Friday, December 28, 2012

The 2012 AV Top 5 Lists

   5) The Poscast with Joe Posnanski
Joe Posnanski moved from Sports Illustrated to a new web venture (Sports on Earth) but he kept his podcast going. His conversations with Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur (who is virtually the only guest Posnanski has) are smart, silly and thought-provoking conversations about sports and whatever else crosses their minds.

   4) The Fogelnest Files
You might remember Jake Fogelnest from that 1990s MTV show Squirt TV. Foglenest has come a long from being a teenager interviewing stars in his bedroom. This podcast sees him digging up weird, arcane clips from the Internet for us to enjoy. And to enjoy others making fun of them.

   3) The Ronna & Beverly Podcast
I have laughed so loudly about inappropriate things uttered by Beverly (played by Jamie Denbo--full disclosure, I know her) on the F train on my way home from work that I’ve scared people and they moved to other parts of the car. That, my friends, is some powerful comedy.

   2) WTF with Marc Maron
Marc Maron has become, for better or worse, perhaps the biggest name in podcasting. And when you listen to his conversations with Todd Glass about coming out, The Flaming LipsWayne Coyne about creativity or Steven Wright about, well, hell, anything, you’ll understand exactly why people want to write about what they hear.

   1) Harmontown
Community creator Dan Harmon and former Whose Line Is It Anyway panelist Jeff Davis get drunk, play Dungeons and Dragons, make up raps about your mother and go on lengthy stream of consciousness rants about, well, anything that cross’s Harmon’s mind. This is not a podcast for just anyone. If you liked Community, this is just for you.

TV Shows
   5) Person of Interest (CBS)
Okay, I must be getting old -- I non-ironically enjoy a CBS crime procedural (and I don’t watch it in reruns on USA). The second season of this sci-fi version of The Equalizer has added more humor and doubled down on the extensive conspiracy arcs. By my count there are four different running threads the show can tap into any week, which is four more than any other CBS show. Alas, Jim Caviezel still acts as if he’s in a walking coma (except for the well crafted action sequences). Fortunately the very talented Michael Emerson and Taraj P. Henson more than make up for Caviezzzzzzels sleepy delivery.

   4) Community (NBC)
The nine month wait for new episodes almost made me leave one of my favorite shows ever off the list. (Stupid NBC.) Then I remember how hard I laughed when Troy and Abed were being “normal,” Jeff turning into the Incredible Hulk or the entire cast turning into 8-bit video game versions of themselves. Dan Harmon made some great television over three seasons. Let’s hope the fourth (and likely final season) is a worthwhile coda to that time when it debuts in February.

   3) Louie (FX)
I must admit that I missed the boat on the first two seasons of Louie. I read so much great writing about how amazing this series from Louis C.K. was that I decided to set the DVR and give it a shot. Most critics said this year wasn’t as good as its second season, which made me think I better catch up on those episodes because I was hugely entertained by season three. (I suppose I’ve got something to watch on the iPad this winter.) Parker Posey’s guest turn as the most unnerving yet memorable date of Louie’s life and the three-episode arc where Louie auditioned to succeed David Letterman weren’t just funny, they were genuinely moving. That’s a hard act for a comedy to pull off, yet Louie did it each week.

   2) Sherlock (PBS)
The only disappointing thing about this 21st Century update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective is that there aren’t more episodes. The three 90-minute episodes we do get feature everyone in involved working at the top of their game, especially Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson. The Conan Doyle-inspired cliffhanger will have me anxiously awaiting the next brief run, which isn’t likely to hit these shores until 2014 because of the busy schedules of the leads. (Damn you Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit!)

   1) Parks and Recreation (NBC)
I didn’t think this show could improve on its greatness of 2011, but both the hysterical and heart-warming arc about Leslie’s campaign for city council wrapping up in the spring and the transition into a new season with every character adapting to new roles was superb. Amy Poehler and Adam Scott play one of the best couples on television and I applaud the writing staff for creating a realistic relationship that has stayed fresh and funny.

   5) Lockout (Europa/Canal Plus/Open Road Films)
I believe the pitch for this film had to be one sentence -- “Escape From New York, set in outer space.” Guy Pearce chews through every bit of scenery in the film as the convict that has to rescue the president’s daughter. Add it to your Netflix cue right now. It’s the perfect so stupid it’s smart action film

   4) Skyfall (MGM/Sony)
Daniel Craig just may be my favorite James Bond ever. (Well, behind George Lazenby.) What a relief the series didn’t go down further after the drudgery of Quantum of Solace. And (spoiler alert!!!!) Judi Dench will be missed.

   3) Fat Kid Rules the World (Whitewater Films & Whippany Park Productions)
Full disclosure: my friends Michael Galvin and Pete Speakman wrote the screenplay for this film based upon the 2003 young adult novel by KL Going. But don’t let my personal bias distort from the fact that this is a great film. First time director Matthew Lillard (yup, the guy from Scream and that played Shaggy in the Scooby Doo films) picked an excellent cast to bring this tale of an overweight teenager that gets indoctrinated into punk rock culture to life. Get it on iTunes now!

   2) Lincoln (Touchstone Pictures/20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Pictures)
I’ll admit it -- the last Steven Spielberg film I liked was, heck, could it be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Really (Goes to IMDB to check.) Oops, forgot about Saving Private Ryan. So it’s been 14 years since I was impressed by Spielberg. And I didn’t expect Lincoln to be so entertaining. The healthy doses of humor in Tony Kushner’s script (and the delivery of those lines by the amazing cast) enliven what could have been a very dry historical artifact of the nuts and bolts of passing a constitutional amendment. I’m pretty sure no one’s going to be making a film about how today’s Congress can’t get their own heads out of their asses and pass any bill.

   1) The Avengers (Marvel/Disney)
I’m still amazed that some film executive was smart enough to give Joss Whedon the keys to a blockbuster franchise. This was my favorite superhero film since the first X-Men film, and in most ways surpasses it. Whedon made the Hulk a viable film character, which is miraculous after Ang Lee and Edward Norton messed it up in separate tries. The excitement of seeing this with an insanely audience on opening day reminded me that some movies are best experienced on the big screen with a bunch of people high on adrenaline and candy.

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