An Un-Merry Christmas To You All, And To All A Goodnight
Extras, "The Christmas Special," December 16, 2007 After being inundated with celebrities doing ridiculous things on reality shows in order to grasp onto a few fleeting moments of fame, no other show skewered the desperation of an actor wanting to get notice better than Extras. Andy Millman (played by the genius Ricky Gervais) went from a nobody to a writer/star of a moronic sitcom in the course of the shows two brief seasons, and while gruff and unfriendly, he actually became kind of an asshole, not caring about his sole true friend because she couldn't get him a better table at the Ivy.
But when he grew weary of his catchphrase -- "Are you havin' a laugh?" -- and decided to leave his show for greener pastures, he was forced to take roles as an alien on Doctor Who (which would actually be cool for the rest of us mortals) and was eventually reduced to the lowest form of entertainment offered to him, Celebrity Big Brother. Tossed in a house with unrecognizable F-listers, Millman realized the errors of his ways, and took advantage of the house's ever-present cameras to deliver a speech that takes aim at celebrities who will stop at nothing to get a bit of fame and the tabloid journalists who feed their desire to be filmed at all times.
He goes on to compare Big Brother, and all programs of that ilk, to the Victorian freak show, and admits that he'll never be happy, because he'll never be famous enough. It is gut-wrenchingly honest and a tear-jerking and fitting conclusion to this short-lived comedy. -- Angel Cohn
Eternal Optimism of the Simpsons Fan
The Simpsons, " Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind," December 16, 2007
For the last few years, I've just been going through the motions as a Simpsons fan. There have been good episodes here and there, but it didn't really seem like the same old show my dad and I still randomly quote to each other. ("The Frogurt is also cursed!") I hadn't been watching regularly anymore, but happened to catch "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind." For a little while, it was almost like watching the old days.
In particular, Homer's take-off on YouTube sensation "Noah Takes a Photo of Himself Every Day For 6 Years" is, like The Simpsons of yore, funny and sweet and sometimes sad. In snapshots of Homer's life, we see his battle with acne, his flirtation with a KISS phase, and repeating the 2nd grade. We also see young Homer after his mother leaves, so hungry that he eats his own bib from around his neck. His father -- surrounded by liquor bottles -- is too despondent to care for him. The grown-up part of me thinks Homer's own beer can gag goes on a little too long, but the little kid in me who's been watching since The Tracey Ullman Show doesn't care.