Saturday, April 28, 2012

Three Current Incarnations of The Beverly Hilllbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies (film)
The Beverly Hillbillies (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Clampett family on The Beverly Hillbillies is one of the most well known families in sitcom history. If you’ve never seen this iconic show, it is basically about a family from the deep south that strikes it rich one day when the patriarch of the family – Jed Clampett – is out hunting one day and strikes oil, or Texas Tea as it’s called in the show’s theme song. As a result of their newfound wealth, they move to Beverly Hills where their deep south lifestyle clashes with the upscale culture. Although that show is decades old, there are several TV shows today with the same premise.

Bayou Billionaires:
This TV show on CMT is more like a reality show than a sitcom, but it has the same idea that The Beverly Hillbillies had. It follows the Dowden family that struck it rich when they found oil in their backyard a few years ago. Since then, they have been trying to find new and exciting ways to spend their money. The patriarch and matriarch of the family has made sure that their family tags along and they have taken financial care of their kids and grandkids in addition to spending their money.

Duck Dynasty:
This show is a little different in that the Robertson family created a duck call product that turned into a multimillion dollar company. The company they created is owned and operated by the family which often creates a multitude of problems. One of the most popular phrases from one of the premiere episodes is when the CEO of the company yells at his family and says, “I’d wish I could fire you, but you’re kin to me!” The family, which lives in southern Louisiana, finds fun ways to spend its money. In one episode, they build one of the most elaborate duck blinds that money can buy, reminiscent of some of the antics of the Clampett family.

My Big Redneck Vacation:
This show follows a group of self-proclaimed rednecks on a vacation in the Hamptons. The two cultures clash when the family from Shreveport, Louisiana, which includes several brothers and sisters and their children, invades one of the most upscale communities on the eastern seaboard. The family is shown some of the ways of the elite but they also teach the Hamptonites a few things of their own, including the art of mudding when hurricane-like weather hits the vacation spot. When the family leaves, they have made some good friends with the people they spent their vacation with despite their rough beginnings.

The fact that there are so many shows on TV today that echo the idea behind the Beverly Hillbillies is a testament to the iconic sitcom’s staying power and timelessness. But as always, the original is always much better than the imitators.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Three Important Things We Can Learn from the Rocky Series

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Sylvester Stallone has permanently cemented himself into pop culture forever with the series of six Rocky movies that he has starred in over the last few decades. And regardless of what you think about his mental fortuity, these movies actually have many life lessons that we can use for encouragement, learning about ourselves and more. While you won’t learn much about acting skills from watching Stallone,  you can learn a lot by listening to what he has to say, including the following lessons.

1. Life is Tough
In Rocky 6, Balboa is talking to his son about how life is unfair. He tells him that the world isn’t “all sunshine and rainbows” and that it will “beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.” Everybody knows that the world is a tough place, but the last four words of this phrase are the most important part of what he has to say – “if you let it.” We can let life beat us down with everything that goes on, but we don’t have to let it keep us down permanently. It’s up to you to keep getting back up once you get beat down. How many times did Rocky get beat down – both in the ring and in his personal life – and how many times did he get back up? He never stayed down.

2. Don’t play the blame game
There is a lot of truth in what Rocky tells his son in Rocky 6. At one point, Balboa tells his son that he has to get “out there” and get what he’s worth. But in fighting to get what he’s worth, he has to be “willing to take the hits” and he has to do it without “pointing fingers” and blaming others for not being where he wants to be. Only cowards play the blame game when things don’t turn out like they planned and you aren’t going to make any progress in life if you don’t responsibility for where you are. It’s going to be tough getting where you want to be, but it’s up to you to keep fighting until you achieve your goals.

3. Believe in yourself
This might sound like a cliché, but most clichés are based on a basic truth. Rocky says that you aren’t going to have a life “until you start believing in yourself.” The truth is that your mind automatically searches for evidence of the things you believe. If you believe that pizza is a healthy food, you are going to search for evidence that supports this belief. The same is true when you believe in yourself or if you don’t believe in yourself. Whichever you believe, your mind will find supporting evidence to make that belief stronger.  
Sylvester Stallone has permanently cemented himself into pop culture forever with the series of six Rocky movies that he has starred in over the last few decades. And regardless of what you think about his mental fortuity, these movies actually have many life lessons that we can use for encouragement, learning about ourselves and more. While you won’t learn much about acting skills from watching Stallone,  you can learn a lot by listening to what he has to say, including the following lessons.

1. Life is Tough
In Rocky 6, Balboa is talking to his son about how life is unfair. He tells him that the world isn’t “all sunshine and rainbows” and that it will “beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.” Everybody knows that the world is a tough place, but the last four words of this phrase are the most important part of what he has to say – “if you let it.” We can let life beat us down with everything that goes on, but we don’t have to let it keep us down permanently. It’s up to you to keep getting back up once you get beat down. How many times did Rocky get beat down – both in the ring and in his personal life – and how many times did he get back up? He never stayed down.

2. Don’t play the blame game
There is a lot of truth in what Rocky tells his son in Rocky 6. At one point, Balboa tells his son that he has to get “out there” and get what he’s worth. But in fighting to get what he’s worth, he has to be “willing to take the hits” and he has to do it without “pointing fingers” and blaming others for not being where he wants to be. Only cowards play the blame game when things don’t turn out like they planned and you aren’t going to make any progress in life if you don’t responsibility for where you are. It’s going to be tough getting where you want to be, but it’s up to you to keep fighting until you achieve your goals.

3. Believe in yourself
This might sound like a cliché, but most clichés are based on a basic truth. Rocky says that you aren’t going to have a life “until you start believing in yourself.” The truth is that your mind automatically searches for evidence of the things you believe. If you believe that pizza is a healthy food, you are going to search for evidence that supports this belief. The same is true when you believe in yourself or if you don’t believe in yourself. Whichever you believe, your mind will find supporting evidence to make that belief stronger.

The Rocky franchise may be one of the best series of movies in the history of film if you explore what the movies have to say and their cultural impact. Have you learned any lessons from watching Rocky?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

One Blooth at a Time

Jason Bateman
Every fan obsessed, mildly or dangerously, has heard about the resurrection of the ground-breaking TV series Arrested Development. If you haven’t, the briefest way to tell the story is that Netflix is smarter than any other TV network, distribution company, video rental outlet, or online video streaming site on the planet. They’re going to be running a new season of the show steaming, and we’ve just learned some new details about how the show’s creators have teamed up with Netflix to bring this great show to the craved and crazed fan base in a very unique and fun way.

The creator of Arrested Development, Mitchell Hurwitz, has found a way to work around the inevitable scheduling conflicts he ran into when trying to bring back all of the actors for the show, many of which enjoyed outstanding film and TV careers after the show was taken off the air. Some were even able to launch their career completely, like Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat, bringing them success on other great shows and some great films. For others, like Jason Bateman, it resurrected careers blasting them into near A list status. Bateman and Cera have provided Netflix with many great film gems over the past few years to distribute through their company, so it’s only fitting that they help continue the show’s prominence.

Hurwitz is going to focus the first few episodes on following individual characters, and to focus on where they have gone and what they have done since we last saw them. As sort of an “anthology”, the show will give us a glimpse at the characters we love through a more focused method. This was done so they didn’t have to bring all the actors in all at once at the beginning, because of all the insane scheduling conflicts. To begin with, Will Arnett and David Cross are on other shows right now, and Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, and Jeffrey Tambor are busy actors all over town.

The most interesting thing about the way Netflix will present the show is that all episodes will be available all at once. So if you wanted, the viewer could watch the episodes all at once, getting a full story in a bunch. It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see how this method works out, and could very well bring us into a new stage of TV show distribution.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lost Sense of Community

Chevy Chase at a panel for Community at PaleyF...
It was only a matter of time before Chevy’s Chase’s genuine
personality came out, you know, that one that we all love from his
movies. (Sarcasm) According to him, in a recent voicemail rant to
Community creator Dan Harmon, he has been people laugh for years a lot
better than he is on the show Community. Yes, that’s right, there was
a voicemail leaked of Chevy Chase ranting to the show’s creator about
how he’s been edited out of the show too much in recent episodes. It’s
an old story from a typical old comedian who’s been the sideshow for a
little longer than he’s used to, but nonetheless it’s a sad story. I
love Chevy Chase, probably more than most people do, so it was really
annoying to me to hear him go on like the typical non-team player in
Hollywood. He forgot his roots. Remember when he first came on the
scene as the “stage manager” in the Belushi-starring sketch to lead
off the first Saturday Night Live? The sketch was all Belushi, and
when Belushi fell to the ground in wonderful slap stick style, Chevy
Chase came out and said “Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night.”
That was it, and it was funny, and it wasn’t about him.

The show Community is an ensemble cast, with some very funny young
actors, some who could be Chevy Chase’s grand children, and everyone
shares the screen. There are some clearer main characters, such as
Joel McHale’s Jeff Winger, and Gillian Jacobs’s Britta Perry. They’ve
been working a much less annoying Ross and Rachel situation with the
two, and Chase expresses some annoyance with this storyline in his
rant. He speaks about how nobody cares about the storyline, they only
want to see funny stuff. This is an odd statement from a man who made
a living with funny, family oriented movies with storylines and
everything. Yes we watch Christmas Vacation because it’s funny, but we
also watch it every season because we like seeing his family come
together at the end, and the constant struggle of Chase’s character to
gain respect from his family as the new host of the family Christmas.
The different was -- Chase was the star of that movie.

Now, Chase is a supporting role. Something he didn’t do much of after
Saturday Night Live, but let’s not forget that this role has
undoubtedly resurrected his career. He’s gained a following from a
whole new generation, and regained respect from fans who felt
short-changed by some of his subpar movies. Let’s hope it was a just a
momentary prima dona brain fart, and Chevy will be back to making
people laugh whenever he is given the chance.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Four of the Funniest Family Guy Side Characters

While main characters in a sitcom are the most important part of the storyline and TV show, there are times when side characters present a new element. They also take the comedy up a notch and sometimes steal the scenes. In Family Guy, there are many side characters that make the episodes in which they appear even funnier than the already are. Here are some of the funniest Family Guy side characters that offer some of the biggest belly laughs.

Seamus
Family Guy always goes the extra mile for a laugh and Seamus, the pirate that has two peg legs and two peg arms is just one example of that. He usually pops up in scenes with a weird word of advice for Peter and the group. He also tends to have charts stashed in his peg arms for when a visual piece of advice is needed. But he is also funny because of the irony. The legless pirate tries an attempt at stand up comedy. Does it get more ironic than that?

Mort Goldman
Family Guy pushes the envelope when it comes to stereotypes and there is no better example for that than Mort Goldman. He embodies every Jewish stereotype that is played up in pop culture, such as his constant belief that he is suffering from a terminal illness. He also owns the town’s pharmacy and is a very successful businessman.

Jake Tucker
This Family Guy side character has possibly the most unforgettable appearance of any character on TV. He has an upside down face with his mouth where is eyes are supposed to be and vice versa. His nose is also upside down. He’s is the son of Quahog news anchor Tom Tucker, who is a great side character himself.

Many shows have wacky doctors which provide great comedy lines, but Family Guy’s Dr. Elmer Hartman is one of the best. His dialogue is extremely witty as he says comments that are often misconstrued as diagnoses, such as “You’ll be dead within a week” followed by a completely benign explanation in which the doctor was reading a Hagar the Horrible comic strip and he was simply making a comment on the pillager’s lifestyle.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ron Burgundy is Back

On Conan O’Brien’s cable late night show on TBS called Conan, (sometimes it’s fun to clarify) Will Ferrell entered near the band and started playing “yazz” flute. He was dressed to the nines in what appeared to be some kind of red velvet or suede suit -- Ron Burgundy’s signature attire. Sure enough below his nose and above his lip laid the Twinkie sized mustache famous for catching ill-advised drops of milk on a hot day. His hair was bushy and swept aside like the way Donald Trump wished his hair would look. With some comical gyrations emphasizing some passionate flute playing, made more comical by the obvious sound dubbing going on when Ferrell would stop blowing and the flute sound would continue, Ron Burgundy was on stage performing in the flesh, and there wasn’t a single person in the crowd who wasn’t on the edge of their seat. I mean I wasn’t there, but I was on the edge
of my seat, so…


The fact is Ron Burgundy just has a way with us the audience, simply because you never know what kind of hilarity will ensue with him, and the advantage to his character is that he’s always funny. So you know the next thing he’s going to do is going to be funny. Then the next thing, then the next thing, etc. Well apparently Will Ferrell is no idiot, and Paramount is no idiot, because they are banking on that very concept.

After the lively flute playing, Ron Burgundy himself announced his own return to the silver screen, making it very clear that there will be a sequel to Anchorman, one of the most widely loved comedies ever made in the world. (Hear Ron Burgundy saying that last sentence. Funnier, right?) After the announcement he played himself off the stage and into the wings with incredible fake “yazz” flute playing, leaving all of us frothing at the mouth in anticipation for the upcoming movie
experience. It’s going to be wild and wonderful, no matter how it compares to the first. One thing is almost certain, with the early buzz and the remaining popularity of the first installment, the
Anchorman sequel will almost surely challenge box office records for an R rated comedy. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who would not go see that movie during its opening weekend. Let the marketing begin, which should be hilarious by itself, even though they probably don’t even need it.