3rd Rock’s Season 6 A Funny Finale For Former Standout NBC Sitcom

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Today’s sitcoms are anything family friendly.  They have become increasingly over laden with sexual innuendo, foul language, and completely dumbed down humor.  These are the main complaints that are received by many audiences about many of the sitcoms currently airing on television’s “Big 4”, and even on some cable based comedies.  Thank goodness for companies Mill Creek Entertainment for offering audiences an alternative to the mostly blue humor that pollutes today’s comedies.  One of the most recent of those alternatives from Mill Creek Entertainment is the release of NBC’s hit sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun Season Six.

The sixth and final season of the once powerhouse NBC comedy is just as funny as the show’s previous five seasons thanks once again to the show’s writers.  The Solomon family continues trying to learn the ways of humans in its ongoing mission, all while creating its own share of laughs along the way.  Dick learns in the show’s final season that he’s *gasp* Canadian.  The Solomon family also temporarily takes on new lives in an alternate universe.  And Tommy experiences the human experience that is college.  These are just a few of the funny moments that fill out the final season of 3rd Rock from the Sun.  That’s not all that makes this season such a joy.  A who’s who of guest stars appears throughout Season six, too, adding to the laughs.  A whole slew of fellow NBC stars come in this season including former Saturday Night Live cast members Darrell Hammond, Tracy Morgan, and Ana Gasteyer.  Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU) and Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall) and singer Elvis Costello also show up this season.  Even as small as their parts are, the guest stars add their own comic element to the show, making it even more entertaining.

The writing in 3rd Rock’s final season is just as entertaining as it was in the series’ premiere season.  Some might have considered it a bit of a cheap thing to do a Saturday Night Live crossover and a slight pump for Law & Order: SVU.  But it all works quite well in the two-part episode, “Dick’ll Take Manhattan.”  The writers, probably knowing it was the show’s last season, take a playful stab at then fellow NBC hit, Saturday Night Live and even the NBC brass as Harry becomes the head of the network.  The writers didn’t just take a stab at NBC.  They even poked fun at HBO’s then hit show, Sex and the City, with Sally (Kristen Johnston) taking the place of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie.  It gets even funnier, with each member of the cast having their own hilarious moments.  This standout episode was just one that served as a tribute to the wit of the show’s writers.  Fans will also love the semi-political comedy of “Red, White & Dick.”  This episode sees Dick discovering that he is Canadian in his quest to become more American.  What it is about this kind of joke that makes it so funny is anyone’s guess.  Canada seems to be the butt of so many jokes in American entertainment.  But it is hilarious nonetheless, and it serves as a solid cornerstone for Dick’s attempts to become more American and in the same vein, more human.  It will have any viewer laughing till they cry.

The writing behind each episode of 3rd Rock’s final season offers nonstop laughs in every episode.  It’s a prime example of what used to make NBC a powerhouse network during the 1990s.  The cameo guest spots don’t hurt, either.  Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) appears as Mary’s (Jane Curtin) sister Renita Albright this season.  She sets out to steal Dick from Mary purely out of sibling rivalry.  That adults could be such strong rivals goes back to the show’s solid writing.  Audiences will love watching Mary and Renita going back and forth, sniping at one another like two little children.  Mullally is just one of the many guest stars that made an appearance this season.  Richard Belzer, Tracy Morgan, and Ana Gasteyer—all NBC stars—made appearances, as did singer Elvis Costello.  Costello made an appearance in the series finale.  The others all appeared in the two-parter, “Dick’ll Take Manhattan.”  Watching a then young Joseph Gordon-Levitt go toe to toe with the then rising SNL stars is a laugh riot.  Who ever would have thought that Tommy would date Ana Gasteyer.  And his moments with Tracy Morgan are just as funny.

The writing and the guest spots together make this final season a fitting way to close out what is by this critic’s view, one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.  The DVD release of this season has one more aspect that while not being perfect, is still good in its own right.  Mill Creek has packaged all three discs of this set in their own envelope.  Mill Creek Entertainment is the only company that packages DVDs in this fashion.  It isn’t a perfect packaging method, considering that the envelopes are not padded.  That would make them perfect.  But having them in envelopes allows audiences to take as many discs as they want when travelling instead of having to take an entire DVD case.  This is actually quite smart in its own right.  If the higher ups at Mill Creek would maintain its form of packaging and simply make the envelopes padded, it would make this packaging fashion quite impressive and the overall presentation of its multi-disc sets that much more impressive.  3rd Rock from the Sun Season Six is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered online via the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/3rd-rock-from-the-sun-season-6.html. After ordering the three-disc set, audiences can find out about more releases from Mill Creek Entertainment on its official website, http://www.millcreekentertainment.com or its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.

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IFC Closes 2012 On A High Note With Why Stop Now

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group/BCDF Pictures/120 db films

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group/BCDF Pictures/120 db films

IFC Films’ latest release, Why Stop Now is everything that makes indie flicks great.  This debut film from co-directors Philip Dorling and Ryan Nyswaner is quirky and zany.  At the same time, it has just enough heart to make it endearing and memorable among fans of the indie movie world.  The heart of the story comes in form of Eli Bloom’s (Jesse Eisenberg—The Social Network) attempt to break away from his own family’s dysfunctional world as he has been given the chance to audition for a major music conservatory in Boston, which would allow him to escape from said dysfunction.  At the same time that he’s trying to escape from that world, it is obvious that he has his own flaws, too.  But it’s that imperfection that makes Eli such a sympathetic character.  Ironically enough, one also can’t help but root for Eli’s mom, Penny (Melissa Leo—The Fighter).  Yes, Penny’s a drug addict, but she shows that she is trying to do the best that she can as a mother to Eli and his sister.  It’s Penny’s addiction that leads to everything that happens in this quirky yet heartfelt story.  From meeting his mom’s drug dealer (and his drug dealer) to trying to make his audition all while having to pick up his sister and so much more, the whole story keeps “rolling” and will keep audiences just as entertained both in the story’s funny and more moving moments.

The concept of a young person trying to break away and start his or her own life is nothing new to the movie industry.  But there is no denying that the manner in which this time honored story has been presented here is in itself quite original.  To that extent, those critics who….well…criticized it for this originality are likely the same ones who refused to see the story’s balance of comedy and drama.  Much of that balance comes from the rather dysfunctional relationship between Eli and Penny.  And it’s also that balance that makes it the underrated indie flick that it is.  The introduction later of Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan—30 Rock, SNL) adds even more comedy and drama to the already entertaining story.  When he’s funny, he’s funny.  But he also shows that he can be taken seriously as a dramatic actor thanks to this movie too when he talks to Eli about everything he’s given up.  He tries to point out to Eli that he still has his life ahead of him and to not give up.  It’s only a momentary dramatic moment.  But even in that moment, Morgan shines as a dramatic actor.  It shows that even he can bring his own amount of heart to a story.  It would be interesting considering this, to see how he would do if he were to take a risk and branch out into more serious roles.

As funny and heartwarming as Morgan is throughout his time on camera, it’s the relationship between Eli and Penny that really gives Why Stop Now the heart and laughs that viewers will appreciate and enjoy most of all.  It’s obvious that Eli cares about Penny being his mother.  But he also sees that she seriously needs help.  Ironically enough, he needs his own help.  And even Penny points that out late in the movie in a conflict between the two.  Penny yells at Eli, pointing out his issues with alcohol.  But the thing of it is that it seems hinted that Eli’s problem with alcohol is a result of having to deal with his mother and sister.  Despite that, audiences are left with a warm feeling as Eli and his mother finally come to terms with everything and with each other by the story’s finale.  They are left knowing that the pair will be just fine, as will his sister.

Perhaps the main reason that the relationship between Eli and his mother works is the chemistry between Eisenberg and Leo.  Audiences will note in the movie’s “behind-the-scenes featurette how much the cast enjoyed working together.  While the movie doesn’t necessarily need bonus features to make it any better, viewers will enjoy hearing the cast’s take on their parts and on the story as a whole.  There is no commentary directly connected to the main feature.  But again, as enjoyable and original as the story is, it doesn’t really need that either, to make the overall viewing experience any better.  The story itself is really all audiences need in this movie.  It is simply put, a story that anyone looking for an original script will enjoy.  It is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray.

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