Thursday, April 21, 2016

Stoner or not, "Time Traveling Bong" on Comedy Central is Wonderful!

I love comedy with energy and lots of it! Maybe you wouldn't think Comedy Central's three-part half-hour stoner miniseries Time Traveling Bong (preem yesterday night) would necessarily promise high energy of all the things it might deliver.  However, co-creators Ilana Glazer, Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello (associates from the network's equally terrific Broad City) have imbued TTB with enough classic comedic business to make it a good-natured winner whether you're partial to weed or not.  You don't have to be high to think Time Traveling Bong is a delight. take my word for it.  Slapstick works when sober, too.

Starring Broad City co-stars Glazer and Downs, TTB takes the ever-popular time machine trope and gives it a little spin, exploring how awesome is time travel, anyway...actually?  How bad does it smell back there and if you're a gal or otherwise sociologically compromised is the past (or present for that matter) such a great place to be stuck in?  Questions to be pondered and TTB has some ideas on the answers, gathered after much hilarity.

Playing cousins, Glazer and Downs are able to sidestep any romantic implications that would stand in the way of the comedy.  For instance, Downs is trying hard to help Glazer NOT end up being burned as a witch in early colonial America, but he's not reacting as an outraged boyfriend or spouse probably would.  Big difference and big laughs.

Also, lots of always-hilarious screams, at least in part one.  Nothing funnier. Ever.

This special has lots of everything good -- funny science fiction elements, pointed re-creations of historical time periods, zippy special effects, spirited performances by a talented cast (starting with the two leads who are excellent as always), and not just a few spot-on observations of present and past society.   Along with dinosaurs, cavemen and other favorite olde tyme complications, they're perfect for making Glazer's and Downs' time-bipping a welcome comedy appointment.

Time Traveling Bong continues tonight Thursday (4/21) on Comedy Central at 10:30pm following the Season 4 premiere of Inside Amy Schumer.  For all three episodes, tune in to CC on Friday beginning at 9:30pm with the final episode 3 at 10:30pm.  Click here for Comedy Central's official Time Travelling Bong site with lots of extra videos and background content.

For some additional takes on Time Traveling Bong, you might like to read:  Mike Hale at The New York Times, Brian Moylan at The Guardian;  Patrick Ryan at USA Today;
Kwame Opam at The Verge; Andy Swift at TVLine and Charles Bramesco at Vulture.

Highly recommended!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Masterpiece Mystery on PBS - Grantchester Review

We have come to trust PBS and their Masterpiece showcase for outstanding drama, so it should come as no surprise that Grantchester is another notch on their belt of genuinely intelligent and entertaining programming.

The stunning and talented James Norton (War and Peace, Happy Valley) and the even more gifted Robson Green headline this series from Britain's ITV. Norton portrays clergyman Sydney Chambers and Green portrays law enforcement investigator Geordie Keating. Together they solve crimes, live life, enjoy music, sustain and search out love.

PBS has another member of the clergy solving crimes on Father Brown and most television buffs will recall the ABC series from the 1990's, Father Dowling Mysteries starring the late Tom Bosley (Happy Days). Grantchester is neither of those shows.

The town of Grantchester is a seemingly quiet village set in another time, but they manage to have murders that are quite out of the ordinary. The second season of Grantchester started on Masterpiece Mystery a couple of weeks ago and the first two episodes of the current season were smart, taut, well-acted and entertaining.

One would be hard pressed not to like Sydney and Geordie. They, on the one hand have little in common, but on the other hand, have much in common. One thing they share is an implicit trust of one another and that sees them through each episode.

Sydney is a jazz-loving pastor who is still looking for love and in many ways, he is looking for love in all the wrong places, or is he? Georgie is happily married, but tied to his job.

This unlikely duo presses on each week with some unusual murder case and the overworked investigator and the dedicated clergyman solve the crimes with their intellect and instinctive gifts.  

Grantchester is based on the novels by James Runcie. I confess I have never read any of the Grantchester novels, so I cannot offer up any wise words as to whether our British comrades have gotten the characterizations correct, or the casting, or the stillness of the time and place of the town itself.

What I will say is, don't miss this series. There are six more episodes in the current second season and it has recently been renewed for a third season, so that's good news.

Robson Green is a keeper. He needs to work often. James Norton is a terrific actor who engages with his performance, but the face is quite nice to look at as well.

Kudos to PBS for picking up this program. They have done a brilliant job with their show selections. Downton Abbey will be missed deeply and dearly, but next year we get a new look at Victoria with Jenna Coleman, so I know where I will be on Sunday nights next year.

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2016