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‘Sick, Sad World’ Punchlines, Ranked

The best thing you’ll read on the internet all day, when Sick, Sad World returns.

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I love ’90s era MTV. It was basically the only thing I watched as a kid, and I love everything juvenile about that time; Tom Green, TRL with Carson Daly, Eminem music videos, Andy Milonakis, Celebrity Deathmatch, Jackass, and of course Beavis and Butthead. When the spin-off came out, Daria, it quickly became one of my all-time favorite shows, and is criminally underrated. It’s a perfect mix of nostalgia, dark humor, pathos, and ’90s attitude. Sure, it dipped into the 2000s, but mostly the pre-9/11 section of that decade where everything was still not shitty. Just imagine how much better off we’d be if that hadn’t started the snowball of life ruining world events that led to the current nightmare we all live in. Sad.

The funniest thing about the show is not Jane’s witty sarcasm, or Daria’s sardonic sense of humor, or Mr. Morgendorffer’s obliviousness and naivety. It’s the Sick, Sad World promos and teasers, and I’ve decided to round them all up and rank them. Ranking jokes is funny, right? There is no real criteria here, just whatever makes me laugh the most. Let’s jump in!


64. “Death or velvety green? Homicidal houseplants next, on Sick, Sad World.”

63. SSW Guest: “The aliens aren’t coming. They’re already here. They could be your friends, your family. They act almost normal, but something’s off.”

62. “Could a steady diet of pet food bring out the animal in you? Got a dog-dish full of love, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

61. SSW Reporter: “An encyclopedia is an unusual product for a super-model to promote, isn’t it?”
SSW Guest: ( French accent ) “But you see…what’s different about my encyclopedia is you only buy the letters you find attractive. And it’s got big margins to draw your own pictures. You call them ‘margins’, yes?”
SSW Reporter: “And you say you wrote every word yourself?”

60. “…From outer space, to in our face! Aliens walk among us, a Sick, Sad World exclusive.”

59. “Tonight on Sick, Sad World; prime-time special, with people just like you, only more pathetic.”

58. “The nightmare story of an enchanted kiss gone horribly wrong, when Sick, Sad World returns.”

57. “When these ballerinas work out at the bar, they work out at the bar. Tanked in a Tutu, when Sick, Sad World returns.”

56. “What does your foot odor say about your sexual prowess? Sniffing For Love on the next Sick, Sad World.”

55. “Next on Sick, Sad World. The Malibu Primate Diet.”

54. “Breast implants for chickens…”

53. “Neonatal Skinheads, next on Sick, Sad World.”

52. “What deadly new diseases can you pick up… by sitting down? Toilet Seat Terror, next on Sick, Sad World.”

51. “Meet the killer whale… with a license to practice law!? Orca in the Court, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

50. “Can renegade surgeons transplant your brain while you sleep? The frightening truth, next on Sick, Sad World.”

49. “Next on Sick, Sad World. Hoax, or vision? Some people in Florida have claimed they’ve seen the face of Jesus… on a penny!”

48. “Meet the cannibal with heart; quick, before he eats it! Next, on Sick, Sad World.”

47. “Are bats sneaking into your neighborhood disguised as cute flying squirrels? Rabid Rodent Rip-off, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

46. “Is there really a secret underwater train smuggling flounder to freedom? Tonight, on Sick, Sad World.”

45. “Monaco’s Mopiest Millionaires, today on Sick, Sad World.”

44. “Why are so many Siamese twins being born in this Bangkok hospital? Babes in Thailand, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

43. “Everyone hates a message board miscreant. But now you can do something about it! Flame Wars: The Next Generation, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

42. “Can you teach an old dog to turn tricks? Ruff! Canine Callgirls next, on Sick, Sad World.”

41. “All he wanted, just this once, was to eat at the table. But she had a hankerin’ to howl! Shih Tzu? I hardly know you! Next, on Sick, Sad World.”

40. “When aliens eat out, where do they relieve themselves? Extraterrestrial restaurant restrooms, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

39. “Is your toll collector wearing pants, a skirt, or nothing but a smile? Cold Breeze on the Interstate, next on Sick, Sad World.”

38. “Is your cutlery holding an edge… or going over one? Diary of a Mad Steak-Knife, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

37. “Can monkeys surf the net… and corrupt our kids? Chimpanze chatrooms, next on Sick, Sad World.”

36. “Guano see some gutsy climbing? Scaling the world’s tallest pile of seagull droppings, next on Sick, Sad World.”

35. “It’s 911 in the morning and 1–900 in the evening, the phone-sex EMS dispatcher, when Sick, Sad World returns.”

34. “What’s more heartless than pilfering a roll of toilet paper? Transforming it into a roll of 20s! The squeezably-soft counterfeiter, next on Sick, Sad World.”

33. “How shoddy fertility drugs are creating a new breed of gang, and wreaking havoc with police line ups. Delinquent Quintuplets, next on Sick, Sad World.”

32. “When he turned up his nose at accordion lessons, they cut off his inheritance molto allegro. The Severed Pianist, next on Sick, Sad World.”

31. “The king of the jungle was one tubby tabby… until the animal plastic surgeon came to call. Lipo for Leo, next on Sick, Sad World.”

30. “It’ll legal, and tender, but someone’s getting short changed. Little cross-dressers and the women who love them, coming up next on Sick, Sad World.”

29. “What’s that you’re really stirring in your tea? Honey, or bee vomit? Animal secretions that make us say yum, tonight, on Sick, Sad World.”

28. “He gave her his kidney, she gave him her heart. Transplants and romance, when Sick, Sad World continues.”

27. “Meet the avant-garde obstetrician that’s turned his cast offs into art work. Umbilical cord sculpture next, on Sick, Sad World.”

26. “Her amputee boyfriend was cheating, so she stole his prosthesis, but he kept on hopping into strange beds. The One-Legged Lothario, next on Sick, Sad World.”

25. “Are fish using our oceans as their own private toilet? A Sick, Sad World exclusive, right after this.”

24. “Can too many carrots make your head grow leaves? Ah, What’s That Doc in one hour, on Sick, Sad World.”

23. “What do those Supreme Court judges wear under their robes? Declassified government Polaroids next, on Sick, Sad World.”

22. “Fish gotta swim, and bird’s gotta fly, but not when you bake ’em both in a pie! Sunday Brunch in the Loony Bin next, on Sick, Sad World.”

21. SSW Reporter: “Now, you claim that not only did you see a Yeti, but he was wearing a business suit and carrying an attache case.”
SSW Guest: “A leather attache case.”

20. SSW Reporter: “You mean you want him back? Even though he tied you to a chair and left it on an eight-lane highway in the middle of rush hour?”
SSW Guest: “He got carried away by the moment.”

19. “Terror travels… by trike! Underage Road Rage, next on Sick, Sad World.”

18. “Meet the fly-fishing pathologist who uses human organs as bait. A Liver Runs Through it, next on Sick, Sad World.”

17. “In this canine go-go bar the specialty of the house is hot dog! Lapdancing Lapdogs, next on Sick, Sad World.”

16. “They bake cookies by day, but they really heat up at night. G-string grandmas, today on Sick, Sad World.”

15. “Could a family of ghosts be living in your house, rent free? Freeloading Familial Phantoms, next on Sick, Sad World.”

14. “Thomas Jefferson, philosopher, inventor, President, and keeper of one saucy journal. The Declaration of In My Pants, tonight, on Sick, Sad World.”

13. “Are drug-crazed rodents raiding your child’s medicine cabinet? Rats on Ritalin, next on Sick, Sad World.”

12. “It’s quite a web site when Civil War buffs get in the buff. www.gettysbare, next on Sick, Sad World.”

11. “They gave her a good-bye party at 65… miles per second! Retirement by Rocket, next on Sick, Sad World.”

10. SSW Reporter: “This is just astounding! Here you are, blind, deaf and barely able to walk. Yet you conducted simultaneous affairs with three members of the royal family. The question on all of America’s mind is; how did you do it?”
SSW Guest: “What?”

9. SSW Reporter: “The world’s largest nativity scene… in August? Atlanta mall manager, Gifford Jones.”
SSW Guest: “Nativities mean Christmas, and Christmas means revenue. Don’t have to be a wiseman to figure that out.”
SSW Reporter: “The savior went down to Georgia, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

8. “Would you moan my name… if I boinked you in heaven? Ghost Hookers in the Sky, tonight on Sick, Sad World.”

7. “Criminals beware. This detective won’t talk… but you will! Mime and Punishment, next on Sick, Sad World.”

6. “One three ton hubby’s not enough for this red-hot mammal. The Polygamous Hippopotamus, when Sick, Sad World returns.”

5. “A vision of Christ in a half-eaten candy bar? Talk about my sweet lord! The Immaculate Confection, next on Sick, Sad World.”

4. “Brought back from the grave by black magic, but no one taught them to cross at the green. The Jaywalking Dead, next on Sick, Sad World.”

3. “Are microbes having sex in your drinking water? H, two, Aaaa-ooo! Next, on Sick, Sad World.”

2. “Can anger management training really help gorillas avoid extinction? Maybe, but it’s not doing much for the psychiatrists! The Apes of Wrath, today on Sick, Sad World.”

1. “What kind of a sicko voyeur would set up a hidden camera in an Intensive Care Unit? The Peekaboo ICU, next on Sick, Sad World.”

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They Didn’t Make A Huge Mistake: In Defense of Arrested Development Season 4

It was overstuffed, scattershot, and occasionally quite tedious — but also kinda brilliant? It’s Arrested Development Season 4.

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What forms a popular consensus? In the modern age of social media, internet comment boards, and Rotten Tomatoes, I honestly don’t know. It seems like one moment, popular consensus could ascribe a verdict of high quality to something (like, say, La La Land), but then come to a completely opposite conclusion just a few weeks later (didn’t you hear? La La Land is bad now.) This probably points to the inherent fool’s errand that derives from the concept of a “consensus,” but still — even with differing opinions being a thing, it’s pretty easy to see that the internet is quick to place a lasting judgment on pieces of pop culture. Not everyone loves Mad Max: Fury Road…but it is beloved. Not everyone hates Suicide Squad…but it is universally hated. Contradictory statements, maybe, but that’s how the consensus goes. And once it sets in, the general sentiment is hard to escape. Which is exactly what happened with Arrested Development Season 4, Netflix’s much-hyped revival of the cult comedy classic.

Expectations were of course high for the show’s return back in May of 2013 (exactly five years ago, for those of you keeping track at home), which has never once led to crushing disappointment. Nope, not a once! [Narrator: They had. More than once, in fact.] It didn’t take long after the show’s initial release for the excitement to change into apprehension: at first, people weren’t quite sure what to make of the thing. Netflix’s “binge-release” model was still quite new for most people, and the concept of a TV revival was still rare. It was odd all around to see the Bluth’s come back seven years after we last saw them, and it didn’t help matters that their return season was very different from what came before it.

In any case, it didn’t take long before this apprehension turned into full-on disappointment for a majority of viewers. I was reviewing the show when it happened, so I have some strong memories of just how it went down: first things seemed positive, then mixed, then outright negative. Soon the most disappointed started speaking above the rest (as is often the case on these here interwebs), and the entire conversation around the show turned away from “how good is it? to “huh...is this good?”

The years went on, and the season’s stock just plummeted further and further. Consensus went from the season being a mixed bag, to it being an outright failure. It joined the modern-day pantheon of disappointing sequels to beloved things, up there with Spider-Man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, etc. Hell, creator Mitch Hurwitz even felt the drive to re-edit the entire season as a sort of mea culpa, and released it earlier this month in the form of Arrested Development Season 4 Remix: Fateful Consequences (you, title, are a mouth full!)

The release of said remix really made people’s venom for the season spill out: pretty much all I read about it was that it still didn’t “fix” the season, insinuating that something had to be fixed to begin with. You know: the consensus. Arrested Development Season 4 was a failure, a disappointment, a disaster, etc. And here’s the thing: not long ago, I would have agreed with the assessment! I too was disappointed with what the show did in its fourth season: how it split up the cast, how it paced its runtimes, how it told its stories. I found laughs, sure, but I found an equal number of things to complain about.  I finished my initial watch of the season more perplexed than anything, unsure how the people behind the series could delivery such a bloated, awkward affair. But it’s been five years since then, and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and review the season since then. And you know what? I’m starting to think I was wrong. We all were.

Arrested Development Season 4 is actually pretty damn great. And taken as its own thing, one of the most unique and rewarding pieces of comedy television ever crafted.

But even with that glowing, somewhat hyperbolic statement being said: I get it. I understand why fans were so upset with how the season turned out, and why it didn’t gel with many who watched it: Arrested Development Season 4 is a weird season of television, even by AD’s quirky standards. While the character-centric format of the season was originally conceived to handle the busy schedule of its main cast, it seemed to take a life of its own in the writer’s room, leading to a narrative jam-packed with time-skips, mysteries, delayed pay-offs, etc. Often times, the show resembled more of a puzzle-box genre piece like Lost or Westworld than a family-based, wacky sitcom. Hell, just putting together what the hell was happening and when it was happening could be a frustrating experience, as it proved to be for many people.

And in no way am I am trying to put myself above those who felt this way: I will once again re-iterate my initial impression of the sixteen-episode story was similar. It just seemed like too many things taking away from the comedic experience, smothering the entire show with layers upon layers of confusion and, frankly, tediousness. But remember above when I explained what ultimately changed my opinion on the season: review and reflection? Well, I truly believe the former is key here. Because, believe it or not, I have now watched Season 4 in its entirety four times. And each time, it more and more dawned on me just what creator Mitch Hurwitz and co. were doing here, and how ultimately successful they were at doing it.

And I just want to point out that my rewatches of the series weren’t a purposeful act to try and like the season more: in fact, it was entirely coincidental. I have shared this show with many different family and friend groups over the years, and thus ended up going through Season 4 with all of them at different points in the last half-decade. And the first few times, I wasn’t chomping at the bit to do so, if we’re being honest: I remembered my initial viewing, and slightly dreaded going through the sixteen episode slog once more. But, hey, I”m a good friend/family member, and have nothing better to do than watch TV show’s multiple times, so here we are.

Anyways, at first I was wondering if my slow appreciation for the show through the various rewatches was just my brain trying to make me enjoy something that I felt obligated to do: a form of television Stockholm Syndrome, if you would. But by the time I was through my third rewatch, I realized that was not the answer — no, I was generally starting to enjoy and love more about what the season was doing and, most importantly, how it was doing it. Watching the season multiple times cracked open new layers of the experience for me: new plot points and references and jokes that I missed the first few times going through it. Honestly, I started to become slightly in-awe at just how much the season contained: how Mitch Hurwitz and the writers stuffed the thing to the seams with things people would NEVER understand unless they watched the thing multiple times (or watched it edited in chronological order, I guess, which is probably a far easier option now.) The season is densely packed and plot-heavy, but my initial disdain for that grew into appreciation, once I got more used to its new, different structure. It’s really quite a marvel to behold when you lay it all out, and I simply can’t fathom how the writers could keep track of all the madness. I can’t think of any other piece of television put together quite like Arrested Development Season 4, and once you really connect to its wave-length, it becomes much easier to appreciate such a different, complex form…especially when you realize such a form was essential to the overall story that the season was trying to tell.

Because, make no mistake: this is indeed one of those Netflix shows that probably works better as a whole, and is telling one of those gigantic overarching narratives rather than a bunch of episodic mini-arcs. Back in 2013, that was new and weird. Now, this “like a [blank] hour movie!” form of television writing is predominant in the industry, for better or for worse. What’s great about the initial format of Arrested Development Season 4, though (before the remix came and presented an alternate, more conventional take) was how the season served as a bridge between the concept of a season-long, serialized narrative and episodic, more “focused” stories. They did that by focusing every episode on a different member of the Bluth clan, showing what transpired in their lives in the six-year gap since we last saw them. These installments tell individual stories about the characters that just so happen to criss-cross with the other members of the cast…sometimes in ways that aren’t even obvious until further down the season (or even until the end of it.)

This character focus helped ground the narrative a little, sure, and were certainly helpful when it came to production (the aforementioned difficulty of getting the cast certainly played a hand in the decision, yes), but it also established upfront just what the new, revived season of Arrested Development would be: a character study. And a dark as hell one at that.

Because, as I realized by the end of my third rewatch, Arrested Development Season 4 had a very specific goal in mind. As put pretty bluntly by my friend after the (fantastic) final shot of the season “wow, things really went bad for everyone, didn’t they?” Yes, unnamed friend: they really, truly did. Which was entirely the point. The original three seasons set up the Bluths as the world’s most dysfunctional family, the kind that brought each other down by just being in the same orbit. At the center of this orbit was one Michael Bluth, who at every turned tried to escape the company of his relatives (which in and of itself became something of a running gag), only to be pulled back into their bullshit once more. By the time Season 4 picks up, all of them are rather tired of each other and, for various reasons (scheduling or otherwise), they all go their separate ways. Maybe not under the same prism, the Bluths could be better?

Nope. As the story unfolded, it became quite clear that, even as bad as they are, they are far worst apart than separate. Without each other in their lives, the Bluths become the absolute worst versions of themselves.

  • Michael became the one thing he dreaded the most: a full-on Bluth. He became just as conniving and deceitful as the rest of them, in a move that, well frustrating to some fans, I would argue was the inevitable place for the character to end up (and Jason Bateman makes such a meal out of it, doesn’t he?)
  • Lindsay becomes a literal and figurative whore, selling herself out to a conservative candidate she should, in theory, hate.
  • GOB becomes a confused mess of a man, drugging himself out in an endless circle of roofies just to forget the constant shame he endures on a daily basis.
  • Buster, separated from his mother and on his own, becomes a literal monster under Army’s trickery (and a likely murder suspect too, if the final sequence is any indication.)
  • George Sr. loses his confidence and swagger, becoming a weak shell of his former self (and the spitting image of his pathetic brother to boot!)
  • Lucille loses the power structure and influence she always craved, the family matriarch without a family to lord over.
  • Maeby suffers the worst Arrested Development (hey, that’s the name of the show!) of them all, going from the girl who always acted above her age to the one literally still living as a child, stuck in place and unsure how to grow…oh and also accidentally committing statutory rape, which is pretty fucking dark.
  • Tobias is a registered sex offender, which is pretty dark but also quite funny, let’s be real here.
  • And George Michael, the “good one,” fully commits to his families influence, staging a multi-million dollar lie just to impress his cousin, having sex with the same woman as his father, and ending the season punching him in the face, pretty much shattering the relationship.

Yeah, this all seems pretty bad, and truly takes the Bluth to their lowest level…which is kind of great, if the show is trying to form something of a series-long narrative here. In a way, Arrested Development Season 4 is the Empire Strikes Back of this wacky comedy series. And, like Empire Strikes Back (or, for all you young-uns out there, The Last Jedi), the story required its main set of characters to go their own separate ways in order to grow and change. That’s exactly what happened over the course of season 4, and I really appreciate how far Hurwitz and his writers were willing to take things to get to the next stage of their character’s evolution.

Which, of course, is an interesting thing for a show like Arrested Development. Being a sitcom, it has no reason to change, or develop. It could have just kept doing the same thing, and crafted a Season 4 that simply tried to ape the success of its past with funny, extremely well-written episodes about the wacky Bluth family. But, instead, the writers tried something new, and unique, and rather bold. It was bound to not work for some people, and the growing pains in the new approach were evident. But at the end of the day, I truly feel like Arrested Development Season 4 accomplished what it set out to do, and did it in a way that was extremely well-written, impressive in scope, and not lacking in ambition. It also led to some big mistakes here and there, ones that stood out more astutely the first couple of times through.

But though other’s opinions of the season might have dimmed in the years since, I’ve only become more and more fond of the Bluth’s families senior year of episodes. It really does grow on you the more familiar you get with it, and I highly recommend those who were initially disappointed with the stretch of episodes to give it another look, because there’s a lot to love in this crazy, messy, delightful story.

…Such as the fact that it’s often times REALLY funny. I went thousands of words without really giving the show’s humor (you know, the reason you ostensibly watch a comedy TV series) the time of day, but I also believe the season is A LOT funnier than history gives it credit for. The season is jam-packed with amazing gags and lines that can go toe-to-toe with any of the jokes from the first three seasons, if you ask me. Hot mess, “Sounds of Silence,” the conversation about tipping black people, George Sr.’s amazing hat monologue, the pre-Trump wall gags, the amazing Fake-Block storyline, all the Hollywood in-jokes, “Have you ever even been on a plane you piece of shit,” “Daddy needs to get his rocks off!,ANUS TART, The Cute Test, The Pack First, No Talking After Scenario, all the Ann jokes…I’m going to stop now, but I think I’ve made my point. Arrested Development Season 4 is damn funny.

But the fact it also has a lot more going for it too really makes it something special. Maybe not as special as the first three season (although, hot take, I actually think I like it better than the third season), but special nonetheless. Although I’m in the minority, I would be very happy if Arrested Develoment Season 5 manages to match it in quality, and serve as something of a narrative follow-up to just what transpired here. That’s what seemed to be the narrative intent of Season 4 (showing the family slowly coming apart, before being put back together again), but who knows how Hurwitz plans to present the next chapter of this story. We shall find out when the new season hits Netflix tomorrow. Until then…


Also published on Medium.

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The 5 Best Moments of Westworld Season 1

The most visceral, violent delights of a stellar first season.

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Editor’s Note: This article was first published way back at the end of 2016 — a world away from the current one, if you ask me. Anyways, with the second season of Westworld finally premiering tonight, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my thoughts on the first season of the HBO show. Spoiler: I loved it, and I’m hopefully I can say the same about the second season. We shall see tonight! 

When Westworld first premiered about two months ago, I was quickly quite enamored with it. What a saw in Westworld was grand, ambitious science fiction storytelling, and I do believe that (for the most part) the show fulfilled my lofty expectations for it. Sure it wasn’t without its weak spots, but overall I really did find this to be a fantastic season of television, and I am beyond excited to see what comes next.

But before I jump into that particular vat of theories and speculation, I thought it would be appropriate to take a deep dive into the rest of the season, revisiting what I believed to be the show’s strongest moments so far. Keep in mind that, as you would expect from something with this title, there will be FULL SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON OF WESTWORLD BELOW.


5. The Man in Black Laments


There’s few things in the world I love more than a well delivered, brilliantly executed little monologue. Westworld, being really quite dialogue heavy at its core (arguably to its detriment at times) was no slouch when it came to the monologue department, giving its esteemed actors plenty of space to really belt out the pained soliloquies regarding all the various torments of their lives.

But as great as Anthony Hopkins was at theatrically breaking down his character motivation, or as absolutely badass Thandie Newton’s every line of dialogue proved to be, I would argue that it was Ed Harris who really stole the show in the monologue department this season. His “Man in Black” character was shrouded in mystery throughout most of the season, so it made sense the character would instantly attract our attention the moment he chose to speak up. But the speech The Man in Black (nee William) made to Teddy and Angela at the end of “Trace Decay” was a real double whammy — it was both a strong moment for Harris to earn his possible Emmy nomination, and a chance to fill in his character in a very interesting way.

Brilliantly connecting the story of his return to Westworld with the murder of Maeve’s daughter, the real joy of this scene was the sense of discovery and tension that comes with a character literally (and finally) telling you things that actually happened, in a timeline that’s easy to understand. Yeah sure that might seem like a no-brainer for most pop culture, but for question-heavy shows like Westworld, there’s always such a grand level of suspense at play when characters start talking unobtrusively about their lives. Every word matters, every sentence a possible key to a huge and stunning reveal. And though the show would end up holding its biggest Man in Black trump card close to its chest until the very last episode, it doesn’t take away from the excitement and beauty of Ed Harris’ terrific, character defining speech. Westworld had a bonkers cast of talented people, and in scenes like this, it proved to be an absolute joy just to watch them perform.


4. Paint it Black


The moment in which you realize that you’re falling in love with a show is a pretty wonderful thing . And for me that moment came early with Westworld — halfway through the first episode, in fact.

A brilliantly conceived, wonderfully executed set-piece is something I appreciate a great deal, and Westworld really didn’t wait all that long to deliver a great one. Fueled brilliantly by a piano cover of “Paint it Black,” Hector Escaton’s violent siege of the Sweetwater Saloon was not just a fun action sequence, but also a wholly unique look into how fucked up the world of Westworld really is, as host after host is horrifically gunned down all in the name of…a hardware recall. It didn’t take very long for my sympathies to land with the robots, and scenes like this present a pretty strong reason why.

Plus, Escaton’s big speech getting cut off by a trigger happy guest is still one of the funniest moments in the show so far. Sizemore’s frustration with the system quickly became an excellent vessel for humor, huh?


3. It Doesn’t Look Like Anything To Me


The fan theories were already running wild going into the show’s seventh episode, “Trompe L’oeil.” Hell, the theories were running wild since episode two, if I’m being entirely honest. Still though, it speaks to the show’s quality that they were able to reveal one of the series’ most talked about theories, and still make the moment land with the appropriate amount of oomph.

I am of course talking about the big reveal at the end of “Trompe L’oeil,” in which Bernard learns of his true identity: a host crafted by and under the complete control of Ford. It was a show changing revelation but, like most of the twists on Westworld, not a completely surprising one. Still though, it’s a strong sign the show is of high quality when, even if I know pretty much where the series is going, it doesn’t keep from the reveal itself being a wonderful, exciting moment of television.

Because what really makes this “twist” work is not what it is, but HOW it goes about revealing it. And I think the internet has very much proven that this twist will stand the test of time: I mean, “It doesn’t look like anything to me” is already an iconic line, and an instant meme. And that’s because it was a terrific line in an absolutely terrific scene. This is the moment that the truth started to really spin itself out for the show and, as a genesis for the reveals to come, you can’t get much better.


2. Maeve Makes Her Escape


In the midst of alternate timeframes and earth-shattering reveals, it sure was nice to have Maeve’s storyline around to serve as a solid anchor for the rest of the series. Compared to pretty much every other plot point, Maeve’s was by far the simplest: she gained her sentience and, with it, began plotting to escape. Sure, things got a bit more complicated towards the end (the show is still Westworld, after all), but compared to all the other confusion going on, Maeve’s story arc was pretty clear cut.

I would personally chalk that up as a positive, however, as Maeve’s experience with sentience really did ground the series for me. Even at its most trippy and confusing, the show had this fantastic story at its core, moored by a terrific character played by an ever more stunning actor (it will be a crime if Thandie Newton doesn’t land any Emmy nod for this, right?) And unlike pretty much every other character on the show (with the big exception of perhaps Ford), Maeve is the only character to actually get what she wants by the season’s end. And by god did she do it in the best way possible.

Seeing Maeve and her ragtag “army” of Escaton, Armistice, and Felix fight their way out of the main compound was spellbinding television, directed brilliantly by showrunner Jonathan Nolan. Well technically not a single moment, I’m going to lump Maeve’s escape altogether simply because it’s impossible to choice what was the best part: from the first scene of Escaton and Armistice brutally slaying two techies (the first robot-on-human casualties of an ultimately bloody night) to the Cabin in the Woods-esque entrance into the Samurai Room, Maeve’s journey to escape the compound was just what the season was asking for, and the kind of propulsive storytelling that many other TV series would be lucky to have.

Also, that outfit. You lookin’ quit arch indeed, Maeve. Just never stop being you.


1. It All Comes Together


But there can only be one, and in the case of Westworld, the best moment of the season was easily the closing ten minutes of “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” Bernard’s desperate attempt to learn his heritage and understand his creation is exciting in and of itself, but what truly makes this sequence shine is the build-up to the reveal, one that pretty much everyone knows is coming, but is beyond excited to see nonetheless.

Which, yes, is indeed a lot like the previous moment of Bernard learning of his identity, which also placed on this list just a few segments back. That’s even more of an accomplishment, if you ask me: the fact that Westworld can basically play the same exact trick TWICE and do it wonderfully both times is a testament to how strong the storytelling of the series really is.

Of course to say the reveal of “The Well-Tempered Clavier” is the exact same as the one in “Trompe L’oeil” is a bit simplistic. The reveal at the end of “Clavier” is a whole lot more of a development, and manages to wrap in Delores’ storyline into the proceedings too. Really, the final moment of “Clavier” is the thing that brought the whole season together, explaining seemingly everything (including the multiple timeframe scenario) into one jaw-dropping package. In this, it was probably smart to drop the “Bernard is a host” reveal before the “Bernard is a clone of Arnold” reveal, as it allowed both bits of information a lot of room to breath. A lesser show would have just had both twists piled up on each other, and would have been a whole lot messier because of it. By separating the two show-changing revelations, the gravity of each is truly felt.

But so why then did the twist of “The Well Tempered Clavier” work better than the one in “Trompe L’oeil?” Well, for one reason primarily, and her name is Michelle MacLaren. She’s one of the all time best TV directors, and the skill that she brought to tackling this oh-so-important episode really pushed it to season-high quality. No disrespect to Frederick E.O. Toye (who is an excellent TV director in his own right), but MacLaren just brings so much style and confidence to everything she touches, and I don’t think anyone else would have been able to handle the balancing act of “The Well Tempered Clavier’s” final moments. When her name flashed up in the opening credits for the episode, I knew that I would be in for something special, and hoped that Episode 9 of Westworld would be as well-executed and exciting as the many great Episode 9’s of Game of Thrones before it.

And, thankfully, it was. This episode, and in particular its final moments, truly left me breathless. Television at its finest, and proof that Westworld is indeed one of the best TV shows of 2016.



Which, yes, I wholeheartedly believe is the case. Lord knows Westworld Season 1 wasn’t perfect, and there was certainly little things here and there that I had some problems with. But at the end of the day, I think the mantra of one of the show’s best characters sums up my thoughts quite nicely: while some people might chose to see the logical issues or storytelling quibbles of the series, I choose to see the beauty. And if this list shows anything, there was a hell of a lot of it to enjoy this season.

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Disney Is Rebooting The Muppets (Yes, Again) And A Whole Bunch of Other Dormant Properties For Their New Streaming Service

Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, the concept of time itself. You know, the usual.

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Disney has conquered mainstream Hollywood. That is an undeniable fact, if you ask me — between their Marvel and Star Wars output (not to mention their live action remakes, animated films, and projects from Pixar), Disney seems to be the only big studio thriving in the modern age. But as much as that seems like a compliment to Disney, it’s also something of a dour note for the industry overall — things are rough for theatrical film, for a variety of reasons. But perhaps the most substantial one is competition from the world of cable, Broadcast, and (especially) streaming outlets. When you are routinely getting things of the same (if not better) quality out of TV and streaming, why even go to the theater? The question is baffling to me (because it’s a movie theater, that’s why!), but not for the majority of Americans — ticket sales are the worst they have been in decades, as people would rather get their entertainment fix by staying at home and watching Netflix.

And Disney knows this. They are content with having conquered the ashes of traditional Hollywood, but they aren’t idiots — the media landscape is changing, and they want to be just as viable in the new one as a Netflix or HBO. So they are creating their own streaming service, and taking the battle for entertainment supremacy to Netflix in a big way.

But in building their new streaming outlet, I was rather curious how Disney planned to convince people to subscribe to their service when there were dozens more out there competing for the same eyeballs (and monthly set of dollar bills.) Well, today we got a pretty big hint in how Disney plans to build out their streaming portfolio and, no surprise, it’s taking advantage of their biggest asset: all the well-liked shit they have made and/or acquired over the last century. Brands are king for Disney, and they very much seem to be putting those at the forefront as they dive into this new frontier. Call it a safety blanket if you want (I will: it’s a safety blanket), but it has served Disney well in the last decade, so
…reboot time it is!

Of course, many of Disney’s bigger properties have already been rebooted or remade on the big screen, leading the selections for their streaming stuff to be a bit lower tier. The biggest property announced today for the potential reboot treatment is The Muppets, who Disney acquired from The Jim Henson Company back in 2004, and have since been left scratching their heads at what exactly to do with it. Things seemed great at first when the Jason Segal-led reboot film managed to enliven the love for the franchise, and perform pretty great at the box office to boot. But then Muppets Most Wanted came out and, despite being a whole lotta fun, underwhelmed at the box office. It seemed The Muppets would not be the blockbuster franchise Disney was hoping for.

Rebooting The Muppets

So they transferred the property back to TV, relaunching a new series simply entitled The Muppets. This series had a promising hook (basically The Muppets meets 30 Rock, through the mockumentary lens of The Office) but it failed to get an audience on ABC and, quite frankly, wasn’t even all that good to begin with. Then a whole controversy broke out when longtime puppeteer/Kermit the Frog voice actor Steve Whitmire was fired from working on the property. He argued that Disney’s plans for the character was against what Henson would have stood for. They argued he was a shitty worker who didn’t play well with others, and everyone else was glad to be rid of him. The truth probably rests somewhere in between the two stances, but that didn’t make the controversy anymore crippling for The Muppet brand. They laid low for a year or so, only popping up to make wacky promotional videos and the like for the franchises’ various social media pages.

But apparently, Disney still thinks they can make this thing work in a big way, as The Hollywood Reporter confirms the Mouse House intends to bring the property to their new streaming service. Which, by the way, could use a name pronto. I’m tiring of just calling it “their new streaming service.” Judging by what they seem to want to put on it, maybe simply “Reboot” will do?

Kidding aside, The Muppets isn’t the only reboot Disney plans to anchor the service with. Also in the mix according to THR is film properties like Honey I Shrunk the Kids (you, know the Rick Moranis movie about shrinking kids), Father of the Bride (you know, the Steve Martin movie about being the father of the bride), and The Parent Trap (you know, the Lindsay Lohan movie about trapping parents.) This is in addition to previously announced reboot fodder like High School Musical and The Mighty Ducks which, yeah, were all certainly things at one point in time. They have name value, and that’s all that matters to the house that Micky Mouse built!  At least there will be some top shelve franchise extinctions from brands like Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. And, who knows, maybe an original property might sneak its way in there!

…But no promises.


Also published on Medium.

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