Paranoia's a common theme in science fiction, particularly government paranoia. There's a weird, hardcore libertarian faith in a lot of science fiction that insists individuals are better than collectives, that you can't trust the government or mega corporations (OK, that's not so libertarian) or charismatic leaders or anything, really. You can't even trust the futuristic technology that drives a lot of these stories. The only thing you can trust is yourself and maybe, occasionally, a few trusted friends and collaborators. Beyond that, they're out to get you, whether they're in league with the aliens or the robot menace or what-have-you. Even a fundamentally liberal treatise about the power of communities before all else like the "Battlestar Galactica" remake has a deeply conservative love for the military and all its traditions. For whatever reason, science fiction seems to have a fundamental conservative, distrustful streak. And despite my own political views, it's one of the things I like about the genre. Healthy skepticism is a good thing to have, and it's nice to have narratives where that skepticism is warranted.
[Full recap of Tuesday's (Nov. 24) "V" after the break...]
“Heroes” often gets a bad rap for featuring a roster full of superpowered people that sit around and don’t actually use their incredible abilities. But tonight’s episode, “Thanksgiving,” was almost LITERALLY an hour of superpowered people sitting around doing nothing but talk. If these conversations actually served as a brief pause in the frenetic action of the season, or served to achieve some sort of breakthrough, then perhaps one could excuse this chamber piece of an episode. Alas, the titular holiday did little but grind the already glacial narrative to a halt.
If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be traveling to multiple places this Thursday. Let’s get some practice in and visit a few tables in the “Heroes” universe, shall we?
After a disastrous show with January Jones last week, "SNL" has to turn it around right? With next week off you'd hope the writer's would save too many of their better bits. Surprise, surprise the show wasn't that bad tonight (OK, in comparison to previous years or even last year's stellar season), but that's mostly because of the energy of host Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the triumphant return of Andy Samberg and Keenan Thompson. You were missed gents. Glad to have you back.
Opening - C-Span Press Conference
We find President Obama (Fred Armisen) and the Chinese Prime Minister (Will Forte) in the middle of a press conference. After beginning to lecture his host country on human rights, the Prime Minister starts to eat away at Obama by bringing up that $800 billion they loaned us. He brings up everything from all the money we are spending in the bailout without creating any new jobs, cash for clunkers ("You're not gonna pay us back in clunkers are you?") and whether health care can really save people.
Bizarrely he asks, "Will you kiss me? I like to be kissed when someone is doing sex to me!"
He then walks close to Obama and bends over and, well, you get the idea.
Obama, "There is no need for that."
This goes on for quite a bit with the Chinese PM bending over at least three times for the same point.
Grade: C+. Great idea, but boy was it long and really not as funny as it should have been. Perhaps it hit too close to home? And anyone notice someone at "SNL" really has it out for Obama? It's becoming a continuing theme.
Oh, my. In the very last episode of 2009 before “The Vampire Diaries” takes an agonizing two month hiatus, we get threats, walk-offs, and bloody moments galore – along with some very tantalizing hints at supernatural events to come. Can you say, werewolf? Mystery vampire? How about Stefan and Elena finally hooking up, or the sight of BOTH Salvatore brothers shirtless? Dig in, folks. You’re gonna want to re-watch this one.
[Full recap of Thursday (Nov. 19) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...]
It truly is “New Moon” week, as Kristen Stewart’s ever-present “I’m gonna throw up” facial expression in the “Twilight” films seemed to serve as an inspiration to the characaters on this weeks “Glee.”
“Ballad,” aired last night (Nov. 18) was chock full of uncomfortable, scary and downright barf-worthy moments, as Rachel developed a flash crush on Mr. Schuester, Finn gets caught singing to a sonogram by his mom, Kurt tries to reveal his “Endless Love” for Finn, and Quinn and Finn come clean about her pregnancy to her parents.
Mr. Schuester wants to prep Glee for sectionals by having them learn ballads, so he randomly pairs everyone up with singing partners, with the unfortunate fortune that puts Rachel with him. She goes from zero to stalker in about 15 minutes, but little does she know that Schue has dealt with schoolgirl crushes before. The worst of them was Suzy Pepper, who tried to kill herself with, well, a really hot pepper, upon discovering her love for Mr. Schuester was unrequited. After years of psychotherapy and “an esophagus transplant,” she makes a cameo to warn Rachel that her unrealistic crush on someone as unattainable as her own teacher was just a sign of poor self-esteem.
Realizing the err o’ her ways (even after an attempt of 1998 Jennifer Paige single "Crush") Rachel apologizes to Schue for behaving like she did and references Elton John’s 1976 ballad “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – a sweet idea, except that the lyrics to that track are still, well, a little Dr. Stalky.
We were kind of hoping for a Suzy song number (Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” perhaps), but alas, she only gets to rock Extreme’s “More than Words” on her way to imminent death.
At Kurt’s urging, Finn gets in touch with his feelings about his unborn child, which in turn spurs him to tell Quinn’s parents about the pregnancy when he’s invited to dinner. The ex-Cheerio’s mom already had her suspicions, though, when Quinn’s Chastity Ball gown (really?) wouldn’t zip up like it should. Still, mom showed no defense for her daughter when dad flew off the rails, disowned Quinn and kicked her out of the house.
Oh, if only Finn had devised a song, instead, about the dubious means by which he “impregnated” Quinn (pre-ejaculation swimming in a hot tub all the way to Quinn’s uterus? Let’s step up the sex-ed, Ohio), then he and the Quinn Parentals would have a good laugh – while Quinn would still be kicked out of the house and into the loving arms of the real swimmers-giver, Puck. Instead, she’s able to stay at Finn’s, as his widowed mom invites her to “stay as long as you want.”
Finn gave us our new “out” line when he’s calling Kurt in the bathroom (“I have to go, they’ll think I’m pooping”), and we appreciate the Billboard chart ref, “If we were gonna rank crush-worthy teachers at the school, you’d be number one with a bullet,” from guidance counselor Emma.
The band poster over Finn’s bed was for Dashboard Confessional headlining Thrice opening, a tour that occurred in 2004. That puts Finn five years younger when he went… good thing that was an all-ages stint.
Kudos to writers, too, for correctly aligning "pop" with Ohio in the great soda v. pop debate.
We get a song early on in the ep as Rachel shows the class how a ballad is done. The natural go-to is this track, sung originally in 1981 by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. It was a theme to a movie starring Brooke Shields, but also had its cheesiness mocked in Adam Sandler's "Happy Gilmore." ("Friends listen to 'Endless Love' in the dark!")
A fun side note: "Endless Love" was only the second-biggest single that year, while Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" beat them out. That singer rears her head at the end of this episode, when Kurt tries to tell Finn that he's in love with him, saying that he's chosen the Oli-ballad "I Honestly Love You" (released in 1974).
We dedicate this slow dance to you, Kurt and Finn!
"I'll Stand By You"
(13:05 in full episode below.)
Kurt blames all of Finn's problems on girls shortly before suggesting Finn sing a song to his unborn child, "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders. The words flow as he gently caresses his computer, which is playing the sonogram of his unborn daughter. Mom catches him, or "catches" him, he tells all.
This track isn't nearly as vintage as Diana and Elton, as it was released in 1994, but still it was that band's biggest hit. I think I remember bandleader Chrissie Hyde taking care of sick dude in the music video released back then, but damn if I can't find the thing in the internet ether...
"Don't Stand So Close To Me"/"Young Girl"
Trying to ward off Rachel's love, Schue sings a mash-up of two "you're too young for me" songs. She ends up misinterpretting the message nonetheless.
The former, done by The Police, was a cautionary tale of a teacher getting involved with his "young subject" who has a crush on him, inspired in part by "that famous book by Nabakov," "Lolita."
The latter was done at the end of the '60s by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap. It, too, only made it to No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart, bless its heart. "Young Girl, get out of my mind / My love for you is way out of line" is a little off-message for this purpose, but Rachel wasn't gonna get the point, regardless.
"(You're Having) My Baby"
This simultaneously horrendous and sentimental number was sung by Finn to Quinn's parents to send 'em a message, and was penned and performed by Paul Anka, a duet with Odia Coates. It was released in 1974.
Not nearly as bad as R. Kelly's "Pregnant." At all. I mean, really. But it's up there.
"Lean on Me"
Oh man, who hasn't used this song. There's no other that quite conveys the group jam mentality as this 1972 Bill Withers classic. The Glee club sings this one to Finn and Quinn to show them their support through this difficult time, with another Mercedes/Artie pair-off. A little forced in this episode, but if there ever was a show that's a driver for a track like this, it's "Glee."
It evokes, too, another school scene that used the tune: in the Morgan Freeman-starring 1989 film by the same name. If you don't get goosebumps watching it in its context, you have no heart. Maybe Mr. Schuester's arch nemesis Sue could use a little "Lean on Me."