West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/8/22

Yeah, I took a week off, but it’s not like I missed anything important, right?

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately, of the streaming variety. First up, we’ve got Fox’s Welcome to Flatch. It’s technically a show on the proper Fox network, but in order to drum up viewership, they released the first 7 episodes to Hulu and Fox Now before the pilot even officially aired. Terrible name aside, I’ve grown to love the show and its wacky characters.

Based on the BBC series This Country, this American mockumentary follows cousins Kelly and “Shrub” Mallet as they get tangled up in crazy situations in their small town of Flatch, Ohio. By now the whole mockumentary style sitcom has been done to death, but this show is basically what you’d get if you mixed The Office with Northern Exposure. I like how diverse the town is, too, when it would have been easy for them to have just cast all White folks for the small town setting. It’s got a strong cast, including Seann William Scott as the town minister (Stiffler as a man of God!), and Aya Cash as the editor of the local paper. Most of y’all know Cash from her role as Stormfront on The Boys, but I’ve loved her ever since she was one of the leads on FX’s You’re The Worst. Speaking of that, Cash’s Flatch love interest is played by her Worst costar, Desmin Borges, so it’s a nice little reunion that posits “What if Gretchen had chosen Edgar instead of Jimmy?”

Anyway, I can’t really say much more without giving away the farm, but it’s a cute show with a lot of heart. It’s a Paul Feig show, whose name is something of a four-letter word after Ghostbusters: Answer The Call, but I hope you won’t hold that against him. I doubt it gets a second season, but hopefully it will live on as a nice little one & done hidden gem.

Next up, we’ve got Moon Knight, which is the latest MCU entry on Disney+. We all watched it, so what’s there to say, really? I enjoyed the pilot, but it didn’t really feel like the MCU, if that makes sense. I guess I’ve gotten used to all the “It’s All Connected” Easter eggs they tend to drop into their projects, while this one pretty much stood on its own two feet. I don’t know a ton about the character, so this is all new territory for me. The only Moon Knight comic I’ve read was the Bendis/Maleev series, where MK thought that he was interacting with Wolverine, Cap, and Spider-Man, when it was really all in his head. As much as I enjoyed that story, it was clear that it wasn’t “proper” Moon Knight, so I’m looking forward to learning more about the character. I read somewhere that Isaac doesn’t have a long-term deal with Marvel, and I think that’s perfectly fine. I’m kind of over the idea that everyone introduced has to be rolled into whatever big event they’re planning next. Sometimes it’s good to just establish that characters like Moon Knight are out there, and that they don’t necessarily have to be members of the next iteration of Avengers or Defenders or whatever.

Finally, I was killing time on Peacock over WrestleMania weekend, and discovered a whole bunch of new shows that NOBODY is talking about – stuff like Chris Redd (SNL) in Bust Down, about a bunch of friends who work at a casino. The show that caught my eye, however, was Killing It, starring Craig Robinson. Now, it’s no secret that NBC Universal has long wanted to be in the “Craig Robinson business”, but they just can’t ever seem to find the right project for him. I’m not sure that this one is it, either, but I sure enjoyed watching the pilot.

In Killing It, Robinson plays a bank security guard who bounces from one get-rich-quick scheme to the next, in the hopes of finding the one idea that will finally turn his life around. When the show starts, he’s trying to secure a $20,000 loan so that he can buy a plot of land to grow some berries that are believed to have positive health effects for men. He’s turned down by bank after bank because they see Black borrowers as too high-risk. One day, on the way to meet another loan officer, his quirky Uber driver (played by Love‘s Claudia O’Doherty) hops out of the car to straight up murder a python with a hammer. She quickly explains that there was once a craze where people were adopting pythons as pets, but once they got too large, the folks would drive out and release them into the wild. Now, due to the fact that the pythons were killing all the wildlife, the government was paying people to kill the snakes, as a sort of population control. While processing everything he’s just heard, Robinson is confronted by a father-son duo who believe that he’s trying to edge into their turf. You see, they’re python hunters and hunting season is just about to begin. They explain that this year there’s a competition to see who can kill the most snakes, and the reward? $20,000. Cue the gleam in Robinson’s eye.

The series actually debuts next week on Peacock (April 14th), but you can watch the pilot now. And remember, Peacock Premium is free to all Xfinity customers, which is something a lot of folks don’t seem to know!

Trailer Park

The Bob’s Burgers Movie – (May 27th, theaters)

I have a weird relationship with Bob’s Burgers, in that it’s a show I really enjoy when I watch it, yet I’d be hard-pressed to actually call it a “favorite”. It’s kind of like the plain girl that I like, but I’m ashamed to tell my friends. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a fine show. It’s just never been “destination television” for me. That said, though, I’m still a booster of all shows from the Animation Domination days of Fox, and this is right there with them. The thing about Bob’s Burgers, though, is that it’s fairly grounded, even if it does skirt the fantastical, so it’s hard to think of a plot epic enough to warrant a theatrical movie. I’m of the mindset that a show that’s still airing doesn’t need a movie unless it’s going to BRING IT, and that just doesn’t seem to happen. I’ve still never made it through the entire The Simpsons Movie, and I see the same thing here. This just seems like an extra long episode that, now, I’m expected to pay to see. I guess the consolation is that a long episode of Bob’s is still going to be entertaining, even if it’s not a movie theater caliber huge event.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – (Paramount+, May 5th)

A lot of the time these days, I feel like a lapsed Catholic when it comes to Star Trek. Most of you didn’t know me as a kid, but I lived and breathed this franchise. My daily schedule was based around syndicated airings of The Next Generation. I actually don’t really like The Original Series, but I’m pretty much game for anything else. Which is why it’s odd that, in a time when there’s a literal FEAST for Trek fans, I’m nowhere to be found. Sure, I watch Picard, but the other stuff? Discovery, Lower Decks, Prodigy? Haven’t seen any of it. Part of it is there are only so many hours in the day. Another part, though, is that it feels like they’re diluting the brand. There’s something to be said for “making a Trek for everyone”, without actually catering to everyone. What I mean is Trek has always been welcoming and inclusive, and there never was a need for “Trek for tweens” and “Trek for Rick & Morty fans”. No, there was just TREK, and that was enough. Now it feels almost like it’s trying to please too many masters, and Paramount wants the golden goose to keep laying eggs. Finally, I hate the franchise’s commitment to prequels, while “dancing between the raindrops of continuity”. My ideal Trek show would have followed DS9 and Voyager, showing the aftermath of the Dominion War. Too much time passed, however, and now we’ve got Picard as our “Real-time” Trek, and it’s not exactly what Dr. Crusher ordered. This, though? This looks promising. I like what I see here, and it might be the show to bring me back to the franchise. I guess time will tell.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 – (Paramount+)

If you got this far, then you read my Trek screed above. Plug all that here, as well. I liked season 1 well enough, even though I felt like they did a lot of stuff that wasn’t Star Trek. Or at least, not what we’d been led to believe about Earth of the time period. Still, I love a good “getting the band back together” plot, so this should be good. I also commend them for making this a 3-season series as, first off it harkens back to the 3-season run of The Original Series, but also they don’t give themselves enough rope to hang themselves with by dragging it on for 5-7 years. I’m really looking forward to this!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Warner Bros is doing damage control for The Flash star Ezra Miller, as they seem to have lost their mind in Hawaii. No, seriously, just Google it!
  • Comic-inspired Locke & Key will be ending at Netflix after its third and final season
  • Maya Erskine is replacing Phoebe Waller-Bridge to costar with Donald Glover in Amazon’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith reboot.
  • Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the first Black female Supreme Court Justice of the United States
  • AT&T doesn’t own Warner Bros anymore (Yay!), but now it’s merged with Discovery (Huh?)

Ooh, where to start with this? I’ve mentioned before (seriously, use that search bar up top!) that The Undertaker is my favorite wrestler of all time . This isn’t necessarily because of in-ring skill, but rather because of the character crafted inside the ring. Even after the professional wrestling era of flashy costumes and ring names had passed, Mark Calaway was still suiting up as The Deadman to give folks a show. While he’s had a few false starts with retirement, last weekend his career was capped off with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Even though it was Undertaker being inducted, it was Mark Calaway who gave the speech. He broke character and imparted the life lessons he employed to endure in the industry for the past 30 years. While I haven’t always agreed with the beliefs and ideals of Mark Calaway, I have to admit that he preached last Friday night, and the “Mental Moves” he suggested resonated with me. They include:

  1. Perception is reality
  2. Respect and loyalty go a long way
  3. Never be content

It’s been a week and I’m still processing all he said that night. As he’s my favorite wrestler, I had always told myself that I’d be at that induction ceremony. Since he had done a few bait and switch retirements in the past, it was always hard to nail down when one was actually going to stick. Plus, there was a pandemic. So, I didn’t get to live out that dream. Still, though, I’ve got all the memories, and something tells me he just might not be done for good. After all, several wrestlers have parlayed a HOF induction into a second wind for their in-ring career. I don’t know how I’d feel about that here, but if he is done for good, then it was a good run and he left us with some wisdom. That’s why The Undertaker had the West Week Ever. Thank You, Taker.


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