Thursday, November 11, 2004


Excuses – last few weeks have been like a blur. A week in Disney. Family visiting. Starting Atkins. Haloween. My Birthday (November 5 – yay! Guy Fawkes Day). Election. Middle son (Chase)’s birthday. Playing catch up at work. These factors have not completely obliterated my time to post, but have occupied my mind enough to shut off that little nattering voice in my head that this blog is an outlet for. So, here’s to hoping for more regular posting from here on in. What... the holidays are coming? Crap.

Better make with the TV update – I’m a little behind in my comics reading, and maybe I’ll be more inspired in that direction after I catch up a little. So, how’s the season developing? Maybe I’ll just tackle ABC today.

LOST continues to be my favorite new show of the year, though I’m sure it’s about to hit the same Abrams wall that Alias did. The non-stop nature of the dramatic stuff has led to a sense of constant propulsive conflict, and I don’t know how they are going to brake efficiently before the show overheats. The force feed character reveals have come uncomfortably fast, and the individual characters have not had enough time to develop a relaxed sense of organicity (is that a word?). The show is still great, but I just here the ticking time bomb in the background – that “they can’t keep it up” feeling. Really great writing on most episodes, good characters, some nice acting – I’m cringing for the downshift, though.

EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION is the best home improvement show going, with the most charming collection of lead “designers.” Last season (the show’s first) burned out a little near the end due to the diluting of it’s A-team (Ty, Preston, Paul, Michael, Constance, and Paige/Tracy – can’t tell the last two apart, sorry) with fill ins and a wearing thin of the formula (each episode I wait longingly for the moment they start freaking out because they don’t have enough time to finish the project –wait can’t they just take an extra day, surely they have scheduled some time for overages- but they need to because the peace corps volunteer who’s adopted child needs a earwax transplant or else his head will explode really DESERVES this). My favorite part of the show is imagining what the 6 year old, who gets her room with a pink castle and a cloud bed, will think she’s 15 and her wheelchair bound broke single father whose wife died in a bus crash can’t afford electricity much less redecorating. Hopefully we’ll get EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION REDUX – RECTIFYING OUR SHORTSIGHTEDNESS in a few years. Aaaaaanyway, this year is off to a good start, with the A-team in place, but no real tweaking of the formula. This will probably wear a little as the season goes on.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: This is a tough one. My wife really likes this show. I kinda half like this show. There is no doubt that it is well produced, and well put together. But let me hedge a bit here. I more or less hated SEX AND THE CITY when it first started. This was due to the fact that there was not one character I liked. I began to like the show, however, when I realized that these four awful people suffered for being such wretched human beings. It became like a karmic comedy to me… they shit on someone and then get (sometimes literally) shat on. I will likely have the same arc with this show.

At the moment, I actively dislike two of the four main characters in DH: Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Gabrielle (Eve Longoria). I like Felicity Huffman (she was great on Sports Night, blah, blah), but she is trapped within a hideous character: a former business professional (who was, of course, very very good at her job), who decides to do the stay at home mom thing and is utterly overwhelmed. This is a thankless role, where she runs around, angry at her barely-recognizable-as-human kids, being shamed in front of all the world as an incompetent mom, but is saved by the shred of ruthlessness in her soul, and by the fact that she really, after all, loves her kids. The truly objectionable part is that at the end of the day, “it’s all worth it” because she loves them so much, but we really don’t see any loving contact except that forced by the need for the proper heartwarming denouement in each episode. There is nothing here I actually want to witness on a weekly basis.

I don’t even remember Longoria from the recent Dragnet series (which was a great great show), so it’s like she’s a new face. Gabrielle’s household in the show is the worst of them all, as she cheats on her appallingly bad husband with a high school student. His gambling addicted, meddlesome, my-son-can-do-no-wrong –and-I-hate-his-wife mom is over for an extended (permanent?) visit. So that’s three people I can’t stand in one house. There is no one to root for and the show seems to be passing no judgments over Gabriella’s deplorable behavior and lack of any humanity.

Maria Cross’ Bree is also not eminently likable, but she has, due to the series’ best performance, been subtly and gloriously humanized. This is the one character-with-problems in the show you can really understand and root for. Even though she acts almost insane at times, you really hope she gets through this and becomes a happier person. Again, I chalk this up to Cross’ outstanding job at developing the character.

Susan (Teri Hatcher) is the most instantly likable person on the show, and is the every-woman character that has no internally induced issues. All the “bad” is due to her crap husband, neighbors, and bad luck. Her and her daughter have some chemistry, and I like her love interest Mike (James/Jamie Denton from the late kinda great Pretender), though, for the only positively portrayed male character on the show, they haven’t developed him a whole lot. I like most of the stuff with her, when the writers aren’t humiliating her Which is a lot, actually.

A couple of troubling issues –
1. The show as a whole views men as animals in the landscape, and the primary role of most of them is as the object of anger (runner up – object of desire). The hostile two dimensional portrayal of men may turn some men (such as myself) off. There is no male character (except possibly Mike) to identify with (unless you have a poor self image). This may be a show that most men like as much as women like the three stooges.
2. The women always seem to win in the end. Though they may suffer indignities, the show always ends with the women winning their individual battle for the episode. I don’t want the ones who act badly to get away with it or to see the good ones humiliated on the way to their (more or less) happy ending. The only one with no constant happy endings has been Bree, who appears to be in a downward spiral. So Bree, who I feel for, gets punished, Susan, who is blameless, gets humiliated, Gabrielle, who’s soul is a sucking vacuum, gets off scott free all the time, and Lynette, angry and bitter creator of bad children, smites her enemies and is happy with some inauthentic hugs. Love those endings.
3. I can’t escape the feeling that the “mystery” super-story is a bunch of hooey, and I wouldn’t look for any kind of decent payoff.
4. The voice over narration of Mary Alice is extremely poorly written, with really bad puns that even Arnold couldn’t save.
5. The show is, on some level, just plain meanspirited.

And that’s everything I watch on ABC until Alias starts again. Tune in next time for NBC.


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