I really enjoyed Russian Doll on Netflix. It’s a bit weird, it’s unique, and it’s an easy and fun watch (30 minute episodes). Don’t read anything more about it. Just watch.
“[W]hen it comes to ratings, Super Bowl LIII is not one anyone’s going to want to brag about. Shown on CBS for the first time since 2016 and with ad spots going for around $5 million each, the Rams’ loss scored a 44.9/68 in metered market results. To put that in the starkest light of day, that’s a dip of just over 5.2% from the big NFL battle of February 4, 2018 on NBC in the first round of ratings. On a larger playing field, that metered market result for yesterday’s game is the worst the Super Bowl has done in the early numbers since the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals on February 1, 2009. A very tight and seamlessly flowing offering from the network, yesterday’s Super Bowl is also down a bit over 8% from the metered markets of the last time CBS had the game three years ago. Super Bowl 50 saw the Denver Broncos top the Carolina Panthers 24-10 on February 7, 2016 in a gridiron clash that eventually resulted in 111.9 million viewers and the honor at the time of being the third most watched show in U.S. TV history. The lowest rated Super Bowl in eight years in the early metrics, last year’s Philadelphia Eagles’ victory 41-33 over the Patriots ended up with 103.4 million viewers, a nine-year low – so far.”
Was that or was that not the worst Super Bowl halftime show you can remember?
Ava DuVernay tweeted that she will not be “a spectator, viewer or supporter” of the Super Bowl due to what she called the NFL’s “racist treatment” of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.” Way to make a stand! I’ll be just another to say that you weren’t missed Ava. Try doing something that might actually make an impact if you feel this strongly about the issue.
Netflix has canceled Travelers.
New secret embarrassing watch of mine: TLC’s Love After Lockup. It’s fascinating.
“Hannah Gadsby is going back on tour. The stand-up comedian has announced her first-ever U.S. tour — for Douglas, her highly anticipated follow-up to Netflix critical sensation Nanette. Douglas, named after her beloved dog, will be Gadsby's 11th stand-up comedy show and feature new material that is inspired by the breakout success and lessons the comedian learned after her award-winning Nanette.(The latter was allegedly named after a random barista). Gadsby will premiere Douglas in Melbourne (March 27-April 7) before embarking on the U.S. tour, which will kick off April 30 in San Francisco.”
“Bethenny Frankel is sounding off about Pete Davidson‘s relationships. In two NSFW tweets on Sunday, Frankel responded to Davidson’s short-lived engagement to pop singer Ariana Grande last summer and his rumored new romance with actress Kate Beckinsale. ‘So Pete Davidson was engaged to the sexy & talented @ArianaGrande and is now dating the beyond stunning @KateBeckinsale?’ Frankel wrote. ‘So I guess it’s clear that he shoots diamonds out of his penis?’”
Per The Hollywood Reporter, “NBC is getting back into the comedy competition game with a series called Bring the Funny.
“The network, which aired stand-up competition Last Comic Standing for nine seasons, will look beyond just that form of comedy for the new show. In partnership with the Just for Laughs organization, the 10-episode Bring the Funny will also feature sketch comedy groups, comedy magicians, variety acts, YouTubers — and, yes, stand-up comics — vying for a $250,000 top prize.
“Long-time Saturday Night Live regular Kenan Thompson, veteran comic Jeff Foxworthy and Chrissy Teigen will serve as judges. Comedian and Insecure actress Amanda Seales will host.
"‘Great comedians know how to make us laugh while serving as a reflection of the times, and we are excited to embrace and support the myriad of ways funny people bring us levity and humor today,’ said Meredith Ahr, president, alternative and reality group at NBC Entertainment. ‘Kenan, Chrissy, Jeff and Amanda are not only hilarious, but are pioneers in their respective arenas and understand what it takes to have longevity and breadth in this industry. They, along with our partners at Just for Laughs, will be an insightful resource for the talent that takes our stage.’
“The show is the second NBC project outside SNL for Thompson, who is also starring in comedy pilot Saving Kenan. Should the latter show go to series for 2019-20, it's likely he would depart the late-night franchise, where he holds the title of longest-serving castmember.
“David Friedman (The Four, Last Call With Carson Daly) and Matilda Zoltowski (World of Dance) are executive producing Bring the Funny, which comes from Universal Television Alternative Studio. Just for Laughs president Bruce Hills is a consulting producer.”
One of these days we’ll rid ourselves of Chrissy Teigen. That day can’t get here soon enough.
“When I finished Russian Doll, I had to remember how to breathe.
“The show took both me and its shattered characters completely by surprise. What at first looks like a slick hangout comedy built around Natasha Lyonne’s formidable snarl becomes a violent Groundhog’s Day style farce within the first 15 minutes, when a speeding taxi kills Nadia (Lyonne) and she promptly regains consciousness back at her own birthday party from whence she came. But with every passing episode, what seems like a slapstick sendup of Nadia dying over and over again becomes an existential nightmare that neither she nor Alan (Charlie Barnett), a resigned man she meets in a plummeting elevator who shares the same apparent invincibility, can shake.
“Then, in the series’ stunning penultimate chapter (The Way Out), the existential nightmare becomes a wrenching plunge into their deepest pains. By the time the final credits roll, that wrenching plunge has given way to catharsis, relieved and giddy and, despite all odds, joyful. Nadia and Alan wrestle with their darkest shames and, much to their own grateful shock, come out the other side in one piece.
“In other words: reaching the end of Russian Doll feels like reaching the end of a particularly bruising therapy session, wherein the sharp gasp of a breakthrough stings as thoroughly as it (eventually) heals.
“As each episode embarks on new time loops, the show also strips back another subconscious layer — ergo, Russian Doll. Even the physical world surrounding Nadia and Alan shows the strain of their malfunctioning minds struggling to stay present, until everything around them is literally stripped bare. (Go back and look in the background to find the creeping clues of just how far they’ve disappeared into themselves; animals vanish, people disappear, fruit blackens into rot.)
“By the end, ‘the broken man and the girl with a death wish’ have to deal with the kind of pain they never thought they wanted to explore. But as “Russian Doll” ends up arguing so convincingly, the only way to stop feeling the dull throb of that pain every damn day is to stare it in the face, force it to blink, and move on from there.
“For Alan, that means recognizing that he can’t force his life to be perfect. He can’t fill the hollow in his heart with a pristine apartment or elegant girlfriend if he keeps ignoring the chaotic root of his unhappiness. As he explains to his ex in that standout seventh episode —beautifully acted by Barnett and written by Allison Silverman— he’s spent far too long hoping that his self-loathing would go away if he just avoided it hard enough. ‘And now,’ he says with a bitter kind of amusement that borders on wonder, ‘I’m stuck with a body that is broken, in a world that is literally falling apart, and a mind that wants to kill me.’
“This admission in and of itself is as stark as it is heartbreaking. But the beauty of Russian Doll is that it then pushes Alan past the fact of his pain to the point that he’s motivated to actually do something about it. He may never be able to vanquish that truth entirely, but for the first time in his life, he wants to find a way to truly live with it instead of waiting until he can’t.
“Nadia’s journey, though similarly self-flagellating, is more tied to specific memories she’s been suppressing her entire life. As shown in sporadic, jarring flashbacks to Nadia’s childhood, her mother (played by an expertly deployed Chloe Sevigny) loved her with fierce affection, but struggled too hard with her mental illnesses to take care of either of them. She then died suddenly before she turned 36 — the age that Nadia is turning in Russian Doll, over and over again. For years, Nadia nursed a fear that crystallized into an “unforgivable” truth in her mind: that because she wanted to leave her mother behind, and finally did to live with her godmother, her mother’s untimely death was her fault.
“Nadia’s stubborn refusal to deal with her warped trauma becomes a straight up horror movie in The Way Out (directed with devastating precision by co-creator Leslye Headland). She keeps turning corners to see herself as a kid staring blankly back at her, and every time, her body keeps trying to save her from the agony of understanding what that might mean by shutting down. She chokes on air, bubbles over with blood, staggers away as if the weight of herself might crush her. But as Nadia learns the hard way, she can’t run forever. And so when she finally looks the tiniest, most tender part of herself in the face and hears it asking if she’s “ready to let [it] die,” she nods — and for the first time, she means it.
“That death — and Allen’s after his own confrontation with himself — is Nadia’s last. And it would have been easy and understandable to end the series there, with the triumphant fact of them beating the time loops to give their lives one last go. But instead, Russian Doll makes an extraordinary choice by going one step beyond that moment to show them both going back out into the world and committing to helping each other — and, more importantly still, letting themselves be helped in turn.
“This happy ending, according to a recent conversation I had with Headland, was simply more narratively satisfying than a bleak one. ‘We needed to have that Back to the Future’ or ‘t’s a Wonderful Life’ moment of seeing that knowledge pay off,’ she says, adding later that ‘it’s not enough to just have a celebratory moment of “and I’m back!”’
“Sure, that rush of relief might’ve been easier to pull off as a finale. But as in life, celebrating a breakthrough isn’t the same thing as actually changing harmful patterns for good. As Headland puts it: ‘You learn things, but then you have to go out into the world and execute it.’
“On the face of it, Russian Doll is funny, strange, blunt, dizzying. But with every new layer, it also reveals itself to be TV’s best depiction of what it means to weed through the wilderness of your own trauma to find your truest self — and somehow, miraculously, to embrace it. As Russian Doll shows with such visceral clarity, fighting apathy and exhaustion to recognize your flaws isn’t enough. You have to dig deeper than ever seemed possible in order to come back up for air, vibrating with the thrill of raw hope, ready and willing to change.”
From TheWrap: “David Hornsby, F. Murray Abraham, Charlotte Nicdao, Danny Pudi, Ashly Burch, Imani Hakim and Jessie Ennis have all been cast on Apple’s still-untitled Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day series.
“Written and executive produced by McElhenney and Day under their RCG banner, the comedy is set in a video game development studio and will explore the intricacies of the human condition through hilarious and innovative ways, per Apple’s official description.
“McElhenney is also in the cast.
“Here’s what we learned today about the characters: Abraham plays C.W. Longbottom, a seasoned writer. Nicdao plays Poppy, an engineer. Hornsby plays David, a producer. Pudi plays Brad and works in the monetization department at the studio.
“In addition, Burch and Hakim play Rachel and Dana, respectively, and both are game testers. Ennis plays Jo, David’s assistant. McElhenney plays Ian, the creative director.
“Hornsby, who plays Matthew ‘Rickety Cricket' Mara on McElhenney and Day’s “t’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, will also executive produce this one. (He executive produces Sunny, too.)
“Video game publisher Ubisoft also produces, alongside the Lionsgate-owned 3Arts Entertainment. Michael Rotenberg and Nicholas Frenkel will serve as executive producers for 3Arts, with Gérard Guillemot, Jason Altman and Danielle Kreinik executive producing for Ubisoft.
“Megan Ganz is another executive producer.”
Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Animal Planet is taking viewers behind the scenes of the Georgia Aquarium.
“The network has greenlighted a new show tentatively titled The Aquarium from Left/Right, a part of Red Arrow Entertainment Group, which is behind Animal Planet's The Zoo, and Copper Pot Pictures.
“The Georgia Aquarium, which plays a crucial role in aquatic conservation throughout the world, allows Animal Planet's cameras ‘unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Western Hemisphere's largest aquarium.’
“The series, which premieres later this year, will document aquatic animals there and the people who care for them. Specifically, it will focus on the care given to thousands of aquatic animals, the bond between animals and the staff and the stories about the animals who call the 10 million gallons of water at the aquarium home. These include rescued Southern sea otters, endangered African penguins, rescued California sea lions, whale sharks and manta rays.
“The series also follows the day-to-day activities of the aquarium's biologists, researchers and trainers and reveals the mechanics of the aquarium, including 70 miles of piping, monitored by on-site 24-hour-a-day support technicians; the hourly filtering of all 10 million gallons of fresh and salt water; and the specialized exhibit lighting designed to simulate natural day and night cycles for a variety of species.
“The series also documents Georgia Aquarium's ongoing efforts to protect aquatic species in nature.
"The Georgia Aquarium is home to an incredible array of animals and aquatic creatures and is also dedicated to many global conservation initiatives. We are delighted to be partnering with the team at the aquarium to bring viewers up-close to a wide range of unusual and very special animals in this all-access series," said Susanna Dinnage, global president of Animal Planet.
“Added Jessica Fontana, director of communications at Georgia Aquarium: ‘For years, Animal Planet has been bringing their audiences closer to some of the globe's most interesting animals and fostering a connection to our natural world — which is exactly what Georgia Aquarium aims to do every day. Animal Planet is the perfect home for this new, aquarium-focused series because we share the same mission to inspire and educate about not just aquatic animals, but the environments they inhabit. We are so proud to be a part of this series and cannot wait to show all of the hard work and dedication that goes not only into caring for thousands of animals, but also the animals in the ocean that desperately need our help.’”