Thursday, July 01, 2010

Of comedy, the good, the bad and the crazy

Before we get into any of that, a bit of bad business for people like me who have become at least partly addicted to those Redbox machines at your local grocery stores.

Since I have a Netflix account, I should surely just be satisfied with that, but far too often I get to the weekend with no new movies in hand and have to give into the Redbox siren. Well, and I guess we shouldn't surprised, knowing that they have us (or at least me) in their grasp, the folks behind this enterprise are at least testing a rate rise.

There's no word on when or if this might go national, but Redbox is now testing out raises (from $1.00) to $1.50 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, $1.25 in Modesto, Calif., and $1.15 in Spokane, Wash., and Miami/West Palm Beach, Fla. Nothing but sinister news there ... stay tuned.

OK, as promised today, it's all about good, bad and simply crazy news about what I at least consider comedy, so here goes.

Let's start, of course, with the crazy. It seems that although "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" did fairly well in its midnight run (only smashing all possible records with $30 million or so), certain young viewers did object to what came before it.

Though its merely a teaser trailer and by all accounts not terribly creepy at all, Cinemark theaters in Texas have pulled the "Paranormal Activity 2" trailer because viewers who were simply there to enjoy some Team Edward vs. Team Jacob action found it to be too scary.

Now, having been scarred for life by "The Blair Witch Project," I made a vow to never watch any more "found footage" horror movies, and therefore haven't seen the first "Paranormal Activity," but just the thought that 30 or so shadowy seconds from the sequel's trailer would be too much for "Twilight" viewers to take is nothing but funny to me.

OK, now on to the good, and if you're a fan of Pee Wee Herman (and if you're not, why not?), I should really say great. It seems that Paul Reubens has come up with a script for a new Pee Wee Herman movie, and has somehow managed to hook Judd Apatow to produce it, meaning this will probably really happen, and fairly fast.

All that's known so far about the plot for this, which is already booked at Universal, is that it will have Pee Wee going on some kind of road trip. No word yet on who would direct this (though I can't imagine it could possibly be Tim Burton), but I'd probably be happy watching Pee Wee simply eat a bowl of Cheerios, so bring it on!

And in a bit of tangential good comedy news, it seems that IFC (which I unfortunately don't get on my cable) has picked up the rights to what are still Apatow's two best creations, the single-season TV shows "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared." The only surprise in that news for me was that it's taken so long for this to happen, since "Freaks" is without exaggeration simply one of the best TV shows ever made (and certainly the best one-season-only show), and "Undeclared" is in its own way almost as good.

"Freaks and Geeks" will premiere on IFC this Friday at 11 p.m., and then run there weekly, with encore airings Mondays at the same time. "Undeclared" will follow sometime this fall, and in the best news of all of this, there will be an episode that never managed to make it to the air before the show was canceled after only 17 episodes. If you've somehow never seen either of these and get IFC, just trust me and tune in.

And I guess the comedy troika today wouldn't be complete without the bad (if inevitable), so here goes: Starz has canceled the seriously funny "Party Down" after only two seasons. The show about wannabe actors who work at a catering company was created by "Veronica Mars" mastermind Rob Thomas and Paul Rudd, and has starred (before many of them moved on to shows watched by many more people) Jane Lynch, Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan and even "Freaks and Geeks" vet and veryfunnyguy Martin Starr.

I've been enjoying the second season on Netflix, but once I finally get around to the finale, probably this weekend, I guess I'll join a fairly select group. It seems that only 74,000 people tuned in for the finale when it aired on Starz, giving the show a rather unsensational 0.0 rating (ouch). R.I.P., "Party Down."

But enough of that bad news. The only other thing I have today, before a welcome sneak peek at episode three of the new run of "Futurama," is two intriguing bits of casting news.

Going back to his movie roots in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," Sean Penn is in negotiations to produce, and I'd have to assume star in, a biopic about surfing icon Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz and his family.

And in a sure bit of Oscar bait, Meryl Streep is eyeing the lead role in "Thatcher," which would of course be a biopic about the former British Prime Minister. In another bit of good casting news for this potential flick, Jim Broadbent is likely to play Thatcher's husband, Denis, who I would have to assume spent plenty of time simply saying "yes, dear."

The movie would center on the 17 days in 1982 leading up the Falklands War. As soon as this all comes together, I suppose we should just go ahead and give her the little statue in advance.

And where better to end today than with a clip from the third new episode of "Futurama," coming to Comedy Central Thursday at 10 p.m. Although the first episode last week was much funnier than the second, they both were imbued with that familiar and fun "Futurama" spirit, so I'm looking forward to the whole new season. Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.

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Justin said...

I love Freaks and Geeks so so much.

I'm in agreement with you about last week's 2 Futurama episodes but I couldn't stop laughing about Bender sticking his plug into the sound system's input when they were trying to be pure. The giggling really sold it.

Reel Fanatic said...

Indeed ... even an average "Futurama," which is what I'd dub episode 2, is so much better than most of what else passes for TV these days