1. The Year’s Best Stand-Up Specials. As the Best of the Year lists keep rolling out, focus inevitably goes towards the best in film and television. But The A.V. Club also highlighted the year’s strongest stand-up, from albums to specials. Here’s Dennis Perkins on Hannibal Buress’s “Live in Chicago.”
Hannibal Buress explains that he doesn’t smoke weed any more because, among other reasons, it makes him overthink sex (“Why is she letting me do this to her?”). It’s instructive, as Buress’ laid-back stage demeanor suggests the amiable disposability of the stoner comedian, which makes his focused storytelling and comic insights that much more potent. (Just ask Bill Cosby.) Buress’ combination here of self-deprecation (“I got nominated for an Emmy the same way Juwan Howard has an NBA championship”), and pointed truths told almost as asides (a white guy calling him brother “is like diet ‘nigger’”) is as authoritative as it is hilarious throughout. Read more.
2. “The Flash”/”Arrow” Crossover. The CW’s superhero shows, “The Flash” and “Arrow,” have crossed over, and the mix was a lot of fun. Yahoo TV’s Ken Tucker wrote about how the episodes succeeded by not relying too much on lore and by mixing silly and serious heroes.
If I liked the “Flash” hour more, it’s simply because I enjoy the light-stepping humor of that show more than the moodier path “Arrow” trods. “Flash” runs rings around the “Arrow” from which it was spun off; fueled by the grateful grin of star Grant Gustin, “The Flash” captures the exhilaration any young person might expect to feel if he or she were suddenly granted a special ability. Where Stephen Amell is obliged to portray Oliver Queen’s archery skills as a burden as heavy as the quiver on his back, Gustin is free to zoom around Central City with the wind at his back. Read more.
3. TV’s Sitcom Recession. NBC has given away their Ellie Kemper/Tina Fey sitcom to Netflix and announced that they’re going to blaze through the final season of “Parks and Recreation.” It’s part of a current sitcom recession on network television, and Vulture’s Josef Adalian wrote about how it can pull out of it.
Don’t launch a comedy you don’t believe in and aren’t willing to get behind…But, at least with comedies, maybe it’s time for networks to get out of the assembly-line business. The old model relied heavily on the idea of audience flow, where a sizable percentage of the viewers who tuned in for “Friends” or “The Big Bang Theory” would automatically stay tuned for the next one, two, or three comedies on a lineup. Lead-ins are still important — maybe more so than ever before — but we’re now in an age where, save for “Big Bang” and “Modern Family,” there simply aren’t blockbuster comedies that can reliably serve as launching pads for newer shows. With a shortage of comedy hits, networks shouldn’t be wasting their energies on shows they don’t believe in, and if they do love a show, they need to have a better game plan for it. Read more.
4. Eric Garner and “Do the Right Thing.” The death of Eric Garner and failure of the grand jury to indict Dan Pantaleo is just the latest tragedy perpetrated by the police against black Americans. It’s not new: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” features a similar incident, and Andrew Deyoung of The Stake wrote about how Garner’s death only further proves the film’s continued relevance.
Thinking about the movie over the past few days in light of what’s happened in New York, and similar events in Ferguson surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, I’m struck by one line in particular, shouted by a minor character after Radio Raheem is choked to death by police: “He was killed because he had a radio!” You see, in the movie, police come in response to a fight over the volume of Radio Raheem’s boombox. The police come upon a big black guy with brass knuckles and see trouble—but the audience knows better, having seen Radio Raheem playact the triumph of Love over Hate with those rings earlier in the day. But it doesn’t matter. The cops see Radio Raheem as a threat, and they kill him. Read more.
Video of the Day: Spike Lee edits Eric Garner into “Do the Right Thing.”
Tweet of the Day:
It would be cool if Walken got locked outside like Michael Keaton in Birdman & the cameras followed him thru the protests in Times Square.
— emilynussbaum (@emilynussbaum) December 5, 2014