filling in a ticket in her little white book

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
1. the gingko leaves are impossibly beautiful, yellow, and all over the ground right now.
2. My hair is long enough to pull into a ponytail again, and it's making me insane. I guess I should be glad it's not growing inward, like the Tick's evil mustache. Arthur, my mustache is touching my brain!
3. I am no longer sick, but wellness brought my insomnia back. Or maybe it's just no nyquil that brought my insomnia back. This is something I must ponder further.
4. it's possible I ponder too much.
5. If someone were to try to determine the kinds of jobs Americans hold by watching TV, they would determine that we are a nation of crime scene investigators, cops, lawyers, and doctors. Nobody does anything else! Well, there are two (network) shows I can think of that feature writers, but in one of them the writing is secondary to finding a hairdresser in Alaska. I realize the reason for this -- those other professions provide easy episodic adventures... I mean, there's always someone doin' crimes that provide the bodies that need to be crime scene investigated, and if they're not dead they get to go see a doctor, and then they can sue...
All of which brings me to...

Some Things I've Been Watching, Lately

Carnivale season 2: got this from the library. I liked season one for its dust-bowl atmospherics and magical ambiguity. The lack of a strong narrative thread didn't really bother me; I liked being introduced to the different people that made up the Carnivale, I liked the sort of Twin-Peaksian weirdo meandering mysteriousness of it all. However, as much as I want Clancy Brown to be my personal Read To Me slave (his voice!), I found his storyline somewhat tedious. I get it, he's EVIL, but wears priestly garb. No, really, stop beating that hooker and giving lascivious looks to your sister... I GET IT. No more visions of blood, I beg you! You really are evil!

The show was slow-paced, but that was okay. Season two... well, the whole first episode was spent explaining who was good (Ben Hawkins) and who was Evil (not you, Brother Justin! I never would have guessed) -- because apparently watching Ben Hawkins heal a little girl so she could walk and watching Brother Justin mind control a pedophile weren't clues enough! They took away all the ambiguity, there's nothing going on, and four episodes in I find myself really hard pressed to care. This may go back to the library before Brother Justin finishes getting his EVIL TATTOO (because he's just not evil enough without it, I guess). Deadwood's got it all over this show -- it has the atmosphere (no implied magic, though) AND a freaking STORY! (and a lot of grey areas, which are always interesting.)

Bringing Up Baby: I've seen this many times but it's getting to be winter and I was lacking Vitamin Cary Grant, which this has in abundance. (If you like screwball comedies and haven't seen this, you should correct that RIGHT NOW. Seriously, this very instant.) I love this movie. My sister and I still do the "I was born on the side of a hill" lopsided my-heel-is-broken walk any time we're standing anywhere even slightly uneven. I thought my heart was full of maximum love for Bringing Up Baby, that there was simply no room to love it more, but I was wrong! The day after I re-watched it, I listened to the DVD commentary with Peter Bogdanovich while I was working on a project. Not unlike the grinch, my heart grew three sizes with extra affection. He pointed out a lot of technical "that's all one shot!" type stuff, but it wasn't just that... maybe it was for the tidbit that when Cary Grant says "I don't like leopards." he really means it.
(disturbing side note: when googling for images, I came across a review that not only gave this movie a mere two stars, but also mentioned Freddie Prinze, Jr. The world has gone mad.)

Grey's Anatomy: What do you know? It's a hospital soap! My problem with this show is that I find the title character to be whiny with an over-large sense of entitlement and virtually no humanizing factors. "She makes bad decisions" is supposed to be the thing we all relate to, but I find wanting to shove her giant lollipop head through the drywall to be a barrier to caring at all about what happens to her. Of the core group of doctors we met in the first season (many of whom I initially responded to), right now I only like George, the insecure nerd doctor. (Other original doctors included: ambitious do-anything (but secretly soft) doctor, the pretty baking (but secretly smart) doctor, the asshole doctor (with occasional secret stabs of humanity, and I'm sure a big ol' pile of Secret Pain), the crusty attending with the heart of gold, and brilliant (but jazz playing) surgeon.) Of the current group, I like Dr. Addison Shepherd (the estranged wife of Meredith's Dr. McDreamy). Addison also makes bad choices, but I feel for her. Also making the cut is Dr. Torres (who is in love with the insecure nerd doctor and has a host of other issues and problems. I think I like her because she looks like she might carry out my fondest Meredith-through-a-plate-glass-window wishes.) I enjoy the show, but wouldn't fret if something happened and I couldn't watch.

Bones: Angel's on TV!! That's pretty much my summary of this show. Their attempts to sex up the workplace have been annoying, but not painfully so. For example, Hodges and Angela?? He was uptight super paranoid bug nerd scientist last year, and this year he's suddenly Mr. Smoove Lover Man? Other examples include new boss Cam, who is an ex-lover of Boothe's (Angel). Not only is she an ex-lover, she's an autopsy person so they can take now juicily take apart new dead bodies in addition to the old ones. Because there are just not enough dead bodies on television.

Gilmore Girls: I am so torn on this one! The rational part of my brain says that not every show was meant to go on for unlimited seasons and maybe they should have stopped after year five or so. On the other hand, I do still get pleasure from watching it, but I'm pretty sure that I'm letting my early fondness color what's currently going on. For just ONE of many examples, Lorelei is back with Christopher. I like this new Christopher, and am not opposed to them getting together out of some Luke loyalty or anything... but, well, he was a complete irresponsible asshole (with a heart of gold) before, and now he's perfect. (That Funny Face date would be hard to beat, for example.) Maybe it's not intentional, or maybe I'm reading it wrong, but the way things seem to be shaking out is that he is worthy of Lorelei only now that he has "people crushing money." This show never dealt with class issues in a really heavy handed way, but I appreciated how they would sort of angle toward them. (Class is one of the last big unspoken issues in America today, IMO.) That Lorelei left an elite background and made her own life was a big deal. Now it seems like she can't escape her upbringing. To the manor born, to the manor you shall return! (don't get me started on formerly interesting characters like Lane getting the shaft!)

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: This show is problematic. I want to like it more than I do -- I like talky television and movies. A lot. Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night was one of the best half-hour series on television, and I don't remotely care for televised sports. The concept of this show is inherently interesting to me. How a live television broadcast goes together (I was a SNL fiend at one point in my life) should not be boring! And yet I feel about this show the same way I felt about the short-lived Love Monkey (which was set in the music business) -- it has so much potential, but spectacularly fails to live up to it. Is there no future for non-cop/lawyer/hospital shows?

The good parts: I love Matthew Perry in this role. He is not Chandler-y at all, and I think his romance with Harry is interesting, as is his friendship with Danny. I like that they have attempted to create a conservative Christian character who is not a complete nut job. I like the built-in tension and layers of Matt and Danny coming back to a show that they were forced out of years before. I like that they are not back entirely of their own free will. I like that we see the trickle-down pressure effect and the realities of having to serve 100 masters to just get the show on the air.

The main drawback is the endless speechifying. There are great huge monologues about the history of comedy, the folly of war, the arrogance of hollywood, the reverse-arrogance-that-is-just-as-arrogant of the rest of the country, Christians aren't really so bad, irrresponsible media, why can't we all just get along, etc... which are mostly well written and worth hearing, but they're dropped in like huge crates marked soap-box arriving by parachute -- you can see them coming from miles away and when they've landed there's a mess to clean up. Another thing: none of the sketches are funny. Don't show us the show, just show us how you get to the show! That being said, I will continue to watch until they cancel it, which seems somehow inevitable. They can release it on DVD with Love Monkey and do a special educational "What Went Wrong" audio track.

(this is in no way a complete list of my television habit)
5 comments on "filling in a ticket in her little white book"
  1. I have not seen Bones this year as when I am near a telly at that time I am watching 30 Rock. I love the Fey so very big. She is just so, I don't know, good? I know it is being thrown onto Thursday evenings starting soon with that show that is the "critics darling" but makes my skin crawl, Scrubs, however, the OC is on then so, well, my choice is so super clear. I may have bad taste, but I am loyal to it...

  2. ooh, I've only seen one episode of 30 Rock, but it was funny. I plan on catching it in reruns.
    Am I right in guessing you won't abandon Ms. Julie Cooper?

  3. When shows are superficial, do you blame the writers, the director, or the actors? I think that in the case of Bones the writing is generally so safe, that we (the audience) get away completely unscathed--and unmoved. But tonight I found the show very moving, with this kvetch--the direction, in the shepherding of the characters, was as slick and superficial as usual. I don't think Angel has to give much thought to his role--but he should.

    As for the big crates of soap in Studio 60, I keep noticing similar packets (like Popeye's spinach "it's good for you") in a show I like much more than anyone I know, Numbers. But in the case of Numbers the packets/crates contain mathmatical info. Long tedious explanations...I am interested in the info--but it needs to be handled better.

  4. Julie is my girl from Riverside that knows how to rock a trailer park...I could never abandon her. She is the best. And even when she was living in a trailer she looked great...that takes a special talent I would think.

  5. good question, Patty! I blame the writing -- if the stories or dialogue were more compelling, I might be able to focus on bad acting. As it is I'm not really engaged enough to CARE that they're not doing the story justice. (this makes sense in my head, but I'm not sure it translates...).

    Bones does play it safe -- I think they are trying to appeal to an audience who either can't get enough of Dead Body Television, or to people who want a kinder, gentler, less kinky Dead Body Television. (CSI, in my opinion, is equally boring in its reliance on shock and titillation.) I was out and didn't see the Bones last night, so I can't comment on that directly. Maybe it's comment enough that I didn't bother to tape it. (I figured they weren't going to let the titular character be buried alive until she was just buried.)

    Numbers -- hee hee! The Algorithm Show is what I call it. I like the Epps family dynamic, find the math angle interesting.. but they solve every damn thing the same damn way. Why do I watch all of this stuff I don't particularly like? This is something I need to think about. I think it's time to seek out things that actively engage me instead of just slide over my brain like not-quite solid jello.

    BBD -- I love how you're keeping it real for Riverside!


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