Devin and I welcomed returning guest Erin Vail for a discussion of D.C. TV shows, prompted by the series premiere of BrainDead and the excellent fifth season of Veep, which wraps up on Sunday.
Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. If you have the time, rate and review us on iTunes as well. We’d greatly appreciate your support.
Starting a season of Orange is the New Black a week after it drops on Netflix is like traveling back in time to an indeterminate date in March 1912 and boarding the Titanic. You know bad things are going to happen — it’s just a matter of where and when.
I haven’t been spoiled on any major developments yet, but I’ve seen enough references to plot developments and general story directions to have a clue about a few very unfortunate events to come. I also know which characters will play a prominent or notable role in the season, at least to the degree that they’re worth tweeting about.
A little bit of foresight helps with an episode like “Work That Body for Me,” which bounces in manic fashion around the Litchfield women’s prison, in an effort to pick up as many of last season’s dangling plot threads as possible. For the first time in the show’s history, the new season picks up in media res, immediately after the events of last season’s closing scene, in which most of the prisoners escape through a hole in the fence and revel in a nearby lake. They didn’t say it, for fear of spoiling the moment, but even the prisoners knew the ecstasy of their brief escape couldn’t last long.
I’ve never met Anna Kendrick. I don’t know what she wants out of life. Maybe she’s content with what she’s doing now. But as a pop culture consumer and general appreciator of her output, I want more.
My proposal: next time a late-night talk show host departs, Anna Kendrick should (at least be in talks to) replace him. (Or her…but Samantha Bee just started this year and has been killing it on TBS. Leave her bee.)
This proposal is far-fetched and unlikely for several reasons. None of the late-night hosts appear close to the end of their respective tenures. Kendrick is a Movie Star settled somewhere between the A- and B-lists, and to the best of my knowledge, she’s never expressed interest in a full-time, nightly gig. And, most unfortunately, television networks, presently and historically, don’t have a great history, or much of a history at all, of hiring women for such positions.
This season of Veep has been outstanding from minute one, but Sunday’s penultimate episode “Kissing Your Sister” rose to the top of an impressive heap. Eagle-eyed fans of the show know that the ninth episode of each season takes an experimental left turn. Last year’s ninth episode “Testimony” marked the left-est turn of them all, with a full episode of the characters’ hearings in front of Congress presented C-SPAN-style.
It’s early, but I’m confident that “Kissing Your Sister” at least matches that all-time outing, and maybe even exceeds it. It had a higher bar to clear, for one — Catherine Meyer’s fly-on-the-wall documentary has been a throwaway gag since the season premiere, and the juicy combination of the Meyer administration’s antics and a video camera appeared too fruitful not to re-emerge at the season’s climax. “Testimony” extended directly from the events of the episode that preceded it, but “Kissing Your Sister” wove a more complex and intricate narrative that extended back into the events of the entire season, occasionally replaying scenes from previous episodes from different angles or with additional context. The clever conceit of “Testimony” relegated most of the fast-paced action to the background or offscreen, but “Kissing Your Sister” gunned the plot engine even as the jokes flew fast and furious.
Devin and I return to a topic to which we’ve only alluded in podcasts past: FX’s The Americans, starring Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as KGB agents living among Americans in the United States at the height of the Cold War. Spoiler-y thoughts on the most recent season abound.
Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. New episodes should show up on your feed immediately. Subscribe away!
Also, be sure to read my Slant Magazine interview with the show’s executive producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is funny in all the ways you’d expect a Lonely Island movie to be funny, and in all the ways that you’d expect a movie called Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping to be funny. There are great visual gags like a hologram of Adam Levine grinding on another hologram of Adam Levine; spot-on parodies of music industry egotism like the title character Conner’s lavish mansion and conniving manager (Tim Meadows); and inspired cameos from the likes of Ringo Starr, Usher, Maya Rudolph, Will Arnett, Chelsea Peretti, Seal and dozens more celebrities game to poke a little fun at themselves and their occupations.
At a trim 86 minutes, the movie is over before most of its (outsized, proudly silly) gags get truly stale. The conceit — a self-obsessed former boy band star (Andy Samberg) goes solo and makes it big before crashing and burning in the public eye — is familiar, and the wisp of a story travels from the obvious point A to the obvious point B without many detours.