All posts filed under: Television

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Dear Duffers: Let’s not do Season 2 of ‘Stranger Things’

An open letter to the Duffer brothers: Congratulations on a stunning first season of television. Stranger Things is more than a successful show or a cultural phenomenon; it’s work of which you should feel incredibly proud. I know I’m not the only thirtysomething who found your mix of Stephens Spielberg and King spiked with John Carpenter to be intoxicating. You’re entitled to enjoy success, however you see fit. Movie offers, convention appearances, Instagram accounts—have at it. But Duffers (can I call you Duffers?), you need to be careful. Because in addition to all the other projects you’re no doubt considering at this point, Netflix will almost certainly want a second season of Stranger Things. And that is a terrible idea. It’s a sequel. Because there was a heavy dose of resolution at the end of season one, a second season of Stranger Things runs the risk of feeling more like a sequel than a continuation. Next time you see Winona Ryder, ask her about Beetlejuice 2. Or Heathers 2. Or Edward Scissorhands 2. I guarantee you …

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TV on DVD Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Volume II

Way back in 2003, Rhino released the second volume of their nascent program of Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD box sets. This release substantially upped the ante over the previous volume, featuring three stellar episodes along with a collection of shorts. With the original Rhino set now long out of print, the MST-loving (and owning) folks at Shout! Factory have revived the original Volume II set, adding slim new packaging and a couple of bonus features to help sweeten the deal. Bonus features or no, though, this set is a must-have for any MSTie, as Popdose’s Dan Wiencek and Tony Redman explain. Cave Dwellers (Episode #301) Dan: Cave Dwellers is what people who hate fantasy movies think every fantasy movie is like: ludicrous, convoluted, painfully serious and filled with stupidly named people and places. Originally titled Ator 2: The Blade Master before being sucked into the maw of Film Ventures International, it’s a sequel to Ator, the Fighting Eagle, itself a barely disguised ripoff of Conan the Barbarian. It has a beefcake hero in Miles O’Keefe (who …

TV on DVD: “Cop Rock: The Complete Series”

Unless you watched it during its original run, you’ve probably never seen Cop Rock. Save for the occasional airing on a “can you believe this ever got made?”-themed marathon on a few cable channels every decade or so, it was pulled off the air after 11 episodes in 1990. It is legendary, but for the wrong reasons. It’s synonymous with bad television, although the press release for Cop Rock: The Complete Series on DVD calls it a “short-lived cult series.” Regardless of why, Cop Rock is undeniably a landmark of television. It’s one of the most high profile disasters ever, the kind of bomb where everyone behind it is astonishingly unaware of how bad it is, but how literally everyone else in the world could tell. Kind of like how NBC thought five nights of Jay Leno in primetime was a good idea, or how Mitt Romney’s internal research showed he was going to win the 2012 election in a landslide. Cop Rock is that rare, fascinating place where artistic hubris and delusion go hand …

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TV on DVD: “Mystery Science Theater 3000, Volume XXXV”

Well, it’s that time of year again. The good folks at Shout! Factory are blessing us with yet another volume of everybody’s favorite “cowtown puppet show” with Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXV. (That’s Volume 35 for you non-Romans out there.) I’m normally joined in these reviews with my co-MSTie in crime Dan Wiencek, but unfortunately he didn’t get his review copy in time so I’m afraid you’re just stuck with me on this one. Let’s roll!

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Snow day suggestion: The Comic Strip Presents …

One advantage to spending a lot of time at home with snow covering the sidewalks and streets is getting a chance to do a bit of Hulu watching. Right now, that means the Inside Amy Schumer episode with the “Milk Milk Lemonade” song and the Friday Night Lights parody in which Josh Charles alienates the town by instituting a “no raping” policy on the football team. I’ve also been catching up on something even more British than the great SNL “British Movie” sketch — The Comic Strip Presents. Like a lot of British television, this series doesn’t fit the American norm of doing 22 or so episodes in a school year, then doing the same thing the next year. The Comic Strip Presents, drawing from a handful of core actors/writers and a few more who appeared occasionally, did mini-films in batches of five or six. Or two. Or one. They sort of wrapped up in 1993, but they’ve done a few more since then. In fact, just a few days ago, they debuted one on Rupert …

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Review: Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (Deluxe Edition)

Kurt Cobain’s first solo record – recently released 21 years after his 1994 suicide and paired with a suspect “documentary” film project of revisionist mythmaking and iconography – is a jumbled, scraping-barrel-bottom mess of an affair. It’s not to say that, for die-hard fans, there are not things to like about it. There are moments of, I’ll go so far as to say, genuine beauty. The opener “The Yodel Song” shows how easily Cobain could toss off a Nirvana-style melody without giving a second thought, and tunes like “The Happy Guitar” make you feel like, alone sometimes, Cobain genuinely just had a good time making music, even if – maybe especially if – there was no audience to intrude sans himself. And, yes, the acoustic take on “And I Love Her” and the instrumental “Letters To Frances” are sweet. But for every engaging moment (an epic “Do Re Mi,” a frequently bootlegged “Sappy” demo, the Melvins-ish “Reverb Experiment”) there’s a lot of grime. The scattered montages and audio collages, while interesting ephemera, are dated sonically and haven’t aged …

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TV on DVD Review: Manimal and Automan

In the annals of TV history, there are a handful of shows held up as the universal examples of shows gone horribly wrong – high-concept shows so preposterous as to flop and get cancelled extremely quickly. These shows live forever, but not as shows people remember, but as trivia items, because they were quickly cancelled and never seen again. Their names become punchlines and we can only imagine how bad these so-called bad shows truly were…even ones from eras in which TV was universally not very good. (Basically any time before 2007.) Shows like My Mother the Car. Turn On. Cop Rock. Pink Lady and Jeff. And of course, Manimal. It’s at the top of this unique list, and not only because it has the most inadvertently awesome and hilarious title in TV history. Also on that list, even though it ran slightly longer than Manimal and maybe because it’s title isn’t as glorious: Automan. The shows are spiritual cousins, if not actual cousins, because they were created by the same man (Glen A. Larson), …

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MOVIE REVIEW: “The Jam – About The Young Idea”

Thrilled to see that the Showtime network has sought fit to broadcast the British documentary, The Jam – About The Young Idea, as it’s high time a sizable audience could see/hear/learn about the most important band to come out of the 1977 punk/new wave explosion and be barely known in the United States.  The Jam were a particularly British phenomenon and 33 years after their split, new audiences/new generations are finding out about them.  Which means that a whole new audience in the United States may pick up on this incredible band. I’m not going to waste time giving you their history, etc. – that’s what this very well-done documentary does and I think does it smartly and in an interesting manner.  It’s told in the band’s own words, uses archival footage of The Jam (including some songs that have not been previously heard) and speaks to various people – friends of and fans of the band, amongst them, noted actor Martin Freeman (Fargo, The Hobbit, etc.) and writer Paul Abbott (Shameless – both U.K. …