Things I Loved This Year: Small But Not Forgotten

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: two movies that ought to have been huge hits, but weren’t.

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Some movies seem destined to falter at the box office — they’re bad, they’re lazy, they’re weird, they lack star power, they’re in another language. It’s often a shame to watch those movies’ inevitably meager box-office returns, but you saw the disappointment coming, so it’s easier to manage and rationalize.

But other movies seem tailor-made for runaway blockbuster success and yet struggle to find it. Often, you can blame the marketing, or the distribution, or an accident of fate. The best you can hope for is a fruitful run on home video and streaming.

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Things I Loved This Year: A Worthy Tribute to a Soul Legend

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: a documentary that foreshadowed the death of its subject and offered a moving tribute in the process.

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Anyone who sees Barbara Kopple’s documentary Miss Sharon Jones after reading this recommendation will have a very different experience with it than I did in August. The movie’s title subject, an unflappable soul singer and cancer survivor, died last month from another bout of pancreatic cancer. Her perseverance, like everyone’s, had limits.

You might not get that sense from seeing the movie, though. Jones is energetic and ebullient throughout, even when she’s waiting on pivotal news in a doctor’s holding room or lying on the couch recovering from surgery. On stage, she’s a beast, backed by her band and proto-family of Dap-Kings. Offstage, she’s fiercely opinionated, never failing to speak her mind when she feels her bandmates are neglecting her or offer thanks when family friends help ease the pain of her illness.

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The M&M Report: Peak TV

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ve made a behind-the-scenes change. If you’re already subscribed to The M&M Report on iTunes or the podcast provider of your choice, you need to RE-SUBSCRIBE in order to receive new episodes in your feed. We know this extra step will be annoying, but we’re excited about what it means for the future of the podcast. Tell your friends!

On this episode, Devin and I pondered the perils and pleasures of Peak TV. We start by defining it with the help of comments from FX president John Landgraf, and then we examine how the phenomenon has affected our viewing habits, the creative forces that shape those habits and the business forces that have allowed Peak TV to flourish. This New York Magazine feature on the subject is worth reading, either as a precursor or a follow-up.

Listen here. And please subscribe!

The M&M Report: “The Night Of”

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Devin and I took a look back at HBO’s summer miniseries The Night Of, a crime procedural embedded under a thick layer of ambiguity and eccentricity. Not everything about the show worked for us, but we found plenty to enjoy and even more to discuss.


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The M&M Report: Summer Movie Amalgamation

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On our latest episode, Devin and I break down a bunch of movies they’ve seen in the last few weeks: Maggie’s Plan (1:10-7:40); Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (7:40-13:15); Money Monster (13:15-19:30); Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (19:30-25:30) and Weiner (25:30-end).


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.

“Saturday Night Live” 41: Space Pants, Alien Encounters and Other Highlights (and Lowlights)

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Assigning a value judgment like “good” or “great” or “best ever” or “worst in five years” to a season of Saturday Night Live is inevitably a fool’s errand. Each season is best understood through the lens of key sketches, breakout moments and overall trends. Below, I’ve listed a few of each from this post-anniversary season of America’s most astonishingly resilient TV show.

And while you’re in an SNL mood, check out my Indiewire investigation into the show’s record of diversity in its hosting choices.

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“Serial” Season 2: Slow Rollout

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The final episode of Serial season one arrived amid a flurry of online excitement. The thinkpieces flowed like lava from a volcano — an apt metaphor given the temperature of some of the takes. Speculation about the perceived guilt or innocence of the show’s principal subject Adnan Sayed ran rampant, as did spirited debates about whether the series owed its captive audience a definitive conclusion. The show’s prominence grew so rapidly over its first three months that it warranted a Funny or Die parody starring Michaela Watkins and an SNL parody starring Cecily Strong.

It was a strange moment of mass adulation for what was, at its root, an act of thorough, rigorous journalism, blown out to epic proportions with the help of Sarah Koenig’s compelling delivery, eerily catchy theme music and the production’s team savvy week-by-week rollout. Suddenly, media outlets and pop culture consumers tackled a podcast about the localized failures of the American criminal justice system with the same fervor that they would the latest superhero movie or hourlong TV drama. When the dust settled, attentions quickly turned to speculation about the show’s seemingly endless possibilities for next steps.

Then a year went by. Radio silence.

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The M&M Report: 2016 Oscars Preview

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On this episode of The M&M Report, Mark and Devin offer their thoughts on this year’s crop of Oscar nominees and predict some of the winners, which will be announced during the annual telecast on ABC this Sunday night.

Check back on Monday morning for the annual M&M Report post-Oscars recap.

Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download thefeed directly into the podcast app of your choice. New episodes should show up on your feed immediately and on iTunes within a day or two of release. Subscribe away!

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening.

The M&M Report: 2015 in Review

On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I look back on our favorite movies, TV, music, cultural moments and more from the past year. Listen for Devin’s passionate-ish defense of Ballers and my emotional reaction to the triumphant rise of Oscar Isaac, as well as our choices for favorite movie, SNL episode and late-night TV development.


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 and on iTunes within a day or two of release. Subscribe away!

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!