Saturday, March 23, 2013

Black Books

Title: Black Books

Genre: Comedy
Created By: Dylan Moran
Starring: Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, Tamsin Greig
TV Run: September 29, 2000 - April 15, 2004 (Channel 4)
Seasons: 3, Episodes: 18

Available on Netflix

Oh here we go, don't you watch anything other than British TV shows?

Sorry, sorry. I have a huge affinity for British comedy and Black Books fits right in there. I actually found this show tangent with The IT Crowd. How are they connected? The brilliant Graham Linehan (@Glinner for you Twitter heads) is a writer for both of these series. So what's the story?

Image from Channel 4.
So you have this fellow, Bernard (played by Dylan Moran) who owns a book shop. Oh great, sounds fun. Well, he's about as indulgent as they come. Drinking, smoking, saying what's on his mind, bullying, being surly, and so on. His store is pretty run down and he doesn't really care about people actually buying anything.

I love how the Channel 4 character page describes Bernard, "The easiest way to describe Bernard would probably be: a smoking, drinking Irishman." (Channel 4)

Image from Channel 4.
Then you have his friend, Fran (played by Tamsin Greig). She runs a very two-sided character. On the one hand, she seems to be about the female equivalent of Bernard in terms of liking to smoke and being obnoxious when she drinks, but then she (I suppose when she's sober) she also puts on an air of being righteous and good.

Image from Channel 4.
Lovable Manny (played by Bill Bailey). The third main character. How do I explain Manny. He's a kind hearted guy, kind of slow on the uptake, tends to be a bit of a doormat, and has a (generally) positive view on the world. He is Bernard's favorite bully target throughout the series. He comes off as somewhat childish as well.


I have to admit one thing about this show. The first time I watched it I liked it.. However! The second time I watched it I actually enjoyed it more than the first time I watched it. What does that mean? 

For me this show ended up being what I call a phoenix show. Oh great here we go with the random analogies again. A phoenix show is a show that does alright the first time around, then you kind of forget about it. Suddenly, you decided to watch it again (perhaps out of boredom or spite or whatever) and the show shines much better the second time around. Sometimes this is associated with not appreciating everything the first time around, and going through a second time you are able to gloss over some of the lesser parts and focus on some of the more subtle humor. I don't know, but I liked it more the  second time around.

The humor is very in line with what you would expect from a British comedy series. It is witty, often dry, sometimes obnoxious, sometimes intelligent, and sometimes pretty deadpan. As I said earlier, Graham Linehan is a writer for this series so if you enjoyed The IT Crowd, you'll likely enjoy the type of humor in this show as well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

ISBN: 0061577073 ISBN-13: 978-0061577079
Pages: 576
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue edition (June 10, 2008)
Originally Published: 1998


I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I have seen some people describe this book as feminist (well Barbara Kingsolver is a feminist) but I don't feel like it was heavy handed feminism. The style of the book is revolving viewpoints. Switching each chapter to the viewpoint of one of the different daughters.

A quick plot overview, a family goes on a mission trip to the Congo, the husband, Nathan Price a fundamentalist baptist minister, his wife Orleanna, and their four daughters: Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May. With each chapter we get a viewpoint from one of the different daughters (with a handful of chapters giving the viewpoint of the wife Orleanna).

This is one of those stories which shows the plights of people who are used to first world comforts trying to adjust to life in the Congo where they don't even have running water. The story takes place right before the "Congo Crisis" takes place and leads into that civil strife that occurs when that launches.

So with that let me launch into the characters.

Nathan Price

Nathan Price is the father in the family. He is a Baptist preacher and an extremely evangelical one at that. He fiercely preaches the word of God and is on a mission to save every person that he can. He tends to rule the family with an iron fist and expects them to walk with God. His character is one of the few that does not change in this book.

Orleanna Price

Orleanna is the mother of the family. Through much of the book she is the good wife that follows her husbands orders without question. She undergoes changes as the Congo begins to get to her, and towards the end of the novel we see her become very independent from her husband. She is a generally strong woman, but she is kept restrained for most of the early parts of the novel.

Rachel Price

The oldest daughter. She is the "perfect" one. Mostly in looks. She isn't portrayed as a particularly intelligent person, but she definitely is the best looker of the family. She is also the most vain of anyone in the family and spends a lot of time concerned about her appearance. We hear a lot of complaining from her when they move to the Congo for the mission trip and she doesn't have those comforts that she used to have in the US. She changes a fair bit through the story, and especially towards the end she becomes a very different person.

Leah Price

Technically the next oldest daughter, but she is the twin of Adah Price. Leah is one of the more complex characters in this novel. Towards the beginning of the book she is pretty much a daddy's girl and likes to follow him around when he's working. She also does her best to be a perfectly studious disciple of the Bible and does everything she can to make her father happy. She is one of the more intelligent of the bunch but at first worries a lot about being accepted. Towards the middle and the end of the novel we see her take charge of her life quite a bit and not worry about being accepted so much.

Adah Price

Probably my favorite character in the book. Adah is a twin with Leah but Adah was born with hemiplegia. She is easily the most intelligent of the group, but she keeps all of her intelligence to herself. She is witty and insightful. She struggles a lot with feeling like the "damaged goods" of the family.

She reads and writes the most of anyone in the family, and is quickly shown as the least religious of the bunch. She has a much more rational view of the world, and quickly falls away from trying to please her father. I always loved coming to chapters that were from her viewpoint. She is kind of quirky and pithy which I like.

Ruth May

The youngest daughter of the family. The baby. She is treated much as the baby. One great thing about Ruth May early on is her ability to adjust the easiest to the new Congo environment. While everyone else is self-conscious about being the only white people around, Ruth May is easily able to make friends and even pick up the language of the area fairly quickly. This is one of the great things about children, they are completely unprejudiced and are able to pick things up so quickly.


This book focuses a lot on the daughters in the family. In fact I think there are only a few chapters which go to the viewpoint of Orelanna, the wife, and there are no chapters at all from Nathan Price's viewpoint. The four daughters are so different in personality that it offers a great insight from different sides of the situations that are happening in the Congo.

I very much recommend this book. It provides a great look into the nature of differing cultures and how different cultures often have trouble accepting one another. There is a strong religious background to the book, since the main premise is that the father is a Baptist minister on a mission to convert everyone, but it isn't in your face Christianity. Instead, we get to see the battling forces of the native religions and this new religion trying to take over.

There is a little bit of political focus since this book does take place just before, during, and after the Congo Crisis, but the book itself is not overly political. Really it focuses more on the culture challenges of the regions. So pick it up if you have a chance, it's a great read!

Friday, February 15, 2013

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Translator: Gregory Rabassa
ISBN: 0679444653 ISBN13: 978-0679444657
Pages: 448
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism
Publisher: Everyman's Library (Hardcover, October 17, 1995)
Originally Published: 1967


Wow, this book is beautiful. I can see why it is so often cited as a great book. This is one of the most immersive books that I have read in a long time. The descriptions, the characters, the settings, and everything else all comes together beautifully. Again, I am reading this in translation, so I can't really comment on the original Spanish version, but the English translation here (I'm reading the Everyman's Library edition) is wonderful.

A word of warning, there are a lot of characters in this book. Not only are there are a lot of characters but the character's names are all very similar to one another. The book follows several generations of a family, (which is what makes for the common character naming), rising and falling over the years. This provides for an interesting story line because you follow one family through several generations.

I would recommend getting a character list, perhaps from Sparknotes or the like, which will make it slightly less painful to keep track of all the characters. I made the mistake of thinking that I could keep track of every character and I ended up asking myself, "Okay which one is this again?" Unfortunately, this book is not available as a Kindle edition, because if it was you could use X-Ray to help keep track easier.

This is a heavily character driven book as most of the action takes place in the same locale of Macondo. Marquez does a beautiful job of creating all these generations of characters, giving each a personality, developing their character, and forming character conflicts all of which brings the story together. I highly recommend this book, but be prepared for the long character list.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Title: Kung Fu Hustle (2004) (R)

Starring: Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Qiu Yuen
Director: Stephen Chow
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Action, Fantasy
Rotten Tomatoes: Critic: 90%, Audience: 85%
IMDB: 7.7/10
Language: Cantonese
Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Available on Crackle.

I feel like this movie is a little underrated. The people who have heard of it love it, and most other people simply haven't heard of it. It wasn't exactly a blockbuster, but it is an extremely charming movie.

This movie centers on the character Sing (played by Stephen Chow) who tries to act tougher than he really is. He wants so badly to join the "axe gang", but he is generally incapable of doing anything without screwing up. Add into this his friend Bone (played by Chi Chung Lam) who is completely incapable of any intelligent thought, and you have a pair constantly overshadowed by despair.

This movie is hilarious. It is very slapstick type of humor, and there are plenty of parts where I would be laughing uncontrollably. I wouldn't really call this a.. realistic movie.. as it does have fantasy elements (especially in fight scenes), but it is a great movie to watch nonetheless.

The action is decent, the humor of the movie adds a nice twist to the fight scenes, and all in all the movie is incredibly enjoyable to watch. There are of course versions of this movie available with dubbed English, but I am personally not a fan of watching dubbed movies. So if you have the opportunity I would recommend watching it in Cantonese with English subtitles.

As of this post I don't believe this movie was available for streaming on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, but if it is available for purchase from your various streaming providers. This is definitely worth checking out, especially if you like a little kung fu action. This is definitely a stylized kung fu movie, but it is sure to leave your sides most assuredly split from laughter.

This movie is available on Crackle for free streaming.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dream Theater - Octavarium (2005)

Artist: Dream Theater

Album: Octavarium

Genre: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Released: June 7, 2005

Track Listing

  1. The Root of All Evil (8:25)
  2. The Answer Lies Within (5:33)
  3. These Walls (7:36)
  4. I Walk Beside You (4:29)
  5. Panic Attack (8:13)
  6. Never Enough (6:46)
  7. Sacrificed Sons (10:42)
  8. Octavarium (24:00)

Available on Spotify

Dream Theater is one of those bands that I adore. They have gone through some lineup changes in recent years, but they have always been one of the most prominent progressive rock bands in the world. An interesting tidbit about the construction of the Octavarium album is the key structure for the songs.

Music theory time. An octave is the interval between two pitches. So on a piano you'd have 8 naturals (white keys) and 5 accidentals (black keys). 

A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A (higher octave) For example.

In addition to this, Octavarium would be Dream Theater's eighth studio album coming just after the release of their fifth live album. So taking this into account they decided to construct each song on the album in a different key.

So off we go into the track breakdown, the last one will take a while at 24 minutes. (:


Track 1: The Root of All Evil (8:25)

We start with a single low piano note followed by some shifty sound effects. Get a little guitar strum here and there with a few drum hits as the weird sound effects continue. Drum picks up prominence as electric guitar is added. Then it breaks into the first main riff at about 1:00.

At 1:28 James LaBrie enters with his vocals as we continue that solid guitar and drum rhythm. There's this creepy sound effect riding in the background as these verse riffs continue.

3:01 my favorite part of the song. We get a more gentle drum beat with the guitar riding forward as the vocals swell into a sort of echo effect. Petrucci follows up with some wah effect added. The song breaks back into that first riff around 3:49.

5:18 we break into a little instrumental part. Petrucci and keyboards go insane for a few moments before the keyboard goes into a little solo effect run. 6:00 a little guitar solo comes on board.

6:26 it returns to my favorite part with the driving drum beat and the nice vocal part. 6:51 the wah guitar adds in along with the vocals. 7:48 it quiets down into a soft piano line which leads the song out towards the next song.

Track 2: The Answer Lies Within (5:33)

This track starts very softly with a little bird chirping in the background a church bell soon adds. It leads into a gentle piano line preceding LaBrie's vocals. Much of this song is dominated by LaBrie and this piano line.

1:22 a clean guitar strum joins in along with a light orchestra string line. We still have that piano running in the background with LaBrie. This is one of the more mellow songs on the album.

2:28 we get a stronger more distorted guitar, but it's still held back and calm. Vocal swell around 3:25. At 3:37 the vocals drop out and a soft orchestral line takes front stage. 4:03 LaBrie reenters with his vocals, that gentle distorted guitar following behind him.

Starting at 4:50 the vocals drop out again and the clean guitar strum, piano, and orchestral line lead us softly out of the song.

Track 3: These Walls (7:36)

One of my favorite songs on the album. The drums of Portnoy dominate much of this song. We start the song with a really dirty distorted guitar sound. It shortly kicks into a proper guitar riff and Portnoy busts in at 0:32 with his extraordinary drum work.

This is one of those songs that I am always air drumming. 1:03 we get a lovely hi-hat run on the drum with a clean guitar line in the back. LaBrie enters at 1:18. Portnoy keeps that splendid hi-hat work going throughout the verse.

1:49 the tension begins to rise before exploding into the main chorus line around 2:04. At 2:36 we jump back to that splendid Portnoy hi-hat drum line. 3:21 the song shifts back into that pre-chorus line before jumping into the chorus at 3:37.

4:08 we come to the mid-section of the song. Much of the instrumentation is dominated by Portnoy's driving drum line and a soft piano line in the back. 4:38 we get that hi-hat run along with a gentle guitar solo. 5:08 back into that pre-chorus again. 5:55 that little guitar solo starts up again in the background. 

I love the ending starting at 6:27. We get some splash hits and heavy drum work. A boisterous string line takes center stage with the song being dominated again by Portnoy. The song ends with a heart beat sound and some funky sound effects leading into the next song.

Track 4: I Walk Beside You (4:29)

Another song dominated by Portnoy's drum work. This song starts with a little ticking clock song before Petrucci starts up with a killer guitar riff and Portnoy starts a killer drum beat. 0:21 we get Portnoy's brilliant hi-hat work as LaBrie also enters with his vocals.

This is another song that I air drum. Pre-chorus 0:50 with Portnoy stretching out the drum hits before leading into the main chorus where his drumming sounds very stretchy. Stretchy in that the snare beats tend to fall on the off beats.

We get that lovely hi-hat work of Portnoy again before breaking into the chorus again at 2:26 or so. 2:54 we get a nice vocal break where LaBrie is joined by some extended backing vocals.

Mike Portnoy is easily one of my all time favorite drummers.

The vocals drop out around 4:00 as the instrumentation leads us outward to the next song.

Track 5: Panic Attack (8:13)

One of the more head trippy songs. We start with a killer bass riff, pounding guitar and drum quickly add into the fray. The tempo in this song definitely goes through the roof. This is another of my favorite songs on the album.

LaBrie enters around 0:50. We get this nice drum beat showing off Portnoy's hi-hat prowess. 1:27 we get this nice tempo break as things kind of slow down a little. 1:43 everything comes back in and the tempo still runs at a furious tempo. 2:09 we get that intro riff again with bass, drum, and guitar plowing ahead.

2:32 we get this great guitar and drum line that add nicely to the vocal line. 2:55 the tension rises. 3:18 we get that gentle break again in the tempo before kicking back in at 3:26.

3:52 we get this vocal change where the vocals take prominence. We still have that driving drum beat in the background with the bass. 4:30 we kick back to that initial heavy drum, guitar, and bass line from the beginning. Here though we start to lead into a instrumental part with the keyboard taking the solo at 4:57. 5:20 we get Petrucci insanely fast picking solo. He loves those rapid pick parts. (: 

5:42 things calm down a little. 6:13 we go back to that chorus line. 6:51 again to that intro riff. The following minute of the song is dominated by that bass, drum, and guitar line until 7:14. The car crashes into the side rail and things mellow down. Queue random sound effects until the end of the track.

Track 6: Never Enough (6:46)

This track starts with some trippy sound effect in the beginning followed quickly by Portnoy and Petrucci. The initial guitar riff to this song is pretty wicked. 0:30 we get LaBrie entering as the guitar backs off a little. Portnoy's drums are really restrained in the song. 

1:15 we get a chorus like line. With the guitar dragging out the tempo. 1:56 we get that killer guitar riff again from the beginning. 2:04 we get a sort of verse line with a brilliant drum part. Petrucci follows the vocals in the background with much of how his beloved rapid picking. 

2:48 we stretch out again as the tempo mellows down. The vocals take center stage. 3:31 trippy sound effects. 3:45 guitar soloesque line enters really taking shape at 4:15. Petrucci goes into his insane speed mode again here. 4:45 we break out into a more gentle sound.

5:15 LaBrie reenters. We get that mellow stretched tempo. 5:56 we get that intial guitar riff again with the drum continuing to drive in the background. 6:15 things break down into weird sound effects. This slowly drops in volume leading into a foreign language towards the end of the track which leads us into the next track.

Track 7: Sacrificed Sons (10:42)

This song starts with a foreign language rambling in the background followed by news clips being overlaid on top. This song feels the most politically charged. 0:57 we get a solo piano line, very soft followed by a gentle drum beat. 1:16 LaBrie enters.

1:55 a soft string line joins LaBrie as his vocals soften. 2:16 vocals drop out as we get some trippy sound doing a bit of a melody. 2:35 LaBrie reenters with a more aggressive guitar line restrained in the background.

2:57 we get a chorus line dominated by LaBrie's vocals. 3:35 we get that trippy melody line. 

4:13 get this really dirty bass line. A wicked guitar riff adds on top. The drum line drills onward in the back. This part is dominated by the instruments. 5:04 trippy keyboard solo line. 5:46 the guitar starts revving up. The guitar really starts around 6:02 with the solo line.
6:25 things calm a little bit as we get a very gentle melody line here. 7:01 we get the guitar taking charge. LaBrie comes back in around 7:50. Chorus again around 8:25. The song is dominated by LaBrie and that trippy melody line. 9:31 the instruments take over again as the vocals drop out. The end of the song drives to the finish with the guitar and strings before dropping out completely.

Track 8: Octavarium (24:00)

Title track of the album. Also the longest. Really, you could probably break this song into several distinct sections. These are not "official" sections to the song, just the ones that I felt like pointing out.

Section 1 (0:00 - 3:47)

The song enters with a very soft line which is dominated by the keyboard. Much of the beginning of the song runs through this trippy keyboard section. This is one of the more mellow parts of the song. Very ambient sounding.

Section 2 (3:47 - 8:46)

Portnoy takes charge here drilling in with some nice drum springing in on the splash. 4:22 we get a gentle clean guitar strum. A soft wind instrument drives the melody line here. 5:16 a more straight forward guitar arpeggio line. 5:32 LaBrie enters with his vocals. We get a gentle piano line along with the vocals as well.

7:58 things pick up as the guitar becomes more pronounced and the vocals swell. Portnoy continues driving in the back with his drum line. 

Section 3 (8:46 - 12:15)

This section begins dominated by the drum and bass. This is one of my favorite parts of the song. We get a nice piano line going in the back as well. 9:17 LaBrie enters with his vocals. We still have that great bass line and drum running in the background. 9:28 nice little drum hi-hat fill. 

10:39 we get that drum and bass line from earlier in this section.

Section 4 (12:15 - 13:49)

The keyboard breaks in here with the drum and keyboard dominating the line. This is my favorite drum part of the song. Portnoy really goes to town here. 

Section 5 (13:49 - 16:00)

The guitar reenters with a vengeance here. Portnoy continues driving a brilliant drum part in the back as LaBrie comes back in on vocals. 14:27 one of my favorite parts we get back and forth vocals with Portnoy pounding the splash cymbals. 

15:07 nice little drum hi-hat fill again. This part is really dominated strongly by Portnoy's brilliant drum work. 15:40 LaBrie drops out and the sound is dominated by Portnoy, Petrucci, and a trippy line in the background.

Section 6 (16:00 - 18:28)

The guitar and keyboard take over here before Portnoy joins in the crowd. The guitar riff drives the tension forward until 16:28 when it breaks into this sort of cyclical sounding riff. 16:47 guitar soloesque part. 16:57 the keyboard joins the guitar in a really rapid fire riff. 

17:51 we get this nice little clean guitar melody run before things break back into the distortion. 18:07 we lead into a more driving guitar riff before falling back into that rapid run at 18:18.

Section 7 (18:28 - 20:00)

Things mellow a bit here. LaBrie reenters with his vocals. The sound is dominated by LaBrie, Petrucci, and Portnoy's drumming. 19:32 vocal swell.

Section 8 (20:00 - 24:00)

Things mellow again as we enter a more orchestral sounding part. 20:38 LaBrie comes in on vocals again. That string line continues strongly in the background. 21:28 guitar solo. 23:15 or so things start drawing to a close. The sound really calms down and drops to almost nothing around 23:40 where we just have this single piano note as trippy sound effects come back in again. These lead out the track.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Translators: Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor
ISBN: 0679760806 ISBN13: 978-0679760801 
Pages: 372
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism
Publisher: Vintage (Paperback, March 19, 1996)

Originally Published: 1966
Original Language: Russian 


Well, this was an interesting book. I would call this a semi page turner. That is, at certain points I was railing through pages, but other times I didn't feel the need to read the next chapter right away.

The basic premise of this book is that Satan comes to Moscow and starts screwing with people. That's my one sentence summary of this book. Is it funny? Absolutely. Is it thoughtful? Certainly. It is difficult to do a character break down in this book because there are a fair number of characters.

Really, this is more of a plot driven book since the characters are developed very quickly and don't go through much of a character progression. The book is a political critique of the literary establishment of Soviet society at the time. It also takes a shot at the heavy handed bureaucracy of the Soviet Union. 

There is a double plot line running through this book. The main plot line is Satan and his retinue screwing with citizens, but there is another plot line that does a retelling of the story of Pontius Pilate and the crucifixion of Jesus. No, it's not a heavy handed religious punch, it really focuses more on Pilate himself and lesser so on Jesus. So, don't be scared away by the religious inference there if that sort of thing bothers you.

I read the Burgin/O'Connor translation of the book which is supposedly one of the better translations of the novel. I can't really say for sure since I unfortunately can't read in Russian. The prose was written very well in the translation (I can only imagine what it was like in its original Russian).

This book fits into the genre of magical realism and I couldn't help but think of Haruki Murakami while I was reading this. I'm not saying at all that Bulgakov is analogous to Murakami, but it certainly had a similar feel. After all, one of the main characters in the story is the devil who messes with people so there is definitely some black magic going on throughout the novel.

The book is definitely a head trip, but I don't want to give too much of the plot away. It is fairly philosophical, but it's not heavy handed in that respect. The philosophical undertones glide along nicely in the background.

I definitely recommend this book, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Image from thetvdb, creator equiv

Title: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV-MA)

Genre: Comedy
Created By: Rob McElhenney 
Starring: Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito   
TV Run: August 4, 2005 - Present (FX)
Seasons: 8, Episodes:94 (As of this posting)

Seasons 1-7 available on Netflix

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of those shows that I had heard about for a long time but never got around to watching. Well, once I started watching it I ended up watching the whole series within a couple of weeks.

It it brash, it is hilarious, it is straight in your face, and they take no prisoners. I hate to use the term "they go there" but this show certainly goes there without hesitation. It revolves around "the gang" a group of friends that own a bar called Paddy's Pub. It follows their daily lives which often has them hatching idiotic schemes which they try to make work.

Let's take a look at the main characters.

Image from thetvdb, creator LaTropa64.
Charlie Kelly (Played by Charlie Day)

Loveable Charlie. Probably one of my favorite characters in the series. Charlie is.. let's say less than average intelligence. He does a lot of what the gang calls "Charlie work" around the bar which is things like cleaning toilets and cleaning rat traps. He is pretty naive and gullible, but he has a heart of gold. It's really difficult not to like Charlie.

Image from thetvdb, creator LaTropa64.
Mac (Played by Rob McElhenney)

Mac is one of the more complex characters in this series. His primary job the bar is being a sort of bouncer (though we never really see him bounce anyone). He has an affinity for martial arts which he isn't skilled in but thinks he is skilled. He is the only pseudo religious one of the bunch. Mac is generally seen as less intelligent but not as bad as our friend Charlie.

Image from thetvdb, creator LaTropa64.
Dennis Reynolds (Played by Glenn Howerton)

I like to call Dennis the "hound dog" of the group. He is generally displayed as the most intelligent in the group (though this is all relative). He is also the most vain and is constantly concerned about still being able to attract women even though he is starting to age. Dennis is often drafted as a pseudo leader in the group and the others seem to kind of follow his lead.

Image from thetvdb, creator LaTropa64.
Dee Reynolds (Played by Kaitlin Olson)

Oh, sweet Dee. The most "aww they're so mean to her" character (with exception to "The Waitress" character which I'm not including in this post). Her character is similar to the Dennis character (who is her brother) in terms of vanity, but she always tries to exhume some amount of morality into the group. The gang often makes fun of her for looking like a bird. She is the go to for when the gang needs to make fun of someone.

Image from thetvdb, creator LaTropa64.
 Frank Reynolds (Played by Danny DeVito)

Frank Reynolds. We actually don't see his character enter until the second season, but he immediately takes on an important role in the group dynamics. He is the midlife-crisis I want to act like I'm younger again person. He also has tons of money, which makes it much easier for the group to accept him so easily. Frank Reynolds is one of those characters who is completely off the rails. Like.. completely off.. in the ditch.. smelling road kill type off the rails.  


This series is actually still airing and as of this posting I believe it has been renewed for another couple of seasons. If you're looking for a funny show that isn't afraid to delve into the more abrasive side of things this is one to see. For me, the show started a little shaky but as I watched more episodes it grew on me very quickly.

This is a very inside joke heavy show. Jokes will be presented in earlier episodes and will be referred to multiple times throughout the rest of the seasons, so while I don't think you really have to watch the episodes in order I think it helps. The characters are lovable and the schemes they end up in are hilarious. This is one of the few shows that I watch where I'm pretty sure I laugh multiple times during every episode.