TIME Television

Parks and Recreation Watch: We Didn’t Start the Fire

Parks and Recreation - Season 7
Ben Cohen/NBC

The sweet, pitch-perfect "Leslie and Ron" was the perfect antidote to State of the Union night.

Tuesday night, you could have watched the State of the Union address. You could have sat through the statements and zingers and counterstatements and counterzingers, all wrapped up with hours of punditry analyzing each party’s positioning and long game before concluding that, in the end, not a whole lot was likely to happen.

Or you could have watched two episodes of Parks and Recreation, on which two ideological opposites got locked in a room until they admitted that they cared about each other.

“Leslie and Ron,” sweet as a Pawnee waffle without being syrupy, showcased an advantage of the accelerated final season; we got the conclusion to this two-parter immediately after the more slight “William Henry Harrison.” (An episode whose chief appeal was working in the story of America’s briefest presidency, a true story that actually sounds like someone would have made it up for Parks and Recreation.) In the process, just as the season sped forward to 2017 (when Game of Thrones‘ Khaleesi –spoiler alert!–is marrying Jack Sparrow), it sped the resolution to, and explanation of, Leslie and Ron’s falling out.

In the process, it was a stellar example of how a final-season episode of a show like Parks does double duty: it took us backward on a nostalgia trip of callbacks to the early days of the series (including the pit, which is now officially Pawnee Common) and its characters’ relationships, while also advancing those relationships forward. As productive as the political differences between Leslie and Ron have been for comedy, so have their personality differences: Leslie’s effusiveness and paramilitary-level gift-giving rubs up against taciturn Ron, who winces through gestures of affection as if he were getting a root canal covered by Obamacare. That they’re able to connect despite all that’s gone between them, and despite their differences in style, is at least as important as their looking past their differences in politics.

Speaking of which, it’s significant here that “Leslie and Ron” didn’t choose to wrap up the two friends’ conflict over the Newport land at the same time as they cleared the air over Morningstar and April. Parks is a genial enough sitcom that I suspect it will split the difference on that eventually. But first it re-made its biggest point: that deeply held beliefs don’t have to get in the way of decency. And damn, did Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler sell that argument, wringing all the heart-tugging comedy out of the episode’s tightly written bottle-episode format. It was one of politics’ oldest conflicts (private vs. public) meets one of sitcoms’ oldest premises (the locked-in-a-room episode).

Eventually, before the season is over, Leslie will win or Ron will win or they’ll figure out some sort of win-win. But not before this half-hour, one of the series’ finest, made the corny but well-earned argument that those differences shouldn’t get in the way of important things, like human connection, or waffles and bacon. Why don’t more folks realize that? On a night of partisan theater, Parks and Recreation echoed a quote from its second season in answer: “People are idiots.”

TIME celebrities

Jennifer Lopez Says George Clooney Is Just an ‘OK’ Kisser

Wonder what Amal has to say about that

Jennifer Lopez stopped by The Daily Show on Tuesday to promote her new movie The Boy Next Door, and host Jon Stewart got her to dish about which of her famous on-screen co-stars have been good or bad kissers.

J. Lo wasn’t particularly forthcoming about naming names, but she did give a lukewarm-at-best evaluation of George Clooney, with whom she starred in 1998’s Out of Sight.

TIME Television

Watch the Latest Walking Dead Trailer

The show returns Feb. 8

After five seasons of being on the run from zombies, the gang from The Walking Dead is still finding reasons to hold out hope for survival in the latest trailer for the series, which returns from its midseason break on Feb. 8.

That’s not the only television event of the evening, however: The Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul, also premieres that night on AMC. It’s probably a lot less bleak.

TIME Television

This Is When Jennifer Aniston Thinks the Friends Reunion Should Happen

Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston arrives at the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles Jordan Strauss—Invision/AP

Don't hold your breath

Jennifer Aniston has repeated her idea for a Friends reunion to take place, well, not any time soon.

“Why not wait ’til we’re really, really old and then put us up there?” Aniston told E! News Wednesday. “That would be more interesting.”

Aniston, who starred as Rachel in the hit television sitcom, said an elderly Friends reunion would answer the lasting questions like, “Is Joey Doughy Joey? Is Ross bald?”

The idea of an aging get-together has been forming in Aniston’s mind for some time. In November last year, she jokingly told British talk show host Graham Norton that it could be called Dead Friends. When Norton replied that the show could then consist of “a series of funerals,” Aniston said: “Then we’ll know that there’s no reunion to have.”

But even as she receives critical acclaim for her role in the film Cake, set to release on Friday, the star is grateful for her time on Friends.

“It was the greatest time in my life. And that was such a great group of people, and we love each other and it’s the gift that keeps on giving,” she said.

Earlier in January, co-star Matthew Perry (Chandler) said there were no serious talks about a reunion.

TIME Television

Kyle Mooney Pitches Kevin Hart in Cut Saturday Night Live Sketch

Kevin Hart is not, apparently, a Bruce Chandling fan

It’s somehow fitting that Kyle Mooney’s recurring bad comedian Bruce Chandling didn’t actually make it into this week’s Kevin Hart hosted episode of SNL. Instead, Chandling was the star of a cut short in which found him trying to pitch Kevin Hart on his idea for a television show.

In the sketch, Chandling runs into Kevin Hart—who’s not, apparently, a Bruce Chandling fan—backstage at at a comedy club. Chandling has an idea for a show: “What if we did our stand up on TV? Like a whole show.” Hart brushes him off, but then Chandling launches into an emotional speech. “Actually, I’m pretty used to not having anyone in my corner, so that works fine,” he begins, and ultimately his fortunes change.

The Chandling character is an acquired taste, but the short mixes Mooney’s brand of uncomfortable comedy and some genuine sadness.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Television

How the ‘John Oliver Effect’ Is Having a Real-Life Impact

John Oliver

His show has crashed websites, boosted donations and inspired legislation

Comedians mock our cultural and political institutions on TV all the time. But it’s not every day that a comic’s jokes crash a government website or directly inspire legislators to push for new laws.

John Oliver, host of HBO comedy news program Last Week Tonight, is quickly building up that level of cultural cachet. While his forebears and former colleagues Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart spend as much time lampooning the news media covering world events as they do analyzing events themselves, Oliver’s show stands out for its investigations into topics as varied as the militarization of the police state, Net neutrality and Argentina’s debt crisis.

MORE Feds Limit Law That Lets Cops Seize Your Stuff

Now Oliver’s approach has been cited as an inspiration for local government transparency. Just last week a Washington State legislator proposed a new bill that would let citizens comment on new legislation using videos submitted online. The state senator backing the new bill credited Oliver’s ability to turn boring topics into viral phenomena through online video as motivation for the new initiative.

It’s not the first time the show has caused real-world ripples. Here are other examples of times when the so-called “John Oliver effect” had an actual impact on the world:

Crashing the FCC Over Net Neutrality

One of Oliver’s most popular segments was an in-depth look at changing Net-neutrality laws last summer. Oliver took cable and phone companies to task, accusing them of wanting to create Internet “fast lanes” that would show preference to certain types of Internet traffic above others and undermine the traditional tenets of a free and open Internet. Oliver implored his fans to write to the Federal Communication Commission to voice their displeasure with potential changes to Net neutrality. The government agency received so many comments that its servers crashed. Internal emails later revealed that FCC officials were watching — and laughing at — Oliver’s takedown when it aired.

Giving Back to Female Engineers

During a segment railing against the Miss America pageant, Oliver dug into the organization’s tax filings to challenge the claim that it doles out $45 million in scholarship dollars each year. Though he determined that the Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the world, he directed viewers to donate to other groups he deemed more worthy instead, like the Society of Women Engineers. Lo and behold, the engineering organization racked up $25,000 in donations in two days following the segment, or about 15% of its typical annual donations from individuals. The group credited the huge spike to the “John Oliver bounce.”

Raising Awareness of Civil Forfeiture Laws

Following up on a lengthy investigation by the Washington Post, Oliver spent an episode explaining a law that allows police to confiscate cash and property from people who have not been charged with a crime. The practice is known as civil forfeiture, and Oliver took the policy to its absurdist conclusion with a mock Law and Order episode in which Jeff Goldblum tries to interrogate inanimate objects. After the increased exposure given to the issue by the Post and Oliver, Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that he would enact major limitations on the law.

Read next: Larry Wilmore’s First Nightly Show: The Underdog as Top Dog

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Whiplash Oscar Nominee J.K. Simmons Will Host Saturday Night Live

72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room
J.K. Simmons poses in the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in California. Steve Granitz—WireImage

The actor hosts for the first time on Jan. 31

J.K. Simmons, a frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actor category at this year’s Oscars, will host Saturday Night Live on Jan. 31.

The character actor, known for his roles in films like Jason Reitman’s Juno and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series, and on the television series Oz, has received critical acclaim for his recent portrayal of a disturbing, aggressive jazz instructor in the movie Whiplash, earning him awards galore including a nod from the Academy. PEOPLE first reported that he was confirmed to host the long-running sketch comedy show.

Read more: Oscar 2015 Nominations Analysis: Who Will Take Home the Awards?

Simmons will be joined by musical guest D’Angelo and his band The Vanguard.

PEOPLE has the full story here.

TIME celebrity

Justin Bieber Will Be Roasted on Comedy Central

The network has caught Bieber fever.

It’s official: Justin Bieber will be roasted on Comedy Central. The network announced Tuesday that Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber will tape in Los Angeles at a date and time still to be determined, though it already has a hashtag, #BieberRoast.

“Justin has been asking us for a few years to roast him, and we just kept telling him to go create more source material first. We’re thrilled he listened,” Kent Alterman of Comedy Central said in a statement. In a remarkably similar choice of words, Bieber tweeted out the news:

The fact that Bieber was tasked with creating more “source material” for the roast, does raise the specter of whether all of Bieber’s behavior (beef! drag races! spankings! drugs! monkeys!) has just been part of his effort to give Comedy Central the source material they were seeking. Perhaps Bieber is displaying Andy Kaufman levels of commitment to the task.

Over the weekend, he proved he could take a joke after he tweeted “Well played. LOL.” in response to the send-up of his new Calvin Klein ads by Saturday Night Live actresses Kate McKinnon (as the pop star) and Cecily Strong (as the female model).


Here Are the Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in February

'Batman Returns' is one of the movies leaving Netflix in Feb. 2015. Warner Brothers

You've still got ten days to watch all those Bond movies

Netflix has announced its list of movies and TV due to disappear from its streaming service in February, and some of them will be badly missed.

A slew of Batman and James Bond movies won’t be renewed, according to the Hollywood Reporter, and a number of BBC television classics like Fawlty Towers and Blackadder are out, too.

But every end is a new beginning, and Netflix will be adding titles next month as well. The company never rules out movies returning to its streaming services either.

Leaving Feb. 1

Blackadder: Seasons 1-­4
A View to a Kill
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now Redux
Babes in Toyland
Batman & Robin
Batman Forever
Batman Returns
Cocoon: The Return
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Down Periscope
Fawlty Towers: Seasons 1­-2
For Your Eyes Only
From Russia with Love
Hotel Babylon: Seasons 1-­4
Jane Eyre
Live and Let Die
Mad Max
MI­5: Seasons 1­-10
Nacho Libre
Never Say Never Again
Red Dwarf: Seasons 1­-9

School Daze
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
The Juror

Leaving Feb. 2

Jem and the Holograms: S1-­3
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: S1­-4
Pound Puppies: S1-­3
Transformers Prime: S1-­3
Transformers: Rescue Bots

Leaving Feb. 5


Leaving Feb. 23


Leaving Feb. 28

Monkey Trouble
Panic Room


Read next: Here’s What’s Coming to Netflix in February

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Larry Wilmore’s First Nightly Show: The Underdog As Top Dog


Comedy Central's new show has a mission to offer a different perspective, starting with the map.

When Larry Wilmore’s new Comedy Central show had to change its title from The Minority Report to The Nightly Show, the comedian told me it was a good thing. He wanted his news-comedy show to focus on the underdog, and he didn’t want people making assumptions just because he’d been The Daily Show‘s “senior black correspondent”: “At least they won’t have that expectation,” he said. “Why’s he not talking about black today? What’s going on?”

Nobody gave the news cycle that memo. Even though Wilmore joked that he’d started a year late–“All the good bad-race-stuff happened already!”–he came on the air with plenty of material, from the Oscars’ snubbing of Selma to the Eric Garner non-indictment, that showed how, yeah, it’s actually useful to have a late night host of color around to comment on it. There was enough in the zeitgeist already that the timing of the debut wasn’t more than an aside: “A brother finally gets a show on late night TV! But of course he’s got to work on Martin Luther King Day.” (There wasn’t even time to work in Bill Cosby! That’s for night two.)

The first Nightly Show opened with a Wilmore monologue, somewhere between The Daily Show‘s headlines approach and John Oliver’s lengthy video essays: an extended standup arc that weaved in news items and built as it moved along.

Not surprisingly, from a performer who’s honed his acerbic commentary over years alongside Jon Stewart, this was the most solid, assured part of the first episode. Wilmore and his writers sketched the routine as one piece, starting from the Selma uproar, detouring to the state of black protest and Al Sharpton (“You don’t have to respond to every black emergency! You’re not black Batman!”), and working up to a chilling news item–police using mug shots of black men for target practice–that led to a searing final joke about police shootings that landed like an uppercut: “I’m not surprised when Kobe hits a jumper. That dude practices.”

The rest of the show, as advertised, was a Politically Incorrect-style panel: Sen. Cory Booker, comedian Bill Burr, rapper Talib Kweli and corrrespondent Shenaz Treasury following up on the opening monologue’s themes led by Wilmore. With the necessary caveat that it’s fruitless to “review” a late-night show after one night–they’re houses that we move into while the wiring is still exposed–this is the segment that will need the most work. It’s one thing to get your monologue tight, another to get a group of guests to be both funny and seriously engaged, all while maintaining the show’s energy and comic rhythm. Wilmore was ready with good questions–“Do you feel you’re just a hoodie away from being face-down in the pavement?” he asked Booker–but felt more tentative in the back-and-forth.

But the panel also may be the part of The Nightly Show with the most upside, the way for Wilmore’s show to really distinguish itself from Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s. (And for that matter, from Bill Maher’s and every other panel-format talk show.) No doubt the show will try a lot of bits, keep some, ditch some: night one, it was “Keep It 100,” where Wilmore challenged each guest to answer a question 100% honestly or be charged with a “weak tea” answer.

The bit was shaky–partly because it depended on the audience’s verdict, and talk-show audiences clap regardless, because that’s what they do–but Wilmore salvaged the end by playfully pelleting Booker with weak-tea bags for his canned answer on whether he wanted to be President. (Afterward, his staff gave him a pop question–“What’s the last racist thought you had?”–to which he said he’d wondered if a white woman thought he was going to steal her purse. Which, eh, Earl Grey maybe?)

Maybe the most important first impression from a talk show’s first night is simply point-of-view: does the show know what it is, and why it is? Here The Nightly Show really has something going for it. It opens like we’ve come to expect a fake-news show to, with the host at a desk in front of a map, but then you notice something different: the world map is oriented with the south on top. The impulse is to say the map is “upside down,” but of course it’s not–there is no up and down in space, only the orientation you assign as the standard if your culture happens to originate in the northern half of the planet.

That may be the guiding principle for The Nightly Show: to approach issues by questioning why we’re used to seeing them from a certain angle. It’s a philosophy that fits Wilmore, whose comic identity is as a free thinker, dryly funny, not ideologically predictable, a guy with the questions rather than the answers. He seems suspicious of overconfident blowhards, which may be why he seemed reluctant to take too heavy a hand running the panel, and it’ll take time to work out that balance.

But he shouldn’t worry about making himself too big a presence on The Nightly Show. If his show’s a success, after all, it won’t matter what title it ended up with. We’ll just call it “Larry Wilmore.”

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