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Overrated / Underrated

October 26, 2008

OVERRATED

Remixing past masters: We miss Johnny Cash as much as anyone, but we'd rather listen to "At Folsom Prison" 100 more times before hearing the hip-hop and dance interpretations of the Man in Black by Snoop, Pete Rock and others on "Johnny Cash Remixed" (due January). Maybe some will discover Cash's work for the first time, but imagining a thumping house beat behind "Hey Porter" only makes us "Cry, Cry, Cry."

'SNL's' character quest: Granted, the late-night program's franchise formula has been set since before the Blues Brothers, but when one-trick characters keep showing up week after week in search of some pop cultural traction, fatigue sets in, followed soon after by frustration. Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen, we love you. But if a repeated physical or verbal tic doesn't catch on in two sketches, it probably won't in five.

UNDERRATED

'The West Wing': With election day coming up fast, we're feeling pretty fatigued by politics and polarizing issues. But breaking out the first season of Aaron Sorkin's walk-and-talk White House hit us like a soothing DVD-delivered balm. Whatever happens at the polls Nov. 4, may the political discourse in the Beltway and beyond evolve into something as smart as this nearly 10-year-old fantasy.

'In Bruges': We weren't the only ones to have missed this Colin Farrell vehicle from February and were nervous to give it a spin at home. To our surprise we enjoyed this cracked crime-comedy, in which Farrell brings depth to his tormented assassin. Crisp, post-Tarantino dialogue combined with the always-underrated Brendan Gleeson and a scenery-devouring Ralph Fiennes sent the mix down smoother than a Belgian ale.

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