Friday, August 24, 2007

TV EYE 8-24-07

The Bronx is Burning
ESPN, Tuesdays 10:00 PM

This eight-part retelling of the events of the summer of 1977 in New York, based on the 2005 book by Jonathan Mahler, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City, is ambitious as that title, neatly intermeshing archival footage with fictional stuff as it jumps from a Mayoral race, a black-out, the Son-of-Sam killings, and the high drama soap opera antics of the New York Yankees. Almost predictably, this being ESPN, the Yankees story is that one that captures your interest, and the wild and wooly behind-the-scenes and between-the-lines antics of that championship team are both hilarious and resonant. John Turturro displays a fine mix of cockiness and insecurity as the one and only Billy Martin, Kevin Conway as Gabe Paul, Erik Jensen as Thurman Munson, and Leonard Arnold Robison as Mickey Rivers are on the money, and while Daniel Sunjata’s Reggie Jackson and Oliver Platt’s George Steinbrenner both miss the mark a little, the overall depiction of baseball-from-the-inside is first class and a whole lotta fun.

Flight of the Conchords
HBO, Sundays 10:30 PM

Somewhere in that strange, largely unexplored netherworld between The Monkees and Spinal Tap, lies the newest HBO half hour comedy, Flight of the Conchords, featuring New Zealand musicians/comedians Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie of the duo of the same name. The show, a minimalist, low-key, thoroughly deadpan, weekly adventure in absurdity features the hapless folk/pop duo and their clueless manager Murray (Rhys Darby) going through the slowest of motions as residents of New York waiting for the next gig. The bulk of the show runs just this side of irritating, until the next fantasy music video is unveiled. These interludes are absolutely hilarious, poking fun and utilizing nearly every musical video cliché that exists while the songs are adept parodies of an array of genres. Recent highlights have included an episode that featured both a fantasy David Bowie with songs done in a few of his changing styles, and a laff riot hip-hop shout out entitled “Hiphopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous” worth the price of admission alone.


Anonymous said...

They outdid themselves this week with their Lord of the Rings themed video (Frodo don't wear that ring). I'm rooting for them.

mdoggie said...

Root on bro-do. I must mention that the local hipster FM station KEXP (associated with the Experience Music Project and well worth checking out on iTunes Public Radio) has been regularly playing "Flight of the Chonchords" songs. Especially, "If You're Into It".
Recent comment by a KEXP DJ "...If you're in a bad mood, watch an epsiode and you can't possibly stay depressed..."