Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Deja Vu All Over Again Edition

 

Since I do these roundups every week, I occasionally get a little confused about what stories that I’ve already covered in previous roundups and which stories only sound familiar because I read them in preparation of this week’s roundup. It’s one of the reasons putting this post together is so time consuming; I wind up doubling back and checking to make sure that the links aren’t duplicates from earlier posts. I didn’t have the time to do that this week, so there is a more than fair chance that you may have read some of these links before. Consider it a stroll down memory lane rather the side effect of a lazy blogger.

Even if some of this is familiar – hopefully a small percentage – there’s still plenty of good stuff to choose from in this week’s roundup. So kick back and get yourself either caught up or reacquainted with all the pop culture that you may have missed in the last seven days (give or take).

  • Tom Cruise and Jimmy Fallon had a lip sync battle:

 

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  • Anika and Andre from Empire (Grace Gealey and Trai Byers IRL) are getting hitched. #PLOTTWIST
  • John Stamos shared a photo from the set:

 

Time for some trailers…..

  • Seth Rogen in The Night Before (red band trailer):

 

  • HBO’s Ferrell Takes The Field:

 

  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials:

 

  • Victoria (a movie filmed in one take):

 

  • Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi:

 

  • Zac Efron in We Are Your Friends:

 

  • The Escort:

 

  • Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in Freeheld:

 

  • Elisabeth Moss in Queen of Earth:

 

  • Ryan Reynolds in Mississippi Grind:

 

  • Gotham:

 

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  • Billy Corgan could give Jack White a run for his money in the cranky department:

 

  • Nothing but mad love for my friends that are teachers:

 

  • THIS is why I love minor league baseball:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts.

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia mashed up with Batman v. Superman:

 

  • Harry Potter meets Wiz Khalifa:

 

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  • I’m loving all the Kelly Clarkson covers – here she is doing “Blank Space” (Swift approves)

 

  • Clarkson also covers ‘N SYNC (in the great city of Buffalo):

 

  • The Fantastic Four reimagined as a 90s Action VHS:

 

  • Tangled told through emoji:

 

  • FX paid tribute to George Coe:

 

  • 24 Pixar impressions in five minutes:

 

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  • Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” – a personal favorite – gets a vintage makeover:

 

  • And finally, The Hunger Game of Thrones (someone make this happen!):

This Interview is Over

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I wish that this was a post where I had been able to see a film at an advanced screening or at a festival, but sadly it is not. I didn’t get to see The Interview early and right now it doesn’t sound like any of us will be able to see the movie at all – at least for the foreseeable future. After terror threats were made and the four largest theater chains opted to not show the film, Sony made the decision last night to not release The Interview. The latest statement from the beleaguered company indicated that they have no plans to release the film in any form – not in theaters, not VOD, not on DVD. That could change, of course, but right now The Interview is shelved for the indefinite future.

When I first heard about the premise for The Interview, I did raise my eyebrows. While I generally really enjoy anything that Seth Rogen and James Franco do together, a movie where their characters attempt to assassinate North Korea’s Kim Jong-un seemed to be unnecessarily poking a bear that maybe didn’t need to be poked. Let’s face it – Jong-un is not known as a guy who can take a joke, especially when it comes to a movie about people trying to kill him. To be fair, I don’t know how many dictators – or world leaders for that matter – would be totally thrilled with their assassination being the focal point of a comedy, but Jong-un’s actions over the years made it clear that he probably wasn’t going to let the release of The Interview happen without some sort of threat or action.

But just because I didn’t necessarily think it was a wise decision to target Kim Jong-un, that didn’t mean that I didn’t want to see the movie or that they shouldn’t have made it. I may not have chosen that topic, but I support their choice to do so. There have been many instances where movies have made fun of sitting world leaders who aren’t known for their sense of humor. In 1940, Charlie Chaplin wrote, starred in and directed The Great Dictator, a film that tweaked a men you man have heard of – Adolf Hitler. Matt Stone and Trey Parker have practically made a cottage industry out of going after controversial leaders; their feature film Team America: World Police took shots (literally and figuratively) at Kim Jong-un’s father King Jong-il

 

The guys also used their television show South Park as a platform to make fun of some other unpleasant dudes. Saddam Hussein was a reoccurring character on the show, who was in a same-sex relationship with Satan:

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Osama Bin Laden was also a target; while they didn’t kill him on-screen until after his actual death, they certainly made fun of him:

 

Contrary to what you may read on Facebook and Twitter, Sony’s decision to pull The Interview is not a violation of anyone’s constitutionally protected free speech. The 1st Amendment does many wonderful things, but it only protects speech from government oppression. Private companies are not held up to same standards as the federal and state governments. Believe me – I’m an actual constitutional law scholar. So any complaints about free speech being violated are erroneous.

However, that doesn’t mean that Sony’s decision isn’t problematic. While this may not be a free speech issue, it is certainly a stifling of creative expression which is not good either. By deciding to self-censor and give in to the threats, Sony has not only set a dangerous precedent for other protesting groups but its decision may also have a chilling effect on what is produced in the future. In the wake of Sony’s decision, New Regency has pulled the plug on a thriller starring Steve Carrell that was set in North Korea. I’m sure that other projects will be scrapped or altered – and that’s a shame. Once certain topics become off-limits, that’s a dangerous path. Artist expression has long been an outlet for frustration or commentary about current events. Movies, books and television serve as escapism and entertainment, but they also are forms of protest and can educate or present an unpopular or different viewpoint. It’s a shame when artists in all genres feel that they have to limit who and what they can discuss. And now groups know that if they threaten movie theaters, studios may back down.

Sony was in a tough position and I can’t say that I necessarily blame the theaters for being concerned about the threats that were made. No one wants to see anyone be harmed because of a movie and theaters are not the most secure places in the world, as proved by the shooting in Aurora, Colorado during The Dark Knight Rises. Add to the mix that most theaters have a skeleton crew working on Christmas and there were obviously legitimate security issues to consider. Perhaps Sony was aware that the threats were more credible than the government has let on. I get that a Rogen/Franco comedy might not be the particular hill that you choose to die on. It’s not an easy call. But pulling the movie completely just doesn’t seem like the right decision. Of course, the decision to not release the film in any capacity isn’t totally a moral one – it’s also a business one. By not releasing the film on demand or on DVD, the company can more easily write off the money that they spent on the movie as a loss.

I can honestly say that I would have gone to see the movie if it was shown anywhere in the area. Would I have been a little nervous? Sure. But it was one little thing that I could do in support, to show that we won’t cave to threats. Plus, and I cannot overstate this, I just really wanted to see the movie. But even if there were threats against a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy, I’d still go (even if I understood their impulse – those movies are terrible). I hope that The Interview sees the light of day eventually. And I hope that this event has not set us down a very dangerous road.

Heather’s 2013 Fall TV Schedule

Last night, the temperature dropped to the 50s in the part of the country and it remained chilly when I left for work this morning. In a nod to the weather, I swapped out my normal open toed shoes for my pair of knee high boots. The first football game of the season was on last night.  As I dodged school buses on my way to Dunkin Donuts for my pumpkin coffee, one thing became very clear to me.

Fall was here.

Now, technically I know that autumn doesn’t really arrive until around September 21st, but there is no denying that summer is beginning to beat a hasty retreat. Some of the trees are already beginning to change and you can already buy Halloween candy in some stores. I am personally excited about this as fall is my favorite season. Not only does it bring my birthday, but I love the weather, the food and the activities that come along with the season. Most importantly, fall means the beginning of a new TV season.

This is always a slightly stressful time for me as I try to decide which new shows to check out, which shows to drop and how to maneuver all my timeslot showdowns. These are pretty minor problems in the grand scheme of things, but deciding which shows deserve my precious leisure time is not something I enter into lightly. As painful as it is to watch a show that winds up being canceled or turns into a dud, I also hate to be not watching a show that becomes a pop culture phenomenon. I take this stuff seriously.

This season has been a particularly difficult one to navigate as there are just so many new shows to consider. I generally don’t jump on board with new shows during their first season unless there is something that definitely speaks to me or the critical buzz is unanimous; I’ve been burned once too often with shows that I got invested in only to be reminded that middle America and I do not see eye to eye on what makes a great show. The odds of any new show making it are pretty slim, but with many of my old favorites now gone (Adios 30 Rock) I do have more free time to take a chance on a newbie. And that is a dangerous thing for me.

This isn’t finalized, but here is my preliminary TV schedule for the fall of 2013. I’ve indicated the shows that I’m on the fence about – several of my regular series have become boring to me or have dipped in quality – and the new series that I’m willing to gamble on. It’s funny how daunting TV can be when you write it all down.

Monday

Here’s the shocker of the week – I currently have NOTHING on my agenda for Monday nights. I bailed on How I Met Your Mother for good last year and have no regrets and while I enjoy The Voice enough, I know I won’t become a long time regular viewer. I might be convinced to give the new programs Sleepy Hollow, Mom or The Blacklist (I do love me some James Spader) the chance, but as of now none have sold me. I figure I’ll primarily use Monday to catch up on the clusterf*ck that is my Sunday nights. More on that below.

Tuesday

8 pm – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC) new

8:30 pm – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) new

10 pm – Sons of Anarchy (FX)

Given my love of The Avengers, taking a shot on a TV show based in that world isn’t much of a stretch. I’m not as confident about Brooklyn Nine-Nine – my comedic sensibilities do not really match up with the live action comedies on Fox – but Andy Samberg, the great Andre Brauer and generally positive buzz are enough to at least temporarily overcome my trepidation. I’ve been in on Sons of Anarchy since the show debuted and while I think that the later seasons have failed to meet the quality of the earlier seasons (especially season 2), I still quite enjoy the ride. Plus there are worse way to spend an hour than looking at Charlie Hunnam.

I had considered watching The Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals, but was underwhelmed with the backdoor pilot. I also decided that a woman in her 30s should probably limit herself to watching one show on The CW – and even that might be too much.

Wednesday

9 pm – Modern Family (ABC) tentative

10 pm – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX)

10 pm – American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

10 pm – Nashville (ABC ) tentative- watch on demand

10 pm – South Park (Comedy Central ) dvr later showing

10:30 pm – The League (FXX)

I’ve watched Modern Family since it began, but have become increasingly less impressed with it as the show progresses. I like some characters a lot – primarily the kids – but I don’t think I’d really miss it if I dropped it. I may skip a few weeks and see how I feel – it’s not a show that you need to watch every episode. 10 pm has become a surprising logjam; I will definitely watch American Horror Story live, since that show is too bat sh*t crazy to miss. I still have yet to catch up on Nashville from last season – I watched up until Thanksgiving – so that may just be a sign that I’m not all that committed to the show. South Park re-airs later in the evening, so I’ll just DVR the show then.

Thursday

8 pm – The Big Bang Theory (CBS) watch on demand

8 pm – The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

8 pm – Parks and Recreation (NBC)

9:30 pm – The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC) new

10 pm – Parenthood (NBC)

10 pm – Scandal (ABC) tentative

While I like The Big Bang Theory – one of the very few things I watch on CBS – I can easily catch up on it when it is on demand. Parks and Recreation is my primary focus on Thursday nights; no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to quit The Vampire Diaries, so I’ll DVR that to binge watch multiple episodes on the weekend. I’ve loved Michael J. Fox since I was a little girl (my college admissions essay was about him. No joke – I got into a doctoral program writing an essay about the actor), so I’ll absolutely tune in when he makes his return to television. My only concern is that my comedic sensibilities have changed quite a bit since he last graced my TV and that my affection for the actor will not be enough to keep me interested. Parenthood makes the big mood to Thursday nights, which will mean that the Bravemens will simply make me tear up closer to the weekend. I’ve yet to watch any of the previous seasons of Scandal, but people will not shut up about this show so I may catch up and give it a whirl to see what all the sudsy fuss is about.

Friday – TV Wasteland

10 pm – Dracula (NBC) new and VERY tentative

I may DVR Dracula simply because I’m curious to see what NBC is going to do with this familiar story and partially out of some interest in whatever Jonathan Rhys Meyers does. I don’t expect it to be good, but what else am I going to watch on a Friday (assuming I’m even home, which is a big assumption).

Saturday

Various – College Football

If I’m around, a good chunk of my Saturdays are spent watching Notre Dame games. Otherwise I’m out and about and if I am home, this is time to catch up on anything I haven’t cleared off the DVR yet.

Sunday – TV Nirvana

8 pm – Once Upon a Time (ABC) tentative

8:30 pm – Bob’s Burgers (Fox) on demand

9 pm – Boardwalk Empire (HBO) on demand

9 pm – Homeland (Showtime)

9 pm – Revenge (ABC) tentative

10 pm – Eastbound & Down (HBO) on demand

10 pm – Masters of Sex (Showtime) new

10:30 pm – Hello Ladies (HBO) new

I’ve soured quite a bit on the ABC shows; Once Upon a Time, which I initially loved, is beginning to feel a little played out and boring and Revenge kind of went off the rails last season. I’ll give both a few episodes to convince me to stay around. Of the two, Once Upon a Time is the more likely to be dumped, though I’ll tune in to watch Nick Swisher’s wife as The Little Mermaid. I love Bob’s Burgers, but until football season is over the likelihood of games running over and throwing off the delicate ecosystem that is my DVR schedule necessitates me catching the show on demand. I generally like Boardwalk Empire, but I don’t love it, so for now it will get watched at a later time. Same goes for Eastbound & Down. Homeland must be watched live so as to avoid spoilers, though I do have my concerns that a certain character is still on the show. Despite my trepidation about new shows, I will give almost anything on HBO or Showtime a chance. So Masters of Sex and Hello Ladies will get the nod at 10 pm, at least until I make a decision about either show.

I may be missing a show or two and this may evolve as we get into the season, but this is what I predict my TV schedule looks like, plus Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. It is a healthy dose of TV, but thanks to the miracle that is the DVR I can skip through commercials for a lot of these shows and compress my necessary viewing time. Still, there is no denying that I love my TV shows.

What’s on your fall viewing schedule? Any new shows that you are excited about? Any old shows that you are breaking up with? Sound off in the comments below. For a fairly comprehensive list of season premiere dates, click here.