Overrated/Underrated: A welcome comeback for ‘Harvey Birdman,’ and the global sound of Sons of Kemet
The return of “Harvey Birdman”: This gloriously strange relic reminds us of a time before Adult Swim was established as a fertile source for twisted comedy and rare Flying Lotus tracks. “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” followed sibling “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” into the Hanna-Barbera vaults for an absurdist take on a cartoon procedural. Now, in the spirit of every old TV series being new again, the winged lawyer gets a welcome return this fall with the special “Harvey Birdman: Attorney General,” which will feature original voices Gary Cole in the title role and, as President Phil Ken Sebben, Stephen Colbert.
Sons of Kemet, “Your Queen Is a Reptile”: There may be no better soundtrack as our nation comes down from whatever high a royal wedding provides than a thick-grooved album roiling with a blend of London’s many diverse voices led by tenor saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. Recently signed to the storied jazz label Impulse!, Hutchings is backed here by two propulsive drummers and, crucially, a tuba, as he hurtles through swerving Caribbean rhythms with touches of echoey dub, U.K. grime and anthemic Afrobeat, most infectiously on the blazing first single “My Queen Is Harriet Tubman.”
The further balkanization of TV: First the 24-hour news networks began picking sides — or were perceived to, because if the news isn’t as “fair and balanced” as the one you like, they must be on the other side. Now, political identities are getting tangled with our entertainment with support for the rebooted “Roseanne” and, more overtly, Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing” serving as the equivalent of a front yard campaign sign. Maybe the trend stems from a tribal need for the comfort of familiar perspectives, but it seems like the shows that smartly challenge those perspectives could be the most entertaining of all.
Legalizing sports gambling: In a rare instance where the Supreme Court intersects with the NBA playoffs, betting on sporting events could soon be legal across the nation. That’s an exciting development for those who had never heard the term “point spread” or noticed how it was always listed in any pre-game show or story to offer an idea of where the smart betting would lie — in the event such a thing (wink, wink) existed outside a casino. While this might briefly diminish some of the hypocrisy endemic in big-money sports, fear not: The NFL season will soon arrive with a fresh supply.
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