“American Idol”: Plugging the Holes

Idol

American Idol, once the nation’s most popular television show and a major force in the music industry, has been reduced to a footnote on a theoretical map of pop culture significance. And yet it chugs along, struggling to maintain relevance even as viewers vote with their remotes for NBC’s The Voice, which is younger, hipper and ostensibly more reflective of modern music tastes and trends.

After watching last night’s show (the first time I watched a full episode of season 13), it’s not hard to see why viewers have been tuning out. Even as some aspects of the show have improved, and intentions are largely in the right place, American Idol remains out of touch with the audience it clearly wants to reach.

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Oscars 2014: Back Down to Earth

Ellen

I already spent 35 minutes pontificating about last night’s Oscars on a special instant-reaction edition of The M&M Report. Nonetheless, I’ve still got a few more thoughts on last night’s show to offer. How did Ellen succeed where so many other hosts have failed? Why did Idina Menzel stumble when we all expected her to soar? Why are the Oscars relevant to discussing movies? My answers to these questions and more below.

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The M&M Report, Episode 22: Wrong Side of the Tracks

House of Cards

Listen to Episode 22 of The M&M Report here.

This week on The M&M Report, Devin and I welcomed a very special guest: self-described “House of Cards enthusiast” Leah Doolittle. Leah and Devin kicked off the podcast with an in-depth discussion of the best and worst of season 2, from the twist in the premiere to the shockers later.

After Devin and Leah’s discussion, I offered my thoughts (okay, a rant) on the subject of pop-culture shaming in the first installment of Mark Occasionally Doesn’t Like Things. Why is it acceptable for people to tell me that I have to watch House of Cards just because they watch it and think it’s cool? It’s not.

Finally, Devin and I offered some brief thoughts on Jimmy Fallon‘s first week as host of The Tonight Show. So far, Jay hasn’t breathed a word in dissent, but there’s still time.

Next week, we’ll be doing something special. Instead of doing another preview of the Oscars and then talking about the show a week later, when you’ll have already forgotten about it, Devin and I will press “Record” immediately after the telecast ends on Sunday night, and you can listen to it by Monday morning. We’ll talk best and worst moments, biggest surprises and much more.

Until next time…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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The M&M Report, Episode 17: The Year’s Best Movies

12 Years a Slave


 

Welcome to The M&M Report! This week, Devin and I broke down the Oscar nominees in the major categories, offering our thoughts on the nominees, as well as some alternatives who we would have enjoyed seeing on the list. We closed by listing our five favorite movies of 2013. (For further reading, check out my thoughts on the Oscar nominations.)

Devin and I are proud to announce that The M&M Report will be moving to TheEagleOnline.com beginning next week. We’re very excited to bring a podcast presence to our student newspaper, and we hope that you’ll join us in our transition. Our shows will be very much the same, though perhaps a little shorter – we know firsthand that college students have busy schedules. We’ll start the new era of The M&M Report with a discussion of one of our favorite shows, The West Wing. Plus, the triumphant return of Devin Doesn’t Like Things.

Until then…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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“Frozen”: Warmth on Ice

Frozen

Disney’s Frozen has all of the signifiers of another tired princess retread. A gorgeous young woman sets off an epic quest that hinges on the pursuit of true love’s kiss. She’s joined by a cadre of wacky sidekicks – in this case, a gruff iceman, a friendly snowman and a terse reindeer. Along the way, she encounters unfamiliar creatures, battles the forces of evil and eventually (spoiler alert, though not really) saves the world and restores the kingdom to peace and prosperity. Oh, and true love’s kiss and stuff.

But look closely at the beating heart of Frozen, and you’ll find just enough intriguing subversions of the formula to justify a return to these tropes. Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) rarely fulfills the role of damsel in distress, especially once she’s gotten used to interacting with actual human beings after years secluded in a cavernous castle. The forces of evil aren’t misunderstood monsters hungry for power, but the internal confusions of a young woman struggling with powers she doesn’t fully understand. True love’s kiss comes in many forms, romance ultimately proving to be insufficient. And in the end, it’s not the valiant prince that saves the day, but the power of well-established familial connections.

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