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Underrated / Overrated

November 27, 2011

UNDERRATED

'Moral Orel': Canceled in 2008 but still part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim stable of twisted animation, this stop-motion series tweaks the 1960s series "Davey and Goliath" with its look and religion-inspired subject matter. But spending more time in creator Dino Stamatopoulos' warped world built around the morally grounded Orel Puppington and the damaged adults in his orbit, and the show quickly gets far darker — and funnier — than you'd believe.

'American: The Bill Hicks Story': Consistently underrated in the U.S. while revolutionizing stand-up comedy in the early '90s, Hicks is the focus of a posthumous documentary about his brilliant career. It's an intimate look at the making of an outrageous yet thought-provoking comic and social critic. The film opens with Hicks' teenage beginnings and continues through a prolific late career as he battled cancer and leaves you wondering what he would have said about the world today.

OVERRATED

Creeping 'Black Friday': Though Black Friday is a relatively recent pop culture phenomenon, the growing power of a day devoted to the most backward of holiday impulses — greed and conspicuous consumption — has started overshadowing the whole idea of giving thanks for what you already have. Now that some stores have started pushing their hours into Thanksgiving night, maybe Black Friday can eventually just overtake the holiday entirely to further minimize any genuine moments of gratitude and reflection.

Taylor Swift's humility: If it's November, then awards season must be upon us. On the music front, this inevitably translates into more honors for country-pop juggernaut Taylor Swift, who earned another big win last week at the American Music Awards. While her breathless expressions of shock at her every accolade since 2008 have been endearing, it's time for Swift to gracefully accept one truth after all this time: They like you, they really like you.

— Chris Barton

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