Friday, December 23, 2016

Star Wars Watch Order Adjustment (and a minor irritation)

A few years ago, I proposed a new way to watch the Star Wars sextet. You can read about my theory on the best way to watch Episodes I-VI here.

Of course, that needs to be updated now--given that we must now add Episode VII and Rogue One (Episode III.75?). I won't get into all of the twists and turns THAT MUCH. You can probably plug in the necessary new movies yourself. But I would suggest:

But that isn't really why I'm here today typing this instead of trying to correlate TWE activities to state standards.As I've watched the Star Wars movies recently, in preparation for the release of Rogue One, I've noticed a bothersome trend. Maybe it can be best illustrated by this early concept illustration made during the development of the original Star Wars movie back in the 1970s (now the second in sequence in my revised watch list above).

It's a great picture that really emphasizes the sweeping landscape and alien-ness of Tattoine. You can see Luke with his Landspeeder, surveying what is presumably Mos Eisley from a distance. But it's SUCH a distance. Yes, he does have space binoculars, but WHY does he have to be so far away? Maybe there is much more low-ground glare on account of the two suns? Maybe he doesn't want to get TOO close to such a hive of scum and villainy? 

But whatever the case, this (somehow?) established a pattern in the minds of the film-makers that they continued to this day. The habit is parking your space ship waaaaaay too far away from the place you actually traveled all that way (with hyperspace!) to actually get to.i

I believe this is a scene from Ep. II: Attack of the Clones (judging by the billowy cloak that I think grown-up/pre-evil padawan Anakin wore). But this might not be the correct Naboo ship that Amidala used in Ep. II? I think it was a smaller sleeker version . . . or what that one used in Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith?

This is a scene from the beginning of Ep. VII: The Force Awakens. It doesn't exactly capture Rey parking her bike on the edges of the Jakku trading settlement--which I know happened in the film. But I couldn't find that screenshot. Hopefully this image will remind you?

This is a scene which I believe is near the beginning of Rogue One. Since this movie is very new, I definitely could not get the screenshot I wanted of Director Crennik (the dude with the white cape) landing his ship on the planet where young Jyn lives. I can't say much more without verging into spoiler territory--they steal plans that help the Rebel Alliance blow up the Death Star!--but trust me when I tell you that the dude with the white cape parks his tri-winged Imperial issue transport many hundreds of yards away from the lone settlement out in the middle of nowhere and then has to trudge through the blasted out black sand/rock terrain to finally achieve the face-to-face with the guy he's flown there to intimidate. (All that walking has got to be murder of the trailing hem of his impressive cape, no?)

Are you getting my point?
IS there even a point?

Is there some sort of unwritten (or possibly Imperially-written) rule that prevents ion-engine backwash within 100 yards of some downtrodden citizen's backyard? Or have the cinematographers simply fallen in love with the sweeping vistas and thrown all common sense out like a Star Destroyer jettisons its trash before hitting the hyperdrive?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dean's Best Shows of 2016

Welcome to Dean’s Best TV of 2016 Spectacular. Here are I will tell you the best 10 shows of the year. This list is definitive and all other lists are false. I’m sure David will insert editorial comments but I must assure you not to pay attention to them because this is the only information you need.

Honorable Mentions: Every year I cheat and list more than 10 shows because I watch too much TV and I want to call out the very good shows that did not quite make the cut. This year’s honorees are: Galavant, Pitch, Mozart in the Jungle, Orange is the New Black, Venture Brothers, Silicon Valley, and The Chris Gethard Show (There is an episode where the audience just tries to guess what is in a dumpster. It was amazing.) Congratulations shows, you made a list!

[Re. this list . . . I am trying to record Pitch and will see if I like it at some later point. Galavant is a stupid premise and you have made a bad recommendation.--David]

10. The Good Place
Who wouldn’t want to live in a heaven run by Ted Danson? Also I’m clearly destined for the Good Place as a faithful Brown’s fan. I should also note for the record that Fake Eleanor is clearly the better Eleanor.

9. You, Me and the Apocalypse
I’m going to be completely honest. The only reason this show is ranked so high is because its intro is so good. Every time I heard Johnny Nash start singing “I can see clearly now the rain has gone” I got excited to watch this show. I wish other people had been as excited as me as no one watched it and now this show is gone forever. 

[Not true that no one watched it. I watched it all summer. And then promptly and completely forgot about it and looking back I'm not so sad about that. I think that I was driven to watch because I had just finished binging Parks and Recreation and I was sad and missing Ron and Tammy.--David]

8. Gravity Falls

This is a show for kids but also a show for people who are amateur cryptographers. Here is a page from the wiki for this show for children:
I solved zero of these cryptograms. This show only lasted two seasons and although it makes me sad (because it was good!), I’m also happy about the current trend of shows going out when the creators want it to rather than dragging them out until they’re no longer profitable to make and I’m actively hate-watching something that used to fill me with joy (looking at you Sleepy Hollow).

[Gravity Falls was good. I enjoyed it. But Season 1 was so much better. But the same could have been said for Sleepy Hollow as well, I guess.--David]

7. iZombie
This show is written by Rob Thomas (no . . . NOT that one) and in the last episodes Rob Thomas (yes that one) was eaten by zombies and then the zombies sang "Unwell" because they took on his personality. This is comedy gold. Gold! 
Anyway, if you only watch one zombie-themed show this year make it iZombie because The Walking Dead is bad. You can also watch Ash vs. the Evil Dead if you have Starz. I do not have Starz.

[I also like iZombie--as I've said in this space before. But I admit that I surf my phone while it is on as much as I am actively engaged in the experience of watching the show. I also strongly agree with your opinion that The Walking Dead is bad. My theory? It started getting bad when Rick's group left Georgia. And the it got really bad when the creators and writers screwed over the viewing audience by violating whatever "rules" they had in place by idiotically NOT killing a major character when it was the only reasonable outcome.--David]

6. Baskets
Louie Anderson plays Zach Galifinakuses’s (I was going to look up the spelling but no. This is fine. I am a professional.) mom and he plays it perfectly straight. Louie Anderson should be typecast from this point forward as a mom. Look at this photo of him. I have met this mom before.

5. Better Call Saul
Does Jimmy have to become Saul Goodman? Really? Couldn’t this be an alternate timeline where everything works out for good old Jimmy? No? That is a shame. Oh I guess also watch this show or whatever. It’s really good. Also Jimmy’s brother is the worst.

[Why did I leave this show off of my list completely? Bad job by me.--David]

4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Look, I like musicals. My favorite episodes of TV are musical episodes. If you don’t like people singing their feelings you are a) possibly a robot and b) reading the wrong end of the year list. This is a good show and it will win a bunch of awards so I don’t need to defend myself to you people.

[You SHOULD have to defend yourself. That is why I give you a platform on my highly valuable blogging platform. And while we got like CE-G, you like it more strenuously than I and I must call you out on that. Poor ranking choice.--David]

3. Rectify
I’m not really sure how to convince people to watch this show because every description ends up being “Well, there’s not really a lot of plot, it’s more about tone and sense of place” and man, does that sound boring. But it’s not! It is perfect. It is the perfect show which is why it is the third best show of the year.

[Your tonal description of this show you won't ever quit matches some of the weaker episodes of Westworld. Maybe it's the cowboy hats?--David]

2. The Americans
I don’t know many shows that could kill a beloved character off and come out stronger for it, but The Americans did it. RIP Nina Sergeevna Krilova. You will be missed.

[First, HOW DARE YOU try to turn Nina into Barb? And also, you are not going to sit there and type at me that Nina is more of a loss than the dearly exiled Martha!??! What will be next? Trying to convince me that the brutal dissection of Mail Robot was less shocking than the fenestration of Agent Gaad?
The Americans is the show that is going to tear us apart.--David]

1. One Mississippi
Every episode of this show made it extremely dusty in my house and it is also very funny and not in the independent comedy way where you sort of smile at a wry “joke”, but actually laugh out loud funny. I also need to note that John Rothman put on my favorite performance of the year (narrowly edging out Louie Anderson). Please watch it so I can talk to someone about it? Please? I’ll even come to your house to watch it with you. You should have Amazon Prime anyway now that Amazon runs the planet.

[Are you making up television? Is this a sickness of Peak TV? Does this show even exist? What a sad way to end your Best of . . . list. But its okay viewers. Move your eyes up a bit and reread that previous parenthetical I wrote about The Americans.. That was really funny and well crafted. Go read that again and we can all pretend that Dean's list ended with The Americans. Which would have been a fine choice.--David]


If you liked this, go check out MY version of this year's best TV shows. Maybe Dean will have some biting comments to say about my opinions and rankings.

David's Best Shows of 2016

A few weeks ago Dean reminded me that it is time for our annual Best of TV posts. And I enthusiastically agreed as Dean and I like few things more than talking about television. Unfortunately, as you will see between this post and Dean's we are frequently (and this year more than most) talking about two very different TV experiences.

But don't worry. 

All you need to do is remember that I am right and (most of the time) Dean is wrong.

So, without any more set up or preamble, here are my Top 10 Shows of 2016! (And, YES . . . breaking with my usual tradition, I will be ranking them in reverse order this year, rather than in no particular order at all.)

Let's start with the one's that didn't make the cut in my list of Ten Best. Naturally, these are all great shows. But I had to wield the knife somewhere and this is where I started. As you can see in my actual list, I focused on shows that were new (and in at least one instance, shows that were new to me). You don't have to like it. After all, nobody is paying me to write this stuff.

But enough again. On with the show . . .

Game of Thrones is always good. And the 2016 season was really great in lots of ways. It broke free from the books and didn't miss anything. But GoT definitely doesn't need my help or promotional hype. I'll set it here in the Great Job area. [It was fine.--Dean]

Similarly, The Americans had another very good year. And while it DOES need everyone's help and hype, I have learned in November that I cannot make a difference in this nation. So, you go ahead and ignore The Americans if you want. You'll never know what might happen next with the most mysterious character on TV--Henry Jennings. [This not making your top 10 is monstrous. You're a real Paige.--Dean]

I'm not ranking Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt because it just didn't grab my attention in the same way that season 1 did. I liked it but it wasn't memorable to me. [Agreed.--Dean]

Similarly, I think Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is still good but not as good as its first offering. I think they really did spend all of their budget on that Love Kernels cactus video because things have seem diminished recently. I laugh more during black -ish than any recent episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. [I miss Greg. Crazy Ex was ranked so high on my list more from last season's offerings. (Which were still within the 2016 calendar year!) than this season.--Dean]

[Side note: I reluctantly could not find a way to fit in black -ish again this year. I have always liked this show. The return of Charlie helped a lot this season. He is to black-ish as Winston is to New Girl. Also the funny performance of Daveed Diggs helping me forget the many absences of Lawrence Fishburne.] [This is also a good show. Charlie is a necessary and vital part of the cast.--Dean]

Black Mirror--I just finished all of the Netflix episodes this afternoon and I can say that I really liked this series. My only regret? Sarah beat me to a Wicker Man reference in regards to the final episode "Hated in the Nation". [NOT THE BEES!--Dean]

Finally in my Super High Quality Also-Ran category is everyone's first season darling--Mr. Robot. Frankly, I spent lots of time this season being confused. The show is really well done, but is often just a muddled mess. [Stop making me agree with you. What is wrong with you?--Dean]

On to the Ranked Contenders!

Number 10 ARCHER
I binge watched Archer during the summer and early fall and found it to be really, really, really good. Now technically, I didn't watch the show while it was live in 2016, so maybe I'm bending the rules here. But it's my list and I can do what I want. I'm placing it at the bottom of my quality list to dispel any criticism you might want to send my way. And if you do? I'll just redirct all of that blame for this on Dean because he never told me that Archer was good. [First of all, this is libel. You'll be hearing from my attorney. Second of all, Archer did air in 2016 so I'm not going to stop you from including it.--Dean] [As if you COULD stop me!--David]

Number 9 LUKE CAGE 
I started this Netflix series when it dropped on the internet and then got mired in the second episode and took a really long time to recommit and finish the show. (I only did finish it last week.) But once the story really started going, I found it to be engaging and fun to watch. Still not as high a hit as Daredevil season 1 or Jessica Jones. [Daredevil is garbage. I liked this show until Diamondback took over the arc. Then I liked it less.--Dean]

Here is a very rare instance of Dean and I agreeing on our lists this year. But, sure, you may remember that when I posted my Fall TV Preview, I was decidedly lukewarm on the concept of The Good Place. But I wasn't ready then. I'm glad that I did eventually get ready. Besides, NBC has to figure out how to be a professional television network someday, right? [Look, NBC has a competent slate of TV comedies on its schedule now. It's turning the corner.--Dean]

Number 7 (a.) YOU'RE THE WORST and (b.) SEARCH PARTY
It's a dramatic tie for seventh place!
(Honestly, I miscounted in my first draft, so I had to find a way to justify squeezing in an eleventh ranked title. [Look I also miscounted and had eleven shows but I dropped Orange is the New Black out of my top ten list because I have principles. I had a funny joke about turning swastikas into windows and everything.. Ugh. This list is a lie.--Dean] And I couldn't bear to cut either of these shows. I've been a fan of You're the Worst for a while and even though it is a show that I can't watch with most other people, I always find the dialogue funny and the story dramatic. (And talk about dramatic . . . that ending to THIS season!) [For whatever reason, this season didn't grab me as much as other seasons have. I still enjoy this show though!--Dean]

And Search Party is my newest new favorite show--something that I only heard about a week-and-a-half ago that I caught up with via On Demand. Thank God for the fact that we live in a future world where there are no murderous robotic bees, but I can pick and choose my quality televised entertainment whenever I get around to it. If you don't know what Search Party is, give it a try. It's the best thing on the tbs network since the Braves had a decent baseball team in the playoffs. [1. The best thing on the tbs network is People of Earth. 2. I watched two episodes of this and I hate everything about this show and the people on it. This show made me dislike Alia Shawkat, which shouldn't be possible.--Dean]

Silicon Valley is another series that I caught up on all at once over the summer. But I'm not going to downgrade it like I did with Archer. It's just so good. All the characters are funny. I can't wait for it to come back on. (And it had made me mildly obsessed with T.J. Miller.) [Zach Woods is the best part of Silicon Valley--not T.J. Miller.--Dean]

Number 5 THE NIGHT OF. . .
Who knows what this show might have been like if James Gandolfini had not died and had played the role taken over by John Turturro. But I can tell you that I probably would not have enjoyed it nearly as much. I loved Turtorro's tortured, sad-sack, ultra-pragmatic lawyer--who wasn't surprised to see the transformation of Riz Ahmed's Naz character, but refused to give up on him whatever. The Night Of . . . was a far greater sequel to the Serial podcast's first season than its actual second season about Beau Berghdahl. [I haven't seen this but I can't imagine how James Gandolfini being in something would make it worse. James Gandolfini was great.--Dean]

The only reason I'm putting this here rather than in one of the final three spots? I knew the outcome going into the experience. But what an experience thsi show was. All of the actors were so good in their roles (even, I thought, Cuba Gooding, Jr.). And, to be honest . . . I remember the Trial of the Century. But I was too much of a mid-twenties college/grad student to really pay attention and care that much. So watching this helped me experience the spectacle sort of for the first time. [I don't care how good this show was. You couldn't pay me to watch this.--Dean]

Number 3 ATLANTA
This ranking of the top three is really hard. I like Atlanta a lot and I like Donald Glover tons and I really, really like Keith Stanfield's Darius character. And I also liked how there were enough weird "Twin Peaks" moments in Atlanta to keep you watching the edge of the screen. But . . . as good as it was, it didn't hit my personal sweet spots as directly as numbers 2 and 1. [This show didn't grab me like I hoped it would, but "B.A.N." was just a fantastic episode of television.--Dean]

It was the breakout hit on Netflix and it made Barb a name to remember. And it was like Goonies and it was like E.T. and it was like a short film that J.J.Abrams might have made in college. And the theme song was great. And it started a Winona-sance. And Lucas was a total angry badass in a bandana who gave no shits to anyone. And parts of it were filmed in Georgia. And all of my kids wanted to dress up as Eleven for Halloween . . . [I liked this show but 80s horror isn't quite my thing, so it didn't make my list. I can't bash this at all. How dare you.--Dean]

. . . but it didn't feature multiple interlocking timelines and it didn't have the knotty moral issues of being a maintenance worker of a sex robot Disneyland. And even though Winona did her best to chew (or maybe hammer?) scenery with Anthony Hopkins . . . NOBODY wears glasses like my man Jeffrey Wright. [I haven't watched this as I don't have HBO but I'm not about to bash Jeffrey Wright. Jeffrey Wright is awesome. Make worse choices on your list, David, so I can make fun of you some more.--Dean]

So, that's it!
Were you not entertained?!!! [Eh.--Dean]

(Only one of my top 10 is on mainstream television. Who am I becoming?) [Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.--Dean] [Nooooooooooooo! -David]

If you liked this, go check out DEAN'S version of this year's best TV shows. I know that I have some biting comments to say about his opinions and rankings.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Football Counter-Programming 2016--Conference Championships Edition

You thought I was done?

Well, actually, I thought that I was as well . . . but then I remembered that there was still football to be played and that people were still devoting their time to it. So I am BACK!

And . . . I'm going to tell you about the dream I had last night.

(I'm SORRY! I realize that listening to other people's dreams is tedious. But I remember this one really well and I don't have any other good idea for this week's post.)

So . . .


The dream begins with me standing on the sidewalk of Disney World Paris. I'm watching  cast members if cadet style blue military uniforms march in a small parade formation while tourist families walk the other way through Main Street USA (though, if it is Disney World Paris, maybe it is the Main Street Elysee?). Over the park's hidden speaker system, I hear a voice announce that effective immediately, the French language will only be spoken within the Disney World Paris park. The operators apologize if this is a problem for people, but they believe it is the most effective decision for the workers and the visitors to the park.

I shrug and cross the street. I pass by a deep blue colored combination recycling/trash receptacle. And as I pass it, it moves and talks. I realize that it is a park cast member working inside the fake trash can and it is their job to delight the passing guests with conversation and fun kid-friendly jokes about throwing away and recycling your debris. I momentarily feel very, very sorry for the cast member squatted down in this terrible costume. . . . and the scene shifts . . .

I'm still in Disney Paris, but along the other side of some other street. Now I am sitting on top of a real trash dumpster of some sort and I'm sitting hammock style, reclining back with my sandaled feet crossed, out in front of me. As I am relaxing, park goers are stopping to talk to me, commenting politely--but critically--about my feet. They can tell (because I'm wearing sandals) that there is some sort of fungus on my foot (especially my left one) and they are suggesting that I go to a doctor to check that out. And perhaps my feet need to be cleaned as well because one passer-by goes so far as to pluck a very small, extremely tiny plant seedling off of my big toenail. He presents it to me and claims that it was growing on my toe. I'm embarrassed--but not as much as you would expect for some reason.

. . . and the scene shifts again . . .

Now I'm still sitting on the dumpster things, but it is moving. Maybe it has wheels or something? And it is moving pretty fast down a two-lane country road, at night. There are houses and driveways, and drainage ditches along either lane of the road. It is a typical country road almost anywhere in Georgia and it is becoming night. There are cars behind me and other cars approaching me in the left lane. I am controlling the dumpster vehicle sort of like Aladdin controlling the magic carpet or maybe a large skateboard--leaning left and right to make the "vehicle" change direction. I'm trying to stay with the flow of traffic, but eventually I have to veer into the left, oncoming lane and then things get really dicey. I'm weaving more and more and eventually get driven off the road on the left into the driveways of the houses. I slowly come to a stop.

Now . . . while I am maneuvering the dumpster car--even though I am sitting on top of it without a seat, a steering wheel, or a dashboard, I can hear the radio. And I'm listening to an NPR broadcaster that is talking about whatever the news of the day are. But the radio broadcaster is filling in for the normal host and this substitute person is messing up reading the script. Eventually the broadcaster gets so off script that they begin talking about the person they are filling in for instead. Trying to imitate the famous person's voice and phrases. It's weird and not what you expect to hear on the radio.

And, that's it. The dream ended.


But what is another layer of odd? I've had portions of the maneuvering a weird skateboard vehicle on a country road dream before. And each time I'm forced off the road because I can't do it well enough. Why is this a recurring dream for me? And what, if anything, does the rest of the dream mean? If you have ideas, I welcome your comments.

And until I am here again, please remember . . . no one cares what your dreams are--especially when your favorite football teams playoff dreams are about to be crushed by forces completely out of their control.