Things I Noticed Last Week – 3.9.2014

This week will hopefully be a little more entertaining for all involved. Instead of throwing something together at the last minute, I actually took the time to take notes and do a little digging (blah, blah blah, and all that noise). So here goes nothing, the highly anticipated second edition of Things I Thought Last Week.

1. Is there a show on television right now that hits you in the gut harder than Togetherness? Every week, I’m so glad HBO decided to make the latest effort from the Duplass brothers only a half hour long, mostly because it is the most emotionally draining half hour of television. With that said, it is also one of the finest.

I have been a big fan of Jay and Mark since I first saw The Puffy Chair. It was this weird thing called mumblecore, something completely foreign to a guy who has watched thousands and thousands of films. It was deliberately slow paced and seemingly mundane but the eventual payoff was memorizing. Every individual episode of Togetherness gives a similar feeling, while being unforgiving about just how depressing it is.

I say all this with love and adoration for just how good they are at what they do. I know the payoff is going to be incredible but every week I feel just like Mark’s character Brett, “I think I’m about to start to freak out now.”

2. The Last Man On Earth premiered this week. The Will Forte comedy was definitely on my must see list and after the initial episode, I can say it still is. I’m not exactly sure where they are going with the plot, and I hesitate to say more as to not give away any spoilers, but it is intriguing if nothing else. I just worry the concept can lend to quickly writing itself into a corner. My only wish is that Vincent Price was still alive to find his way into a cameo role.

3. Since being made available to stream on Netflix, my fiancee has been binging on Friends. I noticed two things:

I. The theme of practically every episode is sex, sex, and more sex. I’m by no means a prude, but I just seem to have forgotten just how sexually charged the show was.

II. I really can’t stand shows filmed before a live audience or employ the use of a laugh track. I mean seriously, why do we still live in a world where we need to hear people laughing to tell us something is funny? Parks and Recreation didn’t do this, neither did The Office, you didn’t have it in Arrested Development, do you know why? THEY WERE FUNNY! I don’t need someone to tell me when to laugh. If your content is funny, I promise I will laugh. I would absolutely love for a company to take charge and eliminate all of the live audience and laugh track accompaniment to all of the comedies who for whatever reason thought/think this is a good idea. It might allow me to enjoy them.

4. The Following came back this week. It was horrifyingly gruesome and they really do a great job at keeping the plot going, even when you think there is no place left for them to go. The part the sticks in my head the most from this most recent episode is Kevin Bacon’s character, Ryan Hardy, when asked if he’d like to dance, states something along the lines of how he doesn’t dance. I don’t remember the quote exactly, mostly because I was laughing so hard at such an innocent line, but when put into the context of Bacon’s career it was truly comedic gold. No one other than me probably cares about this, but I found it a hysterical moment.

5. Apparently they are remaking The Magnificent Seven, which of course was a remake of Seven Samurai. I hate remakes. I really, really hate remakes. If it wasn’t bad enough, they took an arguably perfect film from Akira Kurosawa, and turned it into a Western. Now I will admit, The John Sturges’ story was extremely well done. I guess every once in a while you get a remake that isn’t complete garbage, but none the less, it wasn’t necessary. So you have a perfect film, remade into a really good film, so… why not make it again?

This version, reportedly starring, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke, from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, will probably be at least palatable, and since I’m a sucker for a good cast I’ll probably see it, but please, please, please stop with the remakes.

6. Toy Story 4. Just let that sink in a little.

My guess is you freaked out either due to excitement, or terror. Most fanchises have run out of gas by their third installment and all you want is for them to call it day. Toy Story is different however, they never cease to be anything but pure gold. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt until the prove me wrong, which I truly hope never happens.

7. Jennifer Lawrence will be reportedly starring in an upcoming Steven Spielberg film, It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Live in Love and War. It is based on the memoir of Lynsey Addario who was taken into captivity in 2011 by the Libyan Army. The story is compelling, the director is, well it’s Spielberg what can I say, and Lawrence has already taken home one Oscar and it sounds like this could be a slam dunk for another. Is there any chance this is bad?

8. I have been extremely hot and cold on The Walking Dead, and haven’t nearly enjoyed it as much as people around me have. The plot has continued to go in circles and I have found most of the characters to be less than interesting.

For whatever reason, I keep watching. I’m hoping for better and think, maybe, just maybe, this most recent season is turning the corner. I have actually been excited for each week’s installment because the storyline makes me legitimately excited about where things are going. If it heads down the same path it’s been on before, I’m done. I’m not just saying it anymore. I will be giving up on this show.

(Disclaimer: I will probably not actually give it up because I can’t stand being out of the loop with arguably the most popular show on television. So I know, I have no right to complain. But who’s stopping me?)

9. I can’t possibly begin to comprehend how I neglected to discuss the finale of Parks and Recreation last week. It was one of my favorite comedies of all time and sadly it will probably never get the credit it’s due because it will always live in the shadow of The Office. But let’s never forget just how iconic it was. The brilliant Amy Poehler deserved her moment to shine and boy did she run with it. The obsessively anal yet incredibly thoughtful Leslie Knope, made waffles and playgrounds fun for children of all ages and proved the perfect foil to a self-interested and corrupt governmental institutions. If she is not the perfect role model for young people hoping to work in government, I don’t know who is.

The secondary members of this cast however, are arguably the real shining stars in this one. A group of people you probably had never seen before, became household names in short order. Nick Offerman completely embodied the meat loving manly man known as Ron F’ing Swanson which could be perhaps one of the coolest roles ever on television. Aziz Ansari played the loveable Tom Haverford who was always well meaning but incredibly inappropriate. A few Netflix comedy specials later, and he has risen to the upper echelon of working stand-up comedians. Add in Aubrey Plaza’s “miserable” April Ludgate and Chris Pratt’s man-boy Andy Dwyer along with a supporting cast which included Retta, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, and Rashida Jones and Parks and Recreation struck comedic gold.

This last season was definitely tough to get through. I was incredibly sad the end was coming, and it felt a little too gimmicky for my taste. I don’t know what I was looking for but I just didn’t feel completely satisfied. (“That’s what she said!” Oh wait, wrong show.) I guess it is hard to be satisfied with any ending when you so badly want something to continue. If nothing else, Johnny Karate was pretty great!

Thanks for reading and see you next week!