mosbysyellowumbrella asked: I've got to ask: how did you feel about the finale??

Ok here goes. I’m not as mad as I thought I was going to be. Maybe that’s because I had braced myself for this ending for weeks, and though I tried to deny that they would do it, I knew that it was ultimately a very real possibility. 

Am I confused and angry as to why they would spend an entire season focusing on the do or die of a marriage that would eventually fail? Hell yes, I am. Do I feel that so much character growth in Ted and Barney was undone quickly and then restitched together in just this episode? Yup. Do I wish that the stories jammed into this episode had been told over half of this season so we could have gotten some more explanation for these choices? Yes, again. Do I hate the fact that the Mother Tracy died and Ted got his maybe happy ending with Robin? Not entirely.

There’s already a lot of outcry about the show not ringing true to the title, that the nine year quest to answer the show’s big question was just a long way to get him where we all thought he was going in the first place. I felt the same way immediately after tonight’s episode ended. Why was the show called ‘How I Met Your Mother?’ Did it mean nothing? And I think in the end Bays and Thomas just barely got away with having it both ways.

Ted got his happy ending twice. Just because Tracy died doesn’t mean she never existed. To me, the show presented plenty of evidence of happy times between the two of them. Their relationship was not a fraud or inconsequential, it was real and it happened and gave him believable happiness, but life is not a straight road. Tragedy comes even to those who deserve their happy ending. Tracy learned this way before Ted ever did. Rushing it all at the end makes it seem insensitive and yes, is manipulative, but not any less true to life.

The final scene tried hard for its full circle, and I found the imagery itself stirring. It’s also admirable that Bays and Thomas had this ending in mind for 8 years and that they stuck to it regardless. It leaves some messiness on the table, such as what’s Barney going to think of this and why are these characters doomed to repeat old habits? But maybe if we view everything that happens after Ted says “and that’s how I met your mother,” as the epilogue to the series, it would go down better. 

There were several things that could have been done differently tonight to keep everyone happy. But I think this ending is more challenging, true and rightfully tragic than all three couples growing old together and walking into the sunset. Despite all the low points over the years, ‘HIMYM’ built a sitcom that was anything but typical in so many ways. It’s unfortunate that this ending is going taint that in the eyes of a lot of its fans and television history.

Microreview: ‘The Lego Movie’
Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s batting average is kind of insane right now. They’ve presented an astounding comedic body of work, across formats and target audiences, that rivals any of their peers (Rogen & Goldberg, Judd Apatow, Pixar). ‘Lego Movie,’ while family fare, is so much more complicated than it lets on and often caters more directly to the adults in the audience than the children. Themes of freedom and oppression, individual expression and totalitarian conformity, corporate media and big government dominance are especially resonant up against the modern world. They also go about as far over the kids’ head as the meta humor that the movie uses in abundance and then (SPOILER ALERTS FROM HERE) builds its entire climax on.
Speaking of which, the third act reveal is a bit wonky and jarring. It unfortunately calls attention to itself and the rules of this world. In ‘Toy Story’ you understand the system of how the toys live when they’re not being watched, but here the mechanics of the Lego world and the real world are muddled and distracting. (The story is being made up by Will Ferrell’s son but then Emmett has a real-world consciousness and can move on his own?) That said, the climax of the movie works, and stirs up genuine emotion, even with characters we don’t really know much about. Or maybe we do and have been getting to know them the entire time? 

Microreview: ‘The Lego Movie’

Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s batting average is kind of insane right now. They’ve presented an astounding comedic body of work, across formats and target audiences, that rivals any of their peers (Rogen & Goldberg, Judd Apatow, Pixar). ‘Lego Movie,’ while family fare, is so much more complicated than it lets on and often caters more directly to the adults in the audience than the children. Themes of freedom and oppression, individual expression and totalitarian conformity, corporate media and big government dominance are especially resonant up against the modern world. They also go about as far over the kids’ head as the meta humor that the movie uses in abundance and then (SPOILER ALERTS FROM HERE) builds its entire climax on.

Speaking of which, the third act reveal is a bit wonky and jarring. It unfortunately calls attention to itself and the rules of this world. In ‘Toy Story’ you understand the system of how the toys live when they’re not being watched, but here the mechanics of the Lego world and the real world are muddled and distracting. (The story is being made up by Will Ferrell’s son but then Emmett has a real-world consciousness and can move on his own?) That said, the climax of the movie works, and stirs up genuine emotion, even with characters we don’t really know much about. Or maybe we do and have been getting to know them the entire time? 

I reviewed last night’s ‘Big Bang’ for Huff Post, it was a mixed bag.

There is no science behind comedy. Ironically, this is why the Sheldon plot of tonight’s Big Bang Theory is supposed to be funny.

His quest, though noble, is a fool’s errand meant to annoy his friends and tickle the audience. He can try all he wants, but he’ll inevitably fail. Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly tickled by tonight’s episode. In terms of a typical Big Bang, it had far fewer laugh out loud moments than usual, but what it lacked in big humor, it made up for in drama and emotion. I was genuinely surprised and pleased by the Penny-Leonard storyline, and am glad there is more forward momentum for these characters.

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Review, co-created by and starring Daly, will debut Thursday, February 27th at 10pm. Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, a TV critic who reviews life experiences like stealing, drug addiction, and sleeping with a celebrity. The supporting cast includes Jessica St. Clair as his wife, Fred Willard as his father-in-law, and James Urbaniak as his producer, with Andy Richter, Ashley Tisdale, Jason Mantzoukas, Rich Fulcher, Emo Phillips, Andy Blitz and Maria Thayer set to guest star.

On ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘The Day of the Doctor’

What a day. Quickly some thoughts.

Catching Fire' is a vast improvement over 'The Hunger Games'. This is mostly thanks to the fact that it doesn't need to waste a lot of time on exposition, but it also managed to solve the problem of 1st person vs. 3rd person perspective. The first film departed from the book in that it gave us a much broader world view of Panem. This was fine for establishing the universe, but in the process it lost the emotional connection to Katniss and the whole point about it being her specific experience. The sequel wisely doesn't leave Katniss very often and does so only briefly and with great reason to. This means that the emotion between the characters, her frustration, the tension of the games, her confusion and lack of knowledge and the twist ending all work. The Capitol felt much more menacing in this installment which added an unprecedented gravitas, but that has more to do with the source material I'd say. regardless, the movie looked amazing in IMAX. When the top and bottom of the screen opened up (you'll need a true IMAX screen for this experience) during the Games sequence, I was giddy. I was so very glad I saw it on the biggest screen possible. 

The Day of the Doctor’ had massive, impossible hype to live up to, but left me feeling satisfied for what it was. It struck the right balance of clever plotting, frightening monsters, touching emotion, self reflexive references both big and small and humor. Despite a deus ex machina ending that practically rewrote the modern era’s origin story*, it didn’t get bogged down by too much timey-wimey Moffat intricacies. Hurt gave a standout performance that makes me wish he had his own ‘Who’ series. I’m interested to see how the fans react to Billie Piper’s role, as it wasn’t really “Rose” and may not have been what many were expecting. Regardless, they opened up the door for an endless possibility of stories both backwards and forwards in time, and isn’t that what good ‘Doctor Who’ is supposed to do? Plus Tom Baker and Capaldi. Amirite?

*Except not really because Gallifrey instead of being destroyed is now missing and the Daleks are still nearly wiped out. Same place as we were before, but there’s a chance Gallifrey could be found.

I reviewed a supbar ‘Big Bang Theory’ for Huff Post.

Forgot to post my review of this week’s ‘Big Bang Theory’ last night. So here it is.

For a show of this age and this magnitude to be this creative and this clever in its seventh season is a remarkable feat. Traditional sitcoms of similar age tend to blow character traits out of proportion, trying to wring every bit of comedy they can from characters that were once subtle. CBS sister comedy “How I Met Your Mother” is a prime example of this in action. And while “The Big Bang Theory” is typically far from subtle, and does on occasion fall back onto the aforementioned wringing, “The Itchy Brain Simulation” proved that it can mine as much humor from inverting its characters as it does in playing them straight. This season hasn’t been consistent hits every week, but this recent stretch of episodes has done something right.

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I enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away — which may have been due to the hype. I think they lose the thread of Solomon’s ultimate goal in the middle and it ends up making the whole thing a bit disjointed and slightly episodic. Then again, it’s based on a true story and that’s not to say the performances aren’t of the highest caliber (they are) or the film is any less impactful. I had a follower ask earlier if any of it was hard to watch. A few scenes are, but not without purpose. The ending is extremely cathartic and brought many around me at the sparse11:20 am show to tears.
As a side bar, I would have liked to see someone else in Brad Pitt’s role. His stardom took me right out of the movie. All I could see was “Brad Pitt” and not who his character was supposed to be.

I enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away — which may have been due to the hype. I think they lose the thread of Solomon’s ultimate goal in the middle and it ends up making the whole thing a bit disjointed and slightly episodic. Then again, it’s based on a true story and that’s not to say the performances aren’t of the highest caliber (they are) or the film is any less impactful. I had a follower ask earlier if any of it was hard to watch. A few scenes are, but not without purpose. The ending is extremely cathartic and brought many around me at the sparse11:20 am show to tears.

As a side bar, I would have liked to see someone else in Brad Pitt’s role. His stardom took me right out of the movie. All I could see was “Brad Pitt” and not who his character was supposed to be.

zachdionne asked: Tell us how Big Fish was! Please aim your response at someone like me, who has an inexplicable fondness for the film even though it's technically not that great.

The show was fine but not anything life changing. The visual nature of the movie doesn’t really translate to the stage that well (though they try their best for a BIG production), and they all but abandon the film’s underlying darkness. The emotion of the movie, on the other hand, carries over well as does the basic plot. The stories from the movie provide a convenient template for the show as they’re turned into set pieces for musical numbers. Norbert Leo Butz and Bobby Steggert are both strong and sell a lot of what wouldn’t work with lesser actors. Only a few of the songs are truly memorable, which is the show’s biggest weakness probably. I’d say it’s worth a rush ticket or a TDF/Tkts discount if you love the movie, are a big Broadway fan in general or really want to see a show and nothing else appeals to you.

Look at that, I reviewed this week’s ‘Big Bang Theory’ for Huff Post TV.

Over seven seasons, “Big Bang" has struck a delicate balance of keeping its characters lovable without making them too insufferable. Sheldon is the trickiest and can vary from week to week. If you’re not on board with Dr. Cooper, you’re likely not on board with the show. And hopefully you like him, because this episode sees him at his possibly most frustrating.

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[Editor’s note: Roger Ebert filed this review for use at Ebertfest. It was not the last review he ever wrote—that would be his piece on “To the Wonder"—but it’s one of them.]

I don’t know if this is exactly unbiased, as seeing it with that crowd will definitely sway a viewer, but here’s an excerpt from James Hibberd’s instant reaction.

My TV-business side wondered this a few times: Is this show accessible enough to be a hit? When you have a joke referencing “the sweaty cosplay girls crowding around Stark Tower,” okay, that’s funny if you’ve seen the Iron Man films and you know what cosplay is. I suspect that’s 80 percent of EW readers. Yet I bet it’s a much, much lower percentage of ABC viewers. Love or hate The CW’s Arrow pilot, you could understand every line without knowing anything about DC Comics or clocking time on Reddit. But S.H.I.E.L.D. does have one aspect that’s sure to meet with ABC’s approval: Everybody in the cast is hot looking.

– Here’s the question: If you strip away all the hype and history. Forget The Avengers, ignore that it’s Marvel, and somehow delete from your brain this is Joss Whedon’s TV return … if you do all that and just watch this pilot as a regular TV show … it still works. You can still imagine it on the air — though perhaps on Fox, not Marvel’s corporate cousin ABC. There’s been a lot of shows that have tried to resurrect the 1980s-style broadcast primetime procedural action hour in recent years. This one could really pull it off.

mylesmcnutt:

When I went on a year-long hiatus from covering Scrubs for TV Club Classic, one of the common refrains in the—less than common—pleas for coverage to continue was that the reviews had stopped before the show reached its finest episode. Although it’s possible I’ll continue on beyond the show’s third season at some point in the future, I knew “My Screw Up” is one of the most beloved Scrubs episodes, and saw it as an opportunity to do something a little bit extra.

Hopefully, this half review/half oral history—made possible with the generous participation of both Bill Lawrence and Neil Goldman—lives up to the episode in question.

Gonna go listen to “Winter” on repeat.