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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 103: Comedy catch-up

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 103: Comedy catch-up

Dan and Alan check in on a whole lot of primetime comedy, including 'How I Met Your Mother,' 'Community' and 'The Office'


As a bookend to last week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast drama catch-up, Dan and I decided to check in on how we're feeling about a whole bunch of comedies right now, which means another mega-podcast touching on lots and lots of shows, plus a brief revisit of "Homeland" in light of what happened in last night's episode.

The line-up: 

"How I Met Your Mother" (01:35 - 10:50)
"2 Broke Girls" (10:50 - 19:05)
"New Girl" (19:05 - 25:00)
"Suburgatory" (25:00 - 30:05)
"Modern Family" (30:05 - 34:50)
Justin Verlander winning AL MVP (34:50 - 37:50)
"Happy Endings" (38:05 - 42:50)
The shelving of "Cougar Town" and "Community" (42:50 - 52:00)
"Community" (52:00 - 01:01:25)
"Parks and Rec" (01:01:30 - 01:08:50)
"The Office" (01:08:50 - 01:19:14)
"Always Sunny" (01:19:20 - 01:23:55)
Listener Mail: Miscasting vs. Bad acting (01:23:55 - 01:28:45)
"Homeland" (01:28:50 - 01:38:00)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at and/or if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>Meg White of the White Stripes</p>

Meg White of the White Stripes

Credit: Third Man

Listen: John C. Reilly w/ Jack White, plus rare White Stripes make for a Third Man haul

New vinyl releases from White's imprint, including Edgar Oliver and merch galore

I gotta hand it to Jack White and his label Third Man's handlers. They make every vinyl release seem like an event. In a festively worded press release, Third Man announced its newest round of goodies, in time for Christmas, including rarities and singles from now-defunct White Stripes, from actor and musician John C. Reilly and from Edgar Oliver.

Check out clips of some of these below.

First, with Jack and Meg White's old band there are four records to be had, starting Dec. 6:

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<p>Tilda Swinton in a scene from &quot;We Need to Talk About Kevin&quot;</p>

Tilda Swinton in a scene from "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Off the Carpet: Deep breath before the critics have their say

It's screener season as precursor groups check off their 'to see' lists

Such a weird year for movies, this. I feel like it's been a rather weak one, to be honest. Not in terms of the quality of what's there, but in terms of the quantity of quality. And even then, I note that so many of my favorite movies this year carry that designation with more caveats than normal.

Yet I really am enjoying 2011 in cinema, or at least, I'm enjoying my favorite movies from the year quite a bit. And it's interesting to note so many of them are all about a state of mind. "Rampart," "Shame," "Drive," "Take Shelter," "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," all films that play in the abstract and put the viewer into a character's frame of perception, at times painting a bit of a dreamscape to do so. Fascinating.

Where the art is meeting commerce, there are still joys to be had. "The Descendants" opened this weekend and landed on my doorstep this morning. Even though I was cooler on it than most at Telluride over two months ago, I find myself eager to give it another look. "Young Adult" and "Hugo" are films that expect to be repeat viewings on my Blu-ray player when I get them, as will "Moneyball" and, most definitely, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

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Production still from 'Bellflower'
"Bellflower"'s Medusa
Credit: AP Photo/Oscilloscope

Bella versus 'Bellflower'

The 'Twilight' installment dominated the box office this weekend while the indie favorite made its way into homes

The color of love was a fetching blood red in both theaters and on VOD this weekend.

It's possible that two more divergent explorations of the agony and the ecstasy of love could be found. Possible. But the synchronistic release of the micro-budgeted, darkly masculine fantasy of love "Bellflower" vs. the blockbusting female fantasy "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" warrants a mention and a brief examination. The former represents an independent passion project 8 years in the making for writer/director/star Evan Glodell, while the latter represents the penultimate instillation in a YA phenomena.

Most readers will already be familiar with the general story structure of "Breaking Dawn," but for referential purposes: Bella and Edward get married. Jacob gets sad. Bella gets pregnant. Jacob gets mad. The werewolves turn against the Cullen vampires.The fetus threatens to drain Bella of her life from the inside out. Edward begs for death alongside his beloved. Bella learns to love the taste of blood, blooood, blooooooood! Jacob is forced to gag. All of this culminates in a frighteningly intimate c-section with teeth and Jacob "imprinting on" (aka falling in enslaving love with) an infant.

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<p>Johnny&nbsp;Depp at the Golden&nbsp;Globes in 2005</p>

Johnny Depp at the Golden Globes in 2005

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Oscarweb Round-up: HFPA don't need no stinkin' stars

Also: 'Descendants' screens for AMPAS and WB cranks 'Contagion' campaign

So the HFPA tapped Ricky Gervais last week as Golden Globes host despite cries from within that he went too far last year. Hell, even the organization's brass hit the stage THAT NIGHT to bemoan the comedian's taunts. Anyone with eyes can see it's a ratings grab, just like a number of the dubious nominations equate to star-f***ing over the years. They beg to differ on that, but come on: "While the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. takes the firm position that its members are not starstruck and an actor's place in Hollywood hierarchy doesn't mean anything when it comes to who'll appear at the org's kudocast, the list of recent noms may prove otherwise." [Variety]

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<p>Tom Hardy and Christian Bale each get their own EMPIRE&nbsp;cover this month as the 'Dark Knight Rises' hype train gets rolling</p>

Tom Hardy and Christian Bale each get their own EMPIRE cover this month as the 'Dark Knight Rises' hype train gets rolling

Credit: Empire/Warner Bros

Empire reveals official 'Dark Knight Rises' covers for Batman and Bane

Christian Bale and Tom Hardy get their close-ups for the magazine's new issue

I'm working reeeeeeeeeeeeal hard to pace myself.

If you're a "Dark Knight" addict, you've probably been mainlining paparazzi photos for months, to the point where you feel somewhat bloated and over it at this point.  I've been so careful not to do that to myself.  I am not the most ardent fan in the world of "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," but I do like them both quite a bit, and I'm absolutely ready to see how Nolan wraps up his time as the architect of Batman's fate.

As a comic fan, I am aware of the various battle lines that exist in fandom, and one of them is how you felt about Bane when he appeared in Batman comics.  If you don't know his storyline, I won't lay it out here, but I'll say that it was a fairly iconic move by DC, one that had some long-range impact on the entire DC world.  Like Venom is for Spider-Man, Bane represents a challenge that genuinely tested the hero in question, one that became a major player in the rogue's gallery rotation.  Bane appeared in Joel Schumacher's detestable "Batman In Rubber," and he was portrayed as a large grunting latex suit in a Mexican wrestler's mask who stood around in the background of scenes where Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger overacted.

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<p>David Hasselhoff, right, and Keenan Cahill dance onstage while LMFAO performs at the 39th Annual American Music Awards.</p>

David Hasselhoff, right, and Keenan Cahill dance onstage while LMFAO performs at the 39th Annual American Music Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

The Best and Worst of the 2011 American Music Awards

Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and more

The American Music Awards, held Sunday night, are to the Grammys what the Golden Globes are to the Oscars. To be sure, no one ever refuses one (unless you’re Garth Brooks), but it doesn’t carry the same weight. 

Most critics like to rag on the AMAs for good reason since so many performances feel prefabricated. To put it another way, if you created a drinking game where you had to take a shot every time you noticed a singer lip-syncing during the evening, you’d be three sheets to the wind 30 minutes in.

The AMAs used to be in January, but they were competing with the Grammys for artists and were getting lost in the glut of first quarter award shows, including the Golden Globes and Oscars. So in 2004, they moved to November and now are smartly positioned to give pop artists a good boost right before the official kick off of the holiday shopping season.

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Stana Katic on "Castle"

 Stana Katic on "Castle"

Credit: ABC

HitFix Interview: 'Castle''s Stana Katic says she thinks a Beckett and Castle romance could last

She talks about her character's struggle with PTSD

As determined detective Kate Beckett on "Castle," Stana Katic has plenty of experience playing with guns, chasing bad guys and problem solving. This Monday she'll be grappling with a whole new issue that hasn't been previously addressed on the show -- post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When Beckett finds herself facing a sniper, memories of her own shooting surface and send her into a downward spiral. I talked to Katic about Beckett's struggle, why Castle (Natha Fillion) is powerless to help and what she thinks the long term prospects for Beckett and Castle would be -- as  a couple. 

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"
Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' - 'Shower the Baby, Muzzle the Boy'

It's the husbands, not the housewives, who get into a fight this time

Tonight's episode promises to be thoroughly ridiculous, because the promos have made it clear that the big catfight of the evening will be taking place between, yes, the boys. Phaedra's husband Apollo and Cynthia's husband Peter are going to get into it in the girliest, most inappropriate setting they could find -- Kim's baby shower -- and I'm pretty sure that it's going to be lots of growling and posturing followed by low snarling and, ultimately, slinking off into respective corners with nothing having been resolved or accomplished. Unless they throw punches, in which case it will be a very interesting/incredibly stupid episode indeed. I mean, you've got to think twice about throwing a punch when there's a damn camera crew documenting it, right? 

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<p>Dominique McElligott in &quot;Hell on Wheels.&quot;</p>

Dominique McElligott in "Hell on Wheels."

Credit: AMC

'Hell on Wheels' - 'A New Birth of Freedom': When the whistle blows

Cullen and Lily meet, while Elam volunteers his men for more work

Well, there seems to be enough interest in discussing "Hell on Wheelsthat I'm going to keep these posts going for now. "A New Birth of Freedom" brings together Cullen and Lily, gives Elam more responsibility with the cut crew, and lets Doc Durant give another speech that's meant to be terribly persuasive but really isn't.  Oh, and it gave us more Swede, which is never a bad thing.

What did you guys think? Three episodes in, do you have a sense of the show's strengths and weakenesses? Are you enjoying it enough to continue? 

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<p>Jessica (Morena Baccarin)&nbsp;and Brody (Damian Lewis)&nbsp;enjoy a night out on &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>
<br />

Jessica (Morena Baccarin) and Brody (Damian Lewis) enjoy a night out on "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' - 'Achilles Heel': The good wives

The hunt is on for Tom Walker, and the Brodys enjoy a party

A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I replace a solid gold bust of Saddam Hussein with a Mr. Potato Head...

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<p>Marcus and Amani of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Marcus and Amani of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'It's Speedo Time'

In honor of Jean-Claude Van Damme, teams get greased up in Belgium
I dunno what to say about Sunday (November 20) night's "Amazing Race."
Every week I sit down to recap this show and every week, I write a full recap. Sometimes the recaps are poorly edited. Sorry. Some weeks the recaps are less inspired. Sorry for that as well. But a full recap gets posted every week, complete with a beginning -- intro and lead-up to the break -- a middle -- description of various challenges and whatnot -- and an end -- a few random observations and a bolded question asking what you thought of the episode.
Somehow, this season of "The Amazing Race" has lost all grasp on the beginning-middle-and-end narrative. After delivering the season's best episode last week, "The Amazing Race" limped back into its season-average form with the fourth time in nine episodes that the credits have rolled without a team going home. This week's episode -- not a Non-Elimination Leg, but one of the equally frustrating "Welcome to the Pit Stop, now continue with the Race" non-results -- ended the season's longest streak of episodes featuring an elimination at TWO.
That's just stupid and it has prevented me from getting any sort of emotional momentum in watching the Race. You should be watching every episode going "I hope my favorite teams don't get eliminated this week!" rather than "I wonder if anybody's going to be eliminated at all."
And Sunday's episode felt like an elimination-free Leg from very early on when it quickly became clear that too much time was being spent on too many things that weren't really placement factors, as the hour-mark got closer and closer and closer. I knew with 15 or 20 minutes left that there was no way the teams were all going to reach the Pit Stop by the end of the hour, so I had lots of time to marinate in frustrated anticipation. 
[I'll say this again: In isolation, an elimination-free Leg or two might tick me off a little, but my increased ire at this season has been the distribution of such legs. There has to be a better way to do it, because this season's structure has been the worst way to do it. So there's no need to tell me "But they have to do elimination-free episodes to stretch out the season." I know this. Previous seasons have had different scatter patterns for NELs and whatnot. All have been better than this season in that particular respect.]
Click through for my recap of Sunday's "The Amazing Race"...
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