Proof of God #1 (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)

I found myself genuinely sad, being suddenly confronted by the series finale of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Apparently, the internet has known for some time that the current season would be it’s last and that particular bit of news, somehow, slipped through my cracks. Or maybe I willingly blocked it out of my memory because I didn’t want it to be a reality.

If you hearken back to a previous post, you’ll recall my love for a tea analogy. Admittedly, Aqua Teen is not everyone’s cupa. It never has been. But, more often than not, you’ll either love it or not care that you don’t love it. It’s not a show you can hate, I don’t think. If you don’t love it, you feel as though it’s because you’re just not in the cool kids club, full of people who do love it. And if you do, in fact, love it… you’re in on the joke. You’re the Frylock (level-headed, taking the show at face value and enjoying it for exactly the nonsense it is) to the everyone-who-doesn’t-like-the-show’s Master Shake (straight up doesn’t get it, but pretends to… or doesn’t bother to give it a second thought). Also, you wish Meatwad (just the cutest thing!) was real so he could be your best friend/pet.

Oh, there’s also the folks who don’t like it, but watch it anyway because they really want to be in the cool kids club. (They’re Carl.) I digress.

So, we’ve got 10 successful seasons and one feature film, released over the course of 15 years, under the belt of Adult Swim‘s longest running animated series (the sixth longest running American animated series to date, by the way). Still, it receives an abrupt cancellation half-way through the production of it’s eleventh season. And the reason? Mike Lazzo (EVP of Adult Swim) was “ready to move on from it.” Insert bitch face here.

Rather than rant about how bitter I am about that, I’ll just get to the Proof of God moment. Picture it: I’m ho-humming along the way I normally do, watching all my DVR’ed shit when the latest episode of Aqua Teen pops up and 11 minutes into it… I’m struck with the realization that it’s not over. It was the first (and only, if I’m not mistaken) half-hour episode of the series. It was then that I Googled and found out exactly how late to the series finale party I was. Before my jaw could fully ascend from the floor, Frylock and Shake were both really dead, for real, and Meatwad had a full head of hair, a wife, and two human/meat kids (meatlatto, if you will). The credits rolled to Patti fucking Smith singing her sad song and boom… it was done. A book with fifteen years worth of pages very suddenly slammed shut.

To make it all the more sad, it didn’t feel very typical of Aqua Teen. Series finales often jump ship from the typical fare of their respective series, I’ll grant. I just didn’t want this particular series to end on such a somber note. But there it was. Death and old age and a Patti Smith ballad atop the Aqua Teen house and The End.

Here’s God.

A second finale. A magical, internet-only, unaired second finale. There’s not a better meaning of “perfection” that I can think of for this show other than a big ol’ “j/k, you guys, here’s the final finale.” The final finale, indeed. Where characters are immortal (with or without magic shampoo), The Bibble (not a typo) cannot be questioned, boogers belong on tables, above ground pools are for bathing, Jimmy is Lord, Christopher “with sound mind and bitchin’ hair” Lambert is super bored, every minor character you wanted to see in the would-be finale is not only present, but join together to form the Last Aqua Teen Supper, and we get a conclusion befitting the ridiculousness that is and was and will forever be Aqua Teen Hunger Force a.k.a. Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 a.k.a. Aqua Something You Know Whatever a.k.a. Aqua TV Show Show a.k.a. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever.

I’m still bitter that it was cancelled. But I’m less bitter now that we were given a proper send-off. It was a true “Thank You” to the fans and a well-deserved “Fuck You” to the higher ups.

So You Think You Can Dance Like a Straight Dude

Applause where applause is due.

On last night’s So You Think You Can Dance, the notoriously “traditional” gender and sexuality conforming dance competition series, they lost one of the dozens of gay contestants they’ve had over the years. His name is Derek Piquette. And he is the shit. I was a fan of his throughout this season’s run and after last night, I’m an even bigger fan.

Having dealt with a barrage of comments (not just in this episode, mind you) on how to dance “properly” with a woman and just a general sense of “Why doesn’t it seem like you want to fuck the woman you’re dancing with? Haven’t you only ever wanted to be inside a vagina?” (I may be misquoting)… he chose a certain song to dance to for his solo of the night. Whether he intuited that it would be his last solo on the series, I’m not sure. But it was. And it was set to a little tune by The Irrepressibles entitled “Two Men In Love.”

Applause!
Applause!!
Applause!!!

I’d post the actual clip of his routine, but I doubt it’ll ever make it onto YouTube. So, just follow him on Twitter instead. While you’re at it, tell him he’s the mother fucking jam and you want to have his babies. I know I do.

If SYTYCD gets renewed for a 13th season, I’ll keep watching. But if I’m being honest, it’s only because dance deserves a place on television that doesn’t involve celebrities doing it badly. It is not because of how sugary sweet, nice and normal all those darn cute kids are [forced to be on So You Think]. I wish they would let the contestants just be. If the dancers never received another behind the scenes note about smiling when staring blankly into a camera or doing something “ya’know, FUN!:)” when screaming at the audience with their spirit fingers, begging for votes… it would be too soon. Because what results is someone visibly upset (because, hey, in a competition: sometimes shit is upsetting) while laughing and acting as though they’ve just had 3 espressos. Just let them fuckin’ feel like shit. I guarantee they’d get more votes with actual, genuine tears than with screwed on smiles and springs attached to the soles of their feet.

Just one season, just one… I’d like it to be full of dancers who dance because it’s what they fucking need to do. Full stop. Not because it makes them feel so bubbly and joyous and turns them into the shiny happy people.

But that’s just me. I’m bitter and gay. And Nigel doesn’t like that.

Edit 150906: Seems I just needed to do some more digging.

Documentary Now! And later. And forever. Please and thank you.

Insert excuses for not talking about this series sooner here. Do forgive, loyal readers. Many days overdue, we’ll talk about Documentary Now! now.

What this series is, is amazing. There’s no question about it. Hence, IFC renewing it for two more seasons before the premiere of the first episode. They have tremendous faith in the minds behind this show, as well they should. I doubt anyone would think a ship helmed by Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen could be steered wrong. Unless you hate them. Which most likely means you’re bitter about them having the career you want.

Sucks you for. I like them.

They set out to create mockumentaries based on high-profile documentaries, while recreating their styles as much as possible. And so far (granted, we’re only one episode into the initial 6-episode run, but…), they’ve succeeded. Immensely.

First up is the infamous Grey Gardens, the 1975 doc portraying the lives of mother-daughter hermit duo living in their dilapidated East Hampton mansion. If you’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure, depending on your perspective) of watching the original tale of Big & Little Edie Beale, you should undoubtedly enjoy Documentary Now! as Meyers et al. lovingly painted a picture of Big & Little Vivvy in their home, Sandy Passage. By “lovingly,” of course, I mean “meticulously.” And by “painted a picture,” I mean “created a sufficiently creepy found footage short horror film.”

I, myself, found the original documentary rather touching. Yes, both Edies had a loud relationship (the nicest way I can think to put it), but that’s just the way some people communicate. The New Yorker in me understands screaming at a relative simply because the louder you are, the better they’ll understand. (…Right?) They enjoyed their memories more than creating new ones. Or, at least they did when the documentary was made. Mothers die and children move on and time passes and changes are forced upon us. It happens. And it happened to our misses Beale. It’s worth noting, however, that when Little Edie was able to sell the home, she did it with the caveat that it never be torn down. That strikes me, again, as wanting to preserve memories. No matter what they are.

See? Sort of touching, am I right?

Having said that… I could definitely see how one could find the creepiness in that documentary. I could list the reasons why, but they’re now on film in the form of the first Documentary Now! episode. They’ve taken every reason to possibly be even slightly scared of Grey Gardens and turned it into a genius 21-minute piece of entertainment. The show is billed as a comedy, which it is, but don’t expect many laugh-out-louds unless you’ve seen Grey Gardens. Essentially, you have to be in on the joke. I assume this is why they’ve chosen more prolific documentaries to affectionately poke fun at. If you haven’t seen them, though, it just gives you an excuse to watch more things. And who’s mad at that? Don’t threaten me with a good time, I say.

So, in summation: If you find funny people funny, you’ll enjoy Documentary Now! If, on top of laughing at funny people, you sincerely enjoy documentaries, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Documentary Now! If, on top of laughing at bitches and watching non-fiction, you also love getting the shit scared out of you by found footage horror films, you’ll enjoy Documentary Now! ten-fold. (Or the first episode at least.)

Also, Helen Fucking Mirren hosts the show. Did I forget to mention that?
It’s a pretty big deal.

Mr. Robinson vs. Mr. Hightower

I’m really not one to play the comparison game. Being truly original in 2015 is, admittedly, a rare thing. I think we have to appreciate originality and tolerate similarity; embrace it, even, if it’s done well. We live in the age of sequels and reboots and reworks and remakes and it can get tiring, I know. So, in talking about Mr. Robinson, I feel compelled to talk about the show it is eerily similar to. That’s The Steve Harvey Show.

Journey back with me to my formative teenager years. Back when Michigan J. Frog was my television puppet-master. Back when we were served this lovely piece of sitcom goodness: A musician in a funk band, unable to make a career out of it, becomes a school music teacher. We’ve got a best friend who’s also in the band, two fellow teachers that fall in love, and our main character secretly pining after a co-worker.

Today, the festively colored peacock gives us the following: A musician in a funk band, unable to make a career out of it, becomes a school music teacher. We’ve got a brother who’s also in the band, two fellow teachers that fall in love, and our main character secretly pining after a co-worker.

The main differences? High school vs. middle school, the actors playing the parts, and what the network censors allow. None of Harvey’s Booker T. Washington High School teachers would have openly moonlighted as exotic dancers. And they definitely would not have talked about Eskimo taints with the principal.

Even with all those taints, Craig Robinson doesn’t manage to pack the same punch with 2015 NBC that Steve Harvey did with 1996 WB. But does he really need to? It’s clear that Robinson has comedic talent, and he’s worthy of carrying his own show. It’s just not clear if this is the show he should do it with. It’s not a bad show and it’s got its funny moments, so “comedic sitcom” mission accomplished, no? I think… maybe, sort of.

One could argue that comparisons are meaningless. (That “one” is usually me.) Any show about a teacher could be compared to Welcome Back, Kotter. Was Dharma & Greg the new I Love Lucy? Or was it the new Odd Couple? If Are You There, Chelsea? was whittled down to “a show about a bar,” it would have never been up to snuff when compared to Cheers. So, two tales of two different decades housing two different musician music teachers doesn’t necessarily mean they have anything to do with each other. But are there enough differences to warrant both tales being told? That’s the important question. Again, I think maybe. Already mentioned in this here post, we’ve got:

  1. Middle school kids and high school kids are both kids, yes, but they are very different kinds of kids. So, there’s that.
  2. Craig’s humor is definitely not Steve’s humor. Whether that’s a plus or minus is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I’m not mad at an Eskimo taint, but it probably would’ve made me feel icky if Steve Harvey talked about it.

Other than that, we’ve got more characters to get to know on Mr. Robinson. Steve’s best friend, who is his band mate and the school gym teacher, comparably is Craig’s brother and band mate, played by Brandon T. Jackson, and is not the gym teacher, played by Ben Koldyke (who, by the way, has some killer thighs in them short shorts). The object of Steve’s affections also happens to be his boss, whereas Craig’s is a fellow teacher, his equal, who both have to answer to the principal, played brilliantly (in my humble opinion) by Peri Gilpin. There’s also another offshoot of Cedric the Entertainer‘s character who falls for the female comic relief (Mr. Robinson‘s Lovita, if you will).

In general, I think Craig pulled the short end of the stick. I have not seen the original pilot, but it was created by people who did not run the series and it starred numerous actors who were replaced. This, to me, means lots of network interference. Then, it was put on the air for three weeks near the end of the summer schedule. That means “burn off.” So, NBC swoops in, changes everything, then doesn’t have enough faith in their creation to give it a real shot. I think Craig absolutely deserves a show. If he’s stuck with this one, I hope he gets a second season and I hope he’s able to control it a bit more. But if season two is not in the works, I’d be okay with that as well. The Steve Harvey Show came back into syndication this year, so we’ve at least got that. No Eskimo taints, I’m afraid.

(I really wanted to see how many times I could fit “Eskimo taint” into a review. I feel good about it.)