Saturday, July 31, 2010

Goodbye Tudors

The Tudors - one of the brightest stars in the new golden age of television - concluded on Showtime this June.   Along with Rome, The Tudors showed how deeply and satisfyingly television could show ancient and early modern history.  The Borgias will pick up this fine gauntlet on Showtime in 2011.

The final season of The Tudors was excellent, if not as commanding as the early seasons.  This is the fault of no one other than Henry VIII, whose real life as an older man was not as riveting as when he was younger.  There were fewer trysts, affairs, and conflicts with enemies in England and abroad.  No contentious titans in the court the likes of Wolsey, Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell.  But the final season of The Tudors had some fire nonetheless, with excellent segments in France, where Henry's engineer takes a crucial step into the modern age by using the best engineering techniques of the time to build a tunnel into the city under siege by Henry's army.

There were memorable farewells, not just by Henry, but by Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill), the only close friend of Henry's to play a central role in all the seasons of the series, and maintain his admirable independence of mind and spirit.   The three women in Henry's last days - daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and last (6th) wife Catherine Parr - were also effectively presented and acted.   And I've always liked Chapuis - even though disagreeing with much of his politics - and thought his final leave taking was especially good.  Kudos to Anthony Brophy, in his own quiet way as effective as Sam Neill (Wolsey), Jeremy Northam‎ (More), and James Frain (Thomas Cromwell).

The women throughout the series - Henry's wives and bed mates, and those other men in the court - were beautifully rendered, almost literally like a Holbein painting come to life in several cases. 
Natalie Dormer was up to the complex, tempestuous part of Anne Boleyn, and I thought Joely Richardson as Catherine Parr was especially powerful.

And Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII was a tour-de-force.

And then there's the history.   Shows that show us the past - from Rome to Mad Men - are ever vulnerable to critiques by historians, professional and amateur.   This is as it should be, and The Tudors was no exception.   But I can say that in the history I know the most about it - the history of media, and, in the case of The Tudors, the advent of the printing press as a powerful social and propagandistic force, The Tudors was spot on.   The scene with Thomas Cromwell showing the printing press to Henry, and explaining to Henry what it could do, is entirely consistent - whether it actually occurred or not - with what I've studied and written about in The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution.

The Tudors is screenwriter Michael Hirst's creation - he was head writer and executive producer.   What he has left us is a history as fine and vivid any ever seen in a movie or read in a book.

See also  The Tudors Final Ten Episodes

and from Season 3:  The Tudors, Season 3: Hard History and Sweet Flesh  ... Thomas Cromwell on The Tudors: "Surely All Art Is a Lie"

from Season 2: Tooling Up for The Tudors and The Tudors: Transformations and Assassins ... John Adams Concludes, The Tudors Continues, The First Amendment Abides ... The Tudors and the Printing Press ... The Tudors Concludes and America Begins

from Season 1: Episodes 1 and 2: History So Colorful You Can Taste It, Episode 3: History So Real You Can Feel It, Episode 4: The Penalty of Royalty, Episode 5: Madrigal, Musical Chairs, Episode 6: Tectonic Chess, Episode 7: Henry's Imperfect Apothecary, Episode 8: The Limits of Power, Episode 9: And Wolsey Falls in a Soaring Performance ... The Tudors Concludes First Season: A Suicide, A Burning, A Roll in the Forest

and:  Derriere and Bosom on The Tudors: More of What the FCC Would Deprive Us Of 





The Plot to Save Socrates





"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 




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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lie to Me 2.17: 'Poling on the Campain Trail'

That was probably the best line on Lie to Me 2.17 - "poling on the campaign trail" - spoken by Lightman about the governor's assistant's extra-curricular activities.  The next best line, "bullet bump," was also the title of the episode, and gets at the advantage an unsuccessful assassination attempt can give to a political campaign for reelection.

Unfortunately, one of the campaign workers - an attractive young woman - was indeed killed with the shot that missed the governor, and Lightman and company soon realize that she was in fact the target all along.  Was the Governor having an affair with her?  His expression when he denies this to Lightman occasions a fine facial collage, ranging from Eliot Spitzer to Bill Clinton. Toss in Clara as one of the governor's big financial supporters, and you have another good Lie to Me firing on all cylinders.

Lightman's still flying with the punches and anger directed at any adult with any interest in his daughter, except this time the recipient was Locker, who gets kissed by Emily, not because he invited that.  Lightman apologies to Loker and the end of the show, and offers him pineapple ice cream, but all in all Lightman comes out in this a not very appealing figure, and he deserves the punch that Emily gives him.

To Lightman's credit, he does manage to finally sleep with Clara - yeah, I consider that a plus - before he pressures her into giving Lightman Associates totally back to him.  This certainly makes Gillian happy, but I'm going to miss Clara.

Lie to Me continues to be one of the best series of the summer.   The opening credits are still among the very best in all of television.

See also my reviews of Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9 ... Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature ... Lie to Me 2.12:  The One Prevarication ... Lie to Me 2.13: The Whole Truth and Rep Joe Wilson ... Lie to Me 2.14: Paranoids Can Have Real Enemies ... Lie to Me 2.15: Melissa George and Shawn Ryan ... Lie to Me 2.16: Ria's Sister




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The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Monday, July 26, 2010

True Blood 3.6: True Life and Death

Alliances and relationships continue to be pulled to their limits and beyond on True Blood 3.6.  Among the bloody highlights -
  • Tara bashes Mott's head in with a medieval mace, after she wins his confidence by feigning her passion for him and his blood.   Hard to say if he's really dead, though.  I'm not 100% clear on the immorality of living dead vampires.   If they're blown to bits by a bomb, would their flesh somehow come back together?   If their brains are pulverized by some weapon, can they survive and "live" again?
  • On the subject of vampiric true death, Bill's just about there.  The king has sentenced him to truly die, and ordered Lorena to slowly do the deed.  Sookie arrives after Bill has lost a lot of blood, and has been feasted on by two werewolves, but he's still alive.
  • Speaking of eating, I was wondering why Jessica is so hungry - craving human blood - when she could easily have a bottle of True Blood, especially in Merlotte's.  (Over on IMDB's True Blood board, Tooncesaaa just reminded me that last season Jessica said True Blood "tastes like ass" - great the way the Web provides almost instant answers!)
  • And speaking of Merlotte's, it was good to see Lafayette and a guy together there, but sad to see the guy get so upset about Lafayette's drug dealing.
As I've said many times, the course of true anything does not run smooth in True Blood - be it love, death, or blood.


5-min podcast review of True Blood

See also: True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone ... True Blood 3.2: King and Wolves ... True Blood 3.3: Rolling Eyes and Spinning Heads ... True Blood 3.4: Running Hot, Winning Names ... True Blood 3.5: Square, Love, Crown, Power
 
See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season


                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle





The Plot to Save Socrates





"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight

Mad Men returned in fine form for its 4th season on AMC tonight.  The time is Thanksgiving 1964 - about a year after last season ended.  We know this because Don's date (see below) spoke about how grieved she was about Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney's deaths - three civil rights workers from the North murdered in the South in June 1964.   Don's date takes place as he and the main characters prepare in various ways for the upcoming November holiday.

Among the highlights -
  • Roger talks Don into the above-mentioned date with a hot blonde friend of Jane's, extolling the Chicken Kiev in the restaurant Don takes her to, which they do order.   One of Roger's typically good lines tonight, to Don:  "They have Chicken Kiev - butter squirts everywhere."   Don doesn't get quite that far, though.
  • Elsewhere, Don incurs his colleague's disapproval (with the exception of Peggy) when he is interviewed by a reporter from Advertising Age about who he really is, and tells the reporter nothing.  (Reminds me of the complaining title of an interview I read years ago with Don McLean of "American Pie": "The Day the Interview Died".)   A client irritated at not being mentioned in the published interview - I don't blame the client one bit - leaves Don's new firm, thus igniting just about everyone's ire.   Don learns his lesson, however, and we see him conducting a responsive (and responsible) interview with the Wall Street Journal at the end of the episode.   Don of all people should have known better the first time - but Don of all people has an understandable resistance to telling the press who Don Draper is...
  • Peggy gets Don annoyed at her nonetheless, by staging a stunt involving two women fighting over a client's sweet ham.  The media attention makes the client happy, but aggravates Don, who, as we know, can be strangely strait-laced at times.
  • But Don is justifiably tough with Betty, who is spending Thanksgiving with the two kids, Henry, and Henry's mother.   The old battle-axe - that is, Henry's mother - gets off a good line to Henry about Betty and her situation, asking her son why he would be "living in that man's [Don's] dirt".
In other words, a good, seething, simmering, spicy 4th season premier, which, if the coming attractions are any indication, point to a lot more to come.


5-min podcast review of Mad Men

PS - And here's a taste of the Nashville Teens' 1964 Tobacco Road, which ended out the episode.  It describes Don's life to a tee, doesn't it ....

See also: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through



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The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 




 
And  check out Natasha Vargas-Cooper's new book ....

 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lie to Me 2.16: Ria's Sister

Lie to Me 2.16 last night continued the good run of summer LTMs, with a show about Ria and her younger sister, Ava.  The two actresses (Monica Raymond as Ria, Alyssa Diaz as Ava) look so much alike (and fine on the screen) that they could be sisters in real life.  Before the episode is over, Ria is "drunk of her ass" and "sticks her tongue" in Lightman's mouth (quotes from Lightman) as she tries desperately to get some control over her out-of-control situation.

It's out of control because Ava may be involved in a murder - she's already in prison - or may be a potential victim of the killer.  She's punched out, under Gillian's protection, when some bad people break into Gillian's house.   Gillian winds up with a bruise on her cheek, and is clearly shaken.    Lightman holds her and tells her how much she means to him.   But it's already clear, I think, that he's falling under Clara's romantic sway, and the coming attractions for next week show more of that.   (Fine by me - though I'd like still like to see Gillian and Lightman together.)

Max Martini - Mac on The Unit - also puts in an appearance as Dave Burns the prison shrink, who may or may not be involved in the murder.   Dave reminded me so such much of Mac that it seemed to me that the prison shrink was just a mission for Mac (I half expected Dennis Haysbert to walk in) - a testament to his memorable role on The Unit.    In Lie to Me, he turns out to be innocent, and may have continuing role, since there's clearly a spark or two between him and Gillian (and other reason she and Lightman may going different erotic ways).

Loker continues to have almost no role, but I'm thinking we'll see him in something major on Lie to Me before the summer is over.


See also my reviews of Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9 ... Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature ... Lie to Me 2.12:  The One Prevarication ... Lie to Me 2.13: The Whole Truth and Rep Joe Wilson ... Lie to Me 2.14: Paranoids Can Have Real Enemies ... Lie to Me 2.15: Melissa George and Shawn Ryan



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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

The Closer 6.2: Fun Bumps

A good who-done-it on The Closer 6.2 last night, with two likely suspects, each played by an actor with arrogant vibes (Titus Welliver of recent Lost and much more, D. W. Moffat of Friday Night Lights), but the real killer is a guy who seems perfectly nice and indeed works for Immigration (Department of Homeland Security).

The killer in fact comes this close to killing Brenda Leigh, which of course gets Fritz, who manages to kill the killer just in time, about as upset as we've seen him. Nothing keeps Brenda Leigh from closing a case, including shouts from her team to move back, out of the killer's gun range.

Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell) was also back in the show, charmingly getting in Brenda's way as Raydor tags along for the evaluation she's doing. Brenda figures she's being evaluated as part of Pope's likely ascension to Chief of Police, but the ending has another little bombshell: Raydor's evaluating Brenda because Raydor thinks Brenda would make a good Chief, and she urges Brenda to submit an application.

Pope would likely go crazy were Brenda to get the job instead of him, and I'm thinking we might see Raydor herself end up in this top position. Whichever way this goes, there should be some fun bumps ahead.


3-min podcast review of The Closer

See alsoThe Closer 6.1: The New Building

And from last season  The Roots of Testimony on The Closer and Finding Killers vs. Hearts on The Closer and Brenda Leigh's Niece and Libby from Lost on The Closer and Tom Skerritt on The Closer and Det. Richard Tracy on The Closer and Pres. Laura Roslin vs. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson  and The Closer Closes on a Fine Note for the Season


                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Sunday, July 18, 2010

True Blood 3.5: Square, Love, Crown, Power

Bill's "too square to deal V," according to the King's man, Talbot, in True Blood 3.5. This is no doubt true, but Bill's devotion to Sookie drives him to deal swift blows to the worst of the werewolves in the King's employ, and the King's vampire muscle, too, as Bill rushes off to warn the love of his life-in-death. Too late.

Meanwhile, Mott and Tara, and Eric, have all arrived at the King's sumptuous quarters. Mott seems truly fangs over heels in love with Tara, trying to impress her in any way he can, including texting at super-fast vampiric speed, which for some reason struck me as the coolest move of the night. (Well, hey, I'm author of New New Media.) Tara may actually like some of this, but when Mott tells her in his joy that he wants to turn her this night, so they can live together forever, she's truly horrified.

Talbot gives Eric a tour of the grand house, and, on the King's instructions, shows him "everything," including the crown of Eric's Viking father that werewolves under a vampire's command killed lo those centuries ago. So now the King will be the object of Eric's vengeance - but why does the King now want that to happen?

The King's in fine form tonight, delivering some good lines not at all inscrutable. My favorite is his denunciation of the magister as a relic from the Middle Ages, and the King's savvy observation that the magister only gets his powers from the recognition that powerful vampires like the King give him.   A universal truth about all security and law enforcement - no police or military is above the power of the King or highest political authority.

The other question - apparently have nothing to do with the King - is who and what is the nymphic blonde who's now in Jason's arms? Some exotic, ethereal waif we haven't seen before, or ... ?

But back to the King - who dominated the episode tonight, and in fact just about every scene he's in - he winds up with his bad guys (werewolf and vampire) in Sookie's room, before she's had a chance to heed Bill's warning. And the King's thrilled when he sees a flash of Sookie's deepest energy.

She's apparently got something even this King has never seen, or not seen much of.


5-min podcast review of True Blood

See also: True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone ... True Blood 3.2: King and Wolves ... True Blood 3.3: Rolling Eyes and Spinning Heads ... True Blood 3.4: Running Hot, Winning Names
 
See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season




                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle










The Plot to Save Socrates




"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Covert Affairs on USA Network

Covert Affairs checked in with a strong pilot on the USA Network last night.   The series stars Piper Perabo - said to be the new Julia Roberts - as new CIA agent Annie Walker.  She does have a lot of Julia Roberts, her beauty and smile, and also something of Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow in Alias, one of my all-time favorite series due to its Chinese box-in-a-box complexity and style.   Bourne Identity producer Doug Liman is producing Covert Affairs, so it also has a lot of the style and pace of that fine movie, too.

The pilot had car chases and pursuits on foot you don't often see with such power and speed on television.   The plot had some good twists and supporting acting, including Anne Dudek (best seen on House) who plays Annie's older sister, Kari Matchett (best seen, at least in my view, on ABC's Invasion a few years ago) who plays Annie's boss, and even Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme) as Annie's professor.   Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson, Annie's bright, young, blind colleague was also pretty good, and the character is refreshing.  No blind detective on television has been as compelling as Longstreet, from back in the 1970s, so it will be interesting to follow Auggie's role on the show.

As Auggie tells Annie early on, the CIA lifted its hiring freeze after September 11, so most of the people at Langley are new hires and young.    They're also often involved with each other - Kari Matchett is problematically married to Peter Gallagher's character, head of Annie's division - because that way secrets can (usually) be kept a little safer, at least not likely to be divulged to a reporter or worse, an enemy agent, during pillow talk.    We'll no doubt see that proposition sorely tested during the series.

Annie's heart was broken right before she joined up - and that was indeed her motive for becoming an agent - but the guy is still watching over her, stalking her, who knows about his ultimate intentions.

More than enough story, color, and action to keep me watching.


                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle





The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lie to Me 2.15: Melissa George and Shawn Ryan

A saucy, Shawn Ryan influenced episode 2.15 of Lie to Me on Fox this past Monday - saucy because Clara (Melissa George) was back on the show, and Ryanesque because it featured corrupt cops, willing to kill, or some of what see saw so effectively on Shawn Ryan's masterpiece, The Shield.

Clara has hired Lightman to teach her something about reading faces, and before the night is over, she not only has accompanied Lightman on this case, but become majority owner of the Lightman Group.  This is good, because the Group has been struggling financially, and just about anything that gets Melissa George on the screen is good.

Meanwhile, the case at hand at first hinges on Lightman reading the emotions - via eye dilations - of a mortally wounded, paraplegic police officer.  This had one of the tenderest scenes on the series, as Lightman realizes from the eye dilations that the officer doesn't have much longer to live.  Lightman can be abrasive, and usually is, but here he comes across as a real human being.

The officer was shot by a group of vigilante cops, who also make the mistake of detaining Lightman's daughter, as a way of dissuading Lightman from the case.   Doing this to Emily of course has just the reverse result, and it's great to see Lightman, furious as a father, channel this into an even more effective nabbing of these bad apples.

Lie to Me continues to be a top-notch show, better this season than last.  Shawn Ryan left the show at the end of the current second season, but it's good to know that Lie to Me will be back for at least a third.


3-min podcast review of Lie to Me


See also my reviews of Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9 ... Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature ... Lie to Me 2.12:  The One Prevarication ... Lie to Me 2.13: The Whole Truth and Rep Joe Wilson ... Lie to Me 2.14: Paranoids Can Have Real Enemies




                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle




The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Good Day for the First Amendment: Appeals Court Again Strikes Down FCC Fines

Another good inning for the First Amendment and freedom of expression today, as the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York struck down as unconstitutional, for the second time in three years, the FCC's policy of heavily fining broadcasters for fleeting expletives on the air.

In the interim, the FCC had dragged its sorry case to the US Supreme Court, with an eye towards the High Court overturning the 2007 Court of Appeals decision.   Instead, the Supreme Court returned the case to the Appeals Court, which has once again spoken very clearly on this issue.

One hopes that the next step will be the Supreme Court striking down all fines of broadcasters as unconstitutional, and all attempts to regulate the content of our media.   Each and every one of those fines and attempts violate the First Amendment, and its insistence that Congress shall make no law abridging freedoms of speech and press.

Ultimately, the FCC itself should struck down and out as the unconstitutional incursion on our freedoms that it has been since its inception in the 1930s.   For many years, the Federal courts did almost nothing but support the FCC.   Perhaps the tide is finally beginning to turn - and return - to support of communication uncensored by government, which is guaranteed by our Constitution.

See also Is FCC 'running wild' with its big fines for 'fleeting expletives'? by Gloria Goodale  in The Christian Science Monitor for my further views and  The Flouting of the First Amendment

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010, the Winner

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010, was far more than a major baseball team owner.  As owner of the New York Yankees, he captured the public's attention with his larger than life deal making and voluble speech.   More than any other person in baseball in the past half century, Steinbrenner epitomized the love of winning - it was not enough just to be in the game, his team had to win, and when it didn't, the managers and players felt his disapproval.  He hired and fired Billy Martin almost on a yearly basis - because, however much Billy and his hot temper irritated him, Steinbrenner valued Billy's ability to make the Yankees winners.   He pulled the notion of hands-on manager to new heights, commenting on a plays, pitches, hits, and strikes to the press as much as an announcer.   It was all about winning - for the Yankees, for New York, for the ages.   When his players won, they could expect praise to the hilt.   When they lost, they might well see a sarcastic appraisal from Steinbrenner about their performance - in the press and the media.   And it worked - the Yanks won seven World Series titles and eleven pennants since 1973.

George Steinbrenner will be remembered as one of the great sportsman in history, who changed not only the playing of baseball but our popular culture.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Closer 6.1: The New Building

The Closer was back for its 6th season tonight, sporting a new building, a surprise promotion at the end, but the same delightful mix of suspense and humor that has characterized the five seasons of The Closer preceding.

My favorite line, as it often does, came from Provenza. He says thank you, Dr. Sagan, as Tao displays his erudition about the stars in the sky. Some good guest stars in this episode as well, especially Currie Graham, whom we last saw as DA Balco in the short-lived but excellent Raising the Bar.

But the brightest star, as always, was Kyra Sedgwick, in fine form and Southern accent as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, this time applying her customarily razor sharp logic against the backdrop of a new building she and the team would rather not have been moved into.

And the surprise? Well, let's just say someone with the name of Pope deserves a lot more power...

And, on the subject of power, here's an article in The Christian Science Monitor today about the impact of The Closer on television - in which I'm quoted.


5-min podcast review of The Closer

See also The Roots of Testimony on The Closer and Finding Killers vs. Hearts on The Closer and Brenda Leigh's Niece and Libby from Lost on The Closer and Tom Skerritt on The Closer and Det. Richard Tracy on The Closer and Pres. Laura Roslin vs. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson  and The Closer Closes on a Fine Note for the Season







The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

True Blood 3.4: Running Hot, Winning Names

Some great lines and good scenes in True Blood 3.4 on HBO last night.   My favorite line came in a minor part of the story, when Jason sees a young hot-shot high school quarterback in Merlotte's.   Jason learns his name is Kitch Maynard.  Jason shakes his head, "that's a fucking winning name".  Then, in a scene that could have come straight out of Friday Night Lights - that's a big compliment - Jason tells Kitch that in not too many years, Kitch will come into Merlotte's and find himself in Jason's place, looking at a brash new kid on the quarterback block.  The eternal cycle of fleeting fame.

The big plot turn last night was Bill breaking up with Sookie, over the phone, no less.  Of course, we can see in his face at the end of the conversation that he's doing this to protect Sookie, but it's still a pretty powerful moment.   It leads to Sookie putting her head on Alcied's chest, and observing how hot he feels.   Werewolves run hot, he replies, and he does say her name in a way slightly evocative of the way Bill says it.

The word "fuck" was very much in the air on this episode.   Bill says of Lorena, when he's breaking up with Sookie, that "we fucked like only vampires can".   Sookie tells him to "shut the fuck up" when he first says he wants to end their relationship.   And there's that "fucking winning  name" that I mentioned above.

Not much of the actual act, though.   There's a fine scene in which Eric imagines it almost happening with Sookie, but that's just a dream (for now).   Mott's doing plenty to Tara, but that's mostly off-screen.   And some wild hot stuff is just about to happen in the were-bar.

Speaking of Eric, in the other big plot move, he pins his V-trade on Bill.   The Magister has put Eric in a position of either confessing or betraying his Queen, both of which are unacceptable.   (We learn earlier that the Queen has resorted to selling V because  IRS taxes have depleted her resources - vampires and Tea Partiers have common cause .... )  I can't quite see Eric going along with this deception too long, though.

And Bill continues doing badder things than in the last two seasons.  The episode concludes with Bill, Lorena, and the King feasting on a lap dancer that Bill "procured".  The course of True Blood never did run smooth.


5-min podcast review of True Blood

See also: True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone ... True Blood 3.2: King and Wolves ... True Blood 3.3: Rolling Eyes and Spinning Heads
 
See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season



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"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dylan Ratigan confuses Theodore Roosevelt for Harry Truman

Harry Truman famously said about Republicans - when he was urged to "Give 'em hell, Harry" - "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell."

I thought everybody knew this. Apparently not Dylan Ratigan, who in a promo for his show on MSNBC, just attributed a mangled version of the quote not to Harry Truman but Theodore Roosevelt, of speak softly and carry a big stick fame.

Boos not only to the usually more erudite Ratigan, but his producers, or the producers of this promo, over at MSNBC. One or more of these people either wrote the line for Ratigan, or if he said it on his own, his producers not only failed to catch the mistake but saw fit to highlight it in a promo for Ratigan's show.

News anchors and producers are only human. Of course they get things wrong on occasion, just as do professors (my profession). But this rises to a new level of, well, ignorance and/or carelessness. We deserve a little better in our promos.

*Note added 13 July 2010:  Well, it's good to see that someone at MSNBC is paying attention to bloggers - I just heard the Ratigan promo, and Harry Truman was dubbed in to replace Theodore Roosevelt!
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