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Who Cares About Accuracy, Anyway?

Who Cares About Accuracy, Anyway? (photo)

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This week we finally see the end result of the struggle to translate “Watchmen,” Alan Moore’s “Citizen Kane” of graphic novels, to the screen — as faithfully as possible, everyone involved has reassured. But is keeping so close to the source material a good thing for a movie? This week on the IFC News podcast, we look at the burdens of trying to please a built-in fanbase when adapting a book, comic book or anything else into film.

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As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

What to Watch If Not Watching the “Watchmen”

What to Watch If Not Watching the “Watchmen” (photo)

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Some homegrown interloping mixes with a strong international showing this week to give an overall balance to what’s playing at your local multiplex. Comic book fans can salivate over “Watchmen,” arthouse fans can enjoy a Louis Garrel double bill, and a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-inspired serial killer movie bridges the gap.

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“12”
A best foreign language Oscar nominee from 2008, Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov’s interpretation of the Reginald Rose’s 1954 play “Twelve Angry Men” puts a contemporary political spin on this classic tale of passion and prejudice. Tasked with discerning the guilt of a young Chechen boy accused of brutally murdering his military officer father, Sergei Makovetsky plays the lone voice of dissent voting for acquittal. As the audience witnesses the boy’s unfortunate childhood in flashbacks, Makovetsky’s mysterious juror preaches rationality and reason as he attempts to convince a room full of his peers of the boy’s innocence one by one. In Russian with subtitles.
Opens in New York on Wednesday, March 4th.

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Ten Performances We Can’t Wait to Watch This Spring

Ten Performances We Can’t Wait to Watch This Spring (photo)

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Ziyi Zhang in “Horsemen”
Directed by Jonas Akerlund
Opens March 6

The trailer and the premise — a detective on the trail of a killer (or killers) murdering people in homage to each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — make this look like one JASK-y movie (that’s “Just Another ‘Se7en’ Knockoff”). But then there is the against-type casting of Ziyi Zhang (or Zhang Ziyi; there’s so much continued confusion over how this poor woman prefers to be credited that even the “Horsemen” trailer and poster disagree about it) as a suspect in the case. Western audiences are mostly familiar with Zhang in martial arts epics (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hero”) playing unquestionably moral characters. There’s something quite unsettling — and thus quite interesting — about seeing her cast in a darker role, acting sexily demure while gruff Dennis Quaid tries to interrogate her, or in some kind of weird snuff film, whispering in the victim’s ear, “Do you feel expendable yet?” This movie might have been without her. Thanks to Zhang, it’s one to keep on the radar.

02182009_Watchmen_billycrud.jpgBilly Crudup in “Watchmen”
Directed by Zack Snyder
Opens March 6

It may have been a struggle for Billy Crudup to create the near-omnipotent, often totally naked Dr. Manhattan — performing his scenes in a white mocap suit covered in blue lights had to be so precise that Crudup told Entertainment Weekly that if he “caught the slightest glimpse of [himself] in any reflecting surface, the illusion was crushed” — but the results look remarkable, if the trailer’s anything to go by. Not only does the finished character look exactly like the Dr. Manhattan of the “Watchmen” comic books, it still bears an eerie resemblance to Crudup himself.

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