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The Middle has become one of the strongest sitcoms on TV and one of the main reasons is the likability of the Heck family. A lot of people probably see a good amount of themselves when watching the show.
The Hecks are... well... in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to sitcom families. They are definitely not as perfect as the Cosbys but they are far from being as morally repugnant as the Bundys. Sure, they may often be at each other's throats, particularly the teenage siblings Axl and Sue, but you never seem to get the sense that there's any true malice behind their fights. Even when one of them goes too far, there's always something that happens to reel one or both of them back in.
At first, Eden Sher might seem grating Sue, but her dorkiness becomes endearing. Charlie McDermott straddles the line of insufferable late-teen male brat, you know, the one who is totally self-absorbed but has glimmers of the good person he will grow to become.
I've been a huge fan of Neil Flynn since his days as the Janitor on Scrubs. It's nice seeing him play counter to the surly maintenance man, portraying an introvert who is still (mostly) devoted to his family. There are some days he would rather park himself in front of the television and tune everyone else out. Sure, he's still a curmudgeon, but at least Mike Heck won't drive anyone out to the desert and leave him there like the psychotic Janitor did with J.D. Flynn also allows Mike to show genuine moments of insight to filter their way through his irascible persona.
Patricia Heaton has been great as Frankie, a mother who is far from June Cleaver. she has admittedly ignored her kids and husband, though not to the point of where it is harmful. She is just overwhelmed by what life throws sometimes, but what makes me root for her is that she is self-aware and overall, she is a fantastic mother. She's a sublime comedy partner with Flynn.
Last, but not least, is the diminutive Brick, played by Atticus Shaffer. Brick could just be a punchline, just a young, stunted version of Sheldon Cooper, since both characters exhibit the same amount of social awkwardness. Brick has shown that he can peer through his fog of cluelessness and neuroses (I love how he sometimes lowers his head and whispers the last word of a sentence a second time). He comes across as a real person.
The guest stars are just right, with people like Jerry Van Dyke, Norm McDonald, and Kenneth Parcell lending their talents to the show without taking over. They feel like real relatives and bosses, not caricatures. Great casting all around.
I'm glad to sit down during the middle of my week to devote a half hour to watching the Hecks.
Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
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Maybe you missed the Emmys last night, or perhaps you fell asleep or accidentally short circuited your television or your dog started doing this really funny thing with his ears and you were distracted from the three hour telecast, but fear not. We've got a rundown of the most important things you need to know that went down in Los Angeles last night. (And of course we've also got the full list of winners at your service as well.)
1. Jane Lynch Dances with Ron Swanson, Slushies Sue Sylvester
Thanks to Jimmy Fallon's Gleetastic rendition of "Born to Run" last year, we've come to expect something a little musical with our Emmys openings, and last night delivered. Plus, we saw some familiar faces like the Mythbusters, Ron Swanson, Sheldon and the Big Bang Theory Gang, and a bi-curious Peggy from Mad Men. Sure, it was a little cheesy and over the top, but as Lynch says "It's the Emmys!" Besides, Lynch is so likeable she can make anything work -- even that whole identity crisis moment with her Glee alterego at the end.
2. Melissa McCarthy Might Be the Cutest Person Ever
When she won the Emmy for best actress in a comedy, her fellow nominees crowned her like a pageant queen and she sheepishly shuffled up to the mic to deliver a bit of waterworks and the most lovable acceptance speech (though Kate Winslet's is a very close second) in recent memory. Even for those of us who aren't Mike and Molly fans, you really couldn't help but be happy for Ms. McCarthy.
3. You Can't Keep Jersey Shore Out of Anything
Well, it's not like they were winning an award, but still. How the heck did the Jersey Shore end up in an Emmys segment? Oh who cares. It was funny -- of course that's all in thanks to the hilarious host of the show, but we won't dwell on that.
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4. Guy Pearce Really Liked Getting Intimate with Kate Winslet
So much so, that he let the whole world know when he accepted his award for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries. I'm pretty sure that had anyone else said those sorts of things about Kate Winslet in front of their significant other, the world would be appalled, but how can you not find it charming with that adorable Australian accent of his?
5. Modern Family Won Everything
Seriously, Emmys voters. You know there were other shows on television this year, right? Granted, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen really do deserve those little golden trophies for bringing the dysfuctionally delightful Dunphys into our homes each week.
6. You Probably Could Have Confused The Last Hour of Last Year's Ceremony With This Year's
Because all the same shows won. Mad Men won, for the fourth year in a row. The Daily Show won for the umpteenth time (which I believe is code for the 9th time). And Modern Family continued its winning streak, meaning that the series does not have a single season without an Emmy win. Okay, there are only two seasons
7. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Kyle Chandler Can Beat Jon Hamm
Was anyone else completely charmed by Chandler's unprepared speech? If you weren't, here it is again. I don't think any of us thought we'd see the Friday Night Lights actor standing up there last night, and it just puts a little more faith in us that these awards really can go to deserving actors.
8. Nothing Goes Better With Comedy Music Than White Blazers and Michael Bolton
The Lonely Island stopped by to treat us to a little medley of this year's biggest Lonely Island songs with a little help from Ed Helms, Maya Rudolph, John Stamos, Akon and of course Michael Bolton dressed as Jack Sparrow. By the end, we learned a very important lesson: nothing's more American than telling the world about your latest sexual conquest. Wait, that's what the point of all this was, right?
9. Charlie Sheen Isn't As Bad As We Thought
Sort of. He seemed to genuinely wish the cast of Two and a Half Men well last night. Does this mean he's got a new publicist?
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Writer/producer Chuck Lorre was stunned after learning about Belarusian programme The Theorists, which is strikingly similar to his own creation - it also follows the madcap antics of scientists who have a pretty blonde for a neighbour.
Lorre brought the matter to fans' attention with a message after the end credits of an episode of The Big Bang Theory which aired in the U.S. on Monday (08Feb10).
He wrote, "Belarus (has) a bustling TV production industry. One of their most recent hits is a sitcom about four nerdy scientists who live next door to a beautiful blonde waitress. The characters are named Sheldon, Leo, Hovard, Raj and Natasha, and the show is entitled, The Theorists... Each episode appears to be a Russian translation of a Big Bang Theory episode."
But when Lorre complained to attorneys at Warner Brothers about the alleged rip-off, he was informed they couldn't pursue a lawsuit: "We were told that it's next to impossible to sue for copyright infringement in Belarus because the TV production company that is ripping us off is owned and operated by the government of Belarus."