Music Video Of The Day: Unemployment Line by Creed Bratton (2013, dir by Zach Mann)


Yes, this is the same Creed who we all know and love from playing a version of himself on The Office.  While everyone knows that Creed was a musician before he became an actor, it seems to be less well-known that he continued to record music while appearing on the show and after the final episode.

This is a heartfelt song and, if you go over to YouTube, you can read Creed’s story about what inspired this song and why he recorded it.  As Creed writes in the video’s description: See the GOOD in people, the value of our connection to one another, and realize that the ailments of an unemployed society are not a result of laziness, they are a product of loneliness.

So, from Creed Bratton, here is Unemployment Line.

 

People of Earth – Pilot, Season 1, Episode 1 – Review by


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People of Earth is the amazingly quick-witted and fast paced comedy show that you better watch or ALL of the unicorns will die… especially the cute baby unicorns- they’ll die first!

I was primed to like this show more than a 50% discount on Blue Jays tickets.  The comedy cast is overflowing with known national treasures: Wyatt Cynac, Ana Gasteyer, Brian Huskey, and Oscar Nunez, but is blessed with new talent who have quick comedic timing that matches perfectly with the snappy dialogue.  In short, this is NOT a show to knit to, tweet during, or otherwise be distracted by when watching; so, take your adderall and focus because this show is NO SHIT LEGIT!  SIDE NOTE: I’m seriously thinking about getting on the adderall bandwagon; weight loss inducing intellectual steroids sound pretty fucking awesome to me!

The pilot begins with Ozzie (Wyatt Cynac) having a nightmare about hitting a deer in Beacon, New York with a deer behind him saying, “Don’t get weird, but you’re about to hit a deer” and he wakes in a sweat.  He’s on assignment to Beacon to investigate a UFO Abductee support group.

At the support group, we learn that there are three types of Aliens: Reptilians, Whites (who look like Lord of the Rings Elf People), and Greys (who look like scrotums).  Also, we learn that the jokes fly fast.  The group therapy scenes are the heart of the sitcom.  The jokes play off of one another brilliantly!

Ozzie finishes his alien support group article and goes to his boss Jonathan Walsh (Michael Cassidy) in New York City who basically runs a Buzzfeedish clickbait listicle mill.  His boss doesn’t get humor and speaks in business school-ease at all times like a young Mitt Romney.  Jonathan wants Ozzie to return Upstate to Beacon and learn more about the people in the support group.

Upon returning to Beacon, Ozzie discovers that the abductees all have boring jobs or don’t work.  Ozzie learns about the abductions and that their stories are similar.  However, there are two people who don’t share abduction stories: the group leader Gina and Gerry who has never made contact with an alien, but wishes that he did.  There have been some reviewers who think this points to these two or either being aliens, but I don’t know or care because their delivery is fucking great and I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole.  Ozzie realizes that his nightmares match the stories that he is hearing.

Ozzie believes that HE was abducted.  Ozzie becomes furious when he discovers that his boss published his draft article about the group with their REAL names, causing Ozzie to quit his job with Buzzfeedish.  He decides to explore his abduction memories and takes a job in Beacon at the local paper.

The show ends with us learning that Jonathan is a Reptilian – DUN DUN DUN.

ROLL HILARIOUS CREDITS!

There are aliens on the mothership above earth being hysterical.  The funniest and snarkiest alien is the scrotum looking whom I shall call Scroty on the show he’s named Jeff, but Scroty is more apt.

This show is THE funniest show on television.  Period.  Remember, if you don’t watch, ALL the unicorns will die!

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20 Good Things That I Saw On Television in 2013


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Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2013 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year.  Here they are, in random order:

1) The series finale of Breaking Bad

Perfection.

2) The series finale of The Office

After a rough couple of seasons, The Office redeemed itself with a perfect conclusion.  How can you do any better than Jim and Pam moving to Texas?

3) Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim

Without a doubt, the funniest 15 minutes on television.

4) Burning Love on E!

E! broadcast episodes of the hilarious, Bachelor-parodying web series in 2013 and gave everyone a chance to follow Julie as she pined for Blaze and asked lucky bachelors, “Will you hold my box?”

5) SyFy Saturdays

This year, my Saturday night ritual was to gather online with the Snarkalecs and watch an original movie on SyFy.  And while all of the Normals (as we refer to the rest of the world) were going crazy over Sharknado, the Snarkalecs knew that End of the World was a hundred times better.

6) The only likable team won The Amazing Race 23

I can’t remember their names but I can remember that I liked them more than Tim & Marie, Nicole & Travis, and Leo & Jamal.

7) Bonnie and Clyde

Broadcast on three different networks and over two separate nights, Bonnie and Clyde was big, silly, over-the-top, glamorous, and full of style.  It made me want to go out and rob a bank while looking good doing it.

8) Orange is the New Black

We lost a lot of good shows in 2013 but, fortunately, we also gained a few new ones.

9) South Park satirizes Obama and Game of Thrones

I like one of those targets and dislike the other (guess which is which) but the important thing is that both of them have reached a point where they deserve to be satirized.  Not surprisingly, South Park continues to be one of the few show to have the guts to ridicule the topics that other shows are too cowardly to touch.

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel was frequently uneven but it was always worth watching for Vera Farmiga and Max Thieriot.

11) The Space Kitten

That little space kitten that was singing Wrecking Ball at the American Music Awards?  Adorable!

12) Jimmy Kimmel

Whether he was causing Kanye West to have a meltdown or posting fake videos on YouTube, 2013 was the year of Kimmel.

13) The Talking Dead

Look, we all know that The Walking Dead is great but, for me, The Talking Dead is usually the highlight of AMC on Sunday night.  Chris Hardwick is adorable to begin with but the moment he choked up while discussing the death of Herschel confirmed that he’s not just a host.  He’s a true fan as well.

14) Miley Cyrus at the VMAs

It was tacky, it was shocking, it was disturbing, it got people talking and overreacting, and it was everything that television should be.  (That said, I would like to point out that — despite what some members of the media seem to believe — twerking existed long before Miley Cyrus decided to make it a part of her act.  I was twerking back when Miley was still Hannah Montana.)

15) That episode of Girls with Patrick Wilson

One of the best 25 minutes of television ever, and not just because Patrick Wilson is super hot.

16) The Herstory of Dance and Intro to Felt Surrogacy episodes of Community

Without the guiding vision of Dan Harmon, Community‘s fourth season was undeniably rough.  However, these two episodes reminded us that Community still had something to offer.  (That said, I’m glad Dan Harmon’s back for season 5…)

17) Colton walks off Survivor …. again

Colton Cumbie is one of the most loathsome people to ever show up on a reality TV show so it was satisfying to see him utterly fail to win Survivor not once but twice.

18) The Big Brother Blog got a new writer named Lisa Marie

This year, Bill Lage asked me to write episode recaps for the Big Brother Blog.  Of course, I said yes and, for three months, I had a lot of fun keeping people updated with what all of the loathsome people in the Big Brother house were up to.  I made a lot of new friends and I even made a persistent enemy named Maggie Long, a poor little internet troll who just couldn’t handle the fact that I encouraged my readers to “Stay supple!”  It was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it all over again in 2014.

19) Winter Storm Cleon caused the local news people to freak out!

Yes, we did get some snow and ice down here in December.  Unlike you folks up North, those of us in Texas only see snow and ice every other year so, whenever it does show up, you can be sure that all of the local newspeople are going to panic.  That’s exactly what happened this year and it was fun to watch.

20) Degrassi!

My favorite Canadian show came back!

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Tomorrow, we take a look at ten of my favorite books of 2013.

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  3. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  4. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  5. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

 

12 Random Things That I Am Thankful For In 2013


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Traditionally here in the States, Thanksgiving is the forgotten holiday that sits between Halloween and Christmas.  This is the time of year that those of us in the States are supposed to think about what we are thankful for.  According to the people in Washington, this year we’re also supposed to talk to all of the members of our family about politics.  They’ve even made talking points available, just in case you have a relative who isn’t crazy about your personal ideology.  To me, though, that seems kind of foolish.  Why would you ruin a perfectly good Thanksgiving with politics when you could spend your time thinking, talking, and arguing about movies and television?

After all, Presidents are only around for, at the most, eight years.  Movies are forever.

With that in mind, here are twelve random things that I am thankful for in 2013.

1) I’m thankful that there are still visionaries like Shane Carruth who can make films like Upstream Color.

2) I’m thankful for actors, like Robert Downey, Jr., who are capable of making mainstream films, like Iron Man 3, memorable.

3) I’m thankful that a show like Breaking Bad got a chance to remind us of just how good television can be.

4) I’m thankful for Blue Is The Warmest Color.

5) I’m thankful that at least some people understand that The Counselor is one of the best films of 2013.

6) I’m thankful that this October was this site’s most succesful horror month yet!

7) I’m thankful that, in 2013, we can still watch movies like The Passion of Joan of Arc.

8) I’m thankful that I actually saw Tyler Perry’s Temptation because, otherwise, I would not believe that such an inept and deeply offensive film could have been made.

9) I am thankful for Icona Pop’s I Love It, which is currently my favorite song to play while I’m dancing around the house in my underwear.

10) I am thankful that the series finale of The Office was everything that it should have been.

11) I am thankful that Dexter finally ended because, seriously, the show was getting so bad that it was running the risk of overshadowing how good the first few seasons actually were.

12) Finally, and most importantly, I am thankful for our readers and for our subscribers.  Y’all are the ones who make all of this worthwhile.  Thank you!

10 Good Things That Lisa Marie Saw On TV In 2012


Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.  El. Oh. El.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2012 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year:

1) SyFy Movies On Saturday

For me, one of the highlights of 2012 has been meeting and getting to know the Snarkalecs on twitter.  Who are the Snarkalecs?  We’re just a group of very witty people who are capable of appreciating films like Two-Headed Shark Attack and Arachnoquake.  Every Saturday night, we watch and live tweet whatever’s playing on the SyFy network.  It’s the perfect way to end the week.  My favorite SyFy film of 2012?  Jersey Shore Shark Attack.

2) The Basic Lupine Urology episode of Community

A great crime has occurred at Greendale Community College.  A yam has been callously destroyed and the study group is going to find out who was responsible and make sure the perpetrator is punished to the full extent of the law.  This spot-on perfect parody of Law and Order was one of the highlights of Community’s third season.  Donald Glover and Danny Pudi were simply adorable playing good cop/bad cop.

3) Joe Manganiello and Alexander Skarsgard on True Blood

The latest season of True Blood may have been uneven but whenever Alexander Skarsgard or Joe Manganiello showed up on-screen, the show was perfect (especially if they happened to be naked at the time).

4) South Park

As always.  This year highlights have included the classic anti-bullying episode and the annual Halloween episode.

5) Survivor: Philippines

The previous season of Survivor was one of the best, featuring truly interesting competitors like Jonathan Penner, Lisa Whelchel, Abi-Marie, and Malcolm.  Perhaps best of all, the season ended with the most deserving survivor winning the million bucks.

6) Clint Eastwood’s Chair Speech

A lot of very snide comments have been made about Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention but, personally, I think it was brilliant political theater.  Even better, his two main points — that the President is essentially an empty suit and the Vice President is a jackass — are looking more and more true with each passing day.

7) The Joe Biden/Paul Ryan Vice Presidential Debate

Speaking of great political theater…. The 2012 Presidential election was dominated by debates but there’s only one that was truly memorable and it was the Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.  While Paul Ryan talked about disaster in his overly serious grad student way, Joe Biden grinned like an aging serial killer deep in the throes of senility.  This was less a political debate and more a case of performance art.

8) The London Olympics

I loved watching the London Olympics this year and not just because of the Fab Five, either.  The Danny Boyle-directed opening ceremonies were amazing to watch and I had fun going on twitter to ridicule NBC’s hilariously bad coverage of the games.

9) Liz & Dick on Lifetime

Oh, c’mon — it was fun!

10) The Office Made A Comeback…Sorta

After one of the worst seasons in the history of primetime television, The Office has redeemed itself slightly with its current (and final) season.  Even Catherine Tate has become tolerable.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at the past year with a list of my 10 favorite novels of 2012.

12 Random Things That I Am Thankful For In 2012


So many things to be thankful for!

Today is the day that I (and perhaps a few others) look over the past year and ask myself, “What am I thankful for?”  I am happy to say that I have a lot to be thankful for right now.  I’m thankful for my family, for my friends, for my readers, and for my love.

Believe it or not, I’m even thankful that I’m now 27 years old!  When my family gathered together earlier today, I actually got to hang out with the grown ups!  Seriously, being an adult was a lot more fun than I was expecting.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is also the day when I do a post entitled “10 Things That I Am Thankful For.”  So, here we go.  As I stated previously, I’m thankful for a lot of things in 2012.  Here, in no specific order, is twelve of them:

1) I’m thankful that The Cabin In The Woods and Sinister reminded me of why I love horror films in the first place.

2) I’m thankful for the Snarkalecs on twitter, the best group of people that a girl could hope to watch a SyFy movie with.

3) I’m thankful that this current season of Survivor is one of the best yet.

4) I’m thankful that someday, when I do have a daughter, I’ll be able to watch films like Brave and The Hunger Games with her.

5) I’m thankful that Richard Linklater directed Bernie and let the true citizens of Texas speak for themselves.

6) I’m thankful that Sarah Polley wrote and directed Take This Waltz.

7) I’m thankful for the TCMParty on twitter, the best group of people that a girl could hope to watch a classic film on TCM with.

8) I’m thankful that the final season of The Office is turning out to be a good one.

9) I’m thankful that Skyfall reminded us of why we all love James Bond in the first place.

10) I’m thankful that Branded eventually ended.  Seriously, I was worried that film was never going to come to a close.

11) I’m thankful that The Avengers turned out to be a lot more fun than even I was expecting.

12) I’m thankful that even a generally disappointing film year can still see the release of films like Life of Pi and The Master.

What do you think, Trailer Kitties?

Don’t worry, kitties!  Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers will return next week!

Happy Thanksgiving!

10 Reasons Why I Hated Season 8 Of The Office


(Note: This post originally appeared on my new TV-related blog, What Is Lisa Marie Watching Tonight?)

This has been a truly depressing television season for me and it all comes down to one show.  For seven season, I loved the Office.  Even when it wasn’t at it best, it was still the show that I based my Thursday nights around.  And yet, as I watched the finale of eighth season of The Office last night, I breathed a sigh of relief once it was finally over.  Why?  Because season 8 was not only the worst season of the Office so far but it was also one of the worst seasons of television that I’ve ever sat through. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I knew that this season of The Office (the first without Steve Carell’s iconic Michael Scott) would be a rough one.  However, nothing could have prepared me for just how bad season 8 would become.  Looking back over season 8, it’s a struggle to remember one memorable line or moment that made me laugh out loud.  Instead, most of my memories center around being annoyed that the show that I loved could have possibly become so …. bad.

In the future, I’m going to write a post detailing how I would have handled the first post-Carell season of The Office.  But before I write that post up, I want to take a few moments to highlight 10 reasons why I hated season 8 of the Office.

(And, believe me, it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to just ten…)

1) Andy Bernard

I have to admit that my heart sank a little bit when, during the Season 8 premiere, it was revealed that the show would now center around the character of Andy Bernard.  Even before Steve Carell left the show, I always dreaded any episode that revolved around Andy.  Andy, who started out as such a perfectly annoying villain in season 3, had developed into a rather pathetic and needy character and Andy-centric episodes were usually the weakest of their respective seasons.  It didn’t help that Ed Helms — who is a great character actor — has a tendency to go overboard whenever cast in a lead role.

So, I knew from the start of the season that I wouldn’t be totally happy with Andy Bernard as manager but I had no way of guessing just how much I would eventually come to despise the character.  Whether he was weakly pursuing Erin or cruelly dumping his previous girlfriend twice in one day or failing to sue Robert California for giving his job away to Nellie, Andy proved himself to be just as stupid as Michael Scott but also a hundred times more pathetic.  It was impossible to root for Andy because so many of his problems were of his own creation.  As needy as Andy was as a character, Ed Helms was just as needy as a performer and every time he showed up on-screen, I felt like he was begging me to love him as opposed to giving me a reason to do so.  It didn’t help that the show’s writers devoted three or four episodes to having everyone in the Office basically spend half an hour tellings us that Andy was a great manager and we really should love him.

At the end of last night’s finale, Andy — after being unemployed for the last few episodes — got his job back in the least plausible way imaginable.  Instead of firing Nellie, he gave her a new job and then he flashed that big, toothy grin of his.

Fortunately, for the first time during season 8, he resisted the temptation to break out into song.

2) Nellie

Nellie showed up during the second half of the season and essentially appointed herself as the new manager of the office.  It was a plot development that made no sense and it was hard not to feel like the show’s producers were trying to force the audience to love Tate as much as they did.   

Yes, the writers of The Office love Catherine Tate and maybe the audience would love her to if  Nellie, the character she was playing, had any real reason for existing beyond the fact that the writers wanted to work with Catherine Tate. 

Since Tate had no real reason to be on the show, it was hard not to resent the amount of screentime that was devoted to her.  It’s also hard to look forward to the fact that it appears that she’ll be an even more prominent character during season 9.

3) Robert California

At the start of Season 8, we were informed that Robert California (played by James Spader) had somehow managed to talk his way into being named CEO of Sabre.  We were told that he was a mysterious, charismatic figure who might be a genius.

Instead, he turned out to be just another inconsistent character whose personality changed from episode to episode until finally, he was revealed to be so pathetic that he couldn’t even handle Nellie declaring herself to be the new regional manager.  In his first few appearances, James Spader brought his trademark quirkiness to the role but then, once it became apparent that show’s writers couldn’t be bothered to figure out who Robert California actually was, Spader pretty much gave up on giving a performance.  Instead, he just became a name actor getting paid a lot of money to do not much of anything.

And yet the writers still insisted on trying to convince us that Robert California was an interesting character.  The first half of the season was largely devoted to the character.  We went to his mansion, we met his soon-to-be ex-wife, and we continually found ourselves wondering why the CEO of a Florida-based corporation was spending all of his time in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Robert California (and James Spader) will not be back for Season 9.  In the final episode, Robert California announced that his latest business venture would involve young women from Eastern Europe.  It was an unfunny end to an unfunny character.

4) Kevin and Erin: Just How Dumb Are They?

This has been an issue for a while but it really became obvious (and annoying) as things got more and more cartoonish during Season 8.  Erin and Kevin both seem to be stupid when the plot calls for it and just dumb when the plot doesn’t.  It wouldn’t be so much of a problem if not for the fact that there’s no logic to their occasional stupidity.  It’s never been firmly established just how stupid either one of them is and, as a result, their inability to understand the simplest of things feels more like lazy writing than anything else.

With Erin, this is an issue because this season was largely built around Andy pursuing her.  For a plot like that to be effective, you have to care about the characters and to care about the characters, you have to see some sort of vague reality in them even when they’re threatening to go over the top.

As for Kevin — well, where to begin?  Remember how, in the earlier seasons, Kevin seemed like he actually had the most active life out of the office of any of the people working there?  He would show up with a jaunty little hat on his head and he would drop hints about being addicted to gambling.  He was even the drummer in not one but two cover bands!

Now, he’s just another moron in the corner.

5) Angela and the Senator

Yes, we get it.  The senator’s gay.  It was funny the first four times that various characters went, “The senator’s gay!” but now, it just feels like a lazy punchline. 

Wouldn’t it have been fun to see Angela and the Senator’s wedding?  Seriously, this is a show that had a tradition of funny wedding episodes but, when given the perfect opputunity,  the show’s writers ignored a chance to showcase one of the strongest members of the original supporting cast.  Instead, Angela (and so many others) were just pushed off to the side so that we could spend more time with Robert California.    

6) What Does Jim Have To Smirk About?

Seriously, the man’s stuck in a rut.

7) When Did Pam Give Up On Being An Artist?

Whenever I watch reruns of The Office, I’m surprised by how much I relate to Pam.  That’s mostly because the Pam of the first few seasons seems to have very little in common with the  Pam of the 7th and 8th seasons.  Do you remember when Pam was an artist and, even more importantly, do you remember how great it was to watch as she finally started standing up for herself and following her dream during the first four seasons?

As I watched this last season, I thought about that wonderfully sweet scene from seasons past when Jim showed Pam the “artist’s studio” that he had set up in the garage.  And I wondered if that art studio was still sitting in the garage, untouched since Pam has apparently decided to give up on her dreams and just spend all of her time obsessing on the people that she works with.

8) What do Ryan and Gabe do all day?

Like seriously. 

9) Val (and others)

Seriously, what was the point of Val’s character this season?  If you’ve watched the entire season, do you know anything about Val beyond the fact that Darryl developed a crush on her?  I didn’t even catch that her name was Val until around her fifth appearance.  Obviously, the show’s writers expected us to take some sort of emotional stake in Darryl’s attempts to woo her but they never bothered to figure out just who exactly Val was meant to be.   

The same can be said, of course, of just about every new character on The Office this season.  Can you remember the name of the woman who Andy dumped so he could (finally) be with Erin?  How about Cathy, the girl who, out of nowhere, tried to seduce Jim and then mysteriously vanished from the show? 

Admittedly, this problem didn’t start with season 8.  Starting back in season 5, the Office developed a bad habit of carefully introducing and then randomly abandoning characters and plotlines.  (Remember Danny, the superhot traveling salesman played by Timothy Olyphant?)   However, it’s never bothered me in the past quite as much as it did during season 8.  Past seasons at least had someone there to anchor the show even when the writers seemed to get distracted.

And that leads me to the tenth reason why I hated season 8 of The Office

 10) No Michael Scott

That, I think, pretty much says it all.

Ten Good Things That Lisa Marie Saw on TV in 2011


Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.  El. Oh. El.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2011 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year:

1) The Goodbye, Michael episode of The Office:

So, this year, I’ve been kind of depressed because my former favorite show of all time — The Office — has been just awful!  Seriously, don’t even get me started on why it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever that Jim Halpert would have recommended that Andy Bernard be put in charge of the office.  Don’t get me started on how the show is now wasting some of the brightest comic talents available.  And certainly, don’t ask me what I think about this newest subplot where Darryl is somehow suddenly incapable of talking to the new girl in the Warehouse.  Seriously, I want to cry every Thursday night because when I watch The Office, it’s like looking in the mirror and finding a new wrinkle.  However, The Office did have one genuinely great episode this year and that was, fittingly enough, Steve Carell’s final episode.  “Goodbye, Michael” was a reminder of what made people like me fall in love with The Office in the first place and, as much as I hate to say it, it would have made a perfect finale for the entire series.

2) Sophia Shows Up On The Walking Dead..

and Rick does what he has to do.

3) Nedd Stark loses his head in Game of Thrones.

Much as Sophia had to ultimately be in that barn, Nedd had to lose his head.

4) The Pouting Little Princess at the Royal Wedding

All together now: “Awwwwwwwww!”  Actually, that would have been me if I was a member of the Royal Family.

5) Joel McHale as host of The Soup.

Seriously, Chris Hardwicke is cute in a funny, nerdy sorta way and Daniel Tosh is like the frat boy that you turn to when you’re drunk and depressed but Joel McHale is still the best.

6) South Park goes there…

…again.

7) The broadview security commercial featuring A.J. the homicidal lunatic

Okay, so this is actually about 2 or 3 years old and I don’t think I actually saw this on TV during 2011 but I don’t care.  I love this commercial and A.J. is freaking hot!  Plus, I love how everyone’s all like, “Who’s that?” and she’s all like, “I don’t know, just some random guy who showed up in my house…heh heh heh.”  All together now: “A.J?  A.J?”

8 ) Homeland

With Dexter giving us a truly awful season this time around, Homeland was the best modern-day drama on television.  Claire Danes deserves every award there is for her performance.

9) The Amazing Race

Hands down, the best reality show on television.

10) Community

Dear NBC, if you fail to bring back Community, we’re done.  I will leave you, I will cut you out of my life, and I hope you’ll be very happy with Whitney Cummings.

 

Give this man his own show!

Coming tomorrow: Lisa Marie’s top ten books of 2011.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: The Office Episode 0102 — Diversity Day


Last night, I watched a classic episode of the Office: Diversity Day!

Why Was I Watching It:

Down here in Dallas, they show reruns of The Office twice a day on Channel 27.  I can literally say that I’ve probably seen every episode about 20 times at this point and now, if I’m home at night with nothing to do, I’m more likely to see what’s on LMN.  However, Diversity Day remains like one of my favorite episodes of the Office ever so, when I saw it was going to be on, I had to watch it.

What Was It About:

As the show begins, we find ourselves in the familiar offices of Dunder Mifflin Scranton.  However, things are slightly different from the office we force ourselves to watch today.  Kelly Kapoor is dressed conservatively.  Michael Scott, with his thinning hair slicked back, is still in the manager’s office and, as opposed to being a somewhat docile idiot manchild, is just kind of a jerk.  Jim and Pam are still cute and flirty (and Pam is still dressing like someone who actually works in an office).  Robert California is nowhere to be seen and, for that matter, neither is Andy Bernard.  In fact, we manage to get through this entire episode without anyone breaking out into song.  Dwight’s pretty much the same, though.

Basically, Michael has offended just about everyone in the office by performing  the infamous “Chris Rock Routine.”  Corporate has responded by sending down Mr. Brown (a hilarious Larry Wilmore) from Diversity Today who leads the entire office through “sensitivity training.”  Naturally, Michael feels threatened by this and so he decides to form his own company (which he calls Diversity Tomorrow because “…(T)oday is almost over.”) and leads his own sensitivity training workshop.  This, of course, leads to Michael eventually getting slapped by Kelly when Michael asks her if she wants to step into his convenience shop and sample his “cookie cookie.”

What Worked?

Yes, Diversity Day is old school Office, back when the show was both incredibly funny and achingly sad too.  It was also the first episode to be broadcast after the pilot and it remains one of the best episode of the Office ever.  Whenever I catch these old episode of The Office in syndication, I’m always surprised to discover just how sweet and oddly poignant these shows were.  Michael is truly a bad boss, the characters are clearly coworkers as opposed to being friends, and there’s none of the silliness that has come to dominate the show after the third season.  One reason why the relationship between Jim and Pam was so special in those early episodes is because its made clear that both of them would spend their entire workday miserable if not for the time they spend talking to each other.

I think the main difference between these old episodes and the new episodes is that, if someone had suggested everyone who works at Office spend the weekend together at a Garden Party during the first three seasons, no one would have shown up.  That is perfectly epitomized in this episode as all the characters find themselves forced to interact in an awkward attempt to celebrate diversity and mutual respect.  The show works because Michael is so hilariously clueless to the fact that most of his employees would just rather work until five and then go home.

(If this episode was made today, Andy would end up pulling out his guitar and leading everyone in a sing along.)

This episode is also full of wonderful little moments and an observant eye for the details that distinguish a good show from a great one.  Among my favorite moments: Dwight’s explanation of what a hero truly is (and Mr. Brown’s patient response of, “You’re thinking of a superhero.”), Michael’s cheaply done Diversity Tomorrow Video, and Pam finally falling asleep on Jim’s shoulder.

What Didn’t Work:

The episode itself was about as perfect as perfect can be but as I watched it, it was hard for me not to think about how different The Office is today as compared to what it once was.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments:

I’ve always enjoyed talking about diversity training because it gives me an excuse to mention that I’m an Italian-Spanish-German-Irish American.

Lessons Learned:

Reruns are always better.  Plus, if you are a racist, I will attack you with the north…

Lisa Marie Finally Gets Around To Reviewing Cedar Rapids (dir. by Miguel Arteta)


So, in my review of The Beaver, I talked about the annual Hollywood Black List and how the movies that are always listed at the top of the black list usually turn out to be vaguely disappointing.  Well, in that review, I failed to mention that The Beaver was not the only Black List film that I’ve seen (so far) in 2011.  A few months ago, I saw the film that topped last year’s list, Cedar Rapids(The Cedar Rapids screenplay, by the way, was written by Phil Johnston.)

Now, Cedar Rapids (which is scheduled to be released on DVD in June) actually had a pretty good run down in here in Dallas.  Unlike Austin, Dallas is not a film-crazed city and — with only four theaters currently specializing in indie and art films — it’s usually a case of “you snooze, you lose” when it comes to seeing anything out of the mainstream.  We’ll have a few hundred theaters all showing something like Avatar for half a year but a film like James Gunn’s Super will usually sneak in, play in one theater for two weeks, and then just as quickly vanish.

Cedar Rapids, however, stuck around for about a month and a half, playing exclusively at the Dallas Angelika.  It took me a while to actually find the time to go see it (and, perhaps because of the whole Black List thing, I just didn’t feel much enthusiasm for seeing it) and, in fact, I ended up seeing it the last day it played at the Angelika. 

As for why I wanted to see it — well, it had gotten some very positive reviews from critics who traditionally don’t give comedies good reviews so that piqued my interest.  I knew that the film featured three of my favorite character actors — John C. Reilly, Stephen Root, and Thomas Lennon.  The film was also being touted as a comeback for Anne Heche whose autobiography Call Me Crazy was a favorite book of a former roommate of mine.  Finally, I wanted to see the film because it starred Ed Helms, who, at the time, I thought seriously might end up as the new boss on The Office.

Helms, in case you don’t know for some reason, plays Cornell graduate Andy Bernard on The Office.  When he first appeared during the show’s third season, he was portrayed as an incredibly obnoxious preppy with an anger management problem and I loved how Helms so thoroughly threw himself into making Andy just the most annoying human being ever.  Andy was eventually sent to anger management classes and, upon returning, the character has become less obnoxious and just more buffoonish and, in my opinion, a lot less entertaining.  As well, with Jim and Pam now safely married, Andy ended up as the focus of some of the Office’s weakest episodes.  In fact, Andy was the center of so many episodes earlier this season that I found myself wondering if the show’s producers weren’t perhaps trying to see how the audience would react to Ed Helms becoming the new star of the show.  Since I had mixed feelings about that prospect, I felt that maybe Cedar Rapids would provide me with an answer.

In Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms plays Tim Lippe, an almost impossibly innocent insurance agent who is sent by his boss (Stephen Root, who appears to be the go-to guy when you need someone to play a friendly but vaguely threatening manager) to a regional conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Tim is ordered to conduct himself well, to go out of his way to impress the conference president (Kurtwood Smith), and to win the prestigious “Two Diamonds” Award.  (The award has been won for the company in the past by Helms’ rival at the company who, at the beginning of the film, accidentally kills himself while practicing autoerotic asphyxiation.  The rival is played by Thomas Lennon and I’m kinda sorry that Lennon didn’t have more scenes because seriously, he always makes me smile.)

After saying goodbye to his much older girlfriend (Sigourney Weaver, who is wasted in her cameo), Helms heads off for Cedar Rapids.  This is a big deal for him because he’s the type of movie innocent who has never even been on a plane before.  Helms arrives at Cedar Rapids determined to do the right thing but he soon discovers that he is rooming with Dean Ziegler (John C. Reilly), a loud, crude, and cynical agent who indulges in every vice that Helms has been ordered to avoid.  Needless to say, Helms initially tries to resist being drawn into Reilly’s orbit but soon, he finds himself being corrupted and enjoying it.  Through Reilly, he meets yet another insurance agent (played by Anne Heche) that he soon finds himself falling in lust with.  All this happens, of course, under the disapproving eye of Kurtwood Smith and Helms soon learns just how far he is expected to go to win that Two Diamonds Award…

As it might be obvious from the above description, Cedar Rapids is one of those films that attempts to be both a wild comedy and a poignant coming-of-age drama.  And it succeeds very well at being a comedy and it does pretty good job of being a drama but it never manages to do both at the same time.  The end result is an entertaining but wildly uneven film that never feels like it’s quite as good as it should be. 

The film is at it’s best when it’s just Helms, Reilly, Heche, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (playing another insurance agent) hanging out and BSing.  Those scenes ring well and all four of these actors have a real ensemble chemistry together.  You really do end up believing that Reilly, Heche, and Whitlock truly do care about their new friend and you just as strongly believe that Helms really is falling in love with Heche.  These are the best scenes in the movie. 

The film is less effective when it tries to be something more than just an ensemble comedy.  It’s in these scenes — with Kurtwood Smith quoting bible verses and the Two Diamonds Award becoming a metaphor for all sorts of things — that the film gets heavy-handed and a bit boring.  I also have a feeling that these scenes are probably the reason why so many Hollywood readers went nuts of the Cedar Rapids screenplay because these scenes are the least challenging in the film.  These are the scenes that pat you on the back for watching the movie.  Anyone who has ever seen a movie knows that Kurtwood Smith’s character is going to turn out to be a hypocrite because when was the last time that you see a movie in which the guy who talked about Jesus didn’t turn out to be a hypocrite?  Therefore, it’s kinda hard to buy into Helms’s shock when he discovers that Smith isn’t all that he’s cracked up to be.  I mean, I can force myself to buy that the Helms character has never been on a plane before but my God, has he never seen a movie or an episode of Law and Order before either?  Seriously, the character isn’t a Mennonite.  He’s just from the midwest.

In the lead role, Ed Helms is a lot like the movie.  He’s great when he’s just a member of the ensemble but sometimes seems to struggle a bit in the more dramatic scenes.  To a large extent, the problem is that the film goes so out of it’s way to present Helms as being some sort of man-child that it’s hard to take him seriously once he suddenly starts to think for himself.  As I previously stated, the supporting cast is uniformly strong.  Reilly is a drunken, foul-mouthed force of nature while Heche steals every scene that she’s in and, in the end, proves herself to really be the heart and soul of the film.

So, in the end, I guess I would say that Cedar Rapids, as uneven and as frustrating as it occasionally turned out to be, is worth seeing once it comes out on DVD in June.