The year 2017 according to Parks and Recreation’s seventh and final season

Parks and Recreation Season 7

After seven seasons and 125 episodes, our friends from Pawnee said their final goodbye on Feb. 24. Undoubtedly, they’ve left a void in television (and my heart) that I don’t envision being filled, ever (I just don’t see any new sitcom or comedy like Parks and Rec getting the green light at any of the big networks, let alone making it to seven seasons).

For its seventh and final season, the NBC show jumped to 2017 (spoilers ahead): Leslie and Ben had their triplets and have a damn good nanny, it would appear; Leslie works for the National Parks Department and Ben is city manager in Pawnee; Ron no longer works in government after founding the Very Good Construction Company; Donna runs Regal Meagle Realty and is getting married; Tom Haverford is a self-described mogul and successful restauranteur; April is looking for her calling while hubby Andy has found his entertaining children on the popular Johnny Karate public-television show; Terry (formerly known as Jerry and Larry, but actually named Garry) is a licensed notary public but still does menial work for Leslie.

But the world outside Pawnee has also changed and gone on, and Parks makes some funny and bold predictions for 2017 in sports, pop culture and technology:

Is Jermaine Jackson going to die? There’s a Jermaine Jackson Memorial Ballroom at the Pawnee Super Suites (the Jacksons are Indiana natives).

Jermaine Jackson Memorial Ballroom

Phones will be clear and expandable into tablets, which will be expandable into skateboards.

The Bourne franchise will be rebooted with Kevin James as the titular hero (Andy heard it’s supposed to be pretty funny, while Leslie thought the role was miscast).

Shia LaBeouf will design wedding dresses (Donna’s splurging to walk down the aisle in one). LaBeouf will also be designing jewelry!

The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series and Chicagoans will be in a great mood.

There’s going to be a Hitch 2, starring Jaden Smith and subtitled Son of a Hitch.

Celebrity feud: Morgan Freeman and Shailene Woodley, and it’s baaaaad apparently.

The Game of Thrones season finale will see Khaleesi marry Jack Sparrow (it makes sense if you read the books, Ben says).

Joe Biden will publish a book of poetry, Biden the Rails: 1,001 Poems Inspired by My Travels Through Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Biden the Rails

Nicki Minaj throws shade at Jesse Eisenberg at the BAFTAs. (Nicki Minaj gets invited to the BAFTAs, so I guess she also transitions into serious acting – I don’t doubt her ability!).

Business will be booming again for Chick Fil-A after Elton John buys it.

There will be a Pulitzer Prize for “Best Top 10 Listicle” (Anabel Porter of Bloosh won it twice so this is probably happening this year!).

Trendy things, according to Bloosh‘s Anabel Porter: oyster forks, asymmetrical overalls, angora toothbrushes, locally sourced Italian flip-flops, and beef milk (which Ron astutely points out is “fucking milk,” but Donna clarifies that a gallon of beef milk is $60 and there’s a waiting list for the stuff!).

LeBron James goes back to Miami!

Elbow art salons will be very popular. Bedazzling elbows, basically.

Bruce Willis and Christina Aguilera Live together in Beverly Hills.

Kennedy, Ginsburg, Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor and Thomas will still be on the Supreme Court in 2017.

SCOTUS

Things that will still be things in 2017: Subway sandwich restaurants, Etsy, Coachella.

The Twin Peaks reboot is gonna be boring, according to April Ludgate.

U.S. politicians still around in 2017: Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, John McCain, Madeline Albright. Cory Booker and Gary Hatch are also in a Polynesian folk band.

Unfortunately, MRAs will also still be around, but their protest signs will be amazing.

MRA Parks and Rec

 

The one-hour series finale also went beyond 2017. Here’s where Parks and Recreation sees

In 2023, they’re going to build a Space Haystack in Seattle next to the Space Needle; Seattle real-estate market is booming; Middle Korea will be a tourist hot spot; they’ve stopped teaching math in schools; door-knocker earrings will be a thing.

Travel by submarine!

The United States will run out of beef.

Have I missed anything? Let me know on Twitter, @Chris_Hanna.

Best of 2014: Television

There literally aren’t enough hours in the day for any human to work, sleep, eat, bathe and watch all of the great television we are #blessed to have available pretty much 24/7, but damn it, I have to try. When I made this list last year, I opted for the Nussbaumiam honour roll, listing 17 series that captivated me in 2013. This year, I’m going Top 10. Here it is:

10. Veep (HBO)

Armando Ianucci and his team’s sharp scripts are the perfect fit for an ensemble cast – led by the incomparable Julia Louis-Dreyfus – whose takedowns are legendary.

My favourite 2014 episode of Veep: “Clovis”

9. BOB’S BURGERS (FOX)

Bob’s Burgers final two episodes of 2014 alone – the Christmas instalment “Father of the Bob” introduced us to the elder Belcher patriarch, and “Tina Tailor Soldier Spy” was the perfect vehicle for the eldest Belcher daughter – made it the best animated series on television for me. The show has the ability to put its characters through familiar stories while still making them seem fresh and funny.

My favourite 2014 episode of Bob’s Burgers: “Father of the Bob”

8. Vicious (PBS)

On paper, Vicious could sound like a quaint, sweet little series: it’s about an aging gay couple who live in a fabulous apartment and have friends over. In fact, Freddie and Stuart hurl insults at each other any chance they get. Created and written by Gary Janetti, who has a most funny, ferocious Twitter feed (he has also worked on Will and Grace and Family Guy). Vicious stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi.

My favourite 2014 episode of Vicious: “Episode 1.2” in which Freddie suspects Stuart of cheating, but he’s in fact got himself a job in a clothing store. The Christmas Special was top-notch, too.

7. Key & Peele (Comedy Central)

Key & Peele ditched its Chapelle-like live-to-tape format for a darker fourth season that saw Key and Peele pushing the envelope and creating new characters, on top of tackling racial and social issues the way they have always done – in a funny, snarky, important and often scathing way.

My favourite 2014 sketch from Key & Peele: “Georgina and Esther and Satan” and “Aerobics Meltdown”

6. The Leftovers (HBO)

Some found it unsatisfying, I found HBO’s The Leftovers completely engrossing. Two per cent of the world’s population disappears one day, and as long as you’re not expecting answers, or to find them in some other dimension, The Leftovers will not disappoint. Hooray for the great cast, especially Carrie Coon, who was also in David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Great year for her.

My favourite 2014 episode of The Leftovers: “Two Boats and a Helicopter,” a great showcase for Rev. Jamison (Christopher Eccleston)

5. THE COMEBACK (HBO)

I knew I had to watch The Comeback before compiling this list. I’d been slowly making my way through Season One of the resuscitated HBO series starring Lisa Kudrow and was loving every cringe-worthy second. Almost 10 years later, Kudrow is back as Valerie Cherish, a faded sitcom and reality star. The Comeback is as biting and sharp as ever. See it! I watched all of Season Two in two sittings. And that finale … 

My favourite 2014 episode of The Comeback: “Valerie Gets What She Really Wants”

4. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

With just the second half of the show’s sixth season airing in 2014, Parks and Recreation is gearing up for its February finale. I’ll need more time to prepare, but I trust the best comedic ensemble on TV to stick the landing.

My favourite 2014 episode of Parks and Recreation: “Farmers Market” and “Ann and Chris,” ’cause awww …

3. Hannibal (NBC)

If Hannibal was on any of the cable networks, it might be even grittier and creepier than it already is on NBC. Whether it’d be more popular is up for debate (I think it wouldn’t be), but I do believe it would be more acclaimed and possibly even get some awards love. Mads Mikkelsen is pitch-perfect as the titular cannibalistic therapist, as are Hugh Dancy and Caroline Dhavernas. Rivals The Silence of the Lambs for most chillingly terrifying Hannibal adaptation.

My favourite 2014 episode of Hannibal: “Mizumono”

2. Jane the Virgin (CW)

The best new show of the season is also the happiest, sweetest, most fun I’ve had the pleasure of following in years. A remake of a telenovela (hold on) about a devout Latina (hang on!) who gets accidentally artificially inseminated (please, wait!) and decides to go through with the pregnancy is the most charming show on television. I grin every Monday, 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., because of CW’s perfect Jane the Virgin.

My favourite 2014 episode of Jane the Virgin: All of them, but let’s go with “Chapter One” – love at first watch.

1. The Good Wife (CBS)

What can I say about The Good Wife I haven’t already embarrassingly and gushingly tweeted? I was in the middle of catching up on the series on Netflix when that Season 5 episode happened in the spring. I was worried that the show had gotten desperate and killed off a major character in an attempt to shake things up creatively (I was, at the time, watching the tabloidy Season 4 of the series, and was worried The Good Wife was headed in the wrong direction). How wrong I was. Not only was the character’s death very important and well handled, it became the catalyst for important emotional development in Alicia Florrick, the great-as-ever Julianna Margulies.

My favourite 2014 episode of The Good Wife: “Dramatics, Your Honor”

Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order): Black-ish, for Tracee Ellis Ross; Fargo, because the fact that it was ever considered in the same league as that HBO series (you know the one) still boggles my mind; How to Get Away with Murder, for craziness and Viola Davis killing it week in and week out; Inside Amy Schumerfor this, but mostly this poignant, scathing indictment of the militaryMad Men, because it’s still gorgeous when it’s not going anywhere, and can Elisabeth Moss please win an Emmy already?; The Mindy Project, because Mindys Kaling and Lahiri are aces; Scandal, because it’s still appointment viewing even though it’s lost its way this season; You’re the Worst, because terrible people need love, too.

Blind spotsThe Knick, which is polarizing, but about which I have been told it’s sickeningly wicked; the second season of The Americans, which has been on my PVR since FX aired a marathon of it in May; the new season of Homeland, on which I’d given up because of its infuriating previous season but which Twitter tells me has got its groove back and then some; The Walking Dead, for the same reason as HomelandTransparent, because Canada.

Emmys 2014: Best and worst moments

Emmys 2014

There is no shortage of snubs with which to fault the Emmys and Television Academy every year, but at the end of the night, all that matters is whether the telecast was entertaining. This 66th edition, hosted by Seth Meyers, had its moments: some great, some not-so, some cringe-worthy.

It was a history-making night, though … I wrote my 6,000th Tweet some time around 9 p.m. tonight.

For a complete list of winners, visit IMDb.

You can also look at my ballot here, which is not at all an attempt at predicting the winners, just me picking my favs from the nominees. (You can also read about the Emmy snubs, back when the nominations were first announced, which seems like years ago, but was just in July)

BEST

– Billy Eichner; Lord. To get acquainted with Billy Eichner’s antics, please spend an hour or two on his YouTube page. Eichner and Meyers took to the streets of New York to play “For a Dollar.” See the clip here.

– Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winning and presenting; The funniest woman alive. Full stop.

– Ricky Gervais presenting; He came out to present writing for a variety special and decided he would also give the speech he wrote for his supposed win for best actor in a comedy series, which he lost to Jim Parsons.

– In Memoriam; Sara Bareilles’ voice is great and after her performance, Billy Crystal memorialized his friend Robin Williams. It was sweet and understated and funny. This was followed by a montage of Williams being funny everywhere, every way. It stung. Hard.

– Moira Walley-Beckett winning the writing award, drama, for the outstanding Breaking Bad episode, “Ozymandias.”

– Bryan Cranston winning the best actor, drama, Emmy. Walter White is an iconic character because of Cranston and the show would not have been nearly as addictive without his magnetic work. And he beat the over-lauded Matthew McConaughey.

– Breaking Bad, for being one of the best drama series ever, having one of the best final seasons ever, for being the best drama of the year.

GOOD

– Seth Meyers’s opening monologue; I found him more comfortable and funny than he usually is during his monologue on Late Night. He started off slow, but finished very strongly, celebrating television as the booty call who is always up, unlike the movies, who makes you put on pants and buy $40 worth of soda.

– Sherlock winning everything: I loved Sherlock, a fun and funny puzzle of a series with outstanding performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, winners tonight. But I am surprised at how well it did. On top of two acting Emmys for Cumberbatch and Freeman, Steven Moffat won for writing. All categories in which Sherlock was up against The Normal Heart and/or FargoThe Normal Heart and Fargo won best television movie and best miniseries, though.

– Weird Al Yankovic; Adding words to instrumental theme songs, the man with the most emotive face in show business jolted the Emmys back to life, with a little help from Andy Samberg.

– “The only person from ER to ever amount to anything, Julianna Margulies.” – Seth Meyers introducing The Good Wife star.

– Yay to Sarah Silverman winning the writing for a variety special Emmy for her outstanding special, We Are Miracles.

– Julianna Margulies, for the very well-deserved Good Wife win.

BAD

– Jim Parsons winning best actor in a comedy, again; His speech was sweet and Parsons is likeable, but I find Big Bang Theory grating at best.

– The Q&A; I liked the bathroom key bit with Josh Charles and Andre Braugher, but the rest fell flat.

– Stephen Colbert; I know, I know. It hurts to even think about Colbert even being in a “bad’ list, but his bit tonight about his imaginary friend Roscoe was odd at best.

WORST

– Ty Burrell winning best supporting actor in a comedy; Over Andre Braugher, over Fred Armisen, and Burrell’s Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Burrell’s work isn’t bad, just not as good as the other nominees.

– That Julia Roberts montage; Before a commercial break, the Emmys decided to highlight the Oscar winner’s work in The Normal Heart, a juicy scene in which she throws a lot of folders around and screams. She didn’t win, but the Emmy’s stalker-obsession with movie stars during a night when it claims to celebrate television comes off as pathetic.

– I love Key and Peele and Key & Peele, but why, why, why were they only enlisted to present the accountants tonight? Their Comedy Central series was a nominee, writing for a variety show.

– Ughhhh, using the great and funny Sofia Vergara as a prop for the Television Academy’s president’s speech.

Emmys 2014: If I could vote

Emmys on NBC Aug. 25 8 p.m.

The Emmys are on a Monday? In August? Yeah.

It happens when the network airing the awards show – NBC this year – doesn’t want to devote a Sunday in September to an awards show where it might leave empty-handed (can The Voice repeat a win in the reality-competition program category?) when it could air a ratings juggernaut like Sunday Night Football. The host networks also pimp out their own people during the broadcast so this year, Late Night‘s affable Seth Meyers will be emceeing TV’s biggest night.

It’s easy to fault the Emmys when they overlook so many great performances every year; 2014 was no different. But there really is so much great TV being produced that inevitably someone amazing gets left out. But the Emmys’ allergy to network television (no Good WifeScandalParenthood and Hannibal drama nominations?) and change (Downton Abbey, again? Melissa McCarthy over Mindy Kaling?) were especially infuriating this year.

Rather than try to predict how the Television Academy will vote, I decided I would just fill out a ballot picking my favourites from each category. Here’s whose box I’d mark an X in, if I could vote. 

Emmy ballot 2014 Chris Hanna

You can download your Emmy own ballot via Yahoo/Scribd. The Emmys air on NBC/CTV on Monday, Aug. 25, starting at 8 p.m. They’re hosted by Seth Meyers.

Emmy nominations: Nine biggest surprises

Emmys

One of the perks of living on the east coast is not having to wake up at ungodly hours for awards announcements.

This morning, at 8:30/5:30 PT, the nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced by Carson Daly and Mindy Kaling. You can check out the full list of nominations here.

There were the predictable nominations for HBO’s True Detective, and Breaking Bad‘s final season (the two shows will be up against each other in the drama series categories, making those especially contentious), and FX’s miniseries game is unmatched (FargoAmerican Horror Story are up for several awards). But there were still some unnerving oversights – and some pleasant surprises – by the Television Academy. Here are nine.

1. Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Universally praised for her work on BBC America’s Orphan Black, Canadian Tatiana Maslany did not get a nomination in the lead actress, drama, category. Instead, back-to-back winner Claire Danes (Homeland), newcomer Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) will vie for the award.

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Review: House of Cards – Season 2

House of Cards Season 2

It took me about 10 days to watch the second season of House of Cards, but more than a month to sit down and write about it.

It was less exciting, less scandalous, and more slow-moving and into itself. About midway through, after I’d devoured eight episodes in the three days following its Valentine’s Day première, I needed a break. Finishing the season felt like a chore or, worse, a workout: you put in the time and got a small reward every few, torturous sessions.

I liked the first season of House of Cards but do remember a lull in the middle episodes. Some have written that on closer inspection, even the first season of the show isn’t strong. It has elements of a great show, but it isn’t one. I disagree. I was under no obligation to watch it but did – and quicker than I care to admit – and thought it was exciting, compelling and novel enough for me to even be giddy about the season-two première. I stopped watching Derek, the Ricky Gervais Netflix series, two episodes in, so the notions that people will binge-watch a show just because they can or because it’s available are not true.

Season two of House of Cards picks up where the first left off, with Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) just days from the office of the vice presidency he so cunningly chased in season one. Again, Spacey is marvellous as the sociopathic, psychopathic, cold and calculating Underwood. The whole cast, really, does tremendous work, especially Robin Wright as Claire Underwood and Michael Kelly as Underwood’s chief of staff Doug Stamper. Now that Francis is VPOTUS, there’s only one office – and one man – separating him from ultimate power. It makes sense that a character portraying the VPOTUS seeks the office of POTUS on paper, but in theory and in House of Cards, Underwood undermines everyone he’s around, regardless of whether they are above his pay grade. He already seems more powerful than the president.

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10 ways to fix SNL Québec

SNL Quebec

I love Saturday Night Live. Even terrible episodes have one or two redeeming sketches. At the very least, Weekend Update is a safe bet for a few laughs. When it was announced that Télé-Québec would be producing SNL Québec, I was thrilled and cautiously optimistic. There is no denying what a cultural institution the show is. The U.S. version of SNL – created by Canadian Lorne Michaels, who is still executive producing after 39 years – carries a soft power during U.S. election years and is undoubtedly a breeding ground for comedians: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tracy Morgan, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Ana Gasteyer. The list could go on and on.

I want to like SNL Québec – love it, even. But there are too many missteps and unoriginal ideas for a show that is just starting out. There have only been two episodes so far (the first, hosted by Louis-José Houde on Feb. 6 can be streamed on Télé-Quebec’s website), with no guarantee that the show is going to get picked up for more.

There hasn’t been a shortage of items in the news for SNL Québec to parody, but it’s barely touched them. We’re in the middle of an election campaign, and all the show could manage was a cold open featuring a dinner party with the four party leaders and a knock at François Legault’s CAQ, both during the second episode, hosted by Stéphane Rousseau (link to come). I expected more election and political sketches this time around, but maybe that just isn’t the show SNL Québec wants to be. Still, it has some redeeming factors (Katherine Levac, a young cast that’s game for whatever, endless possibilities for musical guests) and potential, and I think it could and should come back, but it needs some work.

Here are my 10 suggestions for how to fix SNL Québec:

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