Morgan Freeman Cleans Up a School, Robert and Billy Crystal Get Analytical, and Who Watched the Watchmen: Thirty Twenty Ten – Mar 1-7

Chip and Dale have new jobs, Cruel Intentions is all high schoolers can think about, The Coreys combine forces yet again, Maxis cuts the ribbon on Sim City, Harold Ramis’ highest grossing movie ever, Stanley Kubrick dies, the most anticipated/dreaded comic book adaptation of all-time, U2 won’t go away, and Japan has a new superhero game and we don’t! All that and more this week on Thirty Twenty Ten, your weekly look back on the week that was 30, 20, and 10 years ago.

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11 thoughts on “Morgan Freeman Cleans Up a School, Robert and Billy Crystal Get Analytical, and Who Watched the Watchmen: Thirty Twenty Ten – Mar 1-7

  1. On Watchmen adaptations:

    I saw this and liked it pretty well aside from the ending for the reasons y’all mentioned. My favorite dumb thing about it is that the video game was so awful that when I decided to get the BBlu-Ry a month after it came out, the version that came bundled with the game was marked down to $15 while the regular version was $24. I played it for about two hours and negative nine dollars feels too expensive.

  2. oh man.I just realized … was my mean sixth grade teacher Mr. Hankins inspired by Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me?! Sounded just like Mr. Hankins in the trailer.

    I feel like the last season of Mad About You is soooooo bad. I hope you guys keep bringing it up until that odd finale in May.

    Oh! Jimmy Fallon’s first night as Late Night Host. I turned it off in 2 seconds and never turned back. He’s so damn cringy and gimmicky.

  3. Gonna have to disagree with your guys assessment of Watchmen as a ‘fine’ adaptation. Speaking as a huge fan of the comics, for me it’s an adaptation that completely nails the surface level stuff (the visuals, the soundtrack, the casting – except for Akerman who looks too young for the role) but gets the tone and spirit of the original material dead wrong.

    Snyder got totally carried away with the R rating and went way overboard with the violence. In the comics the violence is very deliberately unshowy, sudden and brutal. The movie glorifies and fetishises violence to such a degree that it loses all shock value and it tries so hard to be mature and gritty it overshoots and ends up looking anything but. The Dr Manhattan set piece is by far the best bit (Snyder excels at smaller vignettes and especially trailers rather than long form storytelling), but even that is spoiled a bit by the totally gratuitous blood and guts that Snyder insisted on adding.

    I hate what the movie does to Dan and Laurie most of all. In the comic there’s a scene where they have to fight off a gang of muggers in a back alley and its a key character moment for both of them as they rediscover their agency and reclaim their superhero identities and in Dan’s case, get over his impotence. Its a little twisted but is sweet in a way. In the movie they straight up murder the muggers, slashing their necks, breaking their arms, smiling the whole time. On the surface its a small change, but to me it completely breaks those characters. They are supposed to be the heart of Watchmen – the innocents in a hopeless world, and the movie completely trashes that. Its similar to what Snyder eventually ended up doing to Batman and Superman.

    I genuinely Snyder set out to make a faithful adaptation that would please the fans – I just think he misunderstands the source material on a really fundamental level.

    The plot itself in Watchmen isn’t the most important aspect – it’s really more of a character study and genre deconstruction and the genius lies in how it is told, so stripping the plot down to the essentials I think would make it really hard for someone not already invested in the comics to care much. So my advice to Sarah – don’t watch the movie, read the graphic novel instead. It’s a classic.

    1. I’m with you all the way on this. I was genuinely surprised to hear the praise from the hosts.
      .
      If I hold tracing paper over a famous drawing and sketch a picture-perfect replica, it could certainly be called pretty. But it wouldn’t have any of the soul or artistry of the original. All Zack Snyder proved with his Watchmen adaptation is that he could replicate the look of specific comic panels. He clearly had no real understanding of the source material beyond the most superficial “yeah, they kick ass!” reading.

      1. Yep – that’s a perfect analogy. Despite some visual flourishes, the movie just comes across as so soulless to me – you could also say it’s like an overproduced cover version of a classic song. I genuinely think some people think the only thing of interest about Watchmen is that it’s ‘badass’ because it has sex and violence in it, which was transgressive at the time, when there is so much more to it than that.

        The only way it really could have worked on screen. As for the upcoming HBO sequel series, and the comic prequels, and introducing the Watchmen characters into the main DC universe, I don’t really understand the point of any of it. To me Watchmen is a perfectly self-contained work. It’s like someone making a sequel or prequel to a classic standalone movie like The Shawshank Redemption. I mean, you could do that, but I really don’t know why you would. The story is over, it’s done.

        I also disagree with the notion that Alan Moore some kind of spoilsport embittered crank. That’s certainly a part he plays from time to time, but my opinion of him has always been that he’s a true artist, with all that entails. He’s utterly fearless, every project he embarks on is utterly different to the last, he doesn’t care about money or success and he does whatever he wants to. I certainly don’t like everything he’s ever done, but I respect him completely.

        1. oops, typo – meant to say The only way it really could have worked on screen would have been a miniseries which would have allowed more time for character development.

  4. I haven’t seen Watchmen since seeing it in the theater. Though I have the director’s cut DVD back in Florida. Haven’t read the comic though.

    But the Watchmen film, like many, I was hyped for it. I even managed to get a former friend into it. He noticed Billy Crudup was in it thanks to hearing him in the Princess Mononoke English dub.

    But I did feel the hype. I knew the takeaways like people commenting a lot on the fact that they saw Dr. Manhattan’s penis. And fuck yeah, Saturday Morning Watchmen.

    But anyway, Zack Snyder I do feel he was more suited for Watchmen and not DC. Like, the dark, very cynical, kind of decontructionist take on superheroes is more aglined with his sensibilities than Superman or Batman. Or even Justice League. I do think however Watchmen in general is now overkill between DC pissing off Alan Moore and the wrong kind of people idolizing Rorschach for wrong reasons. I do think Watchmen has lost its impact overtime unfortunately.

    That being said, I do think there are things to admire about the film. The fact that it got made at all after years of development is astonishing really! And I was there in the theater before my eyes. Though I just recently learned from a friend of mine, Hayden, told me the song Halluejah is about orgasms. So, that explains its inclusion in that sex scene. People seem to only not think of it as a sex scene thanks to Shrek. Which, I’m guilty of. Though personally I would have put in The Power of Love by Air Supply in that scene or the climax with what replaced the giant squid.

    Lean on Me, saw most of on the TV Guide channel. But Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers was the shit! It was the first TV show I watched as a kid thanks to a VHS tape that had two episodes. And watching reruns on the Disney Channel. I think it holds up well. Very charming and kids could still get into it.

  5. Skin deep was an erotic comedy starring John Ritter. That sentence has a very strong, “The words are English but they make no sense,” feel to it. I’d honestly never heard of an erotic comedy (in the “erotic thriller” sense) before this episode. What is the best erotic comedy of all time?
    Lean On Me: Although I’ve never seen the film I still have some strong feelings about it. Usually I disapprove of unformed opinions, but because the basic message of this genre of films is almost always the same I feel justified in my ignorant dislike. The basic message of all these films is that you can fix all the students if the teacher just cares enough (with the unspoken message being that if the students don’t get fixed then I guess the teachers just didn’t care enough). Well, I was a teacher for two years in Japan in a very rural town and when I came back to the US for grad school, I tutored at an after-school program at a not-great but not dirt-poor inner city school. Now, the overall income level of both sets of students was pretty similar (rural Japan is not Tokyo) but trying to actually teach inner city American students was so different from teaching rural Japanese students that I had to un-learn a lot about teaching. But hey, adaptation is the key to life so I read some articles and did my best but I never really felt like I made much progress there to tell the truth. But according to the central premise of films like Stand By Me, if I would have “cared” more it would have changed things. But that is not the reality I saw, at all. Plenty of teachers at that school cared plenty and they still didn’t get great results. Getting poor performing kids to turn around and do better is a _hard_ difficult job that will fail far more often than it succeeds because getting any human to “do better” will fail far more often than it succeeds. What’s something in your life you wish you did better? If I came and yelled in your face, but in a really caring way, do you think you’d just start to “do better”? So yea, I dislike the film because I dislike the genre with it’s false narrative that a “lack of caring” is the crucial missing ingredient.
    In the podcast it was asked, “can you enjoy a movie you disagree with politically?” – So can you? If so, please list any movies you disagree with politically but that you, personally, still enjoyed. I’m not asking for films that you will through gritted teeth grudgingly give the Participatory Medal of “Well Made” to. I’m asking for films that despite having a messages you disagree with, you nonetheless personally liked and enjoyed watching. Does any such film exist for you?
    Madonna Pepsi video 1989 – I had a vague tickle at hearing about this commercial at the time. But it definitely doesn’t seem like anything special; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt09WGx16j8
    Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. To me this was the start of the Disney Afternoon becoming THE DISNEY AFTERNOON. Granted, I was just the right age and inclination to get really deep into the most perfect quadrology of shows ever run-back to back, and get deep I did, rushing home from school every day and watching each of them with rapt attention. Although Duck Tales will always have the most special of places in my heart, according to my kids (6 and 8, the prime audience for shows like this) Rescue Rangers seems to hold up better! I wouldn’t have guessed that either but I was able to get them to binge watch Rescue Rangers but was never able to get them to do the same with Ducktales. The structural nature of the show is also pretty brilliant because in most fiction anytime you come up with an adventure hook you have to try and figure how to get the protagonists involved in that adventure. But with the Rescue Rangers the reason they get involved is “Because that’s their job. Their job is to RANGE far and wide and RESCUE people.” Well, animals, but the point still stands; having adventure literally be the job of your protagonists is a great plot device of almost unlimited utility.
    SimCity: A game without a real victory … a sandbox rather than a goal line. It’s hard to express how revolutionary that was in 1989. Sure you could never really “win” Missile Defender, but this was different, the goal was still the high score. But the goal in this game? Up to you. Want it to be to make the most money? Then that’s the goal. Want to see what is the highest level of population you can reach? OK. What about the goal of having the highest standard of living? Boom, done. Before Sim City, no other game did this on such a scale and managed to be such a blast. Kids always loved building cities with blocks and this was giving them the most amazing constructor set they could imagine. My memories of this game are mostly tied up with the SNES version of this game, which as an objective statement of fact, was the best version of the original Sim City ever made. I can remember trying and trying to get my city to reach “Megalopolis” level of size and no matter how long me and my friends tried we could never do it Literally decades later I went back to Sim City as an adult and even using a FAQ to step by step walk me through the best way to achieve Megalopolis level, and even using all my adult brain cells, even then it was a long hard slog and I just barely managed reach the minimum level required. But when I did it nonetheless felt really great to achieve a video game that had alluded me for so long in my youth. Anyone else ever achieve a video game goal as an adult that alluded them as a kid? Side note: I feel like Sid Meier’s and Will Wright were the first real “stars” of video games in that their names could sell a product. It’s interesting to me that they both came from the strategy field.
    Milli Vanilli – Girl you know it’s true. If a popular musician of today were to be proven to not be the singer of their own songs; would their career end or would people just shrug? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdSmokR0Enk
    “If we missed something cool, let me know”
    I never saw Cruel Intentions for a rather odd reason: I had a major crush on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV version) but right before this movie came out someone pointed out how much Sarah Michelle Geller looked like … my sister. I can honestly say I never noticed it before that moment but once I did it was impossible to un-see. I asked my sister about it, and she said that people told her she looked like Buffy all the time. Like all the fricken time and she was sick of it. After that, when presented with the opportunity to watch Sarah Michelle Geller in what was advertised as a highly sexual role, I declined. And I’ve never seen the movie since.
    Side note: Diana, as someone who squeaked by second year French in high school with a C-, I sympathize with you trying to pronounce those words. Every time I try to say something in French I think of this French Restaurant – Key & Peele https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbBzXPQ4CFk
    Bill Cosby was brought up in this episode and as the nature of 302010 means it’s probably impossible for him to not come up again it got me thinking, is there a code word we could use for him on the show? I believe that Mr. Redacted is already taken by the Professional Wrestler who murdered his wife and kids, but is there another good synonym that would be good for Bill Cosby? Mr. Blanked Out? That seems clumsy. Anything better?
    Analyze This: I feel like the sold cultural legacy of this film will be that it was _not_ the Sopranos and that anytime people are covering a show that could be argued as the ground changing TV show of all time, this film may be brought up. And it will never be brought up outside of that context. I watched it, and the only thing I can remember about it is that it’s not the Sopranos.
    The end of the Disney Hercules TV Show: My kids actually really like the Hercules TV show, far more than they liked Ducktales, or Rescue Rangers, or Tailspin, or Darkwing Duck. I try not to let that turn my heart into a small ball of coal.
    Mel Brookes is an EGOT winner. I feel that video games are big enough that their should be one new letter added to EGOT. What award could be added to it for video games?
    Boca means mouth! I did not get that until you pointed it out. Thank you! Damn this episode was awesome. The Sopranos was just so Shakespearean “Cunnilingus and Psychiatry Brought us to this.” Also let me just re-voice my thought that you all should totally do a Sopranos mini-series IN REAL TIME. The first season would be sometime this year, covering the first season’s 10 episodes and then every 1-2 and a half years when a new season is 20 years old, you do another ten episodes. I think that would bring something unique to covering of the show as you would be the only podcast doing that and the workload would (hopefully) not be too much for you all.
    Boca means mouth! I did not get that until you pointed it out. Thank you! Damn this episode was awesome. The Sopranos was just so Shakespearean; “Cunnilingus and Psychiatry Brought us to this.” Also let me just re-voice my thought that you all should totally do a Sopranos mini-series IN REAL TIME. The first season would be sometime this year, covering the first season’s 10 episodes and then every 1-2 and a half years when a new season is 20 years old, you do another ten episodes. I think that would bring something unique to covering the show in that manner. You would be the only podcast doing that and the workload would (hopefully) be not be too much for you all.
    Young Victoria: About a year after watching this film it was time to pick a name for my daughter. Victoria didn’t make the cut for first name, but it is her middle name! That’s not solely due to this film, being a huge history nerd I was well aware of Victoria before this, but it probably didn’t hurt.
    Watchmen – The In-Film reason for why the world didn’t gang up on the US after Doctor Manhattan, a US agent for decades, attacked them all was that the US was also effectively nuked by Doctor Manhattan at the exact same time. The thinking being that the US wouldn’t nuke itself just to provide cover to a non-massive strike against it’s friends and allies as well as enemies that still left everyone standing.

  6. Some thoughts on today’s episode:

    Chip & Dale:
    I loved this when it came out. I was turning five around this time and I loved Ducktales and Chip & Dale. I’d watch it every afternoon at our babysitter’s house. I loved it so much that I made Rescue Ranger costumes out of construction paper and forced my poor, long suffering, grandparents (the same grandparents who endured Carebears in Wonderland which I mentioned in an earlier comment) to play Rescue Rangers with me and my little brother. I always insisted on being Gadget despite being a boy because she was the brainy one and I was five, though I’m sure that raised some eyebrows from the adults in the room. That’s also probably one of the last clear memories I have of my grandpa who would die a year later in March of 1990.

    I also like to provide a little context for how those cartoons hold up in the present as I’m now the father of my own five year old and I’ve been showing him some of the old classics. Rescue Rangers definitely caught his attention when I showed him the DVDs. It’s not his favorite of the old Disney Afternoon stuff, that honor goes to Ducktales, but he still enjoys it and it helped connect him to Chip & Dale when we visited Disney World. He was almost as excited for them as he was for seeing Mickey.

    Disney’s Paywall:
    Chris mentioned the Disney paywall for the old school Disney Channel. I remember this vividly as we were one of the only households in my class to have parents willing to pay for the Disney Channel. Things like Welcome to Pooh Corner and Dumbo’s Circus truly are the stuff of nightmares. That’s one thing I haven’t shown to my kids.

    Rest assured that Disney has figured that shit out though. All their channels are available with your cable subscription, and they dominate the children’s demographic. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is like visual crack for little children. Every kid born and raised since 2006, and their parents, can sing that theme song. I know people act like Mickey isn’t up to much other than being a mascot, but those characters are huge with anyone 18 and under because their shows are some of the biggest hits with anyone in that age range. Disney has that shit locked down. Hook’em young.

    Shania Twain:
    You guys mentioned Shania Twain and it brought back a memory of a concert my dad dragged me to back in the late ’90s when he was going through his post-divorce country music assisted midlife crisis after being a classic rock guy for most of his life.

    They did something special at this concert. They let a local high school girl come up on stage to sing a song. The only problem being this girl, whose name I still remember to this day but I’m not going to repeat here to save her embarrassment since I’m sure she’s still out there, totally freaked out and barely managed to get out a few terrified squeaks as Shania’s band played behind her. Shania came back on stage and made some smartass comment about sometimes you get so worked up you forget to sing.

    I’ve never seen a crowd turn on a singer faster than that. Suddenly this whole outdoor arena is full of people shouting and booing, but at Shania because of her bitchy remarks. I still vividly remember a group of drunk college girls in front of us screaming “you’re a biiiiiiiitch!” at the top of their lungs. Every once in awhile Shania will come up and I’ll mention that concert. There have been a few times when that’s led to someone else saying they were there too. We always look at each other, smile, and say that poor girl’s name because it’s stuck with everyone who was there. Then we laugh about the night the crowd turned on Shania Twain because Brad Pitt wasn’t the only random diss she threw out that night.

  7. Haha! Great episode, turns out the Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers theme song was hidden away in my brain. Still knew all the words, it was enlightening.
    Cruel Intentions, rated R for showing Ryan Phillippe’s gorgeous bum. My friends and I rented that movie for sooo many sleepovers!

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