Mad Men


1352910431291_Xfinity_DavesOldPorn_1280x640_Overlay_590_295The great David Attell (above), starring in the little known Showtime show, “Dave’s Old Porn.”

When we tuned in to Howard 100 on Wednesday of last week, we weren’t sure the show would even be new, with the show’s seemingly always expanding vacation breaks.  When we heard that it was, we figured it was to be a one day work week, since Howard stopped doing new Thursday shows with his last contract.  So when we tuned in Thursday we were doubly delighted, both at the prospect of a fresh show, and at the very interesting SNL cast member Fred Armisen, who guested, with a new season of Portlandia about to debut.  Armisen meets both major criteria for an excellent guest.  He’s funny and honest.  It made for interesting radio to hear Armisen candidly discuss having to borrow money while in his 30’s from disappointed parents, his failed marriage to Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss (who told a magazine recently that Armisen’s greatest impression and least employed one is that of a “normal person”), his relationship with Lorne Michaels, and how he is a life long Stern fan who, as a boy, would listen to the show in the mornings with his South American mom.

Better still was Armisen’s willingness to do the Wrap Up Show, which, let’s face it, is greatly enhanced by any outside help it can get.  When Armisen was asked to weigh in on Ronnie’s practice of hopping up on the sink and washing his asshole, his genuine discomfort was priceless.  The holidays are a great time to hear recounted by Howard, whether he is complaining about his Christmas gifts (always classic), or describing his disdain for travel and ill ease when on vacation (also classic).  So when Armisen discussed a row boat he had gotten Lorne Michaels as a present which started Howard on a ‘Howard is unappreciated by the staff who’d be nothing without him’ rant, it gave us Howard at his best: angry Howard.  It was also great to hear Armisen back Howard’s belief that going to Italy is stupid, saying that essentially Howard is right when he says that people go away to a foreign place and immediately begin to watch foreign TV while they plan where they can get their familiar tasting coffee, longing for the comforts of home, like of course, “good toilets.”

The show seems to always hum when celebrity guests are fans of the show, which was also the case on Friday–the rarest of indulgences–when super fan Natalie Maines and long time guest Dave Attell, visited the program.  It seems like it was centuries ago when Howard did a Friday show, and that Robin was absent, who often lends a much needed soft balance, actually enhanced the program, for our money.

In part that is a real credit to these guests, Stern show veterans, who don’t need the buffer that Robin sometimes provides to the reticent.  Natalie Maines, who we do not appreciate as an artist, is an absolutely compelling guest, both because of free speech issues and because she is geeked up on the show.  Natalie Maines is a true lesson in the cautionary nature of free speech, vilified for criticizing perhaps the nation’s worst ever president, and though the Dixie Chicks were right and only exercising their 1st amendment right, it’s also true they have never recovered, and will never recover.

Now obviously it isn’t very smart to disrespect a Republican, Texan president when you are essentially a countrified novelty act, alienating a lot of your fan base.  We doubt, for instance, that Eddie Veder or Dave Grohl would have suffered similarly had they have made similar remarks.  The thing about Natalie Maines that one must always respect is her willingness to speak the truth, which remains undiminished despite her career travails.  It was outstanding to hear her criticisms of Lisa G, who we have absolutely no use for, and which were nothing if not true.  Lisa G is awful.  She is a dried up, chaste spinster, a hack, annoying and overly opportunistic but who lacks the talent to justify it.  Shuli’s and some other staffers’ bitterness at Lisa for cashing in on the show with her tea party/cookie party nonsense is totally warranted.  At least the block parties and other comedy tours offer some entertainment value.  We have to say that we have appreciated, in Howard’s quest for brevity, the consolidation of the show’s daily timeline, insofar as it has diminished Lisa’s boring bit.  Consequently, we have been pleased by John Leiberman’s expanding role because he is a good sport who is good for the show, and funny, which Lisa is not.  Does anyone recall Lisa with that put on bit where she considered sleeping with Ronnie?  Absurd.  First off, Lisa is an old maid.  Secondly, Ronnie?  Perhaps the most unattractive person at all of Sirius–impish, old, foul mouthed, uncouth and grotesque.  When Natalie Maines called out Lisa for trying to get Back Office Radio off the air, Lisa, on the spot, said something to the effect of, ‘well, they make fun of me.’  Maine’s response summed up Lisa’s sorry existence perfectly.  She said, “why don’t you take it like a man?”

BTW, Back Office Radio is actually very entertaining, especially as it comes on a day of the week when there’s no other live programming.  And say what you want about Will or Jason, who we normally don’t love but who has grown on us, they are not opportunistic.  They are happy to be there, and as Jason described last week when challenged to put down his pipe, loathe to disappoint Howard.  You don’t see them trying to capitalize on Howard’s name every which way, or combining shameless money grabs with cheap pandering, like the nonsense about having Howard take the picture for the cover of a book.  Was anything at all more transparent?  In truth, we feel that Howard probably feels a bit sorry for Lisa, and so he is willing to let slide some things that he won’t tolerate from others.

After Artie’s departure, we had felt that the show was foundering a little bit, as Howard and Robin regrouped and readjusted to a show that had one less significant contributor.  We worried a bit for the show’s long term prospects, but soon we saw that it was foolish to doubt Howard, and that the show was as good as always.  Though in our opinion, the more is usually the merrier when we are talking about adding funny people to the mix.  We always like when a person we approve of is sitting in, like for example, Jimmy Kimmel, and so we look forward to those few days a year.  As we also do, of course, with the great George Tekkai, and the often great David Arquette, who brings in an interesting dynamic by his inability to not know when to shut up.  We thought that when Shuli sat in for those days this fall that he was funny and wasn’t overbearing, and wondered if he wasn’t maybe on tap to be a low cost replacement in Artie’s chair.  We guess the chemistry was lacking though, because Shuli hasn’t been back.

Of course, we absolutely love Sour Shoes.  His appearances as in house musical talent have been stellar.  Not just his musical talent either, but the voices and quirks, as well as the very interesting history/background, which Howard loves to probe.  The guy basically comes upon nominal contact with a female, has not been on a date since the 90’s, and lapses into baby talk or Bababooey talk while flipping burgers at Wendy’s.  What could be better?  Sour Shoes would provide a lot of bang for minimal buck, which is obviously important to Sirius, which frankly, has seemed to skimp on talent and on the Stern Show, which is why we suspect that Howard is really down to 3 days a week.  Howard was adamant last year that he had not and would not accept a pay cut, and technically, a reduced schedule at the same rate does not constitute one.  We can also tell that the entire show really appreciates Sour Shoes’ presence there.  To hear Fred be so complimentary of Sour Shoes, or Sal just gush about him, really tells us that he is not only valued but has the right chemistry for the gig.  It’s a shame that Sirius has created acrimony with Howard, denying him his bonus, denying Fred and his daughter access to the One Direction concert, when obviously Fred is not the type to make untoward demands of his employers.  Gary recently talked about how when they all got to Sirius, there was a lot of good will, promise, and optimism, and that “now it’s long gone.”  We really hope Howard is there for a long time to come, but also feel that Howard and his people, that talent in general, needs to be respected, honored, and paid accordingly, and we’ve seen a trend away from that, with Howard being a prime example of management’s lack of respect for talent (another obvious example would be the very despicable NHL lockout).

Below is a link to the uber talented Sour Shoes in another radio appearance, this time with Mike Francesa.  Take a look:

Friday’s other guest, Dave Attell, one of the flat out funniest dark comics anywhere, would be an amazing, if higher profile and more expensive option.  It was great to hear Attell, whom we’ve always loved, and it was also excellent to hear Attell and Howard talk, uninterrupted by Robin, who does not need to play buffer for a comedic genius like Attell.  As great as Howard is mad, he is also great when he takes a fatherly tone with people, in a sort of advisory capacity, as he often does with Sal, as he did with Jason about cannabis, and as he did with Attell regarding his career and finances.  We have to apologize to Attell, as even as big fans of his, we were unaware of his Dave’s Old Porn, which we’ve now quickly sought to become acquainted with.  Whether Attell is joking about his masturbation frequency or methods (‘on an old IBM mission control’), discussing his discomfort with first class flying, citing a “certain level of douchebaggery” among first class travelers, or just being candid about his life and the state of comedy, we were enthralled.  As huge Doug Stanhope fans, we were very interested to hear Attell tell us that Stanhope, and another favorite, Louis CK, are the best in the business.  We also thought it extremely humble of Attell, a comedy lifer, to critique his own comedy, saying that he’s definitely “not great, could be better.”  It too was nice to hear him say nice things about Kathy Griffin, another favorite of ours.

We know that Attell would be a perfect fit on the show in a permanent role, and in fact, would enhance an already great product tremendously.  With Attell traveling with Artie (“The Anti Social Comedy Tour”) though, and so humble and careful not to offend fellow comics, we aren’t sure how comfortable he’d be with what could be perceived by some as taking Artie’s job, though he’d have to be comfortable with the pay, especially since he is losing money on Showtime.  And let’s face it.  Artie has obviously moved on with another national radio show, and it would be very petty of him to stand in the away of Attell, who, frankly is a much better comic than Artie, no disrespect, whether off the cuff or as a standup.  Especially since Artie has no one to blame but himself that he no longer works on the greatest radio show in history.

We’ll conclude with a kind word for Jason and his bid to go straight for a month without herb.  Your predicament has inspired me to do the same, and I too, will have a party when my time is through.

In Solidarity,

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Betty’s lone motherly moment with Sally (above).

Mad Men’s brilliant writer/creator/EP Matthew Weiner is not fucking about at all in what has been a banner 5th season for Mad Men, as Sunday’s season finale approaches.  Weiner was able to basically wrap up the Lane Price check fraud plot line in a scant few episodes, which we must applaud, as Weiner apparently has no taste for meandering plot riddles never solved, one of the only black marks on his former show, the epic Sopranos.  And we applaud this bit of denouement, juxtaposed with perhaps the plot line we most enjoy, that of Sally (isn’t young Kiernan Shipka excellent in this role?) and Betty, and of course Glen, played by Weiner’s son Marten, who has been a show stealer throughout the years on what has to be the best show on television right now.

After Bert Cooper brings the cancelled check to Don’s attention, which he knows is forged, we felt Don had no choice but to fire Lane.  That was completely justifiable.  Yet Don has not been privy to Lane’s financial woes, which have been a recurring theme.  When Lane returns to his office and surveys the falling snow, we were immediately stirred by the thought of Lane’s impending suicide in that very way foreshadowed each week by the opening credits.  By taking the plunge.

When Lane’s new Jaguar failed to cooperate with his carbon monoxide poisoning method, we were convinced that Lane was to be the mad man from the credits.  How cruelly ironic for Lane that the car he was so proud of, but that the others had been grossly slamming and slandering, was indeed a lemon, as Bert Cooper had suggested at the first mention of the car.

But Lane in the end preferred to swing from the gallows.  When Don got back from his meeting with Dow and they informed him, he looked like he had seen a ghost.  When told he was still hanging, Don insisted they cut him down.  He’s a doer, that Don Draper.  It had to register with him, as it does with faithful viewers, that this is the 2nd suicide to happen on Don’s watch.  Recall that Don had spurned his brother and tried to buy himself out of a future relationship with him by using a bag full of cash.  Mission kind of accomplished.

Don had told his long lost brother that he only lived his life in one direction: forward.  Yet, the drawer full of mementos he kept in his desk in Ossining, when discovered by Betty, finally prompted a long coming divorce. Speaking of Ossining, how about old neighbor Glen’s biggest role on the show since Betty unwisely granted him a lock of her hair?

Sally and Betty, again at each other’s throats early on, and a jealous Betty, obvious in her disdain for Megan, tells Sally that she only likes her because Megan let’s her “do whatever she wants.” To which Sally replies, “she lets me eat whatever I want.”  Then Betty calls Don and insists she pushes Sally off on him and his “child bride.”

Bad form indeed, but isn’t that the ugly Betty we’ve come to hate/love/hate?  Sally’s convo with Megan (Jessica Pare) and her acting buddy leave her “longing” for Glen, whom she calls and invites to visit her at Don’s.  At the front door and then in the museum they have their amusing kid conversations, as Glen tells her he’s seen better penthouses, that Teddy Roosevelt killed all the caribou, and then about how the seniors on the lacrosse team are bullying him.

Sally:  “Henry got bullied when he was younger and now he runs the city.”

Fantastic, really.  And almost as good was when she tells Glen she isn’t big on his mustache.  But this would be a watershed episode for Sally for a more serious reason, as she gets her period for the 1st time, we feel foreshadowed by the waitress bringing her coffee when out with Megan.  Sally runs out of the museum after the event and takes a cab back home to Betty, who, ever the ice queen, hardly knows how to comfort the girl at first, apprehensively patting her head with her cold, waxy hand.

Then Betty, after calling Megan to explain Sally’s disappearance, says that she “became a woman today” and “I think she just needed her mother.” A triumphant Betty returns to comfort Sally, actually a nice moment, and perhaps the nicest between the two that’s aired in the show’s full run (top).

Glen returns to Don’s for his bag and ends up being taken in by Megan.  After the phone rings, Glen asks “was that Betty?”

Priceless considering the history there.  Then Megan asks Glen if he would like something to eat.

Glen:  “If you don’t mind.”

Who wasn’t having flashbacks to the Betty/Glen dynamic of the early Mad Men days?  And the complexity of all the Betty/Glen and now Megan/Glen possible Oedipal issues to be considered.

When Don returns home from learning of Lane’s suicide, he and Glen have a poignant conversation on the elevator.

Glen:  “Why does everything always turn to crap?”

Asked by Don to elaborate, he says that all hopes and dreams never seem to pan out.  Don asks him what he wants to do.

Don:  “If you could do anything at all, what would you do?”

Cut to the final scene in which Don is allowing Glen to drive the car back up to his boarding school.  Apparently Don is now into preventive suicide measures, giving Glen something to smile about.

………

The other best show on TV and another AMC production, Breaking Bad, returns on Sunday, July 15th at 10 PM.  We have learned that the final 16 episodes of the epic have been broken into two 8 episode mini-seasons.  So far, the final 8 episodes, or the last 8 episodes of season 5 are slated to air in July, 2013.  Between now and then, AMC will run Sunday late night BrBa marathons, starting with the pilot and episode 2 back to back, beginning at 3:12 AM Monday morning.  A good time for gib heads, it would seem.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Mad Men star Jon Hamm is very fond of discussing what a bad guy his character Don Draper is.  Don has pulled some numbers over the years, for sure.  Some of our personal favorites?  Well, let’s see.  We really loved when Don was banging that old hag Bobbi Barrett, crashed the car while driving drunk, and had to call Peggy to come bail him out of jail.  We guess that may be a mark of a bad guy–no one close to call when things go wrong–but we still don’t agree with Jon Hamm that Don is all that bad.  Mad Men would have us believe that DWI was a birthright back then.  If you’ve watched lately you may have noticed Campbell’s driving skills.  If so, you’d probably rather take your chances with Don, bombed.

Now Pete Campbell is a bad guy as far as we’re concerned, but that’s another story.  Certainly was gratifying watching Lane best him in a bout of the gentleman’s sport though.  In fact, the entire season has been gratifying.  Most notably, Roger’s LSD trip, the aforementioned fisticuffs, Roger’s blowjob from Megan’s moms (Julia Ormond), and the whole Don’s new life/Megan (Jessica Pare) dynamic.  And who could neglect the return of Glen, an absolute favorite of ours?

When Sally called him (who is now being fed pills by Henry’s mother), after she witnessed Roger’s blowjob, he said “how’s the city?” Sally’s response framed the episode perfectly.

“Dirty.”

But Henry’s mother is far from the worst bitch on the block.  That honor still belongs to Betty Francis, who, in limited scenes has taken on an expanded capacity.  To state it plainly, she is enormous.  But to us, she’s even meaner than she is fat.

While Betty’s actions are apparently somewhat predictable in Matthew Weiner’s version of the American tale, every man a cad, every woman a rag, at least every divorcee that is, they are no less startling or reprehensible.  Sure, Don took Sally to see the eclipse that time and then started having sex with her teacher, but at least he takes an interest in his kids not named Gene, and refrains from partaking in another ancient birthright: child abuse.

Then there’s Betty.  January Jones makes such a mean bitch in this role that now Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) from Game of Thrones looks like a human being to us, and there is still some question as to whether she is human at all.  This week Betty overdosed on jealousy when in picking up the children, she pressed her way into Don’s penthouse and spied upon the life of the new Don Draper.

Then, when “helping” Sally with her family tree project, she casually mentioned to her that daddy had another previous wife, and suggested that Megan had lied to her about it.  Whomever coined “time heals all wounds” apparently never met Betty Francis.

Thankfully, Sally, with a little help, figured out her Mother’s game.  And when she had revealed to Betty her revenge plot was foiled, Betty became enraged.  Dragging the kids into the fray?  We jest about Weiner’s tale of Americana, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily doubt it.

With Mad Men being a show that tends to follow up on most major storylines, we are expecting, well, big things from Betty’s character the rest of the way, whether she has limited scenes or not. Matthew Weiner fought to keep Betty’s character alive when AMC tried to pinch their margins because he felt the jilted ex was a compelling plot line.  We are sure AMC is happy now that he did.  They probably didn’t even gripe too much about springing for her fat suit.

Try Googling “Fat Betty Francis”.  And then run the image search.  The fans are in love, if not with Betty, then with the fact that she is a beefed up version of the old bitch we knew and hated.  Here’s one of our favorite pics:

For us though, it’s the ugly factor that we are bent on.  Can you imagine what her reaction will be at the inevitability to come, when she finds out her daughter is fucking Glen?

Hell’s bells, Trudy!

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

The new girls of HBO, Jermima Kirke (L.), Lena Horvath, Zosia Mamet, and Allison Williams (R.).

Don’t mind us lately.  Obviously we had the tennis dead wrong last weekend, with Kvitova losing to Sharapova, and then with Sharapova beating Azarenka.  Oops.  You know what?  We’d pick it like that again.  We love Kvitova, and we love her on clay.  We love Azarenka just a little bit less than that on clay, and we don’t like Sharapova at all.  But we’ll say this: Sharapova’s serve was popping last week, and probably hasn’t looked as good in a few years.  The girls and their weak moments coupled with our weak prognosticating moments have made calling the outset of the European clay season tough.

But we are here to talk about some different girls right now.  HBO’s new series, “Girls”, written, produced, directed, and starring Lena Dunham, as extremely stupid Brooklyn woman Hannah Horvath, is perhaps the funniest, raunchiest, and real show on television right now.  The show, which captures the misadventures of Hannah and her circle of girlfriends, as they navigate their young careers and sex lives, is hysterical, giving HBO what seems like a much needed hit for their Sunday lineup.

Then again, we could be wrong.  We were wrong, or “obvi wrong” about “Luck”, as Shoshanna would say, which stopped production and was cancelled recently.  While there was apparently some issues with PETA over the treatment of the horses, we don’t believe that the show was abruptly cancelled because of dead or injured animals.  The fact was that Luck was the most expensive show ever made, and that it was losing money hand over fist.  Creator David Milch, who also discontinued Deadwood, has a reputation for leaving expensive shows for cheap ones.  With his next few HBO kiche cop shows assured, Milch abandoned Luck in the face of a little adversity, thereby scuttling a very good show with a slow building plotline, which never even got close to a boil.

And so Ace Bernstein, who we had anointed the next great HBO character, is no longer.  So let’s anoint another, the hilarious Hannah Horvath from the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, who in a few short weeks has been cut off from her parents, has been sexually degraded repeatedly by the guy she is hooking up with, has learned she has a sexually transmitted disease, has learned her college boyfriend was gay, and who lost out on a precious opportunity for employment when she joked with her prospective new boss that he was an accomplished date rapist.

When the second episode begins, Hannah is in bed with Adam, who begins telling her how scared she was when he found her on the street.  When she was 11.  Walking alone with her Cabbage Patch lunch box.  Hannah goes with the flow, which eventually um, ends up on her arm, since Adam asks her where she wants him to come, then states “I’m gonna make the continent of Africa on your fucking arm.”  The next morning, Hannah tells Adam, when asked where she’s going, that she is meeting her friends at her friend’s abortion, after a job interview.

When she gets to the job interview, she establishes immediate rapport with her interviewer, and has the job in the bag.  But then, out of the blue, she declares, that Syracuse University, this man’s alma mater, ironically had the highest incidence of date rape of any college, which coincidentally dropped the year he graduated.  With the dude stammering over the inappropriateness, Hannah further explains that date rape had gone down when he left, “because they figured out who was doing it and it was you.”

Hannah is also obsessed with STD’s, as one can conclude by her Google searches.  Like “diseases you can get from not wearing a condom for one second” and “stuff that gets up around the side of condoms”.  It’s true that Adam (Adam Driver) has given her a scare by telling her he doesn’t regularly use condoms and that he doesn’t remember if they use condoms, but then she schedules an HIV test to coincide with Jessa’s (Jermima Kirke) abortion, at which she discusses her fear of AIDS with the doctor.  When the doctor asks her if she ever knew someone with AIDS, Hannah tells her it’s more of a “Forest Gump based fear” because that was what Robin Wright Penn’s character died of.

In the waiting room, Shoshanna and Marnie get to discussing things, and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet, Mad Men) reveals to her sex obsessed friend that she is a virgin, though a minute earlier, when Hannah tells them her theory on the spread of STD’s, saying that she has been diagramming in her head all day the “mayhem” when men lose their erections after sex and leave their penises inside women, as “they are want to do”, Shoshanna quickly echoes that sentiment, that men are “want” to do that with her, she has found.

In episode 3, Shoshanna reveals that her littlest baggage, playing the Jerry Springer game, is that she has “IBS” and that her biggest baggage is that she is still a virgin.  In episode 3, Hannah meets her ex because Shoshanna convinces her that it’s the courteous thing to do in the “STD world.”  When he gets to the bar, Hannah sees that he is flaming.  She asks him if he thought about men when they were together, and if he also thought about men while they were together.

“Yes and yes.” he says.

When she asks him how he was able to sleep with her if he was attracted to men, the guy goes, “well, you have a certain handsomeness…”

Damn.  And it’s true.  Hannah is fuck bucking ugly.  And to add insult, he also suggests that Hannah has dated a lot of gay dudes, that she is ignorant to reality, and that her father is gay.  He mentions her dad’s earring which he got, as Hannah describes, while “on vacation with his male friends.”

The guy then goes, “are we hearing ourselves?  I don’t think we’re hearing ourselves.”

So we love this show, and unfortunately for us, we missed the pilot, but we are very excited to be able to watch it on HBO GO, which we will do in a bit.  HBO, which had done nothing for us lately with the cancellation of Luck and our favorite Brooklyn based pot head show, “Bored to Death”, has redeemed itself somewhat in our eyes, giving us another Brooklyn based show, though with less pot heads (Jessa holler!).  They have given us a modern, funnier and more perverse SATC, for a younger generation, with no menopausal bitches or perfect endings.  They just stick to what’s funny, and not what’s sappy or stylish, and so we applaud them.

So that’s us clapping for Girls and for you.  Once again we thank you all for your patronage in hitting our page well over 100,000 times in two days.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Rodney, Stu and Tim (above).

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HBO’s comedy lineup will receive a much needed boost in December when one of our absolute favorites, “The Life and Times of Tim” returns, and what we are sure will be a new favorite, “Angry Boys”, written, directed, and starring Australian uber talent Chris Lilley, makes its American television debut.  Like the internationally acclaimed and award winning Lilley product “Summer Heights High”, which HBO debuted for American audiences in November of 2008, “Angry Boys” is shot in the mockumentary format, and features 2 characters previously portrayed by Lilley in his first major television self production, “We Can be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year.”  

Summer Heights fans should not be disappointed that none of the characters that Lilley portrayed in that series, Jonah, Ja’mie, or Mr. G are reprised in Angry Boys.  Lilley often revisits his characters and those characters frequently pop up in subsequent works, as do Daniel and Nathan Sims, who debuted in We Can Be Heroes and are now reprised in Angry Boys.  Lilley’s Ja’mie of SSH also debuted in We Can Be Heroes and Lilley often performs on stage and in stand-up as the illustrious Mr. G.  Angry Boys, which debuted in Australia in May, features an array of Lilley characters including an African American rapper, with a juvenile hall for the backdrop. 

If you are thinking that Jonah Takalua would have made a perfect inmate, we can almost assure you that he wasn’t needed.  Lilley is receiving much flack for the controversial behaviors he portrays in Angry Boys, notably the racial slurs employed at the juvenile facility.  We think Lilley should be commended for revisiting comedic boundaries and for being a champion of free speech.  Angry Boys will debut on HBO on December 5th, 2012.

When season 3 of The Life and Times of Tim returns to HBO, we are not sure if our old friend Tim will have his job back at Omnicorp, but if we had to wager, we’d bet that Tim does reunite with best friends Stu (Nick Kroll) and Rodney (Matt Johnson), and the boss (Peter Giles).  Only in Steve Dildarian’s vast imagination personfied by the life of Tim could we find Rodney’s wife having an affair and knocked up by Islanders forward Petite Guy LaBelle (Andrew Daly), Stu having night terrors about among other things, the ’86 Mets, and Tim’s boss, who has never taken the subway before and who thinks the oncoming train is some sort of underground serpent/monster.

Dildarian has given us so many great moments and lines, whether they be out of the mouth of Tim’s hedonist, womanizing priest (Rick Gomez), a pharmaceutical rep who got into that business when the owner of a pharm company grabbed her in a bar and said, “with an ass like that, you should be working at my drug company”, or from a random member of the crowd at a press conference for the female fire fighter who “saved” Tim’s life, who shouts at Tim that he’s a “frail fuck.”  Or who could forget Tim’s co-worker, played by Bob Saget, teaching Tim the ins and outs of an expense account when on a business trip to Cincinnati?  “You know how I expensed a brick of Cocaine?  Trip to Kinko’s.”  In fact, we couldn’t understand HBO’s reluctance to greenlight The Life and Times of Tim for season 3, which was actually briefly cancelled last summer by HBO until FOX began making overtures at Steve Dildarian in the hopes of bringing Tim to their networks.

Hopefully HBO has begun to realize that they are in no position to be dismissive of a talent like Dildarian after passing on AMC megahits Breaking Bad and Mad Men, inscrutably cancelling Deadwood, and failing to bring back Da Ali G Show for season 3.

The Life and Times of Tim will return in late December.

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Bryan Cranston (above) of Breaking Bad.

Bad news.  While Breaking Bad has renewed for what no doubt will be an epic 16 episode 5th season, various outlets are reporting that it will be show’s the last.

After heated negotiations with AMC, Breaking Bad has been renewed… for a 16-episode final season. The decision comes as the award-winning drama is hitting a creative and ratings high-point. But some critics are expressing gratitude that the esteemed drama — about a chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with cancer, begins dealing meth to provide for his family — is receiving a firm end date, because they see it as an opportunity for Breaking Bad’s writers end the series on a high note. Should we be celebrating the impending end of what’s often called “the best drama on television?”

http://theweek.com/article/index/218337/breaking-bads-final-season-a-good-thing

We’ve heard the show’s creator Vince Gilligan discuss his long range plans for the show several times.  He always mentions that he is telling a story with a definite end that would need several seasons to be fully told.  For us, that number we were hoping against all hope would be six, considering that season 1 had only 6 episodes.  At least Gilligan and AMC have agreed to do three episodes extra in season 5, off of a standard 13 episode full slate.

We guess the hand writing was on the wall with regard to a 6th season after watching Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner take public his rancorous negotiations with AMC to bring back Mad Men without cutting central characters from the cast.   Breaking Bad, in an even better position to negotiate, would probably have commanded beyond what AMC was willing to pay for a 6th year, especially when compared to dirt cheap original programming like The Killing and The Walking Dead.

At least there are 24 episodes left.

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

While we were glad to see a sorely missed Entourage return to the Sunday night HBO airwaves and re-enter the fray of stiff programming competition that always seems to make Sunday nights so strong, we’ve been vastly underwhelmed with the storylines so far, and the curious jumping in point for this season–Vince’s return from rehab.  In fact, all of the characters except Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Ari (Jeremy Piven) have come in at weird places when considering what could have been. 

We are very displeased at how Doug Elin and company have glommed over Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) arrest, Eric’s (Kevin Connolly) breakup with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara…Brooklyn holler!) and his adventures in his new Tequila venture.  As far as Turtle goes, in the past two seasons he was finally given more to work with than his loyal but stagnant pot smoking lackey, and in an end eerily familiar to season six’s, the writers have chosen to make him all about some annoying Mexican chick who won’t call him back.  So far.  But we think, with Mark Cuban and his business manager, played by one of our favorites, Bob Odenkirk, getting involved as investors in Avion that Turtle could be doing much more right now than waiting by the phone for Alex to call. 

As far as E goes, he had come to a very compelling time in his relationship with the ultra hot Sloan, refusing to sign a pre-nup as we knew the stubborn E would.  But for the show to just pick up 3 months later with him and Sloane separated and little to no information given aside from the unsigned pre-nup that we know about it, strikes us as lazy writing.  Are they attempting to tell us their story with some out of sequence method?  If so, we would think that to be untrue to Entourage’s established style of story telling which has evolved in the last four seasons to make it one of the premiere shows on television.

The show, in our minds, had gotten out of the box originally as a sluggish male themed rip of Sex and the City, with a Hollywood, celebrity cameo laiden twist.  And then, when Vince began to go through some of the downs of the Hollywood movie star life, and the lives of Drama, E, and Ari were featured more prominently, the show became a much more interesting, layered, and gritty product.  In truth, we had totally given up on Entourage but felt we had to give it another shot because of the dearth of quality television in general and on HBO in specific at that time.  We were glad that we did give it another shot because Entourage had found a nice rhythm which it carried on, especially in depicting the rockier moments in Vincent Chase’s life.  Until now. 

To go from depicting Ari’s marital catastrophes to the hollow Mrs. Ari/Bobby Flay nonsense, to skip out on Vince’s troubles with the law and make his rehab seem like a vacation, and to gloss over formative moments for Turtle and E for what feels like the same old Sloan and Meadow Soprano nonsense are all bad shortcuts.  Do they feel that because they have shown enough of Ari’s agency in its various stages of growth and development, that they were doing us a favor by not showing how Scott Lavin (Scott Caan) can walk up to E and tell him that he was taking down Murray, their boss and Sloan’s god father, and E telling Scott he was in, to 3 months later and the takeover mysteriously completed without nary a word as to how?

And we love Scott Caan on Entourage and feel that the takeover could have been well interwined with Eric’s personal life, where they have also left us in the dark.  Back to Vince’s rehab for a second.  Would it be wrong for us to assume Vince will slip up and relapse like just about every other person who has ever been to rehab?  Because if that’s the case, then doing more than showing Vince giving his goodbye to crackheads speech would have been appropriate, and if it’s not the case, then showing some of the travails his brush with the law and addiction had taught him would go far in making a permanently clean Vince more believable.

It’s always hard to see a favorite show come up short.  We were extremely disappointed to learn that Entourage was not returning on the same night as Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even more upset to learn that Entourage was only back for a slate of eight episodes in its final HBO season.  But then, with the news that Scott Caan and Rhys Coiro (Billy Walsh) would be regulars and that another of our favorites, Andrew Dice Clay, had joined the cast as himself, we pencilled Entourage in to go out with a bang.

But the fact is, Sunday night, led by Breaking Bad, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Celebrity Rehab, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, are all already pencilled in as better shows right now.  Entourage’s lack of oomph has dulled our limited faith in humanity, making us think that the big screen version, already being touted by Elin will be nothing but a stale money grab which won’t even measure up to Sex and the City 2

Our criticism of Entourage can be extended out to HBO’s original programming in general.  Their 2 best newer comedies which were ready for both of the last 2 summers, Hung and Bored to Death are not ready for action.  True Blood is awful and has been for 2 years.  No word on season 3 of The Life and Times of Tim, or season 4 of In Treatment.  If not for Curb, which took its sweet time coming back, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones, we’d have nothing good to say about HBO compared to its glory days, which now see well removed.  And the latter three dramas, while all good, are nowhere near the level of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood.

And to pass on Mad Men and Breaking Bad?  With decisions like that, and weak reprisals like the current season of Entourage, people might soon be passing on HBO.  I mean, we can only stare at Islanders t-shirts and screen savers as long as the show is good.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/breaking-bad-breaks-back-getting-back-to-work-aaron-pauls-howard101-interview-great-stuff/

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Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

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