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Ten Worst Parts of Ten Great Works- A Mexican Standoff

Sometimes, even in something that you love, there is that one thing that will always bother you. A moment, or a scene, or a character that just nags at you and will never let you go. Sometimes it totally tanks a work, while other times it becomes the thing you fast forward through on a rewatch.

What spurred on this article was revisiting the seminal television program Scrubs, one of my all-time favorites, which, for better or worse, ran for a strong eight seasons and one final, abysmal, wholly forgettable and redonkulous ninth season. Most of the main cast disappeared and a new batch of less-than-stellar young people rushed in attempting to fill the void left by the absence of J.D. and Glenn Matthews (The Janitor, for those of you not well-versed on Scrubs lore for some reason).

The show also shifted from being about doctors, to being about people who wanted to be doctors and thus I have deemed it “Med School” and consider it another show entirely, one starring the brother of James Franco.

I’ve ranted about this enough up here that this particular item won’t be included on the list, but know it is there in spirit.

(Side note: The thirteenth book in the Series of Unfortunate Events epoch would be on here if I didn’t fear the interminable wrath of my friend Paige should she find out. If you see this… Hello, Paige. Please don’t hit me.)

arrested development martin short

10) Arrested Development– Martin Short

Perhaps the greatest sign that this belongs on this list is that every time I want to rant about this to AD diehards, they have no idea what I’m talking about. Those that laud this show above their own hook-handed children totally forget about this episode, placed almost dead center of their endlessly brilliant second season (except for this part, where the brilliance ended). On a show that usually uses its guest stars brilliantly, “Ready, Aim, Marry Me” brings in a mostly crippled Martin Short, who has a penchant for vomiting, which is a quick way to lose my interest. It’s a rare lapse in judgment from a show that brought us Carl Weathers the stew master and five Andy Richters. Many would have used this spot for the “For British Eyes Only” run, or the infamous Charlize Theron revelation, but I think Martin Short throwing up on people tops retardation.

500 days of summer

9) (500) Days of Summer– Breakdown

Sigh. I hate this scene. Probably because it’s so obvious. Even in a film like Summer, whose tastes lie pretty far from subtlety, something about the scene where Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) breaks down in the middle of a meeting about greeting cards makes me want to take indie cinema over my knee and break it. “Waaaaaaahhhh! I can’t write greeting cards!” he moans in my rendition of this scene, which comes up surprisingly frequently over dinner conversation. Why did he have to work for greetings cards? He could have worked literally anywhere else and it would have been the same movie, but it was chosen that the ultimate form of sympathy would come from a man not being able to write Hallmark cards. This is the scene I leave on while I go to the bathroom.

les miserables javert russell crowe

8) Les Miserables– Javert’s Death

We’re talking about the 2012 movie here, the one that proved once and for all that Tom Hooper doesn’t know how to point a camera at stuff. Besides the shoddy camera work, I actual rather enjoyed this film. Anne Hathaway earned the crap out of that Oscar. But the scene (that does not qualify for spoilers because this story is centuries old) that pulls me out of the movie totally and causes me to guffaw audibly comes when Russell Crowe’s noble Javert, sorrow-ridden over Hugh Jackman out-manning him, hurls himself off a bridge… and onto concrete. What makes this scene absolutely hilarious is the sound effect of Crowe hitting the stone, reminiscent of what it used to sound like when people got punched in cowboy movies. Find it and watch it. It’s pure ridiculousness in a film primarily aimed at inspiring tears.

homeland

7) Homeland– Driving Lessons

I’ve talked about this one before, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant or exasperating. Starting in what is still one of the best episodes of television I have ever seen (Season 2’s “Q&A”), centered around Senator Brody’s daughter hitting some guy with her car and covering it up, was a drag on an already uneven season. Conceived, I imagine, to keep relevant those who are not actively fighting terrorism, week after week the arc would wear down the episodes, what with those crazy kids lying to their parents about killing some guy. It resolved as we always knew it would, with tears and forgiveness and everyone never talking about it again.

kill bill volume 2 pimp

6) Kill Bill, Volume 2– The Pimp Scene

The second in the saga about Deadening William took some daring narrative leaps, confining a large chunk of the plot to flashbacks had by Beatrix Kiddo as she was trapped in a coffin. I’m in the party of those that thought this style worked very well. Sometimes it’s fun to watch an alternative version of Karate Kid 4 with a substantially more violent Mr. Miyagi ripping out Darryl Hannah’s eyeball. But then there’s the pimp scene, another in a classic line of scenes that I go to the bathroom during, even if I don’t have to go. Michael Parks (playing his second role in the film) stops the drive to the franchise’s climax by playing a Spanish pimp who happened to know Bill when he was younger. Hooray? Perhaps there is important information divulged during this scene. I couldn’t tell you because you cannot understand a single word he says.

the white album the beatles

5) The Beatles, The White Album– The D Side

The White Album is one of the greatest albums ever made. And there has never existed a reason to flip over to the D-side of the album. Fluctuating gradually and gracefully between peppy hippy guitar tunes and sweeping pieces like “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” the first three sides of the album provide a wonderful and unique listening experience. The D-side is a mess of piddling dribble and artistic nonsense and should be placed in an exhibit to prevent drug use. It was all going so well until everything went absolutely to Hell in a hand basket. And Hell sounds an awful lot like “Revolution 9.”

how i met your mother ted and victoria

4) How I Met Your Mother– Ted and Victoria riding off into the sunset

One of the few moments in my television watching career that tempted me to throw a DVD out the window, this moment, occurring at the end of HIMYM’s mostly solid seventh season made me want to fight a goat. I think it inspired such rage because Ted was stealing Victoria from her wedding, causing her to leave her fiancée at the altar… the same thing that happened to Ted three seasons before! I was a big fan of Victoria when she first appeared early in Season 1, and I understand that her marriage to Klaus was probably never going to work out, but the pure, unbridled rage and disappointment I felt in a show I have defended ardently during its decline is undeniable.

harry potter and the order of the phoenix

3) Harry Potter series- Harry Potter and the Order of Puberty

Any series unfortunate enough to cover the terrors of youth must at some point confront the ugly monster known as “puberty.” And it’s never going to be pretty. But it doesn’t have to be this painful. Harry’s Voldemort-fueled ascent into adulthood happens almost entirely in Order of the Phoenix, which clocks in at around the head-spinning length of 870 pages. Damn thing would be 150 pages if you cut out all of Harry’s bitching. Harry himself was never the most compelling character in the franchise, but he becomes such an insufferable git in Book 5 that you almost welcome his being tortured by Umbridge. She’s the real hero of Phoenix. She’s the hero Phoenix deserves, but not the one it needs…

mass effect the mako

2) Mass Effect– Vehicle Sections

Some would reserve this coveted spot for the ending of Mass Effect 3, but I actual rather like the ending. A series like Mass Effect was always going to end with a choice, and while it wasn’t perfectly executed I don’t see any reason that it should be so thoroughly dismissed. I’ve pumped long hours and multiple play-throughs into this franchise and have just as much right to say the ending is good as you might to say it is bad. What I’m going to use this slot for is the goram vehicle sections… The slow, methodically maddening, easily-killable vehicle sections that prevent me from playing the first game daily. Every time I think about giving the franchise another go from the beginning, I remember that the Mako exists and just do another Mass Effect 2 go-round. The Mako turns a ten hour go into a 48 hour game and should be smote from the Earth, its memory erased from every disc across the land. God, I hate mountains…

Frodo

1) The Lord of the Rings– Frodo

A me in a different frame of mind would have given this spot to the legendary Tom Bmbadil, but I will probably write an entire article about how much Tom Bombadil sucks at some point so this spot instead goes to Frodo. In a franchise full of rich and interesting characters with clever backstories and character ticks, we have Frodo, whose primary character trait seems to be that he whines a lot and owns jewelry. His half of each of the books is by far the worst half of each of those books, considering the other half contains everything from the movies that you liked. Let’s just say there is a very good and well-founded reason that Aragorn gets significantly more screen time than Frodo after the first installment in the franchise. It is mostly because he sucks. No disrespect meant to Elijah Wood, who sucks a lot less than the hobbit bastard he portrays.

Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and TV blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of delightful movies and television and present writer of dreadful tweets spoiling The Walking Dead for everyone. Check back here often for our weekly Mexican Standoffs, regular coverage of Community and Game of Thrones, and our standard Good Stuff feature. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Also, Twitter.

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8 thoughts on “Ten Worst Parts of Ten Great Works- A Mexican Standoff

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  4. Pop Joe on said:

    Excellent premise for discussion. I must say first blood up in this piece; you take no prisoners here. I have to give you credit, you didn’t take easy street on most of these by selecting examples everyone could get behind, many of your selections take some pretty beloved aspects to task. (Any part of The White Album and The Boy Who Lived for an entire book are no jokes!) And while I think you did a good job defending your selections, I must say I don’t share the same feelings on a few of them — especially Martin Short in AD. Not only did I find this character and performance passable, I thought it was one of the stronger, most memorable guest roles of the series! “Shoot me, Dragon!”

    Off the top of my head, a few of the overly dramatic lines in Rounders come to mind. And as you mentioned Harry Potter, I would go that rout with a few different examples: the entirety of Quidditch, which I thought was so poorly designed as a credible sport and the names of the spells which were moons over my hammy. I’m going to give the topic some thought though because I know I’ve experienced many much more cringe-worthy aspects within pop culture I otherwise really like.

    • I’m glad you’re voicing some opposition, here. If everyone agreed with me on this blog, the Internet would be very boring. This is the kind of topic that comes up in my mind a lot, the one bone in the chicken casserole.

      I think you’re right about Quidditch as a concept, although I think it was used very cleverly in the Rogue Bludger sequence and the “Snape’s jynxing the broom!” segment of The Sorcerer’s Stone.

      I’m rewatching Arrested Development in preparation for Season 4, so maybe my feelings on Short will change, but I doubt it. Maybe it’s just my absolute detest for vomit humor, but I just feel he pales in comparison to Arrested Development Guest Role Heavy-Hitters like Carl Weathers and Andy Richter.

      I love each of the items on this list, which is why I can take them to task so readily, and it’s why their downfalls matter so much to me.

  5. The bone in the chicken casserole — exactly! I stand by Short, but you won’t find an argument from me about Carl Weathers which was so great all around. I also can’t think of Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog without laughing.

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