Central Park: A Musical Masterpiece – Apple+ Review

Another hit from the Bob’s Burgers team.

SUMMARY

Owen Tillerman (Leslie Odom, Jr.) is the manager of Central Park in New York City. He’s married to reporter Paige Hunter (Kathryn “Agatha All Along” Hahn) and the father of young kids Molly and Cole (Kristen Bell and Tituss Burgess). The family lives inside of the Edendale Castle in the park and are watched over by the narrating busker Birdie (Josh Gad). Unfortunately, it turns out that local businesswoman Bitsy Brandenham (Stanley Tucci), along with her henchwoman/assistant Helen (Daveed Diggs), has decided to start scheming in order to purchase Central Park and turn it into a series of apartment buildings. The Tillermans not only have to deal with their own problems, but now they have to overcome Bitsy’s plans to destroy their lives. Fortunately, they have the power of song… and also a ton of cameos by famous singers.

I would watch this cast in literally anything. Give them a WandaVision spin-off.

END SUMMARY

I was told this show was mediocre and thus didn’t watch it (also, didn’t have Apple+ until recently). The person who told me that clearly had no joy in their soul. This show is everything I wanted and more. Aside from having an absolutely dynamite cast that has multiple Tony and Emmy award winners, the show’s music is absolutely amazing. It includes a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from the big band numbers of old Broadway to the hip-hop influenced music of Hamilton, and it does all of them well. It’s amazing to realize that there are 46 songs in a 10 episode half-hour show, but somehow they managed to pull it off. It helps that people like Cyndi Lauper, Alan Menken, Darren Criss, Aimee Mann, and even Fiona Apple contributed songs to the show.

Stanley Tucci and Daveed Diggs as two old ladies with schemes. Amazing.

The characters are pretty varied, although all of them are quirky, much like on Bob’s Burgers. While the Tillermans don’t quite stand out as much as the Belchers, they definitely have a lot of the same weirdness mixed with genuineness to make them eventually become just as lovable. The number of songs does sometimes hinder both the character development and the plot development, but the odds are good you’ll be too hooked on them to care. The guest characters are usually amazing, ranging from people like a tour guide of the deleted scenes of Home Alone 2 to a busker who competes with Birdie for narrating duties. It’s actually a great element that the narrator (who has omniscience over everything that’s happening) also interacts with the characters. It’s like something out of a Greek comedy.

Josh Gad probably sings about people’s lives all the time.

Overall, just a great show. Highly recommend. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Snowpiercer (Season 1): Keep It Going – HBO Max Review

The second season is coming next week, so just enough time to catch up.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the Apocalypse: Snow Edition. It turns out that global warming was, in fact, real, but then the people assigned to fix it screwed up and froze the planet instead. The only survivors of humanity, apparently, are inside Snowpiercer, a 1001 car long train that runs on a perpetual energy engine built by Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean). The train has four classes: The ultra-rich first class, the skilled labor second class, the trained labor third class, and the slave-class in the tail, consisting of people who forced their way onto the train. The train’s operations are overseen by the head of “hospitality,” Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly). After a grizzly murder happens in second class, Cavill recruits former homicide detective and tail revolutionary Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) to solve it, resulting in the entire train being thrown out of whack. 

But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone… and then to India and back.

END SUMMARY

If you didn’t see the film Snowpiercer (or read the graphic novel, I guess), then the setting for this series may take a bit of adjustment. It’s all set on a train, because everything else is death. The train can’t stop or everyone dies. There are 1001 cars, which means that there are not just housing and basic services, but also things like farm cars, cattle cars, ocean cars, restaurants, clubs, bars, etc. The cars are not all the same size, but the show does a good job of making the most of the spatial allotments and forces a lot of creativity into the designs. It also creates an environment that is simultaneously isolated and overwhelmingly crowded, which means that you can have almost any character reacting to either of them at the same time. Putting people in such an insane situation means that major character trait changes can be justified, which helps keep the show refreshing. 

Lot of stuff happens in the bar car.

Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly both nail their characters in this show. Diggs is a revolutionary who has been living in squalor for seven years who is now being offered a better life essentially in exchange for leaving the rest of the people behind. He’s having to question the strength of his principles. The same is true of Connelly, who is constantly sacrificing to maintain enough order to keep the last vestiges of humanity alive. It’s interesting because Connelly would clearly be the villain if this weren’t literally the last hope for life on Earth, but instead she’s often shown to be somewhat justified in her actions. Each one constantly has an air of moral ambiguity.

Such piercing eyes. Snowpiercing. Yeah, I hate myself for that joke.

Overall, this was a solid series and a good alternate take on the movie’s premise. I still recommend seeing the movie (directed by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho), but this show is a worthy follow-up. Can’t wait for Season 2 next week.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Green Eggs and Ham: Wait, How Does This Exist and Why Is It GOOD?

I don’t know what to say except that somehow this show is actually pretty good. 

SUMMARY

Animal rescuer Sam-I-Am (Adam DeVine) steals a priceless Chickeraffe (half-chicken, half-giraffe, all Seuss). However, while at a diner, his bag gets mixed up with failed inventor Guy-Am-I (Michael “Yes, that Michael Douglas” Douglas). From there, the two get mixed up in wacky adventures trying to return the Chickeraffe while pursued by BADGUY agents McWinkle (Jeffrey Wright) and Gluntz (Jillian Bell). Along the way there’s a billionaire with fake hair (Eddie Izzard), an overprotective mom, Michellee (Diane “Yes, the one from Annie Hall” Keaton) and her wild daughter, E.B. (Ilana Glazer), a Goat (John Turturro), a Fox (Tracy Morgan), and a Mouse (Daveed Diggs), all under the Narrator’s (Keegan-Michael Key) watchful gaze.

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No pants anywhere. Very Seuss.

END SUMMARY

There’s a show of Green Eggs and Ham. Let me write that again: There is a show, a television show featuring 13 half-hour episodes, based on a book that famously only has 50 words in it. In the most recent season of BoJack Horseman there’s a gag about a TV show being made based on a “Happy Birthday, Love Dad” greeting card and apparently it’s well received. That was supposed to be a commentary on the fact that we’ve adapted all the books and Hollywood has had to move on to cards. This show is apparently presented completely unironically on the same streaming service and… well, it’s impressively good. 

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It’s cause for celebration, I guess.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be heralded as a revolution in animation, but I genuinely enjoyed watching it. The main characters have a surprising amount of depth, the world that it takes place in is probably the most Seuss-ian of any that’s been put on screen (and yes, I’m including the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas), and the show actually ties into the original story of Green Eggs and Ham. Each of the episodes is focused on one of the things that Sam-I-Am tries to pitch in the book (“Fox,” “Train,” “Box,” “Rain,” etc.) and in each one of them he pitches eating Green Eggs and Ham to Guy-Am-I based on that particular thing, just like in the book. That’s actually an example of what this show nails: It manages to be true to the spirit of the original book while also expanding and explaining it. 

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And the added characters are amazing.

The theme of the original story of Green Eggs and Ham was that you should not be afraid to try new things, however, the persistence with which Sam-I-Am tried to pitch the foodstuffs to the character now called Guy-Am-I led to the story being accused of telling kids never to take no for an answer. Naturally, not obeying someone’s wishes about not wanting to do something is not a great lesson. The show manages to subtly change this. Rather than not accepting Guy-Am-I’s wishes, each time Sam accepts the rejection, then brings up the eggs in a different context in the next episode, but always allowing Guy an out. It makes the message clear that you can respect someone’s wishes and still try to convince them to step out of their comfort zone once in a while. It’s a tough balance, but I think they pulled it off.

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Super hard to stay mad at him.

The show’s writing is unbelievably creative, somehow managing to have the slapstick and inane feel of Dr. Seuss while also being clever and, at times, genuinely touching. There are some very sad and pensive moments in this show, something that you would never expect from a show involving green eggs and ham. In fact, the reveal of exactly what the food represents is an unbelievably touching moment. Still, the humor, particularly the commentary by Key as the Narrator, is pretty funny and works on a similar multi-generational level to things like The Muppet Show, encouraging parents to watch it with their kids. 

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I somehow laughed at “We’re the BADGUYS!!!”

Honestly, though, this show almost single-handedly restores my faith in human creativity, because even if we are, in fact, reduced to the point of claiming to be inspired by greeting cards in order to get a show greenlit, someone can still add and adapt it enough to make it work as a solid narrative. I recommend this to anyone with kids, and anyone who is a kid at heart.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.