About Last Night: A Few Thoughts on the Golden Globes

Watching the Golden Globes is always an odd experience.

First off, there’s the mix of TV awards with movie awards.  For someone like me, who spends most of January thinking about the Oscars, it’s always somewhat annoying to have to sit through all of the television awards before even getting to the first film award.  The Emmys are over so it’s not like winning a Golden Globe is going to give Chernobyl or Fleabag the boost necessary to win a real award.

(Especially since those two shows already deservedly cleaned up at the Emmys….)

When it comes to the Globes, we care about the movies.  I was happy with the majority of the film awards.  I was especially happy to see the underrated Missing Link pick up the award for Best Animated Film.  I was glad that Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was named Best Comedy, even though I think it’s debatable whether or not the film was actually a comedy.  I’m sorry Eddie Murphy didn’t win for Dolemite Is My Name but, at the same time, Taron Egerton gave an outstanding performance in Rocketman.  I haven’t seen 1917 yet so I’m not going to comment on whether it should have won Best Drama or whether Sam Mendes deserved to defeat Scorsese and Tarantino.  That said, upset victories are always fun.

Of course, this morning, most of the Golden Globe coverage is not centered on 1917 defeating both The Irishman and Marriage Story for Best Drama.  Instead, almost everyone is talking about Ricky Gervais.  It says something about the vapidness of pop cultural criticism in the age of social media that Gervais was apparently “too mean” for some people.

When it comes to a show like the Golden Globes, the host sets the tone.  For instance, when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted, they set a tone that basically said: “Look at us and all of our famous friends!”  It’s a friendly tone where everyone tells everyone else how great they are.  When Ricky Gervais hosts, the tone of the evening is usually a lot more awkward because no one is quite sure what Gervais is going to say and, being the Brit who created The Office, it’s not like Gervais is going to suffer if no one in Hollywood ever returns another one of his calls.  Both approaches have their strengths and their weaknesses.  There have been some years when I’ve been in the mood for the Fey/Poehler approach.  This year, with its promise of 11 months of wealthy celebrities trying to tell everyone else how to vote and probably getting angry because people in Iowa don’t care about funding Amtrak, I was in the mood for someone willing to shake things up and say, “Get over yourselves.”  In other words, I was in the mood for RIcky Gervais.

During Gervais’s opening monologue, he touched on several topics that everyone should have known he was going to touch on.  He said that Epstein didn’t kill himself and then accused everyone in the room of being his friend.  He told the assembled that Ronan Farrow was coming for all of them.  He told everyone that no one wanted to hear their political opinions because they had no idea what it was like to live in the real world and that they had less schooling than Greta Thunberg.

And whether you think any of that is funny or not is up to you.  Humor is subjective.  Personally, I think that the most important thing that a comedian can do is ridicule people who think that they’re above ridicule.  I also think that any belief or ideology that’s worth anything will be able to survive being the subject of a joke.  Many of my followers on twitter were not amused that Ricky Gervais made a joke about Greta Thunberg but so what?  If what she’s doing is truly worthwhile, it’ll be able to survive someone making a joke about her skipping school.

Besides, Gervais made a few good points.  Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself and a lot of famous people did hang out with him, even after he was first arrested.  The majority of Hollywood did work with Harvey Weinstein, even though apparently his behavior wasn’t exactly a secet.  There are many self-proclaimed “woke” celebrities who do work for terrible companies.  (And let’s not even get into the people who refuse to criticize China.)  And when it comes to politics, Patricia Arquette proved Gervais’s point to be correct during her acceptance speech.

(The audience, I noticed, was surprisingly lukewarm to Arquette’s anti-war speech.  There was some applause but still, one got the feeling that the room’s reaction was largely, “Oh God, Patricia’s talking politics again.”  Personally, I was more impressed with Joaquin Phoenix’s speech, if just because it may have been inarticulate but it was also sincere.  Of course, as soon as he said that celebs didn’t need private jets, the music started.)

Good points or not, you could tell that the audience was often not sure how to react to Gervais’s comments.  Tom Hanks looked shocked, though I think that has more to do with Hanks being the most impossibly wholesome film star working today than with what Gervais saying.  (Seriously, if anything bad ever comes out about Tom Hanks, my entire belief system will crash.)  Others, though, had that “OMG — WHAT’S HAPPENING!?” look on their face.  It reminded me a bit of the 2013 Country Music Awards, when Carrie Underwood made a joke about the Obamacare website crashing and the audience clearly didn’t know whether or not it was safe to laugh.

(Of course, the same people who loved it when the CMAs made fun of Obamacare weren’t amused when future ceremonies featured jokes about Trump.  So often, people’s attitude towards humor seems to be, “I love it when you make jokes about the other side but if you make a joke about me, you’re the worst person who ever lived.”  Eventually, Gervais will tweet out an anti-Trump joke and the people who love him now will suddenly hate him and the people who currently hate him will go back to retweeting him.  What a vapid time to be alive.)

Anyway, last night’s Golden Globes ceremony was a typical awards show ceremony and no one will remember a thing about it in a week.  The Globes are pretty much there to tide us over until the Oscar nominations are announced.  They did their job and life goes on.

Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 3.24 “To Serve Man” (dir by Richard L. Bare)

“It’s a cookbook!”

During the month of October, we like to share classic episodes of horror-themed television.  That was easier to do when we first started doing our annual October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens because every single episode of the original, black-and-white Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.  Sadly, that’s no longer the case.  In fact, there is exactly one episode of the original Twilight Zone on YouTube.

Fortunately, that episode is a classic.  In 1962’s To Serve Man, an alien (Richard Kiel) comes to Earth and invites people to return to his home planet with him.  He leaves behind a book.  When everyone learns that the title of the book is To Serve Man, they excitedly decide that the book must be an instruction manual on how to help mankind.  The truth, as we learn in the episode’s classic finale, is something a little bit different.

Here’s the episode!  Watch it before YouTube yanks it down.

(This episode originally aired on October 2nd, 1962.  It was directed by Richard L. Bare from a script by Rod Serling.  It was based on a short story by Damon Knight.)


Here’s The Trailer For The Witcher!

To be honest, I had my doubt about this project but the trailer actually looks kind of good.

The Witcher, which is based the series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski, tells the story of Geralt of Rivia, who hunts monsters at a time and in a land where it can often be difficult to tell the difference between who is truly a monster and who is not.  Heny Cavill will be playing Geralt in the series and Adrzej Sapkowsi swill serve as a creative consultant.

So, let’s hope for the best when The Witcher drops on Netflix on December 20th!

Here’s the trailer.

Horror On TV: The Great Bear Scare (dir by Hal Mason)

I came across this old cartoon on YouTube.  Apparently, it aired in October of 1983.

It’s about bears living in Bearbank.  Halloween is approaching and they’re worried about getting invaded by the monsters who live on Monster Mountain.  Well, that makes sense.  My question is why would you buy a house near a location called Monster Mountain?  And really, shouldn’t the monsters be in the houses and the bears in the mountains?  This cartoon is weird.

Anyway, the bears are getting ready to feel the city but little Ted E. Bear sets out to confront his fears!  Woo hoo!

I don’t know.  It’s from 1983.  That was a strange year, I guess.


Guilty Pleasure No. 45: Utopia

Utopia ended on a Halloween.

Now, I’m not talking about utopia as a concept.  I imagine that there are still people out there who think that the idea of creating a utopia is a a viable one.  (I’m not one of those people but that’s mostly because I think living in a perfect world would be hella dull.)  Instead, I’m talking about a reality television show that premiered in September of 2014 and which was canceled one month later.

Though it’s pretty much forgotten today, Utopia was a pretty big deal in the months leading up to its first episode.  It’s estimated that Fox spent 50 million dollars to develop and promote the show.  Not only would Utopia air twice a week but, much in the style of Big Brother, audiences would be able to watch the show’s participants interact live online.  The commercials, which were inescapable that summer, explained that 12 people with radically different philosophies would be expected to come together and form a new society on a California farm.  An atheist would live with a minister!  A libertarian would have to work with a socialist!  An attorney would have to find common ground with an ex-con!  A huntress would eat at the same table as a vegetarian!  The show was an experiment that would last an entire year and it would answer the question: Can different people come together to start a brave new world?

I have to admit that I was kind of excited for the show.  Utopia started just as the 16th season of Big Brother came to an end.  That season was one of the worst in the history of Big Brother, largely as the result of the show’s producers putting the insufferable Frankie Grande in the House and then trying to rig the show in his favor.  After a terrible season of Big Brother, I was actually had hope that maybe Utopia would be everything that Big Brother had ceased being.

Of course, I was wrong.  From the first episode of Utopia, it became obvious that we would never learn whether people could come together to start a brave new world because, for the most part, no one on the show was interested in doing that.  There was a lot of drinking, of course.  There was also an entire episode devoted to one of the Utopians, a pastor, worrying that he would lust in his heart for the female Utopians unless they started wearing more clothes.  For two episodes, a redneck named Red announced that he wanted to start his own society in the woods but eventually he changed his mind.  The Utopians lived on a farm but only doomsday prepper Bella seemed to have any farming experience and, as quickly became obvious in her case, having experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you know what you’re doing.

It was a weird show.  I’m assuming that Fox thought that there would be instant conflict if they put a libertarian and a socialist together but, for the most part, no one on the show ever discussed their differing philosophies.  In fact, it was hard to see that any of them had any philosophy as all.  Hex was regularly described as being a “huntress,” despite the fact that we never saw her hunt.  Rob was described as being a libertarian but we never actually saw him discuss what that meant and he acted like just as much of a petty authoritarian as the other members of the cast.  The show tried to create the appearance of conflict but, like most Americans outside of Twitter, the cast dealt with their differences by not really discussing them.  So, as a result, we ended up with entire episodes devoted to doomsday prepper Bella getting upset because veterinary assistant Bri wanted to have some say in how the farm animals were fed.

The one thing that kept all of this from being unbearable dull was that the show’s perpetually optimistic host, Dan Piraro, described every minor event in breathless detail.  When one of the Utopians got too drunk and acted like an ass, he was put on a trial.  The end result of the trial?  Everyone asked him to please not get drunk and act like an ass again.  “And so the Utopians have created a legal system!” Piraro exclaimed.

As the show progressed, the Utopians started to get bored.  Some of them voluntarily left Utopia, largely because they just wanted to find something better to do with their time.  After the show’s producers tried to turn attorney Mike Quinn into the star of the show and centered a few episodes around his relationship with “polyamorous Dedeker,” he abruptly left.  (“And so Mike leaves Utopia….”)  Whenever an old Utopian left, two prospective new ones would be brought in and would explain why they should be selected to live in Utopia but the new Utopians soon proved themselves to be just as boring as the old ones.  The Utopians attempted to raise money for food by opening up their farm to the general public.  Huntress Hex gave hunting lessons and revealed that she wasn’t really sure how to use a bow and arrow.  One of the new arrivals attempted to create a website for the farm, just to have the site besieged by online trolls.  Ratings crashed and the show soon went from airing twice a week to only airing on Fridays.

And yet, the worse the show got, the more fascinating it became.  Utopia offered audiences the opportunity to watch a month-long train wreck as it unfolded.  It was so bad that you couldn’t look away and each attempt by Fox to somehow spice up the show only made it more of a disaster.  I would watch each episode just to see how much more pointless the show could become.

The final episode aired on Halloween and it featured the host wearing a cape and, if I remember correctly, plastic fangs at one point.  By this point, Fox had changed the show’s concept.  Now, the viewers would vote each week on who they wanted to banish from Utopia.  (“But I’m an atheist!” Hex wailed, “America’s going to hate me!”)  Or, at least, that’s what the show’s producers said was going to happen.  Instead, Utopia was canceled before America ever got a chance to vote.

Interestingly, the only people shocked by Utopia‘s cancellation were the people living on the farm.  Apparently, the day after Halloween started out normally for them and for whoever might have been watching them on the live feeds.  Sometime in the afternoon, the feeds abruptly went down and never came back up.  From what I’ve read, the Utopians were called into a meeting and told that they were going home immediately.

Utopia has never been tried again but I fondly remember watching it.  The Utopians failed to create a brave new world but they kept me amused for 12 episodes.

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars
  39. Ghost Whisperer
  40. Parking Wars
  41. The Dead Are After Me
  42. Harper’s Island
  43. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  44. Paranormal State

Horror On TV: Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy in The Pumpkin That Wouldn’t Smile (dir by Chuck Jones)

Awwww, that poor pumpkin!  Well, hopefully, he’s smiling now!

This animated special originally aired on Halloween night in 1979.  I would imagine that the crying pumpkin probably traumatized children across America.  Hopefully, all the kids were out trick or treating when this aired.  Myself, I remember that when I was a kid, I would help my mom carve a pumpkin every year.  And then I would get so depressed when we later had to throw it out.  Seriously, I would get really attached to those jack o’lanterns.

Anyway, this cartoon is before my time but I have a feeling that, if I had been around to watch it, I would have been depressed for a whole year afterwards.