Clearing Out The DVR: March Madness Edition
by Chauncey Telese
Hello everyone, happy spring, and I hope as always all is well. March Madness is in full swing and we’ve already had a plethora of upsets that have destroyed all five of my brackets (especially Missouri) but my bets on Kansas and Baylor are still alive so I don’t feel like a complete idiot.
The NBA trade deadline came and went and the Lakers traded Fisher (who has since signed with the Thunder which could potentially be the deciding factor for them winning a title) and my Laker flag is still at half mast (and I may or may not have poured a forty on the curb). Howard is still on the Magic because his addiction to drama is potentially greater then his ability to rebound and miss free throws in crunch time. The Warriors hit rock bottom (and after reading Simmons’s column I’m shocked it took them this long to boo the owner) and Ricky Rubio is out for the year.
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In the NFL, free agency is in full swing after the Bucs spent a ton of money and are now in a position to compete again, the Rams signed Cortland Finnegan and a slew of other free agents that I hope results in a better season (and assuming they don’t trade for Tebow, it should). The Broncos ended Manning Watch and, while I was at first reticent, I think it’s a good idea assuming Peyton is healthy and they keep making moves, this could be a great way to end his career. The league really pummeled the Saints (and by virtue of hiring Greg Williams the Rams) for running a bounty program and Brandon Marshall got traded to the Bears for two third-round picks (one for each of his personalities).
Mitt Romney may finally close the deal on the Republican nomination (then again, he’s like Jason Biggs in “American Pie” so he could still screw this up), because people are still discovering that Santorum is Ned Flanders without the gentleness and he has no shot at winning anything especially if he’s going to start attacking porn. Uh-oh one of Romney’s advisors just compared him to an Etch-A-Sketch, that was fast. Michael Bay announced that the Ninja Turtles will no longer be mutants but aliens (seriously?), Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are being rebooted as adults and, like the new “Lone Ranger,” will have to deal with supernatural elements. I’m sure Mark Twain has rolled over in his grave repeatedly.
Jonah Hill (and Tom Hanks’ goatee) crushed it on SNL and I can’t wait for April when Sofia Vergara and Josh Brolin host. “Archer” (with Bryan Cranston) went into the danger zone, “Community” is back, and Olivia Wilde will be back for the “House” finale. And finally, HBO has cancelled “Luck” due to three horses dying and issues involving their conditions so we won’t talk about it this week but there will be a eulogy for their series finale.
Due to the cancellation of “Luck” our weekly trek across the TV landscape will be altered a little. We will have a double dose of our usual journeys and I will also review my first movie of 2012, “21 Jump Street.” Also, in the coming weeks we will add “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones” as well as more movies because now some interesting stuff is starting to come out (i.e. “Hunger Games”, “American Reunion”). So, let’s get this journey started in Myrtle Beach with a double shot of “Eastbound and Down”.
“Eastbound and Down : Chapters 17 and 18”
These are hard times for Kenny Powers, first April leaves him with baby Toby, then his team brings in Russian phenomenon Ivan, and then Shane dies. Kenny deserves all of the bad karma he can get and it’s fascinating to watch him dodge reality. “Chapter 17” deals with Shane’s funeral and how Kenny ostensibly makes it about him. This was a particularly grim episode and, while I enjoyed Kenny making a grandstanding speech and then busting out a boom box playing “Alive” by Pearl Jam,” it was a half-hour of TV that was more compelling than funny. It was cool to see Shane’s twin brother (also played by Jason Sudekis) be the polar opposite of Shane and he totally calls Kenny out on being the sociopathic jerk that he is (Kenny doesn’t bother to call 911 to possibly save Shane, steals his truck, and even wants Shane’s brother to channel Shane and delivering a stirring speech). His brother won’t have any of it, especially after Kenny uses him to pull an elaborate and mean prank on Shane’s ex-girlfriend (that was messed up, but I’ll admit I laughed).
Stevie, who has always been the innocent in all of Kenny’s shenanigans breaks bad by openly reveling in his rival dying (and taking pictures with him and Shane’s corpse at the wake) and cheating on his wife by revenge banging Shane’s sister. The only difference is that he is immediately remorseful and that carries on to “Chapter 18”. Also, during the montage at the end of the show we see Kenny reading Toby a censored version of the Penthouse forum (not gonna lie, I was on the floor laughing at that) and we see that Toby’s room has gone from a kid’s room to a black light stoner palace. And Kenny’s phone in the middle of the road receives a call from April…uh-oh! She doesn’t come back in “Chapter 18” but another figure in Kenny’s life does. Don Johnson returns as Kenny’s father Eduardo Sanchez and we first see him and his friend Casper steal from a touristy gift shop. Eduardo, of course, was stealing those souvenirs to surprise Kenny and work in ulterior motive which is to get hooked back up with Kenny’s mom (more on that later).
Meanwhile, Kenny tries to win back control of the team (as if he had it before) by throwing the Fourth of July party of the century. The problem is Ivan is hosting a party at a swanky club and DJing (under the name DJ Blu Ray). Kenny scoffs and says that his party will be better because he’s DJ Laser Disc. Kenny works tirelessly (by his standards) to make the party as awesome as he can but, because it’s Kenny, it’s a disaster. He dons a pimped-out Uncle Sam suit but he’s only accompanied by Casper, Stevie, and some hookers and no one else. The party is a bust so Kenny does the only mature thing he can do, get really high and go bust up Ivan’s party. Kenny rolls in and tries to bust up Ivan’s set (by the way Ivan’s party is awesome) but he assumes by berating DJ Blu Ray that everyone will come to his side. He is embarrassed but luckily La Flama Blanca had a Plan B. As he leaves, he sets off Roman Candles breaking up the party.
Stevie told his wife about how he cheated on her and she doesn’t take the news well, causing an already guilty Stevie to take drastic actions. He pulls a Shane in “The Walking Dead” and shaves his head bald (looking creepier then Shane did). Eduardo tells Kenny that he would be better off pawning Toby on someone else so that his career and life can get back on track. The episode ends with a dramatic reveal of Kenny’s mom at a bowling alley and they don’t show who plays her until the last possible minute and then the camera shows us the Mrs. Powers is played by Lily Tomlin. Overall, this episode was fantastic and with four episodes left I’m sure the curve balls will keep coming.
Up next on our weekly excursion, a double dose of Gallagher family drama.
“Shameless: Hurricane Monica/ A Great Cause”
One of the more interesting dynamics of the Gallagher house is the feelings regarding their mother, Monica. The kids hate her for abandoning them and Frank hates her too but he’s still drawn to her (as are the younger kids for that matter). Last season she showed up trying to take Liam back but the kids fought back. Now she’s returned to make amends and become a part of the fold again. Fiona is vehemently against this but she needs her help because Lip is couch-hopping. To Fiona’s surprise Monica is basically all in on being a mom again and Fiona finds herself getting sucked back in. Monica takes Ian out to a club, she makes lunches for Carl and Debbie, and does all sorts of work around the house (and yes hooks back up with Frank). Monica comes into everyone’s life as the episode indicates a hurricane and that upped the drama this season considerably. This all culminates in a late night party that goes from the Alibi Room to the Gallagher living room where they crank up the music. Fiona goes to stop the party but Frank reminds her that she got to have the good memories of Monica and Debbie and Carl didn’t so they deserve something. This harkens back to early season one where Fiona would occasionally let go and just party with Frank regardless of how she felt.
Once the hurricane is over though Monica returns to her selfish ways by getting off her meds and stealing from the squirrel fund they’ve worked all summer to build up. True, Lip borrows from it too but he earned some of it, and also true Fiona should’ve hid it somewhere else. Fiona is understandably devastated by all of this because she allowed herself to get stuck in the vicious cycle again. Meanwhile, Ian gets rejected by all of the branches of the military because he’s too young and Carl gets into a car accident and is taken to the police station. This scene worked really well because Carl rarely gets to be anything more then a future delinquent but here he shows genuine shame and disappointment. I’d be remiss if I didn’t get to talk more about how Steve is keeping this show from taking off so rather then get into detail I’ll just say that he’s just getting creepy and more unlikeable. The show has two episodes left for the year and I’m not sure where it’s going but I’m sure something will propel Monica out and something major will go down and we may lose somebody.
Next up, we head to Harlan where tensions are running high and Quarles comes undone.
“Justified: Loose Ends/ A Guy Walks into a Bar”
I’ve been waiting all year for Robert Quarles to show who he really is and over the last two episodes it’s revealed how damaged and essentially out of his element he really is. All season he’s tried various ways to infiltrate Harlan and make money running a traveling oxy ring. At every turn he’s realized he underestimated Raylan and Boyd who know the lay of the land way better then he does and beat him with ease. Quarles’s latest plan is to rig the election for county sheriff and run his operation through the sheriff’s office. Boyd gets wind of this and he finds his own candidate in Shelby who Boyd helped when he worked in the mine last year. Boyd goes to Limehouse for some help in rigging the election and because Limehouse seems to know everyone, he has the best campaign advisor in Harlan (and later, the county clerk). They try to rig the debate and in a moment evocative of Mags Bennett’s hellfire speech about the Blackpike deal last season, Boyd tells of the corruption that a vote against Shelby would bring. This seems to work for the short term. Meanwhile, Ava finds a way to establish herself as more then the girl behind Boyd. In fact, in the beginning Raylan tries to warn her about who Boyd really is and she not only knows but loves it. She is tired of the abuse towards women that Delroy the pimp causes so, after taking in one of her girls, she gets Delroy to come to Boyd’s bar (seemingly at the behest of Jonny). She offers Delroy the girl back and when he agrees she blasts him away with a shotgun. Johnny immediately realizes that Ava has more power and sway over Boyd then he does.
When she reveals to Boyd what she’s done, he tells her that Delroy paid them protection money but she counters with the fact that now they can control the prostitution in Harlan, adding more revenue. Boyd is shocked that she’d do this but is intrigued none the less. Raylan is trying to mitigate the looming danger in Harlan and when he visits Limehouse and tries to get him to stop playing both sides, Limehouse tries to provoke Raylan by taking cheap shots at his dad. Raylan doesn’t care but then Limehouse talks about Raylan’s mom causing him to leave by simply proclaiming “so be it”. Getting back to Quarles for a moment, the night before the election, the sheriffs try to plant evidence against Shelby. They wake him up and he walks out wielding his shotgun telling them that he has cancer (a lie) and wouldn’t mind taking one of them with him. They back off and Shelby proves he’s a badass. On election night, Boyd offers watered-down bourbon and favors from Ava’s girls to win. They lose, of course, but luckily Boyd is like Hannibal on the A-Team and always has a Plan B. He gets the sheriff’s estranged sister to take a minor administrative job, causing the election to be on hold due to a violation of Kentucky’s anti-nepotism laws (Boyd’s a genius).
Quarles is enraged and Boyd gloats about how Quarles is a conquistador except that he is not going to defeat the savages. This sends him on a downward trend of oxy snorting (ala Kenny Powers) and when a young man comes to kill him on behalf of a guy Quarles killed, we learn who Robert Quarles really is. He’s not the sophisticated master criminal he wants to be but a damaged soul who is just a few steps away from being a monster. His father was a heroin addict who prostituted a young Quarles to make money for his addiction. Quarles reveals that he killed his dad and ever since has worked to set men of the night free (and by free, he means killing them). Quarles has officially gone off the reservation and it’s interesting to see Winn Duffy react, as he realizes more and more what a dumb idea it was to get tangled up with this guy.
Raylan is trying to come up with a way to keep Dickie in prison, but he’s at a loss and when he and the owner of the bar he’s staying at try to come up with a speech, Quarles enters the bar with Winn. Raylan goes to confront them and Quarles tries to provoke him into a fight. It works and Quarles tells him that he will kill him one day and Raylan just responds with “why wait?” This leads to a stand off (after he clears out the bar of course) and before anything can go down, the bartender holds her shotgun on Quarles and he leaves. Raylan and the girl hook up and she says that being threatened like that “is a consequence of the job or just being Raylan”. The episode ends with Quarles setting the kid who tried to kill him free and Raylan allowing Judge Reardon to let Dickie go because he’ll just be back in jail anyway. With three episodes left in the season, Quarles is finally going to be the monster he wants to be and I’m not sure if Shelby will just be a pawn for Boyd or where Limehouse stands in all of this.
Turning away from TV, I will now debut my first movie review of 2012 with what I think is the best action comedy in a while, “21 Jump Street”.
“21 Jump Street: The Hill and Tatum Show”
I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about the show outside of the premise (young cops infiltrate high schools) and that it helped launch Johnny Depp’s career. I also knew that Jonah Hill was a huge fan and now he gets to make his dream a reality (and why not, he’s coming off an Oscar nomination). The story is that in high school Schmidt (Hill) was an Eminem wannabe (or as Tatum’s Jenko calls him, “Not-So-Slim Shady”) and high school nerd. Jenko was the popular jock and when high school ended, they entered the police academy and became friends out of necessity. They graduate together and are dismayed when they are put on bike duty guarding the city park. After a failed drug bust (due to Jenko’s stupidity and Schmidt’s lack of physical prowess) they are reprimanded by their chief (played by Ron Swanson himself Nick Offerman) but are transferred to the 21 Jump Street operation (great meta joke by Offerman who says that it is being revived because people are out of ideas and don’t think people will notice). Schmidt and Jenko go to the unit (headquartered in an abandoned Korean church) where their captain (played by a hilariously foul-mouthed Ice Cube) assigns them to a high school to find a designer drug.
Jenko is excited because he assumes he’ll be popular again and Schmidt is scared he’ll be a nerd again. They are surprised to find out how much high school has changed as it’s cool to care about school and be vegan environmentalists who view sports as fascism and that kids wear their backpacks with both straps. Jenko is all of a sudden the outcast and Schmidt is the cool kid and gets in with the leader (played by a hilarious David Franco) and his friend Molly (Brie Larson). Jenko screws up by taking Schmidt’s identity, placing him in all of the nerdy classes and Schmidt gets to be popular.
That’s the basic plot of the movie and while that is entertaining, the real treat is watching the chemistry between Hill and Tatum. They both hosted SNL this year and, while I wasn’t impressed with Tatum on the show, here he was awesome. He plays the moronic Jenko with childlike glee (I love how he has no clue what Miranda rights are) and that he is just never as cool as he thinks he is. The supporting characters are great (highlighted by Rob Riggle, Ellie Kempler, and Ice Cube) and the action is more high-octane then I would’ve thought. There is a major surprise towards the end that had me laughing to no end and ultimately is nothing but entertaining.
Okay, thank you for reading and stay tuned as next week I go back in time to visit Sterling Cooper Draper Price and the “Mad Men” premiere, we give “Luck” its last rights, cover the further shenanigans of the Gallagher family, Kenny Powers, and the goings on in Harlan. Also, I see the “Hunger Games” and attend “An American Reunion.”