Things I Noticed Last Week – 3.23.2015

Last week seemed very busy. There’s a lot of new stuff to cover and a lot of things I had missed from the past which just caught my attention. So here goes another week.

1. Tommy Wiseau (yes that Tommy Wiseau) has a sitcom currently streaming on Hulu. Now you’re imagining pretty bad right? I assure you it’s worse. The genius behind The Room, has created something with his most recent effort, The Neighbors, that is far less endearing than the film he is famous for. The Room became infamous for being synonymous with the phrase “so bad it’s good.” The Neighbors is just bad.

If you try really hard, you can attempt to assemble some sort of idea of what he was going for. Imagine Fawlty Towers without good acting, writing, directing, or production value.

The Neighbors takes place inside an apartment complex run by Wiseau who seems as inept at being a landlord as he is a filmmaker. The building is inhabited by a rag-tag group of weirdos who have a never ending list of ridiculous problems, none of which ever seem to find resolutions. The women are all scantily clad and the men strut around in official Tommy Wiseau apparel (including Calvin Klein style boxers) which they shamelessly promote and inform you where to purchase within the dialogue. There’s also a roaming chicken, a drug and antique (although we’re suppose to believe they aren’t relics) firearms dealer, a Princess, and Wiseau plays multiple characters by slapping on different color wigs.

I made it through the first 3 episodes and I just could not bring myself to continue. It was pure torture. The lack of character development and the inability to provide any coherent story lines make it virtually impossible to find anything to like about this one.

On the bright side, it does appear the cast and crew are having a blast. Wiseau who is allegedly independently wealthy, is obviously doing something he loves and for that he should be applauded. The response from critics could not be worse, yet he continues to create new projects with total disregard and a confidence rarely seen; unfortunately his passion is ill-advised and because of that I’ve had enough Tommy Wiseau for a lifetime. Try The Neighbors if you enjoy root canals or you’ve watched literally everything else ever filmed.

2. On the other side of the television spectrum (the good production value, well-crafted end of the spectrum), Netflix has released two brand new original shows recently: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Bloodline.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is really nothing to write home about. The original comedy from Tina Fey was actually disappointing. I was looking forward to a new comedy from the brilliant comedian but ultimately it was mostly recycled bits of other shows. Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski play the leads with Kemper playing a character identical to her role in The Office and Krakowski gives a mirror image performance to her role in 30 Rock. To top it all off, the most intriguing part of the premise, the underground Indiana Mole Women, is a minor plot device rather than the driving force it should have been. The arrival of Tituss Burgess is truly what makes this one worthwhile. He is a force to be reckoned with and it’s unbelievable his talent has gone largely unnoticed for this long.  Lastly, I can’t not mention the fact Krakowski’s character’s surname is Voorhees, now that’s funny. I can’t say it’s all bad, it just leaves a lot to be desired.

Bloodline on the other hand seems like a true gem. I can’t say much as I’m only about halfway through the episodes but this family drama is so compelling; I didn’t want to turn it off to take the time to write this. Calling this a drama is an understatement as there are seemingly endless twists and turns, while at the same time providing the slow burn of a detective novel. I haven’t even mentioned how stellar the cast is in this one: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, and Sissy Spacek. I might think differently by the end, but so far this is a must see.

3. Community returned this week to Yahoo. I don’t know what there is left to say about this show. It’s the feline equivalent to a sitcom; the show simply will not die. Since, what seems to be the initial episode, Community has been on the chopping block. Every time NBC would try to cancel the community college comedy, public outcry would bring it back. To me there is no bigger symbol of the death of traditional television than than this revival by Yahoo. NBC cannot afford to keep an under-performing show in their lineup, but with all of the upstart streaming networks, niche shows have their place and rather than being forced to watch what “everyone” is watching, you can now seek out whatever you want. It was a brilliant move on the part of Yahoo to pick up cult favorite as it gives instant credibility to their streaming service, Screen, and won over a whole bunch of disgruntled NBC fans.

4. I just finished HBO’s The Jinx. The “Serial for television” lived up to the hype. Robert Durst’s story was completely enthralling and I truly wish there were more episodes to come. It leads you to believe you are playing detective as the story is unfolding and let’s face it, we’ve all wanted to be a detective at one point or another. These productions are simply playing on our desires which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time; terrifying in that is easy to forget the stories we are watching are in fact true (or at least a dramatized version of true events) and real people are involved. It is important to remember this is not simply entertainment, these are heinous acts that have ruined lives and families. With that said, the life of this genre will probably be a short one. The findings from the mini-series could potentially help the prosecution in their case against Durst which would lead me to believe potential subjects would think twice about their participation in similar productions in the future. That’s not to say we won’t be inundated with these stories in the near future, but I simply don’t see it lasting.

5. Theaters across the country are showing The Breakfast Club in honor of it’s 30th anniversary. That John Hughes guy really knew how to write movies. I bought into that story hook, line, and sinker. I really truly believed the world could get better and we would all find a way to get along no matter how different we were. Hughes was either extremely idealistic or a really good liar. Ultimately, no one wrote like he did and no one probably ever will again. I’m glad after 30 years people still care about his contributions to cinema because he was the best.

6. Have you seen the trailer for It Follows yet? It looks absolutely terrifying. I’m working on trying to get a screener so I can give you more information on it. Horror seems to be making a comeback in a big way and it isn’t because of major studios. It’s the people doing it on their own. People who are taking chances and doing the things the major studios would reject. It’s paying off. If you’re currently making films in your parents basement keep going and don’t give up!

7. I finally got around to watching the webseries High Maintenance. I haven’t gotten to the pay episodes on Vimeo yet but I’m also not sure I’m going to. The series hasn’t been all that interesting and I pretty much hate drugs being a key plot device in any series (unless you’re Breaking Bad) as it seems far too simplistic to me. It just seems too easy, as the introduction of an illegal substance immediately causes drama and or comedy. Maybe growing up as a straight edge punk rock kid has jaded me but this type of story telling has grown old. People I respect tell me to keep going so I probably will and I will let you know if my opinion changes.

8. The next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie will film scenes in Buffalo, NY. (Link) Being from Western New York and a huge TMNT fan this is a childhood dream come true. The most recent installment in the franchise was by no means great, but it was entertaining and I look forward to seeing Buffalo represented in the sequel.

9. Scarface is getting yet another remake. In case you were unaware, the Al Pacino film was a remake of 1932 film of the same name. The stories are quite different which will allegedly be the case with this reincarnation. (Link) Apparently well enough can never be left alone and the character Pacino made iconic needs to live again. Have I mentioned how much I hate remakes?

10. Jessica Lange announced she will be leaving American Horror Story. (Link) Full disclosure here: I don’t care much for American Horror Story. Now that you are getting your rocks and bottles out, I will say, I can’t imagine the show without her. She was the one thing you could count on to be great about the show no matter how many bad decisions they made. The first season was good but went about three episodes too long, the second season was terrifying, the third season was unwatchable, and I simply did not care to give the fourth season much a try. Whenever Lange was on screen you always felt like it could get better though. She often turned total mush into show stealing performances. Lange leaving however, makes room for Lady Gaga to enter. I will definitely be tuning in to season five see what she brings to the show. She is incredibly talented and will undoubtedly be worth watching. So as one era ends about two seasons too late, another begins and bravo AHS for getting me interested again.

11. Lastly, what is by far the saddest news this week comes from the world of Twin Peaks. If you don’t remember a few months back Showtime announced they would be picking up a brand new season of the show that was way ahead of it’s time during it’s initial run. Recently however, David Lynch has stated he is unsure if it is moving forward and what his part in it might be. (Link) It all seems odd as everything seemed like it was ready to go and we’d be getting more cups of “damn fine coffee.” If you read the link I posted above it appears Showtime is still ready to move forward with the show regardless, but without Lynch’s involvement, I can tell you I will not be watching. There is no filmmaker working today that can compare to the genius that is David Lynch. To take his story, his characters, his vision, and put it into someone else’s hands would be like allowing a child to finish the Mona Lisa with crayons and finger paints (and no I don’t feel like I’m being over dramatic here). I don’t care who is right or who is wrong in this situation, but if you’re going to do it has to be Lynch and only Lynch.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!