically (literally from atop her beheading block), “It’s a lovely day,” and then cutting to Jane, peering out a window and feigning cheerfulness: “What a lovely day!”

Henry finally appears something like 10 minutes into the movie, his voice knifing through the chatter of his servants, his stance in the doorway imperious. He barks at his advisors, but also lasciviously nibbles at the neck of Jane (played by Wendy Barrie) when she comes in. He’s a huge man and boorish, but also graceful and emotional. Though the Oscars were barely in their adolescence when The Private Life of Henry VIII came out, it did manage to claim a nomination for Best Picture and a win, Best Actor for Charles Laughton, who—Damian Lewis be damned!—is my quintessential Henry VIII, red hair or no.

We get another parallel here—a chilling one, where the film cuts from the man hammering away at the chopping block where Anne will lose her head to Henry, pressed up against the grating of his palace window, rhythmically tapping, impatient for the act to be done, the barbaric act he has put into motion.

Henry VIII: “Consider it [marrying for a fourth time]? I would consider it a victory of optimism over experience!”

Poor Jane Seymour is dispatched with quickly, as she was in real life, and the largest portion of the movie deals with Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard (Binnie Barnes). Fifth chronologically, she is second of the ambitious schemers, Boleyn being the first. She manipulates her way into Henry’s favor, secures herself the queenhood, but continues to carry on with Culpepper, to the detriment of everyone.

My favorite of the wives is the fourth, Anne of Cleves, the oddest of odd ducks, an awkward but intelligent German noblewoman who agrees to be married to the great king, but then talks him out of consummating it, ensuring herself a favorable annulment settlement and status as the “King’s Beloved Sister” that she would retain for her natural life. The scene where Henry and Anne spend their wedding night playing cards is a classic—she beats him soundly, and Henry stalks out of the chamber, where multiple noblemen and statesmen are waiting to hear of the de-virgining, and are instead met with the interrogation, “Anybody got some money? Somebody get some money!” Anne turns out, improbably, to be a confidant for Henry. It can’t be an accident that this great role went to Elsa Lanchester, Laughton’s wife (and future Bride of Frankenstein).

henry and anne

The women are a great draw in this movie, but the true star here is the gruff, plump Laughton, virile in his character’s youth but increasingly grizzled as the years and wives wear on. (Those ever-changing embroidered initials over Henry’s bed mark time passed and new vows said.) Henry does awful things, and allows awful things to be done in his name; he is far from a pure soul. (The movie seems to want to position Culpepper, played by Robert Donat, in this role. It doesn’t really succeed at that, especially because his part in the Katherine Howard affair is never resolved in the movie.) But when Henry gloats and beams over his newborn son, he seems like a good man, just one stuck in a difficult situation. The character’s increasing age also brings increasing sympathy, and late in the film he describes feeling more peaceful, less inclined to fight and wage war over territory. Not really a factually correct facet of Henry’s history, but narratively, so very satisfying.


Remember When 30 Rock Nailed Its Final Season?

March 6, 2015 Leave a comment

I complained recently about one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, going off the rails in its final season by taking its natural positivity and detonating it into continual happy endings so excessive they seemed like the promises you read in chain emails.

Now I want to remember a show that did pull off a kick-ass final season by pushing its characters into new directions (which they somehow rendered inevitable). That show is 30 Rock.

30 Rock - Season 7

30 Rock was renewed for its 7th season in 2012 with the understanding that its 13 episodes would be it for the show. This is, incidentally, the same arrangement that Parks and Recreation got for its final season, which was also its seventh. Perhaps 30 Rock was thinking further ahead; a lot of the plotlines that pay off in season 7 were set up in season 6. Of course, you could say the same about Parks and Recreation. Basically, both shows seem to have had the exact same advantages and disadvantages, and while Parks and Rec provided a sweaty, dubious final season, 30 Rock’s was concise, heartwarming, surprising (and still funny!).

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Parks and Recreation’s Final Season Was Not Its Greatest Ever

February 24, 2015 1 comment


Tonight is the series finale of one of my favorite shows of all time, Parks and Recreation. Yesterday, Wired online posted this article by Eric Thurm: Why Parks and Recreation’s Final Season Was its Best Ever

I agree with the article that the 2-years jump executed by the final season was a good decision, creatively, allowing us to skip over both Leslie’s pregnancy and early baby years, and the adjustment period for her National Parks Service job. I also agree “Leslie and Ron” was the strongest episode of the season thusfar. And then we part ways.

The article opines that the season is a winner because it proves that change is happy and inevitable.

That’s what this last season of Parks and Rec has realized—it’s a celebration of beginnings in addition to endings, of the idea that there are always possibilities, even if those end up leading you back to the same people (kind of like a wedding!). … All the show needed to end on a high note was to allow all of its characters the chance to renew their vows.

The show has always embraced change, not just in this last season, but more importantly, the article overlooks a key point: the beginnings and opportunities that have been offered to these characters this season have vaulted the show far past its celebrated idealism, straight into la-la fantasyland. The show, always generous and warm, but also always grounded in a recognizable reality, has turned into the last moments of Grease, when Sandy and Danny’s car just takes off and flies into the air.

grease flying car

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The Hulu Algorithm Runs Wild

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

hulu plus

First post of the new year! An attempt to begin to post regularly again.

A couple weeks ago, I fell asleep with Hulu playing an episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. When an episode is finished playing, Hulu will jump to playing something else its algorithm feels is tangentially related. Checking my history the following morning, I learned of the string of shows that played while I slumbered:

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon: Amy Adams, Nick Offerman, Foo Fighters
You know when you put something on the TV to sleep to (if you’re like me, and you sleep to a playing television, even though everyone including medical professionals tells you it is the worst idea), and you’re out so quickly you’re like, I don’t remember seeing a SECOND of that. I was especially interested in both Offerman (whose new Netflix special I’ve only half-watched so far) and the Foo Fighters (whose Sonic Highways I’ve seen the majority of at my boyfriend’s house, and it’s excellent). Needless to say, I didn’t make it to any of those men, nor to Amy Adams, nor even to any first-quarter comedy sketches or recurring bits.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon: Ben Stiller, Brie Larson, Damon Wayans
The initial jump, to another episode of the same show I willfully chose. Good start. I don’t really care about these guests at all. Brie Larson is a promising actress, but she’s promoting a sexy-student role in The Gambler, which I think is probably beneath her.

Late Night With Seth Meyers: Christoph Waltz, Uzo Aduba, Greg Warren
This is a strange trio of guests. Greg Warren is either the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “long snapper” (REALLY? That’s a position? Is Wikipedia punking me?) or the stand-up comedian. The comedian is a more likely candidate for a late-night guest, though my boyfriend tells me Seth Meyers is a fan of the old black-and-yellow. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because I rarely watch Meyers’s show. Though I have affection for Meyers as a writer and as a personality, the show’s comedy bits rarely land, especially when Fred Armisen is behind them. The only real contribution the show has made to culture so far is Second Chance Theater.

Saturday Night Live: Amy Adams, One Direction
Already watched this when it aired live. It was a strong episode. Mike disappeared for the last 30 minutes, and later asked what he missed. I enjoyed recapping for him the lady singers sketch, ending on, “and then they all turned back into raccoons.” He laughed a lot.

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Mel Brooks, Christine Baranski
That’s a pretty good roster, but I don’t care at all about Kimmel.

The View: Friday, December 19, 2014
Here’s where the first wild turn takes place. I never watch this show. I’ve seen clips here and there and it’s sort of odious. Regardless of who is on the panel at the time, they all talk over each other and terrify their guests with scattered aggression.

Parental Discretion With Stefanie Wilder Taylor, “Breaking Dad”
This is some kind of mom-friendly variety show produced by a division of Nickelodeon called Nickmom (logline: “motherfunny”) (NO). In the capsule pic for this episode, the titular star is wearing pigtails, her mouth hanging open as if the screenshot has caught her in some kind of rant, or possibly just to indicate that she is a vulgar-but-lovable girl in the Sarah Silverman mold. Moms all over deserve better.

breaking dad

GMA Live: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Directly from the Hulu description: “Web-only extension of “Good Morning America” goes backstage after the broadcast. From pop-culture news to trending topics and lifestyle tips, GMA’s all-star team discusses the hottest stories of the day.” They apparently quit doing this, because this July episode is the most recent one listed.

Liars All (2013)
Some random thriller which enjoyed such a limited release that neither Metacritic nor Rotten Tomatoes displays any critical reviews of the film whatsoever. Rotten Tomatoes users felt that it was 21% worth liking.

And then I woke up.

This Was Fringe: Appraising the Final Season

January 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Fringe team


The final season structure. The Fringe production staff knew going in that they would have 13 episodes in which to close out the show, and they carried it out very well. The dystopic future in which it would take place had been established in a fourth season episode (4.19, “Letters of Transit”), and the fifth season launched right in where that episode left off. From there, the season took on sort of a scavenger hunt structure: there were videotapes that led to various objects which in some context were going to eventually build a machine that would save the world. This allowed several of the early- to middle-season episodes to be simply single-task procedurals with a dystopian backdrop, and then to become more important in hindsight as the plan came together. Meanwhile, we got to see different aspects of this New and Different World as the tasks took the Fringe team to different areas and through different survivor subcultures (some more interesting than others). All very shrewd moves. The gamble the Fringe writers and producers took setting their last season in an environment entirely foreign from the show in its previous incarnation showed a lot of nerve, and they could have dropped the ball in a LOT of ways. Overall, I think they made it a success.

More time spent with September, the fallen Observer. The one whom we had seen the most of, previously, but whom I feared was gone forever after crazy Charlotte-from-Lost shot him in the fourth season finale. And he didn’t appear for awhile, until suddenly, there he was again, only he looked like a person, his Observer qualities having been erased by the removal of his Observer chip. With that floppy-haired wig they had on him, actor Michael Cerveris looked weirdly like Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, only scruffier. So, not unhandsome. He explained a lot about the Observers that we didn’t know before, and then figured significantly in the final executed plan, up to and including dying heroically. Great work, September!

Fringe Black Blotter

The animated interlude in “Black Blotter”. Seasons two, three, and four all made a big deal out of their episode 19, shifting out of the continuity of the usual show to do something weird and different. Season 2 it was a noir musical, season 3 an animated trip through Olivia’s subconscious. Season 4 was the aforementioned flash-ahead to the Observer dictatorship. (By the way, we should thank 4.19 for probably being the episode that sold Fox on Fringe’s wrap-up season. “It’ll all be like this! Isn’t it strange and different?”) Anyway, with a 13-episode season, there was no episode 19 to properly house a bizarre step out of narrative reality, so they slid it into “Black Blotter,” as the LSD trip that reminds Walter of the passphrase he didn’t know he knew.

Fringe Nina

Nina Sharp’s defiant end (and her dynamite silver hair). Most of our regular characters spent twenty years in suspended animation and thus their fifth-season 2036 selves looked just like their fourth season 2011 selves. Nina (and Broyles, but we didn’t see so much of him) had aged both appropriately and spectacularly into a wheelchaired, silver-haired old broad. She manages from her position (could she still be heading Massive Dynamic at her age? Isn’t she probably more of a CEO Emeritus?) to assist the Fringe team on the down low until episode 10 when she is discovered to have been subverting Observer rule and is surrounded in her secret underground lab. Instead of allowing herself to be taken by the Observers and have her mind read (putting the rest of the team in danger), she puts a gun to her own head instead. (But not before letting the Observers confront her so she can throw some choice words at them first!)

Fringe Windmark

Windmark as a villain. Fringe always worked best when it had a strong evil presence pulling the strings on the side of bad: Walternate, David Robert Jones. The fifth season (actually that fourth season preview episode) introduced the cold and calculating leader of the invading Observers, Captain Windmark. Like all Observers, he’s calm in the face of insubordination, because he can almost always crush it. He even managed to best Etta, whose ability to mask her thoughts had previously kept her on top of things. My favorite moment of Windmark evil was when he was interrogating Broyles (whom he knows to be treasonous), blaming him for having loyalty to humans, and then cops to himself being prey to at least one emotion: hate. We felt it, dude!

Returns and wrapups. I was very excited when the penultimate episode had Olivia crossing over into the alt-verse one last time, just long enough for us to get updated on the comings-and-goings of our alt-friends. A remarkably well-preserved Fauxlivia appears to be head of her division and is married to a gray-haired but otherwise barely-aged Lincoln Lee. Walternate has retired from the government and from evildoing and lectures at Harvard. Whether the redverse still suffers cataclysmic events from tears in the fabric of their universe we don’t know; we do know that they haven’t been enslaved by Observers, so they have that going for them at least. Beyond that, we got to find out what Sam Weiss was up to while the Fringe team snoozed in amber. We had the return of the Observer boy (although, see cons below). We even got to see the show return to one of its best heart-tugging episodes, season 2’s “White Tulip” by bringing back that blasted white tulip to make us cry over its deepened contextual value in the finale.

Walter’s end. I wanted somebody in the central Fringe team to die before the end. Not because of blood lust, mind you, but because of stakes. A battle for the fate of the world needs some personal losses to have emotional resonance. The early death of Etta didn’t count towards this even though it was kind of devastating (see cons) because she was too new to the team. So I was excited to see how the final episode managed to not kill Walter exactly but still take him away from the life he knew and from the people he loves. The note of self-sacrifice sort of beautifully brought his character full circle as well, negating the narcissism and selfishness of his youthful choices.


The Observer makeup. My antenna doesn’t pick up Fox, so I watched the entire fifth season on Hulu, which, if I’m not mistaken, streams an HD broadcast of the show. God knows it was a crisp picture, one in which I could see literally every pore on every actor’s face. It really destroyed the effect of the Observers’ paleness, having to see white makeup caked into the peaks and valleys of everybody’s skin.

Fringe Etta dying

Killing Etta. Though I should have known that the finale would allow the timeline to be rewritten such that this never happened, I did not immediately foresee that at the end of “The Bullet That Saved the World,” when Windmark shot Etta point blank, and she detonated an explosive to take into the next life as many Observers as she could. This event depressed me so considerably that I didn’t watch the show again for almost five weeks! You have these main characters, Peter and Olivia, that you love, and then you have to watch them watch their kid die? It wasn’t cool for Etta’s sake really, either; whereas Peter, Olivia, Walter, and Astrid all got to spend 20 years of the dystopia in suspended animation, Etta lived through the whole thing from the time she was a little girl. It was more her fight than anyone’s; for her to lose her own battle so early on seemed unfair to her. I just really did not like this development, then or now. It didn’t even seem gutsy on the part of the writers and producers. It just seemed mean.

The Peter-as-Observer detour. Well, that was pointless. They tried the Peter Descends Into Darkness thing before, in season 3, when he was serial killing shapeshifters. This time, he inserted a chip into his neck to gain the cognitive abilities of the Observers (to be able to defeat them at their own game and thus avenge Etta). And even though it made sense for the character emotionally following Etta’s death, it was frustrating to watch, and then the show stepped back from it within three episodes. If you’re gonna go there, go there! Send Peter fully to Observerdom, make the others have to kill him! But that would have been reeeeeeeeally dark. And I wouldn’t have liked it either.

Fringe Observer boy

The Observer boy. So, the Observer boy was one of the nods to past plots; in theory, he first appeared in a season 1 episode (1.15, “Inner Child”). Here are my various problems with that, though. First, they didn’t bring back the same kid, probably because that kid had gotten too old, but the kid they got this time around was kind of awful. He wasn’t as cute as the first boy. Not to contribute to any internet memes, but under his bad Observer makeup (see above) this kid is obviously a redhead with intense freckles, and that’s wrong. Gingers are just as good as any other people, except when they are acting on Fringe as Observers, and then they look stupid. Secondly, major plot points hinged on how psychologically and intellectually developed the kid was. He doesn’t speak—ever—for the five episodes that he is in. Neither did the first kid, but he was physically responsive to other characters speaking and had—how do I describe it?—a sensitive face. He seemed like a kid with deep thoughts. This fifth season kid? No way. This kid seemed to have the depth of a thimble. Bad casting. Bad bad casting.

Fringe boring rebels

Anil and the other incredibly boring rebels. Speaking of bad casting. Or maybe it was indifferent casting, or indifferent plotting, but Etta’s friends and co-revolutionaries, who occasionally dropped in to provide the Fringe team with info or ammunition or to helpfully explain some convention of the Observer world, were none of them the least bit interesting in their own right. Not even the most visible of them, Anil, who exhibited the classic television equation of “Scottish is to accent as edgy is to personality.” We got one episode with Henry Ian Cusick (Lost’s Desmond) as Etta’s partner in season 4, and he was eleven times more interesting than any of these other guys. Is that why he had to die?

Fringe Astrid 2

No last-ditch effort to make Astrid a person. Astrid has forever been an underserved part of the Fringe narrative. We never knew much about her life outside the investigation of the week, although there were a couple personal moments in season 4: when we met her father, and when she told Olivia that she sees the FBI’s shrink every week to deal with her work. That admission was more about Olivia (wondering if she had grown desensitized to her work if she didn’t need the same kind of emotional tending that Astrid did), but I think it was still a strong character beat for her. Astrid always clearly knew she was by far the most normal/functional of any of the Fringe team, and it seemed when she said she saw a shrink that she was professing how hard she works towards that.

BUT ANYWAY. Season five went by in its entirety without ever addressing one fact I wish they would have addressed: though Astrid must have had loved ones outside the Fringe team payroll, she will never see them again. Olivia and the Bishops are family. Olivia never mentioned whether her sister and niece had survived the Observer apocalypse, but she had her husband and father-in-law there, and her daughter, at least to start, so she was contented enough when she woke up from the amber. What about Astrid? Were her parents still living? Friends? Siblings if she had any? As far as we know, Astrid never questioned or looked for any other people in her life after awaking from a 20-year slumber, all because she was never important enough to the story to have the opportunity. (Sorry, Jasika Nicole. You were lovely. I hope your next job gives you more to do.)


The Fringe team become terrorists. This was a fifth season development to which I never quite grew accustomed. The previous four seasons, the Fringe team were indisputably the good guys, or at least Olivia was (Walter was on the side of good, atoning for having been a bad guy in his past). The fifth season reboot found them fugitives under an unjust dictatorial regime. And to overthrow this regime, our heroes engaged in any number of destructive and/or lethal activities, in many cases even using technology that had previously been used against them. This new conception of our team was especially obvious in moments like the one in “Black Blotter,” when Olivia, Peter, Astrid, and Walter engage a small boat to take them across a river to pick up the Observer boy. They bribe the dock guy and are just taking off when a vessel full of Loyalist offiers pulls up and demands to see their paperwork. The team are all outlaws, off the grid—why they never got falsified paperwork, I don’t know—maybe the bioinformatics of the future made it impossible—but anyway, the Fringe team responded the only way they could, by blowing away the entire crew. That’s a lot of people to just kill, and I still just don’t know how I feel about this.

Fringe has always been a bit laissez-faire about guns and killing bad guys. People always praise those cop shows where the cops hardly ever use their weapons, and Fringe was not that show. Some rainy day I want to count how many villains and their henchmen Olivia felled without breaking a sweat. And I guess righteous revolutions have different rules re: acceptable human losses. Still, this was not a season for the morally squeamish.

The Simpsons is Weird Now

January 23, 2013 4 comments


I don’t really watch The Simpsons any more. I have it favorited on Hulu, so the episodes pop into my queue, and generally they pop out again when they expire without me having watched them. I think I watched a couple episodes last season. I haven’t watched it regularly since I was in college, probably, in the early aughts.

Yet, I had a spare 20 minutes recently, and so I watched an episode called “The Day the Earth Stood Cool.” It was the episode that had the cameo from The Onion and Onion AV Club in it, and featured hipster characters voiced by Portlandia’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. I watched the episode and I was so creeped out by it that it sent shivers down my spine.

It wasn’t the story itself that disturbed me—it was just the standard “the Simpsons make new friends within a subculture, are unsuited for it, maybe learn a lesson” plotline. The problem came up when the hip Portland family from next door (parents voiced by Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein of Portlandia, son voiced wryly by Patton Oswalt) was aligned narratively with the Simpsons family. And suddenly there was this guy in his early to mid-30s talking to Homer about how to overcome the burdens of being a dad, and a woman sharing baby-tending tips with Marge, and a kid who should be comparing toys with Bart and Lisa but is instead talking about the British TV shows he streams on the internet.

I grew up on The Simpsons. LITERALLY. The first episode I saw, if I’m not mistaken, was “Life on the Fast Lane,” the one where Marge contemplates an affair with a Frenchman who has taught her how to bowl. Do you know when that episode aired? According to IMDb, it was March 18, 1990. I was eight years old then. I’m going to be 32 this year—32. And Bart Simpson is still 10?

It’s literally reached the point where real-life kids who started out the same age as the Simpson kids are now old enough to have kids of their own who are the same age as the Simpson kids. And that’s where my brain breaks. An entire generation has gone by and the Simpson family is frozen in amber.

This didn’t bother me until this episode, really. I saw The Simpsons Movie in the theater just five years ago and enjoyed it heartily. I don’t know what the tipping point was, really. Possibly this episode simply leaned on modern times too heavily.

Or maybe it’s that this episode recalled for me another episode in which Homer fears he is not cool and is embraced by a hip crowd, “Homerpalooza” from 1996. A classic. It featured cameos from a bunch of bands who don’t exist anymore like Smashing Pumpkins (“Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins” “Homer Simpson, Smiling Politely”) and Sonic Youth. The problem is that the guy who is the dad in “The Day the Earth Stood Cool” is of an age that he would have been listening to those bands as a teen, same as I was. Well, not Sonic Youth because they were too cool (read: weird) for me.

It reminded me that the Simpson kids that I know grew up watching VHS tapes and playing video games that were heavily pixilated. They listened to the music of Michael Jackson on a record player. Their parents—like my parents—met and fell in love in the 70s. The 1970s. (And don’t tell me that the show rewrote its own history by doing a 90s episode in which a yet-unmarried Marge & Homer listened to grunge music and Marge had the Rachel. Because I think we can all agree that that episode never happened and we will all be much happier as a result.)

You can’t be part of every generation, The Simpsons! You just can’t. Time to move on.

Public Service Announcement

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment


Last December, I wrote about some of my favorite classic Christmas TV episodes. I mentioned three excellent Seinfeld episodes, all making sport of the social and cultural obligations presented to us over the holiday season: “The Pick,” “The Red Dot,” and “The Strike” (AKA “Festivus”).

Here is some amazing news for the cable-less among us: Crackle TV is streaming all three of them! They all expire January 1, so get yourselves in gear.

(P.S. I don’t patronize Crackle too often, but their deal with Seinfeld seems to be that every month they cycle through ten new episodes, one or two from each of the nine seasons. This month they are also streaming non-holiday classics like the one with the marble rye, the backwards-narrative one in India, and the one where Jerry and Elaine get stranded at Michael Chiklis’s house in Long Island. This is a seriously good deal.)

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