Bojack Horseman – PART DEUX

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“The key to being happy isn’t a search for meaning, it’s to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually you’ll be dead.”

A line from Netflix’s newest animated comedy, Bojack Horseman. Yeah, that’s right, I said comedy. Not too long ago I watched the first episode. I thought it was a good show that had a handful of funny moments, thanks to Jessie Pinkman and Gob Bluth, along with a fine supporting cast. I was not ready for the heartbreaking tour de force I was about to witness. As a whole, it’s one of the best shows about isolation and depression that I’ve ever seen. Again, this show’s billed as Netflix’s new original animated COMEDY.

Maybe it’s out there, but I’ve never come across a show that balances bleak and silly so well. One moment Bojack is pleading for Diane to tell him he’s a good person, the next  Mr. Peantbutter and Todd are pitching a “Halloween in January” store. Each character gets screen time to show how depression can affect you. Obviously there is Bojack and the life that is his mess. He slowly realizes that he’s only ever taken from people and never gave anything of himself. Truly a parasite. Todd hits hard times when he’s betrayed by his best friend. Performing a rock opera was his life dream. Not only did he not get support from Bojack, he was manipulated for the horse’s gain. We’ve all been used, it’s not a pleasant feeling. Princess Carolyn is generally alone. She works hard, is generally around people most of the time, but is utterly alone. Nobody in her life genuinely cares for her. Bojack’s resurgence into her love life ends with them realizing they are only with each other because they share the solitary that is their lives. The image of her spending her fortieth birthday alone is piercing to the heart.

I couldn’t get over what the show would deal with sometimes. Bojack’s opinion on the military, Herb Kazazz’s unforgiving stance, Diane’s disappointing family, Bojack’s abusing parents, all are things the viewers have been through. I never expected to have these types of feelings watching a cartoon. But that I am is a good thing. Animated shows shouldn’t automatically be classified as for children anymore.

May I make a bold statement? This is the best work of Will Arnett’s career. I know, we all love Arrested Development, and Arnett is fantastic in it. Here though, he’s the top billing carrying the bulk of the show. He’s been a sitcom journeyman ever since Arrested Development was cancelled. Mostly garbage NBC shows, with a few funny side roles in films. It feels like something has finally stuck with Bojack Horseman. What Secretariat was to Bojack, perhaps Bojack Horseman is to Will Arnett. Just an amazing performance by a deserving actor.

Let me reassure you that the show is very, VERY funny. It’s not all doom and gloom. There’s an arsenal of comedic warfare on display. You have the reoccurring jokes, the finer details (like Arrested Development, the background of scenes are almost just as funny), the dumb comedy (there’s a character called Vincent Adultman), references (Peanuts, Breaking Bad, The Thing), to name a few. If you’re still on the fence, just YouTube any clip with Mr. Peanutbutter.

BoJack Horseman

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“Why so gloomy, roomy?”

Netflix is truly a gift. I would have never gave a show like BoJack Horseman a chance if it were on regular cable. Hell, I doubt it would be on television. But since it’s already out there, all episodes finished and ready to be devoured, I gave it a try. And I’m glad I did.

BoJack is a washed up former actor. He happens to also be a horse. The character is pretty much every character Will Arnett has every played, but as an animal. The show seems to be about his rise back to some sort of relevancy. His first step is writing a memoir. Easier said than done you can imagine.

The show has a bunch of different comedic elements to it. From throw up gags to horse puns. Some hit, some miss. It never gets dull, though. The characters are what stand out. First you have Todd, BoJack’s stoner roommate. He’s played by the beloved Aaron Paul. My favorite character of the cast, he just nails it. The writers give him good material and he doesn’t let it go to waste. Amy Sedaris portrays BoJack’s ex-girlfriend/manager. She happens to also be a cat. I don’t think they really care about the compatibility of animals when it comes to dating on this show. Or animals and people for that matter. And finally we have, Mr. Peanutbutter. He’s a dog. He’s charismatic. He’s BoJack’s arch rival. It’s hilarious watching those two exchange words.

It’s only been the first episode so far, but it’s certainly promising. I strongly recommend it for anyone who likes animated comedies. If you like Will Arnett and Aaron Paul then you’ll be doubly pleased. Keep it up, Netflix. You’re making all the right moves.

Angry Boys, Happy Yeti

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I was first introduced to Chris Lilley sometime during high school. We didn’t meet face to face, but that’s when I watched Lilley’s Summer Heights High. Maybe it was because I was in high school or that I didn’t care for television as much as I do now, but I wasn’t hooked. Parts were enjoyable, (the Jonah segments) while others bored me (I’m probably the only one who couldn’t stand Ja’mie). Since I wasn’t a fan of every character it was easy to stop watching. If I had to guess, my interest lasted through four or five episodes. I just didn’t love it.

Well friends, it’s true what they say. 63222-o

Luckily patience is a virtue of mine. Seven years after dumping Chris Lilley we ended up together. As with most relationships, ours began through a mutual friend. A few months back an old friend (let’s call her “Callie”) was in town and wanted to catch up. We grabbed lunch on Venice beach and chatted for over four hours. You know. The “what have you been up to”, “can you believe what THEY’RE up to”, and frankly, some pretty deep stuff for 3 PM on a weekday. But among our festive chatter was the surprise that we both adored HBO’s new Silicon Valley. After swapping some hilarious Erlich and Jared quotes, Callie asks me if I’ve ever watched Angry Boys. I had never heard of it, but informed her of my lukewarm feelings about Chris Lilley’s previous shows. She urged me to give it a chance, and on a sunny Cali day, good vibes all around, with an old friend by my side, I said “sure, why the hell not?”.

Angry Boys depicts the lives of young men in our society from all different backgrounds. Out of the main cast, Lilley portrays most of the main characters. Where Summer Heights High fell flat, this new show succeeded. There wasn’t one Lilley persona that I wasn’t infatuated with. All six were a joy to behold.

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Daniel and Nathan Sims are twin teenage brothers who live in rural Australia with their mum and step dad. Nathan is deaf while Daniel is the out spoken, potty mouthed opposite. Although Nathan is no saint himself. He has a penchant for middle fingering and having his testicles out in family photos. The story revolves mainly around these two and a party Daniel wants to throw for his brother before he goes to deaf school. I wasn’t even aware of such a thing as deaf school.

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Ruth ‘Gran’ Sims is Daniel and Nathan’s grandmother. She works at a juvenille detention center for young boys as a correction officer. Her hobbies include karaoke, keeping up with a massive amount of guinea pigs, and pulling pranks. Gran legitimately cares for the boys in the camp and is one of the more touching characters on the show. Wonderfully played by Lilley, a testament to his ability to play such diverse characters.

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S.Mouse may be the most ridiculous person I’ve ever seen. Lilley doesn’t hold back, with a great deal of black face and the overuse of the word “nigga”. S.Mouse was one of the biggest rap artists on the planet after his hit “Slap My Elbow”, but after some run ins with the law he’s been put on house arrest. What transpires is nothing short of priceless. He reminds me of more than a few people I went to high school with. If you don’t watch the show, at least Youtube the interactions between S.Mouse and his dad. So, so funny.

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Jen Okazaki is, without a doubt, the worst mother in the world. She’s the mom of Tim Okazaki, the young, (allegedly) gay skateboard phenom. Along with being his mother, she’s his manager as well. Not only does Lilley play up the stereotype with Asian women, but also overbearing parents who attribute their children’s success to themselves. She has some of the funniest lines in the show, but is by far the most unlikeable. And, I hope, most unrealistic.

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Blake Oakfield. The man, the myth, the legend. Blake’s a retired professional surfer. He’s also the leader of the Mucka Mad Boys, the local surf gang. Yes, it’s as humorous as it sounds. By far my favorite character on the show. During a gang fight he, unfortunately, had his testicles shot off (he’s able to withstand many nut shots), he starts a “Fat Kids Surf Camp”, and has a super hot wife (plus some cute kids). The definition of living the dream.

What separates the show from other laugh out loud comedies is the humanity Lilley gives each character (besides Jen. She’s just awful). Gran can be tough, and even cross the line at times, but she has so much love for the young men under her supervision. And it’s beautiful to see the gratitude they give right back. Blake gets into a bunch of trouble with rival surf gangs, but he loves his Mucka Mad Boys and he’ll do whatever it takes to show his family he loves them. Daniel, arguably the biggest prick of them all, reveals how much his brother means to him when all is said and done. It might be kind of “gay” (his words, not mine), but he admits how much he’ll miss his closest friend. Hell, even S.Mouse isn’t so bad. He knows what he was meant to do in life and he’s determined to see it through. For all the grief he gives his dad, their last scene in the finale had goosebumps coming out of the wood works. S.Mouse, you’re a good guy, brother.

Finding shows that incorporate comedy and, not drama, but heartfelt moments, are so rare. Scrubs is the gold standard for that type of television, Derek from Ricky Gervais was a pleasant surprise, and now we can add Angry Boys to the list. Like many surprises, this one was most unexpected. So thank you Callie, thank you Chris Lilley, and thank you Angry Boys. Good moods are hard to come by these days. Tears of joy even harder.

 

Disney Countdown 120-116 “The Bottom Dwellers”

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120. Perfect Isn’t Easy – Oliver and Company

This list would have no merit if there wasn’t any Bette Midler. And what an entry she submits with “Perfect Isn’t Easy”. I’ll admit it’s not my favorite song from the film, but there’s no denying how catchy it is. Georgette was my first introduction to all the self absorbed women I would eventually meet in my life. At least she had the ability to bang out a ballad. I tend to put this into the “villain song” category. The song itself doesn’t scream “evil” but Georgette is the ultimate Disney bitch. “Perfect Isn’t Easy” is a perfect introduction to the character. Having said that, it’s still not good enough to crack the top 100. Maybe if Tito had made this list but alas…

119. I Thought I Lost You – Bolt

I know what you’re thinking. How did a Miley/Travolta duet not make the top 50? What? Nobody is asking that? Well it certainly went through my head. I’ll be the first to admit it. Miley Cyrus is my future wife. Who will unquestionably cheat on me with as many people as possible, but still. She’s incredibly sexy. John Travolta has been a singing god ever since I heard “Summer Lovin”. Long story short, it was hard to listen to this in an unbiased manner. “I Thought I Lost You” is a fun song at the end of a sub par Disney flick. I went into “Bolt” with pretty low expectations and got pretty much what I expected. It’s an interesting plot that kept me invested, but not many laughs and what seemed like a disinterested cast. Also, Susie from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” played a major character. It was impossible to take her seriously. I kept waiting for the words “bald”, “fat”, or “fuck” to pop out of her mouth. The flick’s worth a Netflix (Brazil) watch. If you’re a fan of Miley and Travolta then you’ll approve of this duet. If not, get the hell off of this blog.

118. Robin Hood and Little John Oo-De-Lally – Robin Hood

If there was an award for “Song Stuck in Matt’s Head the Most” this would be it. When I ran track in my high school days I had a friend who would sing Salt n Pepa’s “Push It” to himself while he ran. I decided to put my own twist on it and sing “Robin Hood and Little John Runnin Through the Forest” over and over again. Still do it as of this day. The downfall to this song is that it’s only about fifty seconds long. You’re going to need more substance than that if you want to compete with the big dogs. Also, for being a song that prides itself on getting stuck in ones head, it’s not even the most addictive tune from this movie. As we will certainly find out later…

117. My Funny Friends and Me – The Emperors New Groove

Talk about star power! First Bette Midler, then Miley/Travolta, and now Sting. We also have our first Oscar nominated song. Personally I don’t think “My Funny Friends and Me’ is all that great. Especially since Sting is the one who is singing it. I have much higher expectations for the man who gifted us “Every Breath You Take”. And THIS is the song that gets nominated for an Oscar. Meh. But I will say this. It’s the perfect song to describe Kuzco and Pacha’s relationship. They were the heart of the movie (a let down of a movie for Disney standards, but still) and hearing this as the credits roll did give me goosebumps. I don’t want to say that the Oscar nomination solely got this baby on my list………..but it kind of did.

116. Trashin The Camp – Tarzan

We get our first song from Tarzan: The Phil Collins Experience. You want scat? You want doo wop? You get “Trashin the Camp”. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the Phil Collins version and the version where NSYNC sings with him…so I merged them. The scene in the movie is pretty funny. Chimp Rosie O’Donnell and friends mess up Clayton’s camp while making sweet, sweet music. I will admit to having a soft spot for the song mainly because it’s the perfect song to do drunken (like there’s any other kind) karaoke to. Even more so if you’re like me and cannot sing for squat. If I’m not mistaken, Rosie O’Donnell can’t be on any Top 100 list ever. So that may also be holding this song back.


So we’re off to the races here at the Disney countdown. Five songs that I would most likely skip if they were shuffled onto my Itunes. Just kidding. “I Thought I Lost You” is a gem of a song and I don’t care who knows it. Next time we find out songs 115-111.

 

A Letter for the Town

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Dear Cocksuckers,

I hope the next few paragraphs persuade you to purchase, stream, steal ( like, from your friend), pirate ( like, from the internet), the show that is “Deadwood”. It’s a western that aired on HBO from 2004-2006 before being cancelled prematurely after the third season. All of the actors gave their best performances of their careers, and launched a few to the top (Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, Ian McShane). Others would go on to have crucial roles on other television shows, including Dayton Callie (Sons of Anarchy), Paula Malcomson (Ray Donovan), Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope), Titus Welliver (Sons of Anarchy), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), among others (now that I think of it, half of the cast shows up on “SOA”). This incredible ensemble was lead by the genius who also brought us “NYPD Blue”, David Milch.

You watch “Sons of Anarchy, you experience “Breaking Bad”, but you embrace “Deadwood”. Some shows place the emphasis on their lead character. Others want to show as much gore and blood as they can. Milch’s masterpiece was about the real life town of Deadwood. That was the main character. And not only that, but it felt like YOU, dear reader, were a part of that town. Game of Thrones is gut wrenching (in the best of ways), but you don’t ever feel like a Stark or Lannister. In Breaking Bad, as tense and exciting as it is, you’re on the outside looking in. When you watch Deadwood, you are there. You can taste every shot of whiskey Steve the Drunk took. When tragedy strikes the town, you also bonded together with the townsfolk. There was a seat saved for you every important meeting at the Gem. You become a part of that community. Community. That’s what this show is in one word. About a large group of people (mostly cuthroats) forming a community in the early days of our country. And you’re a part of it.

Sad as it is, there is not much traction for a Deadwood revival. It would be near impossible to bring all of the actors back. Their contracts ended after the the third season. So if you are expecting to jump into it when a movie comes out (like Veronica Mars), you will be waiting until the end of eternity. Yet the highly praised Firefly gets petitions it seems yearly. Monthly, Daily. And I mean in no way to disrespect Firefly. But it did only get one season compared to the three Deadwood gifted us. Let me attempt a comparison. Firefly is like that one night stand that was incredible, but ended up never seeing the girl (or guy) again. Think “Before Sunrise” if they had never made sequels. Deadwood is more like Mandy Moore from “A Walk to Remember”. You spend much more time with her, she changes you for the better, you fall in love, until one day you find out she has cancer and will die shortly. Clearly “Before Sunrise” is the superior movie, but Shane West literally has his heart ripped out. That’s the feeling of not having this story run its course.

I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. Deadwood is dark. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of laughs throughout the show. E.B is one of the funniest written characters in drama. But as you go on and get closer to the end, you will know my meaning. And while it is dark, it is life. It’s realistic. There are little people in this world who don’t always get justice. Bad people will get away with doing bad things. It reminded me of  the “Sons of Anarchy” season two finale. The main antagonist, Ethan Zobelle (played wonderfully by Adan Arkin), escapes death after all the pain he unleashed on the club. Sometimes, those guys just get away. And that’s life.

If none of the above has convinced you (and it probably hasn’t) I give you two words: Ian. McShane. As I’ve previously stated here, McShane is on the Mount Rushmore of Anti-Heroes in Drama. You are unable to take your eyes off of him from scene one. The transformation he makes from the Pilot to the last scene in Season Three is on par with Walter White, Don Draper, and Tony Soprano. I might as well state it as a fact. He is, to put it simply, a joy to watch.

And so I will end on that. There is a special kind of love I have for this show. Just browsing at pictures of the characters gives me goosebumps. It’s like looking at old friends from back home. Old memories of good times and bad. It’s not the best show ever made, but I can honestly say it’s in a league of its own. Special in it’s own fucking way. But do not fret. There is still time folks. It’s not the end of the world. To partially quote a friend of mine, “…the world ends when you’re dead…”. You’re sure as hell not dead yet. Now shut the fuck up and watch some Deadwood. Ya cocksuckers.

With Regards,

M.O. Alexander