Monday, March 17, 2008

New Amsterdam 4: Poetry and Parenthesis

One of the things I really like about New Amsterdam is the way that poetry weaves through almost every episode ... Omar Khayyam, Walt Whitman, and, tonight, John quotes the famous parenthesis line from e. e. cummings, "life's not a paragraph. And death I think is no parenthesis." Hey, when was the last time you heard cummings quoted (he spelled his name in small letters) in a prime time show on Fox...

John quotes this line as he and Sara walk in the New York evening, and draw ever closer. The line, of course, has an especially profound meaning for John, which Sara doesn't know. John's life, going on four centuries, is surely not a paragraph. It's an epic. And close calls with death have not only been no parenthesis, but barely a dot on John's page.

John's been struck by swords, accidents, and gunshot dots, of which we saw one tonight. Back in the Bronx in 1813, John challenges his arrogant aristocratic boss to a duel. The boss takes what he pleases with women, including impregnating someone John loves. John takes a non-fatal shot in the duel - all shots presumably would be - then gets up and calmly puts the boss down for good.

Honor plays a role in the 2008 story as well, and there are some good parallels between the mistreatment of women, then and now. But the strength of this series, so far, is in its historical interludes, and their meshing into John's present.

So far, the most interesting element in that present is not the police work, but John's apparently finding his truest love, in Sara.

Except ... I think it's proceeding a little too smoothly ... I'm guessing sooner or later there'll be something more than a parenthesis which gets in its way.

See also New Amsterdam, 1,2,3 ... 5. Meets Mad Men ... 6. The DNA of Art ... 7. What Kept John from Dying? ... 8. New Amsterdam Bows: Lessons in Cons and Backsides





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