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Where the sequels have no name.

Where the sequels have no name.  (photo)

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Outside a movie theater yesterday, I saw in a row the posters for “Shrek: The Final Chapter,” “Toy Story 3” and “Iron Man 2.” It’s adorable to see three posters where the size of the sequel number and the familiarity of the characters means there’s no necessity to actually name the damn film, an impressive claim upon the imaginations of viewers.

The golden age of franchises (at least from a studio point of view) was probably the ’80s, with its innumberable, infinitely extendable series: “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween” on the horror tip, the lumbering “Star Trek” procession on the blockbuster side, the “Police Academy” films for comedy. Things stalled in the ’90s, but now we have the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut (heh) that is “Saw” and Sony’s puzzling determination to reboot “Spider-Man” for what will effectively be six films.

Yet despite the resurgence of the endless franchise, we are denied the consolations of a cursory subtitle designed to, if not instruct and enlighten, at least provide a trivia answer for future use. If the Elm Street franchise tended to unimaginatively stress the dream motif (“Dream Warriors,” “The Dream Master” and “The Dream Child” all came in a row), the Halloween franchise at least had the Ozzy-esque “Season of the Witch” before stressing the many different aspects of Michael Myers (“Return,” “Revenge,” “Curse”).

03182010_jasongoestohell.jpgThe low-hanging-fruit guys behind “Friday the 13th” didn’t even begin to have subtitles until the fourth installment, the fallaciously titled “The Final Chapter” (just like “Shrek”!), and subsequently had to make up slightly more compelling subtitles: “Jason Takes Manhattan” is a good one, although nothing can top “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday.” The “Star Trek” titles were mostly portentous (“The Undiscovered Country” cribs from “Hamlet,” for god’s sake).

Still, even such perfunctory efforts are preferable to the utilitarian nature of the blank “2” or “3,” which implicitly makes watching the movie more of a cultural given than something you might actually choose to do autonomously and joyously. There’s something vaguely insulting about the “you already know this piece of cultural iconography” attitude, as if there were no choice in the matter. Or maybe the posters are secretly part of a “Sesame Street” tie-in to teach children basic numbers wherever they go, who knows. Either way, they’re ever so slightly demeaning. Isn’t there another way to sell a movie besides “WE’RE BACK! GET READY!”?

[Photo: “Iron Man 2,” Warner Bros., 2010; “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday,” New Line Cinema, 1993]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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