Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Community’s return, a murder doc, and this week’s 3 other can’t-miss entertainments

Illustration for article titled Community’s return, a murder doc, and this week’s 3 other can’t-miss entertainments

NOT OPTIONAL takes a quick weekly look at five essential recent releases. (A tip of the cap to ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER for inspiring the name.)

Community season première (NBC, February 7)
October 19 is here: Community’s delayed, Chevy Chase-purging, Dan Harmon-less fourth season finally debuts next Thursday. (Not that you needed us to tell you that.) Even if your faith in the show was shaken by the loss of its creator, there remains the curiosity factor of watching a show that can’t be what it once was, but certainly can’t be the trainwreck implied by that Hunger Games-parodying preview clip, right? (We’ve seen the episode, and no, it isn’t.) Besides, it’s still this show and these characters, and as long as it stays true to the basic kernels of Harmon’s vision, it should be one of the best on TV. [Erik Adams]

West Of Memphis (In theaters)
Though ignored by the Oscars and the box office, the documentary West Of Memphis remains essential viewing. Even those feeling exhausted by coverage of the West Memphis Three case should give it a look: West Of Memphis has the advantage of full hindsight and access to major players that the Paradise Lost docs didn’t. The movie is even more emotionally complex than might be expected from a wrongful-imprisonment story, because it gives equal weight to triumph and tragedy: Yes, three innocent men were finally set free, but three young boys are still dead, their killer is free, and the members of the judicial system that railroaded them go unpunished. The movie opened in limited release at Christmastime, but is rolling out to theaters around the country now. [Josh Modell]


A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP (in stores now)
A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP has everything you’d want in a mass-market hip-hop record. Bouncy and fun, it has A-list guests (Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Santigold), radio-friendly beats from artists like Clams Casino, and even dumb EDM laser sounds courtesy of Skrillex. It also has a healthy dose of darkness. While most of the songs are fun in kind of a “fuck you” way (“PMW [All I Really Need]”extols the virtues of pussy, money, and weed), others, like the title track, dig a little deeper. A$AP Rocky even opens the record saying, “I thought I’d probably die in prison.” Still, the light outweighs the dark overall on Live.Love.A$AP. It’s fun, smart, and people will probably talk about it for the rest of the year (and beyond). [Marah Eakin]

The Todd Glass Show (online weekly)
Is there a podcast more unabashedly joyous than The Todd Glass Show? It’s an adventure in giddy emotional regression as Glass—a lovable, pot-smoking, Mr. Rogers-worshipping man-child—and his ebullient cast of characters goof through running gags, jingles, and recurring bits. This is comedy jazz, a confidently improvised ramble from assured professionals with lived-in chemistry built on ritual, repetition, and minor variations on themes. Also like jazz, The Todd Glass Show can be wildly uneven and even tedious at times, but it’s been on a roll lately. [Nathan Rabin]

The Night Marchers, Allez Allez
The music world offers few certainties, but here’s one: Anything John Reis does is worth at least one listen. The former frontman of Rocket From The Crypt has a long list of bona fides, including his work in Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, The Sultans, and numerous production and contributor credits. His latest group, The Night Marchers, sounds like an amalgam of all his previous projects (and features three-quarters of Hot Snakes). They debuted with 2008’ solid See You In Magic, but the new Allez Allez finds The Night Marchers hitting their stride, nailing a spectrum that covers shuddering, Drive Like Jehu post-hardcore to garage-rock rave-ups and surprisingly poppy rock. [Kyle Ryan]

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