Did you binge all weekend on the new Arrested Development episodes? To each his own. We're going to slow it down a little. Two episodes per week, one at a time. It's what Mitch would want.
And so now it's George Bluth's story, or, rather: "And now the story of a family whose future was abruptly canceled and the one father who had no choice but to keep himself together. It's George Sr.'s Arrested Development."
George faces a particularly tough assignment in keeping himself together because, of course, there are two of him, and the main challenge of the episode is how to capitalize on his twin brother Oscar for use as an alibi/decoy/dupe.
We open with George leading a pseudo-spiritual sweat lodge ceremony for desperate corporate executives, a riff on his time huckstering Kabbalah-ish nonsense from prison via "Caged Wisdom" tapes and DVDs. After hours in the heat, he used to let the lemonade rule him! Now, having achieved enlightenment, he's willing to share the answers with businessmen thirsty for his secrets: "Come on, Daniels, you ran Bear Stearns, for God's sake!"
Angry Birdsthe movie is coming, and it's coming in 3-D. The question is, how relevant will the addictive slingshot-pig-avian formula be in three years (the planned release date is July 2016)? Seven years after the birds were released into the tropical habitat of iOS, they'll probably be more cranky than angry. You'll shoot them at targets and they'll just do a gripe-'n'-flop, breaking their hips when they land. I just want a 3-D feature about the happy Australian breastwhale. And I want it immediately.
"If your limbs begin dissolving in the water that you tread, all surroundings are evolving in the stream that clears your head" —The 13th Floor Elevators ("Slip Inside This House," winter of 1967)
The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was a resort town famed for its natural hot springs and thermal spas. Doctors prescribed trips to the Hierapolis baths for their sick patients, and the geothermal waters were believed to have sacred healing powers. The city's great Roman baths were a series of giant hot tubs in a warm setting, which also made it a popular retirement destination. Earlier this month a team of archaeologists announced that they had found the legendary Greco-Roman "gate to hell" in Turkey known as "Pluto's Gate" at the former site of Hierapolis. It was a shrine to Pluto, the god of the underworld, built on top of a cave belching toxic fumes. Plutonian priests once provided birds for visitors to toss into the cave's opening and watch as they died in flight. The cave itself was only big enough for one person to descend the stairs, leading them into an alcove with suffocating carbon dioxide streaming out from a crevice. Death set in as the lungs filled up.
On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild gathered its members at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium for its annual celebration of their shared craft, a delightful ceremony free of the annoying focus-pulling that plagues awards shows that insist on handing out statuettes to the unwashed masses who scratch out a living on the wrong side of the camera. Unfortunately, not every SAG Awards nominee gets to take home the coveted Actor, the highest honor thespians can receive from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms; for every five stars receiving the validation of a nomination, four will find themselves confronted with the challenge of making gritted teeth seem like a smile, and white-hot jealousy like warm magnanimity as the cameras mercilessly probe their reactions for any sign of disappointment. And so here we are, the morning after the Saggies (they don't call them the Saggies, but they should), to relive last night's victories through the faces of the defeated. When you're this good at your job, you can make misery look a lot like triumph. Well, most of the time.
You're happy with 50 percent. You're on top and you don't have enough. You're happy because you're successful. For now. But what is happiness? It's the moment before you need more happiness. It's the moment laughing in the hallway with your old war buddy after a successful battle, blood still on your mouth and steel-strength no-ner straining against your pants, when you remember how good the copper tastes and that you can still get it up for the negative when you have to. It's the moment right before the moment when they tell you that they sent everyone home, the coroner is on the way, and the body's still hanging in his office, purple and bursting with fresh death, and no one thought to cut him down.
These Power Rankings are entering uncharted territory. Never before has a non–Don Draper character occupied the top slot twice, and never before has Don been knocked from his perch more than once in a single season. Nothing makes sense. Up is down. Left is right, the sun is made of ice, and Girls is universally embraced as the uncontroversial reflection of a very specific kind of coming-of-age experience in New York. Pete Campbell wore a black suit, for the love of Showrunner. You get it by now, we know. We'll stop. But it was either this self-indulgent and, quite frankly, repetitive lead-off as we stalled to scrape off the bits of skull-shrapnel glued to the living room walls with bits of gray matter, or the word "NO" spelled with 500 O's. Perhaps we chose poorly. Cut us some slack; things are very touch-and-go right now.
[Production note: Does it completely disorient you to watch a Thanksgiving episode in early May? And, to make it even more temporally upsetting, to watch a Thanksgiving episode on Mother's Day? Is it just us? Are we weak of constitution and fragile of mind? All we know is that we want some canned cranberry sauce right now, as these Rankings spill forth like so much rotten fruit from our overflowing mind-cornucopia. Shut up, it's late, we should be asleep. Next to a can of cranberry sauce. We're not letting that go until we get some.
Here's the thing about the weeks following those history-making, paradigm-shifting Rankings in which Don slips on the banana peel of Fate and momentarily stumbles into the second position: Order is always, always swiftly restored to the Draperverse; we're not sure what would happen if Our Hero weren't allowed to immediately scramble back to the top of the Power Pyramid, but we imagine that a theoretical second consecutive Monday morning of two-slottedness would involve so much grief-vomiting into a fedora that we'd require an intravenous drip of one part rye to three parts Four Loko just to get straight long enough to mash out a suicide note. (We take this show very seriously.) Thank Anna Draper in Heaven that the Creator (Matthew Weiner) allowed Don to scramble back to his feet after last week's existential knockout, even if he hasn't completely regained his footing (and probably never will).
[Production note: Do not recalibrate your Tele-Vision sets: Those vibrant blues and oranges on your screen were intentional. And they're the same hues we're splashing all over our homes in 2012! We are all Howard Johnson's bitches. He's won, he's finally won.
[Production notes: How great was this episode? Feels like an instant all-timer, right up there with the suitcase, the tractor, and the Season 5 DVD outtakes of the makeup department entombing January Jones in the Fat Betty suit. Amazing. We should probably just quit right here. But we're not going to, because letting you down is an important part of our journey together. So as they say: Here goes nothing.
[Production notes: Well! That was certainly something! These Power Rankings were written from a safe place underneath our grandmother's couch, while clutching a kitchen knife and looped on Seconal. We are still hyperventilating at press time.]
[Production notes: This is the second week of the Power Rankings on Grantland. Let's see if we can all get out of here before 3,000 words, OK? As always, we make no guarantees as to the accuracy of transcribed dialogue, period detail, or phonetic transcriptions of ostensibly Cockney accents. Rankings are arbitrary — maddeningly so — and should not be the basis for cash wagers unless you are a crazy person.