Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Spring is (Hopefully) Here Edition

I hate to jinx anything, but I think that Spring has finally arrived. The weather is slightly warmer, the days are longer and baseball is back. If that doesn’t mean Spring, I don’t know what does. I even heard the music of my first ice cream truck of the season. My mood has drastically improved the last two days – part of that is because I’m finally getting a breather at work, but I can’t discount the impact of the changing seasons. I think the worst is really behind us. Of course, we’ll probably get a blizzard next week just so Mother Nature can show who’s  the boss.

The improving weather doesn’t give me permission to slack of from my duties, however, so I’ve once again assembles a fantastic menagerie of pop culture goodness. There’s a little bit of everything in here, so if you have fallen behind on what’s going on in the world of pop during your winter hibernation this should help get you back up to speed.

  • Watch Crowe, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots play “Folsom Prison Blues”

 

Who knew Jimmy could play the harmonica?

  • Billy Dee Williams has dropped out of Dancing with the Stars. Probably for the best.
  • Drake has a new song – that name checks Jennifer Lawrence:

 

  • Conan is in Dallas all this week; he tries to become a Texas Deputy:

 

  • More details on the new season of American Horror Story: it will be called Freak Show and Michael Chiklis has joined the cast. Kathy Bates, Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare Sarah Paulson, Angela Basset, Frances Conroy, Gabourey Sidibe, and Jessica Lange will all be returning in some capacity.
  • How much do you love this photo of some of the Game of Thrones cast on a beach day:

GoT beach day

The Lannisters are the worst, but the actors that play them are pretty awesome.

  • Perhaps to prove progress has been made, George R.R. Martin has released a chapter from the next Game of Thrones book.
  • A youth orchestra in Spain did a flash mob version of the Game of Thrones theme:

 

  • Gotta love the NYC real estate market – the apartment where Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead has already been rented.
  • There was briefly rumor that the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys were going out on tour together, but that isn’t happening.
  • For those that enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel, here’s a vignette on Zubrowka (the fictional European country dreamed up by Wes Anderson)
  • I’m still annoyed by the How I Met Your Mother finale, but this makes me smile – Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel perform “The Confrontation” from Les Mis:

 

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  • Justin Bieber won at Canada’s Juno Awards – and was roundly booed. When you’ve lost Canda, you’ve lost the world.
  • You guys…Ginuwine performed “Pony” on Arsenio.

 

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  • Also from The Tonight Show – Samuel L. Jackson did some Boy Meets World slam poetry:

 

  • A ranking of all of Frank’s hats on 30 Rock.
  • Some of the stars of Nashville (not named Connie Britton or Hayden Panettiere) are doing some live shows.
  • A model transformed herself into a real life version of Marge Simpson:

 

  • This just has to be seen to believed – Arnold Schwarzenegger does the Nae Nae Dance:

 

This man used to govern a state.

  • Celebrity beef of the week: Eddie Money vs. Kenny Loggins. Tough call – one has two tickets to paradise, but the other is familiar with the danger zone. Edge: Loggins
  • Star Wars released a featurette on the birth of the lightsaber:

 

  • This map determines what states will be best prepared for a zombie attack. I’m screwed.

Trailers:

  • The first official trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

 

  • A new trailer for FX’s Fargo miniseries:

 

  • Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again:

 

  • Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in Only Lovers Left Alive:

 

  • A new teaser for Louie, coming back May 5th:

 

  • A new trailer for The Purge: Anarchy:

 

  • A red-band trailer for Let’s Be Cops:

 

  • The new Tom & Jerry:

 

  • The Drop, James Gandolfini’s last film:

 

  • A red band trailer for Sex Tape, starring Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz (NSFW):

 

  • Katy Perry may be sort of dating Riff Raff (the rapper, not the character from Rocky Horror).

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts:

  • Wolverine the Musical:

 

  • A Carnegie Hall ensemble played 43 cartoon theme songs:

 

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  • Mike Tyson training videos with Street Fighter sound effects added:

 

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  • Every suit Barney ever wore on HIMYM:

 

  • A supercut of every time Barney had sex on HIMYM:

 

  • For those of you that used to love Homestar Runner as much as me, here’s a Strong Bad/Daft Punk mashup:

 

  • Batman recut:

 

  • A supercut of actors gearing up for battle:

 

  • And finally, Breaking Bad vs. Street Fighter:

 

 

Some Thoughts on the How I Met Your Mother Finale

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

Kids, let me tell you a story……

Sometime back in 2006, I decided to take a chance on a show that a lot of people were very enthusiastic about. It’s not often that the critics that I respect and the general consensus of the general public are in agreement, but the consensus of both groups was that CBS’s How I Met Your Mother was worth my time. Though I thought the title and premise were a little silly, I got the first season on DVD to see what all the fuss was about and I was instantly charmed by the show. I devoured that first season and was quickly up to speed, watching the antics of Ted, Barney, Robin, Lilly and Marshall live with the rest of America. While many people were fascinated with the idea of figuring out the identity of the mother, that quickly became a non-issue for me. I was far more charmed by the story of five friends than I was in the ultimate resolution of the shows titular question. The cast has such great chemistry and the show was so funny and well written that I was enjoying the journey and wasn’t too concerned about the destination. The show was quickly becoming one on my favorite comedies on TV.

And then…..it all sort of changed. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened, but the show started to go off the rails. It was subtle, at first, with a few uneven episodes somewhere in the 4th season that were not up to quality previous offerings. I initially chalked this up to age; the longer that sitcoms stay on the air, there is inevitable a period where the quality dips a bit as the series begins to run out of stories and some fatigue sits in. I was hoping that this was just a momentarily blip in the arc of the show. But as the season continued, the episodes did not improve. The characters that had been so well written were now shadows of their former selves. The writers appeared to be far more invested in the mythology that they created in the show and their constant focus on clues and misdirection became tiring. It was becoming harder and harder to become involved in any of Ted’s relationships when we knew from the beginning that none of these women were “the Mother.” The show paired Robin and Barney to great effect and then broke them up as quickly as they got them together for no apparent reason. By the time Jennifer Morrison turned up in the sixth season (and we all know how I feel about her), I was watching the show purely out of habit. But the combination of the horrible Zoe character and story lines that were not that funny (some by design, others not) was the ultimate death knell for the show for me. I hung on into the seventh season, but the episodes began to pile up on my DVR. It took this as a sign and just stopped watching, expecting to feel a little sad about abandoning a show that I had once enjoyed so much. Instead, I felt relieved that I was no longer forcing myself to waste my limited free time on a show that I had long since ceased to find any pleasure in.

I had not originally planned to revisit the show for its season finale; by this time, I knew the identity of the the mother (as did the rest of America) and figured that was all the closure I needed. But as the finale date drew closer, I began to sucked in to all the hype surrounding the end of a long running series. Lord knows that I hate to miss out on a pop culture phenomena and didn’t want to be excluded from the post finale chatter that was inevitably going to dominate the pop culture landscape the following morning. I was still on the fence until I watched the HIMYM cast on Inside the Actor’s Studio; I was reminded how much I enjoyed these actors and reliving some of the great moments of the show made me second guess myself. With so many delightful moments, had I misjudged the show? Perhaps I had been too harsh in my initial assessment and the show was not as bad as I remembered it to be in its later seasons. Nostalgia is a funny thing – it makes good things great and softens or eliminates your memories of the bad. So with an open mind and renewed affection for the show, I decided to watch the series finale despite having skipped seasons 8 and 9 in their entirety.

My mother raised me to believe that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. So……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding. I have no problem with saying not nice things. When it comes to how I felt about the series final of How I Met You Mother, I think my feelings can best be summed up by these characters from In Living Color:

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I have never felt more vindicated for abandoning a television show. Last night’s finale was seriously the worst. THE.WORST. Damon Lindelof may finally be off the hook for the ending to Lost, a finale that was disappointing but also made me feel actual emotions. By the time How I Met Your Mother ended, all I felt was rage which is pretty impressive given my total indifference to the show going in to the finale. I was still mad about it this morning.

To make this easier and to keep my ranting somewhat focused, I’m going to break down my problems with the finale into 5 major issues (spoilers from here on out):

 

  • Barney and Robin’s divorce -You cannot decide to spend the entire span of the final season on Barney and Robin’s wedding and they have them divorced within fifteen minutes of the final episode. Nope. Try again. The creators are basically admitting that they wasted your time and nothing that happens means anything – and I say this as a person who didn’t even spend the better part of six month watching the buildup to this big event only to see it unceremoniously dismantled almost instantly. Perhaps if the whole thing had been better paced or executed more precisely it wouldn’t have been so infuriating. But how it played out, it felt forced and rushed and just very manipulative. It also made it very clear that the creators’ end game was always Robin and Ted, which I don’t think anyone was hoping for.
  • The last episode was WAY too rushed – Again, this goes back to their terrible decision to focus on a single weekend for most of the final season and then suddenly kick the show into high gear for the last 60 minutes. There were enough major life decisions and events in that finale to have filled an entire 22 episode season; because it all unfolded so quickly, none of the events were given any time to breathe or have any real impact. Seriously – in the course of the finale, Ted meets the mother, they have 2 kids, Robin and Barney get divorced, Barney becomes a dad, Lily and Marshall have their third child, Ted and the mother get married, Robin becomes famous, Marhsall becomes a judge and the mother dies. That is a hell of a lot of ground to cover and ultimately it was all done so rat-a-tat-tat that none of it meant anything. I’m assuming some of these moments were supposed to illicit some sort of emotional response, but by the time most of them unfolded everyone at home realized where this all was headed. The pacing was just dreadful – with ten minutes left in the show, I had no idea how they were going to wrap this all up.
  • Not enough of the mother – The one thing that I think the show did right in the final seasons was in the casting of the mother; Cristin Milioti is great and fit right in with the rest of the group. The series has been building up our expectations for the mother over the last nine years, highlighting how awesome she is and all that jazz. So for a show that’s called How I Met Your Mother, it was conspicuous how little of the mother there actually was in the finale. Ultimately, she was a huge MacGuffin for the story that the creators decided to tell; in the end, she really didn’t matter at all, except allow a story telling device. The moment when Ted finally met Tracy – the moment the entire series was ostensibly building to –  was sweet, but within minutes of that she was dead (we assume) and Ted’s kids were encouraging him to ask out Aunt Robin. It felt like a tremendous cheat. I don’t even really care that Robin was the ending in theory- though considering all the time that they showed Ted getting over Robin and Robin falling in love with Barney it didn’t feel authentic – but for God’s sake, give the mother her moment in the sun. I guess they didn’t think they could get a show on the air that was called Why I Want to Bang Your Aunt Robin Now That Your Mother Is Dead. And really – do we think that the main fivesome are going to be able to handle Ted dating Barney’s ex-wife? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. There will always be issues. Always.
  • There is no way Ted would wait so long to marry the mother – Yeah – this is a guy that tells people that he loves them on a first date, yet we are supposed to believe that it took two kids and 5+ years for him to make Tracy his wife? No sale. We have spent the last 9 years watching Ted showing what a grand romantic he is and his burning desire for a wife. And then he just doesn’t get around to making it legal? Do you even know your characters.
  • Most of the finale was pretty depressing – The first 30 minutes of the show were nothing but people be miserable. I get that life isn’t always fun and everything doesn’t have to end up with a big shiny bow on it, but this show is supposed to be a comedy. I don’t know that I laughed once during the finale. That is a problem for a comedy. There were attempts at jokes in all this nonsense, but they felt old and tired. A funnier finale and I may have been able to forgive some of the other flaws, but watching the How I Met Your Mother finale was nowhere near a pleasurable experience. It felt like work; the only joy I derived from it was knowing that my instincts to bail on the show were dead on. Watching this show again was like going back to an ex and trying to make it work. When I walked away, I should have stayed away.

I have basically nothing redeeming to say about the ending of the show. What is even more infuriating is that this is the ending that was planned all along – the final scene with Ted’s kids was filmed back in the second season (to avoid the issue of the aging of the actors playing the kids). This was always how it would end; I can’t even give the writers the benefit of the doubt that they came up with this on the fly and hadn’t thought the series through fully. This makes some of the choices over the last nine years all the more baffling. Their rigidity to this predetermined outcome was ultimately their undoing, in my opinion – they decided that Ted would end up with Robin (we presume – though I kind of like the idea of Robin rejecting him AGAIN and that Ted and the mother wouldn’t meet until the final episode and refused to budge on either, even when creatively that handcuffed them and resulting in an unsatisfying ending. Had they plotted this out better or introduced the mother earlier in the process, I could vaguely see how this all could have worked out. But the piss pour execution has soured me not only on the finale, but on the entire series. And there is no way in hell that I’ll even consider watching How I Met Your Dad (and so help me God if that show winds up being the story of how #31 meets Barney).

There’s no other way to say it: that was a terrible finale. I’m glad that those actors now have the chance to go off and do other things. I’m just mad that I wasted an hour of my life getting sucked back into this garbage. At least one final issue was resolved – the last remaining slap from the Slapsgiving bet was apparently reserved for the audience.

What did you think of the How I Met Your Mother finale? Do you agree with me or did you think it was satisfying? Sound off in the comments below.

 

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Kick off the Weekend Edition

Some technical difficulties and a wonky schedule this week mean that you are getting your pop culture roundup a few days late. Apologies to anyone who was disappointed, but I tried to make it up to you with an extra-long batch of links. With Sundance, The Television Critics Association winter meeting and awards season all happening at the same time, there was no shortage of news to report. This is actually the condensed version of links! So while most of the country is in a deep freeze, grab a blanket and stay inside all weekend pouring through the last 2+ weeks in the world of pop!

  • Last night was Adam Scott’s final installment in his The Greatest Event in Television History specials. They ended with a bang, with Scott and Paul Rudd recreating the opening credits to Bosom Buddies:

I will miss these.

  • HBO has passed on the Sarah Silverman pilot, People in New Jersey. Boo!

 

  • As someone who regularly hangs out with our interns at the office, this Conan bit made me literally laugh out loud:

 

  • Adrian Grenier was almost Dawson on Dawson’s Creek. I didn’t think it was possible to make that character more awful, but that would have done it. #Pacey4Life
  • This will make some people I know happy – the first photo from Dumb and Dumber To:

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  • Bam! Pow! The original Batman TV series with Adam West is finally coming to home video. So. Much.Kitsch.

Now for some news on the Super Bowl:

  • The Full House guys are reuniting for a yogurt commercial:

 

  • Good news for the Bronies out there – the Bronytunes app allows you to stream 7,000 different songs about My Little Pony.
  • One Direction will appear on the show:

 

  • This is kind of cool – watch Quentin Tarantino and Steve Buscemi rehearse Reservoir Dogs:

 

  • The first poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I have been released (and it doesn’t look much different than the poster for the previous two films):

Hunger-Games-Collage

 

 

  • One of the stars of Shipping Wars has died.
  • Watch a one armed teen scare The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus:

 

Trailers:

  • A teaser trailer for FX’s The Strain:

 

  • I bailed after J.R. died, but here’s a trailer for the 3rd season of the new Dallas:

 

  • A new trailer for The LEGO Movie, which I really want to see:

 

  • Chloe Sevingny’s new show, Those Who Kill:

 

  • James Franco’s Child of God:

 

  • Showtime’s new creepy thriller, Penny Dreadful:

 

  • A very Syracuse-y trailer for Adult World, starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack

 

  • A new prom for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:

 

  • I did far better than I expected on this SNL quiz, thanks to some catchphrases from the 90s.
  • Just because, here’s a photo of Tupac and Suge Knight playing Sonic the Hedgehog:

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As always, we end with the mashups and the supercuts:

The film Her seems to have inspired a lot of parodies:

  • A trailer for Him:

 

  • Her starring Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones:

 

  • If you ever wondered what Game of Thrones would look like if it was set in ancient Japan (and who hasn’t?), wonder no longer.
  • As a fan of independent films, this parody trailer made me giggle:

 

  • Mean Girls by cats:

 

  • A supercut of every Nintendo start screen….ahh memories:

 

  • A hipster remake of American Psycho:

 

  • Donald Glover’s last episode of Community was last night; here’s a Childish Gambino/Community mashup to help ease the pain:

 

  • It was only a matter of time- someone mashed up Haim’s “The Wire” with footage from The Wire :

 

  • Watch a supercut of “Let It Go” in 25 different languages:

 

  • Teen Wolf of Wall Street:

 

  • A supercut of Larry David’s best insults:

 

  • And finally…The Facts of Life/Breaking Bad mashup you didn’t even know you needed:

 

Have a great weekend!!!