Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Last Week in Pop Culture #18

Around the Web
Two reviews from me this week, one for Ms. Marvel #1 (which was mostly excellent) and Wolverine #1 (which was mostly not).

Super Bowl XLVIII
Boy, that game sure did suck, didn't it? 

New Girl: Prince


I'm not the world's biggest Prince fan (despite being Minnesotan, I basically have no strong opinions on him), but I love the idea of casting him as some kind of impish relationship guru with magic powers and butterfly familiars, and in general appreciate that, as much as this was still Prince, the show made a character out of him, rather than just dropping him into their big post-Super Bowl episode for the sake of having an attention-getting guest star.

Top Chef: Maui Wowie/Finale


Not much to say about the first part of the finale, other than that once they announced there would only be two finalists, I pretty much figured it would be Nick and either Shirley or Nina, just based on the season thus far. I'd have then guessed Shirley over Nina, but I'm not at all surprised Nina made it to the final finale. Still would have preferred Shirley and Nina as the final two.

It's tough to get too worked up about the results, because once Shirley fell victim to the show's lame non-cumulative approach, the top chef of the season as presented was no longer in the running. Still, I'm irked that Nick won, mainly because he seems like the worst kind of dick: one who is utterly incapable of realizing he's being a dick. Cursing out your wait staff so loudly the diners hear it? Try that in your own restaurant and see how long you're in business, pal.

All his anger was pointless anyway, because the capability of the wait staff never played into the decision, and Nick knows that. The judges don't care what happens at the other tables so long as their food is good. This isn't restaurant wars. And then when Nick's behavior was brought up, it was quickly dismissed, because as always, this is really Top Cook, not Top Chef.

Has any contestant ever made it this far when told so consistently that their food was under-seasoned? Seriously, what kind of idiot does Nick need to be to just not have a standing order to himself to season his food until he thinks it's good, then toss some salt as it goes out the doors, because clearly the judges want more seasoning. He deserved to lose just for failing to make that adjustment so consistently. 

So Nick joins the ranks of Ilan and Hosea as the most unlikeable Top Chefs, and hopefully we'll never hear from him again.

The editing of Judges' Table did Tom no favors, basically making it look like he bullied Padma, Hugh and Emeril into crowning Nick Top Chef (Padma's eye-roll when Tom said he loved Nick's scallop noodle dish was a thing of beauty).

Also awesome: Stephanie's complete inability to smile when Nick won. Stick it to him, girl!

The Big Bang Theory: The Convention Conundrum
This was a pretty hilarious episode, largely on the strength of a phenomenal James Earl Jones appearance, but I do have one nitpick: how did Sheldon get to James Earl Jones' favorite sushi restaurant with Leonard unable to drive him?

Parks and Recreation: Farmers Market
How awesome was Ron's reaction to getting an iPod/rectangle? Also hilarious, Ron always referring to Ann as "Nurse" (and not the nurse) and Ben's calm assurance that he and Leslie were going to die in that fountain.

Other Stuff I Watched
Mom "Leather Cribs and Medieval Rack" & "Fireballs and Bullet Holes", Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Operation: Broken Feather", Trophy Wife "Foxed Lunch", The Goldbergs "Just Friends"

Quotable Quotes
New Girl 
Schmidt: Hey, guys, how are we going to transport all this cargo? Oh, great, we have Nick’s pants, we’re saved.

Prince: Anything beautiful is worth getting hurt for.
Jess: That’s very well put.
Prince: You know who said that?
Jess: No.
Prince: Me.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Sandler: I’m a serious person. I’m writing a movie right now about the Russian revolution.
Peralta: Oh, really, who does Kevin James play in it?
Sandler: Ha, it’s a serious movie. Trotsky.

Trophy Wife
Pete: You can’t let Diane get to you. She brings her own comment cards to restaurants.

The Big Bang Theory
Carrie Fisher: It’s not funny anymore, James!
James Earl Jones: Then why am I laughing?

Parks and Recreation
Leslie: The reason is, it’s vegetable porn! Porn on the cob! I’m sorry, I’m very good at vegetable puns.

6 comments:


  1. New Girl: Prince

    I regret, periodically, having given up on this show before the first season ended, but never enough to go back and catch up on it or even to sample a current episode to maybe jump-start my motivation for doing so.

    Parks and Recreation: Farmers Market

    This is not an intentional set pair, but I never regret going back to catch up on this and starting to watch live (or whatever) with the third season.

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  2. @Blam: I regret, periodically, having given up on this show before the first season ended, but never enough to go back and catch up on it or even to sample a current episode to maybe jump-start my motivation for doing so.

    It really came into its own in its second season, and for the most part, has held onto that quality into its third, but as much as I enjoy it and consistently laugh at it, as much as some of the characters are, at times, amongst my favorites on TV, it's not so good that I feel compelled to champion it.

    Parks and Rec is one of those shows where I say "if you're not watching it, why not?" whereas with New Girl it's more like "eh, it's not for everyone, and even if you would like it, it's not so transcendentally good that you NEED to watch it."

    All of which is my long-winded way of saying I excuse you for not keeping up with it. :)

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  3. And i will thank you again for telling me to watch Parks and Rec past the first season. Because man, that first season was a throwaway, but after that it's so awesome

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  4. @Sarah: Because man, that first season was a throwaway, but after that it's so awesome

    Yeah, it's hard to think of another show with such a wide gap between how poorly it started and how awesome it got. Simpsons, maybe? Though there's some decent stuff in that first season. I hear Seinfeld has a couple rocky early seasons.

    Parks and Rec is definitely a contender for the title "most improved show relative to its first season" in any regard.

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  5. okay so we caught up on Top Chef and we're kind of pissed once more. Like, what the hell is wrong with their editing? The whole episode they made it clear that Nick screwed up in places and Nina didn't, and that Padma, Emeril and Hugh all were for Nina winning. And then Nick wins. WTF?
    Are they just that idiotic regarding their editing, or do they do it on purpose so it's more of a surprise or something? Because it's not the kind of surprise i think their viewers want. Or at least i don't.

    And this year we were in such a good position for a woman to win. There were two women both in the finale and both really good chefs and one guy who was not a really good chef and was also an ass. And yet, of course he wins! Because god forbid we could actually have a good female chef take the title.

    It's episodes like this that make us want to stop watching altogether and just stick to TC Masters where there's a lot less bullshit

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  6. @Sarah: The whole episode they made it clear that Nick screwed up in places and Nina didn't, and that Padma, Emeril and Hugh all were for Nina winning. And then Nick wins. WTF?

    Yeah, like I said, the editing did Tom no favors, as the episode was constructed such that Nina seemed like the clear winner to everyone but Tom (and a mostly silent Gail), so that when Nick was announced as the winner, it just made it look like Tom threw his weight as head judge around and bullied everyone into accepting Nick as the winner.

    He's taken a lot of flak for that online, but he's since posted some stuff on Twitter that suggests there was an actual process to picking the winner (with a course-by-course point system). Obviously, he could still have thrown his weight around, but I think it was more a case, as you suggest, of the show's editors/producers trying to build suspense and create a narrative, setting Nick up for the fall to make his win a surprise.

    Which, I guess, is fine in the moment, but makes for bad storytelling when anyone takes a second to think back over what they were shown and it becomes clear the conclusion doesn't match the story.

    Too often, it seems like the show is more interested in surprising us, when what it really needs to be doing is building a case for the winner, since the audience is at a disadvantage relative to the judges (we can't taste the food). So when a winner or loser is announced, we should say "oh, that makes sense, based on the selection of the judges' comments we were shown" instead of saying "WTF? Where did that come from? It sure seemed like so-and-so was going home". Sure, it's a surprise, but it makes for a bad story.

    Because god forbid we could actually have a good female chef take the title.

    To be fair, Kristin won last season, in a season in which the final two were both women, so it's not like Top Chef is totally anti-women.

    Which isn't to say there isn't a problem: two female winners amongst all the seasons *is* pretty ridiculous (especially when you consider the seasons, like this one or season five when Hosea won but Carla was clearly a better chef who just biffed it in the finals because of Casey, when a woman should have won), but from what I've heard, that's more an indictment of the culinary world, which remains very male-centric and rewarding of traditionally male attributes (this is why you annoyingly see so many male contestants on this show, including Nick, casually refer to their female peers with diminutive nicknames like "baby" and "sweetie"). And while some of the judges, coming from that world themselves, likely bring with them some of those institutionalized prejudices, I don't think there's a conscious effort on their part or the show's to marginalize female chefs.

    At the end of the day, I want to feel like the best chef won, male or female. If Nick truly was the best chef in this batch of contestants, then the producers/editors needed to do a better job of showing us that throughout the season and in the finale, because the only way we can judge these contestants is by what Bravo shows us. Creating a narrative that sets up Nick for a surprise win at the end *is* surprising, but in the long run, just makes for bad TV.

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