Larks & Recs: X-Men ’97, Stupid Pet Tricks, Jon Stewart, and Killers of the Flower Moon

Wolverine and Gambit in the trailer for X-Men '97 on Disney+

It’s quite a week for nostalgia, as a trailer for X-Men ’97 has been released, Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show, and a Sarah Silverman hosted Stupid Pet Tricks premiered on TBS. Brien Allen has some thoughts to share on the latter two of those things, and Clay Dockery is back with another look forward to the upcoming Oscars, with an entry this time on Killers of the Flower Moon. But first, Timothy Glaraton gets excited about X-Men ’97.

Jay and Silent Bob make Xs with their arms in Mallrats
Screenshot/Gramercy Pictures

We Have a Trailer for X-Men ’97!

Tim: The first trailer for X-Men ‘97 dropped this week, and, thank god, it looks awesome.

If you didn’t already know, X-Men ‘97 is Disney’s upcoming revival of the classic X-Men animated series, one of the many many many phenomenal shows from the ‘90s golden age of superhero cartoons. On paper, X-Men ‘97 reads like a show doing everything that fans of the original series would want—picking up right where the original series left off, bringing back as much of the original voice cast as possible, and using the show’s original art style, just updated for the high definition era.

Now that we have our first proper look at the show, it certainly looks, feels, and sounds like an honest to god continuation of ‘90s X-Men. The trailer even gives us hints as to some of the storylines that await us: Jean Grey is pregnant, likely with either Nathan or Rachel Summers; humanity still isn’t all that keen on the existence of mutants; and with Charles Xavier presumed dead, his school for mutants has been bequeathed to longtime frenemy Magneto—something the remaining X-Men will surely take some issue with, given their long history with the master of metal. X-Men ‘97 is set to premiere on Disney+ this March, and from the looks of it Marvel is starting off 2024 with a bang.

Stupid Pet Tricks — Now with Sarah Silverman

Brien: Do you remember the Late Show with David Letterman? Or better yet, Late Night with David Letterman? Part of Dave’s comedic genius was that he took the late-night talk show format and brought it down to level of the man on the street—sometimes literally. One of the best and most wholesome instances of that was the classic segment, “Stupid Pet Tricks.” Now, TBS has taken that valuable IP and turned it into a full half-hour variety show, with Sarah Silverman at the helm.

Stupid Pet Tricks carries over many of the staples of its progenitor. Dave passes the baton to Sarah in the form of a pencil that she then flings at the camera to the sound of broken glass. Nice. There’s the Slo-Mo Instant Replay Magic. She has a band, Jacob Jeffries and the Stupid All-Stars. And of course, the pet tricks are indeed often stupid, and one of the four per episode gets crowned “Stupidest Pet Trick of the Week” at the end.

Sarah Silverman on all fours in Stupid Pet Tricks on TBS, with the word Slow-Mo Instant Replay Magic across the bottom of the screen

Now, not everything about the show is perfect. In between stupid pet tricks, we get stupid pet skits, where Sarah does The Office style interviews about working with her crew of writers…who are all talking animals. Painful, but sometimes a little bit funny. Who knows, it might grow on me yet.

I will say though that the last between scenes skit features sent-in home videos of “Unlikely Animal Friendship,” leaning into the closing number from the band, “If They Can Get Along, We Can Get Along.” And in these troubled times, as the saying goes, that’s a message I don’t mind playing on repeat in the back of my mind.

Stupid Pet Tricks premiered on Sun, February 11 on TBS, with the remaining nine episodes airing on Mondays at 9pm

Previewing the Oscars with Killers of the Flower Moon

Clay: Here is the next Lark in my series on what I think of the Oscar-nominated films and how I think the film’s nominations will affect the 96th Academy Awards as a television show.

This week: Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese’s film Killers of the Flower Moon may be a stone-cold masterpiece. It is a gorgeously shot, masterfully acted, incredibly meaningful film. Scorsese’s muses from the two great periods of his career, Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio, who each are among the greatest actors of their generation, give incredible performances. And the third lead, Lily Gladstone, is arguably far better than either of them. Everything about the movie not only screams critical success but the type of late-career film that could have won Oscars for everyone and had the movie lauded as a career capstone.

Even as the film was debuting in late 2023, it seemed all of that was still possible, but at least for now, it seems that Killers of the Flower Moon won’t be the story of the 2024 Oscars after all. It isn’t like the film won’t be a part of the story during the telecast. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Scorsese for Best Director, Gladstone for Best Actress, and De Niro for Best Supporting Actor. Notably missing though were both Leo for Best Actor and Scorsese for the screenplay. And neither of those snubs led to remotely as much backlash or controversy as Gerwig and Robbie missing out on nominations for Barbie.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon
Screenshot/Apple TV+

And that shows where I think the conversation has shifted. Killers of the Flower Moon is a great movie, but unfortunately, it is in a field that has several other great movies, and several other movies with even better narratives. You may or may not think that The Departed deserves to be the only film for which Scorsese has Best Picture or Best Director Oscars, but the fact is, that was his movie in the year when the Academy decided Marty should be the story. He hasn’t stopped making films yet, and Killers shows he hasn’t stopped making great, important, and interesting films. But for someone who was always a bit of an outsider at the Academy, he may have to be satisfied with simply having the most nominations of any director in history.

The story at the ceremony though, and one of the few races that seems to be going down to the wire, is Best Actress. Lily Gladstone is phenomenal in this film. Her portrayal of Mollie Burkhart is the heart of the film and the key decision that makes the whole thing work was to center the film around her performance, character, and experience. Gladstone would be the first Native American actor to win an Oscar, which is also a great story and something that the Academy would likely enjoy being able to tout.

The only issue is this, Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter is also in the running and is also a singular performance by an actor at the top of her game. Either could win, and Stone has been gaining in the predictions lately, but either way, the simple fact that the race seems to be a race is yet another winning proposition for the Oscar telecast. No matter who wins, both Lily Gladstone’s singular performance and Killers of the Flower Moon as a whole remain wonders to behold.

Jon Stewart Returns to The Daily Show

Brien: Nostalgia is on a roll this week. Or is it more like a traumatic flashback? Jon Stewart returned to helm Comedy Central’s The Daily Show on Monday, and it’s like he never missed a beat. Or as he puts it, “Now…where was I?”

And of course, front and center of the first 20 minutes was “Indecision 2024,” the show’s comedic but subtly hard-hitting coverage of the upcoming election. As you would expect, Stewart pokes fun at former President and presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, as well as with his “deposed” children. This is, after all, what we tuned in for.

Jon Stewart sits at the Daily Show desk, with a picture of a younger version of himself in the corner of the screen
Screenshot/Comedy Central

However, on this first night back in the saddle, Trump was only taking collateral damage. The true target was current President and presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. Stewart really lays into the age issue, using some self-deprecating humor regarding his own aged appearance in the process. He pulls no punches, refusing to bow to the idea that the voters “must silence concerns and criticisms.”

After that, we got an introduction to the rest of The Daily Show news team, who will be taking turns hosting the rest of the week. Stewart is only going to be sitting behind the desk on Monday nights. The show ended with the traditional interview segment. This week featured Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, where she and Jon had a mostly serious discussion about the election and the prospects for NATO depending on its outcome.

We like to talk about must-see, water cooler worthy shows around here, but it’s not often that comedies, or talk shows, or especially comedy talk shows, make that grade. That said, for the next nine months, this is going to prove the exception to that rule.

Written by TV Obsessive

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