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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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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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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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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.

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Do hit singles sell records? Conflicting messages from a recently released rapper on fire and a British soul singer on a roll

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Adele scores her second No. 1 this week as the heartfelt “Someone Like You” bounds 19-1, but her triumph has been nearly drowned out by news that Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV sold an impressive 964,000 copies in its opening week. The record industry has been used to bad news and declining record sales for a decade now, but this week represents a major bright spot.

Weezy’s sales figures are astonishing. Sure, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way might have outsold Tha Carter IV when it topped a million in its first week earlier this year, but Lil Wayne didn’t have the benefit of Amazon hawking digital copies of his album for 99 cents. He also didn’t have the benefit of a blockbuster hit single piquing public interest which raises some interesting questions. Just how important is a monster single to spurring album sales?

In 2008, Weezy sold over a million copies of Tha Carter III in its first week, a feat aided by his first No. 1 single, “Lollipop” feat. Static Major. This time around, Lil Wayne might have plenty of hits on his hands, just not one as big.

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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.

Community

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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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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HEAD TO HEAD: 2 Broke Girls vs. New Girl

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

Every so often, we’ll take a look at two similar shows, old or new, and discuss their respective merits and flaws. This week, two new comedies centered around young, hip girls — FOX’s New Girl and CBS’s 2 Broke Girls. Next week, we’ll pit The Playboy Club and Pan Am against one another.

I think I’m over Zooey Deschanel. I know it’s blasphemous to say, and I’ll risk the little credibility I have, but she just doesn’t do it for me anymore. In 2009, sure, I would have fallen head over heels for a pilot starring everyone’s favorite Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But that was then, and this is now. We’re two years past the storm of Zooey-related fervor surrounding 500 Days of Summer, and whatever goodwill she had after that has been completely lost on me while watching FOX’s New Girl.

If only New Girl were the only pilot this year featuring a would-be indie princess, but alas, we have CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, a show I was admittedly very excited for, in no small part to the wonderful Kat Dennings, who has been relegated to supporting roles for too long and is destined for greatness. 2 Broke Girls won’t get her there.

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Who needs the VMAs anyways? Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera go No. 1

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Cultural commentators frequently discuss the death of the monoculture in the digital age – the loss of shared cultural artifacts that span regions and generations. When Americans only had a few black and white channels to chose from, it was easier for them to experience the same cultural phenomena at the same time.

No matter how many YouTube views Justin Bieber gets, it’s not the same as a nation transfixed by Elvis’ swivelling hips on the Steve Allen Show in 1956 or overwhelmed by Beatlemania when the band performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963. Today, there are precious few events (the Superbowl, a high profile presidential debate, maybe the finale of American Idol during its heyday) that can bring us together that way.

While the fragmentation of culture makes it impossible to have another Elvis or Beatles or Michael Jackson, MTV proved the monoculture isn’t as dead as we thought Sunday when they attracted a record 12.4 million viewers for the annual Video Music Awards. And America didn’t just watch – they talked about it too. VMA commentary dominated Twitter trending topics. Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby announcement broke a Twitter record with 8,868 tweets a second being sent out about Beyonce’s baby bump.