AEW, TPU, IDLES and More!

Welcome to What’s the Buzz, where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. This week’s entries come from: Andrew Grevas, Laura Stewart, John Bernardy, and Hawk Ripjaw.

Andrew: Welcome to the Elite. This week, the long awaited start date for All Elite Wrestling on TNT was finally announced as being Wednesday, October 2nd, in the coveted 8pm to 10 pm ET two hour time slot, complete with a new Twitter account (@AEWonTNT) and a teaser video sure to have fans even more excited than they already were. TNT’s nearly 20 year break from the wrestling business after the end of WCW Nitro is officially over.

The video, which I personally first saw on Twitter, makes several things about the product clear. AEW is doubling down on their efforts to appeal to pro wrestling fans who long for more sport than sports entertainment. Whether it’s the intense blood feuds of years past, training videos or the innovative, Lucha-inspired daredevil style that acts such as The Young Bucks utilize, AEW and TNT are marketing themselves as the place for fans who favor athletic, realistic, in-ring competition above all else.

A press release that was also put out this week revealed that statistics would be a major component of the company, with a wrestler’s win/loss record being a focal point of storylines to add to the sports like feel of the promotion.

AEW succeeded on a number of levels here. It displayed their impressive production quality for those that might assume that, since its not WWE, it would look like an indie wrestling company when that is far from the case. It highlighted the diversity of the roster by spotlighting top attractions such as Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho, Cody and Kenny Omega, and gave equal representation to their impressive women’s division, tag team division and cruiserweight type competitors.

This was another subtle yet deliberate way of making themselves stand out from industry giant, WWE. For the extremely lapsed fan, showing legendary broadcaster Jim Ross announcing for AEW is one of the biggest credibility boosts possible.While we still have several months to wait before AEW officially begins weekly on national television, the start date announcement and promotional video went a long way in continuing to build excitement for a product that already had people buzzing. Whether this buzz can translate into ratings and artistic success come October remains to be seen, but as of now, AEW and TNT are making all the right moves. I’m ready for the Elite.

Laura: Punk is well and truly kicking in IDLES’ second album—Joy as an Act of Resistance—released at the end of 2018. Their first album, Brutalism (2017), was very well received and earned them quite a name in the alternative scene. Their style of political satire and sarcastic wit is absolutely what the doctor ordered in Brexit, and now Boris, Britain. God help us all.

IDLES are, without a doubt, one of the most strikingly original and powerful bands to hit the scene in some time. It takes all of about fifteen seconds for the adrenaline to kick in. On that opening track ‘Colossus’ Joe Talbot returns to the mic over rhythmic rim shots and huge, astringent drones, like Nick Cave in his Grinderman guise. Methodically brutal, it’s one of those tracks that just keeps adding layer after layer of anguished noise, with a resultant pile-up of gruelling guitars. When it all finally breaks down, a moment’s calm is allowed before the band surge forward into a deliriously melodic coda, built around punk guitars and gang-chants that any other band would have released as a single.

But then IDLES are far away from any other band, and they do things in their own gloriously unique way. Hurtling into the stomp of ‘Never Fight a Man With a Perm’, guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan provide a soundscape that sits between Sonic Youth and McLusky as Joe unleashes a series of barbed asides that pale in comparison to the lacerating statement of, “this snowflake is an avalanche” on ‘I’m Scum’, a track that sees the band sensibly calm the sonic maelstrom just enough to allow Joe’s lyrics space to breathe before plunging into a chorus destined to ignite the crowd at any venue they play. The shout-along, pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’ sounds like Pavement badgering The Clash for a support slot. The crushing might of ‘Love Song’ takes you by the throat. Joe’s manic delivery borders on the sociopathic as his lyrics bring a fracturing relationship vividly to life.

‘June’ is a deeply personal song Joe wrote just days after his daughter Agatha’s death. He borrows Ernest Hemingway’s “baby shoes for sale: never worn” and declares, “a stillborn was still born/I am a father”. It is surprisingly vulnerable and Joe’s voice is crushingly beautiful. He casts it adrift in a sea of tortured guitar set against Jon Beavis’ pummeling percussion. It’s an epic piece of songwriting that will leave you with your heart in your mouth as the guitars dissolve into arcing feedback and noise.

Toxic masculinity has been a recurring theme in IDLES’ music, and as Joe confronted his grief on Joy as an Act of Resistance, he realized he had more to say on the subject. The result is ‘Samaritans,’ with its conclusion that “I’m a real boy, and I cry/I love myself, and I want to try,” Joe skewers the clichés people blandly throw in the direction of the depressed with unflinching accuracy.

It highlights that IDLES, as musically stunning as they are, are all the more powerful for their merciless portrayal of life in austerity Britain. Joe’s ability to nail social issues in a soundbite is surely the envy of the fumble-tongued politicians who seem unable to escape the inane with each and every tweet they unleash upon a long-suffering populace.

As a case in point, ‘Television’ combines sonic frenzy with introspection whilst ‘Great’ sees the current political turmoil of the UK dissected with a black wit that manages to be both exhilarating and bleak in equal measure. The thuggish ‘Gram Rock’ is a display of guitar-mangling fury that will have you kicking over the furniture with unabashed delight.

A cover of Solomon Burke’s 1961 soul classic ‘Cry to Me’ is an invitation for men to open up about their emotions. It is the musical equivalent of ecstasy as layers of sheet-metal guitar form a dense haze around Joe’s gnarled growl. It leaves only ‘Rottweiler’ to see the album out; one last sweat-soaked diatribe from an album that stunningly draws upon a variety of genres and influences to create a sound that is all IDLES’ own.

I love this band. Joe’s voice can cripple me in seconds. I can probably say with confidence now that Joy as an Act of Resistance will be in my Top 10 albums of all time. That’s pretty, pretty good. Here are three tunes including the current single (which is not on the album), ‘Mercedes Marxist’. IDLES just totally stole the show at Glastonbury and are touring Europe and the US very soon you lucky buggers so get your tickets now and witness the becoming of the biggest band in the world. Mark my word these guys are the greatest thing to happen to music in the last 25 years.

John: Twin Peaks Unwrapped host Ben took a trip last weekend to cover the Lynch Directors Series showing of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me at Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse in Columbus, Ohio. What we got from it is all three Q & A sessions with special guests Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise blended together as one stream of conversation, and it’s as fun and compelling as you’d expect.

Ray Wise is old school Hollywood and a total ham, while Lee is a deeply feeling always-authentic soul. And they had a wonderful rapport, proving there’s lots of genuine love and camaraderie between them.

From a Peaks storytelling perspective, I found it enlightening that Wise explained how Lynch revealed to him that Leland was the killer. Not only did he break the news, but Lynch also described the final moments from Episode 16, which was the Tim Hunter-directed episode many fans have supposed was the “Frost answer” to Who Killed Laura Palmer? (The “Lynch answer” in the supposition being Episode 14). It’s nice to see Lynch having been invested in that episode rather than being AWOL after he finished directing.

Lee told the audience her least favorite part was knowing her parents were presented with the image of their own daughter as a dead girl, and also shared how she never felt closure with Laura and had full cellular relief when she heard Lynch wanted to direct a movie.

There are some genuine comedy and patter around an audience member’s question involving “Cooper in the bushes”, and our own Editor-in-Chief Andrew Grevas was there to ask this: “in Sheryl Lee’s opinion, at the end of Season 3 […], happy ending, sad ending, or somewhere in the middle for Laura?”

And Sheryl Lee answers his question.

If this nearly hour and a half mix of funny and poignant panels wasn’t enough, the Red Room Podcast also covered the event. Host Scott Ryan did multiple interviews before talking TV with his cohost Josh Minton.

Ryan’s just over two hours of interviews include an audience member who’s new to Twin Peaks, Ghostwood podcast host Xan Sprouse, and event organizer Mike McGraner, and the focus was on the viewing event outside of the Q & A Sessions.

Between these two podcasts, the Directors Series event was documented as comprehensively as possible. I’m impressed by all of this dedication to making this as special and memorable as it was, from McGraner to all these podcast hosts. Thank you to all.

Hawk: Upon hearing that the upcoming Invader Zim movie, Enter the Florpus, would be dropping on Netflix next month, I ended my evening with a few episodes of the show on Hulu. I haven’t watched Invader Zim since my college days when I first discovered it, and rewatching it now almost a decade later was like meeting up with an old friend for lunch and remembering why we got along in the first place. But while I fondly remember the show’s incredibly random sense of humor, I had forgotten about its much darker side.

It’s kind of crazy that Invader Zim even made it onto Nickelodeon. Creator Jhonen Vasquez up to that point was best known for Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee, companion comic books with extremely dark and bizarre content.

JtHM features a character that slaughters people that irritate him, drains them of their blood and then paints the blood on his walls to prevent the escape of an eldritch horror. Squee is more of a psychological horror involving a frightened child, who, among other things, almost gets eaten by his child-hungry grandfather and is sent to a mental institution.

Vasquez pours a lot of his anxieties, fears and anger into his work, and little of what he’s done on the comics side really screams “kid-friendly.” That said, there’s a sense of timelessness to the “Someone put shit in my pants” panel that will probably never fade.

Invader Zim’s setting evokes some of JtHM’s dark themes of a consumerism-fueled, dystopian post-apocalypse. There is something wrong, something mutant, about this world. The school is adorned with a “SKOOL” sign, and is clearly one of the most administratively dysfunctional joints in existence. Some characters have a creature-like way to their movement and behavior, and there’s an overwhelming sense of decay and helplessness to this Earth.

When you peel back the wacky voices and random humor, Zim is one of the darker and more violent things to come about in that era (barring Courage the Cowardly Dog, which is absolute nightmare fuel no matter your age). Characters are ostensibly killed, or at the very least pummeled or deformed more elaborately than in sibling shows. One early episode has Zim stealing his classmates’ organs and replacing them with objects. A hall pass is a live bomb collar. Children infested with lice scratch at their scalps until the skull is visible.

The show is generally non-serialized, with each “episode” consisting of two unrelated chapters. Back then, this was a way to freely syndicate episodes without having to fuss with a serialized storyline. Now, it feels more like a liberated, nihilistic approach to storytelling where the aforementioned organ heist episode can end with Zim being engorged with multiple livers and spleens, and the next episode finds things returned to normal without consequence. Bottling up the events in each episode feels very on-brand to Vasquez’s nervous, grim style—Salad Fingers for a younger crowd, so to speak.

Yet, the thing that manages to hold it all together is that liberating, outrageously wacky and random sense of humor. It’s Zim’s threat to send his nemesis Dib to either a dimension of “pure dookie” or “A room with a moose.” It’s a hamster named PiPi (Pronounced “PeePee”) rampaging through the town while a deep voice croons his name. It’s that balance of the cheerfully weird and the deeply horrific that makes it tick, and makes the impending release of Enter the Florpus enticing.

Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Written by TV Obsessive

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