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Monthly Archives: May 2013

So here we are. After 7 years of persistant purchasing/torrenting/renting; in-jokes amongst friends, message boards and pop culture blog comment sections and whispers of will-they, won’t-they: it’s finally here–new episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: there was no way that Arrested Development would truly thrive in this type of situation. The fevered anticipation of the series’ return as well as its increased popularity, thanks to the internet, made expectations way too high–not to mention the fact that, due to scheduling conflicts, all of the cast members weren’t able to consistently film together so instead the entire season is full of episodes dedicated to each character. As much as we’ve clamored and dreamed for this, nobody actually believed it would happen… and now that the day is here, it’s hard to know how to feel. There’s excitement in the air, as well as trepidation–even now this unedited babble is merely spilled over glee and conflict over what I’ve just watched and the aching need to write about it. Grantland’s Andy Greenwald posited on his mailbag the past Tuesday two questions (technically three, but only two matters): 1) Will the new season be any good? and 2) Will the new season be good enough?

The first one is an easy one to answer: Yes. It won’t shake up the world and it wasn’t without its duds. One of the things that has always helped AD is that, even in its weaker episodes (i.e. most of season 3),  the show thrived off of B, C or D stories from the other members of the Bluth family. Now, with each episode focused on specific characters, there are no B, C, or D stories and as a result–the duds really stand out. Not every character is meant to carry a full episode–especially full episodes that don’t adhere to a strict time format–and some of the storylines just don’t seem to stick, but the new season is definitely daring in its approach. It’s not just content to provide fan service (although there’s plenty) and it’s admirable that the show would take a risky approach like this. It doesn’t always work and it’s full of over-explanation, in an effort for a more “mainstream” audience to keep up. It gets grating at times–AD has always been great about respecting an audience’s intelligence–but overall it doesn’t get too out of hand. The pacing is a bit off, due to the way the episodes are structured. Most noticeably, the season is really, pretty dark. AD has always been great at balancing the heart of the show along with the dark undercurrent. There’s always a sense that these people love each other–even if it’s only because they have nobody else to turn to–but the new season focuses only on the darkness. At times it can be jarring. A lot of times. And you do get a very real sense that they’re building to something more: whether it’s another season, a movie or who knows (maybe a christmas special). It’s definitely the “empire strikes back” of seasons.

But let me get to the positives: this show is still very funny, very well written and well constructed. The world in which AD lives is a rich one and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in it. The standout episodes involve Tobias and Gob and Maeby (who is SERIOUSLY underutilized always). It’s always a joy to see Michael and George-Michael together, their relations goes through a lot of rough patches this season and it’s great watching the dynamic switch around. The season all together is a B+. Even with the duds, there’s enough comedy to make up for at least a few shortcomings.

Alas, now we get to the tough question: is it good enough? In a recent interview, Damon Lindelof (writer; “Lost”, “Prometheus”) stated, “my advice is you can’t win, and just tell your story.” He further added, “…a lot of them are going to be wrong, and it’s very hard for a human being to say, ‘I was wrong. You got me! Your way is better!’ Most people say, like, ‘My way is better, and because my way is better, I know your show better than you know your show.'” There’s no way for Mitch Hurwitz and company to win. There are millions of things that different fans want and feel entitled to receive from the show. There’s no way to meet all of them nor should they feel the need to. All they can really do is make the show they wanna make and see if it can stand up with the rest of the series. It’s pretty clear that–all constraints considered–they made the show they wanted to make. So while the show may not be “good enough”, it’s still fine. There are bits that are amongst the series best and are better than anything else on TV this past season; I’ve already found myself quoting things from the new season and there are plenty of sight gags and callbacks that work effectively.

You can’t please everyone nor should you try. There will be those who absolutely love this season and there will be those who deplore it. There will be debates, arguments, backlashes, backlashes to the backlashes and think pieces much longer, much more eloquent and well-written then mine. Ultimately, it will be time that has the final say so on this season. I think time will be kind to this season–there’s still a lot here to love–and I don’t think it’s far off from its complicated and rushed third season. Hopefully there is still money in the banana stand and we do get that movie but for now this will do: a sometimes good, sometimes underwhelming return to form. It may not be the height of excellence but, for me, I’m so happy to be around the Bluth family again (I’m getting ready for a second run through). Who would’ve thought a lowly rated show that FOX tried to burnoff in a two-hour block on the opening night of the Olympics would make such a huge impact on the lives of so many people. What a fun, sexy time for all of us.

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There was no way that wasn’t bound to happen. Random Access Memories is an album that has been marketed to perfection over the internet and was instantly doomed to be a disappoint to the denizens of the same internet; it’s a vicious world. That being said, the album is nowhere near bad, but for a Daft Punk record–and one as hyped as this one is–it’s painfully average.

An album chasing the past but not just the grand past worthy of nostalgia but the past that involves those nights when your mom would parade you around her friend and your relatives during one of her dinner parties. There are times when the album really works (“instant crush” and “get lucky” for example) and there are times when the album just seems to be “there”, kind of meandering about. Much like, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, the album is pleasant and full of fine songs to tap your foot to but ultimately nothing jumps out. But, again, weren’t we all waiting on this inevitability. Believe it or not, the internet is full of snarky douches, contrarians and just plain assholes–sometimes all 3 (I know, I know. It surprises me too); so when it came time for everyone’s favorite cool kid duo to debut its latest record–and to do it in such dubious fashion–it pretty much started a countdown of “who could hate it the most”. Hype does nothing but dangle fish in front of sharks waiting to devour something and, short of fireworks shouting out of your computer and literally being ear-fucked, there was no way this Daft Punk album would survive. 

The album is solid, but that’s not what people want from a Daft Punk record. They know what they’re capable of and they expect it every single time. Fine I guess, except they’re forgetting that every Daft Punk record is like this. Dividing of people and differentiating in tastes. And that’s fine by me; all I need is a solid record for summer enjoyment. Plus, I mean, what’s more punk than daring people to hate your shit all the time.

Big news on this morning: as I may have mentioned here before, I’ve been volunteering my services to the greater good of getting shows by black creators made in some form or fashion. The show in question: Quarter Century, a show about mid-to-late 20s young professionals in DC, by FAMU alumna Shayla Racquel (@ShaylaRacquel). The show is really well done and getting better each episode (and I’m not just saying that) and just recently HBCU Digest, popular online magazine about the goings on in historically black schools, recently named it one of its top 5 web series.

You can read the article here and check out episode 1 and episode 2 right now. While you’re at it, go ahead and follow the series creator and the show itself (@QCwebseries). In the words of Ron Howard: “Please tell your friends about this show”. Man, I can’t wait for Arrested Development to get here already.

Here’s my issue with depression: It’s a tricky little bugger. There are those who obviously have it, those who think they have it and those who don’t even realize they have it. That third thing is the one I have the most trouble with. Depression shouldn’t be a “maybe” thing, it should just be definite. None of this is to say that I have it or might have it–if anything I just have bad mood swings–this is merely me talking about something that I spend too much time thinking about. If you’ve read this blog enough, you can probably gather that it’s directionless. Like most of my life at this point, it aims to do something but is not exactly sure what… not yet at least. So it just kind of meanders about from topic to topic occasionally presenting itself as… well, “readable” would probably be the most appropriate word. This is all one long, convoluted way for saying sorry there’s no set schedule to these posts; the truth is they come in when they can. Currently, I work a 9-5 to pay bills while I try to turn the writing, photography and editing I do on the side into a business, I write for other blogs (speaking of which my Great Gatsby review is up on one of them now) and I’m helping another (much, much better) artist follow her dreams with a web series she’s created (seriously, go check it out). I try to make time for this when I can because it’s the only time I can be at peace. The internet, in all its chaotic and spastic glory, can sometimes be the best free therapist and analyst (or analrapist) and that’s what this is all about for me: therapy. Right now, I’m in the moment, chasing something that I’m not quite sure what it is or if it’s even real, but I’m chasing it because I spent a year doing nothing and that was a much more depressing time.

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