ALBUM | If the new Decemberists album was just Colin Meloy singing dictionary entries or a concept record about great horned owl mating rituals, I'd hardly be surprised. This Portland band is just weird enough to pull something like that. But their latest offering, WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD (out Jan. 20), is hardly so audacious. From the singles they've released so far, it's more of a return to the genre-mixing of The Crane Wife than the power folk of 2011's smash record The King is Dead. Check out the video for "Make You Better," which features Nick Offerman as a Scandinavian talk show host.
TELEVISION | I couldn't get into PARENTHOOD when it debuted in 2010. I think it was Craig T. Nelson. The dude is always Coach to me, ya know? But I stuck with it, first out of marital obligation and then out of true fandom. The sixth and final season returns from its hiatus on Thursday, Jan. 8 (10 pm, NBC) and sees the big, talented cast at its best, with a web of story lines that manage to convey real-life problems like unplanned pregnancy and heart attacks with a sincerity so often absent from network dramas. It's clear there's going to be some sadness in the final few episodes; I suggest you binge your way to the present and weep along with me.
PODCAST | The premise is positively obnoxious: two guys watch Grown Ups 2, which they acknowledge is awful, every week for a year and then talk about it. But New Zealanders Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt own the obnoxiousness, which is why the show is titled THE WORST IDEA OF ALL TIME. The guys are nearing their one-year goal and you can hear their sanity dwindling with every episode. Somehow, the nonsensical bantering about the inane movie doesn't get as old as it should — especially when they talk about their love for Jon Lovitz — but you're left really feeling for that pair. What a burden to bear.♦