Tag Archive: Jimmy Fallon


Sphere car

Review by C.J. Bunce

In simplest terms, Jurassic World is simple entertainment on a big scale–a feast for the eyes.  But for all its incredible special effects and fantastic futuristic technology, Jurassic World proves the maxim George Lucas laid out in reference to the success behind the original Star Wars–“Special effects are a tool, a means of telling a story… A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”  And that sums up Jurassic World, as a film and a 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital release–the umpmillionth variation on the Frankenstein how-not-to-build-a-monster story, and the latest twist on Michael Crichton’s original look at a theme park gone bad in his movie Westworld.

Touted in its marketing as the #1 movie of the year, and proven out at the box office, in many way Jurassic World is a remake and certainly an homage to the original Jurassic Park.  More than twenty years after the devastation caused in Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully realized, fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond.  You’ll experience deja vu several times as these new characters, and one from the original, fail to learn the lessons of history.  Didn’t the production team watch The Lost World (Jurassic Park II) and Jurassic Park III?  The new theme park is built over the old park where so much went wrong and so many died, including leaving the original park all derelict and intact as it was in the last scene of the original movie, including leaving old Jurassic Park jeeps around for a modern, distracted teenager to magically restore to driving condition in a single scene.  Dinosaur battle shots mirror those from the original, including the finale, although despite new technology the dinosaurs don’t seem as “real” here.  Jurassic World seems to repeatedly search for a scene to match that “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” scene in the original.  Michael Giacchino’s score misses the wonder and excitement of John Williams’s original themes.  Although the effort is there, no single scene in Jurassic World captures the startling jumps and wows of Jurassic Park.

JW blu-ray 3d

With four script/story writers for Jurassic World, it’s obvious why the story failed to deliver.  Although we note above that George Lucas knows storytelling, he is also now famous for the stilted dialogue of his Star Wars prequels.  The story team in Jurassic World offers up similarly strange words from the mouths of its actors–things no one would possibly say.  And we can’t believe these dinosaur monsters are scary when the cast bounces back from each near-death experience so quickly.  Even the worst of the characters, the youngest boy (who is a walking disaster) seems barely affected by the death going on around him for half the film.

The real conflicts within the script can be found in the strange parallels and inconsistencies.  For one, director Colin Trevorrow has been quoted as saying his inspiration for the film was an image of a little girl texting in front of a T-Rex behind her.  The corporate bad guy theme that underlies the plot is that no one cares about dinosaurs anymore, they are old news, and audiences needs something bigger and better.  You can just see Trevorrow and executive producer Steven Spielberg laughing all the way to the bank over the irony here.  The message, as delivered in the climax, is “bigger isn’t always better” and that often the original, the classic, offers up the best experience.  Yet Jurassic World hammers into us the over-sized fantasies of Godzilla and King Kong instead of the science-fictional world that made a success of Jurassic Park.

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Lip Sync Battle Dwayne Johnson The Rock

No surprise here. You know what you’re going to get with the show’s title: Lip Sync Battle.  Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show lip sync contests where he faces off against everyone from Will Farrell to Emma Stone are the stuff of viral videos now.  So it was a smart move for him to lead up a team of producers and Saturday Night Live’s Beth McCarthy-Miller as show director to feature a cable show that spun-off this segments into its own gig.

Spike TV started its new “reality competition” series off this week right, featuring the king of lip sync, the goofy, give-it-all-you-got Fallon against the larger than life charisma of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  LL Cool J serves as the host of the show, with co-host/Spike eye candy model Chrissy Teigen.

Both trash talked each other throughout the show with plenty of good humor.  The prize for each episode is a giant boxing belt and midway through battle one Fallon offered up a pint-sized version for Johnson.

LL Cool J Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battle

Johnson’s songs were Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” up against Fallon’s take on Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line” song from Beetlejuice.  Fallon upped the ante by taking the audience into a Conga line.  But the second round was the big production, with Fallon first up, syncing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” with a back-up choir.  But you just can’t beat Johnson sporting John Travolta’s trademark duds from Saturday Night Fever, syncing the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive.”  Both the stars really seemed to give it their all.

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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Tonight Show Family Feud Fallon Steve Harvey

Review by C.J. Bunce

One hundred and twenty episodes in of his first year at the helm of The Tonight Show and somehow we managed to fail to mention Jimmy Fallon’s incredible big year here in our ongoing quest for the best in entertainment.  We’ve watched Fallon since his days on Saturday Night Live and figured we’d give him a try as he took over for Jay Leno.  We gave the same college try to Conan O’Brien when he started out on his TBS gig, but that show quickly fizzled out.  Fallon hit the ground running, taking comedic bits from his Late Night hosting stint and expanding them into the weightier format of the classic king spot of nightly live comedy.  And we haven’t laughed out loud this much in a year in a long time.

Go back and watch David Letterman, Leno or Johnny Carson late show episodes on YouTube and you’ll quickly ask yourself why we thought those guys were so funny.  We’re saying this after years of enjoying the best of The Tonight Show for decades.  Fallon’s sincere, boy-next-door-makes-good, and unapologetic fanboy image was a perfect choice for this show, and his use of social media incorporated into his weekly line-up makes the show potentially appealing to every demographic.

Credit goes to Fallon, of course, but also his great writing staff that comes up with all this fun, as well as The Roots, the complicit house band (probably the coolest band ever to appear on a regular TV gig), and Fallon’s own Ed McMahon, the quick-witted banter partner, Des Moines native Steve Higgins.

Rivers last Tonight Show

Recurring bits include Fallon’s obsession with Canadian politician Rob Ford, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Vice President Joe Biden, the Eww girl, and a would-be one-time stint dancing bear that became the out-of-breath show mascot Hashtag the Panda.  Fallon’s “Pros and Cons,” “Thank You Notes,” and “Hashtags” are now locked into the national weekly calendar.  Fallon also gets the best A-list celebrities around on his show on a regular basis, and even entices many to play crazy party games and lip sync battles or act in skits like you’d see on the best days of Saturday Night Live.

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David Brenner Tonight Show

Comedian David Brenner was said to have been Johnny Carson’s favorite guest on The Tonight Show, showing up on 157 episodes.  He passed away this weekend at age 78.  Watching clips decades later reminds you how easy Carson and Brenner could fill air time with a quick chat and be able to make others laugh so effortlessly, and how much of a good guy Brenner seemed to be.  When I was a kid, I’d try to get my parents to “let me stay up to watch Carson” and they often let me, to my sleepless glee.  But I was disappointed if the show didn’t have David Brenner as a guest or as guest host.  I liked to watch him laugh as he told his jokes, and his humor, whether I understood it all or not, made me laugh.  I learned of Brenner’s passing via a nice comment by Jimmy Fallon on Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, where Fallon has returned to the kind of humor as the new host of the long-lived show, the kind of humor that kept audiences rolling back in the 1970s and 1980s with Brenner’s brilliant monologues.

I liked Brenner so much that when his autobiography came out before I was a teenager I nabbed it up, maybe the only autobiography I read until adulthood.  Again, some of it was outside of my understanding back then.  And here’s a strange thing.  My personal sleep habits spring from staying up late to watch Carson and Saturday Night Live, but even more so to Brenner’s own sleep clock.  I latched onto the fact that Brenner said he would only sleep about four hours each night, nothing close to the eight hours most people aim to get.  He figured if he kept it up he could live–be awake–something like 20 years longer than everyone else.  People say you need 8 hours of sleep per day, yet Brenner made it to 78.  Bravo.  It makes me wonder if he kept up that 4-hour sleep plan.  Because of Brenner I have never bought into the need for the eight-hour nightly sleep.  My own strange takeaway from this funny funnyman.

Called Soft Pretzels with Mustard, Brenner’s autobiography is a story of a kid growing up in Philly and how he picked up his sense of humor along the way.  The book became a bestseller and I count it as one of my favorites.

Soft Pretzels with Mustard

My favorite clip of The Tonight Show with Brenner is one of the funniest pieces of television you’ll ever see and I last saw it on a Johnny Carson anniversary show.  I scanned the Web for it to no avail, but found Brenner’s own recollection of the episode:

“Johnny loved to catch someone NOT watching the “Tonight Show,” especially when they were on it.  So one night I was on the show and I did my act and I came over and sat on the couch and, if you remember, sometimes the last guest would be the author of a book.

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Tonight, Jimmy Fallon will host the 36th season holiday episode of Saturday Night Live.  It is Fallon’s first time hosting the show, although viewers will know him from his years on the show as host of Weekend Update and as the current host of the NBC Late Show.  Hopefully he will use the opportunity to revisit his skit from over a decade ago, foreshadowing that he would be hosting the show in December 2011.

Over the years annual comedic casts have changed, with Not Ready for Prime Time Players sometimes brilliantly funny and sometimes not so much.  Traditional fans look back to the first two seasons to the best cast ever, where superstars Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and even frequent guest Steve Martin, were all propelled to become household names.  Later casts included Second City greats such as Christopher Guest and Martin Short.  Some of the biggest names in Hollywood were once members of the SNL cast: Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Will Ferrell included.  And in all this time we lost a few guys whose careers themselves pretty much peaked on SNL:  John Belushi, Phil Hartman, and Chris Farley.

It’s difficult not to make a favorites list of SNL not top heavy in favor of the classic skits from the first seasons of SNL, but we made an effort to spread out some great skits across the decades, and we left out skits with Alec Baldwin that we inclued in our review earlier this week.

John Belushi – Little Chocolate Donuts

Dan Aykroyd – Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute

Full Cast – Jaws II Land Shark

Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd – Czech Brothers

Full Cast – Coneheads on Family Feud

Bill Murray – Lounge Singer

Eddie Murphy – Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood

Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo – Buckwheat

Martin Short and Harry Shearer – Men’s Synchronized Swimming

Mike Myers, Michael McKean and Cast – Nut-rific Ad

Mike Myers, Dana Carvey – Wayne’s World

Chris Farley interviews Paul McCartney

Chris Farley – Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker

Full Cast with Patrick Stewart – “Love Boat, the Next Generation”

Adam Sandler – Hanukkah Song

Tracy Morgan and Jimmy Fallon – Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet

Will Farrell with Christopher Walken – Blue Oyster Cult Recording Studio

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com