Monday, March 26, 2012

The Office Politics

Actor Rainn Wilson at Heroes for Autism event,...Ed HelmsIt was everyone’s prediction, including mine, that The Office jumped the proverbial shark once Steve Carell left and James Spader came in as a replacement. No question James Spader is a great actor, going back to his role on Seinfeld as the bee-boppin’ and scattin’ jokester going through the twelve steps, who refused to apologize to George. Also, if you were to preview a brand new show these days starring John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, James Spader, Mindy Kaling, Jenna Fischer, and Ed Helms, I bet you’d tune in for the premier, I know I would. The real issue is that Steve Carell was just that good, so people are just inherently disappointed he’s not on the show anymore.

Well prepare for more disappointment, and what I really think will be the end of the show eventually. Rainn Wilson, our beloved Dwight is leaving the show along with head writer Paul Liberstein will be reduced to a smaller involved role behind the scenes. Paul Lieberstein also plays the sad sacked Toby on the show. In addition to these two staples, Mindy Kaling, one of the favorite characters and writers on the show is moving to her own project on Fox. Also, James Spader is not coming back for a ninth season.

Before you starting popping the post-office depression pills, the main reason Paul Liberstein and Rainn Wilson are leaving is to start their own spinoff together called “The Farm”, which is about Dwight Shrute on the farm I can only guess. It sounds funny already, so we’ll see if it’s spinoff worthy of Frasier comparisons or Joey comparisons. It also should be interesting to see what Mindy Kaling’s show will be like, but I’m already less interested in that. However, I have a funny feeling her show will be more successful.

What is also very exciting is that there will most likely be a show starring John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Ed Helms showing up on NBC next season. Oh wait, that’s just The Office coming back for a ninth season. Isn’t that interesting? It sounds so great, but then you realize that it’s The Office, and you automatically think it’s going to suck because of the people who left. Ed Helms and John Krasinski have proven that they can carry movies. Well carry might be a strong word for John Krasinski, but Helms has for sure. I think they can still get through a season or two with that cast, as long as the writing caliber stays high.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Four Famous Cameos on Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David at a ceremony for Mary Steenburgen...Larry David could carry the entire Curb Your Enthusiasm series with him interacting with the other main characters on the show. But as fun as those episodes were, adding a famous cameo every once in awhile made the show that much more interesting. Over the years, Curb Your Enthusiasm had many great celebrities making cameos. Here are some of the funnier and more memorable cameos on the TV Shows.

In the episode entitled “The Hot Towel,” Larry David has one of his famous awkward social interactions with Christian Slater. Both of them were at a part at Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen’s home and Christian Slater was eating a lot of the caviar that was set out as one of the snacks. Larry caught him eating all of the caviar and called him out on it. Slater was annoyed that Larry thought he could tell him how much caviar he should be able to eat which ended up in another awkwardly funny conversation.

Everything is funny when Ricky Gervais appears and Curb Your Enthusiasm is no exception. In season 8, Gervais appeared as himself in the episode entitle “The Hero.” He played an amped up version of himself in which he was starring in a three hour play that he invited Larry to. He also steals Larry’s date, but Larry gets the last laugh when he ends up saving Gervais and the lady from being robbed on the subway.

In the season 5 finale, Larry is in the hospital and has an out of body experience in which he goes up to heaven. Sasha Baron Cohen of Borat fame is one of the guides that he meets in his newfound place. But in true Larry fashion, he can’t let an argument go that he had with Cheryl earlier about putting DVDs back in their proper cases. As a result, he is kicked out of heaven and sent back to his old ways.

One of the most unlikely cameos on Curb Your Enthusiasm was basketball great Shaquille O’Neal. He appeared in the season 2 episode aptly entitled “Shaq.” Larry was sitting courtside at a basketball game when he decided to stretch out his legs. Shaquille ended up tripping over them and then going to the hospital. When Larry found out Shaq was a huge Seinfeld fan, he brought every episode of the sitcom to him on videotape as a peace offering for accidentally tripping him.

With all of the cameos on Curb Your Enthusiasm, it’s difficult to choose just a few of the best. But these are some of the more memorable ones (not counting the cameos made by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld) with some of the biggest laughs in the series.

TV Store Online offers some pretty cool Curb Your Enthusiasm T-shirts!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Turtles From Space?

The TMNT logo of the 1987 animated series.Recently, at the Nickelodeon Upfront event in New York, Michael Bay let some rather interesting news slip about plans for the 2013 film that will reboot the franchise. Shortly after this news hit the net, it went viral with a firestorm of hatred from the fans. Why? Well, when talking about the film, Bay referred to the new TMNT gang as aliens rather than mutants. Yep, it would appear that he and his team are planning to change the origin story. It's nothing new for certain origin stories of popular franchises to be changed from time to time, whenever it is necessary to do so in order to reach a newer audience. However, this would appear to be a needless change that doesn't really add anything to the formula. Needless to say, a lot of fans are completely outraged by this move.

Rather than flat out crying foul, let's look at this reasonably. While it's probably true that the original origin story for the turtles had some basis in fears surrounding the cold war era, aliens were also a popular subject of science fiction and fantasy in the 80's. In other words, if the original creators wanted them to be aliens, they would have made them aliens. Turning them into aliens now doesn't really make much sense, because this sci-fi origin is just about as popular today as it was in the 80's. While fear of mutation isn't quite what it was back in the day, the turtles didn't really promote fear of it – they actually promoted acceptance of the strange and the different. The mutation origin would most likely do just as good of a job at conveying this today as it did 25 years ago.

Sometimes it is necessary to make a few changes when you're rebooting a franchise or doing an adaptation of a story that has already become popular in other formats. For instance, when they took the turtles from the pages of the comic books to the television screen, they made them much more child friendly in order to reach the audience they were looking for. This change ultimately lead to huge success that has subsisted on to this day, as most TMNT fans started out with the original animated series. However, changes like this are not really necessary and don't really add anything to the story in any meaningful way. If the turtles aren't even mutants anymore, why are you still calling them Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Shouldn't it now be Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles?

In closing, there are plenty of reasons to be upset about this change, but ultimately we won't know exactly how this will play out until we see the finished results. Turtles fans everywhere may be mad, and they may have good reason to be upset, but we just don't have enough information to be able to say definitively whether or not this change is going to be a problem. At its worst, this is simply a needless change that doesn't add anything to the plot and makes no sense. Here's hoping that they didn't totally screw up the formula for TMNT, but even if they did, we've still got tons of old school turtles to enjoy on DVD!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Power Rangers Fight for Rights of Shapes

Power RangersImage via WikipediaThe crazy, undeniably ridiculous show that came out years ago called “Power Rangers” was a fad that reminded everyone how awful popular things can really be in this world. However, people really enjoyed the show, and kids really started kicking things and wearing leisure suits with helmets. Its popularity makes it relevant, and the show’s place in pop culture makes it wonderfully ironic to like these days. In fact, any gear resembling the Power Rangers signature suits might be considered hot property, whether intentionally or not.

The Power Rangers, or rather the owners of the Power Rangers, are suing a small business for willful copyright infringement. This small online business sells hooded sweatshirts that can be customized to match your desired awfulness. Again, since awfulness is being stylish or at least ironically stylish these days, the hooded sweatshirts have been selling well apparently. So the Power Rangers and their people heard about these upstart hoodie slingers and noticed something odd about the design they were using. They noticed that the awfulness looked eerily similar to the awfulness they helped bring into the world years before. In fact, not only was the awfulness so similar, you throw a helmet on the hooded sweatshirt, and you got yourself half of a power ranger. The signature shapes and pattern of the Power Rangers’ suits are copied almost identically onto these hoodies. So naturally, it’s time to get the lawyers involved and to make a big deal out of something that is so very much not a big deal.

The Power Rangers’ power attorney squad will be claiming copyright infringement of intellectual property, although the intellectualness of this property is really very minimal. Perhaps it’s this minimalistic style that has everyone hoping for a hoodie, but doesn’t that bring up another question? How minimalistic does intellectual property go? Does it go as far as a diamond shape in the middle of a colored shirt? Sure it seems they look similar, but when something is so simple, it’s easy to believe that someone else might accidentally come up with the same minimal design. Therefore, argue all you want about copyright infringement, but willful copyright infringement seems a stretch. I mean, who looks at the Power Rangers’ suits and says, “Those are outstanding, let’s risk getting sued to make hoodies that look like Power Rangers”. I hope this is not the case, but either way, there will be a case and many peoples’ time will be wasted.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Did You Know These Facts about Sesame Street?

Bert (right) and Ernie (left) with his rubber ...Image via WikipediaSesame Street and its characters are some of the most beloved entities on television today. The program has taught millions of kids about spelling, counting, letters and other important information in a fun and interesting way. Most adults would recognize Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and other characters, but few would know the following facts about one of the most popular and respected children’s programs on TV today.

The Name of the Show
Have you ever wondered where the program’s title – Sesame Street – originated from? It’s actually the idea of one of the writers that began working on the show before it began. The word “sesame” refers to the old Arabian fable in which the phrase “Open Sesame” is repeated several times. The word “sesame” was a word that elicited excitement and the word “street” applied to the image of the urban street on which the show was set.

Different Character Colors
Over the years, there were many changes to the characters on Sesame Street. But during the first couple years, there were some dramatic changes. For one thing, Oscar used to be orange instead of the dirty green that we know him as today. Grover also changed from a brown color to the blue color that he is now.

Cookie Monster Existed before Sesame Street
Many fans of Sesame Street may think that the Cookie Monster originated on the kid’s TV program. But he actually started in a General Foods commercial and an IBM training film several years before Sesame Street began. He was also in a commercial for Munchos where he had the name “Arnold the Munching Monster.” However, Sesame Street softened up his image to be more appealing to kids by removing his big sharp teeth and other features that could potentially be frightening to them.

Muppets Weren’t Always Featured
Before Sesame Street was televised, the pilot was tested in a focus group comprised of families. The pilot only had one sketch featuring Muppets, which happened to be Bert and Ernie. This sketch was the only one that the focus group actually enjoyed. As a result, the entire show went through a transformation to focus heavily on the Muppets with human interactions occurring throughout each episode.
Changed Names

Barkley is one of the lesser used characters in Sesame Street, but he has a recognizable face. However, he wasn’t always known as Barkley. For the first few appearances, he was actually named Woof Woof.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Four Awesome and Memorable Schoolhouse Rock Episodes

Schoolhouse Rock!Image via WikipediaIf you grew up during the 1970s and 1980s, you probably remember the catchy Schoolhouse Rock cartoons that would come on during the Saturday morning cartoon times. You probably also learned a lot about several topics, including how a legislative bill gets created and passed, how to determine what an adjective is and much more. There were dozens of Schoolhouse Rock episodes throughout the years, but some stick out more than others for being more memorable and catchy. Here are a few of those that you may remember the most.

One of the most memorable Schoolhouse Rock episodes is entitled Three is a Magic Number. This was the debut episode of the Schoolhouse Rock series in 1973 and it was sung and written by Bob Dorough. It talks about the various traits of the number 3. It was also voted as one of the top ten of the 30th anniversary edition and the band Blind Melon remade the song for an updated Schoolhouse Rocks album in the 1990s.

This is memorable because both the tune and the title is catchy. This episode aired for the first time in 1973 and the song was written by Bob Dorough and sung by Jack Sheldon and Terry Morel. The cartoon shows a train engineer hooking boxcars to each other with verbal conjunctions. The memories were revived in recent years when Glee featured it in one of its episodes. This was also voted as the best song in the entire series for the 30th anniversary edition.

The Preamble
In efforts to teach kids about the basics of our government, The Preamble debuted in 1976. The lyrics in this song talk about – you guessed it – the Preamble to our United States Constitution. In order to match a rhyming scheme, however, a small section of the Preamble had to be left out. This was voted number 6 of the best songs for the 30th anniversary edition.

Where the Money Goes
Season 6 of Schoolhouse Rock was in the 1990s and the season, like previous seasons focused on a particular topic. This particular season focused on managing money and other money topics to help teach kids about spending it responsibly. Where the Money Goes is an episode that debuted in 1995 and it involves a father telling his son about the various expenses that a family has to consider when spending money.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Five Life Lessons We Can Learn from Peanuts

Charles Schultz created one of the most recognized characters in the history or comics. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Pigpen are four names synonymous with the Peanuts comic strip and cartoons. While many of the Peanuts comics and televised cartoon may seem like they are just silly story lines designed for kids, there are many things we can learn from watching these cartoons and the characters included in these cartoons. Here are five life lessons we can take away from Peanuts.

Persistence is a Key to Success
One of the most famous and well-known gimmicks in the Peanuts comics and cartoons is the one in which Lucy holds the football for Charlie Brown to run and kick. At the last second, Lucy always pulls away the football and Charlie goes flying into the air and lands on his back. But even though he knew this was going to happen, at least in the back of his mind, he always tried it. He never let his past failures discourage him from trying again. If many of us were more like Charlie Brown and we continued to try things despite past failures, we many accomplish more of our dreams and goals.

Being a Hesitant but Effective Leader
Many of us have been in crisis situations where a leader was sorely needed but nobody stepped up to take that responsibility. In “Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown,” Charlie is in a situation in which a leader was needed to take charge of the situation. There are times in our life when we need to step up to lead during a crisis or other situation and despite our hesitations, we can be a successful leader and realize traits within ourselves that we never knew existed.

Character is Often Displayed by Actions
There are several different character traits that the Peanuts characters displayed in various situations. But many times, their character came out through their words. Woodstock, however, never spoke. The little yellow bird had great character and we always knew his intentions because of his actions. We can say anything we want to try to persuade people about our character, but our actions are what really show who we are regardless of the words that come out of our mouth.

There is Strength in Friends
One of the best things you can have in life is a few good friends. Peanuts shows us this many times. Despite their differences and the arguments they have, they still stuck together especially when times got tough. Do you have friends in life who you can say this about? If so, consider yourself a lucky person to have friends that stick close when there are difficult times in your life, just like the characters in this cartoon.

Listening to Others is Important
Another popular thing about the Peanuts is Lucy’s psychiatric practice. For only five cents, she would listen to all of your problems. She may give horrible and even insulting advice, but she still listened. In life, if you can learn to listen more than you talk, you will accomplish a lot.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Seven Facts Hardcore Fans Know about The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper

Cast of characters in The Big Bang Theory. Fro...Image via WikipediaSheldon Cooper is one of TV’s most famous and beloved nerds. He’s also one of the more unique characters to grace our TV screens in quite some time. His quirks make him a lovable figure and his overly analytical mind and social awkwardness simply adds to his lovability. If you are a hardcore fan of The Big Bang Theory, you may or may not already know these facts about Dr. Cooper.

• Sheldon Cooper has several phobias, both common and uncommon. Some of Sheldon’s phobias that have been mentioned or alluded to on the show include autophobia, which is the fear of being alone and scelerophobia, which is the fear of criminals and burglars. He also has cynophobia, which is the fear of dogs, mysophobia, which is the fear of dirt and germs, and ornithophobia, which is the fear of birds. He clearly has others, but these are the ones that are confirmed by being mentioned in one or more episodes.

• Sheldon Cooper has an IQ of 187 and he completed the fifth grade at the age of 11. At this age, he also entered college. At age 14, he entered graduate school and he obtained his first Ph.D. by the age of 16. In addition, he was the youngest recipient of the Stevenson Award at age 14 and a half, but that honor was usurped by Dennis Kim.

• Cooper’s three favorite films and TV shows include Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and Star Trek. His favorite Star Trek character is, of course, Mr. Spock.

• Sheldon is a “card carrying member” of many organizations. Three of those organizations include the Justice League of America, the Museum of Natural History and a local planetarium (the specific location is never mentioned).

• His favorite movie Catwoman is Julie Newmar and his least favorite movie Catwoman is Halle Berry.

• Sheldon has a twin sister whom we meet in one episode. Her name is Missy and the other three guys in the group find her extremely attractive. He also has a brother which we never meet and he has been left unnamed to this point.

• Sheldon is allergic to cats and bees and he also has a few medical conditions and traits, including OCD, asthma, and eidetic memory. However, he likes to emphasize that he is “not crazy” because his mother had him tested for insanity during his younger days.

Sheldon Cooper is one of the best characters on TV and he offers many belly laughs for viewers.
Shirts Sheldon Has Worn