A few months ago, during NPI’s retrospective on the Aughts, I looked back at the ten best films of the last decade. One noticeable and unacknowledged omission was the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was one of the most commercially successful and critically beloved franchises of the Aughts. Indeed, it may even be the defining film phenomenon of the last decade (it’d certainly be a better choice than fucking Avatar). I’d love to say that there was a well-thought out and sophisticated reason for leaving the films out, but the only real reason was that I had yet to see any of the movies. So to rectify this oversight, I thought I’d revisit the films in order, and see if they really deserve the acclaim and attention they received.
I should preface my review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by explaining that I’ve never read Tolkien’s novels and have only a passing understanding of the story going in. Luckily, there’s an eight-minute prologue at the beginning of Peter Jackson’s epic that provides us with a nice, if lengthy, backstory. The truth is that for Tolkien’s epic story, rich enough to fill three very long movies, eight minutes seems about necessary to fill you in on everything. Continue reading »
Our look last week at the decade in television focused mainly on dramas. But the creative advancements in the medium were not limited to that genre; it’s only more obvious there. The Aughts have been a great decade for comedies as well seeing such brilliant shows as Arrested Development, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and many others. There are plenty of reasons why comedies have been so good during the Aughts, and we touched on some already, but the same principles that applied to dramas are at work here: The people making TV realized that there is an audience that actually likes shows that are unconventional, smart, and formally innovative. We’ve seen shows embrace the documentary structure (The Office, Modern Family, etc.), plentiful flashbacks (How I Met Your Mother), third-party narration (Arrested Development), and political satire (South Park). A slew of new comedies from 2009—Community, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family—bode well for the continued success of the sitcom.
Comparing comedies, though, is a little trickier than comparing dramas, since they don’t generally tell one consistent story. Even seasons often contain no “narrative arc,” and, if they do, it often has little to do with the actual comedy. As a result, comedies are much more susceptible to uneven seasons and bad stretches than dramas. Instead, we’re going to compare episodes. And unlike previous lists, we’re going to put a strict cap, of one, on the number of times a single show can appear on the list. Other than that, though, the parameters are pretty loose: Of any show, no matter how long it lasted or where it aired or on which network, these are the Aughts’ ten funniest episodes of TV: Continue reading »