Eastbound and Down

2013review_tvshows

According to the kind of people who are prone to make such pronouncements, the Golden Age of Television ended this year with the series finale of Breaking Bad. But with more quality television on the air today than is humanly possible to watch, I don’t see how that could possibly be true.  The one big observation about the TV landscape this year that I’d like to make is that there finally seems to be a preponderance of shows about women, a much-needed correction to the masculinity-obsessed, anti-hero shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. I love and admire all of those shows, but I’m glad to see that the new opportunities for original programming that the proliferation of cable and now Netflix and Amazon offers has resulted in more stories about women. Without further ado, my picks for the 13 best shows of 2013:

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Eastbound and Down

“I’m a bad man. I’m a very bad man.”  Kenny Powers’ road to redemption came to an end on Sunday’s Eastbound and Down finale. After a stellar fourth season that found Danny McBride’s MLB has-been unexpectedly making a living through his bullying and bullshitting skills as TV sportscaster, Kenny finally discovered that men — or at least some men — just can’t have it all. “I was never unhappy with you guys,” he admits to his ex-wife about the family he broke apart. “I was unhappy with myself.” Thus another manchild bites the dust. Eastbound and Down couldn’t have ended any other way. After last week’s episode [spoilers], when Stevie was on the verge of putting a bullet through his brain for not being able to buy Christmas presents for his kids, the show’s bathos graduated to genuine, compelling pathos. (“Trying to kill myself was the best thing I ever did,” Stevie decides later in the company of his ever-doting wife.) Kenny has a better head on his shoulders than Stevie does, but an ending that finds “Kenneth Powers” giving up on his humanity to become sadistic kajillionaire Ronny Thelman’s (Sacha Baron Cohen) mulleted pit bull might have been too dispiriting a conclusion.

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Eastbound and Down

In just a few more days, the new TV season will be upon us. That means this weekend is the last chance for a binge-watch to catch up on a show you’ve been meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to yet. If you’re looking for one last mini-marathon, you could definitely do a lot worse than HBO’s Danny McBride vehicle Eastbound and Down. With only seven half-hour episodes in each season, it’ll be a cinch to run through the previous seasons before the fourth premieres on Sunday, September 29. For the duration of its existence, Eastbound has been the towheaded stepchild of HBO’s comedy lineup, itself a mere offshoot of the cable network’s programming. Curb Your Enthusiasm exploited the absence of new Seinfeld episodes to neurotic glory, while Veep enjoys star power in Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a BBC pedigree — it sure looks and sounds like a great show. But both series have a bitter-tasting tinge of rich people whipping themselves into a froth over trivialities.

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david-gordon-green-the-sitter-movie-image

It’s been a rough few years for David Gordon Green. The once revered indie darling began to explore new territory as a filmmaker, making studio comedies with mixed results. Pineapple Express was met with a lot of love, but his two followups Your Highness and The Sitter were either dismissed or outright loathed. For those that shook their heads at his recent output, Prince Avalanche will be a welcome return to form for the director, and not only because it’s free of the studio system and a large budget. For Green, it’s a logical extension to the more under-the-radar work he’s been doing lately. The movie (which stars Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd as two sparring highway road workers) didn’t get a major press release when it began filming, it’s presented a low profile marketing-wise, and according to Green, there’s a reason for that.

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Eastbound and Down ended on the perfect note last season. Whether there would be a fourth season was still up in the air, but Jody Hill and company gave their series a sense of closure. Unlike that cheap slap in the face Entourage gave to its fans – “It may not really be over because of that silly movie idea, but it might be!” – Kenny Powers’ arc and the show itself felt completed. However, apparently HBO disagrees, considering that they’ve recently ordered a fourth season.

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Danny McBride’s particular brand of humor seems to be one of those “love it or hate it” forms of entertainment. Some people watch what he does on Eastbound and Down and laugh hysterically, others just shake their head at it with a look of disapproval on their faces. So when Deadline Dragør breaks the news that he’s going to be starring in a new film that has the tagline, “two men and a 13-year old boy embark on an R-rated vacation,” you can probably guess how you’re going to react to it already. Those of you who will be disgusted should probably just move on to the next article, but for those of you who feel like such a film would tickle your funny bone, read on. Klovn is a Danish TV show turned feature that follows the misadventures of two characters named Casper and Frank. In the original film version they’re all set to go on a canoeing trip that they’re calling the “tour de pussy” when the bad news hits that Frank’s girlfriend is pregnant. Fearing that Frank is a total nincompoop who can’t take care of a kid, she wants to terminate the pregnancy. This doesn’t jibe with Frank’s sensibilities, however, so they strike a deal that if he can take her 11-year-old son along on the canoeing trip and not have any mishaps, then they can keep the new baby. This, of course, is a flawed plan, because the canoeing trip is planned not to be […]

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Channel Guide - Large

If I were to call The Vampire Diaries stupid, I don’t think that too many people would be outraged or even ask me to explain why I had that opinion. Everyone would probably just assume that I wasn’t in to vampires or diaries or good-looking men with smoldering eyes and leave it at that. The show definitely has its fan base, and it’s a very devoted fan base, but it’s socially acceptable to not like The Vampire Diaries. Now, what if I were to call Mad Men stupid? The kind of inarticulate assessment that it’s perfectly OK to make when talking about The Vampire Diaries probably wouldn’t fly when talking about Matthew Weiner’s acclaimed drama (mainly because the show isn’t stupid and, even if it isn’t your cup of mid-afternoon booze, there are certain things about it that you have to concede—it’s thematically complex, well-written, pretty to look at, etc.). I happen to be a faithful Mad Men viewer but I know that there are people who find it painfully unwatchable and I also know that these people aren’t hillbillies (no offense to hillbillies) or unintelligent. Disliking a popular show is, of course, alienating—even when you’re steadfast in your opinion—but it’s also just incredibly frustrating; there’s a kind of emperor’s new clothes aspect to it where you’re left asking, what is it that I’m missing here?

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When you really think about it, Eastbound and Down is one of the HBO’s most depressing shows — no small feat. The hero’s journey Kenny Powers has been wandering through gets sadder and sadder with each season, as the character falls hard from the top, unlikely to ever obtain the glory he once had. This show challenges its characters to the fullest, and that’s something Jody Hill, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and the rest of the creative team behind Eastbound and Down seem to revel in. Not many television characters can match the sheer narcissism, misogyny, delusion, sadness, and hilarity of Kenny Powers. Somehow, the worse he acts, the more human and oddly lovable Hill & Co. make him. Powers is about as anti-heroic as a television character can get. Here’s what Jody Hill had to say about what we can expect from season three, the highs and lows of Kenny Powers’ arc, Stevie Janowski’s warped coming-of-age Stevie story, and more:

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David Gordon Green is one of those rare filmmakers who has the comic power to make fairly despicable or unlikable characters oddly sympathetic, and oddly, likable . While Green believes everyone in the world is likable – and how he thinks that I have no idea – he certainly seems to love his antiheroes. Very few David Gordon Green characters one would want to hang out with in real life, but on the big screen, he makes oblivious, frustrating, and moronic fools highly watchable. Hopefully that’ll remain the case with his latest R-rated comedy, The Sitter. Thanks to David Gordon Green being able to say a 1,000 words a minute, similarly to Danny McBride, in my 15-minute conversation we were able to cover a lot of ground. From the greatness of breakfast tacos, a topic I didn’t foresee being discussed, to Soul Surfer topping Your Highness earlier this year, Green goes in every direction possible with any mentioned topic. Here’s what The Sitter director had to say about why one should live in Austin, going through hell with actors, dealing with ego, and when too much Sam Rockwell crying becomes self-indulgent.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Back by popular demand, This Week in Blu-ray is here and ready to take on a big week of reviews in high definition. Sine we’ve been away for more than a few good releases, many of them have been included in this week’s entry. The highlights are many as we traverse through a world of major TV box set releases, great animated adventures, raunch comedy from the 70s and 80s, raunch comedy in the modern era, big action, big muscles, charming documentaries and at least one movie you should absolutely avoid at all costs. Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series Seeing as this column has been away for a few weeks and I’m going to be catching up with some of the best and brightest releases we missed, I’m calling for a temporary rule change and allowing myself two — count ‘em — two picks of the week. First, because it would be near impossible for me to choose between the two. And (b), because they fit so well together. The first of these two must-have television sets is Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off about a secret British agency led by a mysterious American named Jack Harkness who has one advantage over the hordes of aliens he comes into contact with: he can’t die. Led by this immortal man, a team of gifted, otherwise ordinary humans work to protect humanity from any threat, be it alien, supernatural or otherwise strange and interesting. Now, you may be thinking to yourself “I […]

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The fact that a major studio made Your Highness is both reassuring and baffling. The commercial appeal is there, obviously, but this isn’t your standard comedic fare. David Gordon Green’s 80s fantasy throwback is filled with crudeness and audacity. This is a film with a child molesting puppet; isn’t that such a thing of genius which defines ambition? I believe so. A film like Your Highness is, as stated before, reassuring because we’re witnessing such talents as Green and co-writer/star Danny McBride getting to further explore their divisive sensibilities in a rather sizable studio film. Danny McBride didn’t just set out to make a parody or a satire, but a genuine adventure film that, which he admits, isn’t for everyone. Your Highness is not the pot comedy one expects, but a road movie about lovable and immature idiots. McBride’s Thadeous is a moron in all senses of the word, except an actual self-aware moron. There’s a charm to his baboon-like nature. Your Highness is almost a coming of age story, but about a grown, pot-smoking, and crude man. Here’s what Danny McBride had to say about getting a comedy with a large scope, not making a spoof, crafting lovable idiots, and the difficulty of practical effects:

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The Week That Was

Fantastic Fest. Perhaps one of the busiest times of the year here on Film School Rejects. In which we cover a bunch of films from around the world, all of which are more likely to fade into the ether before they ever make it to your local cineplex. In fact, so many of the films that we’ve reviewed (with more to come) here in Austin won’t see distribution at all. It’s sad, but true. However, that won’t deter us from covering Fantastic Fest every single year. Why? Because it’s an amazing festival — perhaps the most unique and fan-driven in the entire world — and we’ve got a passion for these movies. The best of them are more than worth the time and effort it will take for you to seek them out. Trust us, we know what we’re talking about. Especially that Rob Hunter guy… And so begins the story of The Week That Was here on FSR….

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Kenny Powers is the ultimate antihero. Powers is a man without self-awareness who lacks proper ethics and morals and sits right on the edge of narcissism. And yet despite his selfish and cruel antics, you like him. Powers is an idiot, but a likable idiot. Eastbound and Down is on a total free fall with very little genuine redemption and high points for Kenny. He’s mean-spirited, but unbeknown to the fact. The show is now heading into its second season, and it places Kenny in the ultimate playground for terror and laughs: Mexico. The first two episodes play on the possibilities you imagined, and hopefully we’ll see even more to come. A lot has changed this time around and there are things you all must be braced for. Here are the top ten things to know about Kenny Powers (straight from Jody Hill) and what to expect with the return of Eastbound and Down:

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Eastbound and Down is one of the best shows currently on television. Since the show began it’s been picking up followers like wild fire, and deservedly so. Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) is a character that’s endlessly watchable. He’s despicable, but you still sympathize with him. More Kenny Powers is never a bad thing. Season two of the series is set to air this September and for a while now, it’s been rumored and expected that this would be the final season. Thankfully, that may not be the case.

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Kenny Powers

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the camp of Kenny Powers, the machismo ball playing alter-ego of Danny McBride on the curveball HBO series Eastbound and Down. Perhaps there’s a good reason for that. The first season wasn’t exactly a smash hit, but it was generally well-received. And it did fairly well on DVD. So by the skin of its leathery balls, it has been picked up for a second season — a second season that will air starting in September.

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McKayBrennanInt

The director and producer behind The Goods discuss 19th-century American bearded philosophy, the joy of telling jokes at funerals, and talk about the dangers of doing comedy.

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loved investing large sums into IMAX and Paramount (via Viacom) mere weeks before the release of Transformers 2. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs.

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turnedon-house

This week Bethany says if you’re gonna be an asshole, be one with style. Successfully imitate one or all of these 5 Assholes I Hate to Love, and she might be writing about a different type of column.

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eastbound-and-down-1

Once again, here I stand on the edge of all things cool and new and awesome. I firmly believe that I am the only person alive who has not had time to watch HBO’s hit series Eastbound and Down. Luckily, there is DVR. For the rest of you, there will be season 2.

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Will Ferrell has arrived, plans to direct

Will Ferrel gets his big break co-directing episodes of his new HBO comedy series, “Eastbound and Down,” with longtime pal Adam McKay.

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published: 04.18.2014
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