3rd Rock From the Sun is by far one of the best sitcoms in television history. It’s the perfect blend of the outlandish sitcom premises of the 1980s and the ensemble driven comedies of the 1990s. In the '80s, sitcoms had wildly illogical premises – a Buckingham Palace butler moves in with a Pittsburgh family (Mr. Belvedere), an alien moves in with a family (Alf), or a scientist makes a robotic daughter (Small Wonder). The '90s were chock full of ensemble comedies like Seinfeld until Friends brought about the dark ages of sitcoms. 3rd Rock merged the two and lasted a shocking six seasons and resulted in multiple Emmys and Golden Globes for the cast and crew.
Dick Solomon (John Lithgow) is the High Commander of an alien expedition to Earth. The creatures have been given human bodies and it brings a lot of humorous hi-jinks. Sally Solomon (Kristen Johnston) is the Security Officer and the one chosen to be “the woman” and is conveniently stunningly attractive. The Information Officer and oldest of the group gets placed in the body of a teenager in the form of Tommy Solomon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Harry Solomon (French Stewart) was not intended to take the trip but joins the crew and acts as the communicator to their home planet. Solomon teaches at the local college and has a very tense relationship with Dr. Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) and secretary Nina Campbell (Simbi Khali).
The series is genius. It finds the humor and irony in the mundane things we take for granted. The Solomon family has a unique perspective on the simplest of human customs and experiences. The cast is also full of amazing actors. Not only are Lithgow and Curtain comedy veterans, but since the series Levitt has proven himself to be an A-list actor. Stewart and Johnston are also still on television in the series Mom and The Exes, respectively.
The series has some pretty great recurring guest stars including William Shatner as their alien leader, Jan Hooks as Harry’s love interest, and John Cleese as a rival alien for Dick. The series also features appearances by Roseanne Barr, Phil Hartman, Christine Baranski, and Jane Lynch.
3rd Rock is worth a thorough binge watching for jokes that stand the test of time, an ensemble of amazing actors, and episodes that, for lack of a better term, are light years ahead of some series that are currently on television. All six seasons of the series are available to Hulu Plus subscribers.
America, meet Tom Mison.
Those who are in on the ground floor of the Sleepy Hollow phenomenon are already familiar Mr. Mison as Ichabod Crane, the show's man out of time. With only a few episodes in the bag, the series has all the makings of a cult hit. And its male lead is primed for the superstardom that goes right along with that. We've got Mison down on our scorecard for the next big thing in British imports. (Perhaps Benedict could extend an invite to one of his cheekbone-polishing parties?) Here's why we're totally in to the new guy.
He's got character.
Tom's Crane isn't the quivering coward we were introduced to by Washington Irving and Walt Disney. This version is gallant, intelligent, and endlessly sassy. Ichabod's constant irritation with modern inventions alone is worth the price of admission.
He's Jane Austen-approved.
Mison also starred as the courteous and innocent Mr. Bingley in the 2008 Pride and Prejudice-inspired miniseries Lost in Austen. There's nothing about playing an Austen hero that could do anything to make a leading man less attractive.
On first read, he also thought the Sleepy Hollow premise was totally insane.
But thank goodness we all got over that.
He hearts Ewan McGregor, his Salmon Fishing in the Yemen co-star.
As one should.
He has fantastic chemistry with his castmates.
We love the absolutely bananas Sleepy Hollow because of its pedal-to-the-floor committment to its own craziness. But we also love the interplay between Mison and his co-stars Nicole Beharie and Orlando Jones. The Abbie/Crane partnership is essential to the series and it lends some essential emotional grounding. Plus, they're awfully pretty together.
"Kate Middleton Topless Photos" is not a headline I ever expected to read, and I hope I never will again. In a massive invasion of privacy, French gossip magazine Closer has acquired photos of Middleton sunbathing sans bikini top on the deck of a private chateau, owned by the Queen's nephew, Lord Linley. She and her husband Prince William were staying at the chateau while they vacationed in Provence. The photos, taken with a long lens, appeared in Friday's issue of Closer alongside the headline, "Oh My God! Les Photos Qui Vont Faire le Tour du Monde" (or "Oh My God! The Photos That Will Make It Around the World").
In a five-page spread, photos depict the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge relaxing on their balcony, Middleton removing her bathing suit top, and the couple rubbing sunblock on one another. Basically, Kate and Will are acting as any couple would in the privacy of their home. And yet, this publication has decided to broadcast their private, intimate moments as news without the couple's knowledge or permission.
The royal family is, understandably, outraged. St. James' Palace issued an official statement, seen in its entirety below. Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to The Duke and Duchess for being so.
Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them.
Officials acting on behalf of Their Royal Highnesses are consulting with lawyers to consider what options may be available to The Duke and Duchess. The Duke and Duchess remain focused currently on their Tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu on behalf of HM The Queen.The palace's statement touches on the most disturbing aspect of this whole affair, namely its striking similarity to the media frenzy surrounding Princess Diana. It's no secret that the paparazzi's obsession with Diana was so intense that they continued to snap photographs of her while she lay gravely injured following the car crash that would claim her life. I don't mean to suggest that lurking in the bushes outside Kate's vacation home is on par with chasing Diana down in a car, but the former sinisterly foreshadows the latter.
The media is obsessed with nudity. Granted, this obsession is driven by the public's unwavering fascination with seeing celebrities in their birthday suits. Put "Naked," "Nude," or "NSFW" in a link and you guarantee that every warmblooded human will click it. And the public's interest in nakedness goes beyond sexual attraction. People are a curious breed. Whether driven by self-appreciation or self-loathing, everyone is eager to get a glimpse of everyone else in the buff, to compare and contrast their assets. So, if supply and demand has taught me anything, it's that nudity will never disappear from the Internet. I've accepted that.
Thanks largely to Twitter, Facebook, and smart phones, it's easier than ever for "private" photographs to make their way online. Sometimes, such as when The Newsroom's Alison Pill accidentally tweeted a photo of her bare breasts, it is the fault of the photograph's subject. Other times, a third party eager for attention leaks the offending photos to the press — Kate Middleton's brother-in-law Prince Harry learned this the hard way when one of his new Vegas friends spread the photos of his crazy night all over the Interweb. Any time naked pictures end up online it is sad and embarrassing (for the person in the photo); and it's deplorable that whoever sold the photo places their greed above the emotional well being of the picture's subject. But people aren't very nice. I've accepted this as well.
What sets this incident apart from the scenarios mentioned above, however, is the lengths the photographers took for a peek at the topless Middleton. Secretly taking photographs of a person — any person, be she a celebrity or average Jane — in a private location without her consent is a gross invasion of privacy.
A spokesperson for Closer defended the magazine's decision to publish the photographs to the London Evening Standard. He said, "The photographs we have selected are by no means degrading. They show a beautiful, in love, modern holidaying young couple, in their normal life. The article reports on the couple’s recent stay in the South of France.” Wow, talk about skirting the issue. Yes, anonymous sir, the photos do depict a "beautiful, in love, modern holidaying young couple." The problem is that you weren't supposed to be anywhere near their "normal life." The problem is that you inserted your camera lens into the couple's private moment. The problem, sir, is that you have become a Peeping Tom. And you know what happens to Peeping Toms? They go to jail.
People is now reporting that the royal family will be pursuing legal action against the magazine. "St James's Palace confirms that legal proceedings for breach of privacy have been commenced today in France by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge against the Publishers of Closer Magazine France," a spokesperson for St.James' Palace said. Thank goodness.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: WENN]
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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
It's love at first sight when Solomon (Ioan Gruffudd) the son of an Orthodox Jewish tailor meets Gaenor (Nia Roberts) a strong-willed young woman from a humble family of Welsh miners. Posing as a Christian and adopting a false name Solomon successfully woos his lady. But his deception can't last forever and when the truth comes out the hate-filled atmosphere in their hardscrabble town assures that there will be big trouble.
Gruffudd (TV's "Horatio Hornblower") immediately puts the drama on a sure footing with his natural leading-man presence and easy emotional accessibility. Roberts ("The Theory of Flight") is equally compelling as Gaenor whose conservative exterior hides the fiercely independent mind of a Jane Austen heroine. Most importantly the two leads throw sparks every time they're onscreen together. The strong supporting cast includes the compelling Maureen Lipman ("Educating Rita") as Solomon's mother who isn't above a bit of cruelty to protect her own.
Writer-director Paul Morrison a documentarian and practicing psychotherapist (!) invests his debut feature with passionate feeling and wonderful period detail. Clear motivations torturous conflicts and no small amount of suspense (thanks to the foreboding presence of Gaenor's hulking anti-Semite brother) give the piece engaging narrative urgency. Things lose steam a bit during the last act's over-the-top melodrama but it's a hard heart indeed that won't be rooting desperately for the star-crossed lovers to prevail.