Music » Culture Jamming

Here are the week's best releases from the pop-culture universe:


TV -- Extras: When we last saw Ricky Gervais' struggling actor Andy Millman, he'd just landed a deal for the sitcom he created. In Sunday's second-season opener (airing at 10 p.m. on HBO), he's forced to compromise his vision. Meanwhile, Orlando Bloom's knickers get all bunched when Andy's lovable gal pal Maggie resists his charms. The self-effacing star cameos -- plus the always-brilliant Gervais, star and mastermind of the original Office -- make this HBO's funniest show.

CD -- The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities: Even Sonic Youth's leftovers are tasty. This disc of outtakes, Japanese bonus tracks, and compilation cuts covers the years 1995 to 2003. Some songs are experimental sound sculptures ("Loop Cat"); others are amp-rattling jams ("Fire Engine Dream"). Best is the sprawling, 25-minute "The Diamond Sea," with an alternate ending that's even groovier than the one found on Washing Machine.

DVD -- Forbidden Planet 50th Anniversary 2-Disc Special Edition: One of the all-time best sci-fi flicks -- based on, of all things, Shakespeare's The Tempest -- gets a lustrous makeover. The movie's influential set design has never looked more dazzling, but it's the second disc's deleted scenes and documentaries that make it worth upgrading your collection. Plus, two of breakout star Robby the Robot's follow-up roles show that he wasn't just a one-trick automaton.

BOOK -- Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read: Writer Alan Goldsher looks at the enigmatic cult band and its slow rise to mainstream success with 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News. He breaks down Modest Mouse's often difficult records and assesses the effect success has had on the group -- particularly leader Isaac Brock, one of alt-rock's true oddballs.

TV -- Rome: HBO's sex-and-violence-stuffed soaper is really just Desperate Housewives in togas. In the second season, which premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, central characters will die, and backs will be stabbed in a complex power struggle. Sounds like this season might be The Sopranos B.C.

DVD -- TCM Archives: Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 1: This two-disc set of three pre-Production Code movies from the early '30s may look tame by today's Skinemax standards, but back in the day, films like Baby Face, Red Headed Woman, and Waterloo Bridge (which haven't been seen in their original form for more than 70 years) caused quite a stir. Women sleep their way to the top, beg to be slapped, and walk the streets in search of a quick buck. See what got Grandpa all hot and bothered.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Taylor Hicks: The latest American Idol champ is no Kelly Clarkson. Hell, he's not even Fantasia. On his debut CD, the faux soul man strains for cred. But the mom-friendly arrangements, colorless songs, and forced deliveries reveal that he's nothing more than a karaoke crooner with a record contract. Come back, Ruben. All is forgiven.

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