Tag Archives: Ron Howard

Arrested Development: 7 Years Later

At the point when FOX finally canceled Arrested Development, its ratings were pretty bad. In the Nielson cycle that sealed its fate, the doomedskate comedy lost out to long forgotten quality programs like Skating with Celebrities and Apprentice: Martha Stewart. There has never been a program quite like Arrested Development. It can be difficult explain the show’s multi-camera  mock-umentary style. The jokes are subtle just as often as they are completely overt. Arrested did the heavy lifting for several more successful shows that followed  30 Rock, Community, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have benefited from the game changer that no one watched.

Something interesting happened,  however, when Arrested Development was released on DVD; the infinitely rewatchable series developed a massive following. The new lovers of the show found each other online and created a community that brought relevance back to the dysfunctional Orange County family and their off color antics.

Arrested Development, the last four episodes of which FOX aired back to back on a Friday night in February, launched the careers of several cast members while rejuvenating those of others. So when Netflix agreed to produce 15 new episodes of the series ahead of a feature film due out next year, coordinating the schedules of Michael Cera, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman became pretty difficult.

Getting the nine actors who portray the main characters together in one location was often impossible. This posed quite a problem for writer/series’ creator Mitch Hurwitz. The solution was a combination of creative writing and modern technology. The episodes of the fourth season of this ensemble comedy  are written to focus on just one character. Green screen is utilized to bring some of the other main characters into subplots within them. Some of the actors only shared the screen in one episode yet appear together often throughout the run.

Despite losing seven years, Arrested Development has not lost a step. The unfolding serialized comedic scenarios that run through this entire season howardare just as uproarious as in previous seasons. The inside jokes are supplemented with new ones. Fantastic in this season is the role of actor/director/narrator Ron Howard. Though serving as narrator since the show began, Howard appears in several episodes and plays a hilarious parody of himself. Howard pokes fun at  his acting past, baldness and early projects (Fantastic Four anyone?)

The show has a good time with itself and its unsuccessful past. It’s a great way to blow 7.5 hours. Or 15 if you have already watched it twice… Like I have.

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The Oscar goes to…Oh Yeah, That Guy Again


Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Image courtesy of Wikimedia


Last month’s 85th annual Academy Awards really have me thinking. First, I’ve been thinking about all of the hilarious reaction to Seth Macfarlane being Seth Macfarlane, and doing a song about actresses going topless in various films. Come on folks, Macfarlane does gross out, irreverent humor in various media for millions of dollars. His work is now so prevalent and commonplace that he lacks the ability to surprise us by offending our delicate sensibilities. The hat is old, and I think we should move on.

While I enjoyed Macfarlane, the second thing the Oscars brought to mind was the current group of directors in Hollywood. I know that for years we have all griped about the hashing and rehashing of the same tired plots starring the same actors. We complain of over grown budgets and undergrown stories. When the best director award passed over Steven Spielberg in favor of Ang Lee much in the same fashion as it did in 2006, I could not help but wonder “are there only 6 directors in Hollywood?”

What seems more likely is of the highest profile directors there are only 6 types:

Disclaimer  The people on this list would probably fall into many of the other categories, and I am certain I skipped a great many in each group. If I snubbed your favorite, I apologize.

The Old Guard:

Once upon a time, each of these now-famous film makers were outsiders; now each is a  tried and true trophy winner. Directors who can take any chunk of coal and produce a diamond simply by attaching their weighty name. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola etc.  These are the guys on the wishlist of every writer, and many actors. It seems that every year one of the numerous people on this list are either nominated for best director or receiving some type of lifetime achievement award.

I was an okay actor, but am a much better director:Ron Howard

Meathead, Laverne, and Opie are among the greatest directors of a generation. Ron Howard is probably the most successful of this group, and his position is aided by the fact that he was a child actor who worked very little as an adult. Rob Reiner, Penny Marshal, and recent addition Ben Affleck are great examples of people who did less than meaningful work as actors but have turned in stellar work from behind the camera.

Freaks and Geeks:

Movie and comic book geeks seem to make the best directors to head up recent film adaptations of some of our beloved childhood properties. Because of their special connection to the material and their dedication to making movies they as fans would want to see these directors deliver time and again to some of the most difficult fan bases: Sam Raimi,  Brian Singer, Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams. Just hearing their names attached to a project can bring a sigh of relief to most hardcore  fans.

The Epics:

Sometimes these are at odds with the group immediately above. Directors in this group sometimes forgo the subtleties and nuances of  the source material to produce a script with a, how should I put this? A bit more BOOOOOOOM: Joel Schumacher, the man who almost killed Batman; Ridley Scott, whose work runs the gamut between indecipherable and gut checking action; and James Cameron. They are the successors to famous Hollywood archetypes like Cecil B. Demille. The king of them all is Michael Bay, who has managed on more than one occasion to combine his love of  ‘splosions and his dedication to making a film fans can enjoy.

The Writer Directors:

Quentin Tarantino, M. Night Shyamalan, Steven Soderbergh, Ang Lee, Woody Allen. Most directors have tried their hand at writing, and a lot of writers would rather direct their own work. While many of those listed above and many others that fit this category have directed works written by others, the majority of their success comes from directing their own scripts. Much like singer-songwriters, this is often the perfect marriage of concept and director.

The Trilogy Makers:

Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, George Lucas. Ever try to tell a story? Ever have to stop one-third of the way through due to time constraints, then pick it back up later? This is how I imagine the mind of the Trilogy Makers. Whenever a story is too big to tell in one film these are the guys to call. Often it means slow playing the first film, overdoing the action in the second, and cramming a resolution into the third.


Sure, some of these directors fall into more than one category, but the point is pretty solid. Hollywood is in desperate need of new blood. Not just for directors, but in many other aspects of the group mosaic that is a well-made film. The only answer is to stop going to see tired plots and worn out concepts from the  same directors and actors. Right? I mean if we do not respect the position we hold as consumers how can we expect the film makers to do so?  And furthermore… Sorry, I lost track of time…I will finish this later. I am catching a matinee of the new Die Hard.







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“Stumped” by Celebrity Endorcements

Clint Eastwood made quite a stir at the Republican National Convention last week. Eastwood’s usage of an old vaudeville era bit to show his displeasure with the job performance of our president was a success or an embarrassment depending on your political affiliation. Why was Clint even at the Convention? Why was he given free reign in a historically prized time slot? Easy! Americans are celebrity obsessed.

Does anyone understand our sick fascination with celebrities? Entire periodicals are dedicated to what they eat, where they sleep, who with, and what they do in their spare time. We cannot get enough of the mundane details of these glittery people.  Celebrities stumping for candidates is hardly new. Every four years various famous and semi-famous actors, athletes and musicians turn out to support the candidate of their choice.

Celebrities from the idiotic (Toby Keith) to the highly intelligent (Ben Stein) step up each election season to tell you who to vote for. Even celebrities who don’t live here and cannot vote get in on the stump. (Bono, Mel Gibson) The tactics used range from simply playing a few songs at some campaign rallies (Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne) to making campaign videos suggesting that if you plan to vote for someone other than his chosen candidate then just don’t vote (Matt Damon).

I hate everything about this practice! Not only because the liberals get better celebrities (all the way back to Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack Stumping for John Kennedy), but the idea that we common folk should be lectured by the shiny millionaires about which politician will do the best to solve our common little problems makes me want to rip the remainder of my hair out.

image appears courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Then we are supposed to react something like this:

“Well Ron Howard thinks Obama is a good choice…I liked Happy Days…I want to be happy…a vote for Obama is a vote for Happiness”

Or something like that. It is insulting and preys on the uninformed.

During the conventions and beyond both parties will trot out whomever they can to win your vote. This week’s DNC will be overrun with celebrities attempting to sway your opinion. Just do me a small favor whenever one of the parties tries to employ this tactic–try to really listen. Consider the actual issues and listen for substance. Try to forget the endorsement is coming from an actor who made a movie about smoking drugs and a late night trip to a third tier fast food joint (Kal Penn) and consider what is actually being said. Even Dirty Harry should not be able to sway your vote without some facts…Punk.


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