Tag Archives: comedy

Verdict: Ghosted

Last night we finally made it through the second episode of the new show Ghosted. The premise in and of itself sounds interesting, although a little bit Men In Black meets The X-Files.  You have the conspiracy theorist / genius who has been deemed a crazy fraud and a former cop who left the force and hit rock bottom. They get thrown together into a crazy world of paranormal activity.

The thought seems good that there is the cynic cop who is just looking at the logic of the situation and then the former professor who understands the potential science behind the paranormal. So it is the contrasting personalities playing off of each other that would make the show work. The problem is that the connection between the two main characters so far is just not there and everything is happening in such a whirlwind where we are meant to have a connection with what is happening and it is missing.

Too Fast

So part of the inherent problem of the show might be that the episodes are only 20 minutes long instead of the typical 45 minutes. With only 20 minutes to try and explain an entire underground government agency – plus introduce our two main characters – the pilot episode just came across as kind of frantic and it was hard to really get a grasp on anything that was happening. Now understanding that it was the pilot episode I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, which is why we watched the second episode.

The second episode was better, but still lacked. It seemed to jump ahead to days or weeks later and they had a mission together, instead of taking us to right after the first episode like we might expect. There was no real explanation of what they faced or how it worked. Everything just sort of happened and throughout the whole episode there was no connection between the two main characters, which is vital for a show like this.

Lack of Chemistry

The other big issue is definitely the lack of chemistry between the characters. They are there on screen and going through the motions, but nothing seems to be sticking. There are definitely some funny moments and it might get better; at the same time I just don’t think there is enough there. I like that it is a female who leads the organization and a woman is the one who does the weapons, but still there needs to be something to connect with and there is not.

The second episode is almost like walking in mid-way through a season where we are supposed to have seen how they have gotten to this point. Instead the show has just jumped ahead to a point and we are supposed to be along for the ride.

Verdict

Some of it if we didn’t already have a lot of great shows that we are watching I might be willing to give this show more chances, but as it stands I think this is a pass for us. It is not terrible, but it definitely does not hold my interest enough to spend time to keep watching it. Let us know if it gets better if you keep watching Ghosted!

Verdict: The Orville

I will admit the first episode of The Orville did not reel me in to the show. It was not bad, but it was not good either. There were definitely a few points that made me chuckle, but overall it felt like the blasé day-to-day life that we know now set in the future.

Now maybe I had my expectations high as a fan of Star Trek and Galaxy Quest, but this is definitely something a little bit different. The problem is that I am not sure that it is as good as either of those, which is almost what you have to be at this point. You can be different, but space exploration has been done by a couple of shows and you have to somehow bring something new to the table. I am still not sure that The Orville has completely given me that, but the third episode has shown me that it has more to offer than originally thought. Now the first episode is alright, the second episode a little painful in my opinion, and then the third episode you have an episode that kept me engaged and interested the entire time. At this point the general verdict is we are going to keep watching, but it is on thin ice. (Potential spoilers for the first three episodes of The Orville.)

Continue reading

Last Week Tonight is back!

After a hiatus since shortly after the election – and after spending basically all of last season talking about the now-president throughout the presidential race – Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is back! Holly and I have been anxiously awaiting this show returning, because once you get past an obvious bias, the topics covered and presentation are great.

As more and more news items have been hitting, as a new administration swings into gear, as more and more Americans are getting politically engaged and motivated, we had to wonder: what on earth was John Oliver going to start with in a show that’s only 30 minutes long?

Oh. Okay then. That makes sense. The place to start: reality. What is it anymore, in our increasingly post-modern times (my words, not his)? Well, here’s a good start at answering that question.

And where it ends? John Oliver’s current plan for action? This one had us laughing hysterically… and then had us really sad that something like this would seem necessary.

Enjoy?

Competence in Comedy

As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve been watching Parks & Rec again, and it’s reminded me of something I observed the first time we were watching it. And it’s that you can still be funny while being competent.

I mean, I feel like this is something that we used to see a lot in comedies. Thinking of the 80s comedies we grew up with and love. Take a movie like Ghostbusters, made by a Saturday Night Live troupe, and if you had to pick a genre they were working in (which is hard with that movie), it’s comedy. But a competent one – they are right about the ghosts in the face of others disbelieving them. They successfully build the things they need to stop them. And yes, throughout, there are things we get to laugh at them about.

And it’s cool. Last year’s Ghostbusters was also a comedy, but it was a comedy that’s come after all these years in between…

Because I think for quite a while, incompetent was the thing in comedy. I’m thinking the 90s and beyond, with leads like Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell. Or in ongoing series like the Scary Movie films and other (bad) parodies like that. I tended not to like these comedies (having not even seen several that are deemed the “best”), but it’s only in hindsight looking at them like this that it makes sense, that they make sense as a group.

Laughing at incompetence, at failure and things not going the right way, can be funny. But only for so long, only so much of it. It becomes the repeat gags, and that worked for, say, the Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello. They created or worked within the world of slapstick gags and the tropes of the genre. But I would also say that they did this so much better than these more recent comedies.

Finding funny situations in the middle of things going well, or people trying to have them go well – I feel like there’s so much more room there.

Let’s look at something that’s full of both – Looney Tunes. Many of the tropes of the comedies that came before made there way in. However, the joy of Bugs Bunny is how completely competent he is, and it plays beautifully off of characters like Daffy Duck (nearly as competent), or Elmer Fudd (nowhere near as competent). Some of the best moments are when Bugs ends up outplayed or outclassed – because it upset our expectation that Bugs always had the upper hand.

These moments or episodes are funny because they upset our expectations. The reverse, when it comes to incompetence comedy, is basically the idiot savant – a common enough character.

Bringing us first back around to the new Ghostbusters. The movie had an idiot (Chris Hemsworth), but he wasn’t a savant! Our savant sort of character was Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann, with her quirks and crazy inventions. We had scientists who, like in the original, were right about the ghosts despite society not believing them. And Leslie Jones, whose character in the trailers just seemed like a caricature, was actually good at her job and very knowledgeable about New York – which was what they needed.

But the movie also had a more modern feel to it, as a movie coming after this modern run of incompetent comedies. They made the two main male characters (Hemsworth, and the main villain) the main incompetents, which played into an entirely different narrative and isn’t my point here… And even the main villain pulls off most of his plan, despite generally being considered a bad villain.

Anyway, let’s round back to Parks & Rec. The show is funny but the characters are also all good at their jobs, like what they are doing, and live in a place that seems just utterly ridiculous. Nonetheless, their descriptions of Pawnee are generally much worse than the Pawnee we actually see in the episodes. It’s a group of normal-ish people with a slightly askew absurd bent. And it’s great.

Sure, the show also has a couple of incompetent characters – one close to the idiot savant trope, although mostly just idiot, in Andy Dwyer; the other being Gary/Jerry/Larry, who we find out just plays along and is clumsy perhaps, but is really just there for the paycheck and benefits, a commitment to public service, and to have time with his picturesque family. And with the 4th-wall breaking stares into the camera, or the overblown reactions to these characters, we just get to laugh along.

Do you like competence in comedy? Incompetence? What are your favorite examples of either? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

Recently I have been using my local library’s digital catalog to rent audiobooks (like David did). I needed a new book to listen to so I went to the “Available Now” section and found Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please as read by Amy Poehler.

From the very first chapter I am in love with her. Amy Poehler’s sense of humor is hilarious and the way she looks at her life is amazing. Amy talks about her family life, getting into comedy, being on SNL, and more.

The other great thing is that she gets amazing guest stars including both of her parents to help read parts of the book. After listening to the audiobook version I almost feel as though that is the way to enjoy the book because hearing her read it and get guest stars to read sections is such joy.

Continue reading