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SNL: Surviving without Wiig and Samberg

Written by Karma Chesnut on . Posted in TV

Saturday Night Live lost two prominent cast members in 2012 when Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg both left to pursue other projects. Before these two joined the cast (Wiig in 2006 and Samberg in 2005), the show was in a downward spiral. I certainly didn’t watch SNL and no one I knew did either.  It wasn’t just that  the sketches weren’t funny, they were borderline tedious. Then Wiig and Samberg came on the show, breathing new life into the sketches. These two were fresh and, more importantly, funny. So when Wiig and Samberg both left the show within two months of each other, my first thought was, “Well, I guess I won’t be watching SNL anymore.” Yet here we are almost a year later and I am pleased to say that SNL is still just as hilarious.

When I say that Wiig and Samberg saved SNL, please believe that I honestly mean it. Lets start with Wiig. Tina Fey first introduced the world of comedy to the idea that women are funnier than men in drag, an idea for which we as an audience are very grateful. Wiig further proves that Fey is right. Having seen Wiig’s work on SNL (her Drew Barrymore impression will leave you crying with happiness) as well as her movie Bridesmaids, which she also co-wrote, I am convinced that she is one of the funniest women currently in show business. Her fresh style and laugh-at-herself attitude brought a level of light-hearted fun to SNL that had been missing on the show since the days of Will Ferrel.

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Last Man Standing: One Giant Leap (Backward) For Mankind

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

In an episode of Louie this summer, Louis C.K. walked off the set of a fictional sitcom based on his own experiences in the TV industry. C.K. was frustrated by the bogus version of life in multi-camera sitcoms — the schlub with a wife out of his league who just nods along agreeably, kids he just can’t relate to, a job with wacky coworkers/friends — and all he wanted was some authenticity. Would it be too much to ask for that schmuck’s hot wife to not go along with his tangents and schemes? Would the show really be worse off if said schmuck had a character arc, learned some lessons, and (gasp) became a decent husband and father? Of course not.

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Breaking Bad: Season 4 in Hindsight

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

I get the feeling that we’ll be talking about this one for a long time.

Back in July, nobody, not even Vince Gilligan himself, could have convinced me that Breaking Bad would be able to top its third season. Equal it? Sure. But for me, its third season was the an apex of dramatic storytelling on television, a milestone that would rarely be paralleled by any future show. Here I am, thirteen weeks later—and I’m eating crow, because they did it again.

Breaking Bad topped itself, and holy **** was it one crazy ******* ride.

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Survivor: Welcome Back to Redemption Island

Written by Daniel Anderson on . Posted in TV

It’s back — the granddaddy of all (network) reality television. And not a week too soon, either. Survivor returns (yes, along with the unfortunate Redemption Island wrinkle), with a brand new group of castaways. Brand new, that is, except for the two returning “heroes” Coach (the self-proclaimed Dragon Slayer) and Ozzy (he of the indomitable immunity challenge record), who are playing for their third time each.

And the show wastes no time pitting the two “heroes” (sorry, I can’t ever actually call them heroes without the quotes — it’s just too ridiculous) against each other in a reward challenge, which Ozzy predictably dominates. At this point, we’re thinking “Oh, poor Coach” since his whole tribe is giving off an undeniable “Ah crud, we’re stuck with Coach” vibe. To make matters worse, Savaii tribe thinks Ozzy is a complete rockstar, blowing off building a shelter in order to just swim and “kick it.” This in turn causes Dawn to flip out and break down emotionally, marking her as early elimination bait.

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The Office: The List

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

Michael Scott was and always will be one of my favorite characters of all time. Some people called him an inconsistent character, but I always saw him as one of the most complicated and wonderful icons of the last decade of TV. Going on without his presence seemed almost impossible last year — and then The Office went on with life as usual.

Those last few episodes of Season 7 had some fantastic moments in them (read: the entire Dwight-as-manager episode), even if the whole wasn’t as strong as the sum of its parts. After the finale, I hoped the producers would pick James Spader as the new boss. He was magnetic, in the most disturbing way possible. He stood out in stark contrast to the rest of the cast, and I thought he would bring a fantastic new energy to make everyone forget about Steve Carell’s absence.

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Parks & Recreation: I’m Leslie Knope

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

Well, what would you have done?

Leslie was faced with an incredible decision in the final moments of season three— run for city council? Or stay together with Ben? Nobody in their right mind would have thought her to try to have it both ways (this is the noble Leslie Knope, after all), but nonetheless her decision was a heartbreaking one. Even though she and Ben ended things amicably, and of course in their own dorky-cute way, this won’t be the end of this conflict. Not by a long shot.

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Community : Biology 101

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

The world is fixated on the future. Thinking, and worrying, about it is burned into our identity as humans. When we’re children, we imagine high school; likewise, in high school, we imagine college. Once college is over, though, and the great beyond of life hits us, we keep looking forward, hoping that things will get better—we pray that we haven’t peaked in life prematurely. For all the thinking we do, humans forget the one constant in all points of life: the group of friends one has at any given moment.

When I was in high school, I didn’t want to imagine life without my tight-knit group of friends. There were five or so of us that knew each other completely, a group of confidantes that regularly relied on each other. It was a strange group, but it was still a family of sorts. Once college hit, all of us went our separate ways, promising to stay in touch and remain close, but of course that didn’t happen. We still communicate, and see each other, but it isn’t the same anymore. It can’t be.

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Modern Family: On Familiar Ground

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

Haven’t we seen all of this before?

Mitchell and Cameron have CRAZY quirks, and those quirks affect their parenting of Lily. Claire is a loud and commanding shrew. Phil is vying for Jay’s respect. Is it just me, or are these Season One’s stories with a flashy new paint job?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Modern Family. It’s consistently one of the highlights of my week, and there are few shows that deserve consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Emmys more. But something seems wrong— it seems like the show is spinning its wheels, something that “The Show That Saved Sitcoms” would have never done a year ago.

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Glee: One Last Shot — First Impressions on Season 3

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

When I started my junior year in high school, I imagined that when I looked back on my four years there, I’d reflect upon it bitterly and with a lot of spite. Of course that wasn’t healthy, but up to that point, my school life hadn’t exactly been rosy.

I grew up in a small town where I fell outside both the religious and political majorities, and my life outside of home was affected because of both. I wasn’t talented athletically, or a social butterfly, but I always had a close group of friends who had similar interests and were pushing for the same thing—to be recognized and respected in the school. By my senior year, I had achieved that more than I would have imagined a year earlier.

Perhaps my trials in high school were what drew me to a pilot that aired after American Idol my junior year, and those experiences are why I continue to have blind faith in that same show — Glee — one that I both admire and loathe at the same time.

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RECAP: Two and a Half Men

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

Well, consider me shocked. That was non-terrible television.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I laughed. I laughed during Two and a Half Men. Maybe it was because of Charlie Sheen’s HILARIOUS funeral, or perhaps because Ashton Kutcher is a genuinely gifted comedian, but I laughed. I almost feel embarrassed.

My relationship with Two and a Half Men isn’t a very strong one. In fact, all I’d seen of the series was a few post-credits tags while waiting for Archer to come on. All I knew was that Charlie Sheen played Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer was criminally wasted, and the mysterious half-man lurked about. Having that much knowledge, I entered tonight’s premiere wondering just how bad the show that is famous for being bad could be.