Category Archives: Television

Arrested Development

I’ve seen Arrested Development before. Twoish years ago for the first time and that’s actually the only other time I’ve actually sat through and watched the whole show till this week. While bored at home over break I chose to re-watch this (among other shows) instead of actually being productive.

I remember starting Arrested Development for the first time and not really being taken away with it. It was different, but by the second episode I was sold on it. The show has a very particular style and it kind of takes getting used to. That and the pilot throws a lot at you in a  short amount of time.

I’m not going to bother trying to get into the plot/story because it’s complicated. The show is about the Bluth family. They run into legal problems and while that sort of is the overarching plot line of the show, it really isn’t that important. In fact that is kinda what hurt the show in the end to me. I love the show, but I think they ended it at a good time. The whole trial stuff was thin t begin with (which is fine), but at a certain point it would’ve become overdone, which it started to feel that way. Nothing new was being done with that and it held the show back. Ending where they did was nice. They didn’t drag anything out longer than need be and it ended while the show was still great. In fact if the show/movie thing does actually go through than that’s actually really good. They needed a time skip/break in there.

While the style of the show is great, the cast is what helped seal the deal. I don’t care what anyone says everyone on that show was great. Jason Bateman  was great as Michael. He was a good choice as the anchor for the show. He’s a good actor and good for the character.  Michael Cera was great as George Michael, his son. As much as you may not like Cera now, he was great as George Michael and he also worked really well with Bateman. Ali Shawkat held her on in there as well as one of the two “kids.” Portia de Rossie was great as Lindsay. The character may have been some what plastic and superficial and Portia played that wonderfully and David Cross did a great job as Tobias, who probably has some of the more memorable bits. Maybe it’s because Cross is a stand-up comedian, but he seemed to get some of the more bizarre stuff to do on the show. Tony Hale is also great as Buster. SO good in fact, that I recently saw an ad where Hale was appearing in some CSI type show or movie and I couldn’t picture it. His portrayal is just so ingrained in my head that I can’t see him as anything else. And Will Arnett is just great. He plays a certain kind of character (at leas the few things I’ve seen him on) and he does it great. I can see criticism for that in the same way Cera could be criticized as far as playing a type, but they both do it well, especially Arnett.

Jeffrey Tambor is great. He’s played some great characters over the years, which is only a testament to how good of an actor he is. It’s also nice that he is able to continually keep appearing in the show through “tricks.” I was pissed when they arrested him at first because I thought he was going to be gone. Jessica Walter as Lucille is great as well. Both work well together and really don’t need each other. I feel like Ron Howard needs some credit as the narrator as well. It doesn’t sound like him, or at least the voice I associate with him. Howard as the narrator though has some great bits, especially in season three when they start just experimenting with somethings  a bit more.

Really the show would be fine with just one of the characters/actors. They’re all great and could hold up on their own. It’s kinda what makes the show so great. That and they also get some great guest stars like Henry Winkler.

One of the nice things about Arrested Development is that while it does have running gags, they never really get old. The writers do a good job at not using a gag every episode and when something does crop up again, it’s at least slightly different or in the case of season three blatantly there. Season three really is fascinating. I’m assuming it’s because they knew the show was over so they decided to say “eff it let’s go all out,” though they don’t. Still as meta as the show can be half way through season three they really let loose and it works. It wouldn’t have worked if they had tried doing that in the beginning, but the timing with the ending of the show just allowed it to work.

Anyways, it’s a great show. I don’t think I know anyone whose seen it and not liked it. Even my mom liked it and she doesn’t have the greatest sense of humor.

So if you haven’t seen Arrested Development by now, you should. Especially since I think the long talks of a movie or tv show is actually coming to fruition now.

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Legend of the Seeker

Lately I’ve been yearning for some good sword and sorcery fantasy kind of stuff. Plenty of books out there, but for whatever reason I’ve been having a hard time finding films or shows to watch, especially ones I haven’t seen already.

I remember seeing ads for Legend of the Seeker and dismissed it. Well, just ignored it because I don’t watch to many shows as they air anymore due to lack of time. Netflix has it and it was suggested somewhere. I’m on winter break so I have time to sit down and give it a shot.

The show is interesting. It’s based off of a series of books by Terry Goodkind and apparently he approves and had involvement with the shows production. That doesn’t mean much to me because I’ve never read anything by him. Anyways, as much as this is a fantasy show, it’s differentish. It’s not LOTRD fantasy, it’s more there are some people with magic and some weird creatures, but mostly just peasants or people fighting with swords. We of course see a lot of magic and weird stuff because we’re following a special group he gets involved with that sort of thing. It’s sort of simple. The stories are very much good vs. evil and it’s pretty clear which is which.

The story though. It takes place in a land ruled by a dude named Darken Rahl who I’m not sure how to describe. He’s the villain and rules pretty much everything and is a prick. Nothing new. There is a prophecy out there however about a Seeker (not the Quidditch kind) who will defeat Darken Rahl. The first two episodes basically give you all of this background information and set everything up. We find the Seeker and his little band of friends form and set off to kill the evil tyrant Darken Rahl. Season two finds us doing the same kind of thing except they’re fighting the Keeper. Again things are set up pretty much in the first episode or two of that season as well.

The show has its own environment with names for different things and people. They all get explained. Some are good, other’s bad. There are some kick-ass ladies known as Mord-Sith that bug me because I’m a huge Star Wars nerd and I only think of Mr. Lucas’s Sith every time and I question how similar they are.

Initially I was displeased with the show. After finishing both seasons, I still sort of am. I got past the exposition heavy first two episodes. They really are tough to get through because of that. What bugs me is that I still haven’t decided what the intention of the show was. It seems quite campy at times, mainly season one. Yet, it’s not nearly enough for me to believe that it was intentional. The humor isn’t that good and part way through season two it kind of dies all together. I just haven’t grasped how seriously the show was taking itself. If it was Terry Pratchett I would’ve bought into it a bit more.

The romance was another issue. Richard and Kahlen’s romance plot made me want to rip my hair out. It was excessive and worse yet it wasn’t new. They never had it evolved. They just kept remarking on how hard it was and everyone and them taunt them about doing it anyways. I’m also kind of disturbed that women apparently are getting pregnant from having intercourse once. Not sure what message that’s supposed to be about. Even once Cara get’s some romance thrown out her, it’s half assed. No one cares. Even Zed is kinda ignored. It just wasn’t needed for me to have these crappy romance plots that were very static and never toyed with.

I also was sort of upset with the character actions and development or lack there of. I honestly don’t feel like any of them have change too much by the end. They even kinda remark on this in the show. At a point it just becomes way to predictable as to who is going to do or say what. Even some of the plots started to get rehashed a bit much. I mean there’s this large overarching story as to what they are supposed to be setting out to do, yet most of the show has nothing to do with that problem. It’s all of the little random side quests. I mean if the end of the world is at stake you don’t fart around.

I don’t know. There’s a lot of little things that bugged the hell out of me and were wholly unrealistic in the context of the show. I feel like the books are probably pretty good, but they ended up with some shitty filler stuff to fill a tv show. Yet I kept watching. I was oddly hooked on it, despite how frustrated I got. Season two was just miserable really. I kept watching that to find out the ending. In reality I could’ve just skipped to the last two episodes. They put in these “lessons” for the characters, but they never show up again or utilize them.

The action sequences bugged the hell out of me as well. At first they were cool and sort of remained that way, but in the end there was way too much use of slow motion and pausing in the fight scenes. That and it soon dawned on me that the showed basically the same shots of every character fighting. And Kahnlen’s confession shit was annoying to see. I understood how it worked after they showed it the first time. I don’t need to see in slow motion and close-up the eyes changing and shit. It was a waste of time.

It sort of satisfied my desire for the genre, but not enough. The show was decent, especially since I’ve seen some really shitty fantasy stuff out there. Still, season two isn’t really worth it. It’s just a cluster-fuck to me, but if you start it you may get hooked enough to want to find out how it ends, which I must admit was lame. The season finale made me wonder whether they knew if the show would continue or not, because the ending is rushed and kinda anticlimactic to me.

So, check it out if you’re looking for some sword and sorcery, fantasy kinda stuff. It’s decent enough and you’ll either turn it off relatively soon or keep watching and either enjoy it or wonder why you kept watching it like I did.

The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe

Spoilerish things below probably.

So no that series six is over most of us end up waiting for the Christmas special to get our last fix for a while. I never expect much from the Christmas specials. The ones I can recall have either been pretty bad or ok. Never one of my favorite shows. The plus side is that it’s the Doctor without the traditional companions so that’s always nice to see.

Initially I really enjoyed this. I was really looking forward to seeing some new Doctor Who so I didn’t really care how good or bad it was. Now that I’ve thought about it, it was kind of disappointing. Still, it was hardly the worse Christmas special they’ve put out and there are episodes out there that I liked less than this. First though, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, let me correct something. The title, is kind of a throw away thing. It is not a Doctor Who take on the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There isn’t really even a wardrobe. Apart from making a few references to the story, they only use kids crawling into “another world” as the biggest link.

Back to the show though. I didn’t get the opening. Apparently I missed the little prequel they did. I’ve since watched and I still have to say that’s one of the things that bugs me. As far as I know the Doctor is still assumed dead. River, Amy, and Rory all know otherwise, but unless I missed something the series ended with the Doctor not being present. So why he’s calling Amy or blowing things up seems odd. That and the way the special ended with him showing up seems a bit odd as well. I understand it as far as setting up that he’s “back,” but it seems like it negates the point of saying that he has to keep a low profile.

Anyways, the episode itself was decent. Sort of christmasy. It felt lacking to me though. It seemed to simple and there wasn’t an attempt to explain anything. It all just kind of happens and that’s perfectly ok. No need to explain. Kinda bugs me the more I think of it.

Still, it’s Doctor Who and I’ll take what I can get. Every episode can’t be stellar so, I’ll take the crappier ones to get the good ones.

Neverland (Miniseries)

 

Been sort of a while since I posted. Been a bit busy with the end of the semester and while I’m continuing to watch movies (or TV shows), I’ve just been too lazy to write any posts about them (though I do have probably twenty draft posts waiting to be finished). At some point I’ll sit down and finish a bunch of these posts so that when I’m busy I can at least provide some content.

So SyFy released a miniseries called Neverland last week (I think it was last week). I only learned about it a few das before it aired because of a banner on SyFy. Normally I’m not a huge fan of SyFy, but I’ve enjoyed some of these miniseries that they produced, though two episodes isn’t much of a miniseries.

Anyways, Neverland is supposed to be an origin story fo sorts for the classic Peter Pan, though there’s a fair mix fo science fiction and fantasy in this incarnation. The story basically shows how Peter, the Lost Boys, and Hook went from our world to Neverland. Incidentally all of them “lived” together in our world. It was actually kind of neat seeing how they took that relationship and played it out towards the classic tale we all know. Unfortunately it did seem a bit too much like Oliver Twist and Fagin.

Overall it was interesting, especially if you’re a fan of Peter Pan stuff. It’s not the greatest, but it was a good effort. By biggest problem was probably some of the science fiction stuff. I understand what they tried with it, but it was unnecessary. It just made the show run longer. The whole fairy/mineral dust thing wasn’t needed. And while the orbs were kind of neat, again they weren’t needed. It just gave them something else to focus on, when I would have rather seen more of the characters development for other reasons or just in general.

The effects and everything technical was ok. None of the CGI was horrible, but for what it was it worked. I’m not sure about the whole snow forest thing. That just seemed a bit bizarre to me.

Rhys Ifans plays Hook, which I actually thought he was a good choice for the role. He was ok, but he’s done a lot better and could have done better. He was good at playing a Hook that wasn’t a cartoon villain. I just wish he would’ve had more development in the character. Bob Hoskins plays Smee, essentially reprising his role from the Spielberg Hook. His performance in Hook was a lot better, though he was given a larger role in that movie. Here is is basically wasted. Keira Knightly is another star name added to the. Anyone who got their hopes up for this, don’t. She plays the voice of Tinkerbell. I honestly didn’t recognize it and I only knew because I looked on IMDB before watching. That and Tinkerbell again is another wasted role here. Q’orianka Kilcher plays Aaya, the chieftains daughter (what else?). I’ve seen her in other movies and liked here, so I’m not entirely sure what the deal was with this movie. She played a pretty stiff character which I wasn’t fond of. That and for whatever reason, her character spoke very stunted english. Most of the time. You could hear Kilcher talking better every now and then which made it even more bizarre. That and the other’s talked perfectly normal. I’m not sure whose decision that was, but she didn’t pull it off, whatever way it was supposed to go. Charlie Rowe plays Peter. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts in this. He was okay.

SyFy built a nice premise, wasted money on some big names for either pointless roles or doing god knows what with them and just kind of lead the second episode down hill. The first part was better. It seemed to move faster. The second part was just kinda blergh.

Some may like it, others not so much. It wasn’t so bad that I would tell people to just avoid it. It’s mostly a matter of whether you’re a fan of Pan and/or SyFy.

Justified (Season 1 & 2)

I believe I heard about Justified from listening to Doug Benson’s, Doug Loves Movies podcast. I vaguely remember him saying he thought it was a great show. That or some other podcast, but I’m pretty sure it was his. Anyways, the mention of the show being good and Timothy Olyphant was enough to spark my interest.

The show Justified is currently on FX (season three will air in the spring I guess). The show essentially revolves around Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) who works in Kentucky and was born and raised in Harlan County. Raylan is trigger happy, which is what a lot of the show is ultimately about in a way.

I love the show –  all two seasons. I actually was going to post a topic about season one, but I was already halfway through season two. I just got hooked. That and season two features more tie-ins, but that’s something for later.

So season one is and isn’t great. Overall it was amazing. At times I was sort of upset that most episodes stood alone. They didn’t run together, but were basically solving a “case” or issue per episode and usually didn’t relate. That changed by the end of the season, but initially it was disappointing a bit just because it felt like they wanted to have a continuous flow, but were held back by the possibility of not being renewed or something. Minor issue.

Season two was great. They improved some things from season one and you could tell they were more comfortable by that time. The show seemed to take on a larger scope to me. That and a lot of season two is basically all one big story. Actually I don’t there was an episode that wasn’t connected to the main story, which makes it hard to not keep watching.

The writing on the show is pretty good. The stories are interesting, but they aren’t really cop/detective/CSI story lines which is refreshing. the dialogue is pretty good to. It’s partly what makes the show funny, which it surprisingly is. It doesn’t stand out, but really there’s a lot of humor in the show. The characters are probably the best aspect of the show. There are a wide variety of characters that are reoccurring, even minor ones. That for one is nice to see. It also helps that they’ve bothered to detail these characters. Even the henchmen have names and identities that make you remember them. Raylan and Boyd (Walton Goggins) are the best characters to watch. They’re paired with each other from the beginning and that keeps cropping up throughout the two seasons. They do a good job developing the pair, especially Boyd. The only character and subsequent story that doesn’t work for me is the one with Raylon’s wife, Winona. It just doesn’t really mesh with the rest of the show and get’s way to much time in season 2.

The cast is really good. Timothy Olyphant is great, though I guess a lot of people don’t like him, which I could sort of see. Personally I think he’s great to begin with, but I think he fits this role really well. I really liked him in The Crazies as the Sheriff there and I unfortunately have yet to see Deadwood, but he seems to do these roles very well. Walton Goggins is better though. Boyd is an interesting character, but Goggins really brings him to life. I’ll refrain from elaborating, but the “speeches” he frequently gives (depending on where you are at) are amazing. They actually reminded me of Michael Parks in Red State at one point. M.C. Gainey is pretty kick-ass in season one as well. Jere Burns is amazing as well. I recently saw him in Breaking Bad and he still bugs me. He’s one of those guys you recognize, but can’t place (at least I couldn’t). I go on IMDB to find out about him and I can’t quite figure out where I saw him first since he’s been in so many things. Great actor.

Season two though is were the casting really hit me, particularly with the casting of the Bennett family. I think everyone of them was great. Margo Martindale as Mags is amazing. Totally worth the Emmy nod (as were Goggins and Olyphant – none won). Jeremy Davies was great as Dickie. Actually he’s one I wish had more screen time.

There are so many people I’m failing to mention cast wise, but I can’t mention them all. That would be a couple of posts on it’s own, because everyone is really fucking good in this show.

One of the things I liked is how dual season one and two are. Season one focuses on a sort of patriarchal family set up with the Crowder’s and in some instances Raylan’s issues with his father. Season two shifts two a matriarchal family head with Mag Bennett and actually Aunt Helen becomes more important as does Winona. One of those little things that fascinated me, that may or may not be intentional. I do love the matriarchal family though. Animal Kingdom is a great film with a matriarchal head of a criminal family and season two of Justified reminded me of that.

The music is really good in the show, but I already enjoy bluegrass and blues. The shows opening is actually great. The footage at least is really cool. The them would be great if it cut out the rap. The rap just doesn’t fit for starters and it isn’t that good, though the lyrics are fitting.

Anyways, I could go on and one, but I already have a lengthy enough post. Basically start watching Justified because it is worth it. Thanksgiving is coming up so everyone on a break should sit and watch this. It’s only two seasons to watch the whole thing so it’s not a lot. I did it in a  week and I still have classes.

 

Just watch the first episode and see if you can resist.

Archangel

I think Daniel Craig is a pretty good actor, but part of me still holds a grudge for him being cast as Bond. He just didn’t fit the bill, though he does a great job at the new version of Bond that they’ve created. When Craig was first cast as Bond one of my cousins hopped on the bandwagon and praised him. I sat and watched part of Archangel with him while my family was visiting, but not much. Now it’s been a few years and I’ve finally gotten around to checking the TV movie/mini-series out because Craig is in it.

Archangel takes place in Russia and deals with the clash of old and new Russia or the lack thereof. There’s a secret dealing with Stalin and Craig’s character being a Professor with a ton of knowledge on Stalin obviously wants to find this supposed diary and of course shenanigans ensue. Sort of.

Sounds something like dan Brown book right? You’re not far off. It’s based off of a novel by Richard Harris who writes mostly historical fiction novels similar to this. I never read Archangel, but I have read a few of his others and the books are really good. From what I recall they had a bit more action and suspense in them than this TV mini-series. Dan Brown’s books also have a lot more action in them, though neither are really action movies/books.

Daniel Craig was good and I suppose the rest of the cast wasn’t to bad, though nothing to call home about. I suppose I can see the argument that Craig hardly looks like a professor.

The series itself didn’t amaze me. The first episode wasn’t to bad. It showed some promised and seemed well produced. After that though, things just went down hill. There just wasn’t enough oomph or pizzaz, whatever your favorite word is.

Running Wilde

So I apparently missed that Running Wilde was ever on television (all be it briefly). It showed up on Netflix so I figured I’d check it out, especially since there were only thirteen, twentyish minute episodes.

I loved Running Wilde. I laughed a lot and as odd as things could get, it worked. I want to refrain from comparing it to Arrested Development, but the comedy in the show is similar to what you see in Arrested Development, or at least that’s the best comparison I can think of.

The cast is extraordinary as well. Let me start by saying there are a number of people from Arrested Development on this show, however it is different enough and the two shows aren’t related, though they do make some reference/jokes towards Arrested Development I think. David Cross makes a comment about the Blue Man group. Anyways, it isn’t Arrested DEvelopment, but you do have some of the same people involved. Will Arnett is great as always and Keri Russell does a good job opposite of him, though she’s probably one of the weaker people on the show (still good though). Peter Serafinowicz (you should follow this man on twitter if you use it) is amazing! The few things I’ve seen him in, he is great and I was glad to see him have quite a bit of screen time in this show and he did an excellent job. David Cross as I mentioned earlier is present and does a good job as does Mel Rodriguez as Migo. Setfania Owen narrates (sort of) the show and is ok. The voice over was never annoying, though it probably wasn’t needed. There are a number of great guest stars on the show occasionally as well (like Andy Richter and Jeffery Tambour). Really I can’t think of any complaints about the cast.

On the whole I loved the show. I thought it was great and I’m sort of baffled as to why it was cancelled. FOX has a reputation of canning shows early (I believe Running Wilde was cancelled three episodes in), so maybe it was just them doing their usual thing or maybe I missed something. Again, it’s not Arrested Development, but the humor is similar and you see some familiar faces.

The Roast of Charlie Sheen

At first I wasn’t going to post this, but then after I thought about it I figured why the hell not.

So I did not watch the Roast of Charlie Sheen when it aired. I’ve actually yet to see it on TV. I do however have a Netflix account (insert shameless endorsement here) and watched it, but first let me comment on the Comedy Central roasts in general.

I had low expectations. I’ve not been fond of the Comedy Central roasts overall. Even the ones I liked were still kind of shitty. When I looked at who was doing the roasts I was a bit surprised as well. It’s an odd group they got together and I wasn’t sure what the result would be.

Seth MacFarlene was the roast master and he started out pretty strong. During the introductions he managed to get in a  few good jabs occasionally as well. He was to nice though during those intros.

Steve-O from Jackass fame didn’t do so well, especially is finale antic. It seemed kind of bizarre. Kate Walsh wasn’t great either, though she did better. Still, as bad as they might have been Mike Tyson was the worst, which should not come as a surprise. I still don’t know why he was there or why people are so enamored with him. He read some poems, most of which I couldn’t understand, which may have been part of the problem. A few of his sort of one liners were actually really good. Most was indecipherable and just weird. He also had a bad habit of talking while others roasted, something which happened to frequently. I blame Comedy Central though for taking time to let us hear those pointless audio snippets. They should’ve just left the mics off for us.

John Lovitz was pretty good, though some of his jokes fell flat. Can’t be perfect though. Anthony Jeselnik was actually pretty good, but his delivery wasn’t great. He gets made fun of for it later, and it is true. If the deliveries had been better the jokes might have gotten even more laughs. Patrice O’neal was a pretty anti-climatic roast since he was the last roaster. I expected something more from him, especially since he seemed to get shit on quit a lot by everyone else. I thought he was going to come back with more. Actually I feel like he just kind of ditched most of his material when he got to the stand and just tried to improvise a lot of it.

Will Shatner was actually pretty good. He did a good job at dishing the shit out and shitting on himself at the same time. He also played up the old ignorant racist thing a bit (possibly inspired by Shit my Dad Says). Shatner was no where near as racy as Amy Schumer. I thought someone might try to beat the shit out of her at some point. But that’s the point of roasting. You have to be a dick. In a lot of ways she was the most like Don Rickles. I think the fact that it came from her (yes I’m basing this on her gender and physical mannerisms) is part of what added to the shock value. Jeffery Ross was probably the best all around. He has experience though and I feel like there is a reason he’s at every roast. He does a good job and he clearly hasn’t lost the skill.

Charlie Seen seemed to handle everything pretty well. He also had a great bit at the end. He did a lot better than some of the roasters at the end, and his speech about how he’s no longer winning but has already won was actually really good. It actually makes me really wonder how right I was back when the whole Charlie Sheen bonanza began. I always wondered how much was him truly being bonkers and how much was just played up. Either way he did a great job at keeping himself in the spotlight and marketing himself. That and the whole thing makes a great story down the road to talk about the “dark times I went through and how I’ve changed.” Who knows.

Overall it was actually one of the better roasts from Comedy Central that I’ve seen. None of the roasters really bombed. They all got of a few good jokes.

Roast of the Comedy Central Type

I started out to write about the Charlie Sheen roast and got sidetracked. That post will follow this one.

I’ve not been overly please with Comedy Central’s roast. At least not the ones in recent years. My familiarity with roasts is with those along the lines of the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. Those were amazing or at least the bits I always saw. It always seemed like the number of roasters on there was a good number and they were all talented. I mean you had guys like Don Rickles on there. A lot of the good roasts I remember weren’t even done by stand-up comedians, rather just comedic actors or genuinely funny people. It was great. That and the people being roasted were in their prime. They were possibly at the height of their fame or at least still churning out good work. If nothing else they were respected.

The Comedy Central roasts seem to feature celebrities as a joke or grab someone based on a passing fad. Charlie Sheen for example. I mean why Flavor Flav or Pamela Anderson? I could careless about the majority of the people they’ve chosen to roast. Furthermore they have some odd choices in roasters. I understand brining in people (like Martin’s) who are friends or past coworkers of the person being roasted. They need to be funny though. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the choices, but not enough. The comedians they chose aren’t always great either. I mean you don’t have to roast the guy, but at least be funny if you aren’t. Jeffery Ross and Greg Giraldo were pretty much always great.

I’ve never gotten that fun vibe from these roasts though. The old ones, everyone were pales. Maybe it’s the way things were back then, but they were having fun and even if something bombed no one seemed to care (maybe alcohol helped).

I have no suggestions really. In fact this is probably a half-assed post. Still I can’t help but love some of those old roasts and wish that they could be done today. If nothing else it’d be nice if the folks at Comedy Central watched a few of those old roasts and took some notes. Maybe tell the roasters to watch as well.

Monty Python: Almost the Truth

If you are a Python fan and have not seen Monty Python: Almost the Truth than you must stop reading this (well you can finish reading this if you’d like) and watch it immediately. Even if you’ve only ever seen The Holy Grail I urge you to watch this and edumacate yourself. It’s on Netflix Instant and has been for some time. While it is a six episode documentary with each episode being roughly 50 minutes, don’t let that put you off. I watched it over the course of a week and I wish I could have seen more.

The documentary starts with the Python boys when they were boys all the way through their films and where they are all sort of at now. The doc uses a lot of archive footage, both video and stills. Once they start talking about sketches you’ll get to watch some of them in their entirety. You also have some interviews with some current comedians like Eddie Izzard, Steve Coogan, and Russell Brand among others. None of those interviews are used a lot. THey are very brief bits put in to give you some spacing and to help the flow

Each episode of the doc generally focuses on one area. The first ones are a bit mixed up as you see the Pythons as boys and discuss their upbringing. Then you movie on to their university years and post university years where they all did various sorts of things. Finally you get into the creation and production of Flying Circus and slowly move into discuss the live shows and move to America. Their first movie is crammed in there and then the next episodes are basically devoted almost one per movie to The Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and the Meaning of Life and the end of Python.

You get some great stuff out of the Python stars. Their interviews are all away from each other so you hear each of them grumble about another member every now and then. Actually one thing you get from watching the doc is that they really didn’t get a long a lot of the time. They were close friends who hung out with each other all the time, but were just some dude who they worked with and mostly enjoyed working with.

John Cleese is hard to figure in his interview. There are times when he is genuinely talking crap about someone and there are other times where I’m pretty sure he was just messing about, but he plays it straight (as usual) so it is hard to tell at times.

Eric Idle, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones are all still alive (unless something has happened so recently that I’ve somehow missed hearing about this.). Graham Chapman however is dead and was not alive when they made this. He is still in it. A lot of the other Python members talk about him and the doc uses collaborators of the Python’s frequently and you get some stuff about Graham from them. The doc uses quite a bit of archive footage of Graham, especially past interviews to help give him a voice.

The documentary is actually quite brilliant on its own. It flows wonderfully and everything is nice and balanced out. That and the material is just outstanding. It is about the lives of the Python members. It is about their lives and how it tied to Python. It isn’t simply “oh this is how we made this sketch or this movie” but what they went through during this whole Monty Python madness. Everyone must watch it.

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