Thursday, May 21, 2015
First it was Don Draper who left us, but at least he sort of left us the "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" Coke ad.
Now, Dave Letterman has left TV, and he has left us three successors who might not pick up where he left off, but they get close. That doesn't include Stephen Colbert because he hasn't started yet.
What will CBS do now that Letterman has gone? It has the "perfect solution": reruns of The Mentalist at 11:35, followed by The Late Late Show With James Cordon.
With a combo like that, James will get less viewers than what Conan said he'd have last night at 11:35. I mean, why not "Best of Dave"? Bringing back the notorious Madonna or Joaquin Phoenix interviews, or Drew Barrymore's dance, could outdraw Fallon. That's a better idea than trying to revive "Crimetime After Primetime", which never worked anyway.
So, is Conan O'Brien the new Elder of Late Night? Well, because of seniority, yes. He learned a lot from Letterman since he took the Late Night gig, but he admits it was his decision to appear on Conan that really made the difference:
It's led to some really odd ideas like Puppy Conan, mascots who can't slam dunk but somehow do, Minty, The Flaming C and jeggings. It also led to a fine website, that trip to Cuba, and an upcoming trip to Comic-Con that he thinks will break his show. Conan's style will keep the Letterman tradition going, at least for now. After all, Conan's been at this for more than 20 years. He might be good for another decade or so.
As far as copying the Letterman structure, Jimmy Kimmel is closest to that. He's got a good relationship with his bandleader. He also has a family of co-conspirators, including his real family, that keep the laughs going. Aside from that, he's come up with great bits like Liewitness News, This Week In Unecessary Censorship, and really goofy man-on-the-street bits. He also had that great show honoring his Uncle Frank, the first breakout star of the show, and the time he taped his show with his laptop because of a power outage. This, however, will make Jimmy my choice:
Jimmy Fallon will be the front-runner because he inherited Jay Leno's chair. His bits aren't as edgy as his time at 12:35 (anyone miss Wheel of Carpet Samples?), but his skills as a comic, musician and mimic are impressive. He's actually more talented than Leno and Johnny Carson put together, and those two guys never had a bit that wound up as a cable TV show and another one that became a best seller. Also, he can play off his announcer and his band for laughs, just like Johnny and Conan. I'm watching last night's show, and it looks like he knew how many people would tune in against Letterman's last show. He did have a tribute during the May 18th show:
Stephen Colbert, your move.
It'll be tough switching from a Bill O'Reilly wanna-be to being the new host of The Late Show. Fox news is already predicting his failure, but it doesn't like his act. In any case, he'll have all summer to get his plan underway. I'd suggest interrupting Mentalist reruns, saying, "Network reruns at 11:30 is so '90s. This fall, I'm the next big thing."
If James Corden is really lucky, he'll still have his show, especially if he interrupts Fallon or Kimmel, saying, "Hey, I didn't leave CBS. My show's still on at 12:35. Please tune in to my show. Really, I need the viewers!"
Thursday, May 7, 2015
This is going to be a great year in responding to lousy films...and, despite what some people say, that should not include Avengers: Age of Ultron.
It means this year's Rifftrax Live season, which started Thursday night at Nashville with the classically bad romantic-ish sort-of drama, The Room.
The movie had a special showing a few weeks ago at the Tribeca Film Festival, and saying that it was a highlight of the festival is putting it mildly. It was a smash hit, and it makes you hope one day they can do this at Cannes.
The story, of course, is about Johnny (writer and director Tommy Wiseau) , a "banker" with a mysterious accent (like, is it Croatian, Frenchistan or what?) in love with Lisa (Juliette Danielle). They plan to marry, but she admits she's falling for Mark (Greg Sestero), Johnny's best friend. She's told by her mom she should stick to Johnny, but Lisa doesn't care, not even the fact mom has breast cancer (I think). There's also Denny (Philip Haldiman), a creepy kid who Johnny adopted or something, He hangs around the place a bit too much, and also gets involved in drugs.
The story is just strange. At one point you see Johnny, Denny, Mark and some guy named Mike play football in tuxedos. There's also a bit too much of an effort in reminding us this takes place in San Francisco, even in the middle of a couple of scenes.
It almost makes you feel that you owe Ed Wood, Hal Warren and Coleman Francis an apology. At least their movies had a plot that could be recognized (and that could include Skydivers).
The movie also marks a first for Rifftrax. After using Gorilla Grams to hide Dina Meyer's breasts in Starship Troopers, the Grams stayed home while we saw Lisa's breasts. However, we were distracted by how really uncomfortable the "sex" scenes were, with soundtrack by (according to Mike) Boys II Repulsive Men.
Johnny was also described as "Weird Al as Rambo in UHF", although "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer's Brother In Law" would be more accurate. He also seemed to have a new body part called the "Hip Dick".
When Lisa has her sex scene with Mark on a staircase, Bill Corbett points out that since the movie was made, "70% of homes with spiral staircases have been demolished:"
Then there's the scene where Johnny says, "You're tearing me apart, Lisa", showing Tommy Wiseau for what he is: the Bulgarian zombie version of James Dean.
The best riff came from Kevin Murphy: "After appearing in The Room, the Golden Gate Bridge jumped off itself."
Then again, here's a couple more:
Lisa complaining how "that bitch is about to control my life"
Mike: but enough about Martha Stewart
Mark and Johnny head to a coffee shop, and have a very odd order
Bill: Hot chocolate and a mint tea? You guys headed to Lilith Fair?
It was also pointed out by Mike Nelson that this year is the 100th anniversary of Orson Wells' birth, There is a scene in the movie where Johnny tears Lisa's room apart, just as Kane rips Susan's room apart after she leaves him in Citizen Kane. (Bill: Tommy's trashing the room, much like the critics.) The only thing they have in common is that it ends in a mess. In the case of The Room, it's a mess from start to finish.
In fact, here's some scenes with the original Rifftrax comments. A new riff from the show is coming soon.
There's also riffs on Full House, President Obama, Ryan Leaf, Herbalife (which used to be a riff staple in the MST3K days), Tom Cruise and Robert Durst.
Before the movie, Rifftrax took on the final "At Your Fingertips" short, showing how kids can make lousy boats using styrofoam or old milk cartons. It wrapped up all the lingering plot lines of the previous films, especially the debate of whether corn is grass (for the record, it is).
The most surprising part of the show is what was shown after the credits:
This is from tommywiseau.com, and you can even get the script from the movie with free underwear as a bonus. This is also connected to his sitcom on Hulu Plus, The Neighbors, where he plays more than one role.
However, it won't be as popular as this item. Some backers from Kickstarter got this t-shirt for supporting Rifftrax's season. I just got mine:
The next new show is July 9th, when the gang will take on Sharknado 2. It's basically what happened in the first movie but it's in New York, and baseball bats are used.
UPDATE: Rifftrax's website has announced Mike, Bill and Kevin will be featured on @midnight, Chris Hardwick's late night show on June 9th. It's the first time Mike and Kevin has been on Comedy Central since MST3K left the channel in 1996, and Bill's first visit.