It’s fascinating how much of Christianity is built on the idea of forgiveness – a philosophy where those who’ve done bad things can be redeemed by coming clean. It’s such a simple idea; and it is never how it actually works, no matter how faithful we may be. No matter our designated lot in the afterlife, the decisions we make in this life have consequences – and sometimes, simply apologizing or being honest after all the emotional damage’s already been done is as useless as doing nothing at all. Selfishness comes at a high cost, and “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” is the equivalent of the moral check being left at the dinner table for The Righteous Gemstones, as Eli solemnly watches his family fall apart in front of his eyes in the aftermath of the Easter robbery.
Each week has seen The Righteous Gemstones raise its own creative bar: “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” is no exception.
Each week has seen The Righteous Gemstones raise its own creative bar: “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” is no exception, a stunningly versatile, driven episode with a penchant for being devilishly hilarious and uncomfortably honest in a single stroke. The opening scene alone is one of the best scenes of 2019, a Fargo-esque irony that sees Scotty, blowing through stop signs thinking of expensive Thai hookers, smashing his infamous van into the side of Baby Billy’s wood-paneled sedan, then dying, leaving Baby Billy and Tiffany holding $3 million in cash.
That scene begins with Baby Billy reminding Judy her career is better off “without a lover” – which he says moments before asking Tiffany for some road head, setting the stage for “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” and the hypocrisy of its main characters. In Billy, The Righteous Gemstones shows the gamble of being deceptive and selfish; sometimes it pays off, and you can spend decades like Eli, living a life of wealth and influence. Of course,, that addiction to growth and wealth has left Eli widowed and taking care of his trio of emotionally stunted, nepotistic children; though Billy will eventually get (his next round) of karmic justice when he inevitably blows all the family money he just “inherited,” his existence offers an interesting contrast to the other members of the Gemstone family offers an important wrinkle on the episode’s central ideas.
For Jesse, Gideon, and the other involved parties of the “Atlanta incident,” that karmic justice is much more immediate and violent; Scotty takes a bullet through the head after pistol whipping Eli, Jesse ends up with a bullet in his ass, and Gideon is banished from his own family. It’s all their own doing of course – especially Jesse, who outs himself to his wife and friends in hilarious fashion, ruining their lives while impressively welcoming his own day of reckoning upon himself.
Though some of Jesse’s moves are definitely pro-active in the name of saving face (which, given the state of his butt hole by the end of the episode, doesn’t go well), they come with the cathartic angle of him owning his own shitty behavior; like many privileged adult brats, he may never grow to truly learn the difference between true morality and the self-serving brand he employs in the name of Jesus, but seeing him recognize the damage he’s done, and apologize to Gideon, is meaningful, and gives his story a bit of necessary emotional arc – and directly leads to him getting shot in the ass by his angered wife; turns out honesty is not always the most precious, healing power in the world, and one’s own actions in this life can have consequences, emotional, physical… and of course, financial, as the family contends with the loss of their Easter millions.
Jesse’s brief moment of reflection is played to such comedic perfection; it’s a inch of progress in a moment where a mile and a half is needed, letting Jesse’s narcissistic streak get entangled with his limited nobility and desperation to maintain the status quo in his household. Where Eli curses himself for not doing enough, Jesse certainly does too much – of everything; giving details, blindsiding his friends and their families, cocaine – and the result is the same; a house built on dishonesty and selfishness will crumble, and both father and son absorb that lesson in equally powerful ways.
Judy, on the other hand, is in the next step of privileged mental breakdown; she tries to win back BJ – excuse me, Edgy BJ – with some curry and a half hearted apology, predictably ending in her smashing a woman’s vehicle repeatedly with a shopping cart. Edi Patterson is a goddamn treasure; her performance as Judy runs the emotional gamut in “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall,” from her depressed resignation when her “church songs career” falls apart, to her self righteous anger when BJ refuses to take her back. She’s thrashing, throwing out strange asides (“come to the back – we’ll rub backs and dicks” she says to him, in front of a child), and undoubtedly cursing herself as the dismissed, undesired child of the Gemstone family – though it is certainly a fortune she’s deservedly earned, Patterson’s performance gives it the emotional duality it needs to complete the triumvirate of comeuppance forming the backbone of “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall.”
If there’s one part of the episode that doesn’t naturally fit, it’s Kelvin’s quick devolution as one of America’s top 5 youth pastors; distraught over seeing his depressed father and sinning brother, Kelvin takes the burden of the family’s failures on himself. He begins drinking, and he throws Keefe off his property; clearly he’s struggling to maintain face in all the stress and uncertainty, something he’s never had to face in his life. But if there’s one bit of the episode that feels… well, out of place, it’s Kelvin’s rapid emotional shift. It has potential, of course (if he breaks away from the family, it could shatter them for good), but it doesn’t fit neatly into the path so many other characters are put on in “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall,” and therefore feels a bit out of left field.
Speaking of fields, “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” ends with the police finding Scotty and his bloodied van out in the middle of the woods – turns out Baby Billy’s penchant for gambling is as good as his knowledge of coastal tides, which means the clock is ticking on someone figuring out what happened. And we all know Baby Billy is going to flash that money around something fierce (and maybe Tiffany gets both top and bottom teeth fixed?), which means Eli is going to be hot on his tail, with at least two furious children in tow. One thing is clear; “But the Righteous Will See Their Fall” marks the beginning of the end for the Gemstone empire, a theological car crash of Ozymandias proportions, played out in slow motion that can only be stopped by… well, the one theoretical entity so much of the family’s lost their faith in, as the metaphysical chickens come home to roost in one of the most hilarious, poignant half hours of 2019.
Apple TV+’s The Morning Show Both-Sides Itself Into Prestigious Irrelevance
The Morning Show’s mix of flashy performances and one-dimensional writing makes for one of 2019’s more intriguing misfires.
One of Apple TV+’s early projects was a Whitney Cummings-helmed comedy firmly rooted in the #MeToo movement – unsurprisingly, it was canceled when Apple executives balked at the idea of hosting such politically charged content.
Then Hillary Clinton’s press secretary walked in with a #MeToo-themed drama based on a CNN’s anchor’s poorly-reviewed book, and Apple said: “Here’s $300 million.”
Everything about The Morning Show bows at the temple of Late Sorkin, shows whose neutered centrist politics bleed through indulgent monologues, carelessly crafting limp arguments and diatribes around events nakedly parallel to our own world.
The strange optics are a rather apt reflection of Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, one of the more confounding high-profile dramas in recent years. Comparisons to Aaron Sorkin’s HBO disaster The Newsroom might seem lazy and obvious, but there’s really no comparing it to anything else. From shot composition to dialogue and performance, everything about The Morning Show bows at the temple of Late Sorkin, shows whose neutered centrist politics and indulgent monologues, carelessly crafting limp arguments and diatribes around events nakedly parallel to our own world.
It, unfortunately, begins with one of 2019’s worst pilots, a grating 63-minute introduction to its world of morally compromised broadcast news players. As it builds out its world of producers, lackeys, stars, and C-suite executives, The Morning Show‘s first (and most of its second) hour painfully imitates the worst Sorkin-isms with glee, a series of painfully overt character introductions and an overwhelming feeling the script is about five years behind on the many conversations it wants to have about gender, power, political conflict, and the state of broadcast news.
At the center of it all is Jennifer Aniston, relishing in the decidedly two-dimensional Alex Levy, host of the eponymous show-within-a-show. When the delicate balance she’s found between being a mother, a star, and a serious contributor to the morning show culture, is disrupted by sexual misconduct allegations against her co-host Mitch Kessler (Steven Carell, doing the best he can with it all), it becomes an inflection point in her career.
To her credit, Aniston justifies the hype of her streaming debut; her committed performance allows her to run the full emotional gamut of Alex’s life, grounding her with an emotional restraint I only wish carried through to the writing. Both to its benefit and detriment, it writes around its star, offering Aniston all the room in the world for showy, dedicated, awards bait. And though it carefully avoids falling completely into a series of tropes and cliches about women almost having it all – and what they’re willing to sacrifice to achieve it – there’s no denying how the basic notes of her character are pounding over and over in early episodes, to dull effect.
The same goes for Reese Witherspoon’s Bradley Jackson, a woman whose Libertarian opinions and rough edges have stalled her career as a try-hard journalist… for a conservative news outlet (twist!). In the pilot, Bradley gets fired for yelling at someone during a protest against the coal industry, a speech that absolutely belongs in the Both Sides-ism Hall of Fame. Experienced and naive, whip-smart but held back by her own intelligence, Witherspoon’s overbearing presence as Bradley combines with some of the show’s clumsiest writing, an unremarkable attempt to subvert expectations on multiple levels.
Jackson’s character begins to come together by the third hour (once Jay Carson, the show’s creator, was fired and no longer credited on scripts), after she’s thrown unexpectedly into the mix by an Alex Levy power move; “unexpected” in that Bradley didn’t see it coming, though it is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer where the first 110-plus minutes of plot is heading. But it’s a painful road to get there, one full of asides about blue-collar upbringings and frustrations with the left and right (centrism, baby!), with the obligatory tinges of bad mom drama and professional insecurity.
Bradley’s character becomes an unfortunate mouthpiece for all the issues The Morning Show is woefully equipped to handle; the fossil fuel industry, what’s wrong with broadcast news… and in “That Women,” abortion, when she accidentally (or…??) reveals what the show treats as a Deep, Dark Secret of her past… and then immediately drops as an actual plot halfway through “That Woman,” folding it into the background noise that is the capital-d Drama surrounding the fictional Morning Show.
(This happens on her second broadcast, I might add, during her attempt to subtly undermine the wickedly facile dialogue being fed to everyone from cue cards and teleprompters.)
The benefit of having such a large, talented cast and prestigious directors (Mimi Leder and Lynn Shelton direct three of the first four hours) does allow The Morning Show to occasionally stumble into being quite watchable. There’s strange chemistry to the cast, and it combines with the sharp direction to breathe life in between the many instances where The Morning Show trips over itself with bloated plots and repetitive character beats.
There are a number of scenes in the third and fourth episode that are genuinely compelling, in a sadistic kind of way: the writing and performances are so confident and dedicated to what they’re trying to say, even when it is blindingly obvious The Morning Show is ill-equipped to catalyze on the many compelling ideas it throws into the mix. It can be fun to watch, an incongruous relationship between style and substance that is occasionally intoxicating in the sheer ludicrousness of it all.
But mostly, The Morning Show is just tiring in its dissonance, and its clear horniness for moderation and careful reinforcement of systemic norms – it is more interested in getting participation trophies for being in complex sociopolitical conversations, than actually having a concrete point of view on anything (it’s like the anti-Superstore in a lot of ways). The first four episodes are a confluence of elements, brash lead performances clashing with the naturalistic work of the show-within-a-show characters around them, all trying to convincingly deliver the dramatic equivalent of sugar-coated chalk. There are certainly some tasty, addictive qualities to The Morning Show; but those delicious morsels are overwhelmed by the bitter, archaic nature of its central narrative and episodic flow.
It is certainly fascinating to watch a show consistently jump in the deep end without knowing how to swim – it’s just not entertaining to watch The Morning Show flounder around helplessly scene after scene, a creative misfire of epically-budgeted proportions.
$300 million and those are the best opening credits you could come up with? Dots?
It is interesting how Steve Carell is listed among the main cast; he is not in these first four episodes very much – and when he is, it offers some of the show’s most uncomfortably strained writing.
This show constantly cuts to a shot of a clock alarm going off at 3:30 am. Literally every day that passes on the show, we get Bradley or Alex slamming the alarm off. WE GET IT.
Mark Duplass co-stars as the longtime producer of The Morning Show; of the show’s collection of idiotic male characters, his Charlie is rather carefully constructed. It is unexpectedly strong, and stands in interesting contrast to Billy Crudup’s Cory Ellison, a network executive Crudup clearly relishes in making a brash, exaggerated performance.
There’s a subplot about a simpleton weatherman (the always-welcome Nestor Carbonell) and the young producer he’s hooking up with. She’s apparently from a rich, influential family? It kind of feels like this show’s 2019-ified take on Sports Night’s Jeremy and Natalie.
Yes, there is an episode that ends with an acoustic version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”… spoiler: it is the episode that has a Kelly Clarkson cameo.
Karen Pittman chews up scenery as Mia, a very pragmatic producer, and Bradley’s guiding hand.
The second episode focuses pretty intently on Alex’s role as a mother… and then her daughter basically disappears without mention? I’m sure they’ll come back to it, but boy does The Morning Show like to go on tangents and forget its many, many, many side plots.
Oh man, there is an awful, awful scene where Martin Short plays an unnamed director, who talks with Mitch about what they’ve done, and how they can try and return respect to their names. And then Mitch reveals he knows the director is an “actual rapist,” and presumably decides not to make a documentary with him? It is so weird and distonal, and feels like The Morning Show presenting a weird moralistic litmus test to Mitch.
A Brief History of Survivor Series: A Cornerstone of WWE
Relive Some of the Biggest Moments in Survivor Series history
There are a few pay-per-views that are mainstays of WWE’s annual slate of offerings. SummerSlam. Royal Rumble. WrestleMania. Kids grow up dreaming of wrestling at these shows, and Survivor Series is one of them. The classic Survivor Series match is a five-on-five elimination bout, featuring a variety of top stars as well as up and coming wrestlers. It provides an important showcase for WWE’s talent, some of which don’t always get pay-per-view time.
Besides that, it’s a lot of fun for fans to watch.
Over the years, Survivor Series has produced a number of career-defining moments for the talent involved and those moments can mean everything. This is the pay-per-view that kicks off the build-up to WrestleMania, the ultimate goal for all WWE wrestlers.
The 2019 event is even more interesting than past iterations because of its incorporation of talent from NXT for the first time ever, pitting their champions against Raw and SmackDown. If fans were looking for a statement as to how seriously WWE is taking NXT as its own brand, matching NXT against their long-standing brands accomplishes that. Let’s look back at some of the most memorable moments of the event.
Bret Hart’s Survivor Series History
Many of the biggest moments in Survivor Series history happened outside of the actual namesake match. One of the most infamous moments in WWE history, The Montreal Screwjob, happened at Survivor Series 1997. Knowing Bret Hart was leaving WWE and wanting to make sure he didn’t take the belt to WCW, Vince McMahon ordered a fast count during Hart’s match with Shawn Michaels.
Hart’s response was infamous and understandable, his long feud with both McMahon and Michaels only coming to a relatively recent end.
Hart had a part in another big moment, this time at Survivor Series 1996. One year before The Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart faced off against a young wrestler name Stone Cold Steve Austin who was looking to make a name for himself. Thanks to this match, he would do it. While it’s not often recognized as such, this match was the start of Austin taking the wrestling world by storm and building a legendary career that fans still talk about.
Notable Survivor Series Debuts
A WWE franchise player, The Undertaker himself debuted at Survivor Series 1990, starting arguably the most legendary run for any gimmick in wrestling history. The next year at Survivor Series 1991, The Undertaker would go on to defeat Hulk Hogan for the World Championship and cement his legacy as ‘The Phenom.’
The Undertaker wasn’t the only wrestler to debut at the venerable pay-per-view. The Shield, a faction that would go one to produce three major singles champions, made their first main roster appearance at Survivor Series 2012. They came through the crowd and destroyed both John Cena and Ryback on behalf of CM Punk. The legendary Sting made his first WWE appearance at Survivor Series 2014, attacking Triple H and setting up a WrestleMania match between them.
Asuka also achieved glory at Survivor Series 2017 as part of her build-up to WrestleMania. She was a member of the Raw Women’s Team, putting in a typically dominant performance. Asuka was the sole survivor, winning the match for her brand and eventually going on to win the first Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Unfortunately, she didn’t win her match at WrestleMania, a loss that took months and months to recover from. Now, it seems like she’s finally back on track alongside Kairi Sane as the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Many big names have been sole survivors, as well. Roman Reigns, Kofi Kingston, Andre the Giant, and Lex Luger have all held that distinction. The likes of Ric Flair, The Rock, and Dolph Ziggler have been sole survivors on two separate occasions each. Randy Orton holds the unique distinction of being a three-time sole survivor, though that’s no surprise for ‘The Viper.’ He is nothing if not a survivor.
Now. Then. Forever.
The big four pay-per-views will always have a special place in the hearts of WWE fans, and Survivor Series is no exception. While every moment on screen plays a role in building a successful wrestler, showing up and showing out in big moments like this set the tone for the rest of the year.
Some of the biggest names in WWE history have made their names at Survivor Series, possibly even more so than WrestleMania. Survivor Series was created to play off the success of Andre the Giant versus Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. Both men led their own teams at the inaugural event, featuring some of the biggest talents of their time.
That continues today as modern talent use this traditional pay-per-view event as a means of launching careers. It’s one of those events young wrestlers grow up dreaming about.
‘The World According to Jeff Goldblum’ is a Quirky and Oddly Engrossing Worldview of Modern Culture
Disney Plus launched on November 12th to the general public and with it came ten new pilot episodes for upcoming original shows including Star Wars: The Mandalorian and Pixar In Real Life. Out of all the original television series to debut on opening day, one strikingly stands out from the rest: a quirky National Geographic docuseries featuring Jurassic Park and Thor: Ragnarok actor Jeff Goldblum that was initially going to air on the television channel before switching over to the digital streaming service.
In the mouse’s newest selection of shows for their Netflix Competitor, variety can be the key to the foundation of building something successful and The World According to Jeff Goldblum might just hit the sweet spot for what this service needs, but it is still notably something that would never be labeled as a reason to buy into Disney Plus. With that being said, viewing a regular conversation with Jeff Goldblum has never been so engrossing before than in this odd gem of a series.
Goldblum Versus The World
The pilot episode of the series turns Goldblum into a comedic ethnographer who indulges himself in the culture of shoe collectors and creators. Goldblum slowly dives into his worldview of the purpose and significance of the common day footwear, while looking into how the business operates and the passion behind those who proclaim shoes to the highest extent. The pilot episode focuses on a theme of revelation while jumping from different specialists within the culture such as basketball teams, business owners, creators, and even YouTube personalities.
If you are a fan of the actor then you should already except what you are about to watch. Goldblum has his typical quirky and childish mannerisms that make him iconic, while he goes around interacting with a vast selection of people who are widely educated about the subject matter that each half-hour episode focuses on. Despite seeming like a show that can easily become a bore to watch, it never loses steam and becomes an exceptionally well-executed documentary with a flair of humor and spice of knowledge thanks to Goldblum’s mesmerizing appearance.
From the perspective of becoming an ethnographer, Goldblum surprisingly does a good job interacting with an audience he typically would never engage with. He never misses a beat as he proceeds to ask serious questions and of course, make humor out of certain situations when appropriate. Never once does he provocatively attempt to embarrass a group of people for mindless entertainment or make fools out of them like other docuseries on specific cultures have.
In fact, Goldblum goes the extra mile to participate in sneaker conventions, recreational basketball games, and even professional science laboratory visits- taking on the tasks that a legitimate ethnographer would have to engage in. All of his crazy yet conventional doings ultimately pays off into what ends up building a captivating show that may even attract audiences who do not care about anything that is being discussed. Goldblum’s personality will miraculously keep you hooked on his wild journeys through everyday life as he attempts to explain his stance on common objects while plunging into a perspective of life he has never once stepped into.
Science, Psychology, and Style
This is a National Geographic production though, after all. It is no surprise that this series would be injected with a relentless amount of historical knowledge that is slowly seeping into the core of the show. In the pilot episode, Goldblum combines science, psychology, and of course eccentric style to form a captivating presentation that is quite unlike any other docuseries. For example, in the pilot episode alone Goldblum covers how shoes work, why the category of clothing is so popular among shoe collectors, and the different art styles of footwear found throughout shoe brands.
That being said, for a series revolving around such a simple concept, there is a substantial amount of content to actually talk about and the production value here is unnecessarily high- hitting that Disney expected production value to the point where its astonishingly remarkable how much passion was actually put into this series. From the editing to the cinematography, this is certainly something that was not made without passion. On-screen graphics are always welcomely flashy, lighting is constantly up to pristine quality, and the focus always remains on the title actor.
Goldblum’s consistent upbeat pazazz and high energy makes this series not only entertaining and relaxing to watch for his comedic appearance, but for an enjoyable source of overall education- something that most other docuseries tend to struggle with when multitasking multiple genres.
The Pursuit of Happiness
Is The World According to Jeff Goldblum worthy of being called a reason to purchase Disney Plus? Absolutely not. Is it worth watching on an empty afternoon though? Unsurprisingly yes. This is a fun family series that is not only educational regarding subject-matter but educational to learn more about Jeff Goldblum himself. Without the big-name actor though it would be hard to imagine why anyone would ever want to watch this series.
Goldblum’s presence allows this series to become a notable piece of content available on the streaming service, however, without him, it would be nothing but another typical documentary series with no real focus. It is entertaining until the very end and is keen on ending off on a positive punchline to keep you coming back next time. Simply put, it is another great addition to Disney Plus’s colossal lineup that will seemingly never stop producing high-quality content.
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