Essential TV 2009

December 8, 2009

The next 4 Essentials posts, the last 4 of the year, will be “best- of” lists on books, music, movies and TV. Those that make the lists won’t be exclusively from 2009, but made up of my favorites I saw/heard/read for the first time in this year.

First up: TV

1.    Flight of the Conchords: Seasons 1 & 2. This is one of my favorite shows of all time. It’s about two clueless members of a band trying to make it in NYC, except their songs are awful, so awful/awesome they become parody songs.

2.    Summer Heights High– Only 8 episodes were ever made of this crazy show. I really don’t know how to explain it. The star, creator and writer plays 3 parts: drama teacher, troubled boy, and popular girl at Summer Heights High.

3.    Damages: Season 1 – Glenn Close is so scary in this murder thriller, and how about Ted Dansen? I never knew he could actually act before this.

4.    In Treatment: Season 1 – What a excellent idea. Gabriel Byrne plays a therapist treating 4 clients and eters therapy himself. Each episode is one session, each client always showed on a certain weekday (this show aired 5 times a week) The writing and acting are something to marvel at. It’s just the two of them, Byre and his patient, for the episode. It takes great talent to hold tension for so long

5.   Arrested Development: Seasons 1, 2, & 3- I’m going to be original here and just say: it’s funny.

6.   Friday Night Lights– I heard critics rave about this show for years and years, and the they were right. This drama about a high school football team is unbelievable. If you watch the pilot (reminiscent of Remember the Titans), I think you’ll be hooked just like I was.

7.    Community– I love Joel McHale, but I always love Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed’s (Danny Pudi) bits at the end.

8.    V– Best new drama this season.

9.    The Office, (USA)- Until this year, I refused to watch this show because I LOVE the British version so much, but I gave in once Netflix put it on instant view. The first few episodes of USA are complete copies of the UK edition, but after that, Michael Scott found his footing in a new way. ANd even though the name and general idea are the same, the 2 editions are completely different because they were both tailored to their respective audiences.

10.  Gossip Girl: Season 1- I tried this show and loved it. I heard it got really bad in the 2nd and 3rd seasons, but in season 1 its more like Dawson’s Creek, just more high fashion and with more money. But at the end of the season, I knew I’d never watch another episode.

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Pop Culture Essentials

December 1, 2009

Nov.29- Dec 5

1. Brothers out Friday. I think the trailer looks dynamite.

2. Everybody’s Fine in theaters Friday

3. The Script, their debut CD is out now. You may have heard their top-40 hit, Breakeven.

4.  If you’re on twitter, you should be following @Amazonmp3 and if you’re not on twitter, this should be enough reason for you to join. Amazonmp3 tweets daily deals on dirt cheap albums (1.99 and 2.99) from mainstream artists and excellent indie outfits. ALSO, check out Amazon’s mp3 store where they are selling over 500 mp3 albums for $5.

5.  Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann- winner of The National Book Award 2009. I’ve loved what I’ve gotten to read so far (70 pages).

6. Paper Heart on DVD Tuesday. Those of you out there who love quirky romantic comedies, it looks like I might have found you a new favorite:


My Thanksgiving Essentials

November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Most of this week’s essential events include turkey, football, good friends, and shopping but there are 2 releases I’m looking forward to: Adam Lambert’s new CD (out Tuesday) and The Road (out Wednesday.)

But it’s that time of the year for me to give thanks to the people that matter most:

Lady Gaga, I want to thank you first for this. No one will ever wear a mane the same way again.

Thanks a lot Kanye for propelling Taylor Swift into the position of America’s sweetheart, ensuring her success for years to come.

Black Eyed Peas, Thank you for your song “Boom Boom Pow.” It truly proved, once and for all, that no one cares about lyrics.

Will Ferrell, or should I say, W. thanks for sharing this story:

Thank you Tina Fey for writing a show that stars you as a loser, completely inept with relationships or life. It makes the show so funny.

Thanks 500 Days of Summer for one of the best dance sequences ever:

Bill Murray, thank you for putting in that cameo.

And most importantly, thank you Sarah Palin for distracting the Republican party from finding a viable candidate for 2012.


Andrea’s Pop Culture Essentials

November 16, 2009

Nov. 15- 21

1. John Mayer’s new CD Battle Studies comes out Nov. 17! I heard a leaked copy and it is good. Solid, classic mayer. I HATE his current single, Who Says. The rest of the album is better.

2. Precious opening in Jackson on Friday- there is so much Oscar Buzz about this film, and I saw a couple interviews with the star, Gaboures Sidibe. LOVED her.

3. New Moon! I mean, this is going to be the feel-good movie of the year… Just kidding! those of you who know me for real know there’s no way I’ll ever see this movie.

The real #3: Broken Embraces starring Penelope Cruz and directed by Pedro Amaldovar, the team behind one of my favorite movies from last year, Volver.

4. Joseph Gorden-Levitt hosting SNL Nov. 21. I think he’ll be really good (he can’t be worse than January Jones). And if you don’t know who he is, see 500 Days of Summer.

5. Open by Andre Agassi

6. Christopher Walken’s spoken word version of Pokerface:

7. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. Maybe you’ve never read anything by this short story master, but its time to start. She is a genius. YOu can start with my favorite collection of hers, Runaway.

8. My Sister’s Keeper on DVD Tuesday


The Pop Culture Essentials

November 2, 2009

by Andrea Burke

November 1- 7:

1. The Men Who Stare at Goats.  This movie looks hilarious to me. I can’t really explain why, part of it may be that I love George Clooney and Ewan McGregor

2. Strict Joy- The Swell Season. If you have seen the excellent movie Once, you know how awesome this pair is. They released a new album last week! Go buy it!

3. Ricky Gervais, the man who created The Office, Extras, and wrote/directed and starred in The Invention of Lying, will be on David Letterman Friday.

4. Michael Bublé – Haven’t Met You Yet. I can’t get this song out of my head.
5. It’s a new month, so Amazon has a new batch of 50 mp3 albums for $5.00, including albums from the Black Eyed Peas, Owl City, The Avett bros, The Decemberists, Tim McGraw, Ben Harper, and Johnny Cash.
6. Classic of the week: High Noon starring Gary Cooper. This is one of the best movies ever. It comes on TCM Thursday at 6:00.
7. Travel Writing by Peter Ferry
8. The Office Music video. ‘Nard dog steals the show in my opinion.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Halloween Movie Essentials!

October 26, 2009

by Andrea Burke

This was actually a hard list to make because the horror genre is sub-divided into many smaller genres. You have your slashers, your suspense, your vamps, goblins, werewolfs, ghouls, Your classic ghost stories, the horror films with a comedic edge, and for me, I have the ones I grew up watching that are inevitably cloaked with nostalgia, like Arachnaphobia or It (I’m objective enough to see they’re both horrible in their own special ways, but still…).

But the top 10 were chosen for being well-rounded: a good story, good characters, and of course, a few good scares.

Top 10 Horror movies for Halloween Week

1. Psycho– I posted the original theatrical trailer starring Hitchcock himself which is a little long, but I love Hitch.

2. The Orphanage– (not to be confused with the lame-looking “The Orphan” that recently came out) You may not have heard of this Spanish film, but it is the absolute best “horror” movie from the last decade. Its produced by Guillermo del Toro, the man behind Pan’s Labyrinth

3. Halloween (NOT the Remake, The Original with Jamie Lee Curtis)

4. The Omen

5. Rear Window

6. Wait Until Dark

7. Nightmare on Elm Street– Just recently saw this one, and it would be higher on the list if the main girl would have been more likable.

8. The 6th Sense– The movie that introduced us to M. Night, still his best movie to date.

9. The Others

10. The Lost Boys – Okay, this is a little Vampire number from the 80s and it represents its decade well. 24’s Keiffer Sutherland plays one of the vamps.

Why these 3 Horror “Classics” didn’t make the list:

1. The most obvious omission: The Exorcist. I’ve seen it. And more than scared, I was grossed out. I get it- the devil is inside this young girl making her do repulsive things, but instead of being afraid of the devil’s power, which is what I assume we’re supposed to be afraid of, I just wondered what kind of sicko would want to film this real live girl acting out the part of a devil-possessed girl.

2. Rosemary’s Baby. In high school, I made a big group of friends watch this after it got named #2 on some Horror movie list. It turned out to be overrated and boring even though some of the dream scenes were disturbing.

3. Night of the Living Dead. Here’s one I haven’t seen, something new to watch this week because its on Netflix Instant View!

Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween!