Tag Archives: Jon Hamm

Children’s Hospital

After the first two seasons, I didn’t think it could get stranger.

Wrong!

A parody of hospital dramas and soap operas that started as a webseries on the WB, Rob Corddry’s show was eventually picked up by Adult Swim and is now in its third season. Episodes are only twelve minutes long, but consistently hilarious, irreverent, absurd and cutting edge. You don’t have to be familiar with (or abhor) the source material to appreciate the jokes, although I’m sure there are subtle zingers that I’m missing. and while there is some thread of continuity, any episode is extremely watchable as a drop-in. That’s how I found it, and I’m thrilled it made it to DVD.

It’s not really a children’s hospital – it’s named after Dr. Childrens – and yes, that clown doctor tries to cure people with the healing power of laughter. It’s sexist and racist and vulgar and offensive to every religion and nationality, but absurdly so; it deflates these vile emotions by exposing how ridiculous they are. Corddry, Jonathan Stern and David Wain have created a show that follows the path of Arrested Devlopment and makes a hard left turn. It’s not for everyone, but neither are cashews.

The ensemble cast is airtight, featuring Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally and Henry Winkler. Frequent guest stars like Nick Offerman and Nick Kroll add to the madness, and Michael Cera’s character of Sal Viscuso is a great running gag as well as a clever tribute. In the closing episode of Season Two (“The Sultan’s Finger”) the show perfectly mocked the recent trend of comedy shows fawning over their ability to perform a live broadcast, combined with a priceless nod to Tootsie (Jon Hamm can do no wrong).

Combined with Delocated and the upcoming National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle (a spin-off from CH that starts July 21st), Adult Swim has a 1-2-3 punch that will keep me going all summer.

Children’s Hospital at Adult Swim

Children’s Hospital episodes

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Film/TV, Reviews

NBC Spikes The Ball

Back in the 80’s, Thursday Night was “must see TV” on NBC with the comedy block of The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers and Night Court  leading into Hill Street Blues. Later on, Seinfeld and Friends were anchors that bookended a myriad of other followers – some successful (Will and Grace, Frasier), some not (Joey, The Naked Truth). Eventually it seemed like the concept had run its course.

But it’s clear – at least in my house – that the comedy block of 30 Rock, Community, Parks and Recreation and The Office is and has been worthy of the “must see TV” crown. While it’s unclear how The Office will survive the loss of Steve Carrell, the final episodes provided many great options (including a genuine cliffhanger!) and it certainly has more gas in the tank. Ditto 30 Rock, which continues to be consistently well-written, although it’s becoming clear that some storylines are more dependable than others. But with a gaggle of recurring guest stars like Jon Hamm, Matt Damon and Dean Winters dropping by, brilliance is constantly right around the corner.

But this season proved that Community and Parks and Recreation can hang with the big boys. Community’s pop culture parodies are so clever and so deep that it takes multiple viewings to pick up every double-entendre, sight gag and trivial reference they’re layering into each script. And the cast on Parks and Recreation might just be the best comedy ensemble of them all; the show has skyrocketed after the growing pains of their inaugural season. Now we’re adding Whitney Cummings to the mix? Yowsa!

I’m going to have a lot more spare time now that these shows have completed their seasons, but it’s nice to know that among the annoying celebretard reality programs and the absurd elimination contest shows, there’s still room for well-scripted, well-acted prime time comedy. Kudos, NBC.

That's what HE said.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV, Reviews

Awards Weekend! First, The Indies…

The Film Independent Spirit Awards will be broadcast this evening. Hosted by Joel McHale, the event is known for being a loose and casual affair; the last two events were held inside a tent on the Santa Monica beach (2009) and in a downtown LA parking lot (2010). Libations flow, no one plays a winner off the stage, and some memorable speeches come tumbling out of the mouths of the presenters and nominees. And as the last awards show prior to tomorrow’s Academy Awards presentations, many will ponder about the momentum that some of these films and actors have built up.

Of course, the Oscar tabulations are already signed, sealed and delivered. But what’s Tinseltown without a little drama?

More and more films blend the line between “indie” and “studio”, a separation that is more about funding than location. Luminaries like Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers have their heart and mind firmly in the independent mode when it comes to the type of material that they choose, but their successes have moved them into a financial category that dwarfs their former associates. I’d rather focus on the fact that films like Black Swan and The Wrestler are finally being appreciated by a wider group of people (Oscars, Globes) rather than pinch pennies and mince words. Despite some thundering clunkers, 2010 had its share of good films.

Here is a list of the nominees. You can watch the broadcast at 10pm ET/PT and guess along with me, but since the ceremony took place earlier today, the list of winners is no doubt all over the web. Don’t Google! Walk away from your computer and enjoy the suspense. If you must sit at your keyboard, avoid the news sites and watch and chat live with IFC host Matt Singer.

I’ll be back later with a review of the show and my comments.

Well, that was pretty boring.

Host Joel McHale did what he could, opening with a sense of irreverence, a wink at some of the nominated films, and a gaggle of cunnilingus jokes, but no one else picked up the ball for the rest of the evening. The filmed bit combining the “reading of the rules” and “the magic of 3D” was amusing, but the only other attempt at humor was presenting In Memorium 2011 a year early. Celebrating the industry deaths that would occur over the next twelve months had great potential, but a technical glitch ruined the pace and sucked the life of it. Still, it’s good to prepare oneself for the loss of Mad Men star Jon Hamm from excessive consumption of clove cigarettes and fake alcohol.

Presenters joked all night about the cold (the tent was on the beach) but people were visibly bundling up, and the slick surface caused many to slip (and one winner to fall not once but twice). And the noise level increased exponentially, no doubt from attendees hitting the bar to pound down more Jameson’s in a show of support for one of the evening’s sponsors.

Another oddity was the announcement of two awards that had been presented prior to the telecast – one for cinematography and the other for screenplay. Really? You couldn’t squeeze two more awards into a two and a half hour program? Overall, no huge surprises. But no memorable speeches and no water cooler moments.

Well, unless you want to count Paul Rudd’s threesome with Rosario Dawson and Eva Mendes

Here is a list of the winners:

Best Feature: “Black Swan”
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
Best Screenplay: Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko, “The Kids Are All Right”
Best First Feature: “Get Low”
Best First Screenplay: Lena Dunham, “Tiny Furniture”
John Cassavetes Award: “Daddy Longlegs”
Best Female Lead: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Best Male Lead: James Franco, “127 Hours”
Best Supporting Female: Dale Dickey, “Winter’s Bone”
Best Supporting Male: John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”
Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, “Black Swan”
Best Documentary: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Best Foreign Film: “The King’s Speech”

Leave a comment

Filed under Film/TV, Reviews

Lights Out!

It appears that FX has done it again.

Lights Out is a 13-episode story about Patrick “Lights Out” Leary, a former heavyweight champ who retired five years before but still has the itch. Not the itch an Evander Holyfield feels, a twitch in a man who doesn’t know when to quit, but a guy who walked away from it all after a controversial split decision stalled his career. His corner, including his trainer father, urged him to back off in the final round and win on points instead of going for the knockout. His med student wife, stitching him up in the dressing room after one too many beatings, tells him to make a choice between the ring and the family.  

He followed his family’s advice on both counts, but the decisions haunt him daily. Outwardly he tries to play the happily retired guy, cooking breakfast for his daughters and helping out at the gym, and you can see that he has talked himself into accepting this. But his world starts to crash – finances are not what they seem, his family lives far beyond their means, and by the time he realizes that the slope is slippery, it’s too late. No longer the champ, suffering the slight but initial effects of brain damage, he’s a square peg outside the ring. And the offers he’s getting to generate a little cash are anything but above-board. (Yes, he lives in Bayonne, New Jersey…)

Lights is played by Holt McCallany, whose very name infers toughness. One article compared his performance to the first time you saw James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano or Jon Hamm as Don Draper. A bit early for canonization, but I don’t think even the most ebullient is trying to place this show on a mantle alongside The Sopranos or Mad Men. Rather they are correctly noting that the lead actor has that instant charisma and natural charm; a presence that exudes mystery, power and secrets. Even if he might not literally be a good guy, you are (ahem) in his corner from the first scene. Like the aforementioned famous actors, McCallany has been banging around for a while, but seemingly has stumbled into the role of a lifetime. He is pitch-perfect as the man lost outside his comfort zone; juggling debt, health issues, self-doubt and the undesirable elements that circle that world.

I have rarely seen as many online ads for a new TV show as I have for Lights Out this week; perhaps FX is trying to make up for the disastrous campaign for Terriers. That show – almost universally recognized as excellent – had to build from almost nothing thanks to the symbolic but misleading promos.

I’ve only seen the pilot episode – I’m not the “A-list” guy who gets an advance 5-pack from the network – but it’s clearly way deeper than “a boxing series”. If it stays this good, you can file it alongside Justified, Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy as another edgy, daring television show made for adults. Adults who are approached as intelligent viewers who can follow the threads and nuances of the characters and the plot. I hope enough viewers return the favor and step up to the challenge.

Or you can always Live To Dance.

Episode Guide at TV.COM

Official website at FX watch the excellent backstory video

1 Comment

Filed under Film/TV, Reviews

Awards Time Again

Tomorrow is December 1st, a date that wakes up even the most lethargic among us to signal that The End Is Near! Of the year, anyway.

And with the end of a calendar year starts the cycle or awards, lists and kudos as entertainment organizations pat themselves on the back and critics try to rewind and review the outstanding efforts of the past twelve months. Every year it seems like the award ceremonies multiply like rabbits. And while I respect and have interest in several of them, you can count the first tier on one hand. At the top is the Academy Awards, with the Golden Globes slightly behind. Slightly behind are the NY and LA Film Critics Association along with the biggest up-and-comer of recent years, the Independent Spirit Awards (which eschews the Titanics of the world and focuses on the smaller efforts).

No disrespect to the many other cities presenting awards, but NY and LA are the face cards in this deck, the honors that bring the biggest recognition and influence the voting for the aforementioned two majors. And someday soon the Online Film Critics Association will be just as important, because let’s face it – the print media is a shell of its former shell.

This year’s Oscars will be hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway, proving that even a veteran industry knows it has to market to a new generation. I would much prefer the humor and irreverence of Ricky Gervais or Eddie Izzard – even one final rodeo for Billy Crystal – but I’m sure the pair will do a decent job. But if anyone besides Jon Hamm hosts The Emmys, I will plotz.

For those of you who enjoy these ceremonies like I do, here’s a list of upcoming events starting with tonight’s list of nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards.

  • Nov. 30 Film Independent Spirit Award nominations announced
  • 

  • Dec. 1 Academy Awards official screen credits forms due
  • Dec. 2 National Board of Review announces winners
  • Dec. 3 British Independent Film Awards
  • Dec. 3 International Documentary Association Awards
  • Dec. 11 Boston Film Critics announces winners
  • Dec. 12 AFI honorees announced
  • Dec. 12 Los Angeles Film Critics Association announces winners
  • Dec. 13 New York Film Critics Circle announces winners
  • Dec. 13 Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations announced
  • Dec. 14 Golden Globe nominations announced
  • Dec. 14 San Diego Critics Association announces winners
  • Dec. 15 Toronto Critics Association announces winners
  • Dec. 16 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations announced
  • Dec. 18 Houston Critics Association winners announced
  • Dec. 19 Satellite Awards
  • Dec. 20 Chicago Critics Association winners announced
  • Jan. 3 Online Film Critics Society winners announced
  • Jan. 4 Producers Guild of America nominations
  • Jan. 4 Writers Guild of America nominations
  • Jan. 8 Palm Springs International Film Festival
  • Jan. 10 Directors Guild of America nominations announced
  • Jan. 11 National Board of Review ceremony
  • Jan. 14 BFCA Critics’ Choice Awards winners announced
  • Jan. 14 AFI Awards
  • Jan. 15 L.A. Film Critics Association Awards ceremony
  • Jan. 16 Golden Globe Awards
  • Jan. 18 BAFTA nominations announced
  • Jan. 22 Producers Guild Awards
  • Jan. 25 Oscar nominations announced
  • Jan. 27 Santa Barbara International Film Festival
  • Jan. 28 Visual Effects Society Awards
  • Jan. 29 Directors Guild of America Awards
  • Jan. 30 Screen Actors Guild Awards
  • Feb. 2 Costume Designers Guild Awards
  • Feb. 5 Writers Guild Awards
  • Feb. 5 Art Directors Guild Awards
  • Feb. 5 Annie Awards
  • Feb. 12 Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation
  • Feb. 13 BAFTAs
  • Feb. 26 Independent Spirit Awards
  • Feb. 26 NAACP Image Awards
  • Feb. 27 83rd Academy Awards (2011 Oscars)

Leave a comment

Filed under Editorials, Film/TV

Post-Emmy Thoughts

Visit the official Emmy website for a list of the winners.

  • Jimmy Fallon, you did great. That opening number will go down as one of the funniest and best kickoffs in the history of the telecast. You were funny throughout the night without being overbearing and milked that child-like innocence for all it was worth. And the musical impressions were pure gold.
  • Although I was pulling for Terry O’Quinn to be recognized for his incredible work on Lost, I can’t argue with the award to Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. I felt he should have won before, and it’s great to see that his peers recognized his efforts; so many other actors would have made Jesse Pinkman a caricature.
  • Now that Bryan Cranston’s incredibly dramatic chops aren’t catching anyone off guard, I wonder how many will look back and realize just how much he deserved the award for his work on Malcolm In The Middle?
  • It looks like 30 Rock hit the wall across the board – the show and leads Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin were collecting statues like clockwork but all three got shut out last night. I wonder if people are taking that show for granted already?
  • Ricky Gervais proved again that every awards show needs to have him on stage for at least five minutes. Again, the funniest man in the room.
  • If you told me that two people would stand up in the audience and take bows, I never would have come up with Temple Grandin and Jack Kevorkian. Never.
  • Jorge Garcia and Jon Hamm during the “Born To Run” clip – priceless. (Hurley and Hamm does have a ring to it…)
  • Claire Danes is starting to resemble Lauren Bacall.
  • The Tweets sucked the life out of the moment anytime they were read. Dump the idea.
  • Mad Men is an unstoppable force. Ensembles do rule.
  • Tom Selleck looked like Gregory Peck in The Boys From Brazil.
  • Usually those songs played during the Memorium sequence can be pretty lame, but I thought Jewel did a nice job. Might actually be the best song I’ve heard from her in years (not that I’m actively listening…)
  • Some of the “we asked them this question” film clips were beyond painful, but the one with Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd mocking the Old Spice man on a horse commercial was genius.
  • Bucky Gunts!!
  • January Jones looked like a Christmas ornament. And I’ll bet any hetero man in the first three rows – assuming there were any – appreciated the view.
  • Archie Panjabi as Best Supporting Actress over Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks?. Are you kidding me?
  • But the absolute MVP of the night has to go to John Hodgman, who did the hilarious voice-overs again this year. They were hysterical in their own right and make you realize just how stodgy and lame and unimaginative most award shows are. Too bad he couldn’t have scripted everything the presenters were told to say.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV, Reviews

Mad Men

Great expectations tonight as Mad Men returns.

If you are wondering what will happen with Don Draper, Betty and the rest of the crew, click below. It’s probably the most anticipated returning show of the summer and I’m right there with you.

AMC official site.

But in a parallel universe, what about those slimy execs from Boston? You know…MA Men? Then you have to check out Funny Or Die’s hilarious parody at the link below. Kudos to Rob Delaney, Joey McIntyre (yes, that one!) and crew. Not safe for work, especially at an ad agency.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Film/TV, Reviews