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.
Great comedy is like an ice cream sundae: There's delicious, fluffy stuff at the top that anyone would like, then there's some more substantial material, and it just gets richer and richer the further you dig down. You are rewarded for patience and persistence with a more complicated and rewarding experience than someone who just licks the whipped cream off the top. And if you gobble too much down in one sitting, you'll probably puke.
Of course, no, not really, though I avoided the Internet all day Sunday just in case the legions of Arrested Development fans who binge-watched Season 4 got all upchucky about the experience. To be sure, there was some sour-breathed curmudgeonliness on display, but for the most part I was, if anything, surprised by the lack of intense reaction, at least on my little corner of the World Wide Web. And then I watched Episode 1 of the long-awaited, much-referenced, cleverly marketed, insanely anticipated series comeback and I understood the "Hmm, OK " that has greeted it.
So if great comedy is an ice cream sundae, "Flight of the Phoenix" is a frozen banana: It is one of the component ingredients of an ice cream sundae, but it's not quite all the way there.
The backstory on This Is the End is that it grew out of a comedy short Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel knocked out right after Knocked Up, called Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse. The idea: It's the end of the world. Rogen and Baruchel, holed up in a barricaded apartment, are the only survivors. And they can't stand each other. Perfect little high-concept horror-comedy, yeah? In fact, almost too perfect: The short got optioned without ever getting any kind of run; the only visible part left is this here trailer. ("Look at this place! This fucking sucks!" "It's not that much worse than our old apartment.")
Free-associating on the official poster for Mad Men's sixth season: Draper crosses paths with Draper (maybe the embodiment his Dick Whitman persona?) as they head in different directions (past! Present! Future! A spring suit and a winter suit!); we have entered the fashion era of bad sheer sleeves; the moral or actual police are on to Don for either going the wrong way down Madison Avenue or for being a cad or maybe for some new secret crime yet to be unearthed; granted, this is a sketchy illustration, but I don't see a wedding ring on Don's left hand. Time to get out the magnifying glass. It's going to be a long three and a half weeks.
The first humbling is the airport. Salt Lake City International, around 11 a.m. Baggage claim has been repurposed into a holding pen — L.A. blondes in fur-cuffed ski jackets, men wearing big puffy coats with strange, sun-like logos on the sleeves. Cowboy hats, bright pink vests, Burberry bags. All the women’s boots are huge and excessive and trimmed with what seem like entire menageries of tiny, hirsute animals. We're all going to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, up in the mountains around Park City, Utah, and none of us looks like we belong here. On Tuesday, the Park City Medical Center announced that in response to a nationwide flu epidemic, it would be handing out more than 5,000 free bottles of hand sanitizer. “PCMC brass say the quaint mountain burg will become a giant Petri dish — with festival-goers shaking hands, riding public transportation and unknowingly spreading germs,” The Hollywood Reporter explained Tuesday. Here at the Salt Lake City International Airport, no one is shaking hands.
To get from here to there, you take a shuttle. You give a man at a desk money, he takes your name, then tells you to get into the holding pen and wait until you hear your name. This is really how it works. You stand there and they yell out names. (What’s up, Gawker film columnist Tim Grierson? We haven’t met, but I know you’re here.) This goes on for an hour: film acquisitions specialists, movie bloggers in branded swag knit caps, innocent bystander skiers alike, all ceremonially named for the entertainment of the waiting mob, then escorted outside onto a waiting flu-van with 11 other strangers. Up the mountain you go. This is the humbling. This is where it begins.