Monday, March 07, 2022

TV: A streaming pile of garbage

Some days the media seems little more than an ever expanding Garbage Island. And like The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the whole world's aware of that fact but chooses to look the other way.




We were reminded of that as AMAZON served up another trashing of facts regarding the lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  Apparently, it was not enough to mangle the facts and outright lie in BEING THE RICARDOS, now get more garbage with LUCY & DESI begging the question what the hell did Lucille Ball ever do to Jeff Bezos?

The latest garbage is from Amy Poehler -- in fact, it's laughably billed as "An Amy Poehler Film."  After the tepid response to WINE COUNTRY, no one has been clamoring for another Amy Poehler film.  That she thinks this garbage qualifies as either a documentary or a film just reminds everyone of how stupid Poehler truly is.  

Amy wants you to believe in Lucy and Desi as lovers of all time and that what ended the marriage is that Desi drank and worked too hard.

As Lucille herself said on numerous occasions, what endedt he marriage was that Desi couldn't "keep his cock in his pants."  You'll never know that from the 'documentary.'  You'll never know, for example, that their last year of marriage was her sleeping in the main house and him sleeping in the cabana.  You'll never know how his cheating destroyed her trust in people and effected everything that followed.

Lucille Ball was not Lucy Ricardo and Desi Arnaz was not Ricky.  They were a TV couple onscreen.  They were a married couple off screen who had plenty of problems before they ever shot an episode of their famous sitcom.  His cheating is why she wanted the sitcom in the first place, to get him off the road so she could keep an eye on him.  Before the sitcom even started, she'd already called in a favor from Bob Hope who made Desi the bandleader on Hope's radio show for NBC to keep Desi off the road.  

These are facts and they are facts that Amy chooses to ignore reminding us of that awful appearance a decade ago on THE MAJORITY REPORT (AIR AMERICA RADIO) where she babbled on about Bully Boy Bush with no definitive remarks and couldn't condemn the Iraq War or say that it was wrong.  Current events, you understand, were just too difficult for her.  (They weren't too hard for her when she devoted an episode of her show PARKS AND RECREATION to attack Hugo Chavez.)  People who find facts challenging should never aspire to make a documentary.

Did Desi love Lucy?  If you're making a documentary about them today, you should explore that.  But you can't just say that they loved each other and you can't lie and say they broke up because he drank too much booze and he worked too many hours.  Lucille boozed and worked too, those were mutual habits they both shared.  The dividing point was his inability to be faithful to her.

Everyone watching Amy's garbage who knows anything about the two actors knows that Desi cheated.  The 2003 CBS TV movie LUCY didn't shy from the topic anymore than Lucy ever did.  It makes Amy uncomfortable?  Well then she doesn't need to make a documentary about a couple whose marriage breaks up because of cheating.  

Desi may very well have loved Lucille.  He married her.  He had two children with her.  But he had hundreds of women he slept with while he was married to Lucille.  

We're not slamming him for it.  We weren't married to him.  As an entertainer, he provided us with a lot of joy.  He was a TV pioneer who understood the medium better than anyone else in the 1950s and he changed everything as a result.


We have praised his work and his insight many, many times and, as long as we cover TV, we will continue to praise him.  

But we're not covering his marriage or how faithful he was.  Amy Poehler made the decision to do a documentary about his marriage to Lucille Ball.  She is required to cover it as a result.  

Instead, she's ignored facts and trashed the very real lives of two people. 


"With Lucy and Desi, Amy Poehler Gets to the Heart of a Marriage" insists THE NEW YORK TIMES.


Well that's the same paper that used lies to sell the illegal Iraq War.

But if a marriage was plagued by infidelity and if that is what ended it, then it's not a story of a marriage unless it includes those very public facts.

It's not much of a documentary at all.  People who are paid to write about it, who presumably watched it, write garbage like this:



They bought RKO, the largest independent movie studio in Hollywood, and renamed it Desilu, where they produced some of the most successful television series of the 20th century, from the original “Star Trek” to “Mission: Impossible” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Wrong.  Wrong.  And wrong.


DESILU did not produce THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.  DANNY THOMAS ENTERPRISES produced that with MAYBERRY ENTERPRISES and CBS.  Let's not erase the accomplishments of an early Lebanese-American TV pioneer.  The sitcom was filmed on  DESILU soundstages.  

If DESILU had produced THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, Lucille would never have sold the studio.  DESILU had bled money since I LOVE LUCY went off the air.  THE LUCY SHOW and THE UNTOUCHABLES were their only big hits when Lucy and Desi ran DESILU.  Which brings us to the other two lies.  Lucille and Desi did not develop STAR TREK and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.  Lucille had bought Desi out of the company in 1962.  Lucille was the one who supported STAR TREK and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and MANNIX.  She did so in the final 12 months of running DESILU (Desi had been gone from DESILU for over five years by that point)  Those three shows were multi-season programs and had she found them two years earlier, it's doubtful she would have sold DESILU when she did.

Over and over, Amy offers bogus facts and confuses viewers.  That doesn't qualify as high praise for a documentary.  The only real purpose it is illuminating that, as we told you, Aaron Sorkin's BEING THE RICARDOS was nothing but lies regarding the press not covering Lucille during the attempt to label her a "Red" (multiple papers are shown carrying the story).

More garbage was to be found on HBO MAX with OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH -- a comedy series that is never all that funny and, when it is funny, it's not via the 13 regulars but with the recurring characters (played by Leslie Jones and Fred Armisen).That main cast?  Not talented and a real eye sore.  Which brings us to what NETFLIX left out on the curb for pick up: THE GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE.  It should have been called WHAT A LOAD OF UGLY.  And this is a series that Jane Seymour stars in so imagine how much worse it would be without her.  Ugly and unappealing.  That's what you're left with as one hero is on the phone with another and the male hero goes on and on about how lonely he is while anyone streaming screams back, "And pathetic!  Don't forget pathetic!"  When they talk of bringing comics to movies and television, you really aren't expecting CATHY and certainly not CATHY done in male drag.  

Adi Shankar's the creator (and director and . . .) of this garbage and he's apparently still paying the karmic debt -- and will be his whole life -- for his work on THE GREY and the purchase of four dead wolves to serve as props and two more to serve as food for the cast.  Shakir weaves his way through forms such as live action, animation and claymation demonstrating that, despite failing to master any one form, he has a bit of knowledge -- a tiny bit of knowledge -- of many.


AMAZON's THE BOYS PRESENTS: DIABOLICAL is not 100% garbage.  It's not 100% anything. The eight episode animated series may be gobbled up by devotees of the live action series THE BOYS or it may not be.  It  certainly won't reach out beyond that core group.  In the initial episode, it wants to be ITCHY AND SCRATCHY as done by THE SIMPSONS with a nod to TV FUN HOUSE.  That's more homage than Mel Brooks ever packed into a single project and it's too much for the series to pull off.  Each episode follows its own path and isn't connected to the others in any real way.  So, for example, if Awqwafina's tale of her talking poop doesn't delight you, one of the other seven episodes might.  Or might not.  The life lesson appears to be, when your friends treat you like s**t, take a s**t and make that your friend.  Regardless, nothing in this series is cohesive and, after you view all eight episodes, you'll realize how much time AMAZON wasted on a quirk when they should have been using the animated series to build the live action series up.


We could go on listing the garbage but let's instead wind down by noting two offerings you might want to catch.  


THE TOURIST (produced by BBC ONE and STAN) is a limited series airing on HBO MAX.  It's a thriller and it lives up to that name.  Jamie Dornan has never been more appealing or skilled than as the amnesiac Elliot Stanley who can't remember anything but knows someone is trying to kill him.  The entire cast is excellent but talent demands that Shalom Brune-Franklin especially be noted.  Jamie is a talented actor whose looks sometimes distract from that fact.  THE TOURIST continues his upward trajectory and is a solid follow up to last year's high points in drama (BELFAST) and comedy (BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR).


HBO MAX also has the other strong offering: KIMI.  Yes, another movie about AI or voice controlled personal assistant, as some prefer to call them.  But this isn't 2020's SUPERINTELLIGENCE (which we loved) or 2019's JEXI (which was funny in spots).  It most obviously differs from those two in that it's not a comedy.  It's a thriller which finds director Steven Soderbergh tapping into the Alan J. Pakula vein.   Ever wonder what happens when you tell Siri or Alexa or whomever that the result wasn't helpful or when you stump them? Zoe Kravitz plays a woman whose job it is to resolve errors and she listens to what people asked or requested.  In doing so, she believes she hears a woman who is in danger.  This leads her down a very dark (and exciting) road.

Watching it, we were reminded that US President Joe Biden is using Ukraine to try to wipe away his impotency with regards to COVID-19 and that a lot of people, who should be smarter, are going along with it because they're tired of realizing how truly helpless they are.  How helpless they are and how -- as long as they count on crooked and corrupt politicians to rescue them -- helpless they will remain.  Computer science coined the phrase "garbage in, garbage out" -- who knew it would also be an apt description of our political system in the US?



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