Phineas and Ferb, The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension

It’s wildly inappropriate to sing the praises of a Disney Channel show by saying that it pisses genius, but “Phineas and Ferb” does just that, deftly blending dry relationship humor with high-concept science and one of the best pop soundtracks you’ll find outside of “South Park” (back when they wrote songs, anyway). Having wrapped their 39-episode (!) second season last fall, their first all-new show of 2011 is the wildly ambitious full-length movie “Across the 2nd Dimension,” and to the surprise of no one, it’s pretty awesome. Phineas and Ferb invent a portal to another dimension, and they discover a world where the nefarious Dr. Doofenshmirtz is a much more successful evil genius than the one in our world, and he plans to use the boys’ portal to take over our tri-state area as well. The producers have a great time playing against type (the other Candace is an ass-kicking resistance fighter, while the boys are timid and never leave the house), but the overall tone of the film is quite dark, which may not sit well with younger kiddos. Thankfully, the movie’s mini-tunes are the ringing pop gems fans have come to expect, to the point where one of the movie’s best songs wound up on the cutting room floor.

The DVD of “Across the 2nd Dimenson” uses the alternate world in a cheeky manner by splitting the bonus features between two title screens (poke around the main screen, and you’ll figure it out). The deleted scenes are quite good, but the two musical numbers, a longer version of “Robot Riot” and Candace’s great “Mysterious Force” (arguably the best song Ashley Tisdale has sung in years) are the winners. They also included the episode “Attack of the 50 Foot Sister,” which each universe in the DVD sporting its own audio commentary, one of which is the voice actors behind Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Major Monogram in character. This should satisfy fans of the show while the producers are hard at work on the show’s third season.

Click to buy Phineas and Ferb, The Movie from Amazon

  

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OMG! Brad Bird giving up animation under extreme duress!!! I repeat, “OMG!!!!”

The first 4.5 minutes of this awards video of Brad Bird’s extremely well deserved Windsor McKay Award from the Annies is pretty much your standard career retrospective about the former “Simpsons” creative turned writer/director of the instant classics, “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” and “Ratatouille.” In the second half, Bird himself appears. He’s presumably somewhere near the set of his live-action debut, the next “Mission: Impossible” installment, which will star Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg, among others.

The weird part is that he says he’s giving up animation forever, but then it gets weirder and more worrisome.

H/t Mike Fleming.

  

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Greetings to the New Series: “Bob’s Burgers”

It’s never a wise move to predict great things from a new animated series based solely on its pilot, nor is it generally safe to play the benefit-of-the-doubt game when it comes to a creative team, so feel free to call me stupid and dangerous for going out on a limb and hoping that I’m going to really enjoy “Bob’s Burgers.”

You will note, however, the use of italics…but we’ll get back to that in a moment.

First, let’s focus on the one thing about “Bob’s Burgers” that is absolutely undeniable: H. Jon Benjamin is a god amongst adult animation voiceover actors.

As is the case with far too many voice actors, even if you don’t know Benjamin’s name, you most likely know his work. He’s Ben Katz on “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.” He’s Jason, Perry, and – yes! – Coach McGuirk on “Home Movies.” He was part of “O’Grady,” an underrated animated series that aired on The N, as well as the coulda-been-a-contender “Freak Show,” which David Cross still laments as one of the great missed opportunities of his career. Then there’s “Lucy: Daughter of the Devil,” “Assy McGee,” and, most recently, FX’s “Archer,” where he plays the title character.

Here, Benjamin is Bob, proprietor of a self-named burger joint that he runs with the help of his wife, Tina (Dan Mintz), and his kids Gene (Eugene Mirman), Linda (John Roberts), and Louise (Kristen Schaal). Even though he’s married with three children, Bob’s Burgers is really the end-all and be-all of Bob’s existence, with his intensity in keeping the restaurant rolling along such that he regularly forgets his wedding anniversary, his wife’s birthday…even his own birthday. Fortunately, Tina is so self-absorbed, not to mention slightly delusional, that they’ve managed to maintain their successfully dysfunctional relationship for many years now. As for the kids, Gene would seem to be a budding prop comedian (when outside the restaurant, wearing a giant burger costume and passing out samples, he regularly plays with a megaphone that makes fart noises), Linda’s destined for a life as a social outcast (she spends the pilot complaining about her nasty case of crotch itch), and Louise is disconcertingly cheery but seems to have no understanding of what’s socially acceptable (she changes the name of the Burger of the Day to “The Child Molester” and tells her class that Bob makes his burgers out of corpses from the funeral parlor next door)…but, of course, all of these character traits could change, since – as noted – all we’ve seen so far is the pilot.

And, say, how about that pilot?

Family sitcoms may be a dime a dozen, particularly animated ones, but the concept of a family-owned restaurant is fun, and I like the idea that Bob’s so obsessed with his burger joint that his response to Linda’s question about her itchy crotch is, “Are you asking me as my daughter, or are you asking me as my cook? Because my cook wouldn’t ask me that.” But even though Louise’s antics are funny, you can’t help but think that any kid who’s smart enough to find humor in the idea of naming a burger “The Child Molester” is also smart enough to know the effect it could have on her father’s business.

All told, I wanted to like “Bob’s Burgers” decidedly more than I actually did, but thanks to the fact that it reunites Benjamin with series creator Loren Bouchard, his collaborator on two of his greatest creative successes (“Dr. Katz” and “Home Movies”), I still want to give it the benefit of the doubt that it’s salvageable. To be worth watching on a regular basis, Bouchard is going to have to lose the lowbrow that permeates way too much of “Bob’s Burgers,” embrace the uniqueness of the premise, and keep things grounded in reality rather than ridiculousness. Like I said at the beginning, I’m hoping the series will grow more appetizing in the weeks ahead, but I know it’s a tall order to fill, and my expectations are realistic: since I’m pretty sure the ingredients that leave the worst taste in my mouth are what led Fox to greenlight the series in the first place, I’m resigned to leaving “Bob’s Burgers” still hungry for laughs.

  

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2010 Year End TV Review: Scott Malchus

2010 was another great year of television, despite the fact that most of the new fall network shows were forgettable. While the big four seem to have a handle on coming up with new comedies, they still can’t develop innovative dramas to compete with the cable channels. Fox made an attempt with their excellent “Lone Star,” but viewers stayed away and the series was quickly cancelled (despite support from the network president). With Lost leaving the airwaves, it seems that if you want to watch something other than a procedural, you’ll have to tune to AMC, FX or HBO. That’s not to say that there aren’t some great cop, lawyer or medical shows (“The Good Wife” immediately jumps to mind), but the TV landscape is wide open enough that stories about all walks of life should be able to survive.

Best Drama: Friday Night Lights (Direct TV/NBC)

There was a lot of great drama on television this year (“Southland” was exceptional, “Lost” went out in glorious fashion, “Men of a Certain Age” was moving and effective), but I would be remiss if I didn’t place “FNL” at the top of my list, just where it has been since the show premiered in 2006. It’s hard to believe that this will be its last season. No other show has me cheering and laughing and crying week in and week out. Even during the cringe worthy moments (Julie’s affair with the TA) I can’t bring myself to raise the remote and fast forward through them. I’ve stated time and again on Popdose that this show is the most realistic portrayal of small town life I’ve ever seen on television, with beautifully written and acted characters, smart direction, and perfect music selections to create the mood of each scene (not to mention W.G. Snuffy’s poignant score). I love the Taylors; I love the community of Dillon, Texas; and I love Friday Night Lights.

Best Comedy: Modern Family (ABC)

A tough category. There are so many strong comedies on television right now, including NBC’s Thursday night lineup and ABC’s Wednesday shows. Of all of them, “Modern Family” makes me laugh the hardest; so hard that my wife and I have to rewind to hear the second and third jokes of each scene. With a great cast and insightful writing, “Modern Family” is a modern classic.

Best Reality: The Biggest Loser (NBC)

I generally hate reality shows on network television, however there is something truly inspiring about “The Biggest Loser” that grabs me every week. Here is a series about people seriously having to take back their lives otherwise they could die. The money at the end never seems to be as important as the health benefits they receive. Unlike most of the reality competitions shows, the inspiration that comes from watching “The Biggest Loser” occurs from watching every contestant, not just a select few. Obesity has overtaken our country and the men and women of “The Biggest Loser” prove that you can take back your life and that you are in control of it.

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2010: A Look Back at a Lot of Interviews

At the end of 2009, I took a look back at 100 interviews I’d done over the course of the year, and it was exhausting…not only for me, but possibly also for you, the reader. Oh, I still think it was a heck of a piece, but I believe I made a mistake by numbering them. I mean, you get about 20 – 25 into the proceedings, and it’s, like, “Oh, geez, I’ve still got 75 left to go? Screw this, I’m out of here.” So this time, I’m not going to tell you how many quotes are in the piece. I’ll just say that I talked to a lot of really funny, fascinating, and decidedly forthright people during the course of 2010, and I’ll let you dive in. Hope you enjoy the chance to reminisce as much I did, and here’s to a great 2011 for us all!

Big Shots at the Box Office

“I was in Australia, touring with my films and live show, and I got an E-mail from my agent, saying that there was interest in me for Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I thought, ‘Okay, that sounds good.’ I thought it would be for a day or two, maybe a few days or something, and I would’ve been very happy to do that. But then the offer came in, and it was for virtually the entire run of the film. I didn’t even know what part it was for, so I asked my agent, and he said it was for the Knave of Hearts. So I looked up the Knave of Hearts in the original book online and…it didn’t really seem like a character that would require the run of the film. I thought, ‘Something must be different.’ And then I got the actual screenplay, and it was extremely different. I could see that it was written as a sequel. But it was a great part, and I was ecstatic to be in it…and I’m still ecstatic to be in it!” – Crispin Glover, Alice in Wonderland

“They called my agent and said they were auditioning for (‘Inception’), so I flew myself back, I read for Chris (Nolan) once, and I left. I think it was later that day that I heard from my agent, saying, ‘They’ve cut everyone except you. Now, they’re going to go to London to see some people, and then we’ll know more after that. So don’t get your hopes up, but…this is great!’ Then I came back and read again, and I got the job. And then, as you might expect, I freaked out completely.” – Dileep Rao, Inception

“I was actually down at my ranch in South Texas, and my guys called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re trying to get you a meeting with Sylvester Stallone. He’s casting a movie called ‘The Expendables.’’ Several months went by, and he’d already cast ‘The Expendables,’ but he still wanted to meet me for potentially playing the part of Dan Paine. So I went in to meet Sly, it was the first time I’d ever met him, and I’m a huge fan. I remember watching ‘Rocky’ back in ’76 or whenever it was, then getting up the next morning, drinking eggs, and running down the street…and now here I am meeting with this guy!” – Steve Austin, The Expendables

“I was privileged and honored to work side by side with Sly (Stallone in ‘The Expendables’). Most of my scenes take place with him, and I’m telling you, man, he took me under his wing, and it was a brilliant thing. I don’t know what else to say. ‘Rocky,’ ‘Rambo,’ just everything he’s done is iconic, and it wasn’t lost on me. I love the man, and I can’t wait to do another one, ‘cause Sly’s the king of the sequels…and in my whole career, I’ve never done a sequel to any one of my projects. So I’m, like, ‘Sly, I’m ready for ‘Expendables 2,’ okay?'” – Terry Crews, The Expendables

“Jessica (Pare) was just about to disrobe…we were in the (hot) tub…and they were, like, ‘Ready!’ And she took off whatever was covering her in the tub. And somebody asked the boom guy a question just as she was disrobing, and all he could say was, ‘Yesssssss…’ He could only whisper. I didn’t make a joke about it, though. I was just, like, ‘Okay, Craig, keep it cool, keep it together…’” – Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine

“I made the mistake of using one term loosely and saying (filming in 3D) was a tedious process, and somebody made it sound really bad. The bottom line is that it took a little longer, and the one that suffered more than anybody was (director Kevin Greutert) and the camera guy, because they have to get it right. You know, calibration and being specific with lights and all that stuff. For me, it was a good excuse to go play with the crew that wasn’t on set and crack a couple of jokes, so I got to socialize a little bit more.” – Costas Mandylor, Saw 3D

“Usually, when you’re coming in completely blind with who you’re working with, you don’t know if you’re going to get along, nor do some people put the time in to try to get along. We were all in Pittsburgh, and we did do, like, two weeks of rehearsal before we started shooting (‘She’s Out of My League’), and in those two weeks, we hung out a lot…and, luckily, it went good rather than bad. Because sometimes it’s just awful, and you’re going, ‘I can’t stand that guy!’ So we were lucky. I know a lot of people always say this when they come off work, because they’re kind of trained to say it, but with this one, we all really got along, and I think that’s what helps our chemistry on screen so much: we thought each other were funny, we even liked to hang out afterward, and that played well. ” – Nate Torrence, She’s Out of My League

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