Wednesday, February 07, 2024

TV: Things to praise, things to shake your head over

Following the strikes, as the TV season finally gets back to normal.






On the good side?  The sitcom EXTENDED FAMILY has a lot going for it including laughs and the cast. Jon Cryer plays the ex-husband to Abigail Spencer who is now engaged to Donald Faison -- the three adults are raising Jon and Abigail's two children.  


We're not supposed to notice that Donald's seven years older than Abigail or that Jon's 16 years older than here.  This being TV, well trained audiences probably will look the other way on that for now.  Jon's probably got at least 15 more years until his own version of LIFE WITH LUCY forces audience to recoil in horror at his age.  Even so, will they ignore the hair?  No, not Jon's hair, he's bald.  We're talking about Abigail Spencer's hair.  Did they forget she wasn't in a medical drama anymore?  It's too dark, it's too long, it's too shapeless, it's too much, it's too heavy.  She's buried under it and it's stepping on every one of her punch lines.  It so upstages her (and her performance) that it sometimes seems THE ADAMS FAMILY's cousin It has wandered onto the set.


If they could fix that, EXTENDED FAMILY would be an even stronger addition to the NBC schedule.  As it is, the series is already a better partner with Melissa Rauch's NIGHT COURT -- much, much better than AMERICAN AUTO.  And, as a lead-in, it's helped boost the ratings for season three of LA BREA.  If NBC can pull off Reba McEntire's return to comedy next year, they have everything for a solid, two hour comedy block: NIGHT COURT, EXTENDED FAMILY, LOPEZ VS LOPEZ and Reba's show.

Playing pitiful and timid is once again paying well for Jon Cryer.  But that's the role he's playing.  Max Blumenthal has no character to hide behind -- he's just being the vain nebbish he truly is. At 46, he's a study in failure.  A failure not because he was never given a chance, but a failure because he blew every chance he ever had.  Now he's a pathetic and insignificant nothing who sees himself as so much more.  On THE HILL's RISING last week, he and the Lola Falanda of the political set Briahna Joy Gray attempted to pass him off as Max The All Powerful as they both insisted that Maxie had forced THE NEW YORK TIMES to back away from their questionable and poorly sourced story claiming Hamas raped Israeli women during the October 7th attack.

And then, they wanted you to know, the paper didn't even credit Max Blumenthal by name, they just noted an amalgam of 'critics.'


Reality was in short supply on RISING so let's provide some here.


First off, no one has ever feared Max Blumenthal except for those few unfortunate enough to live near him and, even then, they only feared being detained by him as they tried to make it to their front door.  Secondly,  the ego on the two of them.


Max was far from the only one to call out the NYT coverage of still unproven, still mythical rapes -- rapes that have no actual witnesses, no actual victims and no evidence.  In the US, the paper's coverage of the mythical rapes have been called out by many.  


And the credit there includes WSWS, ZNET, COUNTERPUNCH, DEMOCRACY NOW! and especially THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA.    The latter of which features the work of Nora Barrows-Friedman.  She's the journalist Max wishes he was.  She's not a hitchhiker on The Freeway of Fads.  She's someone who is known for her long, long history of covering Gaza and giving voice to the Palestinian people.  And, of course, outside the US, there were many outlet's questioning the NYT claims -- including ALJAZEERA but when you're Max Blumenthal -- with all the sadness that entails -- you have to make absurd and grandiose claims to mask the actual meaningless of your life.


A lot of masks are  being worn in MR. & MRS. SMITH.  The new AMAZON PRIME series is loosely based on the Angelie Jolie blockbuster from 2005.  In the film, Jane and John Smith are a married couple who work for different spy agencies.  In the new TV series, Jane and John Smith are brought together by one spy agency and they are married as part of their cover. This is how the agency works, in fact,  Pairing up a man that they name John with a woman that they name Jane.  They're paired up to be a team based on their mutual skills and deficiencies.  Falling in love after the marriage is apparently common as we learn in the first minutes of the first episode where a John and Jane -- played by Alexander Skarsgard and Eiza Gonzalez -- are killed.  Later in the series, they meet another John and Jane couple -- this time played by Wagner Moura and Parker Posey. 


The main John and Jane, the characters we focus on, are played by Donald Glover and Maya Erskine who manage not only to deliver compelling performances but also have a real and strong chemistry.  That doesn't just come through between the high octane action scenes, it's also what carries those scenes and every other.  The eight episodes zip quickly along and make you eager for a season two. 

And in a cast that includes outstanding work by Parker Posey, Alexander Skarsgard, John Turturro, Sarah Paulson, Urusla Cobero, Ron Pearlman and Michaela Coel, we still have to take a moment to single out and praise Beverly Glover -- Donald's real life mother who also plays his mom in the series.


A shocking rarity, AMAZON PRIME has two news series worth watching.  EXPATS is the other one and it continues the TV work of Nicole Kidman as both lead actress and executive producer that began in 2017 with BIG LITTLE LIES.  With that show, the excellent HBO series THE UNDOING, NINE PERFECT STRANGERS and SPECIAL OPS: LIONESS, Nicole has demonstrated both an eye for potential projects and the skill to shape them into something memorable, stories viewers want to see unfold.  Sophia Vergara's just done that with GRISELDA (NETFLIX) and, hopefully, she'll find the same streak that Nicole has.  


Nicole's doing some of her best acting in EXPATS.  She's a mother who's youngest child Gus disappears when new friend Mercy (Sarayu Blue) is supposed to be watching him at the market.  The family is torn apart.  Husband Clarke (Brian Tee) seeks out religious answers as he tries to deal with his son's disappearance.  The two other children have to deal with the obsessive fears of their mother Margaret (Nicole).  Margaret is on self-destruct, destroying friendships, making accusations, trying to find leads after the police have given up. It's really something to watch.


And then there's . . . Maude.
Well, at least, the Bea Arthur look alike Glynneth Greenwald.

No fool like a damn fool, Glynneth felt the need last week to again taste Trump's taint.  Insurrection!  There was no insurrection!

Glynneth made a right proud fool of himself as he started swearing that this didn't happen and that didn't happen.  It couldn't, heavy drama and pop eyes, be an insurrection!

We knew he was stupid when it came to the law.

Glynneth, no one has argued that it was a successful insurrection.  It was an attempted insurrection.

We'll come back to that in a moment.  Last week, PBS' FRONTLINE aired an episode that focused on January 6th.  It only served to remind us why we didn't rush to call it an insurrection in real time and how badly the bi-partisan commission of the House of Representatives did with it.

For one thing, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi really should have shut her damn mouth.  Really.  She is a polarizing figure.  That alone should have led her to not comment.  Then there's the issue that this was not supposed to be fueled by politics. But Nancy couldn't shut her mouth -- and she wasn't on the committee.  

In addition, the Committee didn't focus on testimony.  Instead, they wanted to hire a 'narrative whisperer' to help them story time the hearings for a prime time broadcast.

That was insane and it was offensive.

We can go on with other examples including that Committee chairs need to look respectable.  They need to look knowledgeable.  That does not happen when you mispronounce basic legal terms and, yes, that was broadcast on prime time.  A chair looked like an idiot because he didn't know how to pronounce the word he had elected to use.  

We all mispronounce words from time to time.  But we don't all act as chair of an important hearing.  When people are already skeptical, you don't give them additional reasons to worry you don't what you're doing.

We're the perfect audience for Donald Trump's insurrection attempt. 

Unlike Glynneth we maintained a skeptical distance.  And, as we've noted, if it was just the Congressional Committee's findings, we wouldn't have arrived at the decision.  But prosecutors and witnesses (witnesses who turned on Donald to save their own asses) have made it clear that this was an attempted coup.  This was an insurrection.

Donald did nothing that day to stop the violence.  He gave a speech that was full of rehtoric -- over the top rhetoric -- and he knowingly incited that mob.  He then turned them loose on the US Congress.  Why?  It was supposed to stop the process.  

The electoral college was set to vote the result of the 2020 election.  Donald attempted to create panic and strife and did so to ensure Joe Biden was not named the president. He had fake electors ready to step in.  (January 7th, not 6th, was when the electoral college was able to certify Joe as the winner -- this was due to the machinations of Donald Trump and his mob.)  

It was a plan.

Glynneth, a legal idiot, please remember, thinks he can argue that Donald's innocent of insurrection charges because he wasn't able to pull it off.

No, you stupid, stupid, deeply stupid moron.  That's not how it works.  You may plan to murder Toby Keith and even take a shot at him but then find out the cancer got him.  That doesn't change the fact that you attempted murder.  You're failure to be good at the crime you pursued does not make you innocent.  

Glynneth clearly spent far more time kneeling at the glory holes then studying for the boards.

That's not our fault.  

And America shouldn't have to suffer due to Greenwald's ineptitude.

Some little Glynneths are opposed to Donald being removed from the ballot.

"P-p-p-eople won't get to vote for who they want to!"

When in a US presidential election has that been an option?  

Not very often.  

And we already have other rules on the books that disqualify certain people.  In 2020, a number of people would have been willing to vote for AOC, for example.  And she didn't get to run.  She was too young.  There are rules in place.

One of the most important has been debated endlessly and that's the 14th Amendment.  Any honest reading of it argues against Donald Trump being allowed to run again.

However, that's not all he violated.

He took an oath to the Constitution.  That includes Article 3.  He took an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Article 3 outlines the entire process for the electoral college.  Guess what?  No two sets of electors.  None of the crap he pulled is in Article 3.  He broke his oath to uphold the Constitution.  That alone makes him unfit to run for president.

The Great Glynneth can't tell you that because (a) it's the truth, (b) it's the law and (c) it doesn't fit the pattern he pledged himself to when he made his decision before considering all the facts.


The writers strike and the actors strike are over.  But, as some are determined to prove, the stupid always lives on.

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