Happy 2019!! We are stepping back from our usual game content, so that I can write about my newest obsession. A couple of weeks ago, Red Menace wrote about her hopes for the year. One of my hopes this year is that I want to find more positive things in the world, which is really hard these days. Believe it or not, I have found positive things in the most unusual place – reality competition shows. I will begin this by saying that I am actually not a fan of reality television in general, as most of it is too drama filled for me. There are three shows in particular, The Great British Bake Off, Nailed It and Making It, that I believe are the three best examples of this type of program.
The holiday season is here and it’s a great time for animation. Any TV channel with any kind of children’s or family program has a seemingly endless supply of animated specials old and new for viewers to enjoy. Animated specials often become part of our holiday traditions. We wrap presents, eat whatever traditional foods we enjoy, and watch the same specials we’ve been watching since we were kids.
But maybe you’re looking for a change of pace? Maybe you could use some fresh viewing material to accompany Rudolph and Charlie Brown? Perhaps something with a distinctive animation style? I’ve got you covered. Here are three Christmas specials that will delight you with new animated visuals and fresh (and familiar) tales of the season. Continue reading
NB: Some pretty minor spoilers here. I kept the really good stuff out. But if you care about a super minor character in Elementary, you’ve been warned.
My first exposure to the Sherlock Holmes tales came when I I was thirteen or fourteen years old. My Nana was a Reader’s Digest subscriber and would regularly purchase the big anthology collections they sold under the World’s Best Reading imprint. You know the ones, the big hardcovers with the embossed covers? I loved those things – so many stories in one convenient package! If memory serves, theSherlock Holmes volume came into my hands during sometime away from school- either a sick day or summer vacation – and so I read every single story in rather rapid succession.
So ol’ Sherlock and I have a history together, so I was excited when the BBC’s Sherlock first aired. Here was a character who seems like such a product of his Victorian roots, dusted off and updated for our shiny modern times. The stories were flashy and fun, and while I don’t entirely get the crush everyone has on Benedict Cumberbatch, I will admit that he’s charming and urbane and enjoyable to watch dashing around solving mysteries. So when I heard that CBS also had an updated Holmes story, set in New York and with Lucy Liu rather improbably playing Watson, I was dismissive. How could regular old American network television compete with the stylish offerings of Masterpiece Mystery and the BBC?
And yet…I kept hearing things. Things that implied that CBS’s Elementary was quite good. And well, I do like Jonny Lee Miller, who plays their Holmes, and we had just finished up with a season of Deadwood and had a hole in the schedule, and it was still winter…I mentioned to Mr. Menace (who’d seen it) that I wanted to give it a shot. The fates smiled and boxed set of season one came into our possession, and we were off to the races.
It is quite possible that this show is much more well known than I have been lead to believe. In the year or so since I have watched it, I’ve only run into two or three other people whose eyes have lit up with both recognition and glee at the mere mention of Moss’s Abracada-bra or Roy’s Kermit witness protection program t-shirt. So in my eyes, more people need to stop watching The Big Bang Theory and log on to Netflix to watch the vastly superior IT Crowd.
The premise of the show is pretty basic. Jen (played by the hilarious Katherine Parkinson), is a woman with much more ambition than smarts. During a rather bizarre job interview, she manages to talk her way into the position of IT Manager at a large company. She soons finds herself managing the two IT guys in the basement – Roy, a raggedy guy with a short temper (played by Chris O’Dowd, now of Bridesmaids and Girls fame) and Moss (played by Richard Ayoade, recently seen in The Watch), a guy who is both strangely literal and cluelessly naive.
The IT Crowd is strong on a number of levels other than it just being funny. The show truly excels at making fun of the worlds of dating and work, and there isn’t a single performer in the show that gets consistently overshadowed by the rest.
And just to give you a taste of the show’s funnier moments, I found this little ditty for you on youtube. Quick intro: Jen suddenly realizes there is a red door in the IT office that she has never noticed before. A quick exploration introduces her to the 4th and rather secret member of her office – Richmond, an executive whose discovery of death metal and goth music has resulted in a demotion to the bowels of the building:
You enjoy that cameo by Noel Fielding? I did.
Other gems include the boys convincing Jen that the entire internet is housed in a tiny black box they lend her as a visual aid for an upcoming speech, Moss enrolling in what he thinks is a German cooking class but finding out the “I want to cook with you” ad means something else entirely, and my favorite episode that involves an awkward dinner party at Jen’s house.
In the end, the IT Crowd is a cheeky and very funny show. Rather than just spending all its time pointing and laughing at the nerds, the focus turns to the members of the IT team eventually learning to support each other and work through all the crazy situations together. Of course, that doesn’t mean all their witty jabs at each other go away either. What you end up with is a sassy and slick show filled with pop-culture references, a few parodies, and over the top antics.
The nerd/geek love is certainly there in spades as well. A person could spend hours looking through all the goodies they’ve got in their IT office – vinyl toys, indie comics, old gaming systems, and every kind of poster and clever bumper sticker you could think of. I will admit to not getting a lot of the references myself, but that is proof in itself that the show is pretty accessible to those who might not necessarily identify themselves as a nerd/geek.
If you are still not convinced that this show is worth your time, those of you who watch a lot of British TV might be excited to learn that this was the third series from Graham Linehan, creator of both Father Ted and Black Books. Oh, and there are scores of people out there who want to get their hands on some of the t-shirts that Roy wears throughout the episodes.
Lastly, if you have already seen The IT crowd and was wondering what else might be worth your time in the scary sea of Netflix Instant watch, here are a few other shows/movies that I have watched recently.
Black Books: Bernard Black is a surly bookshop owner/expert drunk who would rather tell you off than actually sell you a book. After yet another one of his crazy drinking sprees, he discovers that he has hired the recently laid off and rather chipper Manny as his new clerk.
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: Let’s imagine Kevin Smith wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer and replaced Buffy with a sex obsessed, pot smoking Canadian boy. Yeah, it’s pretty much that.
The House – Korean animated film about a girl who moves into a declining neighborhood and suddenly finds that she can see and talk to the spirits of the old houses. Very slow moving, but the animation style is interesting.