Sorry about no post yesterday, my bad. I had to spend most of the day calling our semi-finalists for the Poconos Biggest Loser contest. It actually went better than I imagined it would, but it still took about six hours.
Anyway, this will be the last PopRox post before Christmas, so have a great holiday everyone! I’m gonna try to get into the best of the decade stuff next week, hopefully I can pull it off.
Today, you’ll have to settle for top 10 TV of 2009. Sorry if I’m forgetting anything, this kind of just happened:
1. Mad Men (AMC). When I watched Friday Night Lights last year, I threw down the gauntlet and said, “Top that, Mad Men!” Then it did. Don Draper is in my top 5 TV characters of all time with Alex P. Keaton, Jack Bauer and Brian Doolan from Phenom. Plus, this season gave us this, the most surprising, remarkable and at the same time, grossest moment of the year in TV (the 1:15 mark):
2. Friday Night Lights (NBC). More of a 1A. But one thing is for sure, those are the two best shows on TV. Every episode of the third season was better than the one before it. Well, except for the Smash farewell, which was one of its best episodes ever.
3. Glee (Fox). Probably the show I enjoyed most this year. I’m ultra-jealous of creator Ryan Murphy, he makes the shows I’ve always wanted to write.
5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX). These guys should teach classes on what comedy should be.
6. Flight of the Conchords (HBO). Uneven? Yeah, a little. But just because the songs aren’t classic doesn’t mean the show isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. I usually tune out during the songs anyway — kinda like I do with Glee — so I could care less if they’re not making hysterical songs.
7. The Office/30 Rock (NBC): No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to separate these shows. They’re part of my life now, something I enjoy doing every Thursday night. 30 Rock was better last season, The Office is better this season. See, they even take turns and play nice like little kids should.
8. Sons of Anarchy (FX): The exact opposite of Always Sunny this year, because the last four episodes completely and utterly made up for the monotony (by SoA standards) of the first batch of the season’s shows.
9. Being Human (BBC America): The problem with falling in love with a series on BBC America is that you never know when it’s coming back. So you tread lightly and try not to get addicted. Then something like Being Human comes around and you can’t help it, then you’re stuck twiddling your thumbs waiting for a ghost, vampire and werewolf to come back. Great.
10. 30 for 30 (ESPN): And not just because of my obvious man-crush on executive producer Bill Simmons. It’s because this is the next step in the American fascination with Biography, Behind the Music or whatever. It takes events that were important and tell us why they were important. We might not have known before, now we do.
Lots more top 10 movie lists coming out now, including Roger Ebert’s. Whatever you think of him, he’s somehow managed to remain the most recognizable movie critic in the world and his words still mean something even though he’s sticking with his original review that Knowing is one of the best sci-fi movies ever. Not quite sure what he’s trying to prove here since his public love for director Alex Proyas is already well documented, but whatever. Metacritic is starting to post its critic top 10 lists, so there’s a lot to digest if you’re thinking of taking in a movie or two over the holidays. A couple recommendations I have if you’re filling out your Netflix queue: Adventureland, Sugar and Goodbye, Solo, in that order. Adventureland is an easy pick for my top 10, the others are banging on the door if they’re not in already. Inglourious Basterds remains my #1, and as I’ve said before, it’s going to take a pretty big effort to knock it out of that spot.
The box office isn’t nearly as crowded as it was last Christmas, but it’s no slouch this year either. Last year, somehow four Christmas premieres went on to make at least $83 million and one (The Spirit) bombed. It’s not surprising that there is a major downsizing in releases this year, you can bet your Dunder Mifflin T-shirt that studios were sweating bullets wondering whether their movies would make any money. Had to make for a pretty drab Christmas. So now they’re sticking to the basics — a tentpole (Sherlock Holmes), a sequel (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and an adult feature (It’s Complicated). There’s room for all of them, even with Avatar still out there.
Wow, maybe the Vatican isn’t as ridiculously stuffy as we all thought! The Vatican’s newspaper praised The Simpsons on its 20th anniversary, despite the show making fun of Catholicism — and Catholics — on a near weekly basis. OK, maybe not weekly. But pretty often. They’ve definitely never praised Catholics, and built an entire episode around busting Catholic chops — an episode even I thought was a tad tasteless and felt a little insulted by. But that’s the beauty of The Simpsons — they’re willing to take chances and p!ss off even their most ardent fans like me. Apparently, it wasn’t even enough to turn off the Catholic Church.
Good riddance to bad rubbish! A clearly embarassed Topher Grace said this week he doesn’t expect to be playing Venom when/if they make the Venom spin-off. No duh! He was at least half of the problem with Spidey 3 and couldn’t hold Eddie Brock’s jock. I don’t know why studios never think of using the cartoon voice actors when they make a big-screen adaptation. I lobbied for the immortal CD Barnes to play Spider-Man in the movies because you could tell by his voice work in the Fox Spider-Man cartoons of the mid-90s that he really “got” the character of Peter Parker. That might have been taking it a little too far, the studio needed a name for Spider-Man. But does anyone really think that more people went to see Spidey 3 because Topher Grace was in it? So why not take a chance and give Hank Azaria — the voice of Brock/Venom in the cartoon — a shot at it? He clearly understood the Venom mythology when it’s hard to tell if Grace ever did.
This is my yearly reminder that I’m one of the 10 people in the world who saw A Christmas Story in the theater. At the Ritz in downtown Scranton when I was 8. The only place I saw the commercials was on WPIX from New York, but at the time, I thought it looked like the funniest movie that had ever been made. So I actually bribed my mom to take me by paying for her ticket. Needless to say, even as an 8-year-old, I was ahead of my time. When my old man watched it a couple years later, it instantly became his favorite movie and a holiday tradition in the Sadowski household. I’d wager that for the 13 years TBS/TNT have been running the Christmas Story marathon, we’ve at the very least had the TV tuned to it about 50 percent of its airings. It’s replaced the yule log.