Best TV Performances of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

The extra-special-bonus Best of the 2010s lists keep arriving all this week! Yesterday, it was the Best Film Performances, now we’re moving to the small screen with the top TV Performances. And while the screens were smaller, the roles were arguably bigger, at least in terms of running time.

Regarding eligibility: all Lead and Supporting (but not Guest) performances from any show that aired at least one full season between 2010 and 2019 was eligible. Actors who played multiple characters in the same show were considered one performance. Actors who played the same character across multiple shows were also considered one performance.

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/19/20

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Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (CREDIT: Brian Roede/Netflix)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
You Should Have Left (On Demand) – Blumhouse horror starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried.

TV
Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month spectacular (June 19 on AMC and IFC) – Just in time for Juneteenth!
-2020 ESPYs (June 21 on ESPN)
Perry Mason Series Premiere (June 21 on HBO) – The classic defense attorney returns to TV in the form of Matthew Rhys.
Search Party Season 3 (June 25 on HBO Max)
The Twilight Zone Season 2 (June 25 on CBS All Access) – Guest stars include Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Billy Porter.

Comedy
-Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (June 23 on Netflix) – Legalize “everything”? Including … ranch?

Music
-Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways
-Neil Young, Homegrown

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 5/15/20

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CREDIT: The CW/YouTube Screenshot

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
-Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 (May 16 on Various Networks)
DC’s Stargirl Series Premiere (May 18 on DC Universe and May 19 on The CW) – Starring Brec Bassinger as Stargirl; Luke Wilson and Joel McHale also appear.
Community Cast Reunion Table Read and Q+A (May 18 on YouTube)
Celebrity Escape Room (May 21 on NBC) – A Red Nose Day celeb goof-off hosted by Jack Black
Holey Moley II: The Sequel Premiere (May 21 on ABC) – Mini-golf is so hot right now.
To Tell the Truth Season Premiere (May 21 on ABC)

Music
-Charli XCX, How I’m Feeling Now
-Moby, All Visible Objects

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 4/10/20

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CREDIT: FX/YouTube Screenshot

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
SNL at Home (April 11 on NBC) – A remotely produced new episode of Saturday Night Live.
Insecure Season 4 Premiere (April 12 on HBO)
Killing Eve Season 3 Premiere (April on AMC and BBC America)
-NBA HORSE Challenge (April 12 on ESPN)
American Dad! Season 17 Premiere (April 13 on TBS) – Still one of the most consistent shows on the air!
Mrs. America Series Premiere (April 15 on Hulu) – Starring Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 Premiere (April 15 on FX)

Music
-The Strokes, The New Abnormal

Podcasts
A couple of great-so-far podcasts have recently launched:
The Darkest TimelineCommunity co-stars Joel McHale and Ken Jeong answer your questions.
Oh, Hello: the P’dcast – Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland have discovered a new medium in which to deliver their tuna.

‘A.P. Bio’ Has a Striking Amount of ‘Community’ DNA

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CREDIT: NBC

Over the past few months, the delightful high school-set sitcom A.P. Bio has become one of my favorite shows on the air, but then NBC went a little cuckoo and cancelled it. There’s been some effort on the part of the cast, crew, and fans to find the show a new home, but unless that happens, we will have to be satisfied with two short-but-sweet seasons.

One of the reasons I love A.P. Bio so much is because it shares a lot of DNA with my favorite show of all time, which would be Community, another former NBC sitcom that was constantly on the brink of cancellation (though unlike A.P. Bio, it kept beating the renewal odds). Their premises and central characters are strikingly similar. In Community, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is a high-powered lawyer who gets disbarred and must enroll at a community college. Meanwhile, A.P. Bio stars Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin, a disgraced Harvard philosophy professor who is forced to take a lowly part-time teaching job at a high school in Toledo, Ohio.

As I watched and grew to love A.P. Bio, I kept noticing more and more Community similarities, to the point that I could detect analogues for all the major characters. So I’ve assembled below a side-by-side comparison of the Greendale Human Beings and their corresponding Whitlock Rams. Enjoy, and let me know if you need help reacting to riding that ram.

(Thank you to my fellow commenters at the AV Club and Disqus for helping me out with these comparisons!)

Jack (Glenn Howerton) = Jeff (Joel McHale)

CREDIT: YouTube

The protagonists who try to act above it all but eventually embrace the crazy scholastic ecosystems they’ve become an integral part of.

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This Is a Movie Review: A Hacker Spurs a Town Into Nightmarish Vengeance in the Uncompromising ‘Assassination Nation’

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CREDIT: NEON

This review was originally posted on News Cult in September 2018.

Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Bill Skarsgård

Director: Sam Levinson

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Very Bloody Violence, Scandalously Lascivious Behavior, and Casual Drug Use and Profanity

Release Date: September 21, 2018 (Limited)

Assassination Nation paints the picture of what might happen if online rage riots coalesced beyond the screens. A hacker who goes by “Er0str4tus” dumps the personal files of the Salem, Massachusetts mayor, exposing him for the hypocrisy of running as a family values, anti-LGBTQ candidate while he gets up to lascivious behavior with other men. The moral calculus is a lot harder to square when the next data dump victim is the local high school principal, who gets labelled an abuser for having nude photos of his young daughter in the bath. He (justifiably) insists that he has done nothing wrong and refuses to resign, further inciting the mob that the entire town is becoming.

We see the consequences of the hacking play out through the lens of the high school, particularly four tight-knit friends: Lily (Odessa Young), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Bex (Hari Nef), and Em (Abra). They all demonstrate their bona fides when it comes to having a social conscience, Lily especially so. She is wise beyond her years, but angry in a way that belies her youth. She has insightful thoughts about feminism, the male gaze, and just generally treating people with respect. Whenever someone is the target of rage, she considers them fairly and compassionately, recognizing that everyone is a person and contains multitudes. But she is far from perfect, as she is carrying on a rather sleazy emotional affair with her neighbor Nick (Joel McHale), the father of a girl she used to babysit.

When Lily’s secrets are exposed and evidence suggests that she might be behind the hack, she and her friends become the target of the town’s unhinged id, as a full-fledged vengeance-seeking posse takes bloody devastating form. Plenty of women have been threatened with rape and murder for the mistakes that Lily has made (or even milder sins), and the climax of Assassination Nation illustrates how terrifying it would be if a mob of people made good on those promises. While she has transgressed, it is nothing to be killed over, and her attackers correspondingly look insane and inhuman. Ultimately, Lily and her friends are able to fight back in some stylish red leather outfits. It might strain a little credulity that they are suddenly so capable in guerrilla combat, but this film is more feverish than believable, and besides, they have the power of righteousness on their side.

Assassination Nation is Recommended If You Like: The Purge, ’80s John Carpenter, American Horror Story: Cult, South Park Season 20

Grade: 4 out of 5 Red Leather Jackets

This Is a Movie Review: ‘The Happytime Murders’ Combines Noir Mystery with Wonderfully Inventive Crude Puppet Gags

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CREDIT: Hopper Stone/STXfilms

This review was originally posted on News Cult in August 2018.

Starring: Bill Barretta, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Leslie David Baker, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale

Director: Brian Henson

Running Time: 91 Minutes

Rating: R for Raucous Puppet Sex, Loopy Puppet Drug Use, Constant Puppet and Human Profanity, and a Description of an Unspeakable Act Involving Rice Pilaf

Release Date: August 24, 2018

The advertising for The Happytime Murders has made a big deal about how out of the ordinary its existence is: puppets that are usually family-friendly about to get no-holds-barred dirty to an unprecedented degree! But the movie itself, with a typical noir-style murder mystery premise, is fairly unassuming. It’s not particularly hard-bitten, just accepting of the fact that certain and lewd and violent acts are known to happen in this world. It’s as if puppet-noir were a well-established cinematic genre, as Happytime Murders does not feel the need to explain itself, at least no more so than any other movie.

It is not as if audiences should be wholly unfamiliar with what director Brian Henson and company are trying to pull off, as Happytime has a great deal in common with a certain 1988 film called Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Both feature a human and a non-human partnering up to solve a series of murders that the non-human has been framed for, in a Los Angeles in which the human population lives uneasily alongside their neighbors from another medium. Both are more adult in their storytelling than the average Disney or Muppet concoction, but while Roger Rabbit is safe for most ages, Happytime decidedly is not. And while the latter can be enjoyed simply as a story of a cynical puppet private investigator trying to clear his name, the main reason to see it is why the kids cannot come.

The jokes about the anatomy, sexual predilections, and drug habits of puppets do not have the tenor of “Look how disgusting we can be!” Instead, they are the sort of clever, fully committed gags that examine a previously unexamined premise and then take the consequences to their most absurd conclusions. The climaxes are both explosive and filled with a deep well of laser-deployed knowledge. As P.I. Phil Philips, Bill Barretta (the current performer of Muppets like Swedish Chef and Pepe) gives about as much depth as possible to a puppet character. His crackling banter with Melissa McCarthy is filled with a loopy zest that can only come from looking at an askew world and keeping a straight face. Every cast member realizes something important, and it is why Happytime works as well as it does: this is all very silly, but we must commit to everything like the joy of the world depends on it.

The Happytime Murders is Recommended If You Like: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, A femme fatale walking into a P.I. office, The Muppets, Spy, The Heat

Grade: 3.75 out of 5 Puppet Carpets Matching the Drapes

2015 Emmy Nominations Predictions and Wishlist

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For my detailed thoughts on my predictions and wishlists in the major Drama, Comedy, and Variety categories, check out these links:
Comedy
Drama
Variety

Guest Actor, Comedy
John Hawkes, Inside Amy Schumer
Michael Rapaport, Louie
Chris Gethard, Parks and Recreation
Dwayne Johnson, Saturday Night Live

Guest Actress, Comedy
Susie Essman, Broad City

Guest Actor, Drama
Mel Rodriguez, Better Call Saul

Guest Actress, Drama
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Linda Lavin, The Good Wife

Directing, Comedy
Rob Schrab, “Modern Espionage,” Community

Directing, Drama
Adam Arkin, “The Promise,” Justified

Writing, Comedy
Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” Community

Writng, Drama
Thomas Schnauz, “Pimento,” Better Call Saul

Animated Program
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”
American Dad! – “Dreaming of a White Porsche Christmas”
The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXV”

Commercial
Android – “Friends Furever”

Host – Reality/Reality Competition
RuPaul, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Interactive Program
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Main Title Design
Man Seeking Woman

Single-Camera Picture Editing, Comedy
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”

Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program
Too Many Cooks
Billy On The Street With First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird And Elena!!!

Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or a Variety Program
Community

Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role
Man Seeking Woman – “Traib”