‘South Park’ tackles gentrification: Does SoCo = SoDoSoPa?

Parts of the latest episode of Comedy Central’s “South Park,” which is in the throes of a season-long plot line about political correctness, looked eerily familiar.

As Austin contends with gentrification and the proliferation of condominiums in some of the most Austin-y parts of our city, a trendy commercial development on the long-running animated series — named SoDoSoPa (short for South Downtown South Park) — is built in the hopes of attracting a Whole Foods store.

sodosopaIt reminds us of SoCo, of course, but people from other cities, including Portland, Ore., Indianapolis, Ind., Cincinnati, Oh., and Denver, Colo. (“South Park’s” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone hail from the state) have turned to Twitter to insist that their towns are the real inspiration for the satire. Clearly, Austin is not the only community grappling with urban development issues.

Is SoDoSoPa really a not-so-thinly-veiled SoCo? Watch the in-episode commercial above for The Residences at The Lofts at SoDoSoPa (select balconies have views of “historic Kenny’s house”) and let us know what you think.

The ‘Happy Birthday’ song is now in the public domain, but here’s a fun alternative

You know those checks you’ve been sending off every year after birthday celebrations? The royalty checks?

You don’t have to do that anymore.

A federal judge’s ruling Tuesday means that the song is now considered to be in the public domain. No longer protected by copyright, the song is free to be used by anyone, according to industry trade site Variety.

What? Oh, I hear you — it’s just not as much fun to wish somebody a happy birthday in song now that it’s no longer simultaneously a way to stick it to the man, is it?

Well, there’s always this alternative, offered up years ago by “Saturday Night Live”:

Aerosmith’s Joey Kramer hawks coffee at H-E-B; here are other possible Austin celebrity product pitches

Aerosmith Drummer Joey Kramer's coffee line is now available at select H-E-B stores.
Aerosmith Drummer Joey Kramer’s coffee line is now available at select H-E-B stores.

Did you know that Aerosmith’s drummer, Joey Kramer, lives in Georgetown, Tex., just up I-35?

Back in the day, the group was legendary for its indulgence in stimulants of all kinds. But the rockers have long since cleaned up their act and these days Kramer’s hawking a pick-me-up in a cup.

Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer
Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer

Joey Kramer’s Rockin’ & Roastin’ Coffee has arrived in Texas, courtesy of retailer H-E-B. The organic line of java (sold in packs of single-serve brewing cups) comes in medium, medium-dark and dark roasts hailing from Guatemala, Ethiopia and Sumatra, respectively.

“Having lived in the Lone Star State for the past several years, expanding Rockin’ & Roastin’s availability to my adopted state is both professionally and personally gratifying,” Kramer says. “Since our expansion into the retail market in 2013, I’ve had my heart set on bringing my java to the fine people of Texas.”

Thanks, Joey — we’re not worthy!

A list of H-E-B stores carrying the coffee, as well as more information on the product, can be found at rockinandroastin.com.

Meanwhile, the product got us thinking about other Austin celebrity-tied products and services that don’t exist, but absolutely should:

Stevie Ray-Bans — You’d be hard-pressed to find the legendary bluesman and favorite son wearing sun shades. Go ahead, Google it. But a line of sleek sunglasses would be perfect for deflecting the scorching lights bouncing off Lady Bird Lake while we’re checking out his statue at Auditorium Shores.

Brooklyn Double Decker Bus Tours — Austin gets a lot of visitors and they need stuff to do. To that end, we can easily imagine Decker, the stunning model and actress, in late night commercials on The CW hawking tours of the city with her husband, former tennis pro Andy Roddick, in between ads for personal injury lawyers. How many minutes would each tour last, 40? Love!

Willie Half-Nelson Gyms — You thought we were going to go in a different direction with the redheaded stranger, didn’t you? That’s not legal here, yet. But the beloved singer/songwriter and Austin-area fixture is in such good shape for his age, we envision him as a latter-day Buster Crabbe. Imagine arm workouts based on guitar strumming. It could happen.

Kyle Chandler’s Coach Service — I don’t know if you’ve ever tried driving up Parmer Lane west of the tollway on a Friday night during high school football season, but it’s a bear. Hundreds of stop-and-go (mostly stop) cars line the stretch between 620 and the facility. It’s no fun. That’s where the “Friday Night Lights” star could come in handy with a line of coach buses showing episodes of the beloved Austin-filmed television series with live commentary by Coach himself at the front of the bus, microphone in hand.

Robert Plant’s Plants — Okay, the aging Led Zeppelin frontman and former Patty Griffin paramour no longer calls Austin his home, but he stayed just long enough to make the list. Because Austin loves all things green, we’re ready to open our hearts and wallets to the landscapers’ supply house we imagine him opening. Sign me up for the maintenance package — “The Lawn Remains the Same.”

Eleven funny tweets about Pluto

Sure, we’ve all fallen in love with the one-time planet with the great big heart. The stunning photos of the heavenly body sent to Earth during the New Horizons fly-by have prompted everyone from Stephen Hawking to The Dandy Warhols to wax rhapsodic on social media.

But high-profile events bring out the smart-alecks, too. Here are eleven funny Pluto-related tweets we found on Twitter today:

https://twitter.com/briangaar/status/621032637637881856

https://twitter.com/thejoelstein/status/620939633577304064

Check out the new ‘Doctor Who’ trailer

The trailer for the new season of the BBC’s “Doctor Who” just dropped, and it looks great (the series returns to BBC America on Sept. 19).

Star Peter Capaldi says, “Soaring through all of time and space, series nine sees the Doctor throw himself into life with a new hunger for adventure. The Cosmos is there for the taking, thrilling, epic and enticing, and his to play in. But he’s almost reckless in his abandon. It’s almost like he’s running from something, something that if it ever catches him will turn his life upside down.”

See if you can spot clues as to what the Doctor and Clara will be up to this season. The network promises that “the pair meet new and old monsters, and go on a journey that takes them to deadly alien planets, creepy underwater bases, Vikings villages, a global Zygon uprising, and leads them through hidden alien dens, to the very end of time itself.”

And while you’re at it, give us your best guesses as to the identity of the young girl played by Maisie Williams (Arya Stark on “Game of Thrones”) is at the end — the one who asks, “What took you so long old man?”

The Doctor’s daughter, maybe?

TV Pilot Watch 2015: ‘Grandfathered,’ Fox

John Stamos, left, and Josh Peck star in "Grandfathered." ERICA PARISE  /FOX
John Stamos, left, and Josh Peck star in “Grandfathered.” ERICA PARISE /FOX

Stars: John Stamos, Josh Peck, Paget Brewster

Genre: Comedy

Network: Fox

Premise: Stamos portrays Jimmy, a playboy restaurateur who learns he fathered a son named Gerald (Peck) during a decades-ago one-night stand with Sara (Paget Brewster). Not only that, but Gerald’s got a toddler daughter with a friend he’s crushing on, Vanessa (Christina Milian).

Pilot Watch: This is a lot to dump on Jimmy in one episode and, frankly, it’s a lot to dump on viewers, too. Jimmy takes too readily to his new role of grandpappy, perhaps to ingratiate himself to Sara, for whom he still carries a torch. Fairly generic scenes with the baby in Jimmy’s restaurant try too hard, and the chemistry between Stamos and Peck is lacking. The pilot is sweet, but it’s very generic and, unfortunately, not very funny. Still … PAGET BREWSTER, right?

I wanted: … the word “Grandfathered” to never be used as a verb. Still, it’s better than the show’s working title, “Grandpa.”

Check out this trailer and let us know what you think of “Grandfathered.”

TV Pilot Watch 2015: ‘The Grinder’ Fox

Fred Savage, left, and Rob Lowe star in "The Grinder," a sitcom premiering on Fox this fall. RAY MICKSHAW / FOX
Fred Savage, left, and Rob Lowe star in “The Grinder,” a sitcom premiering on Fox this fall. RAY MICKSHAW / FOX

Stars: Fred Savage, Rob Lowe

Genre: Comedy

Network: Fox

Premise: Lowe plays Dean Sanderson, a childish and spoiled actor famous for portraying a lawyer in a network drama called “The Grinder.” When his show ends, he returns to rural America to visit his brother, Stewart (Savage), an uptight and inexperienced actual lawyer, and weasels his way into his brother’s practice.

Pilot Watch: Lots of fun. Savage and Lowe clearly enjoy playing to their familiar (stereo)types — Savage gets frustrated at his brother’s antics and fails to understand why he’s the only one who does. Lowe, still calling himself “The Grinder,” charms everyone he meets (including a judge and jury he’s got no business arguing in front of). He firmly believes that spouting catch-phrases and dialogue from his show is enough to win a case.

William Devane is terrific as the boys’ father (also a lawyer), who inexplicably sides with Lowe’s character most of the time. The rest of the family, including Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Savage’s wife (she used to date The Grinder) and a couple of generic kids don’t add much to the pilot, but the battle for the children’s hearts and minds between Savage and Lowe could provide plenty of comic fodder. And it should continue to be fun watching Lowe’s and Savage’s characters learn from each other.

I wanted: More.

Check out this trailer and let us know what you think of “The Grinder.”

Does the X in ‘The X-Files’ stand for eXhausted and BotoX?

Photos emerge from production of the iconic television series’ reboot.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson shoot a scene from
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson shoot a scene from “The X-Files” reboot. ED ARAQUEL /FOX

Entertainment Weekly just shared a clandestine peek at the production of the upcoming “The X-Files” limited-series reboot and it’s got some great info (hey — we knew the truth was out there).

There’s a photo gallery with pictures of stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson; he looks a little tired and worse for the wear, while she seems to have had what they call in the industry, “some work done” (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

But the best news is that the reboot seems to be continuing the original series’ penchant for casting interesting guest stars. In some of the photos, we see “Community’s” Joel McHale and — even better — Annet Mahendru, Nina from “The Americans.”

There’s even a peek at the title page of the first new script, called “My Struggle,” written by series creator Chris Carter (an occasional visitor to the Austin Film Festival). The show will return sometime in 2016 to Fox.

Are you a fan of “The X-Files?” Are you excited for the reboot or do you think it’s better left alone?

Me? I want to believe.

Are these the top 25 TV shows of 2014/2015?

Indiewire ranks Amazon’s “Transparent” as the year’s best TV show. Are they right?

Carrie Coon, star of "The Leftovers," meets fans along with show runner Damon Lindelof at the 2015 ATX Television Festival. The HBO drama was chosen by Indiewire as the ninth best show of the 2014/15 television season. DALE ROE/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Carrie Coon, star of “The Leftovers,” greets fans along with show runner Damon Lindelof at the 2015 ATX Television Festival. The HBO drama was chosen by Indiewire as the ninth best show of the 2014/15 television season. DALE ROE / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The folks over at Indiewire’s The Playlist have compiled their list of the 25 Best TV Shows Of 2014/15.

A growing market of content providers continues to exert its influence in the rankings; five of the site’s top picks are streaming/download offerings, while basic and pay cable make up the bulk of the list. Only a trio of broadcast network programs made the cut, and none cracked the top ten (“Parks and Recreation” landed at number 12).

Newcomers commanded almost half of the slots. “Bloodline,” “Fortitude,” “Babylon,” “Jane the Virgin” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” are included, along with “You’re The Worst,” the Duplass brothers’ “Togetherness,” “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul,” Damon Lindelof’s “The Leftovers,” “The Nick” and “Transparent.”

There are some glaring omissions, though. Where is “Veep”? How about “The Flash” or “Empire”? And who do I grill to find out why “Bob’s Burgers” couldn’t fit somewhere into the order?

Here are Indiewire’s Top Ten (check out the complete list here). Did they get it right? Which of your favorites are missing? Tell us in the comments below:

10. “Better Call Saul”
9. “The Leftovers”
8. “Mad Men”
7. “The Americans”
6. “Justified”
5. “Orange is the New Black”
4. “Rectify”
3. “Broad City”
2. “The Knick”
1.”Transparent”