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Archive for the ‘Parks and Recreation’ Category

[LISTENED TO: March 29, 2015] Yes Please

amyI typically don’t read memoirs.  I don’t really care that much about celebrities to bother with most of them. I do like author and comedian memoirs, however, because they’re usually well written and/or funny accordingly.  I have recently been on a big Amy Poehler kick because of the end of Parks and Recreation, so I was really exited when this (finally) came in at the library.

If you have read the book, note that the audio book is chock full of things that are not in the book.  She talks a lot about the “studio” she is recording in (she says she built it).  She and Seth Meyers seem to have a fun improv banter going on (which I assume is not in the book).  And the final chapter was read live in front of a UCB audience.  To my ear this chapter is the funniest thing in the book, probably because it is the least formal sounding and the audience really enjoys it.  On the other hand, after having looked through the book in the store the other day, I see that the book is chock full of things (mostly pictures) that are not in the audiobook.  So choose wisely.

The audio book is read by Poehler, which is pretty cool.  She has help from Carol Burnett and Kathleen Turner (although I don’t think either one says more than a few lines) and Patrick Stewart who recites her poetry and epigrams.  Seth Meyers gets a chapter and Amy’s parents chime in a few times.  But here’s the thing, evidently her Leslie Knope character is almost Poehler’s talking voice, but not quite.  There is something disconcerting about listening to her sound not exactly as you are familiar with her sounding.  I think she talks a little more slowly and deliberately (which makes sense for an audio book) than Leslie does.  So that actually took some getting used to.

Here’s the other thing.  This book is not all that funny.  And it is not really meant to be all funny.  I mean, there are funny parts sure, but it’s not a laugh a minute story.  Poehler gets into some serious issues (a lengthy chapter about apologizing to a disabled girl whom she inadvertently offended on national TV, visiting a third world country, and various other dangers of growing up and being a parent).  Poehler sprinkles these humor but they are quite serious. (more…)

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fallFall has traditionally been the time when the networks unveil their best news shows.  And, amusingly, within two weeks one or two are usually cancelled.  This Fall has been something of an exception with the first show not getting cancelled until after four whole episodes!  What staying power the networks have! I also have to wonder if now that the first domino has fallen if other shows will get the axe next.  I also wonder why American networks don’t simply do what the British networks do and ask for 6 episodes in a season so that if a show doesn’t get renewed at least its story is finished.

I have imagined that people wonder why we don’t watch all the shows that get huge raves from people In the Know, and the primary reason is that we don’t have any premium channels and can’t be bothered to watch things on our computer.  So, yeah, someday we’ll binge watch Veep or maybe Game of Thrones (actually, Sarah will never watch that), but for now, we’re still a broadcast TV family.

To follow-up on a couple of shows from the summer: we actually never even watched Fargo, despite my being excited to watch it.  I read about how violent it was and just decided to give it a miss.  And Halt and Catch Fire was mildly intriguing, but not enough for us to watch more than two episodes.  Two shows that we did enjoy quite a lot were Married (terribly uninspired name, guys) and You’re the Worst.  They were both shockingly raunchy.

Of the two, You’re the Worst was much funnier.  In addition to the two main characters, who were just so unpleasant, the supporting cast was awesome.  I haven’t heard if the show was renewed, but I hope so.  Oh, I see it was, hooray.  Married was a bit more problematic for me, as I love Judy Green and Nat Faxon, but the show just wasn’t all that funny.  It certainly had moments, again mostly from the great supporting cast, but the main plot lines between Greer and Faxon were just so negative and hopeless that it didn’t really inspire much humor.

Two other great comedies that we saw this summer were new to us.  A Comedy Central show that we missed last season but loved this season was Drunk History.  Holy cow is that show funny.  The reenactments are simply genius, and I am so curious to know if these people actually know the history that they are talking about or if they are given scripts or what.  We need to find Season 1 to see what we missed.  And Garfunkel and Oates is a fantastic show starring the great comedy team of, well Garfunkel and Oates.  I’ve enjoyed their music videos a whole lot and was delighted by their show as well.  Hooray for Kate and Riki.

We also watched Welcome to Sweden which was pretty dreadful–so much potential but no chemistry and no comic timing.  I assumed it had been cancelled, but I just read that it was renewed.  Huh.

Anyway, on to the Fall and new shows:

So last time, I did a tally of networks.  Let’s see who wins this time:
ABC: 6 FOX: 5 NBC: 4  CBS: 3  SyFy: 1 Comedy Central: 1

ABC has finally surpassed FOX.  I find that somewhat hard to believe, but they did it.  CBS and NBC just can’t seem to boost those averages.
(more…)

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harpoctSOUNDTRACK: THE DECEMBERISTS, LAND HO!, BOBBY KNIGHT RANGER, LETTERS TO CLEO and more on PARKS AND RECREATION (April 24, 2014).

unityLast night, in the season finale of Parks and Recreation, the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity concert finally happened.  And, despite them never talking about who would be at the concert, the final show list was surprising and maybe not so surprising.

To see the Decemberists play live was a huge surprise and was totally wonderful (and to see Jenny Conley on keyboards looking healthy was very nice) especially since they have been more or less on hiatus for a time.  Although maybe it shouldn’t have been such a surprise since Michael Schur directed a Decemberists video a few years back.

Ginuwine played a song as well (I don’t actually know him), and it shouldn’t have been a surprise because in a past episode it was revealed that character Donna is actually Ginuwine’s cousin.

Then came Letters to Cleo.  This was a surprise because they’ve been broken up for years and, aside from a hit were never really all that big (I was huge fan and saw them live once).  Although it was not a real surprise because Ben has been seen wearing an LtC shirt from time to time on the show.  Seeing him sing along to the chorus (off stage) was great.  I also just read that the drummer from LtC is the drummer in Andy’s band Mouse Rat.

Next was Bobby Knight Ranger, a hilarious visual joke of three members dressed like Bobby Knight (with really fake white wigs) who, played nothing but “Sister Christian” for their set.  At the end of their set they threw chairs.  It was a weird throwaway joke that was very funny.  It was made even funnier when during the credits it became clear that Bobby Knight Ranger was actually Yo La Tengo.  This is just surprising as I don’t know any connection there, but in my experience Yo La Tengo are game for anything.

Land Ho! finished the night.  Land Ho!, if you follow the show is Pawnee’s biggest band (fronted by Wilco dude Jeff Tweedy (!)).  They played a song and then Mouse Rate (and others) jammed with them for a holographic tribute to Li’l Sebastian (a running joke that I think is way overplayed and yet which makes me laugh every single time)..

I was so delighted to not know who was playing before hand because every band was a fun surprise.  But seriously, did these bands all fly in just to play one song?   Surely they must have done a few songs for the crowd.  And if so, I think it would behoove Parks and Rec to get a CD out of songs from the Unity Concert (including some solo Johnny Karate songs as well.

The episode itself was also quite good.  While I didn’t care too much for the Tom’s Bistro segment (most of the jokes were pretty obvious from the get go), it was nice to see so many old characters make a cameo.  In fact, with the concert and the old characters and the tidy wrap up, it felt more like a series finale than a season finale.

And, SPOILER ALERT UNTIL THE VIDEO CLIP OF LETTERS TO CLEO PASTED BELOW: I though that their meld from the scene in the office on the third floor with the sly tag of three years later was a stroke of genius.  I have been a little down on this season because I thought it was getting a bit overdone with Leslie’s failures and whatnot. I actually wanted her to get the hell out of Pawnee.  But the compromise of how she stayed made sense for the show (if she didn’t take that job I was done with the show).  I was also not looking forward to a year of Leslie being pregnant (the triplets thing was also lame to begin with).  So the fact that it was all utterly skipped over–the pregnancy, the baby problems, the sleepless nights, even the fact that we didn’t have any awkward transitions in the job and that Leslie is just settled into her new job was excellent.

I also loved that Ben and Leslie were off to do something interesting (with Ben in a tux) with no explanation–what a great cliffhanger.  Kudos for one of the best season enders I’ve seen in a long time.

[READ: April 24, 2014] “The Gifts of Anna Speight”

This was a confusing story.  Well that is because it is an excerpt from a novel and therefore doesn’t stand on its own.  But I don;t know if it was just the excerpt they chose, but I found it not very compelling at all.

The story is told in second person, with Sylvie telling “us” what she knows about the Wibletts Institution.  Sylvie knew someone whose son resided there.  He suffered from PKU, a recessive disorder associated with seizures, mental retardation and blue-green urine.

There are so many layers of storytelling involved here that I was quite confused as to just who was who when Jess was suddenly interested in the story of Bob Germen.  Germen’s son is the above mentioned resident.  She wants to know about Bob’s son.  First we learn that Jess knew a lot about literary figures with disabled or retarded siblings or children and later we learn that she has a special needs daughter, Anna.

But most of the excerpt talks about the literary figures. (more…)

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2014 continues to throw new shows into the mix while other shows are already reaching their conclusions.  It’s very hard to keep regular track of shows when networks don’t follow the rules.  It also means that new shows pop up and quickly become favorites before going away possibly never to be seen again.

We’ve learned about the cancellation of a number of shows (but fortunately, none of the great ones and surprisingly not all of the bad ones).  And of course I’ll be sad to see How I Met Your Mother end, but it had a very good run.  And Cosmos has been mind blowing.

But I find that more and more my attention is turning to cable shows.  Although we don’t watch horror shows, I’m intrigued by Fargo.  And the cable shows are so much better at taking risks with their comedies.  We started to watch Orphan Black a while ago and then lost it, but I think we’ll be trying to catch up this summer.  And in old TV news, we just learned about Destroy Build Destroy (from 2010) and we are hooked.  Good thing there’s only 20 or so episodes.

So last time, I did a tally of networks.  Let’s see who wins this time (nightly shows like Late Night boost the numbers so I put them in parentheses):
FOX: 5 NBC: 4 (6)  CBS: 3 (4)  ABC: 3 SyFy: 3 Comedy Central: 2 (4) Lifetime: 1  IFC: 1 FX: 1

I can’t believe Fox still wins, but it has four comedies that I really like.  Actually Fox comedies are almost always good until they cancel them.
NBC is teetering away, but Thursday night helps it.
CBS is the old person’s network, and they’re losing a comedy that I like (and none of those promised new comedies look any good).
ABC is slowing building it’s comedy line up back, which is nice
And the cable networks combined really shine.

Oh and speaking of TV…how awesome was the Veronica Mars movie!!!!!!
(more…)

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Fall 2013 brought in a whole slew of new shows that we wanted to check out.  And while we dropped some after an episode, we still have a few that are lingering on the DVR which we are never really all that excited to watch them.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that a couple of shows that we thought were sure goners are still around.  And of course, there’s always those shows that we never watched and when we see an ad for it we say, “that’s still on?”

So last time, I did a tally of networks.  Let’s see who wins this time:
NBC: 4  FOX: 6   CBS: 3  Comedy Central: 1  FX: 1  ABC: 3  Lifetime: 1 SyFy: 1   (more…)

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2013 has been cruel to TV that I like.  Between the shows that have been cancelled and the shows that are ending, there’s not much to look forward to for the Spring.  Ben and Kate is gone, the US version of The Inbetweeners is gone, Don’t Trust the B—- is done (but we had stopped watching anyhow), 30 Rock is done, The Office is finishing up, Parenthood & Bunheads have budget issues which means there is some amount of question about their future and The Mindy Show is awful.

And yet, after that introduction, it’s not like there’s nothing on.

So here’s what’s on our schedule as February draws to a close.  I never bothered to tally shows by network before but let’s see:
NBC: 4  FOX: 3   CBS: 3  Comedy Central: 2  FX: 2   PBS: 2  ABC: 1  Lifetime: 1 SyFy: 1  IFC: 1 (more…)

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This season signals the end of a lot of shows, shows that have been with us for a long time.  This season also promised a slew of new comedies that were going to be amazing (I know they promise that every year, but some of them got really strong praise from objective sources).  And yet, here we are, half way through the season (Grimm is taking a Mid-Winter break or some such thing) and I didn’t really like anything new.

Next season is shaping up to be rather a wasteland. (more…)

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