2011: In Memorandum
Friends, we gather today to bid farewell to the year 2011. I haven’t wrote much since this fair website turned a year old, but I have plenty coming this year (including my very delayed travel journal from my UK trip earlier this year, that’s very slowly being edited). 2011 gave us a lot in the world of pop culture and since writing these end-of-year lists are so much damn fun, I wanted to pay respect to 2011’s highlights (and lowlights): lets get going!
2011 brought quite a few awesome TV moments and shows. Here’s some of the best shows (that I watched) this year:
A Game of Thrones
I’m a bit behind on my “to read” list, so I really wasn’t properly introduced to the famous “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of books prior to when this show came on. So needless to say, I experienced all the shocking moments that I didn’t remotely see coming (to preserve the surprise for my friends that don’t have HBO or haven’t read the books, I won’t say it, but those of you that read the books or watched the show know exactly what I’m talking about!) Also, ultra-suave dwarf actor Peter Dinklage really shines in this show making his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister stand out as my favorite character (Ned Stark is cool and all, but Tyrion OWNS this show). Plus, he really cemented his place as my favorite character when he did this to that smug little bastard Joffrey:
The Walking Dead Gets A Longer Season
Last year, AMC’s television show based on the gory comic book The Walking Dead stumbled its way into viewer’s hearts and left them craving for “braainnnsss” and a longer season. This year, they got their wish as the season was given more episodes! Even the pre-season scare of budget cuts and the rapid departure of showrunner Frank Durabont (just weeks after he promoted the show at Comic Con) did very little to slow down Dead-mania. The show broke a ratings record for the network and it was automatically renewed for a 3rd season. However, probably due to the budget cuts, we saw less zombie hordes in the city and settled for a nice country setting and a very long drawn out arc (which had a nice payoff) for the better part of the season so far. However, with the new surroundings we still got a dose of great TV (Shane keeps strong for TV’s biggest douche award).
Fringe Erases Peter Bishop and Creates A New Reality
Fringe seems to still be alive and kicking in the infamous “Friday Night Deathslot” and it’s probably due to it’s intriguing ongoing storyline (for now anyway). This past spring, we saw the conflict between the two alternate dimensions come to a head when Peter created a passageway between the two worlds…and accidently erase himself from history.
This fall when the show resumed, we saw something of a new reality where the two worlds are still united, but key things such as Walter’s attempt to bring un-sick child-Peter into our world resulted in Peter’s drowning instead of them being saved by the Observer (Oh nooo spoiler alert!!! Get over it! That was a plot twist 4 years ago). This makes things awkward when Peter manifests back into reality to a world that doesn’t remember him. Speaking of alternate universes…..
Community Goes To Alternate Universes
Community is a great show that pays homage to nearly every geeky genre out there (having done action movie, zombies and space travel themed episodes). So when Troy and Abed host a party, we are taken to different alternate realities involving fires, bad food, surprise make-out sessions, severed limbs, scary troll statues and the debut of Evil Troy and Evil Abed. Sadly we have to wait a few more months to join the Greendale gang as NBC has benched it until this summer (should’ve benched Whitney instead).
Curb Your Enthusiasm Brings The Funny
Wow! Larry David brought his A-game this season with the laughs on Curb Your Enthusiasm. First came the Palestinian Chicken episode, in which Larry finds himself divided among his Jewish friends and the Palestinian bombshell he hooked up with. The show was rife with politically incorrect humor …. then came the epic showdown between Michael J Fox and Larry David, in which a feud is chalked up to whether or not Michael J Fox is using his Parkinson’s as a cover for dickish behavior, such as shaking up a soda he gave to Larry. All and all hilarious season, also worth mentioning is the episode “Vow of Silence” which stands up with some of the most classic Seinfeld episodes.
Amnesiac Eric Northman
Eric Northman is usually the bad ass Viking vampire that kills who he wants, whenever he wants. However, after a witch erases his memory he becomes a hilariously amnesiac, helpless, puppy-like vampire. It’s less funny when he gets all wishy washy about killing people, but it helped him finally bang Sookie, which some of those super-steamy scenes had to be uncomfortable for Steven Moyer (aka Biiieeellll!!) to watch, being that he’s really married to Anna Paquin (aka Souuuukeehh) in real life. Also, we got to see Jason Stackhouse get raped by werepanthers and Sams annoying ass brother Tommy gets killed off. So not a bad season!
Supernatural Kills (temporarily?) Bobby and Castiel (again)
I really want this on the Worst of List but it made for good TV; especially Bobby Singer’s swan song (he killed his dad?? Is he coming back as a ghost???) As good TV as it provided, we need some supporting characters other than the girl or monster-girl that Dean or Sam screws each week. Opposite to Bobby, Castiel played God for a bit but then got turned into an angel stew by a new oozier monster/demonesque race for the Winchester brothers to fight this season. I kinda felt Castiel’s death was underplayed, so I really expect to see him show back up. Safe bet, because nobody really dies on this show anyway
There’s a lot of movies I need to still catch, but I made sure to catch some of the cooler/geekier of the lot this year:
By the power of Mjölnir, this movie was a lot of fun! Of all of Marvel’s superhero properties (save for maybe Dr. Strange) Thor seemed like it may be the riskiest movie Marvel Studios had plans to put out. Iron Man, The Hulk, Spider-man, X-men, and so on made for some fun movies, but a movie about a Norse gods fighting on earth, rainbow bridges, Jotunheim, hard to pronounce Norse names and Frost Giants sounded like a hard to get behind movie, but it turned out that we got a movie that ranks up with the first Iron Man in quality instead!
Plus it was directed by this guy….speaking of which:
End of Harry Potter
2011 also marked the end of an era for the Harry Potter movie franchise as the 8th and final Potter flick hit the silver screen. Picking up as the 2nd half of the adaptation to the final book, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, we were treated to the unfolding of the fateful Battle of Hogwarts, the badassery of Neville Longbottom, Severus Snape’s true colors, the wit of ghost/dream Dumbledore, and the final Showdown between Voldemort and Harry Potter. For many fans, it was a bittersweet end to a beloved series, but there’s plenty of other places to get your Potter-fix after the films.
X-Men First Class
Having seen this movie 3 times on my transatlantic flight to England a few months back, it’s safe to say that I loved this movie. Admittedly from a continuity standpoint, there’s contradictions when viewing this movie as a prequel to the other X-men movies. However, if you just view it as a complete reboot, it’s one of 2011’s most grooviest movies! Although “Sir Gandalf” and “Sir Picard” were amazing as Magneto and Professor X respectively in the other X movies, I really liked James McAvoy’s un-paralyzed Professor X and Michael Fassbender really, really, really made me like Magneto. Everything about this movie was fun and I am very ready to see a followup to it…..hopefully with less “fairy-girl” mutant (she was kinda useless).
Attack The Block
This movie came from some of the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. While it wasn’t nearly as great, it still was a delightfully fun movie. Think of the character Ali G stuck in an alien invasion movie and you kinda have an idea of what this movie feels like. Definitely one of the best Netflix rental surprises this year.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
We caught this movie in England on our vacation, when we had a free evening with nothing planned and I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. The trailer had me questioning whether or not gorillas throwing makeshift spears at policemen with guns can really usurp us as a dominant species on Earth. However, it turns out that scene is more-or-less a small conflict and a much more believable explanation of the apes rise to power is revealed. I really liked it and Andy Serkis as Caesar is nearly as enjoyable as his take on Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
2011 also gave us some fun memes, video games, Spotify and general news. Here’s my favorites:
Best Meme: Honey Badger!!
Every week there’s something on the internet that instantly finds its way to being posted on Facebook or talked about around the water cooler. For 2011, we all bowed to the mercy of the ubber-badass Honey Badger. This video narrated by “Randall” has already hit 30 million viewers.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Anyone that reads my statuses on Facebook are bound to see me post something or another about playing Zelda every so often. 2011 brought a new and exciting Zelda adventure; this time horses are swapped out with giant birds and the Wii motionplus control gets full functionality. Like all Zelda games, Link must rescue Zelda (who’s not a princess this time) via a series of temples and Deku-Babas and the like, and of course, the continuity is hard to follow. One thing that’s different this time around is that a character missing in action is Gannon! None-the-less, it’s a blast to play.
2011 also gave us a Royal Wedding and everyone was going nutzo for William and Kate’s big day. While the girls may have enjoyed a fairytale wedding come to life, some guys were more interested in Kate’s hot sister Pippa. I personally enjoyed the crazy ass hats.
I finally skipped across “the pond” and went to the UK….it has nothing to do with pop culture news, but it was freaking awesome!! I will have a travel journal in electric form this year…. I promise!
Worst of 2011
2011 may have been a year of turmoil and protests, Casey Anthony being free, riots, and so on. Just like the real world, the world of pop culture had some pretty bad stuff going on as well.
Television may have given us some good stuff this year, but like all TV seasons there’s some bad to all the good. Here’s a look at TV I actually watched (hence why Pan Am, Charlies Angels, Playboy Club or Whitney isn’t listed….because I knew those shows wouldn’t be good).
Terra Nova Forgets They Have Dinosaurs (mostly)
I’m not holding my breath for a 2nd season for this show based on it’s cost per episode, but if a second season happens, I hope they make it more Jurassic Park and less The Shannon Family Show. It does have potential, it really does, but when the focus should have been on Dinosaurs and fights with “the Sixers” we get a whole lot of the annoying Shannon Family, in which, the Parents are the only non-irritating members. The son is a carbon copy of the son on the remake of “V”, the awkward, but brainy daughter is irritating as hell, and then there’s a 5 year old and you know 5 year olds don’t get eaten; so I’m not invested in that character at all. So if they bring it back (which I’ll still watch because it got better after the mid-season break), please make more dinosaur carnage happen….preferably with non-made-up dinosaurs.
Sports Show With Norm Macdonald Gets the Axe
I really wanted this show to work out. Norm Macdonald is hilarious and watching him do live stand-up causes me to almost die of laughter…literally. So, I was pumped when he was given a weekly show for Comedy Central. Unfortunately, shortly after the 6 or so episode season, it was cancelled. I felt in a way, the show had a tough obstacle to overcome. It wasn’t really rerun worthy, even the Daily Show doesn’t get too many reruns, which is the problem of topical comedy shows and since it was given a 6 episode order, it’s chances weren’t too pretty. I loved Norm’s “Wait, What?” segment!
I kinda got quasi-excited when I heard there was a Teen Wolf TV show coming out. I immediately thought that we’d see some horrible basketball playing and/or an extra waiving their penis around at the end of every episode. But somehow, MTV decided to make it less awesome 80s counterpart and more stupid Twilight themed. Also the “wolf” doesn’t have hair?? I’m sad it shares the same name as the awesome 80s flick. By the way MTV, this is not how a wolf looks like:
2011 saw Adam Sandler dress in drag for a feature film, the Wolfpack got hung over again and tried to do the same movie twice, and somehow another Chipmunks movie was made. Needless to say 2011 had some bad movies. Here’s the ones I saw and didn’t like:
In 2011, we saw The Green Lantern make his cinematic debut; but even “powers only limited by one’s imagination” wasn’t enough to conjure up a enjoyable movie. The movie was a heavy CGI overload, confusing plot, flat character mess. Can we just have Ryan Reynolds put on some red and black tights and be Deadpool already? (This time done right!)
Twilight Breaking Dawn pt 1
Worst of 2011?? Duh!!! I got out of this that Vampire sex/Vampire impregnating humans is painful, Jacob falls in love with a baby, the big climatic fight at the end amounts to a “Ok nevermind, Jacob fell in love with their baby…lets not kill them then” anticlimatic conclusion, then Bella vamps out and the bad Euro-vamps want to steal Edward and Bella’s daughter…..yeah I went with my wife….and died a slow death.
I really wanted this movie to be good. It started out pretty interesting and I’m not just saying that because of the skimpy outfits the girls wear in “Lobotomy dreamland”. It seemed really intriguing and looked cool in the previews. What really killed the film is that it seemed to go on for a long time and became pretty boring, then we realize nothing that happened really mattered anyway.
2011 had plenty of bad buzz, here’s 2011’s worst decisions, memes and news:
I know I’m going to get flack for this, but this was kinda like a big party that you had to RSVP for and it sounded really fun and when you finally got in, you’d see some people you know but they wouldn’t talk to you. That’s how Google’s social network felt like to me. Hopefully, in time it’ll get better. In the meantime, Facebook has a more fun party happening.
The Non-Rapture (twice)
Whatever your religious beliefs may be, if a guy tells you that he is certain that the world is ending, don’t give up your life savings to help him advertise it on billboards across the country like some poor saps did when wacko Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping falsely predicted the apocalypse on May 21st 2011. It did however, make for some amusing “Raptured” photos online. The real tragedy is those poor saps that believed him. Obviously not learning from his mistake, Camping said the same thing a few months later…this time with less fanfare and billboards.
End of the Space Shuttle Program
This is more a “bittersweet” moment than a “worst” moment. I know the shuttle program has been going on for 30 years and it was probably time to put the shuttle out to pasture, but I’m going to miss watching re-entry and live launches on TV. I also regret not having seen a launch ,but I did see a re-entry at night that left a really awesome fire-y trail in the sky and I remember seeing the Columbia and it’s carrier aircraft making a pit-stop at Dyess Air Force Base in my old hometown. Goodbye Shuttle program!
At first, the very public meltdown of Charlie Sheen was awesome! He talked about being fire-breathing, tiger-blood-drinking, porn star/goddess banging warlock, but his most famous contribution to 2011 was coining the phrase “duh, Winning!” during an interview and made “Winning” a new catchphrase. Sheen took his craziness to Twitter where he announced a live tour called “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option” to a city near you….which turned out to be a complete disaster (despite breaking a Ticketmaster record). At least his Comedy Central roast was funny.
Ted “Golden Voice” Williams
One of 2011’s first viral stories was an amazing video of a homeless man with a “golden voice” named Ted Williams (not to be confused with the late MLB player with a cryogenic frozen head). A former radio announcer, Williams had some rough years and found himself on the streets. A YouTube video literally made him famous overnight as he made appearances on several talk shows, got job offers doing voiceover work for companies like Kraft, offered a reality show as well as a job announcing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, both his addictions and the pressure of the spotlight became really public for “Golden Voice” and momentum started to wane as fast as it began when his offers were retracted and he left rehab….then returned months later. This was one story I really wanted to be in the “best of” list; hopefully we see a comeback.
RIP-2011’s notable deaths
Macho Man Randy Savage, Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse, the guy that played Alfred on the Burton/Kilmer/Clooney Batman movies, Andy Witfield, Doritos Inventor, Grandma Gilmore, Old Man Marley from Home Alone, ect…you guys will be missed
Netflix Writes The Book On “How to Lose Customers and Alienate Friends”
I like Netflix; I really do, but they really tested my loyalty with a double-whammy of bad business choices. First they unexpectedly raised their prices by a huge margin (especially if you do both streaming and DVD by mail.) Next came the really idiotic idea of separating the company and calling the DVD service Qwickster, which angered me more than the prices. However, after they lost 800,000 subscribers in a single quarter, they decided Qwickster was a stupid idea. However, the damage has been done….but 2013 looks great because they will bring back Arrested Development!
That wraps up this year’s end of year list. Now with 2012 fully upon us I can’t wait for The Hunger Games movie, The Avengers, Eastbound and Down and Game of Thrones returning to TV, a little movie involving Batman, another doomsday hype, this time over the Mayan Calendar and all the other surprises this year has in store. Thanks for a fun year 2011!!!