Walk to Mordor Challenge – Bree

Walk to Mordor

Since I last updated, here is my progress:

I reached Bree (135 miles) on 3/13/17.

I have now walked 141.15 miles. I am 31.85 miles from Midgewater Marshes West, 98.85 miles from Weathertop, 316.85 from Rivendell, 656.85 from Moria, 778.85 from Caras Galadan, 1167.85 from Rauros, 1391.85 from Henneth Anun, 1642.85 from destroying the ring, 1764.85 from Minas Tirith, 1988.85 from Cross Mering Stream and 2299.85 miles from the end of my journey.

Walk to Mordor Challenge – Barrow Wight

Walk to Mordor

Since I last updated, here is my progress:

I was captured by the Barrow Wight (115 miles) on 2/27/17.

I have now walked 124.88 miles. I am 10.12 miles from Bree, 115.12 miles from Weathertop, 333.12 from Rivendell, 673.12 from Moria, 795.12 from Caras Galadan, 1184.12 from Rauros, 1408.12 from Henneth Anun, 1659.12 from destroying the ring, 1781.12 from Minas Tirith, 2005.12 from Cross Mering Stream and 2316.12 miles from the end of my journey.

Walk to Mordor Challenge – Tom Bombadil’s House

Walk to Mordor

It has been awhile since I last updated my Walk to Mordor challenge. Since that time, I have started my official walking program. I took my average number of daily steps at the start of the program and I have been adding 100 steps to my goal each week.

Since I last updated, here is my progress:

I reached the encounter with the black rider (32 miles) on 1/10/17, I met the elves (41 miles) on 1/15/17, I reached the edge of Farmer Maggot’s Field (61 miles) on 1/25/17, Buckleberry Ferry (70 miles) on 1/29/17, Crickhollow (73 miles) 1/31/17, Old Man Willow (95 miles) 2/11/17 and Tom Bombadil’s House (98 miles) on 2/13/17.

I have now walked 104.45 miles. I am 10.55 miles from being captured by the Barrow Wight, 1682.55 miles from destroying the ring and 2336.55 miles from the end of my journey.

Walk to Mordor Challenge – Tookland

Walk to Mordor

I haven’t started my official walking regimen yet, but just through normal day-to-day walking, I am now 5.77 miles into my journey and have arrived in Tookland.

I have 26.23 miles to go, to reach the Encounter with the Black Rider, 234.23 miles to Weathertop, 1778.23 miles to reach Mt. Doom and 2435.23 miles until my journey is complete.

Walk to Mordor Challenge

Walk to Mordor

I got my new Fitbit – Charge 2 Activity Tracker  today, so I have decided to officially embark on my quest to walk to Mordor and back.

I probably won’t start working on this hard-core until my new treadmill is set up, but I’m going to go ahead and start tracking my steps.

I will periodically update the blog with my progress.

My current location is Bagend. I have 5 miles to go to reach Tookland and 2436 miles to go to complete my journey.

100 Best Animated Movies – The List

Here’s my list of the 100 Best Animated Films, which I compiled by consulting the most popular best of lists on the Internet and then selecting the 100 movies with the most votes.

  1. Toy Story Trilogy
  2. Spirited Away
  3. My Neighbor Totoro
  4. The Incredibles
  5. Pinocchio
  6. The Iron Giant
  7. Up
  8. Dumbo
  9. Fantasia
  10. Ratatouille
  11. Snow White
  12. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  13. Grave of the Fireflies
  14. 101 Dalmatians
  15. Finding Nemo
  16. Who Framed Roger Rabbitt
  17. Bambi
  18. How to Train Your Dragon
  19. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
  20. The Little Mermaid
  21. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  22. Coraline
  23. It’s Such a Beautiful Day
  24. The Secret of NIMH
  25. The Triplets of Belleville
  26. Waking Life
  27. Wall-E
  28. Wallace & Gromit Curse of the WereRabbit
  29. Waltz with Bashir
  30. Beauty & The Beast
  31. Frozen
  32. Monsters Inc
  33. Persepolis
  34. The Jungle Book
  35. Yellow Submarine
  36. Akira
  37. Chicken Run
  38. Cinderella
  39. Lady and the Tramp
  40. Mary and Max
  41. Tangled
  42. The Illusionist
  43. Aladdin
  44. Charlotte’s Web
  45. Kung Fu Panda Trilogy
  46. Millennium Actress
  47. Paprika
  48. Princess Mononoke
  49. Rango
  50. The Adventures of Prince Achmed
  51. The King and the Mockingbird
  52. The Lego Movie
  53. The Many Adventures of Winnie
  54. Watership Down
  55. When the Wind Blows
  56. Wreck It Ralph
  57. A Bug’s Life
  58. Alice
  59. Ernest and Celestine
  60. Fantastic Planet
  61. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
  62. Heaven and Earth Magic
  63. Howl’s Moving Castle
  64. Inside Out
  65. James and the Giant Peach
  66. Kirikou and the Sorceress
  67. Mulan
  68. ParaNorman
  69. Ponyo
  70. Shrek
  71. The Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner Movie
  72. The Castle of Cagliostro
  73. The Lion King
  74. The Simpsons Movie
  75. Tokyo Godfathers
  76. A Scanner Darkly
  77. A Town Called Panic
  78. Anastasia
  79. Anomalisa
  80. Antz
  81. Arthur Christmas
  82. Big Hero 6
  83. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
  84. Brave
  85. Castle in the Sky
  86. Chico and Rita
  87. The Lord of the Rings
  88. Coonskin
  89. Robin Hood
  90. Faust
  91. Frankenweenie
  92. Fritz the Cat
  93. From Up on Poppy Hill
  94. Hercules
  95. Peter Pan
  96. Kiki’s Delivery Service
  97. The Last Unicorn
  98. Lilo and Stitch
  99. Little Otik
  100. Metropolis

Ten Best Atari 2600 Games – The List

space-invaders

I compiled votes from several “best of” lists and determined that these are the 10 best games for the Atari 2600:

  1. Space Invaders
  2. Pitfall!
  3. Adventure
  4. River Raid
  5. Asteroids
  6. Frogger
  7. Missile Command
  8. Centipede
  9. Pong
  10. Yars’ Revenge

I will be looking to acquire and play these ten games as part of bucket list item #35.

Bull Durham – 100 Best Sports Films

seduction

First up on my list of the 100 Best Sports Movies is Bull Durham.

Bull Durham Plot Summary (Spoilers):

Bull Durham begins with a montage of baseball scenes and a monologue by Annie Savoy, played by Susan Sarandon. Annie professes her faith in the “church of baseball,” comparing it to sex and saying there’s never been a ballplayer who slept with her that didn’t have the best year of his career. She concludes by saying that she’s tried all the major religions, but the only one that truly feeds the soul, is the church of baseball. Amen.

The scene transitions to the ballpark, where Skip Riggins, the manager of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team, is looking for Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins. LaLoosh is scheduled to make his professional debut as the starting pitcher for the Bulls, but is nowhere to be found.

ebby-millieSkip finds Ebby in the locker room, having sex with Millie. Skip threatens to ban Millie from the ballpark if he catches her in the locker room again, but she says her daddy will take back the scoreboard he donated if he does. Skip orders Ebby to get out on the field, but Ebby wants to run some potential nicknames by him first. Skip gives Ebby 3 minutes to get out on the field, which Ebby decides to use for another quickie with Millie.

Ebby finally makes his way out to the mound and Millie joins Annie in the stands. Annie tells Millie to stay out of the clubhouse, or she’s going to get everyone in trouble. Millie claims she got lured, but Annie shoots that down, saying “women don’t get lured.” Ebby launches his first pitch into the press box, but Annie is impressed with his velocity, which Millie clocks at 95 m.p.h. on the radar gun.

When Ebby beans the batter in the back with his next pitch, Annie writes a note for Ebby, telling him that he’s not bending his back on his follow through. She then asks Millie how Ebby was and Millie responds, “he fucks like he pitches, sort of all over the place.” Ebby continues to struggle with his control, but shows some improvement after reading Annie’s note. After the game, his coaches note that he set new league records by walking 18, striking out 18, hitting the PA announcer and the bull mascot, twice.

A catcher by the name of Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, enters Skip’s office. Crash demands to know why he’s back in A ball. Skip explains that the big club has a lot of money invested in LaLoosh, who coach Larry Hockett describes as having a “million dollar arm and a five cent head,” and they want Crash, who has been in the minor leagues a long time, to mature him. Crash is angry that his AAA contract was bought out so that he could, “hold the flavor of the month’s dick in the bus leagues,” but Skip points out that at least Crash would have the chance to play every day and to keep getting paid for it, instead of working at Sears. Crash initially declares, “I quit,” but quickly changes his mind.

maxAnnie is having drinks at a bar with Max Patkin a.k.a. “the clown prince of baseball.” Crash buys them a drink and then joins them at their table. They notice Ebby dancing with a bunch of girls. He approaches the table and thanks Annie for her note. Ebby asks Annie to dance with him and Crash tells him, “she’s dancing with me,” even though he had just told Annie he didn’t dance. Ebby challenges Crash to a fight and they head out to the parking lot.

Crash challenges Ebby to hit him in the chest with a baseball. Ebby initially refuses, but Crash goads him into it, calling him “Meat” and saying he heard he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Ebby throws at Crash and misses, breaking a window instead. Ebby charges at Crash, who hits him square in the nose, and then tells him he’s his new catcher and Ebby just got lesson #1. “Don’t think. You can only hurt the ball club.”

believeEbby and Crash return to the bar. After teasing them about fighting because they are rechanneling their latent homosexuality, Annie invites them both to her house. Annie tells them that she hooks up with one guy a season and they are the two most promising prospects of the season so far. Crash asks Annie why she gets to choose and she says that nobody really chooses, it’s all just a matter of quantum-physics and timing. Ebby just wants to know if someone’s gonna get laid, but Crash gets up to leave, saying after 12 years in the minors, “I don’t try out.” He also doesn’t believe in quantum-physics when it comes to matters of the heart. Annie asks him what he does believe in and he rattles off a long list of things, that begins with the soul, the cock and the pussy, includes outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter and concludes with long, slow, deep, soft, wet, kisses that last three days. Annie is impressed and tries to stop him from leaving, but Crash says he’s not interested in a woman who is interested in, “that boy.”

foreplayEbby stays and tries to jump straight to sexy times, but Annie tells him to slow down and suggests that when he knows how to make love, he’ll know how to pitch. She lets him strip down to his undies, after admonishing him to take his shoes and socks off first, and then ties him to the bed and reads him some Walt Whitman.

Ebby shows up in the locker room the next day looking like hell and telling everyone to call him “Nuke,” because Annie says that’s his new nickname. Larry asks him if Annie is as good as everyone says and Nuke tells him that they didn’t fuck, she just read poetry to him all night, which is more tiring the fucking. Crash lectures Nuke for having fungus on his shower shoes, saying, “think classy and you’ll be classy.”

After Crash strikes out at the plate, Annie sends him a note saying he’s pulling his hips out too early and offering to meet him at the batting cage to discuss it. Crash sends a note back, which reads “Let’s fuck sometime.,” but which Millie tells Annie says “I want to make love to you.”

batting-cageAt the batting cages, Crash asks Annie if they are going to happen, but Annie tells him that she’s committed to Nuke for the season. Crash asks her what she sees in Nuke and she tells him that young men are uncomplicated and it’s her job to give him life’s wisdom and help him get to the major leagues. Crash notes that ironically, that is also his job. Annie tells Crash she looked up his records and at 227 career home runs, he’s just 20 shy of the minor league record of 247. Crash calls this a “dubious honor,” and doesn’t want her telling anyone about it. He propositions Annie one more time, but she turns him down again. He angrily responds that Annie is afraid to meet someone like him, because it might be real, so she sabotages it with some bullshit about mentoring a young boy she can boss around.

Annie calls Nuke “Crash” during sex and tries to cover for herself, asking Nuke whether he’d rather she have sex with Crash, using Nuke’s name, or have sex with Nuke using Crash’s. Nuke decides that’s a good point.

Crash continues his efforts to prepare Nuke for the Big Leagues. He advises him to quit trying to strike everyone out, to relax and have some fun and to quit holding the ball so hard. However, Nuke resists taking Crash’s advice and tries to shake him off when he calls for the curve instead of the fastball. When Nuke insists on bringing the heat, Crash tells the batter what is coming, resulting in a home run off the bull sign. When Nuke tells Crash it was like the batter knew he was going to throw the fastball, Crash tells him that he did know, because Crash told him.

showerAfter the Bulls lose 14-2, in spite of Crash’s first homer of the season, Skip tells Crash that he just doesn’t know what to do with the players. Crash tells him to “scare ’em.” Skip orders all the players into the shower and then screams at them for a while, calling them lollygaggers and telling them the game is simple, “You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.” He then reminds them they have a 12 day road trip coming up and the bus leaves at 6 a.m.

busBefore Nuke gets on the bus for their road trip, Annie gives him some garters to wear, saying they’ll help his pitching and remind him of her. Crash has another confrontation with Nuke on the bus. Tired of listening to Nuke sing hilariously wrong words to the song Try a Little Tenderness. Crash snatches Nuke’s out of tune guitar away and corrects his lyrics. Nuke asks Crash why he doesn’t like him and Crash tells him it’s because he has no respect for himself or for the game and that he’s pissing away his hall of fame arm. He tells Nuke that he needs a curve ball, because everyone can hit a fastball in The Show. When Nuke asks him how he knows, Crash tells him that he’s been in The Show. His team mates are intrigued and Crash goes on to say he was once in The Show for the best 21 days of his life. Crash waxes poetic about how wonderful life in The Show is, before saying that Nuke could be one of those guys, if he gave a fuck. They come close to exchanging blows again, but when Larry shows up to break things up, Nuke says he was just going to ask Crash to show him how to throw a breaking ball.

With the exception of Crash, the Bulls have miserable start to their road trip. One of the players remarks that they could really use a rain out and night off to end their losing streak. Crash bets them $100 that he can get them a rain out for tomorrow. That night, Crash sneaks onto the field, through a hole in the fence, and turns the sprinkler system on, flooding the field. He and several other players run around the field, sliding in the wet dirt.

catchWhen they get back home, Nuke tells Annie how horrible the road trip was and she decides he needs a good game of catch. Annie tells Nuke that he needs to learn to breath through his eyelids, like the lava lizards of the Galápagos Islands and get the chakras between his feet and his testicles aligned. She also convinces him to rechannel his sexual energy into his pitching, instead of having sex with her, and to throw whatever pitches Crash calls.

homerAt that night’s game, Nuke tries out Annie’s advice, including the garters, and he pitches his best game of the season. Nuke has a 2-hit shutout going through 8, when he gets on Crash’s bad side again, by shaking off the signs. Crash once again tells the hitter what pitch Nuke is going to throw, resulting in a solo homer. In spite of that hiccup the Bulls go on to win the game.

Nuke attributes his victory to rechanneling his sexual energy, so he vows not to have sex again until he loses. Inspired by Nuke and Crash’s success, the Bulls go on an extended winning streak through the months of June and July and move into a first place tie in their division. Annie is thrilled with the Bull’s success, but frustrated by Nuke’s continued refusal to have sex with her.

Enthused by his newfound success, Nuke begs Crash to teach him something new, so Crash decides to school him on his clichés for media interviews. Nuke tells Crash that Annie is getting pretty mad about him not having sex with her and he’s thinking about giving in. Crash tells him that if he has sex, he might start losing again and to never fuck with a winning streak.

seductionAnnie attempts to seduce Nuke, but he resists her. She tries to stop him from leaving by telling him that there’s no relationship between sex and baseball and suggesting he ask Crash. Nuke tells her that he already asked Crash and Crash told him that if he gave in to Annie, he’d start losing again.

Annie goes to Crash’s apartment and berates him for interfering in her private life, by telling Nuke not to have sex with her. Crash makes fun of Annie and the two argue. Crash tells Annie that Nuke’s chastity wasn’t his idea and that he never told Crash not have sex with her, he just told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak, because they don’t happen very often. He adds that if you think you’re winning because you’re having sex or not having sex or wearing women’s underwear, then you are and Annie should know that. Annie tells Crash that she wants him, but when he rejects her, she accuses him of being scared.

cocksuckerNuke’s father comes to see him pitch, which makes him nervous and throws off his game. Crash gets himself ejected after calling the home plate umpire a cocksucker, during an argument over what Crash thinks was a missed call. The whole team goes into a funk and Nuke’s winning streak comes to an end.

Nuke shows up at Annie’s with his father and the news that they lost the game. In spite of having his father in the other room, Nuke tries to talk Annie into a quickie, but they are interrupted by a phone call. The call is for Nuke. Skip tells Nuke that he has been called up to the Majors. Nuke celebrates briefly with Annie and his father and then rushes off to find Crash. Before Nuke can get out the door, Annie stops him and tells him that their relationship is over. Annie assures Nuke that he is ready for the Big Leagues and the two say their goodbyes.

Nuke tracks down Crash at a local pool hall and tells him that he’s going to The Show. Nuke is surprised and disappointed when Crash doesn’t seem happy for him. Crash laments that the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is just one extra hit a week, but Nuke still doesn’t understand why Crash is upset and makes a smart-ass comment on his way out the door. Crash throws a pool ball at Nuke’s back, but misses, breaking a mirror. Crash calls Nuke a “fuck” and tells him it’s because he has talent, while Crash only has brains. Nuke assures Crash that he’s a great catcher. Crash continues to harass Nuke, until Nuke turns around and slugs him. Crash verifies that Nuke hit him with his left hand and not his right, because you don’t hit a drunk with your pitching hand.

The next day, Crash apologizes to Nuke. He tells him that Big League hitters are going to light him up for a while, but not to worry about it and to play the game with fear and arrogance. Nuke thanks Crash and Crash wishes him luck and they part.

weddingJimmy, a straight-laced Christian ball-player, marries Millie at the ballpark and the team celebrates in the locker room. During the celebration, Skip calls Crash into his office. He tells Crash that now that Nuke is gone, the organization wants to call up a young catcher and Crash has been released from his contract. Skip tells Crash that he told the club that Crash would make a fine minor league manager some day and there might be an opening in Vidalia next year.

Crash goes to Annie’s house and tells her that he was released. She tells him she knows and then the two have sex. A lot of sex and bonding and bondage happens between the two of them, but eventually Annie wakes up to a note from Crash, informing her that he has headed to Ashville, because he heard there might be an opening for a catcher there. Annie is disappointed, but tells herself you can’t blame a ballplayer for trying to finish out the season.

crash-and-annieCrash goes on to break the minor league record for career home runs and Nuke does well in the Majors, because as Annie says, “the world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.” Crash returns to Annie and tells her that he decided to hang up his spikes after hitting his record-breaking homer. Annie tells him that she quit too, boys that is, not baseball. Crash tells her about the potential manager job in Vidalia and asks if she thinks he could make it to The Show as a manager and she tells him she thinks he’d be great. She prattles on about all the reasons why Crash would make such a good manager. Crash tells her that he wants to hear all her theories, but there’s plenty of time for that and for now, he just wants to be. Annie agrees that she can do that too.

The film ends with Annie quoting Walt Whitman, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us,” and then dancing with Crash in her living room.

Bull Durham Commentary (Spoilers):

Bull Durham is not just one of my favorite sports movies, but one of my favorite movies period. I guess it’s mostly because I love baseball and the movie and it’s characters celebrate the game of baseball.

The romance part of the movie isn’t that interesting to me and I actually find both Annie and Crash and their bullshit a bit annoying at times. However, the mentoring triangle between them and Nuke is entertaining, funny and even touching at times.

Crash’s story of the guy who really understands how the game works, but just doesn’t have the physical talent to stick in the Majors is probably the most compelling thing about the film. Nuke takes his physical gifts for granted and with Crash and Annie’s help, moves on to what will probably be a very lucrative Big League career, something most professional ball players can only dream about. Meanwhile, the guy that helped him get there gets unceremoniously cut from the team, as soon as they don’t need him anymore.

It’s easy to be blinded by the multi-million dollar contracts the stars of the game make and only see the glamour of professional sports. What you seldom see are the guys like Crash who grind it out for years in the bus leagues. I’m not sure if it’s more heartbreaking for the guys who never get a taste of the Big Leagues or the guys like Crash who get the call, but aren’t able to hack it.

In spite of never fully realizing his dreams, it is clear that Crash loves the game of baseball and it frustrates him that Nuke, who has vastly more talent, doesn’t share that same love.

The movie’s treatment of Annie is interesting. On the one hand, most of the men in the film seem to have a rather misogynistic view of her. They basically seem to view her as a slut and a good-luck charm and don’t give her much credit for whatever wisdom she is able to impart to the players she “mentors.” This isn’t really surprising, as female fans of pro sports are often not taken very seriously by men.

However, the movie also presents Annie as being a powerful woman, who refuses to conform to mainstream ideas about proper sexual behavior for women and also has a pretty good understanding of the game and how to mentor a young player, aside from having sex with him. It’s not quite clear whether the people who wrote the film view Annie this way or whether it’s only Annie who sees herself in this light, but it’s an interesting contrast to how she is viewed by her male counterparts.

Crash himself, at times, has a rather condescending attitude towards Annie, but it seems to mostly be rooted in his anger at being rejected by her in favor of Nuke. In the end, in spite of their arguments, it is clear that Annie and Crash share more than a sexual attraction and it seems possible that their relationship might last more than a baseball season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Best Coming of Age Movies – The List

You know the drill. I consulted several of the most popular best of lists and used them to compile this list of the 100 Best Coming of Age Movies.

  1. The Breakfast Club
  2. Almost Famous
  3. Stand By Me
  4. Clueless
  5. Dazed and Confused
  6. Juno
  7. Mean Girls
  8. Sixteen Candles
  9. The Last Picture Show
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  11. The Sandlot
  12. A Bronx Tale
  13. American Pie
  14. Dead Poet’s Society
  15. Easy A
  16. Garden State
  17. Good Will Hunting
  18. Rebel Without a Cause
  19. Superbad
  20. The 400 Blows
  21. The Graduate
  22. The Karate Kid
  23. The Outsiders
  24. The Squid and the Whale
  25. American Graffiti
  26. An Education
  27. Big
  28. Boyhood
  29. Boyz ‘N the Hood
  30. Dirty Dancing
  31. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  32. My Girl
  33. Pan’s Labyrinth
  34. Pretty in Pink
  35. Rushmore
  36. Say Anything…
  37. The Spectacular Now
  38. The Virgin Suicides
  39. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  40. Y Tu Mama Tambien
  41. A River Runs Through It
  42. About a Boy
  43. Adventureland
  44. American Beauty
  45. American History X
  46. Aparajito
  47. Bambi
  48. Beautiful Girls
  49. Blue is the Warmest Color
  50. Breaking Away
  51. Can’t Buy Me Love
  52. Carrie
  53. City of God
  54. Cooley High
  55. Coraline
  56. Diner
  57. Donnie Darko
  58. Empire of the Sun
  59. Fat Girl
  60. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  61. Fish Tank
  62. Footloose
  63. Harold and Maude
  64. Heathers
  65. Heavenly Creatures
  66. How Green Was my Valley
  67. Kes
  68. Labyrinth
  69. Let the Right One In
  70. Mermaids
  71. Moonrise Kingdom
  72. Mysterious Skin
  73. Napoleon Dynamite
  74. Old Yeller
  75. Persepolis
  76. Pump up the Volume
  77. Quadrophenia
  78. Risky Business
  79. River’s Edge
  80. Rudy
  81. Rumble Fish
  82. Scent of a Woman
  83. School Ties
  84. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  85. Slumdog Millionaire
  86. Some Kind of Wonderful
  87. Splendor in the Grass
  88. Star Wars
  89. Submarine
  90. The Goonies
  91. The Lion King
  92. The Lost Boys
  93. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  94. The Sword in the Stone
  95. The Wizard of Oz
  96. This is England
  97. To Kill a Mockingbird
  98. Welcome to the Dollhouse
  99. Whale Rider
  100. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Arrested Development – Season 1 – Episode 1 – “Pilot” – 100 Best TV Shows

protest

First up on my list of the 100 Best TV Shows is Arrested Development.

Arrested Development: “Pilot” Recap (Spoilers):

The episode begins with a voiceover, done by Ron Howard, introducing Michael Bluth, played by Jason Bateman. Michael is the son of George Bluth, played by Jeffrey Tambor and Lucille Bluth, played by Jessica Walter.

gay-protestors

Lucille is upset, because of a group of gay protesters located in the water near their yacht. Michael’s twin sister Lindsay, played by Portia de Rossi, is upset, because one of the protestors is wearing a blouse that looks just like one she has in her closet. Lucille notes that the blouse looks better on the protestor. Lindsay is married to Tobias Fünke, played by David Cross. Michael hasn’t spoken to his sister in over a year.

Michael also has a brother named George Oscar Bluth II, called G.O.B., a magician, played by Will Arnett. G.O.B. recently joined The Alliance of Magicians, who are a group with the main goal of enforcing the prohibition on magicians revealing the secrets to how their tricks illusions are performed.

busterByron, called Buster, played by Tony Hale, is Michael’s youngest sibling. Buster suffers from crippling panic attacks and has spent his life and his family’s money, bouncing from one hobby to another, studying everything from native american tribal ceremonies to cartography. The opening monologue concludes by saying that Michael is happy because he has decided never to speak to his family again.

The episode then flashes back to that morning. Michael is telling his son, George Michael, that all of the sacrifices they have made for the family are about to pay off, since his father is going to make him a partner in the company at the boat party later that night. Michael and George Michael have been living in the attic of one of the model houses that belong to his father’s company.

banana-standGeorge Michael reports to work at his grandfather’s frozen banana stand, near the beach. Michael attempts to collect G.O.B.’s share of the money for his father’s retirement party. However, G.O.B. says his contribution will be a magic show featuring an $18,000 illusion he purchased, called the Aztec Tomb. G.O.B. suggests Michael just charge the party to the company, but Michael protests that the party is not a business expense. G.O.B. tells Michael that his sister Lindsay has been staying at the Four Seasons and charging it to the company for a month.

Michael goes to confront his mother about using the company funds to pay for personal expenses and she tells him she had to fund the Aztec Tomb, because G.O.B said it was a career maker. Lucille tries to distract Michael from his complaints about her spending the company’s money, by bringing up the big announcement his father plans to make at the party.

hoopTobias shows up. He recently lost his medical license for performing CPR on a man who was not having a heart attack and is now looking for work. Michael jokingly suggests that maybe Tobias will be inspired by the boat party to start a career as a pirate. Lindsay arrives and tells Michael about her successful fundraiser for her anti-circumcision charity H.O.O.P. She brags that they raised $40k, but Tobias lets it slip that most of that money was from the Bluth Company and Michael is not pleased. Michael tells them that tomorrow, there’s going to be a new boss in town and they will no longer be able to dip into the company coffers whenever they feel like it.

George Michael’s cousin, Mae called “Maeby,” stops by the banana stand claiming that she found a foot (which she snipped from her grandmother’s fox fur) in a frozen banana. The two talk about how they  hardly ever see each other because of their parents and then Maeby decides they should try to get back at them by pretending that they don’t know they are cousins and making out at the boat party.

protestTobias, who now thinks the boat party is pirate themed. Picks out some clothing from his wife’s wardrobe for the party and heads into the lobby of the hotel. He spots some men he thinks are also dressed as pirates and gets in their van, not realizing he is actually on his way to a protest against the yacht club.

Meanwhile, at the boat party, Michael gets an unpleasant surprise when his father names his wife Lucille the new CEO of the Bluth company, instead of him. Micheal tells George Michael that it’s time for them to move on and George Michael tells his cousin Maeby that he guesses they’ll be seeing even less of them now. Maeby grabs George Michael and kisses him, but their parents don’t even notice and soon everyone’s attention is focused elsewhere.

aztec-tombThe police arrive and George tells the family  it’s the securities and exchange commission. Lucille and Lindsay attempt to plot an escape route with the aid of Buster’s cartography skills. George calls an employee and orders her to empty the accounts and start shredding documents. G.O.B. tries to hide his father from the police in the Aztec Tomb.

However, none of their plans work out. George is arrested for defrauding investors and using company funds for personal expenses. G.O.B. ends up in trouble with The Alliance of Magicians, due to a reporter revealing the secrets of the Aztec Tomb illusion on the local news, as part of the story about his father’s arrest. Tobias is arrested, along with the other protestors. He tells his family that thanks to the time he spent with the gay pirates, who are actually mostly actors in the local theater, he has decided he wants to be an actor.

lindsayMichael tells the family that they will be keeping George in prison until matters with the company are sorted out and that they have put a halt on the company’s expense account. Lucille decides to put Buster in charge of the company. Frustrated by his family’s seeming to only be concerned about their own selfish interests, Michael declares that he is through with them. He chides Lindsay, saying he expected this kind of behaviour from the rest of them, but she should know better.

Lindsay and her family sneak out of the hotel without paying and Tobias begins seeking work as an actor. Lucille attempts to deal with the press surrounding her husband’s arrest. Michael gets a job with a rival housing company. Buster struggles with his new responsibilities as the head of the Bluth Company. Lucille decides that they need Michael and they stage an intervention to attempt to prevent him from leaving for his new job.

The family pleads with Michael to return and run the company. G.O.B. reveals that he can no longer work as a magician, because he is getting blackballed by The Alliance. Michael turns them down, but Lindsay guilts him into at least saying goodbye to their father before he leaves for Arizona.

prisonMichael goes to see his father in prison and tells him, “I quit.” His father responds, “probably a good career move.” Michael questions why his father didn’t put him in charge and George tells him that the SEC has been after him for years and he feared that if he put Michael in charge, he’d end up an accomplice. George conspiratorially tells Michael that it had to be Lucille he put in charge, because they can’t arrest a husband and wife for the same crime. When Michael tells his father that, that isn’t true, George laments that he has the worst bleeping attorney.

Lindsay decides to swipe anything of value from the model home, but is discovered by George Michael, who is packing up his belongings. She pretends she stopped by to say goodbye to him. Michael overhears his son telling Lindsay that it’s been nice having them around, since it’s been lonely since his mom died and he wishes they could stay here.

Michael and LindsayMichael asks Lindsay where she’s been all this time and why she never called him. She tells him that her life is a mess and now she has the Jewish Defense League on her case, thanks to H.O.O.P. When Michael points out that, that’s why he was against H.O.O.P. to begin with, she accuses him of being judgemental and says he’s disappointed in her. Michael admits that he is disappointed, but points out that his own life isn’t so great. He tells her that he wants his son to be happy and that maybe they should try to be in each other’s lives. Lindsay agrees.

Michael decides that he should stay and help his family. Lindsay, Tobias and Maeby will be moving into the model home with Michael and George Michael, until they can get back on their feet, which makes George Michael happy. However, he appears a bit apprehensive about sharing a room with his cousin Maeby.

Arrested Development: “Pilot” Commentary (Spoilers):

I watched a few episodes of Arrested Development during its original run on FOX, but wasn’t really a regular viewer. I thought the show was kind of funny, but I have a longstanding dislike of Jason Bateman that dates back to his days on Valerie’s Family. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t like him, but I don’t. I think it’s his face. I’m also not a big fan of Will Arnett, who just seems kind of generally smarmy and unfunny in most of his work.

However, one of my best friends is a huge fan of Arrested Development, claiming it is the best show in the history of television, and she would often play the DVDs when we were all hanging out at her house. Eventually, the series began to grow on me.

Many fans of the show like to think that the reason it never caught on with mainstream audiences is that the humor is just “too smart” for the general public. I, however, think it just takes a certain sort of sense of humor to appreciate the show and some people have it and some don’t.

A good chunk of the pilot is taken up with introducing us to the Bluth family. The Bluth’s are presented as a dysfunctional clan of spoiled rich kids, who now have to learn to live life without access to the company funds they have used to fund their extravagant lifestyles. Michael is something of the Black Sheep of the family, who also seems to see himself as “above” all their selfishness and non-sense.

The heart of the show, however, is not in learning lessons about life, though there is a bit of that, but rather in the quirky and sarcastic humor brought on by the Bluth’s interactions with each other and the world around them.

My favorite moments of the pilot at the little moments like when Lucille tells Lindsay she likes Lindsay’s blouse better on the gay pirate, who neither of them realize is actually Tobias, than on Lindsay or when George responds to Michael’s resignation from the company with, “probably a good career move.” The in your face gags are often funny, but it’s the little one-liners that really make the show for me.