Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pop Culture November

I haven't been keeping this up weekly. I apologize. But here's what's been great during the month of November, a notoriously great month for pop culture:

Television

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary
I finally caught up with Doctor Who just in time for the 50th anniversary, and I'm so glad I did. "The Day of the Doctor" is everything you want in an anniversary special: nostalgic callbacks,

David Tennant and Matt Smith playing off each other, crazy shenanigans, and a purpose for the series moving forward. As much as I loved "The Last Time Lord" of the past seven years, that story had played itself out, and I'm excited to see what Peter Capaldi will do going forward. I'm going to miss Matt Smith terribly though--I think he's officially my favorite doctor. Despite the baby face, you can't help but believe that this man is 1200 years old, and Smith's ability to turn from whimsical to terrifying in a split second is unrivaled. I'm going to be a wreck during the Christmas special.

I also caught the TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time, about William Hartnell (the first doctor) and the making of Doctor Who. I learned a lot about the origins of this everlasting British timepiece: that the first producer was a woman, that the executives originally didn't want "bug-eyed monsters and tin robots," and the heartbreaking decision behind the first regeneration. I believe it's time to start up the classic series.

Pretty people.
Reign
I have a love/hate relationship with the CW. Most of it seems trashy on the surface, and I know I should spend my time watching better programming. But no other network is quite as ridiculously fun and entertaining, and on a weekly basis I find myself looking forward to watching The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, and Nikita more than most other shows. What I love about these shows, other than the very attractive casts that I'm positive are bred and stored in a lab, are the balls-to-the-wall crazy plots filled with snappy dialogue, fun action, and over-the-top drama.

New addition Reign is no exception. It's probably the most CW-y of all the shows on the network right now. Someone on the Internet described it as Gossip Girl meets Game of Thrones, which is as accurate a description as any. It's very loosely based off the life of Mary Queen of Scots, although it doesn't care about historical accuracy whatsoever, and it's all the better for it. The plots are crazy, the costumes are gorgeous, Adelaide Kane plays a convincing teenage queen, and did I mention there are pagan sacrifices and ghosts, just to spice it up a little? It's definitely my new obsession. I mean, there's a hunky Nostradamus. It doesn't get much better than that.

Other new shows that have lasted from the original guide:
Trophy Wife
Sleepy Hollow
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (As a Brooklyn resident, the "Sal's Pizza" episode had me rolling)
The Originals
Masterchef Junior

Additionally: This season of Survivor has been great. The finale of The Legend of Korra was epic but made very little sense. Raising Hope is back! Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is perhaps the biggest disappointment. It's just so boring, which is the last thing I wanted to say about a Whedon-produced superhero show. Perhaps it can still get its act together.

Film

I've seen a lot of movies this month, so I'm gonna make this quick:

12 Years a Slave: Brilliant. Will win all the awards, and rightly so. I don't know if I can watch it again for a long time, however, but it's something I believe everyone should see. It's the story of one of humanity's biggest blights, depicted in one of the most real and heartbreaking ways I've seen.

About Time: If you're a fan of Love Actually (and if you have a soul, you should be), then you'll enjoy this. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how it dealt with the time-travel aspect. It was very low-key and lovely.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: It was much better than the first movie, but without the strong performances, these movies would just fall apart. The first half that deals with the consequences of the first games is much more interesting than when they go to the arena again, but that's how I felt about the book too.

Frozen: The marketing for this movie made me skeptical going in, but I actually really enjoyed it. I love when Disney inverts their own tropes and this is probably their most feminist movie yet, so of course I was going to love it for that reason alone. And you'll be singing "Let It Go" for the rest of the day after seeing this. I'm still humming it a day later.

Thor: The Dark World: Needed more Loki.

YouTube

Edgar Allan Poe has a vlog. Brilliance ensues.


My friend Eden has started a great new series called "The Couch Series" that highlights the amazing artists of the Provo music scene. Really enjoyable stuff.


Music

I've basically just been jamming to Lorde's album, "Pure Heroine," all month long.


Other things:

  • Late October was the New York Television Festival, where I saw some animated pilots (that weren't that great, unfortunately) and heard from Greg Daniels, creator of The Office and Parks and Recreation, who gave his advice on comedy writing. I don't have a huge desire to be a writer, although I love hearing about the behind-the-scenes of my favorite shows and am a faithful listener of the Nerdist Writers podcast, so hearing his perspective on what makes great comedy (the characters, not the situations) was really fascinating.
  • I also attended "Behind-the-Scenes with The Colbert Report" as part of the New York Comedy Festival and fell more in love with Stephen Colbert, which I didn't believe was possible. His ability to turn anything into a bit and to mine jokes from literally any subject continues to amaze me. Some highlights: saying he's probably 13% of his character, making a fool of the guy who asked how he feels about influencing the millennial generation, admitting his admiration for Maurice Sendak, and the true story behind the Daft Punk Fiasco of 2013.
  • It's post-Thanksgiving, which means my family sits in a food coma and watches movies all weekend long. So far we've watched Elf, White Christmas, and Ghostbusters. Sometimes my family is cool.
  • This is an important thing you should all read: "Gender Inequality in Film."
  • Quick plug for my friend Preston's new blog, Juicebox Critic. He writes about pop culture much more eloquently than I can, and there are some great articles up already. I particularly love his defense of Christmas music before Thanksgiving, since it validates my opinion on the issue. Take that, old roommates.


1 comment:

  1. Greg Daniels AND Stephen Colbert? My genuine enviousness of your NY experience truly knows no bounds. Live the dream, Chelsey.

    And thanks, for the shout out! You are #1.

    ReplyDelete