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June 07, 2010 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-06-07

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Monday, June 7, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

9

SHAKESPEARE
From Page 8
vate for the sake of innovation when
what we had was so wonderful."
Indeed, Shakespeare in the Arb has
become an Ann Arbor tradition largely
because of the first two summers of
"A Midsummer Night's Dream." It
primarily casts University students,
but year-round Ann Arborites are the
core audience. This year, the produc-
tion put up tiny posters in Ann Arbor's
fabled fairy doors sprinkled across
downtown.
"It (has) exceeded my expecta-
tions," Gray said of Shakespeare in the
Arb's reputation in the community. "I
think it (has) really grown to be some-
thing that's this - Ann Arbor institu-
tion."
The University also considers it to
be an institution. The Office of the
Provost funds Mendeloff to bring back
the summer's production for orienta-
tion weekend each September. Mende-
loff considers every chance to produce
in the Arb a treat.
"It's such a privilege to be able to
have access to this beautiful, beautiful
place and to make a contribution to my
community," she said. "As a director,
you're creating tableaus, images, and
I'm able to do it on this fantastic scale,
which I could never do anywhere else."

Neighbors' is hell on earth

By SHARON JACOBS
ManagingArts Editor
Perhaps "Neighbors From Hell"
functions within a state of existential
irony.
The show's basic
conceit concerns the
Hellmans, a family "Neighbors
of demons exiled to From Hell"
Earth. Together,
the Hellmans must Mondays at
deal with the cul- 10 p.m.
ture shock of being TBS
among the humans
as they try to destroy a drill that
would encroach on Hell.
So it's somewhat fitting, then, that
the experience of watching "Neigh-
bors" is hellish itself, and that view-
ers will experience culture shock in
acclimating to the show's outdated
references and the odd behavior of
its human characters. Unfortunately,
high-concept irony is probably not
what the late-night TBS guys were
thinking when they agreed to pro-
mote this unfunny piece of animated
crap. Bummer.
"Neighbors" opens with a scene

of Hellman patriarch Balthazar con-
demning some poor soul to "feel the
pain of a thousand deaths" by listen-
ing to "Oops I Did It Again." Interest-
ing choice, considering the wealth of
more timely hellish hits. "Party In
The USA," "Tik Tok," even Circus-
era Britney - any of these would cer-
tainly signify eternal damnation.
Soon, Satan summons our hero
and sends him and his family to
Earth for watching TV for enjoy-
ment. "Eww, that's where Ugg boots
come from," daughter Mandy com-
plains. Yeah, and also Crocs, moc-
casins - you know, shoe fads that
people still actually wear.
More irksome than the show's
misguided references, though, is the
behavior of the Hellmans' human
acquaintances. Next-door neighbor
Marjoe first appears cleaning up
after her dog Champers. "Hey you!"
she squeals, holding Champers's
excrement in her bare hand.
Marjoe turns out to be a classic
Texan housewife, making out with
her dog and revealing how she taught
her kids about sex by screwing her
husband in front of them one morn-

1
1
1

ing - wait, what? Is this, like, stan- are a few laugh-out-loud lines: Upon
dard human behavior that viewers finding out the Hellmans' true iden-
are supposed to find humorous when tity, drugged-out and homeless-
seen through an outsider's perspec- looking neighbor Tammy exclaims,
tive? "Wait, you're demons? I thought you
No, because if "Neighbors From had green shiny skin'cause you were
Hell" was actually about an un- Jewish!" Regarding voice actors, Pat-
Earthly family trying to blend in, ton Oswalt ("Ratatouille") has an
then it'd just be an animated version endearing turn as badass pet Pazu-
of "3rd Rock from the Sun." zu, and SNL's Molly Shannon scores
some laughs as spiky, spicy Hellman
mother Tina.
It's just too bad these actors have
Even Jew jokes so little to work with. Given the
bland writing and general pointless-
can't save it. ness of "Neighbors," its characters
tend to come off as unmemorable
annoyances rather than overblown
societal commentators.
Instead, "Neighbors" negates its Maybe there once was a place in
own relevance by making its human TV for this show, but somewhere in
characters unrealistic and its demons the storyboard process, producer
obnoxious and unsympathetic. Pam Brady ("South Park") seems to
Besides, if Balthazar is really the have forgotten what "Neighbors"
pop-culture almanac he's written as, was supposed to be about. There's
then his knowledge should be used, a slight possibility that it could be
TV parallels made, movie parodies reworked in the future to be enter-
construed and pop stars ridiculed. taining and relevant, but for now,
But disregarding its conceptual these neighbors should go back
fail, "Neighbors" isn't awful. There where they came from.

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