The picture above? That's it: that's the whole series. And darned if it doesn't look like the perfect Emma/Mr. Knightley dynamic – am I right, or am I right? The verbal sparring between Emma Woodhouse (Joanna Sotomura) and Alex Knightley (Brent Bailey) is reason enough to give this series a click.
Emma Approved is a new webseries currently airing on YouTube, created and produced by Pemberley Digital (helmed by Hank Green and Bernie Su – the team behind the Emmy-award winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries). Like its predecessors, Emma Approved is endlessly innovative when it comes to modernizing Jane Austen's novel of (almost the same) name.
This present-day characterization of Emma is pitch-perfect – she somehow manages to straddle the line between insufferable and adorable with aplomb; just as she should. Her self-centeredness is tempered wonderfully with genuine regard for assistant Harriet Smith; her persistent over-confidence is forgiven when we realize just how much she cares. About everything.
Oh, and don't worry, it's not the second coming of Clueless (let's not mess with perfection!) – it brings something entirely different to the table. This version of Emma Woodhouse runs a matchmaking/lifestyle business with her level-headed sparring partner, Alex Knightley. Harriet is her naïve assistant/protégé, the farmer Mr. Martin is a lowly IT geek, Mr. Elton is a (slimy) politician-on-the-rise, and we haven't met other major players Frank Churchill or Jane Fairfax yet – but we're looking forward to it.
It's on hiatus until February (alas), but if you haven't seen it yet, it's well-worth a watch!
Here’s the thing about Michael Scott: we know a lot about him. We’ve basically known him for six years now. There have been 128 episodes (or at least, 117 episodes, but with the double episodes it's like 128 regular episodes, thanks Wikipedia!) and with those lasting roughly 20 minutes, that’s over 42 hours worth of getting to know Michael Scott. Sure, he’s not the focus of every single hour of those 42, but he is the main character in this ensemble comedy and most of the stories revolve around him somewhat.
So basically, we’re pretty familiar with the guy. Sure, it’s difficult to really know someone after only 42 hours of knowing them, but we’ve seen him at his best (landing sales), his worst (too many to count), his highs (hooking up with Jan et al.), his lows (every moment involving Jan post hookup), and everything in between. We skipped over all the boring stuff that you have to go over while getting to know someone and have the super concentrated version of Michael Scott.
We know Michael is needy, emotionally underdeveloped, delusional, and has the most unhealthy need to be liked. But does he know this? In traditional narratives, the protagonist undergoes a fundamental shift in his state of being. Usually it takes some awareness of the protagonist’s part to make the change and up until this point, Michael hasn’t shown much awareness. But since this is Steve Carell’s last season, could this mean a change in Michael Scott? Could he eventually grow up on his way out? And considering Toby, the uber-ultimate-arch-nemesis to Michael, managed to get Michael to finally let up and confess to some of his faults, it could be a possibility. We shall see.
So what happened in this episode?
The cold opening had Dwight pitching his new day care center in his new office building to Jim and Pam. While a little too out there for me, there were definitely some great moments from this bit. I always love it when Jim and Pam suddenly understand each other and get on the same page quickly; it’s little moments like that that really make their relationship work for me. Then we also got Mose painting in the dark (brilliant) and “FUN” printed out on plain white paper in Times New Roman. So lovely. And of course, Jim locks Dwight and Mose in the daycare center. But, the biggest laugh came from Dwight when he delivers a perfect evil laugh after announcing his normal plans for the daycare center because “there’s no good laugh for a regular idea.” So perfect. So Dwight.
And as mentioned above, Michael undergoes counseling with Toby because he committed “corporate” punishment against his nephew. Michael was very stubborn against this and attempted to sit through the entire six hours in silence. Toby don’t play none of that shi- whoa, sorry, got a little hood there for a second. Toby doesn’t put up with any of that and uses some basic reverse psychology on Michael to get him to open up and of course Michael plays right into his hands. Considering Michael has seen Good Will Hunting (or more likely Harriet the Spy), you would think he would have seen this coming, but whatever. Michael opened up to us like he never has before.
Pam is having more difficulties with the transition into sales than she thought she would. She can’t land a sale and when a stray door-to-door salesman appears looking for the “office administrator” she jumps on to claim the position that doesn’t exist. Since the “office administrator” gets paid on salary and not on commission she undertakes the rather difficult challenge of hurdling the red tape to create the position for herself retroactively. Pam shows some serious smarts in handling all the department heads at Dunder Mifflin (which appears to be everyone) and getting their signatures, but Gabe is the final boss. Now, I would rather face a giant spider with nothing but a sling shot then try to wiggle around a smarmy corporate ass kisser, but Pam handles it well. She takes charge and creates the position despite Gabe knowing exactly what she is up to.
The final story line was a weird one, even by The Office standards. Dwight was slighted at the Steamtown Mall (which is real! Though it’s called Mall at Steamtown) and his course of dealing with it is to remove them as clients. Even if they weren’t his clients to begin with. They decide the best way to deal with it is to go all Julia Roberts and Pretty Woman their ass. This idea comes from Kelly who is showing a lot more gusto after her executive training even if she doesn’t remember what she said (“I talk a lot so I’ve learned to just tune myself out,” FTW). Personally, I was for Creed’s idea of starting their own mall.
This leads to everyone giving Dwight a make over and they take advantage of the opportunity to “teach” him manners. Really just an excuse for them to shout out everything they don’t like about him, but he soaks up the information in order to get the best revenge possible. Andy and Jim take him to the store in the mall where he was slighted and instead of appearance-ist employees they find normal workers. To Dwight, normal can be extremely unusual though. The employee tells Jim and Andy the reason they didn’t help Dwight was because he came in with blood on his hands. Dwight corrects him that it was beet juice after a hard days work in the field. Wakka wakka, that’s all folks.
A decent episode, to say the least. Perhaps a sign of the things to come with Michael or perhaps just an excuse to get Dwight to comb his hair. Either way, a fun episode.
Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans the 1981 cult favorite that fused Greek mythology with sci-fi theatrics is a grand experiment in the ancient art of alchemy a big-budget attempt to spin fanboy nostalgia for a 30-year-old novelty into contemporary box-office gold. The main ingredients in this ambitious concoction are a potent arsenal of CGI weaponry and the star of the biggest movie ever Sam Worthington who inherits Harry Hamlin’s role as the heroic Perseus. But it’s what’s missing from the formula that ultimately dooms this remake.
Clash of the Titans redux mimics the original film’s epic ethos and preference for spectacle over all else but its storyline differs dramatically. Perseus is still the half-breed product of a one-night stand between the god Zeus and a human hottie and he still must to defeat the monstrous Kraken in order to save the lovely Princess Andromeda. Almost everything in between however has been altered — and not necessarily for the better.
The new version casts the Greek city of Argos as the primary battleground in a proxy war fought by dueling Olympian superpowers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Born of a god but raised by and partial to humans Worthington’s Perseus battles not for the hand of Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) — as Hamlin’s character did — but instead for the people of Argos who stand to perish along with their princess at the hands of the dreaded Kraken. The film’s love story if it can be called that consists of the briefest of flirtations between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton) his self-appointed spiritual guide. (Cursed with immortality by the gods Io’s been secretly watching him all his life — which ostensibly makes her a glorified stalker.)
This detail is a small but crucial one. Strong-willed Perseus braves an obstacle course of giant scorpions gorgons and other horrors laid out for him by the wheezy fiend Hades but it’s never quite clear why he bothers with it all since what’s at stake is a princess he isn’t particularly interested in and a community of people he doesn’t really know — and who frankly don’t seem all that worth saving. His deadbeat dad up on Mount Olympus certainly isn't worth dying for nor are the battlefield compatriots he met barely a week prior. And while I’m sure that a few inviting glances from Gemma Arterton are positively delightful I wouldn’t risk being doused in flesh-eating scorpion venom for them.
This narrative oversight triggers a drain in enthusiasm that persists throughout the film. For a movie so epic in scale Clash of the Titans makes for a disappointingly bland ride. Leterrier’s CGI set pieces are at times magnificent but they’re proffered in the service of weak story filled with characters whose motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. During the film’s climax when Neeson’s Zeus utters the portentous words “Release the Kraken ” what should be an emotional high point instead feels perfunctory and anticlimactic. The only excitement it spawns comes from the knowledge that the end is mercifully imminent.