TELLURIDE — There are two reasons Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing references "The Enigma" in its title. The first is in reference to the Engima machine, the legendary secret code the Nazis used during World War II, which was solved by a secret UK military division lead by Turing. The second is Turing himself.
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[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
[As you probably already know, starting on Thursday, August 21, FXX is running the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, running through all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons," plus "The Simpsons Movie." To aid in your viewing process, Team HitFix is selecting our favorite episodes from each day, plus an episode or two that you can skip and use as a bathroom or nap break.]
Day 10 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon takes us from "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind" (mid-Season 19) through "Stealing First Base" (mid-Season 21).
It's a reasonably good day, both because it starts with a near-classic, but also because mid-morning will see the show transition into HD, which will finally end those conversations about FXX's cropping decisions and whether they've hindered the comedy thus far.
The shift to HD didn't reinvigorate "The Simpsons" back to its Season 4-ish peak, but it absolutely gave new juice to the storytelling, inspiring the show to take more visual risks -- the couch gags have never been better -- and to add more aesthetic depth. "The Simpsons" always had moments of beautiful animation, but they were usually wedged amidst plainer stuff. Since the HD transition, "The Simpsons" has been a consistently good-looking show.
If you're like a lot of the HitFix staff, you may have already stopped watching by this point, but that's a mistake and we have five episodes you should check out from Day 10. I also wrote up three episodes you can skip.
Check out our recommendations for Day 10 and chime in with your own favorites...
VENICE — Your enjoyment of dodgy comedy "She's Funny That Way" will depend hugely on your personal tolerance for coincidence as plot mechanic. How many coincidences need to occur before the characters might as well start saying "a wizard did it" by way of explaining the wherefores of the plot? What's your personal tipping point? Perhaps your answer will depend on genre. Even in sci-fi or fantasy, "a wizard did it" is still a pretty poor explanation unless the wizard has a satisfying motive. In a more realistic genre, the greater the number of coincidences, the greater the strain on audience credulity. The genre of farce, though broadly realistic (there are usually no wizards), is of course often borderline fantastical in terms of the believability of people's behavior and the frequency with which coincidence craps all over the characters' hopes and dreams. "She's Funny That Way" leans heavily on this creaky genre convention until it finally gives way and collapses.
We can’t sign off for the long weekend without saluting the men and women who put the labor into Labor Day. There’s been no shortage of songs written about the drudgery of working 9-to-5, and below, here’s a list of the 15 finest songs (oops, that just reminded us that we didn’t include R.E.M.’s “Finest Worksong”) devoted to describing how we spend most of our lives. So clock out, grab a beer, salute your fellow worker, and enjoy.
And, if it’s not too much work, add your favorite song about work in the comments.
1. “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton (1980)
A deceptively upbeat melody and Parton’s sweet delivery run counter to the dark sentiment of such lyrics as “Barely getting by/It’s all takin’ and no givin’/they just use your mind/and they never give you credit.”
2. “She Works Hard For The Money,” Donna Summer
Few jobs are more grueling than waitressing: all the heavy lifting, being on your feet all day, working for tips. Summer captures it all on this disco hit about a lady who has spent 28 years slinging plates. You better treat her right.
3, “Working on the Highway,” Bruce Springsteen (1984)
Springsteen has built a career singing about the working man and on this exuberant tune from “Born In The USA,” he dreams of a better life than holding a red flag as part of a highway construction crew. Lyrically, it’s a downer (he ends up in prison), but the melody is so upbeat, most listeners never notice
4. “Working For a Living,” Huey Lewis & The News (1982)
We’re all just working for the man…
5. “Bang On The Drum All Day,” Todd Rundgren (1983)
This anti-work anthem still gets played by radio stations near and far at 5 p.m. on Friday
6. “Working For The Weekend,” Loverboy (1981)
Have truer words ever been spoken? Loverboy combine the weekend with the always alluring possibility of romance, even if it comes via a lazy rhyme: “You want a piece of my heart?/You better start at the start.” Red headband and leather pants optional. (This is the official video, skip to 2:24 to finally get to the song)
7. “Shiftwork,” Kenny Chesney and George Strait (2007)
A clever play on words: take out the “f” in “shiftwork” and you get the idea built around monotony of shiftwork, whether you’re working, as the song states, “Seven to three/Three to eleven/Eleven to seven.”
8. “Chain Gang,” Sam Cooke (1960)
Let’s face it, as bad as your job may be, it still probably doesn’t compare to working on the chain gang, picking up trash on some highway, yoked to some other prisoner. And yet, Cooke still sounds like the happiest angel in the world.
9. “Sixteen Tons,” Tennessee Ernie Ford (1955)
Pair this with Lee Dorsey’s “Working In The Coal Mine” and you can double down on the misery of working where “the sun didn’t shine.” Funny, yet trenchant, lyrics detail the inability to get ahead, so much so that heaven even seems out of reach because “I owe my soul to the company store.”
10. “Working Man,” Rush (1974)
Working leaves little time for any of life’s simple pleasure other than “a nice cold beer.” At least for Alex Lifeson, it gets you a very cool guitar solo.
11. “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” Styx (1978)
Take your Styx hatred somewhere else, buddy. It’s one thing to not like “Mr Roboto,” but to not bow down to this working man’s anthem, sung by Tommy Shaw instead of usual Styx warbler Dennis DeYoung, is to prove that you’ve never even gotten so much as a paper cut at work.
12. “Taking’ Care of Business,” Bachman Turner Overdrive (1974)
This chugging ode pays homage to those who “get up every morning from your ‘larm’s clock warning” to trudge into the city like a clone, only to rinse and repeat the next day.
13. "Five O’Clock World,” The Vogues (1966)
Also used as the theme to The Drew Carrey Show, this joyous tune discards the doldrums of the working day for that magical moment when the whistle blows. Listen for the glorious production, if nothing else.
14. “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere,” Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett (2003)
Yes, yes it is…And that means it’s time to punch out and head to Margaritaville.
15. “Take This Job and Shove It,” Johnny Paycheck (1977)
This list ends, as it must, with country singer Paycheck’s biggest crossover hit because it’s a sentiment that everyone— no matter what kind of music you listen to or job you do — has wanted to tell his or her boss, but knows that unless they are the last words you plan to say as the door hits you on the way out, have to remain unsaid.
TELLURIDE — There is a moment near the end of "Wild" where Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) runs into a young boy and his grandmother out on a weekend hike. Strayed has walked hundreds of miles on the Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to deal with personal, emotional pain that has plagued her most of her young adult life. After learning of Strayed's heartbreaks the young boy (Evan O'Toole) sings her the song "Red River Valley." In the hands of a lesser director this scene could have been overly saccharine and misplaced. But director Jean-Marc Vallée makes it as artful and touching as it needs to be. Clearly, we should not have doubted him.
Report: Amazon plans to revive “The Tick” with Patrick Warburton
People reports that the 2001-02 Fox series based on the comic book superhero, which also co-starred a pre-“Lost” Nestor Carbonell, is being revived on the streaming service.
Garry Marshall recalls his sister discovering Robin Williams after Dom DeLuise turned down the “Mork” role
“I was looking for someone to play Mork,” he told the audience at a taping of CBS’ “The Odd Couple.” "Dom DeLuise turned down the role. So did John Byner. And Ronny told me about this funny guy, Robin, who performed on the street. People would put money in his hat.”
Miley Cyrus’ "charity consultant" said he fully vetted her VMA date
Trever Neilson, the "Charity Fixer to the Stars,” was responsible for discovering Jesse Helt at a homeless youth shelter.
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Fox rebooting “The Greatest American Hero”
The Steven J. Cannell cult classic superhero comedy/drama that ran on ABC for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 is being remade by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writer-directors behind “The Lego Movie” and the “21 Jump Street” movies. According to Deadline, the new take on “The Greatest American Hero" "will chronicle inner-city teacher Isaac’s adventures after his discovery of a superhero suit which gives him superhuman abilities."
It certainly worked out well when Maroon 5 duetted with Adam Levine’s fellow "The Voice" judge Christina Aguilera on "Moves Like Jagger." Not so much for judges Blake Shelton and Shakira on "Medicine."
Now, just in time to get us excited for the Sept. 22 Season 7 premiere with new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams comes “My Heart Is Open,” a gorgeous duet between Maroon 5 and the No Doubt singer.
Sure, it’s prefabricated and meant to get us interested in “The Voice,” but it also works on its own. In fact, it reminds us a little of Aguilera’s collaboration with A Great Big World, “Say Something.”
The song, which is featured on Maroon 5’s new album, “V,” out Sept. 2, starts with a heavy piano before going into Levine asking someone to take a chance on him. Stefani takes the second verse, picking up where Levine left off, declaring “it won’t take me long to find another lover, but I want you.”
The mid-tempo track, co-written by Sia, feels like an Adult Contemporary smash. Their harmonies work well and both Levine and Stefani tone down the drama so the focus is on the song.
What do you think?
“The Wil Wheaton Project” canceled by Syfy
Wil Wheaton related the story of the cancelation of his show, which debuted in May, on his blog. He got the news via a cell phone call from a Syfy exec: "Ultimately, he told me, the executives in New York just didn’t think we had enough viewers to justify more episodes. I didn’t say anything about the total lack of promotion off the network, or point out that our ratings were on par with The Soup, or that ratings are always lower in summer than the fall.”
“The Following” is replacing the showrunner it just hired in June
Jennifer Johnson, who took over for creator Kevin Williamson as showrunner two months ago, will be replaced by a trio of co-showrunners.
The Weeknd has a brand to maintain. I get it.
For all the sex he's getting on the road, for all the drugs he's taking, and for all the times he sings about all of it, no wonder his video are always gray-hued, with washed out specters of women floating about him like he's the center of the saddest little universe.
But, damn Weeknd, can't it be any fun at all? Because lines like "She gon' give it up 'cause she know she might like it" (ugh) and "All my hoes are trained, I make all of them swallow" (TRIPLE UGH) are depressing as hell for your females, what are you dragging your sad-ass feet for?
I'm referring to "King of the Fall," a title so morose Drake's kicking himself for not thinking of it first. And the Toronto connect is a propos, as The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) takes a stroll through his hometown, with cameos from locals like Jazz Cartier. While the slow-motions between beddings and parties and the street keep the singer and producer looking cool, check out the Confederate flag up at the world's most melancholy dance fiesta. How about the rain and the pace and the longing glances when Adderall is his atmosphere? Someone should call his mom, because I'm freaked out.
All this: a shame, because "King of Pain," er, "King of the Fall" is one of the better engineered and mixed songs we've heard from The Weeknd ever. It's a slow creep (heh), with a crescendo that will have you thinking you've got a midget on your chest too.
It arrives on the heels of another new single from Weeknd, "Often," out last week, which has a similarly looping, repeating, sweet-dripping chorus that belies an equally messed up premise of one of his one-night-stands: he does it how he wants it, and is happy to hand off that pussy to one of his crew when he's done.
Hey, he's talking about groupies: we could talk about power, fame, empowerment, gender and commodification for days. There, again, though is that deficit, a melancholy that creeps into seemingly all of The Weeknds endeavors, making these ballads and especially the music videos hurt for the audience like a VD flare-up. He's not extolling his life as healthy, he hints at the "temporary-ness" of it, but then again here are a series of women as props, clothed and unclothed, "performing" for the Dr. Frownpants who need do little else in his videos except float through them, like it's all "happening" to him, almost like a victim and not a participant. (Robin Thicke has a penchant for that too.)
If only he didn't sing so beautifully? If only some of those choices on synths and beats didn't hurt so hard with him? Wishing this was in gibberish.
"Often" and "King of the Fall" arrive ahead of The Weeknd's outing with Jhene Aiko for the King Of The Fall Tour, four dates below.
09/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center
09/21 – Toronto, Canada @ Molson Ampitheatre
10/09 – Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Bowl
10/10 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium