If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Week In TV - 9/28/14

Remember how I used to post about which comic books I bought every week, with comments about each book (or comics in general, or whatever else I decided was sort of related to them)? Well, I don't buy nearly as many comics as I used to (go back and read about my issues with the DC comics reboot that led to Superman's using his baby blanket as a cape). So, I thought I'd try something new: commentary on the TV shows I watch each week.

This is in part inspired by what a big week this was for my personal TV viewing, which I will get to. First, though, this won't be about my regular Monday-through-Friday shows -- consisting of the brilliant Keith Olbermann on ESPN2 and, of course, TMZ -- unless something in particular during those shows that I think needs attention. Nor will this be about telecasts of sporting events, again unless I feel it's warranted. So we'll start with the programs that aired between September 21 and 28. (I didn't necessarily watch them in their time slot. I usually DVR everything and skip through the commercials. Also, I hope future posts won't be as long as this one is turning out to be.)

Last Monday started with, thanks to the magic of DVR, two episodes of The Big Bang Theory on CBS, the two-hour third-season finale of Dallas on TNT and the premiere of the new series Gotham on Fox.

Big Bang has been on so long now that I'm sort of waiting for the dropoff in quality. Not sure it's happened yet, because they've been able to have the characters grow out of their established personas. It's very slow, but just enough (such as Raj finally being able to talk to women without alcohol) to keep them interesting. So we'll see. (Note: it's on Monday for a few weeks due to CBS showing some NFL games on Thursdays.)

The Dallas reboot has been surprising since the start. Although ostensibly starring the sons of J.R. and Bobby Ewing, so much of the show has featured the old cast, and killing off J.R. (necessitated as it was by Larry Hagman's passing) led to some of the best television of 2013. Season three ended with a shocking death, although the shock was lessened by the fact that it happened at the very end of the episode and was hyped by TNT: "One...Ewing...Will...Die." Better to kill the character in the middle so it's truly unexpected.

I had tremendous expectations for Gotham, the Batman series without Batman.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boycott the NFL? What Says Lurie? Philly Media Asleep?

I've been increasingly disgusted with the NFL lately. Although I love football, the NFL and I have issues, such as their overreaction in stadium security which won't let me carry my little drawstring bag* with my phone charger, reading material for the subway/El, etc. into the Linc -- if I even actually got an Eagles ticket, which I can't afford anyway. And their claim that they want to make the game safer and reduce or prevent serious injuries, particularly head injuries, is completely at cross-purposes with their insistence that there be weekly Thursday night games, as well as their consideration of future expansion of the regular season from 16 to 18 games.

But that's nothing compared to the initial outrage over the pathetic two-game suspension originally given Ray Rice by commissioner Roger Goodell, and the league's response to the punishment's total inadequacy (especially when compared with longer bans given players who committed the horrible crime of smoking pot), followed by the responses of Goodell, the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens once TMZ acquired the video of Rice viciously punching his then-fiancee, now-wife in the elevator at the newly-defunct Revel Casino in Atlantic City, followed by the league's totally inadequate responses to domestic violence caused by other players (you MUST read this).

And on top of all that came the news that Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was charged with child abuse, after beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch until the child bled. For those who somehow think there's nothing wrong with such discipline, think about it. Pause on these words, stare at them for a minute or two until it sinks in: HE BEAT HIS CHILD AND DREW BLOOD. HE MADE A FOUR-YEAR-OLD BLEED!

That was followed by the Vikings' flip-flops on whether he should be allowed to play, deactivating him for one game, then announcing that he would be reinstated, then reversing course after team and league sponsors began distancing themselves from this mess.

And then came today (technically yesterday, since this won't be finished until after midnight).

Monday, September 15, 2014

WHAT THE HELL...Urban Outfitters

Really, Urban Outfitters? Trying to sell a "Vintage Kent State sweatshirt" with fake blood spatters and, after immediate outrage caused them to pull the product, claiming it was never intended to allude to the 1970 shootings by the Ohio National Guard on the Kent State campus, killing four people? Seriously? One, trying to sell it to begin with? Two, thinking anyone would believe this bullshit denial? Three, $129.00?


ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE FUCKING DOLLARS FOR A FUCKING SWEATSHIRT????

Urban Outfitters, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU????

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

I really need to see more movies. (That would cost money, which I can't really spare in large amounts for movies right now. Help.) Almost half of the movies I've managed to see this year involve Marvel Comics characters. The most recent, Guardians of the Galaxy, presented a dilemma  It's one thing for me to see movies featuring Spider-Man, X-Men and Captain America. I'm at least somewhat familiar with the characters, even if I didn't read their comics. The Guardians of the Galaxy, on the other hand? Never heard of them. And I wasn't that impressed by the trailers.

Fortunately, it was a good movie. Solid, not especially brilliant, mainly due to a pedestrian story that, despite its characters being quite different than typical superheroes, still fits neatly into the Marvel movie formula. However, Chris Pratt was a great fit for the role of Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, abducted from Earth as a child who eventually ends up as head Guardian. And, as we're all aware by now, he buffed up for the role. I can never disapprove of that. My grade: B.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dilworth Park, The Councilman and I

If you follow me on Twitter you know that, besides the various things I get obsessed with (#EverySimpsonsEver) or angry about (#FireRuben), I can also get silly and snarky. However, I can also be quite sincere.

Let's face it: there are lots of problems, here and around the world. Members of Congress (especially Republicans). The Pennsylvania state legislature (ditto). The worst PA governor in my lifetime, who thankfully seems to be on track to be the first one-term governor of the state in over 40 years. The lack of funding for public education, especially in Philadelphia (see above re: PA governor and legislature).

The economic "recovery" in which so many people still struggle because the minimum wage isn't nearly high enough and huge corporations have seemingly every advantage thanks to the aforementioned Republicans and their servants on the Supreme Court. The health care system, slightly improved by the Affordable Care Act but still wildly inadequate and too expensive (just ask my friend Kurt, and while you're at it could you sign his petition, and maybe make a donation to help him get his new laptop? Thanks.)

The moronic fight against immigration reforms. The increasing havoc that climate change is having on our planet. Russia's efforts to take over Ukraine. Everything going on in the Middle East. And hey, did anyone #BringBackOurGirls or find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 yet?

Yet, as pessimistic as I can be about, well, everything, I also realize there are still good things happening. For example, there was another victory this week in the effort to make Philadelphia a nicer, greener, more lively and fun city. Already we've seen success on the Delaware River waterfront with the Race Street Pier. This summer brought the (seasonal) Spruce Street Harbor Park (with the hammocks!) and the (permanent) Washington Avenue Pier. And yesterday, Dilworth Park opened.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WTHIWWY: Cee Lo Green

Cee Lo Green
Let me see if I understand what you're saying, Cee Lo Green. So if a man sexually assaults an unconscious woman it's not rape because if the woman isn't awake to say "no" that's the same as giving consent? Really? Is that what you're saying, Cee Lo? You seriously think you can drug a woman in order to have sex with her?

And now your "reality" show's been canceled; whether it was because you're a pig or because of lousy ratings is possibly subject to debate. (Hey, NBC, can we kick the pig off "The Voice" permanently as well?)

Cee Lo Green, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU???

Sunday, August 31, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Twelve

The end. Or is it? FXX is going to air four- or six-hour blocks of episodes five days a week starting Tuesday, the day after the Every Simpsons Ever marathon finally ends. If FXX is smart they won't go too overboard on the later seasons. As you can see from the list below, and the last couple of posts, the pickings are really slim.

MUST-SEE!

9/1 1:30 AM ET “Lisa Goes Gaga” -- The Lady Gaga Express is roaring across the country until she sees some sad billboards for Springfield ("sister city with no one"), so she has the train stop there so she can build up the town's self-esteem. It's just in time for Lisa, whose unpopularity with her schoolmates is at an all-time high. The numerous jokes and jabs at everything Gaga are mitigated by the fact that she's in on them.

9/1 9:30 AM ET “Dark Knight Court” -- At an Easter celebration a prank sends eggs flying into the crowd. Bart is accused but he denies it, and is granted a trial with schoolmates as the jury and Janet Reno presiding as judge (because she plays chess by mail -- snail mail -- with Grampa). The same egg attack and its aftermath leads Burns to become "Fruitbat Man," thwarting "crimes" (townspeople are playing criminals, paid off by Smithers).

9/1 5:00 PM ET “Steal This Episode” -- Tired of hearing spoilers for movies he hasn't seen, as well as today's multiplex experience (such as pre-movie commercials), Homer begins illegally downloading movies...and then starts showing them in his backyard.

9/1 10:30 PM ET “Brick Like Me” -- The LEGO episode. Fun, very well-done, but would have been better had it arrived before The LEGO Movie.

MEH. M-E-H, MEH.

9/1 3:00 AM ET “Adventures in Baby-Getting”
9/1 3:30 AM ET “Gone Abie Gone”
9/1 4:00 AM ET “Penny-Wiseguys”
9/1 7:00 AM ET “Changing of the Guardian”
9/1 8:30 AM ET “Gorgeous Grampa “
9/1 9:00 AM ET “Black-eyed Please”
9/1 11:00 AM ET “Whiskey Business”
9/1 12:00 PM ET “The Saga of Carl”
9/1 2:30 PM ET “YOLO" -- Yo, no.
9/1 4:00 PM ET “Yellow Subterfuge”
9/1 4:30 PM ET “White Christmas Blues”
9/1 9:30 PM ET “Days of Future Future”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Eleven

Really. It's almost over. One more day after this. (I repeat: stop applauding!)

MUST-SEE!

8/31 12:00 AM ET “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” -- The Simpsons join the Flanderseseses on a trip to Jerusalem. Guest stars Sacha Baron Cohen, but not as Borat or Bruno or Ali G.

8/31 5:00 AM ET “MoneyBART” -- Lisa becomes the coach of Bart's Little League team and, using sabermetrics, the team starts winning. Notable for a very unusual opening couch gag from the artist known as Banksy.

8/31 7:30 AM ET “The Fight Before Christmas” -- Formatted more like a Halloween special, with four different Christmas-related dreams, including one with Martha Stewart and another with Katy Perry in a live-action segment featuring the Simpsons characters as Muppet-esque puppets.

8/31 9:00 AM ET “Flaming Moe” -- Not to be confused with "Flaming Moe's," this is one more super-gay-gay-gay episode. With the help of Waylon Smithers, Moe's Tavern becomes Mo's, a trendy gay bar. If you've ever wanted to see Homer and Marge voguing, this is your episode.

8/31 8:00 PM ET “The D’oh-cial Network” -- Lisa creates SpringFace, a social networking site. Featuring a couch gag with David Letterman and a brief bit at the end with Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins (just like in "The Social Network"). They're competing in a rowing event at the 2012 London Olympics...against the Bouvier twins, Patty and Selma.

8/31 9:30 PM ET “At Long Last Leave” -- The 500th episode, in which the residents of Springfield vote to evict the Simpsons from the town.

MEH. M-E-H, MEH.

8/31 1:00 AM ET “Chief of Hearts”
8/31 4:00 AM ET “Elementary School Musical”
8/31 4:30 AM ET “Loan-a Lisa”
8/31 6:30 AM ET “The Fool Monty”
8/31 7:00 AM ET “How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window?”
8/31 8:00 AM ET “Donnie Fatso”
8/31 8:30 AM ET “Moms I’d Like to Forget”
8/31 9:30 AM ET “Homer the Father”
8/31 1:00 PM ET “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony” -- Fat Tony marries Selma, making her Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Stu-Simpson-D'Amico.
8/31 4:30 PM ET “Replaceable You” -- I can't, for the life of me, remember anything about this episode. Even after reading the Wikipedia entry, reading that Jane Lynch appeared in it, I can't remember it at all. Hey, maybe it's a brilliant episode. But I'm gonna say...no.
8/31 7:00 PM ET “Holidays of Future Passed”
8/31 7:30 PM ET “Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson” -- With the utterly repugnant Ted Nugent.

Friday, August 29, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Ten

We are coming to the end. (Stop applauding.)

MUST-SEE!

8/30 12:00 AM ET “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” -- A Simpsonic take on "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" as Homer can't recall the events of the previous day.

8/30 12:30 AM ET “E. Pluribus Wiggum” -- Springfield moves up its election date (because Homer destroyed the town's fast-food restaurants) and it's now the first primary in the nation. Here come the presidential candidates and the media! And a new candidate: Ralph Wiggum! Pick a winner!

8/30 4:30 AM ET “Any Given Sundance” -- Lisa's school project is a short film about her family. Aspiring film producers Skinner and Chalmers enter it into the Sundance Film Festival. The Simpsons are going to Utah!

8/30 12:00 PM ET “Gone Maggie Gone” -- Not a bad episode, but to be honest I probably wouldn't include it here except for the brief, unexpected appearance of none other than the Phillie Phanatic.

8/30 1:30 PM ET “Eeny Teeny Maya Moe “ -- Moe hits it off with a woman he meets over the Internet. When they meet in person, he learns she's a little person. Will he screw it up? Well, yes. But it's surprisingly sweet.

8/30 9:00 PM ET “Once Upon a Time in Springfield” -- Krusty is forced by the network to add a female character to his show. Princess Penelope (Anne Hathaway) is a hit, which infuriates Krusty until he learns she's a longtime fan, and they fall in love. Anne Hathaway won an Emmy for this.

8/30 10:00 PM ET “Boy Meets Curl” -- Homer and Marge, along with Agnes and Seymour Skinner, compete in a new demonstration sport, mixed curling, at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. (Not surprisingly, the episode aired during the Olympics.) Lisa becomes addicted to collecting Olympic pins. Wikipedia says it was well-received by curlers and Canadians. Also, there's a sighting of a character from The Simpsons Movie...the movie only, not a character that has previously been in the series. And it's not Spider-Pig.

MEH. M-E-H, MEH.

8/30 2:30 AM ET “Dial “N” for Nerder”
8/30 3:00 AM ET “Smoke on the Daughter”
8/30 4:00 AM ET “Apocalypse Cow”
8/30 5:00 AM ET “Mona Leaves-a”
8/30 6:30 AM ET “Lost Verizon”
8/30 7:00 AM ET “Double, Double, Boy in Trouble”
8/30 9:00 AM ET “Mypods and Boomsticks” (The spoofing of Apple was okay. The Homer-fears-new-Muslim-neighbors-are-terrorists plot, not okay.)
8/30 11:30 AM ET “No Loan Again, Naturally”
8/30 2:00 PM ET “The Good, the Sad and the Drugly “
8/30 4:00 PM ET “Coming to Homerica “
8/30 5:30 PM ET “The Great Wife Hope”
8/30 10:30 PM ET “The Color Yellow”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver -- Day Nine

This, the ninth day of the FXX marathon, features the end of the 17th season, all of the 18th and the start of the 19th. The 18th was pretty weak. Maybe it was affected by a divided attention span, as there was a little movie of note that came out following that season...

MUST-SEE!

8/29 1:30 AM ET “My Fair Laddy” -- More singing. In this episode Lisa is attempting to turn Groundskeeper Willie into Eliza Doolittle...I mean, into a proper gentleman.

8/29 2:00 AM ET “The Seemingly Never-Ending Story” -- Although it's a bit ludicrous, I liked the clever way the story Lisa is telling turns into Mr. Burns' story, then Moe's story, then Edna Krabappel's, then, for a moment, a bighorn sheep's story. (Yes, really. Just go with it.) And they're all connected.

8/29 3:00 AM ET “Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife” -- Written by Ricky Gervais. Homer signs the family up to appear on a wife-swap show.

8/29 4:00 AM ET “Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore” -- Listed here only because the subplot (Patty and Selma kidnap Richard Dean Anderson - MacGyver!) outdoes the main plot (Homer is chosen to be the boss when Burns outsources his plant to India?).

8/29 11:00 AM ET “Kill Gil: Vols. 1 & 2″ -- The latest temporary guest staying with the Simpsons is Gil, the guy who can't keep a job. It actually serves as a holiday episode, spanning an entire year from Christmas season to Christmas season.

8/29 1:00 PM ET “Springfield Up” -- Modeled after the British documentary "Up" Series (starting with "Seven Up," featuring a group of children, and revisiting them every seven years), a director returns to Springfield to update his series of films, done at eight-year intervals.

8/29 5:00 PM ET “24 Minutes” -- I never watched "24" so I don't know exactly how on target this episode was, but I enjoyed it anyway.

8/29 6:00 ET The Simpsons Movie -- Yes, yes, yes. So good from start to finish. But I'm wondering how they'll edit this, since they're showing episodes without the cuts made for syndication. Will they show the full-frontal nudity or add the little "European version only" black box? Will they leave in Marge's full quote to "throw the goddamn bomb!" or cut out the G-word?

I'm sure this won't be cut from the movie. They're coming after you, Homer!

8/29 11:00 PM ET “Husbands and Knives” -- A new comic book store opens (smart casting: Jack Black as the store's owner) and easily takes business away from Comic Book Guy. A fave moment: Milhouse asks Alan Moore to sign a DVD of "Watchmen Babies in 'V for Vacation.'"

8/29 11:30 PM ET “Funeral for a Fiend” -- It's a "Frasier" reunion. Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, David Hyde Pierce as his brother Cecil...and John Mahoney as their father. Oh, and they all take part in a plan to kill Bart.

MEH. M-E-H, MEH.

8/29 1:00 AM ET “We’re on the Road to D’oh-where”
8/29 3:30 AM ET “Million Dollar Abie”
8/29 6:00 AM ET “The Monkey Suit”
8/29 12:30 PM ET “Little Big Girl”
8/29 2:00 PM ET “Rome-Old and Julie-Eh” -- Grampa and Selma in love. Ew. Ew. Ew.
8/29 3:00 PM ET “Marge Gamer”
8/29 3:30 PM ET “The Boys of Bummer”
8/29 4:00 PM ET “Crook and Ladder”
8/29 4:30 PM ET “Stop or My Dog Will Shoot!”
8/29 9:00 PM ET “Midnight Towboy”
8/29 9:30 PM ET “I Don’t Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”