All posts by Nathaniel

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The Best of Will Forte

The SNL “Best of…” compilation was long the best way to see old sketches or relive your favorite characters and cast members. In the days when you had to just wait and hope for an older episode to show up in reruns, “Best of”s were a terrific way to get a sense of just what was so great about folks like Gilda Radner or John Belushi. And as the show continued into the salad days of VHS and DVD, over two dozen “Best of” compilations were released, covering many cast members and a handful of classic hosts. Sure, even in their heyday these compilations didn’t cover every deserving cast member (would that we had “The Best of Jan Hooks” or “The Best of Bill Murray”), but not long after they’d left the cast you could get DVDs of “The Best of Jimmy Fallon” and “The Best of Chris Kattan,” so it stings a bit that (the fantastic) Amy Poehler was the last cast member to date to receive the “Best of” treatment. Since then, a number of cast members who absolutely merit a compilation have left the show, but it seems like the decline of the home video market and (supposedly) easy online access to sketches from throughout the show’s history has conspired to put an end to the practice. For fans of the show, it’s kind of crazy that there hasn’t been a “Best of Kristen Wiig” or “Best of Bill Hader.” But we here at are going to do our part to correct the situation (or at least to offer suggestions; c’mon, Broadway Video/NBC/whoever should be doing these! we’ll do the work!). The project here is to provide at least a rough simulation of a “Best of” compilation, with a sampling of signature characters, memorable or iconic sketches, as well as a couple of Weekend Update appearances. Because of the spotty availability of sketches online, I’m going to list the preferred “Best of” sketch and, if necessary, providing an alternative that you can check out online.

First up, to celebrate a cast member who is enormously beloved among (at least parts of) the offices and to get you ready for Sunday’s hotly anticipated premiere of The Last Man On Earth, we’re offering our suggestions for “The Best of Will Forte.” Continue reading The Best of Will Forte



November 22, 2013: Jesse was musing on Twitter about the Fathom Events presentation of Glenn Beck’s The Christmas Sweater, which we’d seen advertised every time we’d been to a movie that month. Sensing a need, he put out a call on Twitter for a similar story he could call his own and ride to seasonal riches. By that evening, he’d received the following list.
Continue reading THE CHRISTMAS _________ GAME

BEST TV OF 2014: Comedy Central is Living Up to Its Name

An observation about the Top Television of 2014 list: only one network comedy made the list. We’re a pretty comedy loving bunch, but I’ll admit to being a little surprised, not because there’s only one network show on our list, but that there are any at all. I like the show on our list a lot, and I can think of other worthy contenders (my darling, my Bob’s Burgers), but network comedy is in fairly dire straits at the moment. NBC’s once hallowed (and then hallowed by comedy nerds, if not general audiences) Thursday night comedy block is no more, and the other broadcast networks seem to have similar trouble developing and keeping interesting comedies. And while the age of the incredible cable drama has provided more quality hour-long television than anybody can reasonably keep up with, the comedy offerings on cable haven’t entirely kept pace (not that you’d know it from the great comedies that made our list). But allow me, for a moment, to join in the growing chorus of people trying to draw your comedy-seeking attention back to Comedy Central. Perhaps you think (like I did!) that Comedy Central had given over to a schedule made up entirely of stand-up specials, MadTV reruns, the occasional new episode of South Park, and waves of Tosh-esque smirky misanthropy. But it turns out that in 2014 the network had maybe its strongest collection of original programming ever. In addition to the vital-as-ever Daily Show and Colbert Report, over the last two or three years Comedy Central has amassed a handful of shows with distinctive, well developed comic personality. Sara makes a great case for Broad City (I haven’t seen it! I’m hoping the first season goes back up on Hulu in advance of the second season’s January 14th premiere). But here’s a quick look at five other terrific shows: Continue reading BEST TV OF 2014: Comedy Central is Living Up to Its Name

The Beast Will Out: The Wolfman (2010)

While the full tale of Dracula Untold‘s fortunes will continue to play out, the movie appears to have done well enough in this first weekend of release to remain a part of Universal’s plans for their famous monsters. With news of recent reshoots meant to keep Universal’s options open in terms of folding Dracula Untold into their proposed Universal Monsterverse (set to begin in earnest with 2016’s The Mummy), the film provides our first glimpse of just what they have in mind for these iconic characters. Continue reading The Beast Will Out: The Wolfman (2010)

Dracula (Untold) vs. Vlad the Impaler


As I’m sure we’re all well aware, Friday, October 10th saw the release of Dracula Untold, Universal’s latest attempt to jump start their Universal Monsters franchise. Finally, audiences everywhere can learn the true previously untold sorta historical origin story for the famous Count Dracula. Now, if you’re curious to hear just what incredible story the filmmakers have dug up (and haven’t rushed out to see for yourself), let’s start with Vlad the Impaler. Continue reading Dracula (Untold) vs. Vlad the Impaler

Planet of the Apes Week!

Join us in a world turned upside down by’s Planet of the Apes coverage!

We’ve got:

…an Apes series primer for the uninitiated.

…an appreciation of Dr. Zira, our favorite chimpanzee.

…a look at a little seen collection of apocalyptic poetry by Apes writer Paul Dehn (with illustrations by Edward Gorey!).

…a collection of tie-in media to get you up to speed on the time that’s passed between Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

…a flashback to 2001, and what Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes taught Marisa about friendship.

…a chat about Rob & Jesse’s disastrous (though never prosecuted) attempt to see Burton’s Apes.

…a rundown of the original concept for Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

…the ‘Ape Escape’ cocktail that helped Sabrina conquer her terror of chimpanzees enough to maybe watch a Planet of the Apes movie.

…Jesse’s review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes!

…and a Tumblr with lots of Apes related bits and bobs. Posters! Songs! Trailers! Variety show appearances!


Hail Caesar! The OTHER Battle For The Planet Of The Apes

In talking about the differences between the finished film and Dehn’s earlier drafts, we’re going to be getting into some of the surprises (and the endings) of the finished films.  I did my best to avoid giving too much away in the Primer, but now we’re going to get a little more specific.  So once again, let me just urge you to go watch the series and then come back here.  They’re well worth it!  Anyway, here’s your SPOILER WARNING.

The Planet of the Apes series became one of the greatest and most indelible in all science fiction thanks to the contributions of many talented men and women:

  • Cast members like Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, James Gregory, Claude Akins, Natalie Trundy, Paul Williams, and Ricardo Montalban
  • Producer Arthur P. Jacobs
  • Makeup genius John Chambers
  • Directors Franklin Schaffner, Ted Post, Don Taylor, and J. Lee Thompson
  • Writers Pierre Boulle, Rod Serling, Michael Wilson, John & Joyce Corrington

But as the writer of three out of the five films, Paul Dehn could be said to be the architect of original series.  Unfortunately, due to poor health in the last years of his life (his final produced screenplay was for Sidney Lumet’s Murder On the Orient Express in 1974; he would die two years later) Dehn bowed out of writing the screenplay for the finale of the series, Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  The Corringtons were brought in to replace him, and while he provided a final polish on their script, the final film differs greatly from Dehn’s original conception for the fourth sequel.
Continue reading Hail Caesar! The OTHER Battle For The Planet Of The Apes

Before the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes reportedly takes place ten years after the conclusion of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We’ll have to see the film to find out just what Caesar and his fellow apes are up to now, but in the meantime we’ve watched some short films and read a licensed novel that provide some information about that missing decade and humankind’s struggle with what’s been dubbed the Simian Flu.
Continue reading Before the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Apocalyptic Poetry of Paul Dehn

By 1969, British writer Paul Dehn had spent time as a film critic, a spy during World War II, and as a screenwriter of films including Goldfinger and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. But it was his work as a poet that would ultimately link him inextricably with one of the most inventive and socially conscious film series of all time.
Continue reading The Apocalyptic Poetry of Paul Dehn

A ‘Planet of the Apes’ Primer

This weekend’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be the eighth feature film (the second in the new series that began with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes) in a franchise that has spanned books, film, television, and comics over the last fifty years. The Apes series, with its popularity, merchandise, and ancillaries, in many ways prefigured the modern franchise era that is generally acknowledged as beginning with Star Wars (and was codified with 1989’s Batman).

That Planet of the Apes became such a sensation is especially interesting because the series is so deeply weird. Full of powerful inversions to go along with the story’s portrait of a world turned upside down, the series was hugely popular with children despite being full of talky moral debate and featuring relentessly downbeat endings. Just as audiences find themselves oriented in a world where the humans are subjugated and apes rule, the series will turn things around and get them to identify with the apes and root against humankind (and then, perhaps, back again). This is a series that extends a further three entries after an ending that would seem to preclude any further stories.

First things first, I can’t suggest strongly enough that you should just go and watch the original series of five films. They’re imaginative adventure films with memorable characters and rich socio-political content, and they’re so full of twists and turns that even if you know the big reveal at the end of the first film there are still plenty of shocking twists and turns in store. Continue reading A ‘Planet of the Apes’ Primer