I watched a whole bunch of 30 for 30's on Netflix the other day. Here's what I think of the one's I saw:
The Best That Never Was
Universities nationwide lobbied hard to sign highly touted football prospect Marcus Dupree in 1981, but his vast promise never materialized.
Good, not great. Just like its subject Marcus Dupree, this really could have been something. But, it took far too long to tell its story. We get it, Dupree was scouted heavily. We don't need to document every second of this part of his life ten times over. But the way we cut to the current day Philly's game was a very smart way to introduce the fact that Dupree hurt his leg. But it took way too long to get to the part where he actually hurt his leg.
The Marinovich Project
Todd Marinovich was molded by his father, Marv, to be an athlete from birth, and Marv believed his systems would sculpt Todd into a top quarterback.
A great story with a surprisingly great ending. The interviews with Todd and Marv really made this one great. It was a refreshingly well told story too, going into detail where it needed to without meandering too long.
Run Ricky Run
Peek under the helmet of enigmatic pro football player Ricky Williams with this documentary that tackles the talented running back's tumultuous career, including his failed drug tests, early retirement, stint playing in Canada and return to the NFL.
Ugh. Easily the worst of the bunch. Ricky is a very interesting subject and this completely mishandled the execution of his story. It really lacked focus and just felt very amateur. It really would have benefited from telling Ricky's story in chronological order, not skipping around everywhere and not really paying much attention to any one place in his life. The good thing about these movies is that you don't really need to know much about the sport to enjoy them, but this feels like one where you would have to know who Ricky Williams was and why he was such a big news story in order to get the story. Without the knowledge that he was an immensely talented football player, you'll probably be wondering why this guy merited a documentary.
The Band That Wouldn't Die
Orphaned in 1984 when their football team stole out of town without them, the Baltimore Colts Marching Band refused to acknowledge the obvious and remained together for the next 12 years until pro football finally returned to the city.
Don't be fooled by the title: this isn't the story of a marching band. This is the story of a city where football was king, and where football left in the middle of the night. It did a great job of telling the amazing story of Robert Irsay and the Colts move. It focuses on the band more as filler between when the Colts left and the Ravens came. After watching Cleveland 95, it was really interesting seeing the other side of the story.
Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?
In the 1980s, U.S. football fans were dazzled by the prospect of seeing pro football games virtually year-round, when the upstart United States Football League launched its inaugural springtime season. This documentary tells the story of the USFL.
Run Ricky Run tried to incorporate its filmmaker into the film with poor results, but Small Potatoes did a good job of making Michael Tollin an active, hilariously bitter part of the film. If the sight of Donald Trump makes you sick, this isn't for you. We get a lot of him, as well as some Burt Reynolds. The best part was seeing future NFL stars like Steve Young and Jim Kelly talk about the USFL like it was summer camp. I still want to see a football league in the spring, but with the failure of the USFL that seems unlikely. But this amazing story almost makes it worth it.
Four Days in October
Baseball's signature failure myth -- the Boston Red Sox's struggles against the New York Yankees -- ended in dramatic style when the Sox rallied from a three-game deficit to defeat their archrivals in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
This is the one I could connect with the best I'm a Yankees fan. My whole family is Yankee fans. I remember watching these games with my Mom. Even with all this said, I was still on the edge of my seat, even though the 2004 Red Sox are ancient history. Masterfully told with some great New England accents. I do wish that it at least acknowledged the World Series win, but I can see how that could be a conscious choice to just focus on these four days. And still, fuck the Red Sox.
Some conflicting social forces and dubious recruiting practices transformed The U -- the University of Miami's football team -- into a nationwide powerhouse in the 1980s and beyond, as their coach stirred up controversy by seeking out black players.
My favorite of the bunch. It is immensely detailed without falling into repetition of tedium. Great interviews with some current NFL stars and Uncle Luke from 2 Live Crew. I'm a Raiders fan for a reason. I love a football team that isn't just going to beat you, but embarrass you. They're going to make the league make new rules. They're going to be hated by the masses but loved by the fans more than anything else. It's a great story told without fault. Even if you hate football, you can still appreciate this story.
The Two Escobars
Discover the surprising parallels between star athlete Andres Escobar and international drug kingpin Pablo Escobar -- two renowned Colombians who loved the sport of soccer, achieved incredible levels of success and suffered brutally violent deaths.
I watched this just to test and see if you could enjoy these documentaries without enjoying the sport itself. It turns out, you can. I don't like soccer, but I absolutely loved this. I does something none of these other documentaries do, it doesn't tell a story, it creates a story. Its scope is immense and its ambition is commendable. Telling the story of Andres would be easy enough; a gentleman who was killed because he scored on his own goal. Tying it into Pablo and the drug war that tore Colombia apart is absolutely genius.
It's a little late, but whatevs. It's time I honored the best show on TV the only way I know how: a top 10 list. Just a quick review of the season before we get into the list:
Season 4 started out great. The first episode got everything set up and made promise of a great season to come. Then, nothing happened. The next couple of episodes were rough. Scattered moments of brilliance lost within yet another Jesse existential crisis and the purchasing of a car wash as the main event, along with the absurd sub plot of Marie stealing stuff (only to be forgotten by all of the other episodes). Hank was the MVP of that period. Gus was nowhere to be seen. Then, it all came back. Breaking Bad was breaking a bad streak (I'm so entertaining!) with a string of exciting episodes and interesting plot developments. A lot like the theme to Jaws, the tension only built from thereon. Overall, not the best season, but some quality television.
Now, list time! Also, WARNING, THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Episode: Bullet Points
Scene Overview: The Whites are over the Schraders for a nice family dinner. Hank takes Walt and Jr. into his room and shows him some stuff from Gale's murder case, which he was just given. He pops in a DVD, and Gale is singing karaoke on some crazy foreign channel. This scene works because it's hilarious seeing Gale sing and dance, but Walt's realization that Hank knows who Gale is makes this scene amazing. It was a very clever way of conveying this important information.
Episode: Bullet Points
Scene Overview: Walt is searching Jesse's house ton find he's not there. Cut to Mike driving Jesse's car in what looks to be the middle of nowhere (it is New Mexico after all). Mike asks him if he wants to know where they're going. Jesse just says "no." It's a simple scene, but a perfect ending.
Episode: Box Cutter
Scene Overview: The opening to season 4 was a slow burn. The tension in the lab was strong, only to be cut by Gus by cutting Victor's throat. The intensity in his eyes, he maintains full eye contact with Walt the whole time. It was a fun blood splatter show, sure, but it served a greater purpose by telling us two very important lessons: Walt and Jesse are on a tightrope, and Breaking Bad is back.
Episode: Bullet Points
Scene Overview: Mike is the best side character of any show ever. Whenever he's on, my reaction is always positive. He opened up one of the season's best episodes with a supreme display of his power. Some Cartel thugs have him trapped in a Los Pollos truck. After firing tons of shots into the cabin, Mike takes the guys down with two shots and a ushanka. He then comes out boasting a Van Gogh'd ear:
Episode: End Times
Scene Overview: After the cataclysmic events of "Crawl Space", Walt has spent the entire day in his house. None of Gus' goons come in to take him out. Instead, the man who ends him pointing a gun at his head is Jesse. Jesse just found out Brock was poisoned, probably from all of those Sonic the Hedgehog sessions. Jesse puts a gun right up to Walt's head, until he is able to shift the blame to Gus. Tense, with a great payoff.
Scene Overview: Breaking Bad is a show that grabs you right at the start. In Bug, we start off with a bloodied Walter stumbling away. It's only at the end of the episode that we see what happened. Jesse and Walt duked it out. The fight was not only well done (excluding the very obvious Rage box), but the impact and implications behind it was the real thing. Jesse and Walt have been the only thing we could rely on this whole series. They're buds, they get each other out of jams. This season tested that relationship, culminating in this.
Scene Overview: So, while Jesse, Gus, and Mike are in Mexico, Walt is home. No one has been able to contact him. This was after his fight with Jesse. It's Walt Jr.'s birthday. He rolls over to Walt's place with his new ride and gets the worst birthday present ever. Jr. asks Walt why his face is all sorts of fucked up. He quickly breaks down and uses the old gambling addiction excuse. The later scene where he describes how his father died is also worth mentioning. Both scenes were powerhouse exhibits of Bryan's talent and the show's writing.
Episode: Bullet Points
Scene Overview: Walt and Skyler are planning their dinner to Hank and Marie. They cooked up a new plan to explain Walt's cash influx, he's a gambling addict. They go over the script for the night like it's a high school drama production. And like a high school drama production, Walt has a ton of fun poking fun at the whole thing. One of the lighter scenes in the season, before everything went terrible. It's one of the truly legitimately funny scenes in the series, and shows some of Bryan's range.
Episode: Face Off
Scene Overview: A majority of the season finale "Face Off" was spent on Walt's team up with Tio, the old dude in the wheelchair with the bell. The set up was well worth it. The "punchline" is one of the most shocking moments in the whole series. Gus and Tyrus are paying visit to Tio after they see him visit the DEA (also a great scene). They inject Tio with some sort of "Kill him" serum and Tio starts ringing his bell rapidly. Then, boom. A bomb rigged up to Tio's wheelchair goes off. We later see Gus stepping out of the room. My initial reaction was "Fuck, he survived that?!? Walt is screwed!" Then the camera slowly bur surely revealed that Gus has only half of his face. Gives the title "Face Off" a whole new meaning.
Episode: Crawl Space
Scene Overview: After being taken to the desert and being threatened with the life of his family and his own, Walt frantically runs off to Saul to get the number of a guy who could make him completely disappear. He needs cash up front, and lots of it. He accepts, and gives him one last order to call in a threat on Hank's life. Walt races back home and gets into the crawl space where the money is stashed. He finds it to be mostly gone. Skyler says she's given it to Ted. The phone rings. While Walt laughs hysterically, Skyler gets a call from Marie saying Hank has been threatened.
The Monday after this aired, all I heard about on Twitter was the last 10 minutes of "Crawl Space." I hate to recycle words so heavily, but this scene was INTENSE. It is the television equivalent of an avalanche. Bad stuff, piling on top of bad stuff, with a heaping helping of bad stuff, and some more bad stuff sprinkled on top. So much bad stuff happens I was scared to watch the next episode.
I felt I should specify to get ALL DEM VIEWS. This won't be as much a review as it will be me talking about Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour, his latest album.
A lot has changed since 2009's My Weakness is Strong. In that, Oswalt explored his new life as a parent, our new President, religion (the old Sky cake dodge) while tossing in some silly stuff like angry magicians and orgies. It was good, but not his Finest Hour (get it? I'M SMART!) In 2007, Oswalt defined what a comedy album should be with Werewolves and Lollipops. Before that, Feelin' Kinda Patton was, as he might say, "Funny, but who gives a shit?" Hype was definitely gotten for Finest Hour by this guy (*points both thumbs at myself). I was hoping for more talk of Patton being a father, and his views on this President which he was very excited to have in 2009.
Before the release, Patton went on the radio program Opie and Anthony. Patton mentioned people who wonder if he was perhaps embarrassed by how excited he was for Obama, given that now that ruse is kind of up. He said no. I was hoping for a follow up on his 2009 bit, where he said Obama could give us time travel and blowjob robots. Nothing like that. Nothing about Patton being a father either, except an okay bit about his daughter imitating how he dances. None of the bits dealt with current events, which was always the thing I admired the most in Patton. He could do a silly story about rats then talk about politics.
If you separate the bits, it's some of the funniest stuff he's ever done. The physical part of his performance was completely lost on the CD, so some parts fell apart like when he was describing the fat guy at the airport. But, Patton is a master storyteller. Too good almost. Sometimes he tells stories and builds them up so well, only to give a weak punchline, then an explanation of the punchline. It's not always the case though. The punchline "And a skunk!" was weak, but the follow up was great.
And these are certainly bits. They don't really flow well from one to the other, and there are no common themes. It's all funny, goofy stuff, but whether or not that's a bad thing is where Finest Hour slips up.
Calling your album, "Finest Hour" is a little like Nietzsche calling his autobiography Ecce Homo. From the outside, it seems presumptuous, but when you dig in it seems more fitting. Is it Patton's finest hour? I struggle to say yes. Werewolves and Lollipops is a masterpiece, and maybe the fact that the bits from Finest Hour are still fresh in my mind, but the former may be better than the latter. Finest Hour is a great "second best" album and a perfect way to cope with the fact that it's September.
Your thoughts on the supposed Finest Hour? Comments are there for a reason!
The Big Live Live Show Live 2. What could be said about this madness? I'll highlight the winners, losers, and jousters with these scientific awards.
Norman #Chan. Norm always wins. The SC2 commentary, the Powepoint, lock picking, and eggs. Norm was the constant. If there was a good BLLSL2 segment, chances are Norm was in it.
The Big Red Phone for a crazy amount of guests, including Gary Whitta calling Will Smith a fucking idiot. Giant Bomb was disqualified because it was down for so long.
Vinny and Drew. As much as it pains me to say it, and I'm sure it's much harder than it looks, the show was bad from a technical standpoint. Tons of background noise during segments, mics not being on, censoring J.A. Steele's boobs and ass, and superfluous transitions between segments made the much hyped BLLSL2 seem slapped together. After some consideration I decided that it's not their fault for the errors. They were asked to do too much. And the "too much" was stuff no one really cares about anyway. The true loser is...
Moses! The creepy father who forced his son into an adult geared environment and let him waste years of his life on a fucking video game.
John Drake/Eric Pope. Much like Norman Chan, Drake and Pope were always in the best segments. Drake came in with his trademark brightly colored plain shirts, and Pope with his sideburns and hat. VidRhythm. Bom! Pop! Psst!
The Third Society Screening for, even though it didn't top last year's Denizen watch, and even though Ryan wasn't present, still being the funniest thing on the show.
Comic Vine is always the worst on these shows. The editors just have no idea how to make the stuff they love interesting to an outsider. Last year, their segments were so lo-fi and bad that the reason I hated them wasn't because they were comic related. This managed to not be as horrible as last year, but it was still shit. Interview with the transvestites? Suck. Interview with other people I don't care about? Suck.
That's about it. Overall I was disappointed, but there was some fun stuff. I just don't think the guys can sustain such a long broadcast, at least where the content is so clearly planned ahead of time. They have done magic for several hours, but that was all impromptu stuff.
I'm the Cracked.com of Screened users, here we go, the best scenes of one of the best (if not the best) shows on TV. Hilarious, dark, surreal, inventive, shocking, and more words. Since the season, which just wrapped up yesterday, only had 13 episodes making a list of the top 10 episodes would be pretty pointless. I've seen all of the episodes, but this blog is kind of rushed and not very planned out well (sounds like me!) so I might be leaving one or two notable ones out. So if you want to say "HEY DOUCHEBAG YOU FORGOT THIS!!!" I'll probably be like "you're totally right!" I'll be ignoring the standup bits, but won't be limiting to one per episode. They are in order of how good they are.
Episode: Come On, God
Scene Overview: Louie is trying to masturbate. He pictures himself inside his apartment's elevator with a woman he just met. Things get weird (a common occurrence on Louie) when she asks him to help him out, and stick a bag of dicks because she has "zero dicks."
Fans of CK will immediately recognize the phrase "Bag of dicks" from Shameless. One of my favorite bits from him, and this took it to the next dick level. There's a real "Is this really happening?" vibe to this. Yes, it is a dream, but still this was on television. A woman asking a man to stick a bag of dicks in her ass was on a major network. Did I mention this is one of the best things on television?
Scene Overview: A very short scene, Louie is calling into a store and ordering food. He asks for orange juice and the man on the phone makes a sound like "Pop" or "Pup." He's actually asking if he wants pulp, but Louie keeps asking him to repeat it and saying things like "It's just a sound." He then asks for bananas, simply saying he wants a bunch. The man in the store asks if he wants 60 bananas. At the end of the scene, after a distressed call from his sister, a man shows up at his door with 60 bananas.
Episode: Country Drive
Scene Overview: Louie is driving to Pennsylvania with his two daughters when this gem pops up on the radio:
Louie, being in his mid-40's, can't help but sing along. We've seen this before, but never this extended. It's goes on for awhile. When it's over, there's a great awkward moment between Louie and his kids.
Scene Overview: Duckling is probably the most shocking episode of season 2. This hour long episode documents Louie's time doing USO shows in the Middle-East, with the help of some ducklings his daughters snuck into his bag. The first show goes well: the peppy soldiers all have a good time listening to Louie attack his body. The show in the desolate camp Tim starts out much more awkward, with the disgruntled soldiers having been depressed by the Keni Thomas performance prior. He picks out a soldier and starts attacking his home town of Buffalo. We then get a heartwarming montage of Louie with the soldiers. The scene prior was also very good with a fake artillery strike scare, thats leaves all the soldiers laughing but Louie is still startled.
Scene Overview: Louie is going on a date with a woman who seems to want nothing to do with him. A crazy homeless bum starts running directly at him screaming. He deflects the run, tossing him into the street and right into a truck. His head comes off in the most hilarious way possible. This was a definite double take, yo rewind that, moment.
Scene Overview: The moment everybody remembers from this section/skit/whatever is the spanking scene between Louie and one of the mothers from his daughter's class. The scene goes from semi-hot to creepy REAL fast when the woman breaks down and cries. We then get a scene of Louie and the mother at her table. She's eating blueberries with whipped cream and asking about the school. This always struck me as one of the more Lynchian moments in the series.
Episode: New Jersey/Airport
Scene Overview: Louie is taking the current love of his life Pamela to the airport. Pamela does not share his his intense love for him, and instead is using him for a ride. She's going to Paris to try to reconnect with her absentee husband and son who left for him. Pamela urges him to move on with his life and forget about her. He says he'll wait for her. In an extended scene we see Pamela walking through security. A tackier, more network involved show would've had Pamela rush back through security and give Louie a big hug, finally sharing her thoughts with him. Instead we get a hilarious, unfortunate misunderstanding.
Pamela is standing at the top of a stairway. Louie is far off, barely in sight. She waves to him, and he does nothing. She yells at him to "wave to me", but he thinks she'e saying "wait for me." The episode, and season, ends with a misinformed Louie leaving happily.
Scene Overview: Louie has suddenly reconnected with an old comedy friend Eddie. The two split after Louie went on to fame on the Tonight Show and Eddie decided to stick with underground comedy and terrible open mics. The two gang around two drinking vodka in Eddie's car/home. The episode ends with Eddie telling him that he plans to kill himself. Louie tries to talk him out of it. It's standard Louie discussion, deep, insightful, and clever, but my favorite part comes in when a group of people come in and interrupt their discussion.
Scene Overview: Louie is going on the subway. He's waiting on the station when he sees a street performer, a very talented violinist dressed in a nice suit. Then, a homeless man comes into the subway and starts to wash himself with a bottle of water. The montage that comes is the strangest, funniest thing on the show. The black and white scene on the subway was also great, showing that CK aspires to do more than just transpire his act to television.
Episode: Oh Louie/Tickets
Scene Overview: The animosity between Dane and Louie has been fermenting in the great stew of comedians accusing others of plagiarism. I never thought that when Dane would appear on the show, just because of the feud and the buildup beforehand certainly seemed like it was setting up for a letdown. But, lo and behold, Dane was sitting there. With his stupid t-shirts and jeans, he was kind of a dick, but the dialogue was amazing. Best in the show since Bully. It addressed the feud in the best way possible, offering fair arguments for both sides. Dane's a guy I used to love when I was younger, but I moved on to guys like Louie so maybe this is just me but I loved the hell out of this scene as more than just well written, as a comment on the divide between popular comedians and good comedians.
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