mike smith

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 10 (2016)

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 10 (2016 Netflix)

There is a reason we missed reviewing Season 10 of Trailer Park Boys when it came out last year.  A dark cloud hung over the season.  Mike Smith (Bubbles) was incorrectly arrested on domestic violence charges; charges that were swiftly dropped.  The damage was done, and this caused Lucy Decoutere to leave the show.  Even though Season 10 was quite great, we just couldn’t produce the gumption to write it up.  Better late than never.  With this long over and resolved, let’s take a fresh look at Season 10.

As usual, much has changed between seasons at Sunnyvale.  Julian now owns the park and is happy with his two girlfriends (Bambi and Dakota — shades of Charlie Sheen here), and his own casino/bar.  The house band:  Bubbles and the Shitrockers.  Ricky runs his Drugs Store, with all the weed and edibles you can imagine.  His daughter Trinity has been raising baby Mo with Jacob Collins, proud parents now ready to get married and make it official.  All this baby stuff has made Lucy itch for another one, so she’s been getting Ricky to bang her non-stop.  J-Roc is raising his son M.C. Flurry, and has brought back a new girlfriend from Mexico.  Randy’s supervising the park, and Lahey has left.  He’s living in a camper in a park next door, and “pacing” his drinking.  He’s using a breathalyzer to keep himself at a steady 0.120 blood alcohol level…but does he have the discipline to maintain that?

There’s a new three-headed nemesis in town.  Fresh out of jail is former park owner Barb Lahey, and she has backup.  Donna/Don (Leigh MacInness) has also been hardened by jail time.  And they’ve brought the tough-as-nails Candy (Candy Palmater), with her bright pink baseball bat to make sure they get their way.  They are determined to get the park back, and it looks like they have the legal means to do so.  So now the boys need lawyer money.

It’s illegal schemes again, one involving ripping off a former caveman, now “Denture King”.  This side-splitting sequence will leave you wondering how far they’re willing to go to save the park.  They need money bad.  Julian’s been letting everyone drink for free at his bar, and nobody’s paying the lot fees.  Finally Julian decides to turn Sunnyvale into a “all-inclusive” vacation resort.  Bubbles puts together an online ad, which goes viral and catches the attention of Jimmy Kimmel himself.

The first half of Season 10 is actually a little dull.  It’s a bit of the same old, same old.  Breaking the law, almost getting caught.  Bad luck and dumb fuck-ups.  Once the special guests arrive, the season takes on a whole new life.

 

A fleet of gangsta cars pulls into the park.  It’s Snoop Dogg, Doug Benson, and Tom fucking Arnold!  Snoop and Doug are there for the “all you can smoke” weed, but Tom has come for the superfan experience.  Turns out he’s a huge fan of the show (remember, Trailer Park Boys is a “documentary” on Julian!) and has a bucket list of things he wants to do at Sunnyvale:  driving the Shitmobile, sleeping in Bubbles’ shed, and banging Lucy!  “I can’t believe it!  We’re in Sunnyvale fucking Trailer Park!  I’ve seen every episode of your show, man!  It’s even shittier in real life!  I love it!”

As for Ricky, he’s happy just to “get high as fuck with Snoopy Doggy Dogg Dogg”!

As you can imagine, the presence of Snoop and his posse leads to many hilarious scenes and encounters.  Will J-Roc lose his shit completely upon meeting his idol?  Will Ricky be able to say Snoop’s name right?  The one thing fans would have expected out of a Snoop Dogg guest shot is seeing him rap with J-Roc or Bubbles, and you won’t be disappointed.  Episode 8 “The Super Bling Cowboy” has the musical scene you’ve been hoping for.  In fact it’s safe to say that Season 10 changes completely upon meeting Snoop.  The arc of the season takes a back seat to the guest stars, and some of that big star millionaire money might resolve a few plots.  However, at the same time, there is some ambitious writing going on.  Early on, we learn that Jim Lahey has a secret that he’s been hiding all along, that only Barb knows about.  This secret provides Barb some blackmail leverage, but it’s also setting up a storyline that will run for at least three seasons including this one.  Jim’s secret was explored in Season 11, but not fully resolved, presumably leaving it to also impact Season 12, coming in 2018.  (Post your fan theories in the comments!)  This kind of multi-season story arc has never been attempted on Trailer Park Boys before.

Keeping a show like the highly formulaic Trailer Park Boys fresh can’t be easy after 10 years.  Snoop, Doug Benson and Tom Arnold helped distinguish Season 10 as one of the most fun.  You can always count on Ricky, Julian and Bubbles to put themselves in some pretty ridiculous situations, and usually drag everybody else into their web of shit.  The guest stars offer a temporary pause to that, and allow our characters to have a bit more fun than usual.  And when they have fun, so does the audience.  However the ending has a sad note, accompanied by a familiar melancholy song.  It’s a strangely emotional denouement.  “There’s a voice, that keeps on calling me.  Down the road, where I always seem to be.  Every stop I make, I see my old friend…”

Maybe tomorrow, they’ll want to settle down…in the end, it’s about the characters, who are just a big family we’ve now known for 10 seasons.  Randy said it best:

“I love you Ricky!  I love you like a brother. I don’t like you at all, but I love you!”

4/5 stars

 

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REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 11 (2017)

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 11 (2017 Netflix)

Thank you Netflix for saving the Trailer Park Boys.  It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but ever since the Boys returned to Sunnyvale with the excellent Season 8 (remember Orangie?), the show has continued unhindered by cast defections.  Season 11 is the first without Lucy Decoutere (Lucy) and Jonathan Torrens (J-Roc).  After already losing such favourites as Trevor (Mike Jackson) and Ray (Barrie Dunn), I can understand why some fans may have said enough’s enough.  Every show has its peak.  For some that would be the first three seasons of Trailer Park Boys.  For others, we have rolled with the changes.  Not all fans were unanimous in the acceptance of newer characters such as Col. Dancer, Don/Donna, and Candy.  For this season, those characters have been dropped.  The core park residents are now Ricky, Julian and Bubbles accompanied by Randy, Lahey, Sarah, Cory, Jacob and Trinity.  Little baby Motel is around, as is Barb Lahey.

Continuing a storyline from Season 10, Julian has vanished.  Bubbles is doing well now, having gone legit selling his own brand of organic pizza sauce.  It’s a hit, and a restaurant owner is willing to pay wholesale.  He has the whole park working together growing vegetables, contributing to the well-being of Sunnyvale and its residents.  All is well, but Bubbles does miss Julian.  Jim Lahey is sober and supervising, having truly changed this time.  He and Randy are planning to get married, while Randy is vying to get on the police force.  The absence of Lucy and J-Roc is explained satisfactorily.

When Ricky and Bubbles (now mobile with his own little truck) discover that Julian is now a lobster fisherman (or is he?) living in a shipping container, they go to confront him.  Ultimately, Julian’s return brings what it always does:  crime back into the park.  Snoop Dogg calls and wants weed, and lots of it.  Julian decides to hijack Bubbles’ pizza sauce business and convert it to a grow op.  As usual, Bubbles is driven near to the breaking point as the stress builds.

In Season 10, there was a revelation that Lahey may in fact be Ricky’s real father.  This is fully addressed in Season 11, via a lightsaber dual (hockey sticks and brooms subbing in for laser swords) and dialogue taken directly from The Empire Strikes Back.  Director Bobby Farrelly (Bobby fucking Farrelly!) must be given credit for the perfect Star Wars homage in Episode 4, “Darth Lahey”, right down to the action beats.  Brilliant stuff — a highpoint episode for this show.

There are cameos by celebrities and past characters. Look for Susan Kent from 22 Minutes, and NHLer Nathan MacKinnon, first overall draft pick and rookie of the year.  A few old adversaries have returned as well, to cause problems for our three lovable idiots.  Speaking of idiots, Ricky and Julian manage to bring the stupidly to new levels, but simultaneously, Ricky has a Yoda-like ability to trick cops.    Meanwhile, they have also managed to keep up with modern technology.  Cell phones, cameras and GPS now figure into the plots.  There are references to the Walking Dead and changing times.  This manages to keep the series feeling fresh.

After 11 seasons, it is understood that a show rarely hits the highs it once did.  Season 11 is a worthy effort; not in the Top Five, but certainly good enough at this point.

4/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Out of the Park: Europe (2016)

tpb-ootp-4TRAILER PARK BOYS – Out of the Park: Europe (2016 Netflix)

It’s a whole new series, and it’s not what you expect.  When Ricky, Julian and Bubbles head off to Europe for what they think is a paid vacation, they are in for many unpleasant surprises.  Randy and Lahey may be far behind them in Canada, but in London England they are met by a different kind of adversary.  Mayhue is their guide, a Swearnet representative, and taskmaster (played by Guns N’ Roses stage manager Tom Mayhue).  The boys are going to be driving around Europe in a rock-star class tour bus, but given nothing to eat, drink, smoke, or spend.  The only way to make money is to complete special tasks or missions assigned by Swearnet.  (If you do the math, in real life Swearnet are writer/actors Robb Wells, J.P. Tremblay, and Mike Smith: the guys who play Ricky, Julian and Bubbles.  They are essentially being given missions by their real-life alter-egos.)

Previous Trailer Park Boys offerings have come in the form of stand-up comedy shows, and of course the classic TV series that started it all.  The original series was designed as a “mockumentary” reality show, as a film crew followed around repeat offender Julian and his gang of criminals.  This new spinoff series takes inspiration from another reality TV program, the Amazing Race.

In each city (of which they visit seven), they are given specific tasks to earn specific amounts of money.  They soon learn it’s all about the fine print.  The devil is in the details in London with these deceptively simple pit stops:  Get comedian Noel Fielding’s autograph ($25), drink six complementary draught at the Swan pub and hold your piss for six hours ($25), reshoot the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road ($25, or $1000 if you can get a living Beatle in the picture), and steal the Queen’s undies from Buckingham Palace ($1000).  It quickly becomes apparent that Ricky has never even heard of the Beatles.

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Though the show is scripted, setting it on the streets of Europe does give it a “reality TV” feel similar to the Amazing Race.  Bystanders stop to take pictures of the three weird looking Canadians, often up to no good.  After London, it’s off to Berlin.  Communication becomes a problem in Germany.  Bubbles orders what he thinks is going to be a hamburger, but turns out to be an octopus burger (still delicious, according to Bubbles).  Next stop:  Copenhagen, Denmark.  Bubbles is horrified to find that one of that day’s tasks ($1000) is to step in the ring as his wresting character Green Bastard, with former heavyweight boxing champion Brian Neilson.  Only two ways to win:  Give him two shots in the nuts, or last three rounds.  Good fuckin’ luck.

The boys get arrested in Oslo, Norway.  All they had to do was give a troll a three second atomic hover wedgie ($25), “acquire” a boat and take it around the fjords ($25), and convince actor Fridtjov Såheim (from the Netflix series Lilyhammer in a cross promotion) to join them for drinks ($1000). Stockholm has its own offerings, two of which are food based: Finish the “Belly Buster Meatball Meal” at a local eatery without losing their lunch, and follow it up with a can of surströmming for dessert. According to wikipedia: “When a can of surströmming is opened, the contents release a strong and sometimes overwhelming odour. The dish is ordinarily eaten outdoors. According to a Japanese study, a newly opened can of surströmming has one of the most putrid food smells in the world, even more so than similarly fermented fish dishes such as the Korean Hongeohoe or Japanese Kusaya.” I don’t think anything in this scene was staged.

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Being in Europe allowed the boys to meet some NHL heroes from the past. Ricky is tasked to stop one shot by Peter Forsberg (two NHL Stanley Cups) in a five shot shootout ($500). In Helsinki Finland, they are given a relatively simple task: Sing in a karaoke cab, and not talk about hockey ($25). It gets complicated when five-time Cup winner Esa Tikkanen steps into their cab.

The Trailer Park Boys had to end their tour in Amsterdam for obvious reasons. It was a lifelong dream of Ricky’s to go there, and that warrants a two-part episode to finish the season. Humiliation after humiliation, it was a long hard road to get to Amsterdam. It is a delight to see Ricky happy as a kid in a candy store when they finally arrive. Everything seems to be going well; they even run into an old friend from Canada. The final challenge enables Bubbles to play one of his own songs with 2/3rds of Crosby Stills & Nash. Steven Stills wins Best Line of the Series with the simple, “They’re Canadians. They don’t know any better.”

A second Trailer Park Boys series could have been a misstep, especially considering the ill-executed Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour.  Instead, this year fans received both the quality-driven Season 10 of the original series, and now Out of the Park: Europe.  With double the amount of Trailer Park Boys hilarity, Netflix hit an inside-the-park home run in 2016.  It is made clear by the end that this is not the last time Ricky, Julian and Bubbles will be Out of the Park.  Where they go next, only Swearnet knows.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: sandbox. – a murder in the glee club (1997)

sandbox. – a murder in the glee club (1997 EMI)

This is a fascinating album.  Sandbox (parsed as “sandbox.” on the album) had come out with a successful enough debut, but what we didn’t know then was how much ambition they had.  For their second CD, they did what most bands usually wait to do, much later on: the dreaded concept album! It is such a gamble to go for a concept album at all, let alone on your second record.

Setting the scene is the title track, “A Murder in the Glee Club”; but is all what it appears to be?  The liner notes state:

“Recorded as in introduction to a play in 1932 by Freddie Corn and the Ohioans, the song has sat dormant on a shelf for the past 65 years.  Shortly after it was recorded, the production was cancelled and the song was never released or published.  The version you hear on this record is the original recording, sonically enhanced and embellished using mordern technology.”

Hmmm.

An online search for “Freddie Corn and the Ohioans” reveals only one hit: an old interview with Mike Smith from the University of Western Ontario, which is only quoting the liner notes.

I always wondered if Sandbox were trying to pull the wool over our eyes a little bit with those liner notes.  You can draw your own conclusions but “A Murder in the Glee Club” does lull you in to the concept of the album:  Altered states of consciousness and mental illness eventually lead to murder.  Then, the murderer becomes haunted by the crimes he has committed.  That “1932 recording” really sets the mood right.

“…to red” is the first proper song on the album, and this is lyrically connected to the final track on Sandbox’s first album, Bionic.  It’s immediately obvious that the production, this time by Don Fleming, is far superior.  “…to red” is a vast improvement sound-wise over anything on the first album.  Performance-wise too; the band no longer sound stiff.  Singer Paul Murray seems less shy, and willing to stretch out his voice.  “…to red” is a fantastic up-beat start, with enough twangy-crunchy guitars to compensate for the pure pop that is the melody.  “I woke up with a different life, I was wondering where I’d been,” and the disoriented lead character is introduced.  This track was written by the uber-talented Mike Smith.  “Spin”, by Jason Archibald continues the story.  “I can’t believe you ran, I can’t believe you wanted out.”  When the character sings, “The Devil was my name,” then I get a bad feeling.  The music is darker, but driving.   The excellent guitar chops of Sandbox really make it enticing.  They leave a lot of space between the instruments so you can really hear what is going on.

“Spin” fades softly into “The Garden Song”, and it is clear that something bad has happened.  “They found you in the garden, arranged smile stained your face.”  While the lyrics are poetic it’s difficult to pay attention to them, because of the imagery they evoke.  The music is absolutely lovely, almost uplifting at times, but this has to be the darkest moment in the story.  “The Spectre”, faster and loaded with tasty backwards guitar, begins to deal with the haunted thoughts of the killer.  This is a duet with Mike Smith on second vocals.  You can picture this guy wandering through some a cold field somewhere, arguing with himself.  It’s an electrifying song, leading into the blitzkrieg of “Melt”.  This is the heaviest song Sandbox have ever done, blasting with a heavy chunk-tastic riff.  “Better stories, a better plan, this guy thinks he’s Superman, I think I’d like to smash his face with Kryptonite.”  I love that line.  There’s an intense feeling of anger.

Forwarding the story, “If I Tell” reveals regret, and delusions.  The killer now wishes he could bring his victim back, but he certainly isn’t willing to confess.  He justifies this by saying that he’s just protecting those whose lives would be impacted by his confession, perhaps family or friends.  Jason Archibald plays what sounds like electric sitar recorded backwards.  Then, “Self-Contained”, the best track on the album steps forth with a powerful, catchy riff.  This was the first song to really jump out on first listen.  “I hate the way I’m self-contained,” sings Paul Murray, wishing he could escape the insanity.  But the really crazy thing is, even though we know what’s gone on before, taken individually anybody can relate to the lyrics.  “I wanna feel the rush, of an electric song, I wanna be in love, it turns me on.”  On first listen, you’re not going to follow the concept of the album completely.  This song jumped out at me, and I always loved the lyrics, even though I hadn’t pieced it together with the rest of the album yet.

“Carry” was a the lead single/video, and an upbeat pop rocker it is.  Guitar jangle and steady beats provide what you need for a hit, only it wasn’t.  (For shame.)  Perhaps it just wasn’t edgy enough for rock fans in 1997, I don’t know and I don’t understand why Sandbox were not absolutely huge.  Jason Archibald’s “Missed the Day” is a beautiful, softer ballad.  The guitar and vocal melodies are ace, but I also like listening to the drums of Troy Shanks.  Brilliant song with its own hit potential, untapped and wasted.

I remember visiting the Calgary Zoo when I was younger.  The most haunting image in my mind was a polar bear named Snowball who paced back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…endlessly.  (Read more here.)  When Snowball finally died, I am sure I was not the only Canadian who believed that he was probably better off.  Watching that bear, having long ago gone insane in that tiny enclosure, pacing back and forth was one of the most difficult lessons Young Me had to learn about our relationship with nature.  “Bear Bear” was not inspired by Snowball, but by a similar bear at the Metro Toronto Zoo.  It fits into the concept of the album only metaphorically.  Musically, it’s quite jagged and drony, in a strangely catchy way.  This is a powerful song!

According to the liner notes, “How I Feel” was written by Mike Smith, and was lyrically inspired by seeing the Spice Girls on Saturday Night Live one night.  He pulls no punches:  “I’ve been watching all the sheeple of the world, Masses flocking to the mindless shit they’ve heard.”  Musically, it’s brilliant and very 1960’s in vibe.  The electric piano brings me back a few decades.  On this song, the lead character simply cannot connect with people — he is baffled by their behaviour, their words and beliefs.  And he resents them.  “Will you even notice when I go?  I’ll be leaving here when I say so.”

The final track for this dark concept album is “A Question of Faith”, with sparse echoey guitars and a plaintive melody.  What you hear and what someone else hears may be two different endings altogether.  You decide what it all means.  The song is brilliant, and emotionally heavy.  Yet it also feels like release.  A great weight lifting.  “A Question of Faith” is as well crafted as everything else on A Murder in the Glee Club.

I have said in the past, that if I had only bought this album in the year 1997, it would have made my top albums list (published in our store newsletter) that year.  Alas, I did not get it until early in the new year.  If I had got the CD in time, it definitely would have been on that list.  It’s truly a shame, but this second CD proved to be Sandbox’s last album.  Mike Smith had no problem finding fame elsewhere, as his career as Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys has certainly skyrocketed!

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: sandbox. – Bionic (1995)

Part one of a Sandbox two-fer!

sandbox. – Bionic (1995 EMI)

Because it was the 1990’s, and you had to do stuff like this, Sandbox referred to themselves as “sandbox.” with the period at the end.  This being 2015, in this review we’re just going to call them Sandbox.  Sandbox were very, very 1990’s with some melancholy music and an abstract album cover of an apple with nails in it.  There is no reason for this that I can tell.  It may well have just been, “Hey, let’s make this apple look like the guy from Hellraiser.”

Sandbox were from Nova Scotia, and have two really interesting connections.  One, the lead singer Paul Murray is the nephew of Anne Murray, who made “Snowbird” a national treasure back in the 70’s.  Two, the lead guitar player was a talented fellow named Mike Smith.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, then you know Mike Smith as his Trailer Park Boys alter-ego, Bubbles.  I saw these guys opening for the Barenaked Ladies back in 1996 and was impressed by the six tunes they played.

The big hit was “Curious” and it’s still fantastic once you get past the trendy 90’s-isms.  (By that I’m referring to the watery, distorted vocals, lack of a solo, and simple construction.)  But damn, what a song.  All the right parts are there.  The guitar riff works its way into your brain effortlessly, and the band provide all the necessary backing.  Paul Murray is not a singer of remarkable range or power, but his voice works with the music to create a a wave that washes over you.  Mike Smith and the band are more than capable of providing melodic backing vocals.

The problem with the Bionic album was that it had a couple really strong, powerful songs and a lot that didn’t have the same impact.  “Collide” is a good song, but it plods along without enough excitement.  It doesn’t get you moving.   I think a few of these tunes worked better live.  The studio can be a stifling environment, and it took Sandbox an album to really grow in the studio.  “For You” boasts a strong chorus hook, but again not enough spark.

“Decisions”, dark quiet and slow, boasts a great chorus and impassioned lead vocals.  It is augmented by a nice cello part, which works so well for dark tracks such as this.  “Decisions” is a standout on the album, with a big part of that being due to the cello.  More songs on Bionic would have done well with some augmentation like that.  “Grief” is similarly dark, but edgy.  I dig the backwards guitar solo, a touch I have always loved in rock music.  “Three Balloons and a Trapdoor” is the kind of song title I find annoying, but the cello is back.  It’s a sparse little acoustic song without much else going on with it besides the cello.  It sounds like a side closer, and that’s the exact position it occupies on the CD running order.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

“Here and There” is the first song that rocks in a while, and it’s very welcome.  It could have used more hooks, but it gets the job done well enough.  It takes advantage of the jangling guitar chords of Mike Smith and Jason Archibald.  Then, “Live” is a fantastic song.  Where sometimes, Sandbox’s songs seem to lack sufficient passion and memorable melody, “Live” completely delivers.  I feel the sadness, and I can swim in the melodic vocals like a river.  “Flux” and “Weatherman” are both OK. “Flux” has a nice hard beat and a chorus I can get into.  “Weatherman” is sparse, acoustic and intimate.

The last amazing tune, on a par with “Curious”, is the incredible “Lustre”.  A simple guitar lick coupled with another killer chorus is all it takes.  A classy acoustic guitar solo just makes it all so perfect.  It’s hard to describe just what makes the song click, but it has clicked with me for almost 20 years, so there must be something good going on here.

The final track is the slow and dull “And the Mood Changes…”, followed by silence and then a strange distorted spoken word bit that always struck me as another 90’s gimmick.  I was wrong, it is actually the first part of the second Sandbox album, which was a concept album called a murder in the glee club.  This spoken word bit is meant to lead directly into the beginning of that album, a story of a killer who is tormented by what he has done.  And speaking of that second album, what an album it was!  Sandbox obviously benefited from the studio experience on Bionic, because what they achieved on a murder in the glee club was something quite special and fantastic.  But that’s another review.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 9 (Netflix)

NEW RELEASE

TPB9 BOXTRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 9 (2015 Netflix)

It is with great sorrow that I have finally come to review Season 9 of the Trailer Park Boys, released earlier in the spring.  After the unexpectedly hilarious Season 8, I had only expected more from Season 9.  The 8th season left us with so much promise.  Not only had the show bounced back with one of its best years yet, but some fresh ideas and characters promised to rejuvenate it going forward.  Unfortunately the ball was fumbled.

Even though they had written in a bottomless supply of lookalike “Orangies”, Ricky’s pet goldfish and one of the highlights of the last season, Orangie was essentially dropped in Season 9.  On the bright side, Ricky replaced Orangie in his heart with a goat he found in a barn he spends some time living in.  He names the goat Willy.

Even though the character of Don/Donna was a major new introduction last year, Don has been dropped (supposedly travelling, according to the online-only Season 8.5).  This leaves Donna, unexplained and creepy, working in a rub-and-tizzug based out of Julian’s old trailer!  He/she works with T, who doesn’t particularly care for his job.  T much prefers driving his Tiz-axi.

Even though Sebastian Bach returned at the end of Season 8 for a rip-rolling close, there are no celebrity cameos in Season 9.  (Although with the recent announcement and photos of Snoop Dogg appearing in Season 10, all will be remedied soon!)

SNOOP DOGG WITH BUBBLES

The premise of the season goes thusly:  Julian and Ricky are out of jail again, to find the park has been turned into a senior’s residence called Sunnyvale Villas!  Jim Lahey, sober as a judge, has retired and hired ex-S.A.S. officer Col. Leslie Dancer, a “highly decorated war hero”, to run the park and enforce the rules.  Liquor is forbidden.  And so is Ricky.  And pointedly, only Ricky.

Bubbles runs a local business in the park, a food stand that serves Taco Tuesday pretty much all week, because the seniors don’t know what day it is most of the time.  Julian returns very disappointed, that Bubbles could let the park turn to shit so quickly.  It’s not really Bubs’ fault though, since Col. Dancer (a former alcoholic himself) runs the place like an army barracks.  But there’s something fishy about Col. Leslie Dancer.  His war stories don’t add up.  Was he really a Colonel?

The season takes a good number of episodes to get going.  Even the awaited birth of Trinity’s first child (Ricky’s first grandchild) was underwhelming.  While a good number of laughs comes from this situation, such as Ricky having to buy baby supplies, it ultimately just leads to more confrontations between Rick and industrial cock inhaler George Green, who is still banging Lucy.  Corey and Jacob remain a funny team, but J-Roc is sidelined by a son he never knew.  Unfortunately this too was an unfunny situation that didn’t do anything for the season or characters.  Only after the boys went hunting for a Sam-Squanch did I really have some belly-laughs.

HUNTING FOR SAMSQUANCH

Ricky’s best line:  “I’m in charge of fuckin’ over the park when it gets appraisaled today.   As luck would half it, it’s piss jug season.”

As usual, the ultimate stakes for the residents is control of the park.  This means getting Lahey back on the liquor, and subverting Col. Dancer.  Does Julian have a plan, and if so can he pull it off?   You’ll have to make it to the end of the season in order to find out.  Unfortunately this is something that some of my friends have failed to do.

While Season 9 ended better than it started, I was left confounded by the unfunny episodes and storylines.  I think Season 9 could actually be the first truly disappointing season.  Here’s hoping for better in the 10th.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Season 8 (Netflix)

NEW RELEASE

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 8 (2014 Netflix)

Thank Santa’s tits! It was with tremendous joy that I watched the long-awaited Season 8 from the Trailer Park Boys this past weekend. I watched five episodes on Saturday night, and five more Sunday morning. Then on Monday, I re-watched my favourite episode, “Orangie’s Pretty Fuckin’ Tough”. As a long time fan, to say that I am pleased is an understatement. I am thrilled. Knowing in advance that a couple characters weren’t coming back (Ray and Trevor are no longer on the show), everything I wanted out of the show was there. There are even a couple new characters, who look like they may be important in the already finished Season 9.

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As if there was no pause at all, Season 8 feels like classic Trailer Park Boys, immediately. Some new characters are introduced, such as Don, who joins Randy as the new Assistant Supervisor. “Officer Highcock”, another new face, is no George Green. He’s smart. But fear not, George Green is back too, although Lahey is approaching retirement.

Trinity is tending bar at Julian’s new in-park club/gym, “The Dirty Dancer”. Bubbles is building his “Shed & Breakfast” for humans and cats. Julian and Ricky have numerous schemes on the go. Ricky’s growing dope at a mad rate, and refining it into honey oil, by special order of Sebastian Bach. He’s also realized that he can use hash as currency almost anywhere: on the bus, at the hardware store, or the dentist’s office. Seems just about everybody accepts Ricky’s $2 hash coins!

There’s also plenty of shady horsecockery. Cyrus and Sam Losco are working together again, and they want to buy the park and bulldoze it to the ground. The only solution is for Julian and Barb Lahey to work together to keep it. Needing capital, Julian sets into motion businesses and schemes galore. Steve Rogers returns for a hell of a bachelor party at Julian’s bar, attracting the attention of the cops.

ORANGIE

Ricky’s life is complicated by some unexpected news. The only thing holding him together is Orangie.  My buddy Chris and I agree on this:   the best element of Season 8 has to be Ricky’s goldfish, Orangie.  Ricky loves to party with him, and takes him everywhere in a bowl with ORANGIE scrawled on it in magic marker.  Ricky’s car now has a sun roof (of sorts), which functions as Orangie’s swimming pool after it rains.  Ricky wakes one morning to find Orangie unresponsive:  “Orangie, you finally passed out in the pool, did you buddy?”  When Bubbles asks what happened, Ricky explains: “We got fucked up on hash tokes and shooters.   Orangie’s pretty fucking tough.  Woke up this morning with my fucking pants down and my hands on my cock, thanks to Orangie.”  Now it’s up to Bubbles to replace Orangie before Ricky realizes the fish is dead.  As if minding a goldfish isn’t enough, Ricky also decides to turn his trailer into a hockey rink.

Bubbles’ doesn’t have it easy either. Due to a complex series of events regarding Steve Rogers, hookers, crabs, and Bubbles’ shed(s), he goes nucking futs at a drug store and is sentenced to community service. Where Ricky has Orangie for support, Bubbles turns to his new puppets…Bobby Turkelino, and little Ricky! And you know what happens when you mix Bubbles and puppets.

The story arc in this season was hilarious, with only one dud in the bunch (I’ll let you figure out which).  Some story points hint at what may be coming in Season 9, and that has me anticipating more hilarity.  Hopefully, Orangie will make an appearance in Season 9.  With a few more trips to the pet store, Bubbles should be able to make that happen.  Trailer Park Boys is off to a hell of a new start, and with the progress made in Season 8, I see no need to stop.

4.5/5 stars

Review by LeBrain with contributions from Chris Thuss.

My series of Trailer Park Boys TV reviews:

IMG_20140712_183919Part one: Seasons 1 & 2
Part two: Season 3
Part three: Season 4
Supplimental: “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”
Part four: Season 5
Part five: Season 6
Part six: Season 7
Part seven: “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

MOVIE REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Live in F**kin’ Dublin (2014)

NEW RELEASE

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Live in F**kin’ Dublin (2014 Netflix)

Some things never change!

Some time before the events of Don’t Legalize It, our boys Ricky and Julian had to help Bubbles make a music video, to win a chance to go to Ireland with Rush. Bubbles, dressed as Alex Lifeson, chose a shot-for-shot remake of the “Closer to the Heart” video. Ricky, wearing a false nose, is Geddy Lee (Ricky thinks it’s “Freddy Lee”). Julian taped a piece of chicken skin to his chin to get the look of Neil Peart’s Fu Manchu ‘stache. Drumming one-handed with a glass full of rum and coke in the other hand isn’t easy, but Julian pulls it off.  The video wins the contest! Alex calls Bubbles personally and the three are soon on a private jet bound to Ireland (“Ironland” according to Ricky), with Randy tagging along.

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Unfortunately for Ricky, a private plane isn’t a free license to bring your own dope into Ireland. The judge, however, is sympathetic. Since the boys are so popular in Ireland, he will drop the jail sentence if the boys will perform a show for community service, about the dangers of drink and drugs. The boys agree to a show in Dublin (“Doobylin”), and the live portion of the program begins.

The Trailer Park Boys live on stage in this case consisted of a puppet show, some audience participation contests, a couple of live songs (including Bubbles’ hit “Liquor and Whores”) and a lot of fuckery. If you have seen the boys live, then you know their show is basically just organized chaos. Audience members are invited on stage (the two dumbest ones, apparently) to play Cory and Trevor for the evening.

Highlights included the appearances of the Green Bastard (from “Parts Unknown”) and the evil puppet known as Conky. Apparently Conky must have survived being drowned in the episode “A Shit River Runs Through It”. I also enjoyed Ricky’s trick of “hippotizing” the crowd. He learned how to do it by watching Reveen, and wears a Reveen-esque magician cloak for it.

The film ends with the boys returning to Canada, having missed the Rush concert.  As a bonus, you do get to see their Rush video in its entirety, side by side with the original. A nice addition, as this video is the highlight of the film.

3.5/5 stars

Further reading:
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Don’t Legalize It (2014 E One)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Big Plans, Little Brains: The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Third Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fourth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS Xmas Special (Conky Puppet, Dope and Liquor Editions)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fifth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Sixth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Seventh Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys

Blu-ray REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Don’t Legalize It (2014)

NEW RELEASE

Thanks to Chris Thuss for loaning this disc to me.

TPB3_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – Don’t Legalize It (2014 Entertainment One)

Directed by Mike Clattenburg

Two years prior to the start of the new Trailer Park Boys opus, Ricky and Julian were released from jail for the 17th time.  Jim Lahey has suffered from a Ricky-induced stroke.  He now limps with a cane, hooked on coke (“white liquor”), still beside an increasingly disgusted Randy.  Lucy is living with mall cop George Green (aka “Fucky McFucksnapper”).  Ricky and Julian have ceased working with each other.  Ricky’s growing dope on an unprecedented scale, in a house in the subdivisions, but the Shitmobile only drives in reverse.  Bubbles is delivering chicken and beer on bicycle, living under J-Roc’s front step.  Terry & Dennis (the Flappy Bird Brothers) and Sam Losco are working for Cyrus.  And Lahey’s buying coke from Sam.  It’s a viscous circle.  Julian was bouncing at a local club, but now has taken a step up (?) in the world by selling piss.

Let me repeat that: Julian is selling piss.

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Clean piss, stolen from the military, at $60 a vial.  Paying $60 to pass a drug test and keep your job is apparently worth it in Julian’s world.  “Liquid gold,” he calls it.  The quality and freshness of the piss is important to his customers.  Ricky’s business of choice, however, is about to be shut down.  Canada is legalizing marijuana, turning Ricky from king of the hill to unemployed overnight…unless he can stop legalization.

Allow me to repeat that too:  Ricky needs to stop the legalization of marijuana.

Bubbles then receives a mysterious letter from a lawyer: his long-lost parents have passed away, but have left Bubbles a piece of land in Kingston, Ontario.  All he has to do is claim it.  Since Ricky needs to get to Ottawa to stop legalization, and Julian needs to get to Montreal to sell his stolen piss, it only makes sense to combine road trips.  Or a “working vacation,” says Julian.  He’s turned the Dirty Burger into a “Piss Wagon” to transport the liquid gold.  And Lahey’s following them.

Will things go off the rails when Randy dumps all Lahey’s “white liquor” out of the window of their station wagon?  Can Julian trust Cyrus?  Will Bubbles stay in Kingston?  And can Ricky stop his precious illegal crop from being legalized and taxed by government dicks?  All will be decided by the time they get to Ottawa…

Trailer Park Boys shows are known for the mangled English known as Rickysisms.  Some of my favourite lines and Rickyisms in this installment included:

“Instant carla, fucky!” – Ricky.

“Just shutty that fucky!  What’s with your hair man, you think you’re a fucking Beavil or something?” – to Randy regarding his “Beatles ‘do”.

(Laughs) “Meth!?  He’s selling piss, you fucking dum-dum.” – Ricky to Lahey, who thought the test tubes and hazmat gear meant Julian was cooking crystal meth.

“Cocksuckers chicken-jacked me!” – Bubbles after being mugged for chicken.

“Julian, can you stop handling the weiners for a second?” – Bubbles

The movie is dedicated to Richard Collins, aka Philadelphia Collins, who passed during the filming of the movie.  Phil Collins has some excellent scenes in this installment despite being confined to a wheelchair.  It is also dedicated to Brian Huggins (Shitty Bill) and Rita MacNeil.

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Special features: a 1976 vintage VW camper is discussed in the “Cars Of” feature.  Apparently that camper was a bitch!  The Laheymobile is an ’89 Crown Victoria station wagon that Randy is not allowed to fart in.  Ricky’s Shitmobile is a ’75 Chrysler New Yorker, which had to be drastically revamped structurally just to make it safe to film with.  Then there’s the Dirty Burger, which is actually an old camper that Robb Wells and John Paul Trembley bought years ago.  “Dogs, Busses & Barf Tubes” reveals the origins of Bubbles’ bus.  My favourite featurette is “The Cock Bomb Problem”.  What’s the “Cock Bomb” you ask?  The crew and cast ceaselessly pranked each other by drawing cocks on all of their stuff.

I felt that Trailer Park Boys went a little too dark on the last couple outings.  The final TV episode before the recent revamp of the show was the dour “Say Goodnight to the Bay Guys”, which was followed by the similar downer movie Countdown to Liquor Day.  Don’t Legalize It has its own moments of sadness and quite a few tears, but measured against its predecessor, it’s a much funnier and re-watchable film.  I think this captures the heart of the series better than the last film, even though many characters are absent or have smaller roles.  The core is the triumvirate of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, along with the evil duo of Randy and Lahey.  As long as you have those ingredients, you have potential for a lot of fuckery.  Don’t Legalize It delivers.

4/5 stars

Further reading:
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Big Plans, Little Brains: The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Third Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fourth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS Xmas Special (Conky Puppet, Dope and Liquor Editions)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fifth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Sixth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Seventh Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

The final part in my series of Trailer Park Boys reviews, as we gear up for the debut of Seasons 8 & 9! 

IMG_20140712_183919Part one: Seasons 1 & 2
Part two: Season 3
Part three: Season 4
Supplimental: “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”
Part four: Season 5
Part five: Season 6
Part six: Season 7
Part seven: “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

TPB-SGTTBG_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” (2008 Alliance Atlantis)

“Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”, the “final” Trailer Park Boys episode before the big movie Countdown to Liquor Day, is actually one of my least favourite episodes (right down there with “Steve French” and “Oscar Goldman”). A one hour special tacked on after Season 7, “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” follows Ricky, Julian and Bubbles after their big haul at the end of the last season. It took two years to finally do a DVD/Blu-ray release.  To date, this is the only Trailer Park Boys episode released to Blu-ray.  The movies, of course, are available on Blu.

Thought that the boys had finally made it rich, and everything was sweet? You’d certainly think so after seeing the hunky-dory last episode in Season 7. This is not the case! Turns out Julian has hidden the money, until such time as he feels it’s safe to distribute it. Ricky’s Shitmobile does have some sweet new rims, but it is now missing a tire. Old recurring nemesis Sam Losco knows about the cash, and with the help of Barb Lahey, finds out where it’s hidden. Before you can say “shit tides”, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are broke once again, and Lahey is back on the liquor.

Another scheme is hatched, this time revolving around a Country & Western dance. Can the boys make a little cash, or will Lahey win yet again? One thing for certain: you can count on some dirty dancing, backstabbing schemes, and Philadelphia Collins eating balogna sandwiches.  That I promise you.

Look for cameos by The Tragically Hip (specifically Gordon Downie and Bob Baker).  Blu-ray bonus features are sparse either way, just some behind-the-scenes stuff.  It does come with a cool Bubbles-as-Scarface mini poster though.  That would look cool in your man-cave.

Unfortunately “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” did not feel like a proper episode. It felt like an afterthought. It was revealed that a full season was intended, but all those ideas were distilled down into one episode.  Good thing the boys will be back on TV this fall.

3/5 stars