The story of a kidnapped eight-grader escaping a cult after 15 years should not be a comedy, yet Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fits the comedy genre perfectly. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock teamed up again after the successful run of seven seasons and 138 episodes of 30 Rock to pen Unbreakable.
Originally the series was passed over by NBC as the network seems to have axed their prime-time comedy line-up. Only two shows after the end of Parks and Recreation will remain for the winter season, Undatable and One Big Happy.
Unbreakable stars The Office’s Ellie Kemper in the titular role Kimmy Schmidt. The show begins with the rescue of Kimmy and three other girls from a cult preacher keeping them in an underground bunker. Of course the “mole women” quickly go viral. An interview with a witness gets the “Auto-tune the news” treatment (which becomes the addictive, catchy theme song). After a segment with Matt Lauer, Kimmy decides to remain in New York and actually start her life.
Kemper is joined by Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) and Titus Burgess (also 30 Rock) as her boss and roommate respectively. Comedy legend Carol Kane also stars as Kimmy and Titus’s landlady. Krakowski plays a similar character to 30 Rock’s Jenna, except with her character in Unbreakable, Jaqueline Voorhees, the writers have added depth that 30 Rock took seasons to reach. The atmosphere is similar too due to the return of Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond and his jazzy score.
Some questions I have are, why did NBC pass on the project? It is filled with NBC stars and has been highly praised by critics. Was the darkness of the premise too much for more mainstream audiences, although the fact from the Neilson ratings report it was found that 40 percent of homes had access to subscription based services like Netlfix so it may be the new mainstream. NBC’s loss is Netflix’s gain as Unbreakable turned out to be just as good as the later seasons of 30 Rock.
Last week Capcom released the next game in the "Resident Evil" series, "Resident Evil Revelations 2." Unlike past installments in the franchise, "Resident Evil Revelations 2" is produced and released in an episodic format. The change in format is not surprising, Capcom in the past has always explored and experimented with different platforms and gameplay styles. However, their change to the episodic format may be the company’s way to tap into the growing trend.
The episodic format of video games is the sequential release of shorter “episodes” to create a series similar to television shows. An event is much shorter than a full title, in "Resident Evil Revelations 2’s" case, only about four hours of gameplay. The shorter chapters let game developers have more time and freedom to work on the games. In all, it will usually lead to a well-polished and relatively bug free release.
Except when it doesn’t.
That’s okay. With the next installment, designers can learn from each previous chapter. They can patch bugs and listen to player feedback.
Usually, the episodic games cost a few dollars per episode and season passes for a lump-sum for all episodes. In "Resident Evil," each of the four episodes is $5.99 and the season pass for all episodes is $25.
Game developer Telltale Games has perfected the episodic format. The critically praised and award-winning "The Walking Dead" cemented their talent for bringing intense stories to video games. The shorter episodes let the writers focus on the story telling. Telltale is also developing adding to other commercial franchises, such as a series in the world of HBO’s "Game of Thrones" and the popular sandbox game "Minecraft."
All in all, episodic format allows for more creative input into storytelling games. However, if Capcom is the first in a series of more action based developers using the format to grind out money, the format itself may lose the creative freedom.
So, let’s cut to the chase and address the question we all know everyone’s thinking—what color is the dress?
Recently a photo of a two-toned colored dress has been circulating the Internet and every social media outlet. At first glance, there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary about the dress despite its general unattractiveness. It’s just a photo of a dress. At least, that’s what I thought when it was first sent to me in a group message with the accompanying message “What color is this dress?”
I thought it was a weird question as the dress was clearly blue and black. Not really sure what was happening, I waited for another person to respond. I didn’t wait long before someone responded with “white and gold.”
I’m sure you could imagine my confusion as most of you have probably experienced it yourself. Was this a prank? Were they just messing around?
The argument ensued over whether the dress was black and blue or white and gold. Before I knew it, it was all anyone on campus talked about. Minds were blown, friendships were broken, and elementary color identification was questioned all because of a single picture of a dress.
It was later revealed that the dress is in fact, blue and black; however, due to the dim lighting of the picture people perceive the color of the dress differently.
USA Today talked with an expert to get a glimpse of the science behind it. According to Reena Garg, an ophthalmology professor, "This photograph was probably taken on a phone camera and is very poorly exposed," and “The colors people see are dependent on whether their retinas interpret this photo as overexposed or underexposed.”
There you have it. The dress is actually blue and black, but don’t fret. You’re not crazy, but sometimes science can be.
Millions, if not billions, of people tuned into the Oscars on Sunday. Some tuned in to catch age resistant actresses dodge superficial questions from overly friendly taped up E News reporters, others wanted to see if their picks on their own ballot would win. While all who were nominated were extremely qualified and likewise talented, it seems there should be a new category added to award shows for a not a new dimension of acting, but an evolving one: voice acting.
In many cases, voice acting is more difficult than acting on screen. Screen actors can use their whole body and facial movements to portray emotion. Voice actors don’t have that luxury. One recent example of this can be seen in last year’s The Guardians of the Galaxy. Bradley Cooper lent his voice to the psychotic CGI raccoon, Rocket. In his performance was true emotion. Anger while fighting. Sadness while mourning. Not to mention Cooper’s co-star Vin Diesel doing the same thing except with a three-word vocabulary. Other examples come from Disney’s movies like Frozen and Big Hero 6.
However, there seems to be a sort of pool from which voice actors are pulled from. Not everybody can do the famous SpongeBob laugh. Not everyone has the formula for the perfect porky pig. But other voice actors can and do have multiple roles almost simultaneously. While one screen actor can work on a project and take a few months voice actors can finish in days. An example is Tara Strong. Anybody who has watched a cartoon in their life could recognize one of her characters. Her IMDB page can be seen as cultural evidence of the best animation. She voiced characters from Bubbles of Power Puff Girls to Timmy Turner of Fairly Odd Parents. Most voice actors, like Strong are required to be able to sing, do multiple voices, and create odd animal sounds all to stay competitive.
This week NBC’s Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary. In this day and age, it is rare for a show to have such a long successful run, especially for a variety-sketch show. The show celebrated with an incredible star-studded party. It was attended by previous cast members, musical guests, and hosts. Of course, it all occurred around a three and a half hour live show. It is a marvel how it became so successful and recurred.
Probably one of the first successful shows like Saturday Night Live was the Carol Burnett Show, which ran for an impressive 12 seasons from 1967 to 1978. The Carol Burnett Show also featured an ensemble cast. In addition, the show featured a wide variety of guest performers including Lucile Ball, Carol Channing, Betty White and Steve Martin. The latter two also appeared on SNL and celebrated on Sunday. Not only did it create a massive following for Carol Burnett herself, who was awarded the Mark Twain Award in 2013, but also it set a precedent for Variety shows.
One of the most important things that Saturday Night Live uses is the cycles of cast members. The show began with a small cast of Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase. The cast has expanded, and different groups have had different amounts of success in the show. I started watching back in 2005 with performers like Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler headed the show.
The show’s alumni have had continued success, and they usually bring in other cast members to star in their projects. Will Ferrel and Molly Shannon have a famous relationship as contributing to projects together including SuperStar and Talladega Nights. Seth Meyers has his nightly show with fellow cast member Fred Armisen as band leader.
Can it continue?
Short answer is that the outlook is very positive. The anniversary itself was reported by Variety to break 23.1 million viewers and millions of tweets on Twitter. Any criticism they receive they take into account, such as the complaint of lack of minority female presence leading to the casting of the amazing So sheer Zamata. It has been a long time coming, generations can remember their favorite SNL jokes, and it will continue for further generations.
Nothing has taken over our screens as fast and as profitable as the Marvel Studios. It’s on our televisions, it’s on our movie screens, it’s in our video games, and soon it will be in our Netflix accounts. But that’s not the biggest news.
On Monday, a short news announcement on Marvel’s website combined two of the most successful franchises. In short Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios have come to a deal to share parts of the Spider-Man franchise. In this deal, the famous web-slinger will appear in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. The film I see him appearing in is most likely the next Captain America movie, Civil War, as he played a large part in the comic books though this is only rumor at this point. After his appearance, Spider-Man will have a new film in 2017 co-produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Sony’s Amy Pascal. Pascal recently resigned her position as co-chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment after the email hacking scandal. From now on, Marvel will have some say in the creative decisions of the spider-man franchise but Sony maintains financing and distribution. They also have the final say in creative decisions.
Marvel Studios itself can be considered one of the most successful independent film studios. Early releases of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man started the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their success led to Thor and Captain America franchises combining for director Joss Whedon’s incredible successful The Avengers film. The success brought the television show, Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D now in its second season and its winter hiatus being filled with another Marvel miniseries, Agent Carter. Soon the MCU will expand again with the addition of this year’s Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones the first two of Marvel’s Netflix series.
My take on the merger is that it is going to be hugely successful for both parties. Fans have long wanted Spider-Man to team up with Marvel heroes. It isn’t know if Spider-Man will be rebooted with a new actor replacing Garfield, but if Marvel can take the little-known Guardians of the Galaxy and turn it into the second highest grossing movie of 2014, there will be little problem with any decision.
If a classic artist, like Michelangelo, came back from the dead and asked the nearest millennial what kind of art is being created today, he might just go back to the grave.
The art we create and subsequently consume nowadays is usually in the form of reality TV, magazines, listicles, cat videos, tweets: short, sweet and easy to digest. However, there are also other forms of art we enjoy that might be classified as a bit “higher caliber” like Oscar-nominated movies or very poignant dramas.
But let us not forget, our culture consists of everything that we interact with, see and obsess over. Even if we ourselves do not watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it is a part of our culture.
This does not have to be a bad thing
Janet Mock, the host of MSNBC’s So Popular, works with all of the different varieties of art that we have. She tackles issues like race and gender AND pop culture like Dancing with the Stars. She doesn’t put one on a pedestal and look down on the others, because we should not try to stick up our noses and ignore the less sophisticated media if we are to be active participators in the culture we have today.
So instead of bashing the constant flow of blockbusters and reality shows, let’s dissect it and really try to understand what this means for us as a generation and as a population that demands these things. Let’s watch and discuss. Actually learn something. Maybe turn a guilty pleasure into a new way of thinking.
Last night’s Super Bowl game definitely had a lot of gif-worthy moments. However, my favorite part was seeing the trend that kept occurring within the commercials. The media reflects what we believe to be important. Or sometimes, the media decides what’s important and then we happily gobble it all up and talk about it so much that it does become important. This can be good or bad.
I would say last night’s commercials were showing a pattern of good. Although the ads themselves were covering serious and sometimes depressing topics such as childhood death, lost puppies, how phrases similar to “like a girl” can hurt our young women, and caring fathers. But these are topics that are largely invisible in popular media, i.e. real human problems (minus the puppy, unless that puppy has a complex from looking at too many teen magazines) that are not very glamorous and largely pushed onto us by the media itself.
I’ve seen the Always “like a girl” ad online but beyond the more feminist circles, would that ad have made as big an impact as airing during the Super Bowl?
Maybe, but maybe not. Even if these ads go immediately to the back of our minds and are relatively forgotten, if the trend picks up and more companies and more people decide to spotlight these problems that our society has—that’s a good thing overall.
Because even though I’m a big fan of whatever LSD trip Katy Perry went on before dreaming up her big performance, knowing that people were alert and paying attention to these hidden “menaces” in our society is even better.
About halfway though last week, I called up my best friend to discuss the season finale of "American Horror Story." It wasn’t long before our conversation turned to other subjects, namely "American Sniper." She brought to my attention the recent Rolling Stones review of "American Sniper," written by Matt Taibbi titled "'American Sniper' Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize.” The article calls the hero, Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle, an idiot and mocks the film as a “Fairy Tale.”
Taibbi’s article is just one comment in a series of criticism the film has seen. "American Sniper" seems to be one of the most polarizing items dominating the news cycle. On one end of the spectrum is Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11) calling the Snipers cowards and Seth Rogen (The Interview) comparing the film to the propaganda film inside of Quentin Tarantino’s "Inglorious Bastards." The other side has Kid Rock and Gary Sinise (Forest Gump) defending the movie and its fans. Liberal commenters have grown angrier as the film grows in popularity. Some say that in combination with the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the film increases Islamophobia. I thought the film to be more akin to "Apocalypse Now" rather than "Rambo." The film may be one-sided, but it is not propaganda.
The debate of whether the intention of "American Sniper" was to glorify the morally ambiguous nature of war or not was put to rest by its director, Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Jersey Boys). Eastwood said during a Producers Guild Award Nominees Breakfast, hosted by "The Hollywood Reporter," that the film is an anti-war statement and showed the effect of war on families. The film doesn’t glorify war. The main character, Kyle is surrounded by death and mental disorders.
All in all, the soldiers put their lives at risk for our right to debate the issue and should be given respect. My best friend’s dad is a veteran; my grandparents were veterans. Nobody truly wins in war, and Eastwood’s film makes that clear.