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Underrated / Overrated

November 20, 2011

UNDERRATED

Dean Winters: In the DVR age, commercials are generally best suited to ignoring with extreme prejudice, but there's a playful menace to Winters' recent turn as the personification of "mayhem" that makes something as drab as an insurance spot actually entertaining. Equally memorable in regular stints on "Oz" and as Liz Lemon's dim, beeper-bearing boyfriend on "30 Rock," Winters needs to be wrecking havoc on a more regular basis.

House music: It's been easy to dismiss this enduring corner of electronic music as strictly confined to the club scene with its disco roots and dedication to a hypnotic, four-on-the-floor beat. But these days, you're hard-pressed to find a chart-topping pop song that doesn't have house music in its DNA, and a December concert with Europe's Swedish House Mafia sold out Madison Square Garden in under an hour. One nation under a groove, indeed.

OVERRATED

'Wars' on TV: Has anyone else noticed that the basic cable schedule now reads sort of like a list of U.N. hot spots? "Swamp Wars," "Lobster Wars," "Storage Wars" — when will these shows call a truce? It's understandable to raise the stakes in the world of cheap, unscripted TV, but there must be another way. Otherwise, we can only wonder what happens if someone broadcasts a series about dueling camps of Civil War reenactors ("War Wars"?).

U2's 'Achtung Baby' pricing: There's no denying that after the troubling overreach of "Rattle and Hum," U2's 1991 album was a musical landmark and maybe the band's creative peak. But as deserving as it may be for the anniversary treatment, some of the prices are deluxe even by classic rock reissue standards. At more than $120 for a four-LP set and a budget-busting $400-plus for an "Uber Deluxe" edition, they had better sound "even better than the real thing."

— Chris Barton

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