Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Cast of The Wire at the Paley Center

Here is a video of a panel that took place the other day at the Paley Center for Media in New York City.  The panel featured prominent cast members from The Wire.  At a little over an hour, this is the best panel I've ever seen - in this case, online - but also in person.

Watching this also cemented my view that The Wire is the single best show ever to have been on television.   I don't say that lightly - in their own ways, The Sopranos, 24, Breaking Bad, other shows including and even Lost in its good moments were superb.   But none quite compare to The Wire, for reasons that become clear, I think, in this panel discussion.  The only proviso is that the panel is replete with spoilers.  So, if you haven't seen The Wire - all five seasons - don't look at this panel video until after you do.

Part of the pleasure of watching this panel is thinking about how all of these stars first became known to me on The Wire, and have gone on to the other memorable roles.  But every time I see one of them, I say to my wife, hey, that guy was on The Wire ... Wendell Pierce in Treme and Ray Donovan, Michael Kenneth Williams in Boardwalk Empire, Lance Reddick (who wasn't on the panel, alas) on Fringe, Dominic West (also not on the panel) in The Affair, Chad Coleman (also not on the panel) in The Walking Dead, and Idris Elba in Luther and great movies such as Long Walk to Freedom, for which he deserved an Oscar but wasn't even nominated.   The list goes on and on - making The Wire a veritable directory of great actors in dozens of shows since then.  The Wire has seeded television with superb acting for almost a decade now.

My reviews of last season of The Wire, usually written shortly after the episodes were aired for the first time, follow ...

The Wire's Back! Review of Season 5 Episode 1 and Episode 2: The Great, Dangling Conversation ... 3. McNulty and Marlo ... 4. One Down ...5. Media Chasing Their Own Tales and Tails ... 6. Superman Omar and Tall Stories ... 7. King of Diamonds ... 8. Two Down ... 9. Cold, Killer Sweetheart ... The Wire Bows Out Gracefully: Kudos to the Cast and David Simon, the Charles Dickens of Television

See also this earlier Looking Back at the Wire

Two podcast episodes about The Wire -

    The Wire without Stringer        |   The Wire Season 4

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bones 10.4: Brennan and Angela on a Bench in the Playground

My favorite scene in Bones 10.4 is the title of this review: Brennan and Angela on a Bench in the Playground.   It was such a perfect scene that I figured I'd devote most of the review to it.

They're both in fine form, reminiscing about what they used to talk about when they were together like this, and what they talk about now.  It was sex, then - but this gives Bones a chance to pipe up about what a good time she had last night with Booth, in her charming, endearing way.

The kids are in the playground, too - of course they are, that's why Bones and Angela are there. Bones tells Christine to go a little easier on the swing, lest she throw off her "center of gravity," another nice touch.  Angela relates to  Michael in a very different, down-to-Earth way.   The age of the kids shows how far the series has progressed.   But as far as it's gone, its center of gravity is still just two old friends, so different and yet so close, sitting on a bench and talking.

There's a murder to solve, and there always is, but the scene on the bench gets to the heart of the show.  With all the mysteries and the police work, it's always been the relationship of the characters.

The other memorable scene - not as powerful as the park bench, but strong enough - is Booth and Aubrey working together, in particular keeping a puffed-up would-be attacker at bay.   Booth's rehabilitation as far as trusting people is just about complete.

It would be fun someday to see an episode pitched maybe 10 years in the future.   There'd still be a young intern in the lab.  Christine and Michael would be teenagers, and Bones and Angela would be driving them to a dance.   Hmm ... I wonder if they'd be a couple?  But as the kids left the car, Brennan and Angela would start talking ...

And see also Bones 9.1: The Sweet Misery of Love ... Bones 9.2: Bobcat, Identity Theft, and Sweets ... Bones 9.3 and NCIS 11.2: Sweets and Ziva ... Bones 9.4: Metaphysics of Death in a Television Series ... Bones 9.5: Val and Deep Blue ... Bones 9.6: The Wedding ... Bones 9.7: Watch Out, Buenos Aires ...Bones 9.8: The Bug in the Neck ... Bones 9.9: Friday Night Bones in the Courtroom ... Bones 9.10: Horse Pucky ... Bones 9.11: Angels in Equations ... Bones 9.12: Fingernails ... Bones 9.13: Meets Nashville, and Wendell ... Bones 9.14: "You Cannot Drink Your Glass Away" ... Bones 9.15: Hodgins' Brother and the Ripped Off Toe ... Bones 9.16: Lampreys, Professors, and Insurance Companies ... Bones 9.17: Spartacus in the Kitchen ... Bones 9.18: Meets Day of the Triffids ... Bones 9.19: The Cornucopic Urn ... Bones 9.20: Above the Law ... Bones 9.21: Freezing and Thawing ... Bones 9.22: Promotion ... Bones 9.23: The New Intern ... Bones Season 9 Finale: Upping the Ante

And see also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples ... Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet ... Bones 8.20: On Camera ... Bones 8.21: Christine, Hot Sauce, and the Judge ... Bones 8.22: Musical-Chair Parents ... Bones 8.23: The Bluff ... Bones Season 8 Finale: Can't Buy the Last Few Minutes

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution


A different kind of police fiction

The Knick Sneak Preview Review 1.10: Fallibility

Continuing with my sneak preview reviews The Knick  - courtesy of an advance screener provided by Cinemax and Starpulse -  herewith a brief review of episode 1.10, certified specific-spoiler free.  As with all preview reviews, I'll discuss generalities, to give you an idea of the episode.  If you prefer not getting even an inkling of the story ahead, you probably should not read any further.

The final episode of this first season is chocked full of surprises for just about every major character including -

  • a very surprising abortionist
  • a treatment for a mental ailment that's like pulling teeth - literally
  • Thackery is dead wrong about a major treatment - and misses the true treatment, in the words of another character, "by a mile"
  • there's a flat out and satisfying murder for hire
  • a major character gets a brutal beat down
  • there's a new medication - a cure - which is worse than the illness
As you might surmise from the above, the theme of this last episode of the season is fallibility - of both the major characters and the state of medical knowledge at the time.  This is the flip side of the coin in which we're amazed and pleased by how accurate the medical treatments - certainly many of Thackery's - were in the age of The Knick.  But it was a medical age vastly more primitive than ours, and it's good to be reminded of that.

Don't know if I'll have any advance screeners of this fine series next season, but I'll back here with reviews in any case.  Enjoy the winter!

See also The Knick: Paean to Scientific Method ... The Knick Sneak Preview Review 1.8: Good Loving, the Fix, and Typhoid Mary ... The Knick Sneak Preview Review 1.9: Sacrifice

deeper history


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Good Wife 6.4: Run-Up to Running

Hey, I've been really enjoying The Good Wife this season - the sixth - but haven't had a chance to review it, because I've been busy lamenting problems in other series, like Boardwalk Empire.  But last night's Good Wife 6.4 was so good, I just had to say a few words.

First, it's great to see how much Alicia has come into her own and progressed this season - in the first part as a tough lawyer, in this episode and the last as a candidate for State's Attorney.  She's mastered all of her previous issues and insecurities.  In at least two cases - the current State Attorney threatening her, and the potent opposition research presented to her - Alicia's response is to step up and move closer to her candidacy.   She's never looked, spoken, and behaved better.

The other characters have been in fine form, too.   Bishop's having a sensational season as a highly intelligent criminal wheeler and dealer - in many ways, he's the most danger to Alicia's interests, as we saw at the end of the hour last night - and he's also got to be the best dressed man on television.   I'd be happy to wear any of his excellent ties.

Diane is also having a strong season so far.   Her leaving the descendants of Lockhart Gardner to join Alicia and Cary's firm was an compelling move, and I especially like the way she jumped in to support of Cary in court and Alicia on the the verge of running for office.

The Cary story has been a tiny bit over the top - I find it a little hard to believe that a State's Attorney would go as far as Castro in wanting to destroy Cary, just as a way of getting at Alicia, or nabbing Bishop, or whatever his deepest motives, if he believed that Cary wasn't really guilty.  On the same topic, it's also not clear why Polmar has been prosecuting that same case against Cary so vehemently, given the close to cosy relationship he has with Alicia.  For that matter, I don't why she isn't angrier with him.  Possibly her being stopped by a cop for DWI - which happened right after she had a glass of wine with Polmar - could sour their relationship, especially if she finds out that Polmar was responsible for the cop who stopped Alicia, which I think he well may be.

In any case, I'm hoping nothing comes up which prevents Alicia from running for office - because, so far, she and show are doing the run-up to the running just perfectly.

See also I Dreamt I Called Will Gardner Last Night

And The Good Wife 5.1: Capital Punishment and Politicians' Daughters ... The Good Wife 5.5: The Villain in this Story ... The Good Wife 5.9: Reddit, Crowd Sourcing, and the First Amendment on Trial ... The Good Wife 5.11: Bowling Bowls and Bogdanovich ... The Good Wife 5.13: NSA on Television ... The Good Wife: 5.15: Stunner! ... The Good Wife 5.19: Tying Up Loose Ends ... The Good Wife Season 5 Finale: Musical Chairs


                                   the Sierra Waters trilogy

Boardwalk Empire 5.6: The Skipping Record

There's not much joy left in Boardwalk Empire these final episodes.  I don't mean just in the story - which I'll get to in a second - but in the little popular culture details, the sporting events on radio, the use of telephone, the touches of 1920s life which Boardwalk Empire did so well in its earlier years. This season has increasingly little of that.  Indeed, the most memorable detail, highly effective, in last night's episode 5.6 was the skipping 78-rpm vinyl at the end of the hour.   The content of this medium was literally nothing.  McLuhan would have had a field day with this message.  The spinning signification of nothing - as in, the end of the story.

The nothing plays under the end of Chalky's life and story, but it's close to the end of the series, too. Chalky was a great character, in many ways more the soul of the series than anyone except Nucky himself.  He certainly didn't go in a good way last night.  Rather, he went like a lamb to the slaughter, accepting his fate in a way which went against what we knew of his powerful character.   His death scene at the end was more of a blow than the people literally being slaughtered like cattle last night on The Walking Dead, next door on AMC.

The other death was Van Alden.  He was a tortured, miserable person from the get-go, and got just what he deserved from Al in Chicago. Indeed, the wonder with Van Alden is why he didn't get eliminated much sooner.   Meanwhile, in the same scene, the survival of Eli doesn't make much sense.  I'm glad he survived.  But it's not plausible that he wasn't gunned down right after Van Alden.

Back in the flashback past, it's been good to see the young sheriff Nucky the past two episodes.   Boardwalk Empire managed to get an actor - Marc Pickering - who not only looks just like the adult Nucky, but has Steve Buscemi's voice and mannerisms down pat.   This arc, because of Pickering's performance, is in itself an extraordinary piece of television. Although I would have preferred to see more adult Nucky most of the times Nucky as a boy was on in the earlier episodes this season, Nucky as young adult sheriff is just outstanding.

Just two more episodes left.

See also Boardwalk Empire 5.1: Lucky Rising ... Boardwalk Empire 5.2: Joe Kennedy ... Boardwalk Empire 5.3: Veal Parmagian and Family ... Boardwalk Empire 5.4: Margaret and Nucky

And see also Boardwalk Empire 4.1: Sneak Preview Review ... Boardwalk Empire 4.2: Sneak Preview Review ... Boardwalk Empire 4.2: J. Edgar ...Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview Review 4.3: Honey, Sunny ...Boardwalk Empire 4.3: Nucky, Sunshine, and Heroin ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview Review 4.4: Downfalls ... Boardwalk Empire 4.4: Bullies and Betrayals ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.5: The Gift of Rage ... Boardwalk 4.5: Two Deaths ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.6: Good Lovin' ... Boardwalk Empire 4.6: Sally and Margaret ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.7: Beds, Promotions, Surprises ... Boardwalk Empire 4.7: Family and History ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.8: The Blues ... Boardwalk Empire 4.8: Knives in the Back ... Boardwalk Empire 4.9: The Imbecile ...Boardwalk Empire 4.10 Sneak Preview Review: Unholy Alliances ...Boardwalk Empire 4.10: Family Treachery ... Boardwalk Empire 4.11: Nucky on the Beach

And see also Boardwalk Empire 3.1: Happy News Year 1923  ... Boardwalk Empire 3.2: Gasoline and the White Rock Girl ... Boardwalk Empire 3.3: The Showgirl and The Psycho ... Boardwalk Empire 3.5: "10 L'Chaim" ... Boardwalk Empire 3.7: Deadly Gillian ... Boardwalk Empire 3.8: Andrew Mellon ... Boardwalk Empire 3.9: Impaired Nucky

And see also Boardwalk Empire 2.1: Politics in an Age Before YouTube  ... Boardwalk Empire 2.2: The Woman Behind the Throne ... Boardwalk Empire 2.3: Frankenstein and Victrola ... Boardwalk Empire 2.4: Nearly Flagrante Delicto ... Boardwalk Empire 2.5: Richard's Story ... Boardwalk Empire 2.6: Owen and Other Bad News for Nucky ... Boardwalk Empire 2.7: Shot in the Hand  ...Boardwalk Empire 2.8: Pups with Fangs ... Boardwalk Empire 2.9: Ireland, Radio, Polio ...Boardwalk Empire 2.10: Double Shot ... Boardwalk Empire 2.11: Gillian and Jimmy  ... Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Finale: Stunner!

And see also Boardwalk Emipre on HBO ... Boardwalk Empire 1.2: Lines and Centers Power ...Boardwalk Empire 1.10: Arnold Rothstein, Media Theorist  ... Season One Finale of Boardwalk Empire

Homeland 4.3: Quinn and Carrie

It was crystal clear last week that there was nothing more Quinn could have done to save Sandy.   Carrie might have been able to help save him, had there been a weapon under her seat, as Quinn expected.  Maybe, likely, we'll find out why it wasn't there, later in the season.

But given how clear it was to us viewers that Quinn did all he could do to help Sandy, it wasn't clear why Carrie and everyone else last week and tonight kept saying that Quinn could have done more.  It finally became clear, near the end of tonight's episode 4.3:  all of this was just a dramatic ploy, on the part of the writing, to keep Quinn off-balance, and set us up for Quinn what discovers and communicates to Carrie: there was nothing either of them could have done to save Sandy.  It was a coordinated attack, likely by Pakistani Intelligence, who would have done whatever may have been need to silence Sandy.

Which raises the new question of, why?   But before we learn anything more about that, we see Carrie using her maximum, persuasive, long-distance wiles to get Quinn to join her in Islamabad. And she seals the deal by telling Quinn she loves him.  She knows Quinn wants to hear that, because she knows that Quinn loves her.

It's a pleasure to see Carrie in such good operative shape this season.  Part of that is seductive mode, to Quinn verbally on the phone, and to the college kid who survived the explosion - except that kid gets the in-person sell, suitably hands-on, just as Carrie advised her brunette underling.

With Brody gone, and now even his lookalike baby not with Carrie either, we're being treated to a very different story, with a very different Carrie this year.   I'm liking it.   Carrie is strong and liberated.  And her relationship with Quinn, if it ever gets to go anywhere further, will be a lot better for her than what she had or thought she had with Brody.

And see also  Homeland on Showtime ... Homeland 1.8: Surprises ... Homeland Concludes First Season: Exceptional

#SFWApro  #SHO_Homeland

  different kind of espionage

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Walking Dead 5.1: The Redemption of Carol

The Walking Dead returned for a brilliant season 5 debut tonight, which featured the keepers of Terminus slaughtering their human prey literally like cattle, and Carol redeeming herself in almost super-heroic fashion.

In many ways, in fact, tonight's episode was the most about Carol's heroism and redemption.  She was exiled from our group by Rick last season for killing humans who were likely fatally ill, and therefore likely to turn into walkers.  And then she did something even worse - certainly in my view - killing a teenage girl whose mind had made her a killer herself, in the psychotic but understandable belief that she could be friends with walkers, and therefore thinking there was no real harm in killing another human being, in this case her very own younger sister.

Carol's killing of the older sister, Lizzie, gave her a long road to redemption.   In many ways, it was the single most depraved act on the series.  But Carol walked that road tonight.  She arrived at just the right time in the narrative - of course she did, but a story is allowed at least one big coincidence like that - and the explosion she set off stopped the butchery of our people right in its tracks.  Rick, Darryl, et al took care of the rest.  And when Rick later hugged Carol - right after a very different kind of hug with Daryl - this was a hug we could all share.   It was deeply good to have Carol back.

The other satisfying thing was how quickly the Terminus story has apparently drawn to a close.   What it shows is that this was essentially last season's story, which the producers aptly allowed to spill over into this season's debut.   Rick, indeed, wanted to go back to Terminus, when all of our people were in the clear, and kill every last human who still was there.   It was great to see Rick get back into full survival mode - including aggressive killing when needed - and I was at least a little sorry that Rick was persuaded, by Carol's return and its leading to Judith, to let whoever had survived at Terminus survive, at least for this night.

For the first time in a long time, it seems, all of our people are together.  Tyreese - who also had a great evening - and his daughter, and everyone else.   So what's left to follow this grand reunion?  I haven't the vaguest idea - notwithstanding the strange bit at the very end with Morgan - which makes me look forward to next week's episode even more.   In the battles that undoubtedly are ahead, our group is the strongest it's been in years.

See also The Walking Dead 4.1: The New Plague ... The Walking Dead 4.2: The Baby and the Flu ... The Walking Dead 4.3: Death in Every Corner ...The Walking Dead 4.4: Hershel, Carl, and Maggie ... The Walking Dead 4.6: The Good Governor ... The Walking Dead 4.7: The Governor's Other Foot ... The Walking Dead 4.8: Vintage Fall Finale ... The Walking Dead 4.9: A Nightmare on Walking Dead Street ... The Walking Dead 4:14: Too Far ... The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale: From the Gunfire into the Frying Pan


no cannibalism but at least a plague in The Consciousness Plague