Monday, December 30, 2019

TV: Truth and special -- two terms tossed around too easily

Four eagerly awaited comedy specials debuted on NETFLIX this month: Michelle Wolf's JOKE SHOW, John Mulaney's JOHN MULANEY AND THE SACK LUNCH BUNCH, Tiffany Hadish's BLAK MITZVAH and Jack Whitehall's JACK WHITEHALL: CHRISTMAS WITH MY FATHER.


Going in, we were nervous about one special (John Mulaney's), not worried at all about two (Jack Whitehall and Tiffany Hadish's) and unsure about Michelle Wolf's special.

Let's start with Michelle, no need to wonder, she delivers.  And then some.  What people forget about revolutionary comics Richard Pryor and Lily Tomlin is that their comedy performances were full acts.  They started somewhere and, by the end, you realized you'd been taken on a planned journey.  This wasn't here's-a-joke-different-joke-new-joke-nother-joke hahas that had nothing to do with one another.

Michelle pulls off the Pryor-Tomlin model.  Her special's about something and it makes you laugh.  Huge laughs.  John also worried us.  He's been on a winning streak since 2012.  Could he continue it?  Yes, he could and he does.  There are so many reasons this special with the Sack Lunch Bunch shouldn't work but it does.  It's hilarious.  We weren't expecting groundbreaking from Jack Whitehall, just laughs.  We figured it would be a variation of his NETFLIX series TRAVELS WITH MY FATHER but with a holiday theme.  And that's exactly what it is.  It's funny, as expected.

So three successes, praise for NETFLIX.  Too bad it couldn't be four.

Tiffany Hadish is who we should have worried about.

Whoopi Goldberg.  Never a great actress, she blames the NAACP in LA for her failure to win the Academy Award for THE COLOR PURPLE and, we guess, she blames them for her failure to ever again deliver a first-rate dramatic performance.  What Whoopi did achieve was a film career.  Not a leading lady career, only Diana Ross did that for years until the emergence of Halle Berry. 

 But Whoopi carved out her place in film and ended up in over 70 features -- live action and animated. If you're not grasping how big of an accomplishment that is, look at Cicely Tyson.  She's been making films since 1956 and her 26h feature film comes out in 2020.

Diana and Cicely had to deal with extreme racism.  Whoopi had to deal with racism as well but she also made the choice to create a career for herself and, as a result, she's not going to be disappeared as long as films are aired or streamed or whatever.  Kids films, art films (THE PLAYER is a classic), whatever's being shown, there's a good chance Whoopi will be in it.  Her filmography isn't a film festival, it's a film channel all its own. 

Tiffany may be pursuing that model -- or maybe she's creating her own model.  All we know is that she's appeared in 16 films since the start of 2017 -- and has two more films to be released next year (LIKE A BOSS and BAD TRIP).  We are fans of her work.

BLACK MITZVAH?  We could have done without it.

At one point, we almost bailed and turned it off; however, we thought, "This has got to get better."


No, it doesn't.

If this had been a live special, we might be more forgiving.

But it's not live.

So to include production errors and mishaps isn't acceptable.

That you're having microphone problems as you record your show?

You fix those.

Ask Barbra Streisand.

Did she coast through COLOR ME BARBRA?  No, she worked her ass off.  And the much praised, recorded special, gave no indication that she'd started filming the Philadelphia Museum of Art section at 6:00 pm and did not finish filming there until after ten the following morning.

Viewers got an incredible special.  They weren't bored with Barbra complaining on camera that two of the cameras had broken down, that the lighting cues were wrong, that this or that needed to be fixed.  They saw a tight and brilliant special that would go on to be nominated for five Emmy Awards.  Barbra said, promoting the special, "One thing I love about doing a TV show is that with a few snips of the tpae we can do tricks and on screen it looks like magic."

More than a few snips are required to make Tiffany's special something special.  The whole problems she was having with her microphone should have been snipped.  It's not interesting.  It's not funny.  It's not even worth a blooper reel.

This is Tiffany's second stand up special and she's coasting?

If Barbra had coasted through her second TV special, COLOR ME BARBRA, she might not have the career or legacy she has today.

BLACK MITZVAH is bad, really bad.  It's disappointing.  It's beneath her and it certainly doesn't qualify for content you pay for.

We wish we didn't have to say that.  We love Tiffany.  But we love the truth more.

And December's really shaped up into a truth month.

We've seen THE WASHINGTON POST's "At War With The Truth" telling some of the truths about the war in Afghanistan, we've seen  Dirk Adriaensens' "Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict" (GLOBAL RESEARCH),  WIKILEAKS posted the documents proving there was no chemical attack by the Syrian government on its own people despite the claims/lies the US media pimped, and there was Erik Wemple's piece for THE WASHINGTON POST about Rachel Maddow, MSNBC talk show host:

When small bits of news arose in favor of the dossier, the franchise MSNBC host pumped air into them. At least some of her many fans surely came away from her broadcasts thinking the dossier was a serious piece of investigative research, not the flimflam, quick-twitch game of telephone outlined in the Horowitz report. She seemed to be rooting for the document.
And when large bits of news arose against the dossier, Maddow found other topics more compelling.
She was there for the bunkings, absent for the debunkings — a pattern of misleading and dishonest asymmetry.

Maddow has trafficked in lies and innuendo -- so much so that she's currently involved in a court case for defamation where her attorney is insisting that "literally" in the following sentence is hyperbole: "In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda."

Rachel's not a journalist, she's a talk show host.  Really, she's a demagogue.

Erik Wemple served up a 'have you no sense of decency, sir' moment to our 21st century Joseph McCarthy and, with any luck, this is the beginning of the end of Rachel Maddow.  She was never a journalist.  She was never accurate.  Even on UNFILTERED on AIR AMERICA RADIO, she repeatedly lied.  She'd find an article at THE WASHINGTON POST -- that someone had passed on to her -- from a few days or weeks before and she'd go on the air with it insisting that THE POST had just published it.  It was too much for her to be honest about something as basic as the publication date.

She's a hustler, an ugly faced hustler who has lied repeatedly to a small but rabid group of viewers.

Truth matters.  Hopefully, Erik Wemple's truth will have a strong impact.

But we can't control that, none of us can.  All that we can do is tell our truth and hope that the word reverberates.

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