Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Back to School edition

In this part of country today is the first day of school, which has little direct impact on my except that I had to avoid school buses during my morning commute and that my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of my friends’ offspring heading off to their institutions of learning. It’s still weird to me to not have a first day of school anymore; when you are a student and teacher continuously from the age of 4 to 32, you get used to such things. I do miss back to school shopping. I may have to buy myself some highlighters and folders just for old time’s sake. Best of luck to all the kiddos and teachers out there for a productive and educational school year and congratulations to all the parents in weathering another summer (and a special shout out to those of you who now have all your children in school and no longer have to pay for day care – the nightmare is over!).

In honor of the first day of school, allow me to educate you on all the pop culture stories that you might have missed while you were looking for the school prescribed type of scissors or haggling over first day of school outfits. Kick back and enjoy the beginning of Fall with your biweekly pop culture roundup:

  • Someone at HBO has been listening to me – next season of True Blood will be the series’ last. They are proving to be smarter than the books.
  • The new cast of Dancing with the Stars was revealed. I knew it was only a matter of time until Snookie turned up, though I wouldn’t have predicted Bill Nye the Science Guy,

 

  • Official Comedy looks at what would happen if Mark Wahlberg got his wish and became Iron Man:

 

  • Clint Eastwood and his wife have separated (I called this when she got her own reality show).
  • This dude made a homemade version of KITT from Knight Rider:

 

  • Here’s a photo of Peter Dinklage hula-hooping at a gay bar in Canada. If this doesn’t make you smile, you have no heart:

dinklage-hula

He was joined by his Game of Throne’s sister Lena Headey. Say what you will about the Lannisters – these people know how to have a good time.

  • This parody site offers suggestions for Robin Thicke for “what rhymes with hug me.”
  • This weekend we had a debate about what kind of tattoos we would get (neither of us got tatted up in college with all our friends). I’ve considered a lot of options, but somehow a Minion tattoo never crossed my mind.
  • Michelle Williams (the actress, not the Destiny’s Child singer) will make her Broadway debut in Cabaret. In other news, someone needs to get me tickets to Cabaret.
  • Aaron Paul continues his general tour of awesomeness with this napkin that he left for a server that he found out was a Breaking Bad fan:

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  • Watch a trailer for the 4th season of Downton Abbey:

 

  • Also on Thursday, Fiona Apple stormed off stage. Seriously – was there a full moon?
  • David Schwimmer angered his neighbors by tearing down a townhouse in NYC that was one year away from receiving landmark status. Their passive aggressive response is outstanding:
Did anyone think he was?

Did anyone think he was?

  • Jay Pharoah does a fantastic Kanye impersonation in his parody of West’s “I Am A God” (NSFW):

 

  • This is ONLY A RUMOR, but Benedict Cumberbatch may join the cast of the new Star Wars film.
  • The director of the Academy Award winning animated short Paperman has left Disney. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors – I loved his film.
  • Internet sensations Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub met for the first time at the Internet Cat Festival in Minneapolis. Yeah – you read that last part correctly.
  • The role of Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones has been recast. Because it isn’t hard enough already to keep all those characters straight when they are played continuously by the same actor.
  • Speaking of parent/child switcheroos, this tweet made me literally laugh out loud:

funnytweeter.com

 

  • This guy definitely sounds like a legit doctor – a dentist who bought John Lennon’s molar at an auction wants to use it to clone the Beatle. Yup – that’s not at all creepy.
  • Damn you to hell, Chase Utley. I have been perfectly content to hate you and your stupid hair since 2009 and then you had to go and do something relatively awesome like answer Mac’s fan letter from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

 

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  • Kyle Chandler isn’t particularly interested in a Friday Night Lights movie (based on the TV show, obviously, since there already is a Friday Night Lights movie in existence). I still need to get around to watching season 5.
  • Muhammad Ali and Liberace once performed together. No, seriously:

 

  • I love this video of a guy dressed up as Spiderman, schooling people on the basketball court:

That was twice as entertaining as The Amazing Spiderman.

  • Further proof that Charlie Hunnam will do just fine in the Fifty Shades of Grey lead – he already basically played the other lead role on Queer as Folk.
  • According to Entertainment Weekly the greatest boy band of all time is……The Backstreet Boys.
  • Someone figured out how to play “Get Lucky” on Mario Paint:

 

  • Simon Pegg and Nick Frost actually do a decent cover of the song as well:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and shupercuts

  • A supercut of near kisses in movies:

 

  • People on The Newsroom sure like to shout:

 

  • Every time Leonardo DiCaprio says “old sport” in The Great Gatsby:

 

  • The new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia starts tonight on FXX. Watch clips from the show re-cut as a trailer for a psychological thriller:

 

  • Kill Him – the supercut:

 

  •  I was forced to watch a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine while babysitting a dreadful little boy while I was in grad school, so I took particular joy in this mash-up:

 

  • And finally, a fan already cut together a trailer for Man of Steel 2, adding the rumored Brian Cranston as Lex Luthor for good measure:

Bunheads – ABC Family

First, a quick programming note – I am on vacation most of this week, so there will probably be fewer posts than normal and it may take me longer to approve comments. But I will be checking in!

Bunheads is the type of show that isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. Though I will admit to watching the show Greek during its run (and, as a former sorority girl, enjoying it), ABC Family isn’t a channel that I spend a whole lot of time perusing. Their programming is aimed at a younger demographic, though a disturbing number of my acquaintances are big fans of Pretty Little Liars. As someone who never took ballet classes as a little girl and was unceremoniously informed by a former boyfriend that I had two left feet, I wasn’t necessarily drawn to Bunhead’s focus on the world of dance. But I was a fan of the show Gilmore Girls – at least until they introduced the character of April – and its rapid fire dialogue and quirky characters. Gilmore Girls always kind of reminded me of West Wing in pacing, if not in content. So when I heard that Bunheads was the new show by Gilmore Girls showrunner and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and she was reuniting with the fabulous Kelly Bishop (the former Gilmore matriarch Emily), I decided that it was worth at least a look.

In the pilot of Bunheads we meet the dancer Michelle (Sutton Foster), who is getting a little too old to have not received her big break yet. She’s making ends meet as a showgirl in Vegas, but the difficulty she has in even getting an audition and the constant rejection are beginning to wear on her. Her chance at stardom may have passed her by; in her latest audition, the director didn’t even let her dance. She was summarily dismissed as too old. After that humiliation and consuming large amounts of alcohol, Michelle gives in to the charms of her doting admirer Hubbell (Alan Ruck aka Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), who offers her a way out of Vegas and promises to take care of her. She spontaneously marries him and he takes her to live with him in Paradise, California.

Paradise doesn’t live up to its name, however. Michelle is horrified to discover that small town doesn’t even have a movie theater; for fun on Friday nights, the local teenagers sneak into the town library. Hubbell also omitted the fact that he shares his home with his mother Fanny (Bishop), who is none too pleased that her son has impulsively gotten married and brought home his new bride unannounced. The townspeople do not welcome her with open arms either; the only people that Michelle easily connects with are the young women who take classes at Fanny’s dance studio.

While I generally liked the pilot of Bunheads, it paled in comparison to Gilmore Girls. I don’t know that they will be able to capture that same magic. Sutton Foster is very good with Sherman-Palladino’s rat-a-tat language and has very good rapport with Bishop. But while I was watching, my mind kept drifting to how Lauren Graham (Parenthood), Gilmore Girls’ leading lady, would have read the lines. This not necessarily a critique of Foster; I am just more used to Graham’s delivery and chemistry with Bishop after seven years. In time as Foster grows into the role and her character develops, I’m sure the comparison will lessen. As someone who has done plenty of time on Broadway, Foster brings authenticity to the scenes in the dance studio, which should be a strength of the show. Bishop is no slouch in this area either, as she is a former Tony award winning actress who starred in A Chorus Line.

Unless ABC Family changes their programming model, I imagine that this show is going to focus more on the four girls in Fanny’s dance class that we were introduced to in the pilot. From what little I know about the network’s other shows, their primary emphasis tends to be on the relationships and lives of young women, not on adults. If that is their plan, they are going to have to develop those characters more fully than they did in the first episode. The bold strokes of their personalities are established, but they will have to become for fully realized to become interesting week to week.

There is a plot twist in the finale that did give me some pause. The ending of the pilot is tonally inconsistent with the rest of the show and the development came out of nowhere. I’m just not sure where the show is going to go from that ending. It didn’t feel organic and felt forced. If they want the show to return to the tone that 90% of the pilot established, they will have their work cut out from them.

One other issue I see with the show is the title; I’m not sure that Bunheads is going to make a lot of people tune in. The title of a show is important to potential viewers – just ask the good people of Cougartown.

Bunheads is a fine little show, but I don’t know that it will make it into my regular viewing rotation. While I always enjoy Kelly Bishop and Sutton Foster shows some real promise in her first starring television role, I’m probably more likely to re-watch my Gilmore Girls DVDs. I may give it a few more episodes to see if it will draw me in; it has definite promise, but the pilot didn’t 100% convince me.

Bunheads debuts tonight on ABC Family at 9 pm ET.