Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Best Of 2008 Nominees: The Shows

Dennis Miller hit his creative peak, in my opinion, with his HBO show "Dennis Miller Live." Several things made this venue better than his previous stint on the Weekend Update desk at "Saturday Night Live" or his future stints as football snarker-in-chief or talk radio agitator.

For starters, Miller had a commercial-free hour to himself, rather than 8-10 minutes punctuated by A. Whitney Brown giving the Big Picture, Dana Carvey commenting on today's society as Grumpy Old Man, or Adam Sandler singing/giggling something on an acoustic guitar. (67% of those interruptions, by the way, were totally enjoyable.) With the extra time, he could go into an extended monologue (the "rant"), chat with a single guest on a single topic, and then shoot off the one-liner captions to photos that were a hallmark of his Weekend Update gig.

This essay is not about Dennis Miller or "Dennis Miller Live."

Since the show was in fact live, it retained the energy that SNL had, and it allowed him to react with a live audience. Also, he had basically come straight off network TV, so being on HBO allowed him to say "fuck" as often as he wanted, and other dirty words.

One of the most memorable episodes was in March 1998, when he previewed the upcoming Academy Awards with brief descriptions of Best Picture nominees "The Full Monty," "LA Confidential" and "Good Will Hunting." He said a sentence or two about each one and why it might win. And then he starting talking about the sprawling "Titanic," the epic that dwarfed all others. It led into his rant* and summarized why no other movie had (let's phrase it this way in honor of his curse-laden show) no fucking chance of winning in the face of such a montrous, obvious frontrunner.
Anybody remember this movie? Came out about 10 years ago?

One of these 2008 shows is Titanic. The others, no matter how good they were ... are the others. Links included for shows that got reviewed, previewed or otherwise mentioned on the blog during the year.

  • Feb. 14: Sarah Borges @ Fitzgerald's
  • Feb. 18: Wilco @ the Riv (part of their five-night stand)
  • Mar. 28: Gary Louris @ Metro
  • Apr. 5: Kathleen Edwards @ Metro
  • May 21: Avenue Q @ Cadillac Palace Theatre (musical, not a show, but still music)
  • June 5: Old 97's @ Metro
  • June 18: Robert Plant/Alison Krauss @ Ravinia
  • July 2: Sarah Borges @ Fitzgerald's
  • July 4: Alejandro Escovedo and Old 97's @ Grant Park (XRT Free Fourth of July Concert)
  • July 5: Bonnie Raitt @ Taste of Chicago
  • July 19: The Hold Steady (and others) at Pitchfork Music Festival
  • Aug. 5: She and Him @ Park West
  • Aug. 22: Soul Asylum @ Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Sept. 1: Aimee Mann and Squeeze @ Ravinia
  • Oct. 11: Tift Merritt @ Americana Music Festival (outside Soldier Field)
  • Oct. 25: Gary Louris @ Old Town School of Folk Music
  • Nov. 14: The Hold Steady @ the Riv
  • Dec. 9: Neil Young @ Allstate Arena (the Rosemont Horizon)
  • Dec. 14: Shawn Colvin @ Park West
* Not technically the exact order according to a version I found online, but it's how I remember it.


Scott Mortimer said...

Take it to the bridge, throw it overboard
See if it can swim, back up to the shore
No one's in the house, everyone is out
All the lights are on and the blinds are down

mpf004 said...

an obscure vote for Sept 1, I guess. Alas, the Best Of MPF list is not a democracy.