It's hard to believe that we've just hit 2010 and are looking
back on 2009 as a fond, yet bizarre bygone era. 2009 was fine as wine with smiling
eyes to the past and to the future as well. Then again, we're
actually Living in the future,
aren't we? Check it out. We've just passed 9 years since
2001 and are now firmly
set in "The Year We Make Contact". The old Buck Rogers show suggested the
end of the world as we know it would be in 1988, while Star Trek told us we'd have hit
a massive Eugenics War in 1996. How odd is it that we've just
waved bye-bye to 2009 and we're still not in flying cars
it's been a year of the usual surreal oddities that you've come
to expect from us over the years. 2009 marked the return of the
"Seasons" with the successful Summer
of Horror II, just after we lambasted this continuing
financial crisis in our annual April
We've seen Bad
Horror Remakes that turned out to be good (and a hell of a lot
more that stayed super-bad), a few surprise winners from odd
places, Superhero Deconstruction and Decomposition, monsters,
aliens, mutants, metal, Time Travel and the requisite yearly
re-launches of whatever franchise was up for renewal in any given
five minute period!
why wait? Let's slam our way into or year end Revue of Reviews&
here's this year's entry into the Annual Expanding Tradition:
The Top 9 of 2009!
The first season started a little rocky, taking its time to
establish itself, but was soon among the most engrossing shows on
Television. Based on
The Southern Vampire
Charlaine Harris, this
Vampire show was filled with surprises as it slowly revealed
more of itself and took the viewers along for the ride, carefully
making sure they could keep up.
Once Season 2 rolled around, however, it seemed clear that
Alan Ball and his capable writing staff figured the job
HBO viewers to the show was both done and done. Thus
True Blood threw
caution to the wind and began to take every risk in the book,
going off on its own wild ride and just daring viewers to NOT
keep up with the orgy!
Hey, it's still not a show you'd want to watch with your grandma,
and that, cousin, is a mighty good thing for a change of pace.
This is "adult" entertainment without all the negative
connotations of the word. Though, yes, there are a great many
Naked Southern Belles on the show. Speaking of which, Cheers from
a Louisiana Native to the many British and Australian actors who
have portrayed Southern Americans on the show without a trace of
mockery or parody. Next time I'm in Shreveport, the first round's
Most things that take as long as Inglourious
Basterds did to finally see release can lead to scarcely
more than disappointment (see
Chinese Democracy from last year).
This is clearly not the case with good old
Quentin Tarantino, who is most assuredly STILL doing
things all his way and getting acclaim for it every step of the
way, no matter how avant garde the man gets. His 2009 Opus was
his first real period piece that found itself still set firmly in
the Tarantinoverse, albeit decades ago. The film was shocking and
shockingly comedic with more
Nazi Deaths than the final scene of
Raiders of the Lost Ark and more quotable one liners
than& well than
Tarantino's last flick!
What makes Tarantino's films work so well isn't the content
itself (the blood, gore and profanity are secondary at best), but
the writing and the acting that come together to make even the
strangest moments feel engrossing and real. Between
Brad Pitt's self-assured American Guerilla in
Nazi-Occupied France to
Christoph Waltz' hypnotic "Jew Hunter" (whom we both
loved to hate and hated to love), this film truly combined the
best of both writing and acting together with an admirable
attention to detail that made Inglourious Basterds a wild ride
and a true work of bloody art!
Yes, Lost has made the
TOP list since the
very first list back in 2005! This is, of course, only
because Lost is,
unquestionably "that good" and this year's run more than proved
that all over again.
After the strange concept of The Island skipping through time
like a needle on a broken record not only managed to work, but
actually to make sense to boot, the obvious question was where
could they go next? The answer was& all over and whenever.
What began as a show about plane crash survivors on an Island
quickly turned into a strange and surreal show about conflicting
factions. Then we turned right on over into wondering who the
good and bad guys were& then they get rescued, then they start
time travelling. Might I say Lost is still the weirdest show
on Television? Might I add, it's still the best show on
television without a hint of letting up. This season's finale
Incident" was all over the proverbial map with every one of
these elements converging into a quest for destiny& at great
cost! Now we don't know who is who or when any of this began.
Lucky for us, Season Six starts in less than two months. Unlucky
for us& 2010 will mark the final season of Lost! They haven't let us down
yet. Could the ending be as good as the beginning? If not& skip
around& there's more to see!
Yes, folks, Twelve Years(!) after its debut, South Park has still yet to jump
the shark (unless it's intentionally). The now-long-running show
is still the pinnacle of social and pop-culture satire and the
cheap, cut-out animation has (somehow) managed to look really
good as the potential computer graphics is steadily tapped for
more possibilities. Yeah, surprisingly the cheap little show from
1997 is about a lot more than fart jokes now.
2009's 13th season started and ended with the same
biting, sarcastic spoofs that made the show great and nothing was
sacred again this year! Everything from Boy Bands to Disney to
full-of-themselves pop stars to Somalian Piracy to prostitution
to venereal disease to pro-wrestling to Whale and Dolphin hunting
to Disaster Films was fair game for
Matt and their Parody Sensibilities. The famous timeliness of
South Park was likewise
seen in full force again this year as they spoofed Avatar
a month before its release and included recently deceased
celebrities as characters waiting to get to the afterlife. That's
not even mentioning great episodes about the economy, gender
equality, sensitivity to sexual orientation, greed and even
Of course it was all done with South Park's requisite
irreverence and every time the guys came just a bit close to
becoming preachy, it was back to the old 8-year-old jokes that
brought us back to surreality again!
There are both familiar and new things on the 2009 list. Sure, we
may get stale constantly talking about the exact same things each
year being great, but when you have a company like
Pixar still making movies the way only they do, it was a
safe bet that you would find them on the "great" list again with
their 2009 film
Every year Pixar comes out with a new movie that features great
animation and the latest in Computerized Techniques, but
seemingly little else. Up was the story of an old,
crotchety man who spices up the retirement years by turning his
house into a flying tour bus, courtesy of more balloons than a
squadron of porcupines could pop.
Who knew the story would be even better than the animation.
Within the first ten minutes the heart strings were tugged and
beyond that the familiar SENSE OF ADVENTURE took over as
Curmudgeonly Carl and his "Small Mailman" sidekick travelled to
South America to meet strange creatures, talking dogs and old
idols in the forgotten jungle. The story of a grouchy senior
citizen in his soaring house evolved into a story of loss,
memory, friendship, honor and the true definition of what a Hero
is. Bravo, Pixar!
Avatar was a long time coming and a labor of love for its
uncompromising creator. Unlike Quentin Tarantino, however,
James Cameron didn't keep making Hollywood Movies until
his big dream project was complete.
And Complete Avatar is!
Perhaps the key to making great science fiction is not found
sitting around to think up strange creatures, far off worlds,
amazing weapons and stunning fantasies. Perhaps the key is found
in sitting around to think up ways to make all these other
worldly things believable! There is no question that the world of
Pandora is just about as fantastical as Science Fiction can get.
However, all the right ingredients went into this one (from
performance capture to feed the CGI to familiar enough metaphors
to bring us into the characters' minds) to create a strangely
canny and smart film.
True, some of the "Familiar" moments were all TOO familiar and
some of the metaphorical moments were a bit preachy, but kids,
when you're dealing with a cutting edge spectacle like this one,
the flaws are easily erased with a digital pen. Bravo!
Oft times the BEST shows on television are the very most
ESOTERIC! When True
Blood and Lost
forgot about trying to appease their "Mainstream Fans", they got
better and better. Hell, most of the entries on this page are
here because they did it their way, not the usual way.
Venture Bros. is a show
that started out as one of the more obscure and esoteric
productions on any network, constructing sagas interlaced with
sci-fi and comic book references, not to mention more quoted song
lyrics than a VH1 Special! With each episode they added to their
own hilarious mythology and expanding continuity. The result is
that by the time Season 4 rolled around, newbies would need NOT
apply. With creators
Doc Hammer and
Jackson Publick writing every episode (so far) this
season, we've seen stories told in reverse order, familiar
characters vanishing, only to reappear in unexpected places,
nearly unrecognizable regulars and more twists and turns in one
episode than you're likely to find in all of Milli Vanilli's
The show is better now than ever and the saga is strong enough to
ensure that true fans can't wait to find out what happens in the
next episode& though it's never what we expect. Cheers to the
Unexpected. Cheers to the Esoteric. Revel in the Weird. If you
don't get it, don't worry about it& this is MY show!
Since its triumphant return in 2005, the BBC's Doctor Who has
timeline between the super-cheesy and the brilliantly intelligent
and has never ceased to surprise at every turn.
In 2009 we received not a real "Season" of Doctor Who, but a set of
specials that appeared at various times around the year, each one
building on the last and constructing the brilliant mythos that
started way back in the 1960s into something that is, to say the
least, truly modern and forward thinking.
As the end of 2009 approached, we saw twin episodes that featured
The Doctor's most persistent enemy The Master in his most
unlikely return. When he succeeds in his most ambitious and
far-reaching plan yet, it seems clear that The Master is the
ultimate force in the Whoniverse and the more powerful of the
only two Time Lords left in existence.
But like the best episodes of Doctor Who in any era, we soon
learn that we've only just seen the beginning of something so
much bigger than what we thought we knew before.
From the great performances by
David Tennant and his lonely time without his "Children
of Time" to the surprisingly menacing turn by Master Actor
John Simm (who was such a good guy in
Life on Mars) to the great special effects and writing
surprises (not to mention surprise returning characters),
Doctor Who in 2009 is
better than ever. Let's just hope the Regeneration of 2010 can
offer up something this high-quality! I'm warming up my TARDIS
for that one!
A strange movie from a strange place about strange creatures in a
It's social satire, it's horror, it's mockumentary, it's Science
Fiction, it's comedic, it's dramatic it's& well, it's a hell of a
lot of things. District
9 is a strangely seamless mix of CGI and real characters
that is anything but predictable.
What starts out looking like an Alien Invasion thriller soon
becomes a refugee drama and a post-modern commentary on
Apartheid. It may be a bit too much for a lot of viewers out
there, but that's quite simply because District 9 is "all that" and
For those who think that all Box Office "hits" have to be
decidedly of-the-mainstream, I proudly submit this South African
import that is anything but mainstream and anything but expected.
Ironically, this segregation film is one of the most
outside-the-box films of the year.
this 2009 go to
Big Bang Theory, another esoteric hit,
Vs. Aliens, a greatly fun and spectacular film,
Focus Features' Coraline, a thriller for the
younger and, of course, WorldsGreatestCritic.com's 2009 Summer of Horror...
Look folks, that many reviews in one season when you actually
HAVE a life is hard work. Give me a little mention,
you in the next reel!
Inxeplicable 9 of 2009!