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November 13, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, November 14, 2014 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, November14, 2014 - 7A

Sunday Mass 2.0
The resurrection

"I don't wanna see that!"
'Comeback' makes
long-awaited return


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By MATTHEW notably comic favorite Andrea, left
BARNAUSKAS much to be desired.
Daily Arts Writer However, despite the struggles
of constantly shifting creative
would think that being the visions, "The Walking Dead" con-
show on cable (with an tinued to show stretches of bril-
ce that challenges the big- liance that kept making the show
roadcast network shows) must-watch television for millions.
bring stability. However, Under Gimple, the series may
posite has been true for be able to turn these flashes into
ial AMC juggernaut "The consistent highlights. As a writer
ig Dead," a series that for the show Gimple consistently
behind-the-scenes trou- delivered solid episodes, including
is grown to be a record- arguably the best episode of the
g program. Now in its fifth series, "Clear." His first season
,"The Walking Dead" finds as showrunner corrected many
t a crossroads in a shifting of the mistakes that slowed the
ying field. previous season while providing
iu haven't heard about the some much-needed development
the scenes drama sur- in the supporting cast. This has
ng the show, it's enough continued in the first half of
ite its own drama series. season five as the show navigates
ally adapted from a comic between major arcs establishedby
by Frank Darabont ("The the comic series. For now, Gimple
sank Redemption"), "The has found a solid balance between
g Dead,"premiered int2010 action, character development
C and was an instant hit. and questions of morality that
its success and renewal, makes a post-apocalyptic series
nd Darabont clashed over interesting.
and halfway through Maintaining this balance is
ond season Glen Mazzara even more important now consid-
hield") replaced Darabont. ering the shift in AMC's program-
ter an anticlimactic season ming. With "Breaking Bad" 's exit
inale, series writer Scott last season and "Mad Men" ending
nple was handed the reins. next year, AMC is losing both of its
any showrunners in such a major award-winning dramas that
.me has led to many of the have claimed six of the last seven
"The Walking Dead" has Primetime Emmy Awards for Out-
most obviously the periods standing Drama along with sev-
ven pacing and struggling eral other wins and nominations.
:er development that have Of the rest of AMC's current slate
d portions of the series' of dramas, "The Walking Dead"
he stagnant second season stands as its most noteworthy
the characters were largely series and the one with the best
n a farm is a reminder of the chance to inherit some of the emp-
struggles. Poor character- tied awards slots.
of certain characters, most "The Walking Dead" may be

able to leverage its overwhelming
popularity into success during the
upcoming awards season. "Break-
ing Bad" 's exit frees up nomina-
tions in acting, writing, directing
and mostimportantly, best drama.
If "The Walking Dead" contin-
ues its consistency, it may find its
way into some of these categories;
whether it's for Gimple's writing,
the cast's performances (par-
ticularly Andrew Lincoln as Rick
Grimes and Melissa McBride as
Carol Peletier) or even Greg Nico-
tero's direction of the explosive
premiere "No Sanctuary."
But "The Walking Dead" is try-
ing to break into a crowded field
that has become increasingly
difficult to enter. Five of the last
season's six nominees were nomi-
nated in their first season of eli-
gibility for drama series and have
been nominated every year since.
The only exception was winner
"Breaking Bad," which began its
string of nominations in its second
With one guaranteed spot open
next awards season, several shows
find themselves in the same posi-
tion as "The Walking Dead." This
includes previous nominees that
didn't make the cut in 2014: "The
Good Wife," "Homeland" and
"Boardwalk Empire." There are
also shows that have never been
nominated and series yet to air;
the most anticipated being AMC's
"Better Call Saul."
"The Walking Dead" still has
some of the most potential out of
any TV series. Now that it is living
up to some of it, it might have
chance of earning recognition
and establishing itself as an elite

Daily TV/New Media Editor
When it aired its tragically
brief, brilliant flame of a first sea-
son in 2005, "The Comeback"
was a parody
of a genre that
barely existed.
Before the The
advent of the Comeback
and the Real Season 2
Housewives, a Premiere
show follow- Sundaysiat
ing an abrasive 10p.m.
fading star HBO
and her messy
personal life
could only have so much cultural
weight. "The Comeback" wasn't
just "before its time," but down-
right uncanny in the way it pre-
dicted the future landscape of
reality and comedy television. A
2014 "limited series," packaged in
the prestigious, elusive HBO lingo,
gives "The Comeback" the perfect
opportunity to prove its relevance
to the post-network era.
Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow,
"Friends") returns as vivacious
and delightfully delusional as ever,
searching for a way to revive her
languishing career. In the nine
years since "Room and Bored"
(the awful laugh-track sitcom Val
deemed her first "comeback" to
television), she's starred ina series
of student films, appeared on "The
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"
and launched a wildly unsuccess-
ful haircare line. Valerie would do
anything to regain her position as
the "it girl" of TV, and she chases
every meager lead she sees to be
back in front of the camera. A cam-
era crew of students (not evenfilm
students) is following Val around
to record a demo tape for Bravo's
Andy Cohen, her endeavor based
only on the fact that she had a
cordial interaction with Cohen on
The show's sense of humor is

entirely based on how pathetic
Valerie appears. Watching the
renowned and talented Lisa
Kudrow jump around a crowd
of paparazzi, screaming desper-
ately to catch her more-famous
friend's attention, induces only
the cringiest of laughs. You laugh
at Valerie because she's ridiculous.
Everything from her terrible Mat-
thew McConaughey impression
(an "alright, alright, alright" per-
formed in her own shrill intona-
tion)to her suburban momhaircut
turn Valerie into a walking punch-
line. She's old, she's silly and it's
funny because nomatter howhard
she screams from the sidelines,
nobody cares enough to notice her.
But Kudrow's performance is any-
thing but schticky and overdrawn.
Valerie is the amalgamation offall-
en sitcom queen types like Valerie
Bertinelli and Kirstie Alley (who
also had their own "comeback"
reality shows), a tragic reminder
that a woman's opportunity for the
spotlight is unfortunately brief.
"The Comeback"'s cringe com-
edy sometimes borders on overly
acerbic and mean-spirited as the
show puts Valerie through the,
ringer. The nausea-inducing, jerky
camera and lingering looks of the
people reacting put us right into
the scene with Valerie, but never
with the comfort of experienc-
ing exactly what our heroine sees.
We're forced to watch every eye-
roll and dismissive smile, often
in close-up shots. Seeing Valerie
make a fool of herself has dimin-
ishing returns, and in the first half
ofthe episode,whenVallooks back
on the past nine years ofher career
and films her Andy Cohen deyno,
the tone is too cruel. "The Come-
back" is at its best when it depicts
Valerie as going against the grain,
cheerful and determined despite
all the obstaclesshe trips over. See-
ing her with no agency, dancing
around in front of the camera with
no hope of her "comeback," slows
the episode down. Only when Val

sees aspark of an outlet for her tal-
ent does the show regain its proper
Valerie's new opportunity, iron-
ically, comes in the form of playing
herself. Her former boss Paulie G.
(played to douchey perfection by
Lance Barber, "It's Always Sunny
in Philadelphia") is making a
prestige dramedy for HBO called
"Seeing Red," based loosely off his
experience working on "Room and
Bored" and his tumultuous rela-
tionship with the show's redhead-
ed star. Naturally, Val is pretty
pissed that Paulie is using her star
to forge the ultimate accomplish-
ment for a writer in 2014: he gets
to write and direct every episode,
and receive automatic auteur cred
whether it's warranted or not. This
is all without Valerie's permission.
She storms HBO demanding that
somebodyletherseePaulie G., and
stumbles into a casting meeting.
The executives hesitantly give her
a script, make her read a "dramat-
ic" scene in which Valerie's char-
acter expresses her frustration at
being "old, annoying and unfuck-
able." The producers evidently had
been planning this all along, but
didn't have the oirtesy to includf
Valerie in on the joke.
More ambitious than any-
thing its first season attempted,
Valerie is actually giving up her
identity this season, diminish-
ing herself to a character written
by her worst enemy - anything
to be back in the spotlight. The
first half of the episode is admit-
tedly bland, but once Val starts
calling her own shots and making
her own decisions (in short, once
she chooses to embarrass herself
rather than allow embarrassing
things to happen to her), "The
Comeback" reaches the same
hilarious heights it did nine years
ago. And though Valerie seems
poised to degrade herself even
further in pursuit of fame, she's
certainly come back from worse.
She will survive.

James talks jazz

The Brooks return

For The Daily
University alum and world-
renowned jazz keyboardist,
arranger and producer Bob James
is coming home
to play Hill
Auditorium this An Evening
Saturday.As part with Bob
of the University
Musical James, UMS
Society's Jazz Jazz Series
Series, "An
Evening with Nov.15, 8p.m.
Bob James" will Hill Auditorium
feature James $10 to $54
backed by a
quintet of hand-
picked musicians that are sure to
awe and inspire.
Growing up in the small town
of Marshall, Missouri, James
did not have much exposure to
jazz except for a few recordings
his parents owned, but this was
enough to inspire him to make
the art form a lifestyle. His father,
who had attended law school in
Missouri, wanted James to follow
in his footsteps, but James wanted
to pursue his music professionally,
and so chose the University's
distinguished school of music.
"The Michigan Music School
had a strong reputation so I chose
it back at the time for that reason
not realizing until I actually got
enrolled that there was no jazz
department," he said. "I was
pretty frustrated about that and

it took me awhile to realize it was
going to be more important to get
a well-rounded education taking
advantage of the broad aspect of
the University of Michigan and
the classical educationI would get
for his undergraduate degree in
composition and ended up staying
and receiving his masters in 1962.
Following the completion of his
training, James moved to New
York City and began his career
as an outstanding jazz artist.
Discovered at the Notre Dame
Jazz Festival in 1963, James
went on to record 58 albums
and win a multitude of awards,
including two Grammys and
most recently the George Benton
Lifetime Achievement Award in
2006. James' smooth jazz has
also influenced other genres,
including hip-hop. Two of James'
most famous songs, "Nautilus"
and "Take Me to the Mardi Gras,"
have been sampledby well-known
artists such as Public Enemy, Run-
DMC, Ghostface Killah and many
Last Saturday, James was
honored as one of the 2014
inductees into the University of
Michigan School of Music Hall of
Fame. Presented annually since
1977, this award was created to
recognize and honor alumni
who have made significant
contributions to the school, their
profession and society at large.

"It is especially significant
to me (to be inducted) because
when I was at school there was no
jazz department so-there was no
opportunity to take classes in jazz
education," he said. "Now there
is, and that change alone I'm very
happy about and I am happy to be
someone represented there in the
Hall of Fame who has spent my
whole life in music specializing in
The forthcoming concert at
Hill Auditorium is, of course, a
bit of a homecoming for James,
who has played there multiple
times in the past. As a student, he
played at Hill multiple times and
later was featured as a solo artist.
On Saturday, he will be joined by
guitarist Perry Hughes, bassist
Carlitos de Puerto, drummer
Harvey Mason and saxophonist
Andy Snitzer - all of whom are
celebrated intheir own right.
"I'm extremely excited to be
going back (to Hill Auditorium)
and reliving old memories,"
James said. "It's a great venue, a
great facility. I heard a lot of other
artists - pop and classical and jazz
artists - perform there back when
I was in college, so it's recognized
as one of the great performing
venues in the world. It's a very big
deal for me to be going back there.
Michigan has been a big deal for
me my whole adult life, so it's very
sentimental. It's certainly not just
another concert gig for me, it's
very, very special."

By GREG HICKS- retirement single "People
Daily Arts Writer Loving People," you have to
order the entire upcoming
Garth Brooks is the best- record.
selling country artist of all And why won't you do that?
time. Garth Brooks has sold Because the single is dreadful.
over 130 million albums in the It's as ifBrooks didn't once flip on
U.S. Garth Brooks has 11 CMA the radio during his retirement
Awards. Garth Brooks has 18 to hear what contemporary
ACM Awards. Garth Brooks has country music sounds like.
two Grammy Awards. And now, Breaking news: it doesn't
Garth Brooks has the worst sound like hippie anthems.
comeback approach of all time. "People Loving People" doesn't
Back in July at a Nashville come off as refreshing for
press conference, Brooks being worlds away from bro
announced the end of his country themes -.It comes off
retirement, and since then, it's as oblivious. Brooks may be a
been a step-by-step disaster on bestseller, but he's never been
a multitude of levels - from much of a trendsetter, hence
marketing to music. the lackluster peak at No. 19 on
Let's begin with the most airplay.
obvious bit of nonsense in his Frankly, this alleged
strategy: refusing to utilize "comeback" is insulting to those
popular digital marketing. who have actually committed to
To recap, none of Brooks's staying in the game. Take Tim
music is available on iTunes, McGraw as an example. The
Amazon or any other popular "Something Like That" singer
digital marketplace. Brooks is a meager five years younger
felt so strongly about people than Brooks and has barely
purchasing full albums that skipped a beat in his career, even
he fought the digital (single- during record label transitions.
driven) system by entirely McGraw put in every ounce of
disassociating his work from effort to upgrade his sound,
it. Even Brooks's own recently- maintain his image and sustain
established digital marketplace, his stage presence. Meanwhile,
"GhostTunes," has an album- we have Brooks waddling in
only sales policy. If you want with nothing but his prestige,
the singer's new, fresh-outta- blurting out "Hey guys, I'm

back. What'd I miss?" Brooks
may have run circles around
McGraw back in the '90s, but
here in 2014, he's become the
poster-dad for The Wrong Way
to Achieve Musical Longevity.
Start from the bottom, Garth.
Make a Facebook page. Create
a Twitter account. You don't
even have to manage it. Hire it
out. Have an online presence
bigger than sending typewriter
font-narratives over an email
listserv. (I'm not joking, this is
an actual thing that happens.)
Putting music on GhostTunes
is a start, but don't expect a
pat on the back for achieving
less than the bare minimum of
what today's music consumers
expect. After all, if an album
drops in an off-brand digital
forest and nobody's around to
hear it, it probably doesn't make
much of a sound.
Maintaining principles is
noble in theory, but everything
Brooks stands for at the
moment is a stand against
leadinga continually successful
career. And while the stance
is admirable, wasting people's
time and effort is not. Fans
would rather see Brooks lighten
up on a few self-proclaimed
ethics than watch the superstar
bludgeon the remains of his
musical future.


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