2014 College Football – Week 1 Preview

All Times Central

Slightly new format this year. No longer going to list and comment on each and every game. And because game times are changing so much, each day will kind of be a running log of what is where.

Thursday
Time Main TV TV Two TV Three
5 PM Texas A&M at South Carolina
(SEC Network)
6 PM same Wake Forest at Lousiana-Monroe
(ESPNU)
Eastern Illinois at Minnesota
(BTN)
7 PM same Boise St. vs. Ole Miss
(ESPN)
WF at ULM

Normally I wouldn’t include such ridiculous match-ups on a Thursday, but IT’S OPENING NIGHT!

Texas A&M vs. South Carolina is about as good of a game as you can hope for on a Thursday. A&M has to get someone established at QB before anyone knows how good they will be, but South Carolina again looks like one of those teams that is at worst on the cusp of being an elite SEC team. Boise St. lost coach Chris Peterson, and with the new playoff most likely any chance of ever making a national championship game, but this is a great way to show people they haven’t gone away. Ole Mis is one of those teams trying to take a big leap this year, so this is pretty big game for the first night of the season.

Friday
Time Main Two Three
6 PM BYU at UConn (ESPN)
6:30 PM same Jacksonville State at Michigan State (BTN)

A bit of a stretch here, but again IT’S OPENING WEEKEND!

Saturday
Time Main Two Three
7:30 AM Penn St. vs. UCF
(ESPN2)
11 AM* Ohio St. at Navy
(CBS Sports Network)
UCLA at Virginia
(ESPN)
Appalachian State at Michigan
(ESPN2)
2:30 PM West Virginia vs. Alabama
(ESPN2)
California at Northwestern
(ABC/ESPN2)
Rice at Notre Dame
(NBC)
3:00 PM same same Arkansas at Auburn
(SEC)
4:30 PM Clemson at Georgia
(ESPN)
WVU vs. Bama Cal at NU
6:30 PM same Ark at Aub Fresno State at USC
(Fox)
7 PM same Florida St. vs. Oklahoma St.
(ABC)
same
8 PM Wisconsin vs. LSU
(ESPN)
same same

Some bullet points:

  • Love having the super early game! Love that it’s a decent matchup!
  • The 11 AM slate is OK, at least I get to see Michigan then. Hopefully they don’t lose.
  • West Virginia has fallen a long way, especially since joining the Big 12. Don’t believe me? The spread in this game is 26!
  • The Northwestern/Cal game is important for NU to show they can play without their best RB and WR. Outside of Big Ten country though, this one has little meaning
  • Arkansas is terrible. The spread in this game is 19.5, and if Auburn doesn’t blow the doors off them, they are in trouble.
  • Clemson vs. Georgia is by far the game of the day. The winner will have a huge win on their resume for the playoff committee, one that will be huge if the winner ends the year with a loss. Georgia might be my favorite non-Big Ten school. I love watching them.
  • The evening slate isn’t bad. Oklahoma St. has name recognition, but they are down this year, and Florida St. could really blow them out.
  • Wisconsin vs. LSU contains two sleeper playoff teams. LSU is always good, and has fallen off people’s radars a bit. Wisconsin could win the Big Ten, and if things break right could get to the playoff. A 12–1 Big Ten Champ Wisconsin with an LSU win on their resume will look might enticing.
Monday
Time Main Two Three
7 PM Miami at Lousiville (ESPN)

The only game of the day. Should be a good way to close out the weekend though.

2014 Big Ten Predictions

The Big Ten is in not in great shape. They haven’t placed a team in the National Championship game since 2007, the longest drought among the power five, and they haven’t won a National Championship since 2002, also the longest drought unless you truly believe in “vacated” titles. Losing QB Braxton Miller might not turn Ohio St. into a bad team, but they probably took away the Big Ten’s hopes of winning a National Championship this season unless Michigan St. is much better than they seem.

It’s possible that the conference is a little deeper than in the last few years, but even the teams at the top are probably second tier teams nationally at this point. But that is irrelevant to this conversation, since the focus is just what will happen within the conference. Without further adieu…

East West
1 Michigan St. Wisconsin
2 Ohio St. Iowa
3 Penn St. Nebraska
4 Michigan Northwestern
5 Indiana Minnesota
6 Maryland Illinois
7 Rutgers Purdue

East Division

On paper, this should be the stronger of the two, thanks to a stronger backend (Indiana and Maryland) than the West (Minnesota and Illinois). The two best teams in the conference (Ohio St. and Michigan St.) sit atop this division, and barring something crazy will likely produce the winner of the division from their head to head matchup. Remarkably, Ohio St. misses the top four teams in the West (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern), and Michigan St. misses three (they do play Nebraska, but in East Lansing). This sets them up for very similar runs and Michigan St. gets the nod at #1 for three reasons, Miller being hurt, getting OSU at home, and getting them after a bye week.

Michigan could up anywhere from 3rd to 6th, and despite having one of (the most?) experienced QBs in the league, they have too many questions at too many places to be a lock. Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg might be the best QB in the conference by year’s end, but he loses his security blanket WR Allen Robinson, and PSU’s lines on both sides of the ball have some questions. New coach James Franklin could get his team to third place though, thanks to some easier crossover games, and bye weeks before both Michigan and Ohio St. Indiana is probably the mystery team of the East. Every year they seem to have expectations that this is finally the year Kevin Wilson makes them a real team. It seems hard to see their offense not being amazing, but like the last few years it remains to be seen whether they can stop anyone. Maryland and Rutgers are kind of unknown. Maryland WR Stephon Diggs is one of the best in the country, but the caliber of talent both of these schools will see going forward will be very different than before. I expect Maryland to pull out at least one surprise victory.

West

Although Wisconsin is ranked highest in the AP poll, the separation between the top three here probably isn’t all the significant. Between Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa, if one team emerges from the three-team round robin with two victories, it’s a safe bet that team will win the division. Nebraska is the only one of the three with a crossover game again any of the top four teams from the East, which means the schedules worked out really well for these three teams. Iowa probably has the cushiest schedule of the three, but Wisconsin’s edge in talent might be enough to take them to the division title.

Northwestern is the de facto #4 team in this division, but they have been decimated by players leaving and getting hurt, and it seems less and less likely they will be the hunt. They should still finish ahead of Minnesota, who has a tough road schedule, plus Ohio St. Tim Beckman is trying to stay afloat at Illinois, but this program just can’t climb out of the cellar. A brutal road schedule won’t help and them finishing last isn’t crazy. Purdue and Rutgers will have to have the argument of least talent, and while their schedule is a bit easier than Illinois, they probably will still finish last.

Offensive Player of the Year

Braxton Miller’s injury opened this up a bit. RB Melvin Gordon was a beast at running back this year, and could enter the Heisman race if things break right. Wisconsin’s schedule will give him an opportunity to put up huge numbers. He is the guy right now. RB Ameer Abdullah is 1B to Gordon’s 1A, but Nebraska might not be as good. Either way, these two are by far and away the frontrunners.

Maryland WR Stephon Diggs might be the most talented player in the Big Ten, but he needs too much help to thrive, and Maryland might struggle too much in their first season. Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg might be the best QB in the conference at some point, and because of that he has to be in the conversation as well.

Indiana RB Tevin Coleman is a dark horse. That offense should put up stupid stats and he might be the breakout player in the conference this season.

Overrated/Underrated

It’s hard teams in these categories because every team has someone who thinks they are really good/bad. As far as overrated goes, using the AP poll as a measuring stick, Nebraska is rated as the 4th best team in the conference, which might be a little high. Michigan has more problems than people want to admit, and if they play the same as last year but without the same good fortune, they could finish 5th.

On the flip side, Iowa is the 5th or 6th rated team based on the polls, but could easily be the 4th best team at the end of the season. They are due for a big season that they seem to have every few years before slipping back into mediocrity.

Coach On the Hottest Seat

The only coaches completely safe are Dantonio, Meyer, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Franklin, Edsall, Hazell and Kill. Everyone else’s seat is at least a little warm.

Kevin Wilson has improved every year at Indiana, and doesn’t get enough credit for that. The expectations are too high though, and if he can’t get to 4–4 in conference the whispers might get louder. Kyle Flood is only in his third season, and moving to a new conference probably bought him at least a year. But a disastarous season could cause him problems.

For some reason Tim Beckman was in firing rumors after just his second season at Illinois. The expectations are way too high for a program that hasn’t been a powerhouse since…ever. It’s hard to envision more than 2 conference wins, so it’s likely his name will come up again. Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten by a lot. He has been rumored to be on the hot seat before. But he is coming off his first winning conference season out of the last four, and probably his best since 2009. Even though Iowa isn’t entering the season in the top 25, it seems like there are just enough expectations that a flop could cause a stir.

There are two serious candidates. Runner-up Bo Pellini has 9 wins in each of his six seasons at Nebraska. NINE WINS!!! Kevin Wilson has 10 wins in three years at Indiana. But Pellini has said stupid things, failed to win the division in two of his three Big Ten seasons, and not returned Nebraska to the national prominence they (for some reason) demand. It’s insane to think another 9-win season would get him fired, but if Nebraska fails to at least reach the Big Ten Championship game, who knows.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke probably has the most to fear. His record has continued to go backwards in three seasons. The people in Ann Arbor are restless. There’s a new offensive coordinator in town, so there are surely expectations for results there. Hoke probably needs 8 wins to safely secure a return. It’s crazy to think that Michigan would want to go through a third coaching change in a 10 year stretch, and even crazier to figure who they think could be had that would be a massive improvement.

Big Ten Champion

With Michigan St. and Wisconsin as the winners, it would be a rematch of the 2011 game, and the third appearance for both schools in just the 4th instance of the game. Michigan St.’s offense should be improved, but they lost a lot on defense. Wisconsin has a great running game, and what should be another solid defense. Michigan St. will be the champion, and cement themselves as one of the big powers in the Big Ten going forward.

Michigan 2014 Thoughts

College football season is upon us, and there is no betterindifferent way to keep off the week than a Michigan preview. Brady Hoke is about to start season 4, and is seat wouldn’t be hotter if Mila Kunis was sitting on it in yoga pants. That will happen when your record declines each season, and the most recent one finishes with 6 losses in the final 8, and a 3–5 conference record. Add in the three victories that Michigan was dangerously close to losing, and Hoke is probably lucky to still be employed. The opinions on what Hoke must to do retain his job are split. The non-conference schedule is friendly outside of week 2 at Notre Dame, and one would assume that a winning conference record is a must. Some that tallies out to 8–4 before a bowl game for Hoke to keep his job. Eight wins seems about right. Nine would for sure see him back. Seven (again) probably wouldn’t unless it still included 4 conference wins and one of those was someone against Ohio St. Michigan has beat Ohio St. just one out of the last 10 games, and only two out of the last 13, so a win is worth a lot. Let’s briefly look at both sides of the ball

Offense

QB Devin Gardner is an enigma. He is entering his 5th season on the team, but thanks to a medical redshirt he has actually played in the four previous seasons. He was sparsely used in the first two, and was moved to WR in his third year, before moving back to QB late in the season when Denard Robinson got hurt. He was the started for all of last season until he himself got injured. Gardner is undoubtedly the only QB in college football entering this season having thrown at least 10 passes in the four previous seasons. But there is virtually no buzz around him. Preseason hype is usually overblown, and in this case almost no one is bragging about Gardner. That is a bad sign. The fact that Gardner is on his third offensive coordinator is unfortunate, but this is the kind of team that needs a veteran QB to step up, and at the moment, it’s hard to see Gardner being all that great. Michigan’s schedule is such that it could ride a great year by Gardner to 9 wins. More likely though, the loudest Michigan fans will be calling for Shane Morris by mid-October.

Gardner doesn’t have a ton to work with. Michigan’s running back core is full of second tier guys without much experience. The fact that none of them has singled themselves out significantly this summer is a bad sign. Be worried if Michigan hasn’t identified a #1 RB by the end of the Notre Dame game. Devin Funchess is the Jimmy Graham of college football, since no one can decide if he is a WR or a TE. Funchess will mostly play on the outside this year, so a full-on switch to WR before he is done in college is likely. He has enormous pressure on him in his third year. After him, experience is thin. Amaroah Darboh was supposed to be the #2 WR last seson before getting hurt and missing the year. Jehu Chesson stepped in and played pretty well. Both of these guys have potential to be solid contributors. Freshman Freddy Canteen enrolled early and turned heads in the spring. He will see a lot of time, but a true freshman WR not named A.J. Green or Julio Jones is probably not something to get excited about.

The offense line lost both tackles to the NFL draft. The starting lineup with consist of 3–5 new starters, including one true freshman, depending on how it all shakes out. This is not good. Hoke’s offensive line recruits haven’t panned out much, and even with two NFL draft picks, this was a problem spot last year. This could be very ugly if guys like Maguson, Braden and Kalis don’t live up to their hype.

Defense

Michigan has a long line of famous defensive backs. Blake Countess definitely looked like he was on his way there before missing almost all of his sophomore season with an injury. He was good, approaching great, and probably has to clear the bar of first team all-conference to satisfy expectations. Raymon Taylor emerged as a good player across from him, and hype train recruit Jabrill Peppers is getting Charles Woodson comparisons already. Peppers’ expectations are through the roof, and with Jourdan Lewis emerging as well, Michigan might have the best set of CBs in the country. Unfortunately they will be breaking in new starters at safety which would be a challenge.

Greg Mattison is a good to great defensive coordinator, and his decision to move Jake Ryan to MLB means he must think Ryan will thrive there. Ryan missed most of last season after being a monster two years ago. That breakout campaign seems like a decade ago and he needs to play well in the middle. There is experience all around him at LB, and mistake free play will be important.

If experience is the steak, and dominating play is the sizzle, then the defensive line is all steak, and no sizzle. Frank Clark didn’t live up to the hype last season, and Michigan again enters the season without a pass rusher to get excited about. Will Clark finally have the breakout season everyone is waiting for? The goal of defensive line is probably just to limit mistakes.

Prediction

It’s hard to see this team being much better than last season. How they enter conference play will be a good indication. If they lose any game but the Notre Dame one, start looking at coaching resumes. When it’s all said and done, 7–5 (4–4) seems likely:

WeekOpponentPredictionChance of Winning
1Appalachian StateWHighly Likely
2@ Notre DameLUnlikely
3Miami (OH)WHighly Likely
4UtahWLikely
5MinnesotaWHighly Likely
6@ RutgersWLikely
7Penn St.WToss Up
8BYE--
9@ Michigan StLUnlikely
10IndianaLUnlikely
11@ NorthwesternLUnlikely
12BYE--
13MarylandWLikely
14@ Ohio St.LHighly Unlikely

It’s impossible to see them beating Michigan St. anywhere, and even without Braxton Miller, Ohio St. on the road seems impossible, although a lot can change by then. The pivotal games on this schedule are Penn St., Indiana, Maryland and @Northwestern. Michigan almost certainly will lose one game to a team they should beat, and therefore losing at home to Maryland or Indiana will likely be that 5th loss that costs Hoke his job. Penn St. is too hard to predict because even though they have Christian Hackenberg they lost a lot elsewhere. Northwestern lost it’s top RB and WR, but could have a way to work around that by then. 4–0 over this stretch keeps Hoke employed. 2–2 or worse and he’s probably fired.

Michigan is still not close to returning to glory. Rich Rodriguez didn’t win national championships. He also didn’t “fit in”. Brady Hoke fits in, but he could be done after his 4th season. Jim Harbaugh isn’t coming back to college. Les Miles would probably laugh if Michigan called him now. There are zero other big names with Michigan ties. And at this point why would a high profile guy come here after Rodriguez and Hoke couldn’t make it work. If Hoke is gone, the guys on the list to replace him would not be glamorous. That being said, this is a huge season for the Michigan program.

Pygmy Reviews #44 – Movies

The Great Gatsby

One Line Description: A mysterious millionaire woos the married friend of his much poorer neighbor.

I have always been a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. The run he started in 2002 is pretty remarkable, but the hits haven’t been as great lately. This movie was junk, not because of Leo, just in general. Tobey McGuire has never been a favorite of mine, and even though this is based on a book, the story just feels so ‘blah’. The modern hip-hop soundtrack was actually a cool touch, and was more of a positive than I expected it to be. Hollywood went through a 5–10 year period were every movie was 90 minutes and out. Now the other end of the spectrum has been hit, where every movie scrape against the 2.5 hour mark. This is a perfect example of a movie that could have bee 30 minutes shorter, and as a result might have been a much better experience.

Meatballs (1979)

One Line Description: The hijinks of a wacky summer camp.

It’s hard to know if this was list of shame material, but upon viewing, it sure didn’t feel like it. This was Murray’s first starring role, and Ivan Reitman’s first movie, so there is some nostalgia to be hard here. The problem is that the supporting cast stinks, and the movie isn’t funny outside of a few Murray gags. It’s amazing to think that this movie spawned multiple sequels. For anyone of a later generation, this feels like the main influence behind Wet Hot American Summer, which thanks to it’s cast is a much superior movie. Murray wasn’t a nobody at the time, because of Saturday Night Live, but it’s easy to see where the stardom would come from shortly after this.

Broadcast News (1987)

One Line Description: The rise of two television news reporters and a female producer who cross paths on the way to varying levels of success.

This movie was nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, but it’s pretty hard to grasp why. It’s possible that this movie just feels so dated that it’s hard to appreciate. William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter play the three main roles. This was Hurt’s third straight Oscar nomination1. It was Brooks’ first and only, and Hunter’s first of four. This movie probably did more for her career than anyone, but it’s likely that the combination of her, Hurt and James L. Brooks at the helm that gained it a lot of recognition. Brooks had already won Oscars for Terms of Endearment four years earlier. This movie had a few good moments, but suffered from being a tad too long to maintain enjoyment throughout.

The Wolverine

One Line Description: X-Men member Wolverine goes to Japan to help an old friend.

It’s safe to say that playing Wolverine in the original X-Men put Hugh Jackman on the map. He is credited with being very talented due to his Broadway roots, but his filmography reads a little rough. At this point it’s hard to see his legacy being anything other than Wolverine. And unfortunately for that legacy, this movie stinks. A hair over two hours2, with no interesting characters, or any other X-Men tie-ins it seems. This movie feels like a million movies that have come before it, and like a lot of recent comic book movies, the lengthly CGI action sequences just don’t add anything anymore. They have been done to death to a point where if there isn’t some meat elsewhere the movie really fails. Wolverine was never a compelling enough lead character because he is such a jerk. But he is the perfect supporting guy. At least in the Orgins movie, there was the intrigue of learning how he became what he was, but this offers none of it. Easily the worst movie in the X-Men franchise so far.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

One Line Description: Racial tensions boil over on a hot day in Brooklyn.

Spike Lee! In one of his earlier films, Lee plays a main character in the sense that he is on screen a lot, and interacts with everyone, but he really doesn’t drive this movie. This is obviously a famous movie, and with the event in Ferguson, MO lately it feels very relevant again. Samuel L. Jackson has a small role, Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring from Breaking Bad) has a bigger one and it’s Rosie Perez’ first role. Danny Aiello is one of the main characters and got an Oscar nomination for his work. Lee got one for screenplay. John Tuturro and Martin Lawrence show up as well. This is by far the best of the five movies covered on this list. It feels completely valid today, and even the late–80s feel doesn’t take away from that. It’s easy to see where the tension is going to lead, and again it’s apropos to current events. The style feels very much in that of Spike Lee, and while the story isn’t tremendous, the execution is nearly perfect.

  1. He didn’t get another one for 18 years []
  2. Here we go again []

Lame Xbox One Updates

Major Nelson revealed some features of the latest Xbox One update. It continues to be abundantly clear that this machine was not designed with gaming being the first thing in mind. Nine months after launch, features like this are still being added:

Low battery notification: You asked for it, now a notification will pop up when your controller battery is getting low.

Well, it’s a good thing someone asked for it. No reason to include a feature that was on a previous system for like seven years. Remember also, that the ability to even see how much battery life is left on a controller was not even an option until a very recent Xbox One update. A few months ago, without warning a controller would just die, which is quite the problem when playing any sort of multiplayer game. Anyone who plays multiplayer games with any sort of regularity knows how important this feature would be. And yet, someone had to ask for the feature to be added.

Last seen time in Friends list: Direct from Xbox Feedback, the friends list will now show how long it’s been since a friend has been online. For example, “Last seen 20m ago: Forza Motorsport 5.”

Another minor feature that existed on the previous generation for most of it’s existence. More importantly, a minor feature that probably took almost no work to add.

Microsoft’s missteps with the Xbox One have been well documented to this point. The massive 180 they pulled after the initial announcement is forever going to be a part of Xbox lore. It’s clear that nine months in a majority of users are primarily gamers who use the system for other things as well. But it seems like Microsoft have an idea in their head that the system would primarily be used by non-gamers. That might still turn out to be true five years from now, but all the little mistakes along the way are hurting credibility. The lack of exciting game releases is not helping either.

The hardest of hardcore fans bought their Xbox Ones already. The more casual gamers are waiting for something (price drop, amazing exclusive title, some game changing feature) to take the plunge. People ask me if they should get one, or what my take is, and generally I tell them that the gaming experience is disappointing, and the graphics leap that is generally so drool inducing isn’t there this time around. It’s a great media center if you have Kinect and therefore voice commands. Otherwise the interface is clumsy and unintuitive, and overall just ‘meh’ experience.

It’s annoying that Microsoft is wasting time on features that should have been there from the beginning rather than focus on new and exciting things. Based on the tweets coming out of Gamescom last week, it sure feels like the Kinect is going to be completely irrelevant in a year. Those two things make it hard to see where the One is a big improvement over the 360, and that is not where things should be nine months in.

Summer 2014 TV

Without the podcast, TV doesn’t get discussed in the world of Berserk Hippo nearly enough anymore. Let’s rectify that with some thoughts on some more recent shows.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Although both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have been around for quite some time, there are no doubt people who haven’t ventured into the waters of this polictical satire and ridicule. Politics aside (and a person’s appreciation for this show is no doubt affected by personal politics) this is a hilarious look at current events from the week, and causes numerous laugh out loud moments from the host and the vignettes throughout. Oliver seems to strike the right balance between self deprecation and cockiness and touches on many different topics from both sides of the political fence. Being on HBO awards some freedom those on Comedy Central don’t have.

Drunk History

An inventive concept that may or may not still be funny 10 episodes from now, but at the moment, it’s gold (and has already produced 2 seasons totaling 18 episodes). The premise is that the creator of the show interviews someone with a strong historical knowledge of a particular subject, which the person then tells the story of, but the person with the knowledge is flat out wasted drunk. The cherry on top though, is that the entire story is acted out in a separately recorded video, complete with costumes, and generally with reconizable faces playing the roles (Laura Dern, Jack McBrayer, Johnny Knoxville, Martin Star, Jesse Plemons, Patton Oswalt and Jack Black have already showed up in season 2). The characters acting out the scenes even mouth the dialogue provided by the storyteller including all the mistakes, noises and slip-ups that are made. Anyone that enjoys silly humor and history will love this.

Married

One of FX’s two new comedies, the pilot episode was rough, and smart people stayed away until episode 2. The show is finding it’s footing a bit, and the underappreciated Judy Greer is trying her best to make this one work. Nat Faxon plays her husband, and Brett Gelman, who was one of the few high points of the NBC show Go On, plays his friend. The premise is just a middle aged couple trying to keep the spark in their marriage as they muddle through life. Think a less funny TV version of This is 40. The show is somewhere between OK and Good at the moment, but has potential because Greer and Faxon have good chemistry.

You’re The Worst

The other new FX comedy, this one features Aya Cash, who some may recognize from season 2 of The Newsroom, and Chris Greene, and English actor from parts unknown. Cash and Greene are too pretty awful people who meet at a wedding, hook-up, and then enter a relationship after hitting it off in their own way. Both of them are incredibly awkward, and bad at their jobs1, and seemingly even worse at life, yet go well together. Not only does it seem like the kind of thing that has been done to death, but it’s hard to see where this show goes because it’s not very deep so far. It’s not horrible, and has enough raunchy moments to make it entertaining, but it’s worse than Married.

(What about?)

  • No The Leftovers, sounded too depressing.
  • No The Strain, ew, no thanks.
  • No Tyrant, bad reviews and no buzz = bye-bye
  • Not caught up on Masters of Sex or The Bridge, but nice starts so far.
  1. But like most TV shows, they still don’t seem to have any money issues []

All-Female Ghostbusters

Rumors have been circulating that Paul Feig (creator of Freaks and Geeks, director of Bridesmaids) is toying with an idea of an all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. There are two ways to go about this, one is a straight reboot where there are female equivalents of existing characters, and a second where there is a lot more freedom taken. Molly Lambert of Grantland took a stab at the former. Here are some thoughts on both varieties, including thoughts on Lambert’s choices.

Straight Reboot

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray)

Lambert went with Tina Fey, and had alternate suggestions of Lizzy Caplan and Kathryn Hahn. Hahn is great but not nearly a big enough star. The problem with Fey is that she tends to play too self-deprecating of characters, and Venkman was always someone overconfident and cocky. Caplan isn’t a horrible choice for this, but someone like Sarah Silverman brings a much higher level of cockiness. It’s hard to see her playing basically a lead in a movie this big though. That’s why Amy Poehler makes all sorts of sense. She possesses a bit of more cockiness than Fey brings and could pull this off.

The Choice: Amy Poehler

Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd)

Lambert went with Melissa McCarthy because it’s unlikely this movie get’s made without McCarthy. But she seems a bit over the top for this role, as does backup choice Rebel Wilson. Fey or Caplan make stupid amounts of sense here. Smart and confident, but still a big dork. Both are capable of playing that role. But teaming Fey with Poehler as the one-two punch seems like a huge no brainer.

The Choice: Tina Fey

Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis)

Lambert nailed this one. Kristen Wiig makes all sorts of sense here. Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Peretti were the backup choices. Kaling has too much history of playing ditzes. Peretti is great, but her kind of swagger fits more with Venkman than the straight man needed here. Lena Dunham would actually be a good choice here as well. But Wiig is just too perfect.

The Choice: Kristen Wiig

Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson)

Lambert went off the deep end a bit here with Wanda Sykes. This makes so little sense for so many reasons. Zeddemore is a low-key, cool guy. Sykes is as loud and crazy as it gets. She might be a good option for a more off-the-rails reboot but this just makes so little sense here. If a main goal is to diversify from the all-white cast, Kaling is probably at least considered here. Rashida Jones brings some of that too though, and is both cool and subtly funny. Emma Stone might fit this bill as well.

The Choice: Rashida Jones

Other Characters

Lambert reversed the roles of other characters, such as Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and suggested James Franco for that role. Possibly the best bit of fake casting done in this piece. Kristen Schaal as Lewis Tulley (Rick Moranis) is right there though. This might be a place to insert McCarthy though.

Modified Reboot

The cast should be relatively close in age, and so the quartet above (Poehler, Fey, Jones, Wiig) works pretty well. But this movie doesn’t get made without involving Melissa McCarthy. But when doing a non-traditional reboot, things can get creative. Maybe a 5-man team makes more sense.

Let’s say that Fey Poehler are friends who are into supernatural things. The discover that ghosts are real. They decide to convince their scientist friend Wiig to create some ghost catching equipment. They quickly find themselves overwhelmed with work and bring in McCarthy, who brings her roomate Rebel Wilson along. Boom. $100M opening weekend.

Broken Lizard to Try TV

Super Troopers remains one of my all-time favorite movies1. When Broken Lizard released Club Dread in 2004, it was a massive disappointment. Beerfest then came out in 2006 and was somewhere in between before 2009’s The Slammin’ Salmon was just downright awful. The rumors starting flying last fall that Super Troopers 2 was on the way, but who knows how that will turn out. 14 years in between sequels in a long time to keep the magic. Bad Boys pulled off a sequel 8 years after, but it helped that Will Smith was probably the biggest movie star on the planet at the time.

In the meantime though, Variety is reporting that the group is working on a sitcom for TBS called Quality Time. Seems like an interesting enough idea, and because I am at the point where I would follow Broken Lizard anywhere, I will give it a go. I enjoyed season one of Ground Floor, so TBS is capable of making some decent shows. It will be interesting to see if the show is marketed as "the guys from Super Troopers since that movie is now 13 years old, but I suppose anyone who is 25–40 now would have been 12–25 then, so maybe it’s still relevant enough.

  1. On my comedy Mt. Rushmore you would also find Groundhog Day and The Hangover for sure []

Paul Rudd’s Career

Amos Barshad of Grantland tackles Paul Rudd’s career arc:

There is an alternate universe in which Paul Rudd becomes our next-wave Tom Hanks. He had the tools: the puppy dog charm; the unthreatening good looks; a deep well of finely cultivated, but ultimately unbitter, cynical smarts. If he’d wanted to, surely, he could have knocked out the rom-coms like a pre-McConaissance, naked bongo-smashing Matthew McConaughey. Maybe Rudd got lucky in that he never had one break out big for him to trap him in that look. More likely, though, from what we would come to understand about our man Paul is that he was always a little too off to hold aw-shucks for too long.

The amazing part is that about three years ago, BerserkHippo.com touched on this very subject:

What is Paul Rudd’s peak now, and what would it have been if he had broken out sooner? He still look’s young, so he has a lot of years ahead of him. But at the same time he could have potentially been this generation’s Tom Hanks. Goofy guy, very likable, eventually on to more dramatic things. Hanks did some silly movies in the ’80s, Turner and Hooch, Dragnet, Big, Bachelor Party and Money Pit to name a few. It really wasn’t until Philadelphia that he got serious. He then followed that with Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan. It’s really too bad IMDb doesn’t have a “most similar to” like Baseball Reference does because I wonder who Rudd would be most similar to?

Since that post in 2011, Rudd has released a bunch of movies, most of which I haven’t seen. But films like Wanderlust and This is 40 feel more like that early Tom Hanks, than later. Rudd is solid in This is 40, and he is good in parts like that. I never saw the independent film Prince Avalanche that Rudd starred in, but any hopes of that being a breakout dramatic type role were likely squashed by the fact that most people didn’t see it. Plus movies like the soon to be released They Came Together don’t make it seem like he is getting serious anytime soon.

Still Rudd is such a loveable guy. I compared him to Steve Martin three years ago, but Martin generally plays a snobby guy that, at least for moments in his movies, is someone the audiences are mad at. Rudd’s career still seems closely similar to the pre-dramatic turn of Tom Hanks, who seemed to be loveable in every roll in the late ’80s. It seems that Rudd is happy to just churn out mediocre rom-coms for a while, but that probably isn’t a bad thing.

Amusing List of NFL Backup QBs

Danny Kelly of SB Nation “ranked” the backup NFL QBs before training camp started. This is a super interesting list for two reasons. First, it’s amazing how many guys have moved around inconspicuously. Second, it’s amazing to see that certain guys are still in the league.

Philadelphia Eagles:

Starter: QB Nick Foles Backups: QB Mark Sanchez, QB Matt Barkley, QB GJ Kinne

Chip Kelly is accumulating PAC 12 QBs, and seems to be focusing on USC at that. Most teams won’t keep three QBs, so Matt Barkley, who at one point was a possible 1st overall pick, could be looking for a new team soon.

Green Bay Packers:

Starter: Aaron Rodgers Backups: QB Matt Flynn, QB Scott Tolzien

Hats off to Matt Flynn. He parlayed one fluke game in 2011 into a massive payday. Then he went to Seattle and was beat out by rookie Russell Wilson. Then he couldn’t even manage to stay on with the Raiders or Bills in 2013, two teams with pretty bad QB situations. Now he is right back where he started: on a good team, behind one of the 3 best QBs in the league. But he is a lot richer.

Seattle Seahawks:

Starter: Russell Wilson Backups: QB Tarvaris Jackson, QB Terrelle Pryor, QB BJ Daniels

Has to be the first team in history to have four African American QBs on the team at the same time. It’s interesting that Pryor is an afterthought already since he wasn’t terrible in Oakland. These are four athletic guys. I guess it makes sense to backup Wilson with these guys over Josh McCown.

Dallas Cowboys:

Starter: Tony Romo: Backups: QB Kyle Orton, QB Brandon Weeden, QB Caleb Hanie

Two former Bears, including one-time savior Caleb Hanie. Remember when Bears fans were so angry he wasn’t playing over Todd Collins? Now Hanie probably won’t even be on a roster this year. And Brandon Weeden, another first round QB who quickly vanished from existence.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

Starter: QB Chad Henne Backups: QB Blake Bortles, QB Ricki Stanzi, QB Stephen Morris

When everyone thinks of Big Ten QBs in the NFL they always think of Tom Brady and Drew Brees. No one ever mentions Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi.