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"Better TV/Movies Than They Have Any Right To Be"


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Zardnaar

Legend
I think that "Married: With Children" was lightning in a bottle. Other shows tried very similar models and failed miserably. For example does anyone remember "Unhappily Ever After"? I'm betting not despite the fact that it starred redheaded bombshell Nikki Cox.

It was clever and had the right cast to pull it off.
 

I can't help but feel there's a little bit of ageism at work in some of the examples. "Stuff made for kids" doesn't have to be bad from an adult perspective. Kids' programming isn't all Disney sitcoms (which generally are terrible). Disney animated features, for example, tend to be relatively high quality even for adults - much better than their aforementioned sitcoms on the Disney Channel. And as far as Pixar goes, I think they've made enough of a reputation for themselves that the opposite expectation is probably more appropriate - that the default Pixar movie is expected to be excellent - simply because it's being done by Pixar.
I get that, but I would like to point out that though "stuff made for kids" does not have to be bad from an adult perspective, kids TV/movies get away with being bad more than TV/movies for adults. Kids will watch nearly anything, adults are much more particular/picky.

That's why it's often surprising when "kids movies/TV" end up being very well made, especially when the basis of the movie/TV show sounds like an awful idea. Kung Fu Pana is just what it says it is, it's about a talking Panda that does Kung Fu. Despicable Me is about a stereotypical mad scientist that adopts 3 kids. Megamind is where the most stereotypically over-the-top villain "defeats" not-Superman and gets everything he wanted. The main character of Shrek is a swamp-dwelling ogre that goes on a quest to rescue a princess, who then falls in love with him.

The basis of these movies sound dumb, and being "kids movies" means that our overall expectations of them are lower than that of typical movies that adults watch. That's why they're commonly mentioned here. It's not ageism, even if there is commonly a correlation here.
 






Ryujin

Hero
Depends on your tastes. I much prefer the Dredd movie with Karl Urban to the Stallone version.
The Stallone Dredd movie was terrible, as I mentioned. Karl Urban took the source material seriously and the movie did one of the main things that defined the original; if Dredd didn't have his helmet on, you only saw him in silhouette. You never see his whole face.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
A far better use of Stallone than that horrible "Judge Dredd" in name only movie.

You want to see the best use of Stallone ever? Find Oscar - a 1991 film in which Sylvester Stallone plays Angelo 'Snaps' Provolone, a Depression-era mobster trying to buy his way into the banking business so he can go straight, to fulfill the dying wish of his father, and what happens in his house the day he meets with his new business partners.

Before you think this is a serious film - it was directly by John Landis. And it follows the basic forms of Renaissance commedia dell'arte improv comedy.
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
I find that quite a few shows that don't make it to a sophomore season (or even have a full run of their first season) tend to be pretty high quality.

From a police procedural point of view, while "The Wire" won universal acclaim, it wouldn't have existed if not for its predecessor, "Homicide: Life On The Streets." This show was from the same creator, also set in Baltimore, and featured an amazing ensemble cast headed by Andre Braugher, anchored by the recently departed Yaphet Kotto, and filled out by the likes of Melissa Leo, Richard Belzer, and Ned Beatty. If you can find it streaming somewhere, the first season features an arc about a murdered girl named Adena Watson with writing, direction, and acting of a calibre rarely seen on TV.

From a serial drama standpoint, "Terriers." This is a serialized comic drama starring the criminally underrated Donal Logue, as a private investigator. It's not unlike "Breaking Bad" as done by the Coen Brothers.

From a scifi standpoint, I'm probably alone in this but "Alien3." I actually liked it. I enjoyed the way that Charles Dance's character mirrors that of Dallas - the supposed protagonist who gets killed at the midpoint. And while it is a very slow burn, especially when compared to a James Cameron shoot 'em up, it provides a way to end both Ripley's and the xenomorph's story the way it really should end.

And, for the greatest movie that should be terrible but, instead, is great, well the answer is simple: Star Wars.

An homage to old Buster Crabbe serials that is passably directed using a corny and clunky script, starring an unknown actor of middling talent, backed up by a great actor who was only in it for the paycheck and an old B-horror movie star hamming up his lines, all in service of a glorified fairy tale about a farm-boy saving a princess from the clutches of an evil wizard, where fully half of the dialogue is overdubbed and you can only tell who is speaking by their gesticulating, and with a half-baked story structure that had to be salvaged in the editing room.

Star Wars should not work.
 

Mallus

Legend
Alien3 is a really good science fiction film and a fitting sequel to the original. I suspect the main thing people hold against it is it's not the film they wanted to see after Cameron's war movie.

It occurs to me the textbook example of 'better than it has any right being' is Casablanca. What should have been a solid wartime melodrama with a good cast, sharp writing, and kinda nonsense plotting turned out to be one of Hollywood's most beloved movies. For several decades running.

(it's still my favorite film)
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Terriers and Homicide were brilliant shows.

Monk & Psych would be two I’d add that were better than their ideas would indicate. I think the acting and scriptwriting really elevated shows that you’d think would fail.

But one that DID fail was the short-lived War Next Door. Premise: live-action “Spy Vs Spy” action-comedy between retired super-agent and his arch-nemesis in suburban USA. Show was funny, well written, well cast. I don’t know that it’s entire firs season aired.
 


I'm going to add another: Monk.

The show, at first, sounded like it could never work for me. There are already a ton of detective/crime-solving shows out there, and having the main character be someone with a severe case of OCD sounds like the set-up for a joke. (An OCD ex-detective, a blonde single mother, and an aloof captain of the police force walk into a crime scene. . . .)

I think the best thing about this show is that they don't play OCD as a joke or a miraculous super-power. OCD is very harmful, often coming after severe trauma to a person. The show shows how OCD both helps Adrian Monk solve crimes, but also prevents him from having his dream job and many other things that "normal" people take for granted.
 

payn

Adventurer
Likely not to be a hit here, with this crowd, but Showtime's Billions. A hedge fund manager playing cat and mouse with the DA of Southern District New York. A master class in exposition.
 

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