Streaming Saturday: The League

As much as “The League” is about Fantasy Football (the basic plot revolves around a group of friends during their Fantasy Football season) it has nothing to do with Fantasy Football. If you’ve avoided the show because you don’t know the difference between a safety and the safety dance, fear not.

“The League” is one of the funniest shows on TV. The first three seasons are streaming on Netflix. The first season is a little uneven, but the second and third are gold. Added bonus for the geeks – a third season episode co-starring Eliza Dushku as the martial arts instructor you wish you had.

Take on “The League” – you’ll be glad you did.

Streaming Saturday: Star Trek – TOS

Because this is happening this weekend:

I find your joke about trading building materials for farm animals highly illogical, Captain.

And because everyone will be walking around with fancy new wireless communicators welded to the sides of their faces. There really was only choice for this weekend’s traipse through the streaming queue. That’s right, it’s time to put on your red shirt (or dye your skin green if you’re that kind), shave that evil goatee, and tell the spouse that they should prepare themselves for the Pon Farr; we’re streaming “Star Trek: The Original Series!”

This is classic sci-fi at its best – the set values are minuscule, the acting horrid, but the stories that they brought to the table engaged, nay, spawned, a generation of geeks like no other television series ever has. So pay some respect to Kirk, Bones, and their pointy-eared friend. And if you can’t muster that, just take a shot every time they have to lean back and forth like the bridge is tilting; you’ll be hammered by the third episode.

Streaming Saturday: Super 8

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So what happens when you combine a Spielberg coming of age story with a JJ Abrams dimly-lit potboiler? You get “Stand By Me”…with explosions and pissed-off E.T.’s hungry for human flesh.

“Super 8” should be a great example of “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” filmmaking. But ultimately, it separates into its component parts, the military conspiracy/Area 51 plot shoehorned into a genuinely touching coming of age story. It’s well worth your time though, as each element is expertly handled (except where they intersect). You care about Joe and Alice and the shit hand they’ve been dealt; saddled as they are with parents who are barely keeping it together (each in their own way). And the alien plotline is a slick treatment of the Area 51 myth. The casting is brilliant as well, using unknown (but quite talented) child actors who don’t get in the way of the story. Really, the only true misstep is saddling the plot with an early-80s setting. You can almost see the struggles between Spielberg and Abrams as they keep searching for contemporary analogues for modern conveniences (Didn’t everyone in ’83 have a walkie-talkie that magically worked with a large network of friends? And didn’t everyone have the ability to view videos no matter where they were?).

I know I’m not doing the best at selling this, but it’s because, with the creative pedigrees attached to “Super 8,” you expect something transcendent. But even if it’s not, it’s still solid entertainment and is one of those rare movies that will stick around in your streaming queue for more than one viewing.

Streaming Saturday: The Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy

There is a short list of “holy trinities” in cinema. The “Star Wars” Trilogy. The “Indiana Jones” trilogy. The “Beverly Hills Cop” trilogy.

Ok, that last one is a reach. But, they did make three of them (I think the last one was made just to get George Lucas involved – and thus cement a place in “Holy Trilogy”). Have you ever watched them back-to-back-to-back? Now you can.

The point is…they are now on Netflix Instant. Is there a better way to shoot a Saturday evening than with Alex F? You probably haven’t seen them in awhile, so I’ll give you a quick rundown:

Beverly Hills Cop – The original and the best. It falls into bad 80s action cliche-land at the end, but it’s great until then.

Beverly Hills Cop II – Guns and Brigitte Nielsen. What else do you really need to know? It’s a good sequel and doesn’t make you hate yourself when you finish it.

Beverly Hills Cop III – The one that inexplicably takes place at an amusement park. And has a cameo by George Lucas (WTH is that about?). If you get this far in the movie marathon…you need to get out more.

Streaming Saturday (err… Sunday): Red Dawn

I don’t know what your plans are for this Labor Day but… CHANGE THEM! Right now. It’s the greatest teens vs invading army movie EVER (and, I’m counting “Toy Soldiers” in that genre too).

Teens vs invading Army? YES! Patrick Swayze leads a team of other 80s heartthrobs (that’s right, Lea Thompson is in it! Jennifer Grey! For the ladies: C. Thomas Howell and Charlie Sheen!) against a contingent of Russians/Cubans who have invaded the Pacific Northwest. How do they do it:

That’s all you need to know.

WOLVERINES!

Streaming Saturday: Breaking Bad

Walter doesn’t give a good god damn about your excuses for not watching his show.

My singly most satisfying television addiction of the past year has to be “Breaking Bad.” Found it on Netflix after half-listening to a review of the Season 4 finale on NPR. I had previous knowledge of the show: “Chem teacher gets diagnosed with cancer, makes meth to provide a financial cushion for his family…” Interesting; but darker than what I wanted at the time. Then, in the review, I started hearing terms like “super-villain” and “transformation” thrown about and my Nerd-dar started to perk up. Maybe there was more to Walter White and his trip down the rabbit hole than I’d assumed. Now, I don’t need spandex fisticuffs or insane powers in every fictional universe I peruse (it helps, but I dont need it); but if you can give me a solid story where a character stands out as if he was someone from a comic, while still existing in a realistic simulacrum of our reality, well then I’m yer Huckleberry.

So I started with the first episode. And Walter made me cringe. His milquetoast attitude, his seemingly ridiculous decisions…but there was something in Cranston’s portrayal of the titular character, something sharp and multi-faceted just under the surface, that I stuck around for the second episode. Then the third. Then the fourth.

I woke up halfway into the fifth episode, paused it, slept, and hit the queue the very next day; picking right up where I left off. You won’t want to watch this series, you’ll want to mainline it like one of Walter’s bags of blue meth. The action is horrifying. The motivations worse. The characters are all reprehensible. But you just can’t stop watching. You’ll ally yourself with one set of characters, then another, then back to the originals. And you’ll know you’re being manipulated grossly by a superb creative team. But you’ll keep watching anyway because you’ll be totally addicted by then and you’ll need your next fix.

Speaking of…

Steaming Saturday: World’s Greatest Dad

Honestly, I was going to write this one on “God Bless America” also by writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait (yea, that guy. He didn’t die in the ’80s, apparently).  But then I realized that “World’s Greatest Dad” was streaming now as well. “God Bless America” was good but it had one huge, glowing flaw: It wasn’t “World’s Greatest Dad.”

That may seem mean, that I only judge a film by another by the same creative team. Unfortunately, that’s the position that Bobcat put me in by creating, quite possibly, the darkest comedy ever made with “World’s Greatest Dad.”

Darkest Comedy ever? Yeah. How dark? Imagine a episode of “Breaking Bad” as a comedy. And then, make it so you feel dirty watching it. That dark. It’s so dark that I’m not even going to tell you what it is about. Go into it totally innocent.

Wait… should you watch it? If you can handle darkness – then I recommend it. If you are not easily offended (because you will be offended) – then I recommend it. If you… hell, I don’t recommend this movie to “just anyone.” If you think you can handle it – I recommend it. If you think, at all, that based on this paragraph, that you shouldn’t watch it – you’re right. But, if you’re intrigued enough… It’s Streaming Now.