For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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According to an update on his son's Facebook page, prolific composer/songwriter Robert Sherman, half of the famed Sherman Bros. duo, has passed away at the age of 86. Jeff wrote kind words yesterday evening as a word to Sherman's fans:
My Dad, Robert B. Sherman, passed away tonight in London. He went peacefully after months of truly valiantly fending off death. He loved life and his dear heart finally slowed to a stop when he could fight no more.
The son of another successful songwriter, Al Sherman, Robert began his music career early and began collaborating with Disney in the late '50s. His most famous working relationship spanned five decades and produced countless hits, toe-tapping tunes that kids and parents alike could sing in their (even today) in their sleep. In honor of the passing of this musical legend, here are five of Robert Sherman's most memorable songs:
"It's a Small World After All"
Originally penned for the 1964 New York World's Fair, the Sherman Bros. popular song became a permanent fixture at Disney theme parks across the globe, including Disneyworld in Florida, Disneyland in California, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and more.
Mary Poppins was obviously close to Robert's heart, the songwriter going so far as to pen a treatment for the feature film version (but was not credited). The Sherman Bros. wrote both the score and slate of songs for Mary Poppins, which earned them two Academy Awards in 1965. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" stands out as both an exceptional display of their musical talents and the influence of their work—the word was later inducted into the Oxford English Dictionary.
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"
Robert Sherman's first non-Disney work came in the form of the 1968 fantasy film of the same name. The infectious songs in this Dick van Dyke musical garnered the duo another Oscar and eventually made its way to Broadway stages (which was also the case for Mary Poppins).
"Heffalumps and Woozles"
A song that will continue to haunt many of us who caught it as kids, "Heffalumps and Woozles" stands as one of the Sherman Bros. weirdest creations (while still maintaining their signature upbeat melodies). The song was featured in the 1977 short film assemblage The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and, thanks to the longevity of Pooh and Co., as stuck around for eons. When a speed metal band like Powerglove is covering your songs, you're doing something right.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks may not be the most familiar Disney live-action/animation hybrid, but thanks to the moody, inventive songs by the Sherman Bros., it's certainly one of their most creative. "Substitutiary Locomotion" is a foundation for the movie's wild ride, which saw Angela Lansbury magically bringing inanimate objects to life for a grand dance number that only the Robert and Richard Sherman truly imbue with soul. David Tomlinson's Emelius has handy advice when Lansbury's Miss Price can't get her spell off the ground, and it's the wisdom of the Sherman Bros.: "As I always say, do it with a flare"
Plenty of solid shows will be competing for top honors at this year's Emmy awards, but (as is always the case), there will also be plenty of solid shows that won't be competing.
That's how the cookie crumbles: with countless channels airing countless programs, there will always be quality television that slips under the Academy's radar. But over the course of TV history, there have been a few actors and shows that haven't been simply fallen to the wayside of the Emmys, they've been straight up glossed over. Snubbed.
As we approach this Sunday's ceremony, we took a look back at some of the bigger disappointments in Emmy history, the highlights of sitcoms and dramas that, for whatever reason, never earned their deserved statues.
Homicide Life on the Street/The Wire
Writer/Producer David Simon must have done something horrible in a past life. That seems like the only explanation for a man who's contributed to the world some of the best television of the past twenty years and has rarely seen love from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Simon's 1993 show Homicide: Life on the Street set a new tone for crime procedurals and only acquired a few supporting cast nods in its six year run. His HBO show The Wire is often referred to as the greatest TV show of all time and not once did it garner a nomination for Best Drama. His latest Treme is only in its second season, but from the get-go had critics raving.
So far, no love. Will Simon's series forever feel the cold backhand of Emmy snubs?
Sarah Michelle Gellar for Buffy
Trumpets are sounding for the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to primetime television (her new show Ringer debuted last night), but it's not because of her starring roles in The Grudge or Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. When Joss Whedon decided to to turn his mildly successful horror movie Buffy into a weekly TV show, he found the perfect hero in Geller, equal parts teen drama beauty and rough, vampire butt-kicker. Geller's performance combined with Whedon's snappy dialogue and imaginative plots helped Buffy transcend its home at the WB. Unfortunately, to Emmy voters, it would always be a "show for teenagers"—Whedon picked up nod once in seven season, while Geller never managed a nomination.
Former Letterman and Larry Sanders Show writer Paul Sims assembled a dream cast for his broadcast-centric office sitcom, but few would have known that at the time: Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), Maura Tierney, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Joe Rogen, Phil Hartman—the talent was in its infancy, but it was there. NewsRadio took a classic format and gave it a youthful edge. The result was five seasons of evolving characters, shorelines and humor, put to an untimely end by the death of Phil Hartman. Sadly, the show only earned one comedy nomination in its five season run: a posthumous, supporting nod for Hartman.
An American Family
The Emmy award for Outstanding Reality Program was only adopted by the Academy in 2001 and has since honored shows like The Osbournes, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. But without 1971's An American Family, the idea of docudramas television—or even guilty pleasure trashy reality TV—may never have come to fruition. The show's premise was simple: document a family's life for six months. The show was cut into 12 revolutionary episodes, spawning spin-off series and the cinematic adaptation Cinema Verite, which aired on HBO this past year.
How many Emmys was it nominated for? Zip.
Desi Arnaz for I Love Lucy
Lucille Ball dominated the '50s sitcom scene with her tour-de-force performance of physical comedy, nabbing five Emmy nominations over the six year run of I Love Lucy. But while Ball's Chaplin-esque antics stand-out decades later, would she really be the legendary star she was without her co-star and then-husband Desi Arnaz?
Arnaz was the Michael Bluth of his time, the straight man counterpart to Ball's whacked out troublemaker. He's best known for throwing his hands in the air, crying "Luuuuccyyyyy!" and stirring up the occasional "Babalu" musical number, but even Arnaz was prone to jumping into Ball's crazy plots. He was a rock of the sitcom block, yet not once in his lengthy career did Arnaz find himself on the Emmy's list of contenders.
Josh Holloway for LOST
Until the final season, it was looking like none of LOST's "lead" actors would see love from the Emmys. That is, until star Matthew Fox squeezed one out as the mind-bending drama crossed the finish line.
LOST has been the object of The Emmys' affection in all categories, but with talent, it's been severely unappreciative. Case in point: Josh Holloway, James "Sawyer" Ford, never picking up a nod. While Fox's nomination was deserved, Holloway was the show's perfect foil and his work in Season Three, when his relationships with Jack and Kate really evolve, helped turn Sawyer into a three-dimensional character that mostly actors can rarely achieve.
Any chance we can go back and just throw him an Emmy after the fact?
Ed O'Neill and Katey Segal for Married with Children
On the opposite end of the brilliant performance spectrum lies Ed O'Neill and Katey Segal as the crass (but lovable) couple Al and Peggy from Married with Children. The show was the debut sitcom when Fox launched in 1987 and helped define the network as a…a youth-centric alternative to the stuffy mainstream channels. That probably didn't help Married with Children round up award nominations (after 11 seasons, it only gained technical noms), but history will forever have a place for Al and Peggy. At that point, audiences hadn't seen anything that filthy, that wrong—which makes O'Neill and Segal selling it one of the bigger snubs in Emmy history.
Lauren Graham for Gilmore Girls
Another case where the Academy can't look past the marketing of a show. Gilmore Girls was another WB/CW comedy pegged by most as a small screen interpretation of the "chick flick," light, fluffy and stale. Quite unfortunate, as Gilmore Girls had one of the sharpest wits on TV thanks to the lightning-fast writing of creator Amy Sherman and a charming lead performance by Lauren Graham. The actress' character Lorelai could have been another comedy mom, but Graham elevated her above Reba-style, surface level caricature to dimensional (but funny!) human being. In an era where Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City were dominating the lead actress category year after year, Graham remains one of the hardest working and underappreciated performers of the 2000s.
Taking genre television seriously has never been the Emmys' strong suit, but when a sci-fi show takes itself seriously enough, people start listening…and watching. Syfy's Battlestar Galactica felt like a breath of fresh air amidst a sea of cornball, syndicated genre crap, diving head first into heady character drama and political intrigue with a few robots thrown in for good measure. The talent gained plenty of critical response—most notably the stand out performance by Katee Sackoff as the tough, female pilot Starbuck—but, alas, Battlestar was confined (like its sci-fi drama predecessors) to a lifetime of technical awards. Yes, the special effects were dazzling—but so was the riveting drama. The show (and the genre as a whole) could have used the Emmy love.
Nick Offerman for Parks & Recreation
As the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation prepares for its fourth season (with destiny unknown), we have an important message for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: don't you dare let Nick Offerman be a permanent staple on this list.
Offerman's Ron Swanson is P&R's head grump, the yin to Amy Poehler's hyper-enthusiastic Leslie Knope yang. While they can often be found butting heads, their continued friendship is the glue that keeps Pawnee, Indiana's Parks Department (and the show) together. Offerman paints Ron with a perpetual frown, usually clouded by his sizable mustache. But once in awhile Ron slips a smile (or, even rarer, a drunken tiny hat dance) and in those few seconds Offerman pulls off a complete 180 and warms audiences' hearts. Parks and Recreation began in the shadow of The Office, but thanks to guys like Ron Swanson, has become the more fulfilling of the two shows.
S02E11: After two solid weeks of conveying clear cut messages, The Big C delivered tonight a more jumbled, sort of aimless episode. When we last left The Big C, Shawn was driven out of his house by a crying neighbor baby (hitting too close to home right after his ex's miscarriage), Paul was involved in a theft ring at work, and Cathy was getting better while Lee wasn't. All of this picks up, and maintains, in tonight's episode.
"Myk made me watch Lord of the Rings. Hobbits have some nasty-ass feet." - Andrea
Speaking of Paul, he's doing coke now. It seems that no matter how principled he claims to be, the SLIGHTEST provocation from his coworker Myk is enough to coerce him into any bad habit. So yeah, Paul's on coke. He started taking it as a means of harnessing energy so that he may perform better at work... but, if I learned anything from that episode of Saved By the Bell when Jesse Spano gets hooked on caffeine pills, nobody in television abuses drugs just once.
Cathy is unaware of Paul's new drug habit, but she has found his secret stash of money. At first, she is opposed to the source (he comes right out and tells her). But she quickly, as did her husband, shrugs it off and accepts the riches.
Cathy and Paul attend the Shermans' dinner, where the duo speak happily of their free-wheeling lifestyle. They travel all the time, living it up and soaking in every moment. Employ suspension of disbelief to accept that a seventy-year old oncologist has all this time and energy to travel the world with his thirty-something wife. Sherman shares a phrase that resonates with Cathy: the Italian saying "Il dolce far niente," which, were it not for Eat, Pray, Love beating The Big C to the punch, would have been a nice thing to take home from this week. Sherman also makes mention of special medications available in Europe that are not yet legal in the U.S.
Cathy, Paul and Adam are called to the park by the police who have found a frozen-to-death homeless man presumed to be Shawn. Cathy is relieved to find out that it is not her brother, but is still understandably shaken up by the ordeal. She reacts by purchasing Lee tickets to and admittance into a German clinical trial (via Paul's theft money), which she believes may help him better than American trials have. Lee is unwilling to accept this, saying that he has already made peace with his dying. Cathy is infuriated by his willingness to "lay down and die," and the two have a heated fight before parting ways.
With the rest of the stolen money (or maybe an exchange took place), Cathy plans to buy a vacation for her, Paul and Adam in Italy. She understands now that life is short and meant to be enjoyed. It's a little bizarre that she's so willing to leave while her brother is still missing, and her rationale that "worrying won't bring him back sooner" is too quick a wrap-up. But it looks like the Jamisons are going to Italy.
Meanwhile, Myk (the cokehead thief) decides to propose to Andrea. Naturally, she accepts. But things have been all too splendid for those two, so let's see how this works out...