Thursday night the world watched as one of my favorite comedy shows premiered its final episode and took its final bow. 30 Rock has run for seven seasons. Like most shows it had some weaker seasons towards the end but when it was in its prime, it was one of the most clever shows on television. Ending any television show must be difficult but I would imagine it would be even more difficult to end a comedy series. I went into the finale with high hopes and have to say that I was left very satisfied.
30 Rock is written and created by Tina Fey and is based on her experiences writing for Saturday Night Live. The show is your basic show within a show (if there is such thing as a basic show within a show). Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is the head writer for a show called the Girlie Show on NBC. When a new head of NBC is hired, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the show is fundamentally changed when they hire the notoriously difficult comedian Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). That all happens in the first episode and the stage is set for the rest of the show. While there is no arguing that 30 Rock’s main characters are Liz, Jack, Tracy and TGS’ other star Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski), the show is also filled with an insane supporting case. This includes TGS writers, the TGS producer Pete Hornberger (Scott Adsit), Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer), and Tracy’s entourage Grizz and Dotcom. Throughout the seven years we have spend at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the supporting staff has become as important as the main characters. Going into the finale I wanted every character to have their own happy ending and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.
In a special one hour episode, we get to see Liz finally obtains her happy family, Jack obtains his life’s goal, Tracy is able to say a real goodbye and Jenna finally feels real emotions. Kenneth the page’s wildest dream is fulfilled, Pete is finally able to escape his life and Lutz gets back at the writer’s for all the crap they have given him in the past. Each character is left happy in life yet sad that TGS is ending. The finale does a great job of giving each character the ending that they need and deserve
A show that has built its humor on sarcasm and unique ploys, 30 Rock stays true to form and uses every tool in its arsenal during the finale. Pulling jokes from the first episode, the hour season finale was a 30 Rock joke greatest hits reel. From mentioning a fake, made up TV show advertisement inset to Tracy Jordan being unable to pronounce Jenna Maroney’s name (My Bologna) 30 Rock again proved the brilliance of its writers and that it can easily be the cleverest show on television.
I’m always nervous going into a finale, hoping and praying that the show leaves me satisfied and I will happily be able to say goodbye to my favorite characters without remorse or regret. 30 Rock did a perfect job wrapping up the show. A dramatic end, which puts Liz and Jack into their first real fight, leads to each character saying what they need to say to one another. We do get a one year flash forward, showing what all the characters end up doing but my favorite part of the episode occurs with just a few seconds left where, as they always do, the show throws a classic 30 Rock sarcastic element to stop the dramatic farewell. I was very happy with this final episode and can honestly say that I was able to wish a fond farewell to 30 Rock.
If I didn’t know any better I would have thought that Rise of the Guardians was made specifically to make me happy. A film featuring some of history’s greatest childhood legends, Rise of the Guardians was a beautifully animated, action-filled, cleverly written film. I will admit that other than my parents, I was the oldest person in the theater but I in no way thought the material was too childish for me, in fact at times it got quite dark.
Though this film features a number of different characters, the main character is Jack Frost (Chris Pine). A young man who awoke one day as Jack Frost with no memory of his past and no sense of his purpose in life. Existing as a legend that nobody believes in, jack Frost can create snow storms and ice but no human can see him. To be seen, Jack must be believed in. The film’s true plot beings with the film’s villain, Pitch Black (Hugh Grant), starting his plot of revenge. Also known as the boogieman, Pitch is tired of being forced to live under beds in the shadows. Spreading fear and terror through nightmares, Pitch means to create a world where he can rule supreme and only one thing stands in his way: the Guardians.
Made up of Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the nonverbal Sandman, the Guardians are called together by the Man in the Moon whenever the children of the world are threatened. Pitch poses enough of a threat to not only gather the Guardians but to chose a new one to join their ranks, Jack Frost. Reluctant to join, Jack is pulled into the battle against Pitch when it may lead to some answers about his past and his purpose in life. Even with the added power of Jack Frost, the Guardians struggle against Pitch who has prepared for their intervention. Doing more than just striking fear into the hearts of children, Pitch also attacks each of the Guardians. He attacks them physically but more important mentally, taking great lengths to destroy children’s belief in the Guardians which saps them of their power. To defeat Pitch, Jack must trust himself to be a Guardian and the Guardians must pull their power together to defeat Pitch.
This film was beautifully animated, filled with creative landscapes and incredibly detailed characters. Seeming to be more realistic then cartoony, the expressions and faces on the characters were crafted with exceptional detail and skill. The landscapes mirrored the detail of the characters and overflowed with creativity. The film’s plot traveled to the North Pole, the Tooth Palace and the Easter Bunny’s home. Each new place was a fully developed environment crafted to fit the personality and legend of each guardian. The visuals continued to impress as the film moved into some fairly impressive battle scenes. Santa whirls around with blades while Pitch summons waves of black, nightmare dust. Jack Frost summons waves of ice and snow and the Sandman attacks with an endless supply of golden sand. The battles will leave those that crave action satisfied; especially if a fantasy style of fight floats your boat. Ultimately the visuals are what make this film but the writing and idea is extremely clever as well.
I had high hopes for this film going into the theater and I was more than happy with what I saw. Spectacular visuals accompany a clever story line to create a film that is fun for all ages. With enough comedy to keep children happy, the jokes are not so immature that they overtake the plot of the film. I cannot stress enough how clever this film was, tying together a number of different great characters and genres. My only complaint about the film was that you could tell it was made for 3D. I didn’t see it in 3D but the camera was wild the entire film, constantly moving in an almost dizzying fashion. Other than that I thought this film was stunning and a blast to watch. I give Rise of the Guardians a 7 out of 10 and hope that they will rise again.
I’ve talked a number of different times in a number of different posts about how expectations can affect a person’s opinion of a film. Expectations can make or break a film, making them a potentially dangerous thing to have. I went into the new animated film Wreck-It-Ralph with high expectations; in fact I don’t remember the last time I was so excited for an animated film. Though it wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be, Wreck-It-Ralph met all my expectations and then some.
Wreck-It-Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain not of just the film but of a fictional arcade video game called Fix-It-Felix Jr. Ralph’s job in life while the arcade is open is to destroy a building that Felix (John McBrayer) must then fix. Once the player beats the game, Ralph is hurled from the building into the mud. Ralph would be fine with that life if things were different once the arcade closed. Once closed, the characters from each game are free to do as they pleased in the video game world. Each arcade game has its own world and all the games are connected by Game Central Station but even after the game is done, Ralph is still treated like a villain. Forced to live in a dump alone, Ralph desperately wants the rest of the characters in his game to realize that being a bad guy doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy. Determined to prove his worth, Ralph beings game jumping, something a character shouldn’t do, to try and earn himself a medal. The problem with game jumping is that if you die in a game that isn’t your own you don’t regenerate; you’re dead for good.
Ralph visits two different games while game jumping, the first being a space set, alien first person shooter called Hero’s Duty (and the film does not overlook the puns that can be made with duty). Under the command of Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), Ralph is to help the First Person Shooter make it to the top of a tower without letting the cybugs (vicious alien robot bugs) destroy them. After failing miserably, Ralph decides to find his own way to the top to retrieve his own Hero’s medal. Ralph is successful in retrieving the medal but also inadvertently launches himself and a cybug into another game. Sergeant Calhoun follows Ralph, determined to kill the rogue cybug. If left unchecked, the cybug will multiply, eventually destroy the other video game worlds. Calhoun is accompanied by Felix, who is searching for Ralph. Without Ralph to be the villain, the arcade owner Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neil) assumes the game is out of order and is prepares to unplug it.
The second video game world that Ralph inadvertently visits is the racing world of Sugar Rush. In an environment made entirely out of candy, Sugar Rush is a world similar to Mario Kart where racing reigns supreme. Run by King Candy (Alan Tudyk) each night racers race to become one of the eight avatars the children in the arcade can chose to race as the next day. Ralph meets a young racer named Vanellope Van Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who dreams of racing but is not allowed to because she has been labeled a glitch. After she takes Ralph’s medal, the two work together to try and help her win her first race. As the two work together and grow closer as friends, Ralph becomes suspicious of King Candy and how Venelope actually became a glitch in the first place. The film continues to mix different game genres as Venellope, Ralph, Felix and Calhoun come together to save the land of Sugar Rush, defeat the cybugs, defeat a surprise enemy and save Venelope’s very existence.
Wreck-It-Ralph was one of the more unique and clever films I have seen in theaters in a while. I am a twenty-three year old video game nerd and the film appealed to me. I also believe that it could easily appeal to young children, old children and even adults who may not have much video game knowledge. With well thought out, lovable characters and rich, lush environments, Wreck-It-Ralph has all the elements of a great animated film. Beyond that however are some well placed, well integrated video game references that prove how clever the creators really are. The references were subtle, like the way the characters moved like video game characters or in a montage where we saw the arcade age 30 years, many of the video games that passed through were classic games. Even in the opening scene, when Wreck-It-Ralph is at a support group for bad guys, each other member of the support group was from a famous video game.
The main complaint I heard about this movie was that though the ideas in it were unique, the story itself wasn’t. The film starts with conflict, then the main character meets a friend and they grow close before something bad happens to make them fight (Ralph and Vanellope). The fight escalates to make the audience sad, then the main character finds his friend and apologizes so they can go on to defeat the villain. It is a common outline for animated movies but this film took the common outline and elevated it to the next level. I found every aspect of this film to be thoroughly unique from beginning to end and give it an 8 out of 10. It is a great animated film that will please gamers and non-gamers alike.
There are always rumors in the television world, whether it’s what has been cancelled, what is being renewed, what is coming back after a long absence for another season or what new shows are in the works. For being as obsessed with television as I am, I try my best not to pay attention to the rumors because it is often very difficult to determine which are true and which are not. Lately however, I have heard a few of the same rumors from a number of different sources about NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup. These rumors, which I pray are not true, have been talked about so much that I feel the need to make my own personal plea to NBC about them.
The driving rumor behind this post states that one of the Big 4 (that’s right, my Big 4 doesn’t have shit to do with sports) NBC comedy shows, Community, Parks and Recreation, the Office and 30 Rock, is going to be cancelled. The rumor then goes on to state that NBC is trying to decide between Community of Parks and Recs as the show to be cancelled. Are you kidding me? Of the four shows I listed, those are the two that I would keep beyond a shadow of a doubt. The youngest of the four mentioned shows, Community has just really hit its stride. Every episode is full of pop culture references and seems to be an adventure in itself. The Troy, Abed, Annie trio that has formed is enough in itself to keep the show going but nearly every moment of the show is brilliant and clever. Parks and Recs on the other hand hit its stride last season and is still going strong. Initially only being added to revive the show, Adam Scott and Rob Lowe not only brought a dying show back to life but they made it their home. The show not only has some of the greatest characters on television right now, Ron Swanson and Chris Trager, but it also manages to be heartfelt and hilarious at the same time. Why NBC would consider taking such great characters off the air I will never know.
Now, if we believe this rumor is true, the fact remains that one of the Big 4 need to be cancelled so if not Community or Parks and Recs then what? I believe that the first of the Big 4 that needs to be cancelled or ended is the Office. Gasp! Blasphemy! Traitor! Office fans, give me a minute before grapping your flaming torches and pitchforks. Odds are if you’re reading this I’m as big of an Office fan as you are, if not bigger. I’ve seen every episode of the Office and have loved pretty much every minute of it, even this past season without Michael Scott. I think the Office needs to come to an end simply because I love it so much. Nothing ruins a television show more than watching it get run into the ground. I don’t want to see that happen to my beloved Office. We have had eight great seasons of laughs and at this point in time, going for too many more would just be greedy. Eventually, the show would lose what makes it so special and instead of having part with it, we will have to watch it die. I don’t know about you but I prefer a fond but sad farewell to watching a death any day of the week.
I do not want the Office to be cancelled in the sense that it is ripped from the air this instant. I want there to be one more season where the show ends and leaves audiences satisfied. This could pose a problem if NBC absolutely has to cancel something before the next season starts but I really don’t want to see Parks and Recs go. There is an argument to be made for Community being cancelled now that creator Dan Harmon has left (I don’t think by choice) the show but that is another post for another time. I think instead of cancelling one of the Big 4, NBC should focus on making this season a great but final season for the Office, ending everything with Holly and Michael’s wedding (once again another post for another time).
Well, there’s my response to these wayward rumors, now it’s your turn to tell me what you think. Do you think I’m crazy or do you love the possibly cancelled shows as much as I do? Most importantly, if you’re sure that I’m wrong about these rumors, let me know because then we don’t have to keep worry about them. If not, please NBC, keep some of your best shows alive.
An Orangechair Plea to NBC #2 and #3 soon to follow