Editor's Note: This is the second part in a two-day series about the Life & Arts senior staff's most anticipated events and entertainment of 2012. Today's entries are about events taking place across the country.
Release date: TBA, Spring 2012
“Community” fans received a belated Christmas gift this year. The comedic television series that follows the lives of a community college study group was taken off the air midseason, but the NBC entertainment chief recently announced that the show will return in the spring to finish up its third season. “Community’s” small but dedicated fan base appreciates the show for its heavy emphasis on pop culture references, including numerous television and film related parodies. These references can be both obvious and painstakingly subtle, which can make it difficult for some viewers to follow and may contribute to its low ratings. Before the temporary hiatus, this season of “Community” kept fans laughing with episodes that included a Christmas special, a spot-on Glee parody, a karaoke session featuring Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” and an entire episode entitled “Remedial Chaos Theory” devoted to exploring the different space-time continuum possibilities of a single evening get-together, “Sliding Doors” style. Whether or not NBC will renew the show is still up in the air, but “Community” fans still have time to enjoy what has become one of the best sitcoms on air. — Jessica Lee
Movie: “Django Unchained”
Directed and written by: Quentin Tarantino
Release date: Dec. 25
Anticipation for Quentin Tarantino’s Southern film, “Django Unchained,” has been high ever since the notoriously controversial director revealed he would be making a film about a freed slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), taking revenge on plantation owners with help from the bounty hunter who freed him (Christoph Waltz). As if the thought of Tarantino and Waltz working together again after “Inglorious Basterds” wasn’t enough, the rest of the cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio as the film’s villain, Samuel L. Jackson as a slave and the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen, Kurt Russell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gerald McRaney. “Django Unchained” doesn’t release until Christmas Day, but it’s already promising to be one of the highlights of 2012’s cinematic landscape. — Alex Williams
Movie: “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits”
Release date: March 30
From the creators that brought some of our generation’s first tastes of stop-motion claymation, “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run,” comes “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits,” a tale about a less-than-lucrative pirate and his motley crew. Based on the “Pirates!” book series by British author Gideon Defoe, the movie follows The Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant, as he attempts to beat out his rivals for the pirate of the year award. The adorably clueless captain’s rivals include the reigning champion pirate Black Bellamy, (Jeremy Piven), and the feisty wildcard contestant Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek). In addition to beating out his fellow pirates, The Pirate Captain struggles with an enraged Queen Victoria out to get him, and the constantly looming notion that most of his high sea endeavors tend to backfire on him. “The Pirates!” will hopefully find that rare marriage of slapstick comedy and dry humor that will delightfully resonate with an all-ages audience. — Anjli Mehta
Artist: The Mars Volta
Release date: March 27
When guitarist and composer Omar Rodriguez-Lopez first announced that his psychedelic, prog-rock collective The Mars Volta had completed its follow-up to 2009’s Octahedron last year, fans impatiently scavenged website forums and anything Mars Volta-related to hear some of the new tracks. Some fans even led a petition, hoping to force the band’s label Warner Bros., into releasing the album, titled Nocturniquet, before this year. Although the petition failed, those fortunate enough to catch the group during last year’s South By Southwest (slyly performing under the moniker Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group) or their tour alongside rock legends Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers, were able to get a taste of what the new album has to offer. Described as “future punk” by lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Nocturniquet is slated for release on March 27, featuring the band’s renovated lineup.
Premieres: Apr. 15 on HBO
“I think I might be the voice of my generation,” says Hannah (Lena Dunham), a recent college graduate struggling to make ends meet with her female friends in New York. Then she hedges, “Or at least a voice of a generation.” This new comedy created, written and directed by Dunham (who broke out in 2010 with her South By Southwest hit “Tiny Furniture”), and produced by Judd Apatow, is all about those moments of compromise and the self-navigating and excitement that flood post-grad adulthood. Hannah seems like a worthy heroine — she’s like Liz Lemon’s kid sister, raised on cable television and dry wit: “I calculated, and I can last in New York for three and a half more days. Maybe seven if I don’t eat lunch.” And with these two sharp comedic minds working together, it might very well prove itself a distinctive voice of our generation. — Aleksander Chan
Book: “Telegraph Avenue”
Author: Michael Chabon
Release date: Fall 2012
Michael Chabon is certainly among America’s most celebrated authors in contemporary literature, threading aspects of his Jewish heritage into tales tackling issues of cultural identity and the dissolving structure American family. His 2000 novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and was a gorgeous piece of historical fiction following the lives of two Jewish cousins, who together help foster the genre of American comics in the early 20th century. “Kavalier and Clay” won Chabon the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001. Later this year, Chabon will release a new novel, titled “Telegraph Avenue.” Early reports about the book have indicated that it will largely be about the cities of Chabon’s childhood, namely Berkeley and Oakland, California. If the wistful, meandering blog post Chabon wrote about the book for The Atlantic’s website last week is any indication, “Telegraph Avenue” will continue in the vein of his usual themes of nostalgia and the power of the physical environments of our pasts.
Book: “The Red House”
Author: Mark Haddon
Release date: June 12
Six years since his last novel, “A Spot of Bother,” and nine years since his breakthrough, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” author Mark Haddon returns with “The Red House.” After proving his ingenious ability to get inside the head of even a child with Asperger’s syndrome in “The Curious Incident,” Haddon will be stretching that skill by telling the story from the eight different characters. Despite such a daunting project, Haddon chose to stick with a simple story: A wealthy man seeks to reconnect with his estranged sister and her family in the English countryside for the week after he remarried and gained a stepdaughter. There are none of the elements that popped up in his first two books. No adventures through London. No mysteries to be solved. No weird, obvious personality quirks. However, the success of Haddon’s previous novels has never relied on the gimmicks that made them playful on first read. Instead, it has always been the characters who struggle to be better to those around them that made Haddon’s stories exceptional. And with early readers calling “The Red House” a family tragicomedy, Haddon does not seem to be deviating too far from his strength: putting the resentments that build up in families under a literary microscope.
Printed on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 as: Most Anticipated 2012 National Edition