Thankful

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One of the essential functions of popular culture is to provide relief from the stresses of everyday life. Another is to offer thrills, joy and insights from unfamiliar perspectives. Here’s a sampling of moments from this year that accomplished those goals for me. Happy Thanksgiving.

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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: Schur Thing

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: praise for a TV creator who’s doing all the right things.

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Michael Schur earned an express pass to the TV Pantheon on the strength of Parks and Recreation, the NBC sitcom he created with Greg Daniels of The Office. But his subsequent efforts have only strengthened his claim to the title of one of the century’s most influential, successful and inventive creators.

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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).


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Emmy Predictions 2015: Don’t Hold Your Breath

This post took ten minutes to write. I went down this list of Emmy nominations, thought for a moment and then picked the nominee I could most easily imagine winning the award on tonight’s Andy Samberg-hosted telecast, which airs at 8pm on Fox. I didn’t double back and reconsider my choices, and I don’t apologize for any outlandish or unlikely picks. If I had to do it all over again, I might make different predictions. But I don’t, so I won’t.

See you back here tomorrow when we find out how well I did.

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“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”: Cop Rock

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a consistently good sitcom that’s almost always just shy of greatness. Two seasons in, executive producers Michael Schur and Dan Goor haven’t quite re-created the magic of Parks and Recreation season 2, even with many of the same structural elements in place. But they’ve created a fun world that retains the potential to grow into something more profound. If it doesn’t, it’s still really funny, especially when Andre Braugher is onscreen.

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The M&M Report, Episode 31: Hamm Nation

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Listen to this week’s episode here.

This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I review the new Jon Hamm baseball drama Million Dollar Arm and reveal the results of a month-old bet involving this season of Saturday Night Live.

The podcast will return with episodes devoted to Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and more. Stay tuned!