Friday, October 29, 2010

Back In Treatment 3.1.1-2: Bengali Candy, Twitter, and Superb

In Treatment's back on HBO for its third season - and, significantly, its first with totally new stories (the first two seasons were American adaptations of Be'Tipul, the Hebrew name of the series that originated in Israel and played there for just two years).  So, when I say the first two episodes were superb, that's high praise indeed, because an original story is always more of a challenge than an adaptation of a proven winner, though that's no piece of cake, either.

And the first two episodes were fine, indeed - the same deep, cool, drink of the human intellect and our undeniable capacity for rationality, the same mix of emotion and warmth and heartfelt soul, the same welcome respite from all the smack in your face violence of most other shows on television (which I admit I like a lot of, see what else I review here) - in other words, the same unique, narrative power  of the past two years.   And as in the last two seasons, the acting in these first two episodes was outstanding.

Sunil in the first episode is an appealing, original character, an Indian man living with his son and unhappy daughter-in-law and their children in New York.  Sonya Walger plays the daughter-in-law, down to just one major role in a television series after her double billing last year in Lost (Penny!) and Flashforward.   Irrfan Khan (he played the cop in Slumdog Millionaire) looks a bit too young for the part of Sunil, but gives a quiet, convincing portrayal, replete with deftly unwrapping and putting in his mouth "his favorite Bengali candy" (as his son tells us) and deftly wrapping and putting in his mouth some kind of cigarette.  Paul lets him smoke - daughter-in-law hates it but she's left the office - because Paul wants to make Sunil comfortable, and Paul still enjoys the smell of tobacco.

Debra Winger as Frances in the second episode is just great, as good or better than her fine recent work in the movies.   Her facial expressions are as good and multifaceted as her dialogue, which runs from challenging Paul (as his attractive female patients always do) to complaining about social media and her daughter "blasting evil shit on Twitter" about her.  (Paul sympathizes and admits to still having "a problem with email";  see my New New Media for more about Twitter and social media.)  And Debra's character is perfectly cast - an actress her age, worried about forgetting her lines.

But the deeper story of Frances intersects with Paul's personal life and history, and could be the real payoff this season:  Frances' sister Patricia was Paul's patient 18 years ago, and she now has Stage 4 breast cancer.   This of course is having profound impact on Frances, but it also deeply affects Paul - whether out of feeling he still has for an early patient, or of feeling he had especially for Patricia, is not clear - which makes for an intriguing story.

And Gabriel Byrne is as wonderful as ever as Paul, somehow managing to be strong, in command, vulnerable, and almost never petty.   And this season, in addition to everything else, he's worried that he may be experiencing early symptoms of Parkinson's, which his father had.    At the end of the Frances episode, Paul calls a doctor asks him for a "good neurologist"  (I've always found that usage amusing - who in their right mind would ask someone for a doctor who wasn't good?)

Off to an excellent start, and I'll be back here with another review after I've seen episodes 3 and 4.

See also Back in Treatment on HBO ... Back in Treatment: Three More Fine Times ... 2.1-2: Fathers and Daughters ...2.3-5: A Senior, A First Love, A Boy and His Turtle ... Sleep and Ethics ... In Treatment, In Retrospect

And Season One reviews: In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes (For Now)









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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





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NCIS 8.6: The Written Woman

Ray Bradbury's 1951 The Illustrated Man told the stories in tattoos all over a vagrant's body - it was a Canterbury Tales for the science fiction age.  Last night's NCIS 8.6 tells the story of a naval officer with all kinds of self-inscribed writing all over her body.   She's drugged and runs into the street and is killed by a car.  The team has to understand what she was trying to convey in her writing if they are to understand why she died.   The result is a cerebral, compelling episode of NCIS which resonates with Memento and Fringe.

My first thought that was that the ink in the self-inscriptions contained some kind of poison, quietly infused by the killer, which is what got Clea Thorson drugged (like Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, I suppose).  I wasn't that far off.  The poison came cumulatively from Clea's showers.   Meanwhile, Abby does a great job of cracking the code and Clea.  It was good to see her snap at Gibbs in the heat of the investigation - realistic.

My favorite line came from McGee this week.  When DiNozzo reveals the name of his new flame - Ethel - and waxes on about what the name means to him, McGee offers: "I've fallen, and I can't get up."  Point McGee!  The only name with an "E" that I can think of that's even more great-grandmotherly than Ethel would be Edna.

But DiNozzo polishes off the episode with a banging impersonation of John Travolta, in Saturday Night Fever garb.   Michael Weatherly could have a good career doing impersonations, if this NCIS gig ever gives him some time.

See also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff! ... NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne ... NCIS 8.5: Dead DJ, DiNozzo Hoarse, and Baseball

And see ee also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution






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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
 



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Event 1.6: Not Only Aliens, Immortals!

Well, we found out something else for sure about our aliens on The Event 1.6 tonight:  they're not only aliens, but immortals, or, at very least, age-much-more-slowly-than-we-do-ers.

The story tonight most centers around Simon, previously revealed as an alien working for Thomas under cover with the Feds.   Tonight we learn that he fell in love with a human woman back in the 1950s, but was forced to decamp by Thomas.

We've seen this theme before, most recently on New Amsterdam.  It wore a bit thin for a whole series such as New Amsterdam, but worked ok as just one element of a more complex plot in The Event.  Simon is also more believable than Richard on Lost, who came by his immortality through the least scientific part of the island lore.

It's totally believable that sentient beings from off of our planet might age at a different rate from us, and be, in comparison to us, immortal.  And tonight we also get confirmation - for those on the Web who doubted - that Thomas, Sophia, Simon et al are indeed aliens.   We get this from a crazed but plausible reporter who briefs on Sean and Leila on what her father the pilot came upon up north in Alaska.

So The Event continues to hold my interest.  It's so far nowhere as good as 24 and Lost were at their best, but it has its own style and appeal.   And with its unfolding of the alien story, and the kinds of powers they have - Thomas escapes tonight by creating another worm hole, this time in a building which collapses into a void - The Event is beginning to weave in some elements of V and Fringe, which is all to the better.   The Event continues to be a compendium of intelligent science fiction and action.

See also The Event Debuts on NBC ... The Event 1.2: Aliens! ... The Event 1.4: 24 Back in Action!









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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


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Robert Scoble, Tristan Harris, Paul Levinson, Michelle Anderson, Apture and Scribd

What do Robert Scoble (aka the Scobleizer), Tristan Harris (CEO of Apture), Michelle Anderson, and I have in common?

Well, back in the summer, Michelle Anderson published a primo interview with me on Read Write Web.  And last week, she sent me a congratulatory email saying I'd been "Scobleized" ...

By which she meant, Tristan Harris had used our interview as the prime example in the video interview Robert Scoble had conducted with Harris about Apture.   Here it is:





After watching the interview, I decided to give Apture a try, right here on Infinite Regress.  Piece of cake to install the one line of code, and it's at work right here on this blog, right now.   Can't see it?  That's because it doesn't get in your way.  But highlight any word or phrase, and watch what happens.  You can click on the Learn More bubble, and, well, learn a lot more about the subject and online connections of the word or phrase you highlighted.   The bounty of the web - links, photos, videos - in a click.   And you can do the same for any of the places you see in the bubble.    Bubbles within bubbles, all glistening with information.

Think about what this also means for books online.   Apture on a site such as Scribd would allow any word in the book to be highlighted, with the resultant delivery of web connections an instant later.  References are no longer necessary for scholarly books, because you can get them, live, always in the waiting, from the Apture app.   And they continually update.

The very beginning of what I see as one of the more profound revolutions in New New Media...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caprica's Back 1.10-1.12: Cleaner More Powerful Lines

I finally had a chance to sit down with the resumed season of Caprica - episodes 1.10-12 to be exact, courtesy of SyFy On Demand - and was pleasantly surprised, though pleasant is about the last word I would use to describe this intellectually and emotionally powerful, wrenching prequel series to Battlestar Galactica. But by pleasant I mean that these three new episodes were a lot better than the most of the episodes last Spring, which ranged from pretty good to superb.

The main theme, so far, is the difference, the intersection, the interface between virtual and physical reality - between images and flesh and blood, and the human brains that propel them both.   It's a theme I explored in depth in my 2003 book,  Realspace: The Fate of Physical Presence in the Digital Age, On and Off Planet - soon to be available in a Kindle edition - and I consider one of the defining issues, if not the defining issue, of our age.  In Caprica, Daniel and Clarice each use the immortality of the virtual being to further their own ends - Daniel's business and power, Clarice's religion and power.   Both are keenly interested in Zoe's digital self - Daniel because he loves her as his daughter, but also because she's connected to her third, Cylon self, and Clarice because she knows that Zoe possesses valuable information, which could be key to Clarice's cementing of power in the terrorist/monotheistic surge that threatens Caprica and the other planets.

We don't see much if any of Zoe-Cylon in the first three episodes, but we do see perhaps a fourth Zoe, who comes to her as a child, and serves as her angelic adviser in the virtual world, similar to some of what we saw in Battlestar Galactic.   Virtual Zoe is consolidating her power in V-world, forging a painful alliance there with Adama's daughter, who understandably hates Zoe because she considers Zoe responsible for the bomb on the train that took Adama's wife and daughter's lives, as well as flesh-and-blood Zoe's, at the very beginning of this series.

Meanwhile, Daniel is back in power at Graystone in the flesh-and-blood world, partnering with the Ha'la'tha to oust Vergis.   First on his private list of things to do is re-create Zoe the prototype Cylon.   And Amanda is alive.  She was taken in by Clarice, but trenchcoated cop Duram has apparently convinced her that Clarice was responsible for Zoe's death.   Duram also thinks Clarice was responsible for the bungled attempt to blow up the Caprican space port - which I was glad to see failed, since I like space ports (see Realspace for more) - but in fact the culprit in that instance was Clarice's rival for power Barnabus, whom she soon dispatches.

So the resumed season is off to a complex continuation of where we left off in March, but the lines feel cleaner, more poetic and convincing than what we were given back then.   I'm looking forward to more.

See alsoBattlestar Galactica Caprica: Exquisite, Flawed Copies ... 1.2:  Dawn of a Different Machine ... 1.3:  Daughters, Missing and Present ... 1.5: Adama's Daughter ... 1.6: The Chip and its Roots
... 1.7: The Cylon and the Dog ... 1.8: The Metaphysics of Flesh ... 1.9: Zoe at Large




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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
 


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Good Wife 2.4: Surprise Candidate, Intimate Interpersonal Distance, Ultimate Loyalites

A first class episode 2.4 of The Good Wife on CBS last night, with a least three telling, even crucial, developments:

1. Chief Justice Adler - played tough as nails by Kate Burton (Richard Burton's daughter) - is about to announce her entrance into the race for State Attorney, competition that neither Peter nor Childs needs.  Gold talks Diane into pressuring Adler not to run - Diane's more than happy to do this, after the hot and cold treatment she received from Adler last season about Diane's political prospects.   Adler seems to yield, but at the end of the episode we learn that Adler has gotten Wendy Scott-Caar to run.  Scott-Carr is attractive, articulate, sharp as a whip.  And she was Childs' attorney during the deposition.   In many ways an even more dangerous challenge to Peter than Adler would have been.

2. Kalinder and Blake continue to spar.  When Blake gets literally in Kalinder's face about her smashing the windows of his car so she can poke around inside, Kalinder gets even closer to Blake, in what we communication theorists call intimate interpersonal distance.   It's a powerful scene, in which Kalinder essentially turns the tables on the sexual intimidation that men have been known to try on women in business situations.

3. But the best part of the episode has Cary trying to destroy Alicia by getting her to admit that Peter gave her a heads-up about her first case in the first episode of the series.  This could damage Peter, who was not supposed to share such information with anyone, certainly not his wife acting as a defense attorney.   Will at first tells Alicia she has to sacrifice Peter, if necessary, on behalf of the firm.  Alicia can't do that, she's caught between a rock and a hard place on this, and-  Will at the last moment uses an intimation of something Will knows about Childs to get Cary to desist.

What we learn about Alicia and Will in this interlude is telling.   Alicia's not going to sacrifice Peter.   And neither will Will sacrifice Alicia, or put her in an impossible situation.   Will Alicia's appreciation of Will's devotion to her eventually get her to reconsider her decision at the beginning of this season, and learn about the voice mail that Gold erased?

See also  The Good Wife Starts Second Season on CBS ... The Good Wife 2.2: Lou Dobbs, Joe Trippi, and Obama Girl




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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



NCIS 8.5: DJ Dead, DiNozzo Hoarse, and Baseball

DiNozzo loses his voice in NCIS 8.5 as the team investigates the murder of an abrasive radio talk show host - a double loss of voices - but DiNozzo nonetheless speaks clearly of his yearning for the sexier Ziva of a few years ago, which is good to hear.

In fact, DiNozzo and Ziva even have a nice tight clinch - she on top of him - as Ziva tackles DiNozzo to shield him from an explosive.   She tells him she can tell he's enjoying it, and DiNozzo, ever quick with a retort, says, "don't flatter yourself, that's my knee."

As for the case, turns out the killer wasn't after the naval officer who was being interviewed live on the air, and not after the DJ because of his strident opinions.   Rather, the purpose of the murder was to stop the DJ from exposing a domestic terrorist cell.   This is a nice twist on the variety of talk jocks as targets for personal reasons, or because the perps disagree with the DJ's general political opinion, that we've seen as plot lines in the movies and on television the past few years.  Instead, the Howard Stern, Glenn Beck, or whatever the DJ in this episode is killed because he's in effect an investigative reporter.   If you've gotta be killed, that's surely the most noble reason.

Also good to see that DiNozzo and McGee are such big baseball fans.   Worked great for me, seeing NCIS on DVR yesterday right after the Yankee-Ranger's playoff game on TBS from Yankee Stadium.  In fact, it was the highlight of the evening for me, seeing as how the Yankees lost (the Yanks and Rangers are playing an early game right now, at Yankee Stadium, as I write this.)

And we had one the nicest endings I can recall on NCIS last night - Ziva and Gibbs throwing the ball, as DiNozzo and McGee look on....


See also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff! ... NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne

And see ee also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution







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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
 

Fordham Grad Class Reviews of Blue Bloods, Dexter, Glenn Beck, House, Mad Men, Modern Family, One Tree Hill, Undercovers, Young and Restless, Walking Dead, Weeds

Hey everyone - I'm teaching a brand new graduate class this Fall - Television and the New Media.  It's really about the intersection of what I call new new media and television - media in which readers and consumers become producers - but I figured "new new" was a little much for a course title.  Anyway ... as the main work for this course, students are writing and producing their own blogs, podcasts, and vidcasts about current television shows.   A list of their sites with links follow.   Enjoy:

-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rubicon Season One Finale: Andy, Truxler, Clover

Rubicon ended its first season on AMC much as it has been doing all along, a riddle wrapped in a clover leaf inside an enigma. We don't even know if what we saw last night was the end of the just the first season or the end of everything - that is, it's not completely clear if Rubicon will be renewed, though I certainly hope it is.

The surprising reveal, which raises more questions than it answers, is Andy, Will's mostly welcoming neighbor.   Katherine's late husband directs her to an apartment, where Andy happens to be.  She agrees to go with Katherine to briefly meet Will, though Andy cautions Katherine that that's dangerous.  And Katherine is indeed murdered - by a swift injection in the back of the shoulder by Mr. Roy, doing Truxler's work - as Will looks on from an overpass, and Andy from the underpass, neither able to do anything to save Catherine.

Will is horrified.   But what about Andy?   Who, indeed, is she?  She's obviously some kind of spy, and was no doubt assigned to keep an eye on Will, but whom is she working for?  Unlikely Truxler, otherwise she could have easily killed Will herself, rather than leaving that attempt to Bloom.  Possibly for Kale - who has a maddeningly low profile in this episode - or the FBI, CIA, or the group that sentences Truxler, take your pick.

Meanwhile, Truxler presents another mystery.   He's given the clover leaf.  But he hasn't yet taken his life when Will finds him on the roof.   Truxler notes how much better the roof is than struggling with the window - presumably easier to jump off a roof than out of a window?   (If he'd planned on shooting himself in the head, he could have already done that.)   I thought the episode would end with Truxler jumping off the roof right in front of Will's eyes, after congratulating Will on his success in id'ing and essentially stopping Truxler.

But Truxler walks away - to live another day?   One of many reasons I hope we get to see another season of this fine, chess-game of a show, which somehow manages to pack a lot of power and punch in its low-key story telling.

See also Rubicon on AMC ... Rubicon 1.5: Bloom


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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


Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience

Back with a review of Dexter 5.4, in what is continuing to be another stellar season.

Dexter has always had a heart - one of the many things that has made his character so appealing, so compelling.  Tonight it comes to the fore again.  Lumen (well played by Julia Stiles) has seen Dexter dispatch Boyd.   She's nearly dead herself - having been brutalized by Boyd, his next victim - when Dexter opens the door and takes her in.

Harry's advice is predicable and clear.  The very first of his rules is "never get caught".  Lumen could easily lead to Dex getting caught, if she lives to tell the police or just about anyone what she saw.  But Dexter can't kill her.  He has a heart, a conscience, despite what he says to himself about himself.  He doesn't intentionally kill innocent people, even to save himself.

So instead of killing Lumen, he has to win her over, make her take "a leap of faith" and trust Dexter.   He succeeds in this, only to find that she has been victimized not just by one man.  There's a band of these sicko killers, and Dexter will no doubt be drawn into Lumen's attempt to kill them.   That's the price for his winning her over.

Meanwhile, Quinn is trying his best to link Dexter to the killing of Rita, by way of Trinity's family.   He fails - narrowly - but Deb is leading him off to bed together, again.  In a rare display of decency, he tells he's no good for her - after all, he's trying to nab her beloved brother - but he's going to bed with her anyway.

Julia Stiles brings a lot to Lumen role.  She's more than a bit reminiscent of Rita - both victimized, brutalized, by life.  Dexter also has a place in his soul and heart for such women.   Will be fun to see the roller coaster ride of where this goes.

See also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review


And see also
Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ... Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ... 4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3: Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ... Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2: Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1: First Place to Dexter












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, October 17, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and-

California has always been something strange, special, magical, transcendent for Don.  It was where he could be the most himself, with Anna.   She's gone now, and Don goes out to California, this time with the kids, and-

I didn't want to put her name in the title of this post, to avoid spoilers.  Don goes out to California with the kids, and- Megan.   He needs her to take care of the kids on this trip, thanks to Betty - as cold and heartless as ever - firing Carla (she let that boy say goodbye to Sally).   So Megan is out there in magical California with Don, and he falls in love with her, and asks her to marry him, and she says, "I don't believe this," then "yes!"

It was medium clear from the first time they slept together in the office a few weeks ago that there was something special between them.  It was crystal clear tonight when Don knocks on her door, she invites him in and on the balcony,  and when he looks at Megan in the restaurant the next day, after they've spent the night together.  In any ways the best scene happens right then:  Sally knocks over a milk shake, Don and Bobby are on the verge of being upset, and Megan calms everyone down - it's just a milk shake, she says.  Betty would have gone coldly ballistic, which is what Sally, Bobby, and Don were gearing up for.   But Megan, not beset by Betty's demons, responds in a loving way.  We could see right then and there why Don was falling in love with her.  I realized even before Don proposed that night that the two might well soon get married.

All of this was beautifully acted, not just by Jon Hamm but Jessica Paré as Megan.

And the reactions of everyone back in the office - when Don tells them the news - were perfect, too.  Especially Peggy, who's not happy about this, for a variety of reasons, mostly because she feels once again that this male-dominated world she's a part of moves inexplicably.   There's also a great scene between Peggy and Joan, drawn about as close together as we've ever seen by this news.

Joan has news of her own - which she keeps from everyone in the office.  She's keeping the baby.  She did not have the abortion, after all.  This puts her rejection of Roger in a new light - she didn't want to sleep with him because she can't keep sleeping with the father of the baby she's telling her husband is his, her husband's.   They'll be some powerful stories ahead on this theme next season.

Don also tells Faye, who responds as we might expect - she's furious.   And Don tells Betty.  She almost displays some real emotion about this, at last, and we can almost feel a little sympathy for her - almost, but not quite.  She's still cold as ice.

And the season closes with Megan asleep on Don's chest, in Don's apartment, in bed.   Don's awake, and it's tough to say what's on his mind.  Maybe he's struggling with whether and when to tell Megan his true back story (which he did tell to Faye).

I can tell you what's on my mind: this has been the best season of Mad Men, already a superb show, so far.



See also Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!

And from Season 3: 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
 


Friday, October 15, 2010

Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah

Well, Bones 6.4 was at least sans Hannah for this episode - I don't think Booth or Bones even mentioned her - which should be seen as a step in the right direction, or at least a brief respite, by Booth and Bones devotees, which I includes me, though I don't mind Hannah too much at all (or, at least, not as much as does my wife).

And there were two other enjoyable characters on the show.   One, the Science Dude - Bones' Bill Nye the Science Guy - wants Bones on his show.  She has no interest, but agrees that if he helps her on the case at hand, if he makes a contribution, she'll go on the show.  Hodgins (a fan since college), Cam, and just about everyone is delighted to have the Dude on hand.   He's a good addition to the rotating assistants, though it's not clear if and when he'll be back.

The other enjoyable character turns out to be the bad guy - in this case, the bad hot chick who killed the bones that Bones and team are investigating.  She's a bounty hunter, determined not to let anything get in her way.  She's fast, but not fast enough to outrun Bones and Booth and the science team.

Sweets also does well for himself tonight, standing up for himself and psychology against Bones' stronger than usual skepticism.   But in the end, Bones puts on a bones suit - that is, a skeleton outfit - shows up on the Science Dude's show and makes everyone in the studio audience, including Booth, Angela, Hodgins, Cam, and the audience at home happy.  Not only the audience at home for the Science Dude's show, but the audience at home for Bones.

But there are storm clouds on the horizon.  Bones won't be back until November.  And here in the New York area, greedy Cablevision and greedy Fox are in another infuriating contract dispute which might take Fox off the television set for who knows how long (given the declining viewership across broadcast and cable television in favor of watching TV on the web, the Cablevision-Fox dispute is like two myopic passengers arguing over a deck chair on the Titanic).

And there was something in the aggregate coming attractions about Hannah.  I'll be back here in November to give you my views.


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

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








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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


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Meaning of Michael Ausiello Leaving EW

Michael Ausiello, long time television critic and reporter, announced on October 4, 2010 that he was leaving Entertainment Weekly to launch a new TV website, on Jay Penske's Mail.com Media.  This after Ausiello left TV Guide in May 2008, after six years as a scouping news TV reporter.   I know and admire Ausiello's work, but I don't know him personally.  I did not interview him for this blog post.   Instead, I want to briefly assess what his leaving EW - and TV Guide before it - means for the future of media, of written media about visual media, in particular.

It is no secret that traditional print media, ranging from the New York Times to TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly, have taken big hits in their readership and therefore their advertising revenue.  This is 100% because readers are getting their written words online.  Less discussed is where online readers are getting their words, and via what economic and social structures.

TV Guide is declining as a print venue, and has struggled to have much of an online presence.   Entertainment Weekly has lost paper readers, but has a robust, attractive online operation.   Yet Ausiello left not only TV Guide but EW.   Why?

I would say that the reason, in terms of media evolution, is that EW online is an example of a new media, but not what I call a new new medium.   By that I mean that EW, though online, is still ultimately created by top-down, boss assigning editors.   There's nothing wrong with this, and indeed a lot of superb writing has come from it, but the method is nonetheless fundamentally the same as the gate-keeper approach of traditional paper media.   The online venue of EW is free, and invites extensive commentary by readers - two hallmarks of new new media - but the underlying structures goes back to the Renaissance.

In this context, Ausiello's leaving EW, whatever the specific motives, represents a move from new to new new media.   Whatever money he may make (or not), Ausiello will no doubt have far more control over his content in his new position.  Further, with television itself in the midst of a revolutionary change from a broadcast/cable to an online medium, Ausiello's move is especially appropriate. I'm looking forward to seeing what this yields.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NCIS 8.4: Gary Cooper not John Wayne

Well, my favorite line on last night's NCIS 8.4 on CBS came from Gibbs, who corrects a Brit (who turns out to be an MI-6 agent) who calls Gibbs "John Wayne," in response to Gibbs' intention to take matters into his own hands, protocol be damned, and not let a Brit ship which may be Gibbs' crime scene leave American waters.  Gibbs quietly corrects the Brit: "Gary Cooper".

I always preferred the type of intelligent courage that Gary Cooper displayed in High Noon to the more shoot-em-up kind of John Wayne, and so, usually, does Gibbs.   Last night finds him relentlessly standing up not only to the Brits, but to his own superiors, and the CIA, too, for good measure.   Gibbs at his best, and I won't to tell you who the villain is, in case you haven't yet scene this episode.

Ok, it's not the Brit, which could be important for future NCIS cases, especially if they veer to the international, where Ziva's father (seen at the end of the first episode this season) will no doubt  be cropping up.   Add to this that Ziva is a little attracted to the Brit, and you have some good recipes for conflict and fun.

We also got some good repartee last night between DiNozzo and the Brit about movies, and I endorse their appreciation of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore over just Dudley Moore in great cinematic roles.  (My favorite, though, not mentioned by DiNozzo, is Bedazzled from 1967 - trust me, you'll love it.)

But back to Coop - High Noon (1952) has to be of the best movies ever made, and the lead role is definitely one Mark Harmon could play if they ever do a remake.  In the meantime, here are two versions of  the Dimitri Tiomkin - Ned Washington song from the movie, to whet your appetite...



Actually, the second version I wanted to put here apparently can't be embedded, but here's the link to its YouTube home. This is the actual opening of the movie...


5-min podcast review of NCIS

See also NCIS Back in Season 8 Action ... NCIS 8.2: Interns! ... NCIS 8.3: Tiff!

And see ee also NCIS  ... NCIS 7.16: Gibbs' Mother-in-Law Dilemma ... NCIS 7.17: Ducky's Ties ... NCIS 7.18: Bogus Treasure and Real Locker ... NCIS 7.21: NCIS Meets Laura ... NCIS Season 7 Finale: Retribution






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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
 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cheers to Fed Judge for Ruling "Don't Ask Don't Tell" Unconstitutional

Three cheers to Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Federal District Court in California for ruling the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional today.  Insisting that people keep their mouths shut about their sexual preferences, on threat of being discharged from their military service, has indeed been an unconscionable violation of the First Amendment, which expressly forbids Congress from making any law that abridges anyone's freedom of speech.

Not everyone deserves applause in this important matter.  Certainly not our Justice Department, which opposed the suit that led to the court decision today, and is reported to be gearing up for an appeal.  And let's be clear: the Justice Department does not operate on its own.   It is 100% an expression of the President's views.   Obama thus warrants as severe a criticism on this as his Justice Department.

The Department of Defense has been somewhat better - it is at least moving towards doing away with the policy.  This Department is of course under the President's power as well, so Obama deserves some credit on this score.  But not too much credit - why didn't the Pentagon end this unconstitutional policy without a court order?

Indeed, Obama could have ended it the day he took office.   As a strong supporter of a lot of what he has accomplished, and tried to accomplish, as President, I remain disappointed by his weak, indecisive leadership on this fundamental issue.   He can redeem himself, somewhat, now, by decisively telling his Justice Department to drop any plans for appeal, and acknowledge the First Amendment.

House 7.4: Mind Games

House and Cuddy continue to develop their relationship in episode 7.4 of House.   When Cuddy tells House that his continuing little games are keeping them from being totally close, he replies that she's still keeping a distance from him - not having him sleep over her home, keeping House a distance from her daughter.  The result at the end is House is having dinner with Cuddy and her daughter, an important step in the right direction for their relationship.

Meanwhile, House's case involves mind games of another kind.  Sometimes, when a patient is having hallucinations, it's because she's schizophrenic, and has gone off of her medications.   This a nice twist on the usual set-up on House, where a strange physical ailment can have mental repercussions.

House figures it out - is pushed in the direction of a mental source of the patient's problem - by a new woman on the team.  House doesn't like her as a replacement for Cameron.  Foreman doesn't like her as a replacement for Thirteen.   Understandable, and, in their opinion, Chase brought her in for the main purpose of "getting laid".  That's understandable, too.

And, in the end, that's just - and all - that Chase gets.  The new woman doc on the block quits the team.  And, since she has a policy of not going out with colleagues, she's now free to indulge her interest in Chase.   He's happy, she's happy, we the viewers are happy.

It's a rare episode of House in which so many people end up happy, but it's been that kind of happier season.

See also House and Cuddy on the Other Side in Season 7 Premiere ... House 7.2: House and Cuddy, Chapter 2 ... House 7.3:  The Author and the White Lie

And see also House Reborn in Season Six? ... 6.2: The Gang is Back and Fractured ... 6.3: The Saving Hitler Quandary ... 6.4: Diagnosis vs. Karma ... 6.5 Getting Better ... 6.6 House Around the Bases ... Four's a Crowd on House 6.7 ... House 6.8 and the Reverse of Flowers for Algernon ... House 6.9: Wilson ... House 6.10: Back in Business ... House 6.11: Making Amends, Mending Fences, and a Psychopath  ... House 6.12: The Progression to Mensch ... House 6.13: Cuddy's Perspective ... House Meets Blogger in 6.14 ... House 6.15: About Taub ... House 6.16: Revealing Couples ... House 6.17: Socrates on Steroids ... House 6.18: Open Marriage








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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, October 11, 2010

Mad Men 4.12: No Smoking!

So how can Mad Men manage to surprise in this season in which every week has delivered an unexpected punch?   By Don publicly denouncing smoking in episode 4.12!  Smoke will no longer be getting in SCDP's eyes, at least if Don has his way.

Indeed, Don's act - going for a full-page ad in The New York Times, in which he declares war on smoking, all the damage it's done to the health of Americans, and the health of his company - is roundly attacked by every one of his partners.  Pete's concerned that clients will lose faith in SCDP's loyalty (indeed!), Cooper's furious that Don did not include the partners in the ad (!), Lane's angry that Don did not consult the partners beforehand, and Roger's just angry.  (I thought Roger's best line, though, came when he called a consultant who failed to deliver a promised presentation to a possible client, an "asshole".  Roger has consistently had the best lines for the past few shows.)  The responses of the partners - the reasons for their anger - reflect their inner demons and personalities, what really motivates them.   Cooper, at this stage in his life, is in it for his reputation.  He's so wounded that his name does not appear on this declaration of war that he takes his leave of his partners and the company - apparently, at this point, for good.

Who approved of what Don did?   Megan liked it and tells him so - though for what combination of wanting to curry favor with Don vs. her admiring Don's courage/honesty, whatever, is not clear.  Don tells her it had nothing to do with standing up for what's right - it was the best move for SCDP given its plummeting client list - this at least gets them in the public eye, and turns the vice of Lucky Strike leaving into a virtue.

Peggy, unsurprisingly, approves for the right reasons.   She jokes about Don's chiding her about pulling stunts - because, if we believe what Don says (who knows what he really thinks), his ad in the New York Times was a high-profile, high-principled gimmick - a stunt wrapped in a public ethic.

Ready for next week's season finale?

See also Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim"

And from Season 3: 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


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Criminal Minds 6.3: Proust, Twain, and Travanti

Daniel J. Travanti - best known for his stint as Captain Frank Furillo on Hill Street Blues - put in a memorable, chilling performance on the other side of the street in Criminal Minds 6.3, where Travanti played an aging vicious serial killer (there are no other kind on Criminal Minds), assisted now by his son.

Travanti's "The Butcher" turns out to be an old, unrequited case of Rossi's, who's pulled into this one on vacation, not accomplishing much because he's plagued by writer's block.  Apropos the writer, this episode of Criminal Minds has both quotes by writer's writers, one by Proust at the beginning and one from Mark Twain at the end.   The story here is all about memory - Rossi's and The Butcher's.

For Rossi, the new killings are horrible, but a second chance to finally catch The Butcher.  His files on the Butcher, and his recollections, point the team in the right direction - realizing that the new killings are being done by the old Butcher in some way, not just by a copycat.

For the Butcher, he's killing again because he forgot what scared him off of the killings the first time, years ago.   That would be Rossi, who came this close to nabbing the Butcher back then.   The Alzheimer's that's now afflicting the Butcher also makes him forget each killing that he and his son are doing now.  So he repeats the last killing, from years ago, over and over again.

Television these days seems to often address the serial killer with a difference.  In Dexter's case, we have a serial killer on the side of good, a serial killer with a conscience.  In Travanti's case, we have a serial killer with Alzheimer's.   And it's his memory loss that goads him to keep killing.

The Butcher ends this episode in prison.  I'm glad he wasn't killed.   Not that the monster did not deserve that, but Travanti gave such an indelible, frightening,  performance that I wouldn't mind seeing him again.  It was certain a performance that will be hard to forget.


See also Criminal Minds in Sixth Season Premiere ... Criminal Minds 6.2: The Meaning of J. J. Leaving

And Criminal Minds 5.22 and the Dark Side of New New Media

And here's a little song I wrote years ago, about time and memory ...





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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



Saturday, October 9, 2010

House 7.3: The Author and the White Lie

A fine House 7.3 on Fox last Monday, in which House treats Alice Tanner, author of the Jack Cannon: Boy Detective series, a favorite of House's, just as Tom Swift was a favorite of many people in our real world.  The difference is that Victor Appleton, the author of the Tom Swift series, was a pseudonym for more than one author, whereas Alice Tanner in the fictional House is a real woman.  Not only that, she wants not only her series but her life to end.

Since House loves her books, he has a better motivation than usual to save Alice, against all odds.  But the problem this time is not only physical but psychological - Alice has based her boy detective on her own son, who died in a car crash.  She blames herself, with a view now towards joining her son as the only way she can make things right between her and the universe.   If House lets her leave the hospital, she'll soon take her own life, negating whatever cure House had given her.  But he can't keep her in the hospital against her will.

House's solution is to feign autopsy results - of Jack, Alice's real son - which show he had an aneurysm, which would have killed him in a week or two if there had been no car crash.   Alice believes this, is at peace, at last, and no longer wants to kill herself.  She says she's finished writing Jack Cannon books, but at least she's alive, is likely to stay that way for a while, and while there's life there's hope.

So House has once again used a daring, unorthodox treatment to save his patient - give her a white lie, to get her off the hook of guilt which is driving her to suicide.   Was House ethically right to do this?

Hell, yes.   It's worth a lie to save a life.   Or, in these cases, life is more important than telling the truth.

See also House and Cuddy on the Other Side in Season 7 Premiere ... House 7.2: House and Cuddy, Chapter 2

And see also House Reborn in Season Six? ... 6.2: The Gang is Back and Fractured ... 6.3: The Saving Hitler Quandary ... 6.4: Diagnosis vs. Karma ... 6.5 Getting Better ... 6.6 House Around the Bases ... Four's a Crowd on House 6.7 ... House 6.8 and the Reverse of Flowers for Algernon ... House 6.9: Wilson ... House 6.10: Back in Business ... House 6.11: Making Amends, Mending Fences, and a Psychopath  ... House 6.12: The Progression to Mensch ... House 6.13: Cuddy's Perspective ... House Meets Blogger in 6.14 ... House 6.15: About Taub ... House 6.16: Revealing Couples ... House 6.17: Socrates on Steroids ... House 6.18: Open Marriage










                 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


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