DID YOU READ

Star Trek II: The Wrath of the Allegory.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of the Allegory. (photo)

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As someone who dug the way this year’s “Star Trek” reboot dug up memories from a few years of a wasted youth (let’s not talk about it), I’m none too thrilled at this piece in the LA Times that suggests that for the sequel, J.J. Abrams & co. are considering adding topical political allegory.

Co-writer Robert Orci says that in post-release interviews with “the fans,” a phrase that came up a lot was “Make sure the next one deals with modern-day issues.” Boucher inquired if that meant “Starfleet grappling with the ethics of torture or dealing with a rising terrorist threat or perhaps a painful, politicized war with the Klingons.” Orci: “Well yeah, those are the kind of issues we’re talking about. Wow, you’re good!”

Um, not necessarily. Boucher just knows exactly what kind of “issues” Hollywood feels comfortable shoving into a blockbuster — ones that are at least two years old and for which there’s an easy position to fall back on.

To be sure, Gene Roddenberry’s intentions for the original show were unbelievably grandiose. The crew was multi-racial and male-female to demonstrate the end of racism and sexism in the future. The Vulcan race was there to show us how to end our violent instincts and cultivate peace. The futuristic setting let Roddenberry, in his own words, “make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles.” And none of these were the reason it became a cult hit and eventual occasional commercial juggernaut. That happened because the show was so detailed and meticulous about creating its own universe (literally) in a way people didn’t get much on ’60s and ’70s TV. It’s no wonder that J.J. “Lost” Abrams dug its potential for a multi-faceted landscape to be explored in detail.

What the new “Star Trek” did so nicely was ignore all the idealist garbage and concentrate on the basics: characters with hard-earned, long-forged camaraderie battling through a hostile, surprising universe. “Star Trek” can stand next to “Spider-Man 2” as a rare example of intelligently crafted blockbuster life in the 21st century. So why, pray tell, ship the Klingons off to the camps or make them Islamic extremists? Summer blockbusters don’t do subtlety well, which means that any allegory about the present global climate rendered in “Star Trek” terms will be clunky and leaden and will just slow stuff down.

The “Trek” fanbase will always believe there’s no more sophisticated way to address geopolitical problems than via prosthetics, green make-up and didactic speeches, but everyone else will throw their hands up, and rightfully so. Orci and Abrams? You did good. Now please don’t do this.

[Photo: Classic “Trek,” Paramount, 1966]

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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