Pop Culture Odds and Ends – It’s All About Perspective Edition

As I’m sure you’ve heard over the past few weeks from anyone who lives in the Northeast, it’s been pretty freaking cold here. Like, potentially hell has frozen over cold. I almost exclusively wear dresses to at work and I’ve had to cave to the temperatures by wearing pants more in the past week than I have in perhaps the last five years combined. It’s been brutal. But the funny thing about it being so cold for so long is that everyone’s perspective has totally changed. I walked outside yesterday morning and it felt glorious; I didn’t even bother with a hat or gloves and all seemed right with the world.

It was only 30 degrees.

This Friday there is supposed to be a high of 50 and I guarantee you that it’s going to feel like a tropical vacation. Who cares if it rains all day – it’s not snowing and the air won’t hurt my face. That now qualifies as a win.

So while I contemplate whether it’s time to break out my sundresses again (it’s not), get yourself caught up on all the pop culture that you may have missed with this week’s roundup.

Television

Movies

Trailers

  • Black Panther:

 

  • Patrick Melrose:

 

  • Our Cartoon President:

 

  • Game Over, Man!:

 

  • Blockers:

 

  • Red Sparrow:

 

  • Trust:

 

  • Truth or Dare:

 

  • Atlanta, season 2:

 

  • Winchester:

 

  • Nostalgia:

 

  • The Strangers: Prey at Night:

 

  • One Day at a Time, season 2:

 

The Night Sitter:

 

  • Mosaic:

 

  • Kickboxer: Retaliation:

 

Music

 

Theater

Stand-Up

Books

Award Season

Odds and Ends

Mashups and Supercuts

  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a major key:

 

  • Sally Hawkins and James Corden parody The Shape of Water:

 

  • Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep play each other’s famous roles:

 

  • Arnold Schwarznegger saying the same line in different movies:

 

  • SpongeBob and company do a little Dr. Dre:

 

 

Some thoughts on FX’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

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One of the few benefits of taking the time to recover from my sprained ankle (which my recent trip to NYC put a toll on) is that I’ve been able to clear out the old DVR. Since I was traveling so much, it was hovering around the 75% full mark, which was giving me anxiety. I don’t like it to get that full, especially with the fall TV season right around the corner. Believe me, I need as much space on there as I can get. So while I spent most of my weeknights laying on the couch with my leg elevated, I was able to get around to watching some of the stuff that I’ve been saving for later – whenever later actually happened.

Mixed in among the comedy specials and film noir were all the episodes of the new FX show Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll starring Denis Leary. I’d been putting off watching the show as the reviews had generally been mixed and I was still suffering some Leary fatigue after his previous show Rescue Me. I like Leary just fine – I am looking forward to attending his Comics Come Home event again in Boston this fall – but Rescue Me got so ridiculous at the end that I wasn’t sure that I was ready for another series with him in the lead. One of the beefs that I had about Rescue Me was that in the end the stories became more and more about a bunch of beautiful women fighting over Leary and less about the comradery of the fire fighters. Leary was a writer and producer on Rescue Me (as he is on Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), so he can make whatever kind of show that he wants, but toward the end of Rescue Me it began to feel more like wish fulfillment and less about a cohesive and believable narrative. I wanted banter between the guys, not women acting like lunatics to get with Leary’s character, who was no freaking prize to begin with. My fear was that if he indulged these impulses in a show about firefighters, it would likely be more of the same (or worse) in a show where he portrayed the lead singer of a rock band. I mean, the word sex is right in the title of the show. But after burning myself out on shows on Investigation Discovery, I needed to change things up while I was sequestered on the sofa as well as free up the space that the show was taking on the DVR. So I finally decided to give Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll a try.

And while I don’t think this is necessarily groundbreaking television, I actually enjoyed Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll quite a bit. It’s a fun ensemble cast and though it is early in the show’s run, Leary is far more self-deprecating in this show than he has been in other shows. More often than not, his character Johnny is the butt of the joke. As a failed rock star that has blown up every band that’s his been in, Johnny Rock is more a cautionary tale of what could have been rather than a rock God. The show focuses on Johnny reconnecting with his daughter Gigi (Elizabeth Gillies), who has come to NYC for her estranged father to help her break into the music business. This also forces Johnny to reconnect with his former bandmates Flash (John Corbett), Bam Bam (Robert Kelly) and Rehab (John Ales). Johnny is also in a somewhat stable relationship with Ava (Elaine Hendrix), which minimizes the opportunity for carousing. It’s ironic that Leary’s character on Rescue Me was far more of a “rock star” than the character that he plays who is an actual rocker.

The cast works really well together and they have good on-screen chemistry. They are a dysfunctional little family of misfits, but they are still something of a family and it is fun to watch these characters interact. There is a lot of baggage for these people to deal with and while the central narrative is Johnny and Gigi trying to navigate the father/daughter relationship that has up to this point been nonexistent, there are also some interesting dynamics with the other members of the band. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll captures what I liked best about Rescue Me – the conversations that the guys had at the firehouse when they were just hanging out. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is a straight up comedy, rather than a dramedy, and I think that plays to the strengths of everyone involved. Surprisingly, the music is actually pretty good as well; Elizabeth Gillies has a great voice.

I also like that the show is 30 minutes; not only did it make it easy for me to catch up on the season, but that feels like just the right amount of time to spend with these people week to week. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is fun and funny, but I don’t know that it could sustain itself in a longer format. The show is kind of silly and ridiculous, but it also makes me laugh more often than not. These are characters that it is fun to spend time with; while Johnny, Gigi, Flash and Ava may get the most screen time, they have done a fairly good job of also developing Bam Bam and Rehab as characters as well. I’m a big fan of Robert Kelly, so I’m always happy when he gets a particularly funny joke or story line. It’s also amusing to see John Corbett play such a vain guy; he typically plays such a nice guy in his other roles that it’s a nice change of pace for him to play a slight variation on that formula.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is a nice little diversion for the summer; it’s a solid comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has fun with the idea of a failed rock star. It’s still early, so the show could give into the same tendencies that Rescue Me ultimately did, but so far I’m enjoying the ride and look forward to new episodes. Seeing Leary in a role where he is a failed rock star that may self-sabotage and who must learn to connect with his daughter is a nice departure from some of his previous filmography. It’s been entertaining to watch all these comically flawed characters interact, and there is an inherent sweetness hiding underneath all the rock and roll. I did not expect to enjoy the show as much as I did and it’s been a nice addition to my summer viewing schedule.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll airs Thursdays at 10 pm (ET) on FX.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – I’m Back, Baby edition

I couldn’t think of any better way to bring the blog back from its brief hiatus than with everyone’s favorite post, the bi-weekly pop culture roundup. Pop culture stops for no man (or woman) and stories kept rolling out even while I was away, so this post is as much for me as it is for you. So while we all play catch up, enjoy this barrage of links to stories that you might have missed:

  • You people are failing me when it comes to Happy Endings. Shame on you.
  • Kids retell Star Wars in their own words:

 

  • This might be a reason to have a baby – White Stripes songs have been turned into an album of lullabies (just kidding, Mom. Probably).
  • The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries is already out on DVD.

happy dance

  • Dang – I missed out on the auction for Tupac’s fedora from the “California Love” video. I look excellent in hats.
  • Listen to a new song from John Legend and Rick Ross.
  • Crackle is now streaming episodes of The Shield for free. Definitely a show to check out if you haven’t seen it. It is where I first discovered the awesomeness that is Walton Goggins.
  • Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno addressed The Tonight Show succession rumors:

Jimmy, my friend, some unsolicited advice: stop palling around with Leno. He cannot be trusted.

  • The Hollywood Reporter says that Fallon has signed a deal to take over The Tonight Show. Seth Meyers is the frontrunner to take over Fallon’s 12:30 time slot.
  • Steve Buscemi will direct a live Vampire Weekend webcast.
  • Not sure how I feel about this: Amy Poehler is rumored to be dating fellow comedian (and occasional Parks and Recreation guest star) Nick Kroll. Love them both, but I’m still not over her split with Will Arnett.
  • This seems like a waste of perfectly good Easter candy:

 

  • Glee star Cory Monteith has checked into rehab and will miss some episodes of season 4, currently in production.
  • Springsteen has brought someone on stage to sing “Waiting on a Sunny Day” at every show I have been to, but I’ve never seen him do this before:

Lucky kid – and this only makes me love the Boss more.

  • The collected wisdom of Duck Dynasty’s Uncle Si. I don’t watch the show – should I check it out?
  • OK – this kind of freaked me out – celebrities that are unbelievably the same age. The Taylor Swift/Adele thing always kills me.
  • There is adorable and then there is Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Jeopardy! in 1997:

 

  • Cher’s mom is getting a Lifetime movie. It has got to be better than Liz & Dick and the recent Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story (based on a murder one town over from where I live).
  • Based on the success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter, Funny or Die has some 90s TV shows that they think should get the movie treatment.
  • Queens of the Stone Age debuted a new song at Lollapalooza Brazil, the band’s first in six years.
  • I have discovered yet another website that specialized in pop culture inspired art. I really think this print would tie my living room together.
  • Tublr of the week: Mean Mad Men (Mad Men/Mean Girls mashup). Totally fetch.

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  • Thanks to a new website, I can listen to many of the Phish concerts that I attended for free.
  • The creator of the 90s Nickelodeon show Clarissa Explains It All has brought the character back as an adult in a new book.
  • Adios TV Guide Network.
  • Watch the cast of The Big Bang Theory do a number from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sheldon Cooper in drag is unsettling.
  • Bronson Pinchot hijacks a weather cast on a local news cast. I have no words:

 

  • Actor Richard Griffiths, who played Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon (among other things) passed away last week.
  • Are Walking Dead and Toy Story the same?
  • The CW has released the first images of their new The Vampire Diaries spin-off pilot, The Originals.
  • Ron Howard will appear as himself on an upcoming episode of Arrested Development. He is also the show’s narrator.
  • I enjoy this collection of GIFs of Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead sneaking up on people. He is one stealth dude.

And now, some supercuts and mashups:

  • People running in movies:

 

  • I’m glad I didn’t watch this before I flew Southwest last week.
  • All of Woody Allen’s stammers:

 

  • Bill & Ted & Lincoln’s Excellent Adventure:

 

  • And finally, spliced together like this, Fraggle Rock was pretty deep (and a little depressing):