Category Archives: TV

“Unbelievable,” And Tangent Thoughts

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If you watch the Netflix show “Unbelievable” for no other reason, watch it to appreciate what compassionate victim-oriented police work looks like. It’s a show that I think most people will find something worthwhile to take away from it. Most people will cringe at the mishandling and neglect the subject of the series endured when she first reported the assault that is the focal point of the show. For those who have suffered abuse, they’ll likely experience some visceral reactions to it.

Merritt Wever stole the show, in my opinion, despite being paired with Toni Collette, who exudes authority and presence in this show. One takeaway from the show is the vast disparity in how different police jurisdictions deal with crime victims. You’ll get irritated and disgusted fairly quickly while watching the show.

Because shows like “Unbelievable” push me into tangents…

While the show gets a bit of the information wrong, everyone who watches has that moment when the show drives home the truth that police are 2-4 times more likely to be involved in domestic abuse cases than the general population. Many cases are not reported, while others are not pursued. (Much like the shockingly low numbers of sexual abuse cases that are ever reported.) Even among the cases prosecuted, about 1/2 of the emotionally disturbed police officers convicted of domestic abuse keep their jobs, at least in the past. The statistic didn’t surprise me.

The show also makes the point that those guilty of domestic abuse are much more likely to commit other assaults, too, but that’s another tangent.

Police also tend to suffer from alcoholism at a much higher rate than the general population. Obviously, much of it goes untreated and unaddressed. Baseline reports place the number at about 1 in 4. Most put the number between 1/4 and 1/3. The tendency for a given police officer to develop an addiction increases as his tenure on the job increases. More interesting are the statistics that measure what percentage of officers are using addictive substances while on the job. Police also have higher rates of suicide and divorce than the general population.

Of course, the majority of police are stable people. There’s always at least one person who dislikes the truth and resorts to the red herring of making the mind-numbing observation that not everyone can be lumped in with those with a problem. Duh.

Because I’ve been on the receiving end of a police officer who suffered from a mix of addiction and anger issues, I find this sort of thing to be fascinating. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that an officer needs help, the odds of the officer or his or her department insisting on correction is exceedingly low. The same is true for the cases in which officers are caught drinking and driving, theft, assault, or any number of other issues. Not only does it threaten the career of the officer, but it rightly sheds damaging scrutiny on the department chain of command for the city, state, or government who should be liable for any shenanigans. Police officers, whether on duty or in their civilian capacity, are much less likely to voluntarily submit to treatment, rehab or counseling than the general population.

Though I’ve mentioned it before, I have an email from a Chief of Police in the State of Arkansas. He flatly stated that there are times when he can’t teach his officers to do the right thing. (And, as a consequence, he also didn’t ask or require them to right the apparent wrong that had been done.) I’m not making it sound worse than it is. The email was an atrocious read, reflecting the deficiency of a system that shouldn’t have any. Periodically, I find the email and read it. It reminds how badly some departments are managed.

When I watch shows detailing police incompetence or misbehavior, I always find myself nodding in recognition.

P.S. This post doesn’t end with a conclusion or nicely-themed words. It’s just some thoughts that I had from watching the show “Unbelievable.”

X
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Poldark Ends. Or Does It?

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Guest Post:

 

The series finale of Poldark ends, as Ross turns away from Demelza and boards the ship to France, to spy for the British… “I will return,” he says, his devilish grin belying nothing.

It’s likely he will return, albeit years older, in the inevitable sequel which will pass to the next generation of Poldarks, assuming both he and his friend Dr. Enys survive their foray into French espionage.

In the finale, George sees the ghost of Elizabeth once last time. Her back was turned as she entered Trenwith, even as George departed his adopted home, perhaps forever. For me, this was the nod to the sentiment of the series. It’s inescapable that some of the show is indeed soap opera-ish. Almost 90% of all the plot twists could have been avoided if people simply communicated directly. On the other hand, this sort of logical human discourse would make good drama impossible.

The actor who played Poldark in the original version of the series in the 70s made several appearances in this series. Poldark’s horse Seamus has its own Twitter account. (Yes, really.) If you want to visit Trenwith, it’s Chavenage House, in Beverston, Gloucestershire. If you were confused by the layout of the surrounding mines, villages, and towns, don’t be: in reality, they are not proximate. (And Poldark didn’t travel everywhere via the coastline and cliffs, as the series would have you imagine.)

Like Elizabeth’s ghostly return, the rebirth of another Poldark storyline is inevitable. Everything rests on the shoulders of the writers who can imagine the full world that Poldark brought to us.

The series finale is a call to remember that the principal characters will carry on, even if in our imaginations.

All of our stories must end in a predetermined conclusion. Drama, laughter, and finality.

May this serve as a tentative ‘goodbye’ to the series. I will miss the show, but certainly not the hat.

I am certain that another line of Poldarks will live to remind us what we found so sublime and delightful in this series. I’m predicting that they’ll find another unnaturally good-looking actor to serve as the focus of the revival. Don’t bother calling me, BBC One. I’m busy.
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Years And Years (TV Show)

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For anyone interested, I recommend the HBO import show “Years and Years.” It’s dystopian from necessity, yet feels like a time traveler may have gone forward and returned to camouflage a possible timeline waiting for all of us.

Without flinching, the show throws you into a tailspin as Trump detonates a nuclear bomb near China as his second term expires. Technology, medicine, immigration, politics, money, and other issues swirl and coalesce as time frenziedly hurls forward, whether we’re ready or not.

Although it’s based in England, the storylines overlap with world events we’re already witnessing. The story focuses on a particular family as it spins in and out of control. The family could be any of us. Forces we’ve set in motion conspire against us.

Anne Reid, who plays the matriarch Muriel in the show (and who was phenomenal in “Last Tango in Halifax”), gets credit for the best line of the show: “It’s a terrible, terrible world, but I want to see every second of it.” She gets credit for the second-best lines in the show – and perhaps one of the best lines in a TV show, ever, when she points that each and every one of us is to blame for almost all the problems we see externally in the world. It’s impossible to watch it without wincing in recognition.

It’s easy to compare “Years and Years” to “Handmaid’s Tale.” This show, however, connects in a more recognizable way. You’ll feel some strange emotions as you watch the show unfold. Among them are dread, fascination, wonder, loss, a bit of terror, and hope. All of them fight for dominance, often simultaneously. Like the Hulu show, I find myself thinking about the implications of some of the ideas days afterward.

For anyone wishing to find something that is limited in length but infinite in the ideas it will provoke, I give this show a huge recommendation.

When time shifts forward in the show, the eerie melody that accompanies the shift might make your hair stand on end. You’ll be thinking, though.

And you might be thinking, “Is it REALLY us?”

Yes, it could be.

“Years and Years” is one of the best shows I’ve watched in quite a while.

Dunder Mifflin Canvas Art (Suitable for “The Office”)

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Because it is hard-wired into every white person’s DNA, I love “The Office.” (The TV show, not the place of servitude so many of us inhabit during a routine workday.)

We recently started re-watching the defunct series. Since we’re old, not only are we newly surprised by the antics of the workers of Dunder-Mifflin paper company but in many ways have found a new appreciation for the themes. Every story transforms into something new as you grow older. The hard-and-fast world of the known and certain turns to mist as the sublime supplants it.

Starting with another person’s concept and picture, I created a 16X20 canvas of the main characters of the show, as a gift for my wife. She certainly wasn’t expecting THIS. I’m going to have to nail it to the wall before she changes her mind. On the other hand, I still have my 16X20 wood panel in my bathroom, the one of Jeff Daniels from Dumb And Dumber on the toilet. It still gives my bathroom that touch of class that all American bathrooms desperately need, the kind that guest towels and little bowls of soap can’t seem to convey.

For those who find it to be sacrilegious instead of humorous, I say, “Look away,” an approach which works amazingly well for those who are capable of implementing it.

Signed,
X Teri, Amazing Artist & Doubtful Decorator

Dexter+ Returns To Kill Us All

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Starting with the most important point: Dexter will return for another season. I’m as certain of it as Michael C. Hall’s agent was when he recommended to his client that he make “Safe” for Netflix.

Dexter will haunt us again if no other reason than it’s going to be profitable for everyone involved.

Some of us have been fooled by fake promotional posters for the mythical Season 9 of Dexter. It’s easy to fool those who already long for such a scenario to be a reality. As for the studios involved, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be profitable for them to have a go at Dexter+ in the near future. I’m betting that it will be sooner rather than later. (Dexter+ is the name I’m recommending that the studios adopt.)

For the neanderthals walking among us, Dexter was a Showtime series featuring a likable vigilante serial killer in Miami.

In a testament to forgetfulness, I watched the entire run of Dexter again. First, I thought there were fewer seasons. Second, it’s undeniable that some seasons had some strange plot twists and contrived storylines. Good tv is forgiven the infrequent gaffe. Rewatching the show provided me with several instances in which I noted that the writers had dropped hints of possible futures for Dexter. None of them seemed relevant the first time I watched. Now that I’ve revisited Dexter, the infinite storylines available to great writers seems endless.

Now that I’m finished rewatching, my mind seems focused on the monumental things I’d forgotten – or had completely wrong. Many fans were incensed at the way the show ended. Lt. Batista never knew Dexter’s secret. Quinn survived, no matter how badly I rooted for him to get shot from a balcony. Debra, of course, is fish food.

I like to imagine Lt. Batista still at his desk, being the kind-hearted stereotype he always was. Debra, being eaten by the sharks in the bay as the currents move her back and forth. Dexter, sitting in his place in the Northwest, fantasizing about his next appearance in a Gillette commercial.

Of this I’m certain: there will be another season of Dexter. Showtime insisted that Dexter would survive the series finale, even as writers argued about whether it was realistic. His son Harrison would now be about to reveal whether he inherited Dexter’s affinity for mayhem. The story can pick up at any point in time, past or present and in any geographical location they choose. The real world still spins and no one substantive apparently suspected that Dexter was indeed a serial killer. His cover story could be amnesia or a mental break which rendered him incapable of returning to the life he was already leaving before Debra’s death. Lumen still lurks in the midwest. Hannah walks the earth, probably still free.

As with all good stories, the biggest obstacle is one of creativity on the part of those tasked with creating a new timeline for Dexter.

It’s inevitable.

Showtime, it’s your turn.

If you think you can shirk your duty to bring us another season of Dexter, you’re as foolish as Dexter was, each time he attempted to live a normal life.

The only trailer for the new season we need is this: Doakes at the boatyard, telling Dexter, “Suprise, m*********a!” No explanation, no cutaway, followed by a fade to black as the word “Dexter” enters and fades from view.
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We All Live In Nakatomi Tower

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“Hey, sprechen ze talk?” – Harry Ellis

The holiday season can be defined in any manner people see fit. For some, it is an intensely personal celebration of the cornerstone of their faith. For others, it’s an excuse to share time with family and friends. While this will cause a ruckus for some, those who disagree should look to history for an explanation, lest Hans Gruber and his merry lot of robbers burst into their lives and spoil their festive plans. There’s room for everyone to live and love the holiday exactly as he or she wishes. Even for nutjobs like me who love fruitcake or those weirdos who enjoy trees comprised of one single color. Luckily for all of us, our party requires no invitation or dress code.

“Welcome to the party, pal.”

If people love the movie Die Hard as a yuletide movie, it follows that it is, in fact, a holiday movie. Observance of a ritual makes it so. It’s for this reason that I abandoned most of my foolish insistence on orthography and spelling. People drive usage and customs, often at the expense of the comfort and sanity of those around them. As much as we like to insist on consistency, everything is always in flux. In a century, the words I’m using will feel awkward. There will be new traditions we never imagined – and many of ours will seem antiquated. Change is so constant and gradual that we allow ourselves to forget that nothing we do today was always done by our predecessors. Some of us get stuck in a feedback loop that traps us in the idea that our way has always been the way.

Traditions and customs ebb, flow and grow in a wild manner, with complete disregard for what preceded them. If you find yourself struggling with friends or family who disagree with the way you choose to celebrate (or not), ignore them. Don’t fuss or argue, even if you want to wrap them in a chair with Christmas lights, and drop them down an exploding elevator shaft with a note indicating, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.” Wave your hand in the air in frivolous disregard for their jaw-wagging. Sgt. Al Powell didn’t heed Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, did he?

If you want pizza for Christmas dinner, enjoy it. If you want to play board games and drink fizzy margaritas, followed by a bacchanalia of present opening at midnight, jump in with enthusiasm. If you feel the urge to put up a tree in October, do it. A great number of non-religious people celebrate the holiday, a fact which riles a few of the faithful, as if another person’s choices spoils their own. There is no “one” way to celebrate the holiday. No matter what choices you make, I promise you that someone somewhere is making a twisted face about how you choose. Capitulating to nonsensical demands about a holiday lessens everyone’s enjoyment in life. You’ll feel like Harry Ellis with a hole in your head, after literally trying to negotiate with a terrorist.

If Die Hard is your favorite Christmas movie, then revel in John McClane’s adventures. Should anyone lecture you about your choices, unclasp your watch and let them fall away, like Hans Gruber from Nakatomi Tower. They’ll make the same face as he did when they realize that you can’t be swayed. “Happy Trails, Hans!”

The last thing you want to be is a Grinch, or as the eloquent John McClane puts it, “Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the a$$.” He also exhorted us to, “Take *this* under advisement, jerkweed.” Wise words.

The question isn’t whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie; rather, the question is why do other people care that you celebrate it as part of your tradition? Heathens and believers alike can rejoice that our world is one of crazy, infinite freedom. In a season of lovingkindness, so many lose their focus on its possibilities.

P.S. It could have been worse. There are those who think that “Christmas Vacation” is the best holiday movie ever made, which proves my point that all of us are crazy.

Yippee ki yay, melon farmers!

“Teddy Perkins” & Atlanta

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I wouldn’t blame anyone for failing to heed entertainment recommendations from me. We all have bizarre friends who watch “The Bachelor,” live sports, or sitcoms with laugh tracks – all of whom insist they have just the show for us to enjoy. My tastes are as weird as a squirt of ketchup in a glass of lemonade.

So, instead of trying to get you to watch the entire run of “Atlanta,” I’m asking you to give Season 2, Episode 6 a try. It’s a stand-alone episode, independent of its season and character arcs.

“Atlanta” is one of those shows in which your preconceived notions about its content will interfere with your ability to fully enjoy it. It’s one of the best shows on television and one which I’m pleased to say I overcame my idiotic idea of preferences and taste. It’s been a joy to watch, as many of the moments Donald Glover has captured are tiny boxes of the sublime. Despite moments of involuntary laughter, the show isn’t supposed to be a comedy per se. Watching it reminded of the time I saw “No Country For Old Men.” During the infamous shower scene in which the killer pulls the shower curtain on his victim before blasting him with a shotgun, I alone laughed long and loud in the crowded theater. I just ‘knew’ it was supposed to be surreal and amusing. Apparently, no one else did.

Season 2, Episode 6, titled “Teddy Perkins” was one of the best single television episodes I’ve ever watched. It ranks near the series finale for “Six Feet Under,” although for completely different reasons. This particular episode can be watched without having seen any of the previous installments of “Atlanta,” although I recommend beginning with the first episode. This episode was originally shown without commercials. While watching, I dreaded that the episode would end. I knew while watching it that something special was afoot. Teddy Perkins is like a long bout of  loud maniacal laughter during a eulogy.

While I’m certainly not the main demographic for this show, I can’t imagine a more sublime story for the “Teddy Perkins” episode, one which delighted me with its strangeness and wit. The episode is packed with so many cultural references that it’s impossible to slow down sufficiently to note them all. It’s suspense and horror, but also a revelation.

Darius’ character has many of the best moments, in my opinion, and this episode allows him to revel in his reactions. Watching Darius observe Teddy Perkins as he eats an ostrich egg is somehow more unsettling than witnessing a murder. While he might have originally visited the mansion with the intent of retrieving a free piano, I’ll bet Darius would’ve traded anything to be somewhere else. Darius has a chance to flee the mansion more than once but stays in hopes of getting his piano. Nothing is free, even if the cost is an intricate dance with one’s sanity. (Even if the piano keys are elegantly painted in rainbow colors.)

While I didn’t know it at the time, it was Donald Glover himself who portrayed the enigmatic and horrific Teddy Perkins character. Everything about the show “Atlanta” is a reflection of his genius and this episode finalized my conclusion that the type of television he makes is something that I’d watch a lot of.

The episode is both horror and commentary, yet can be watched with an amazing sense of disbelief without concerning yourself with deeper meaning. For a moment, it seems as if the inevitable violent ending would be avoided. It wasn’t. We should have known better. On one level, the episode can be about the violence so many fathers show their sons. As in the case of angry fathers, someone will pay. It’s just a question of when.

We wouldn’t have wanted to turn off the television and imagine living in a world in which Teddy Perkins might end up in a dimly-lit room with us.

Nothing New?

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The stupefaction of those who say things like, “Great, another remake!” Or, “They don’t have any new ideas anymore.”

Like you, the guy saying it.

We’ve heard it before. We’ll hear it again. And again. From you.

The entire development of the human species, in conjunction with some amazing technology, movies, music, and literature, demonstrates that you are full of cow dung. It’s impossible for an engaged and attentive person to be bored at this buffet the world provides.

There’s a movie remake you aren’t interested in? Don’t see it. A song was redone by a new artist? Don’t listen to it. An unexpected revival of an old show that you don’t want to see ‘ruined’? Don’t watch it. I could write 50 such snarky extensions of my point. But I won’t – and not just because I’ll know you’ll complain about that too.

People have always complained about rehashing old ideas. Generally, the people who do it with the least creativity are older and tend to seldom contribute anything innovative to their surroundings. I’m generalizing, of course, and there are exceptions. Not everyone watches “The Office” 43 times or refuses to listen to any new music or mashups of old classics. Find a new genre, a new crowd, a new book, a different perspective.

The world is an interesting place. Not all remakes are worthy. Not all originals are, either. Sometimes, though, someone takes a new perspective on an old idea and breathes life into it. It’s a sight to behold.

So, before you bitterly opine about something being redone again, stop and consider: you are inflicting the same agony on us by voicing such an opinion.

Go out and create something. Anything.

The world is too full of interesting people with something to say for you to blame them for your lack of appreciation of what’s at your disposal.