Thursday, April 06, 2006


West Wing still strong up 'til finish

As the TV season begins to wind down, some old favorites are about to take their final bows, while some other long-running shows are proving that it's still possible to eke out compelling television in your "later years." Here are a few of my picks for this installment of the "TV Tome." So let's talk TV!


As this long-running (and still excellent) show winds down its sixth and final season, a lot of great stuff has been going on. This week's episode featured the long-awaited (and inevitable) consumation of the sexual chemistry between Josh (the ever-adorable Bradley Whitford) and Donna (Janel Moloney), and boy, was it worth the wait. The awkwardness that followed their night of passion -- exaccerbated by the opening of the polls that will decide who succeeds Martin Sheen as the President -- was classic, as were some of the other comedic twists. (Apparently, all kinds of people on Congressman Santos' election committee were "getting busy" on their off hours. Who knew there was such opportunity to get laid in politics!) And Kate (Mary McCormack) revealing to Democratic boyfriend Will (Josh Malina) that she'd voted--gasp!--Republican was a great way to show that opposites really do attract.

So, can we talk TV? The writing on the show this season has been excellent, and the performances of the stellar cast among the best of the show's run. With Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits adding charm and charisma to the show as the dueling presidential wanna-bes, it's been one helluva year. Commercials for the remainder of the season reveal that a few old faces -- namely Mary Louise Parker's Amy Gardner and Rob Lowe's Sam Seaborn -- are about to resurface. And I can't wait. How much do you wanna bet that Amy wants Josh back? (I'm so torn between her and Donna.) Next week the show will be dealing with the death of Leo (the late John Spencer), and you just know it's going to be a serious tear-jerker. All in all, The West Wing is going out on a high note, and for this long-time fan of the show, I couldn't have asked for anything more!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Death Becomes TV: The First Entry

I'm such a TV junkie. It's true. I always have been, ever since I was a little kid who took solace in the fantasy images that came through the little box on his nightstand. They were like little mini-movies that you didn't have to leave your house to see. People like to say that "TV is trash," but I beg to differ. There is GREAT TV to be found, and you can trust me to find it. And then talk about it here.

So I'm just going to jump right in and get this new blog of mine started with a rant about death! Seriously, what is up with TV these days? It seems that ever since Lost and Desperate Housewives made it common practice to kill off major characters, everybody has been jumping on the bandwagon!

Of course, it's not like those two shows were the first to ever knock off one of their biggest players. In its first season, 24 shocked viewers by killing off Jack's loving wife Terri (Leslie Hope), and Everwood took a bold gamble when they let Amy's boyfriend Colin die on the operating table on the second season premiere. Those shows helped to usher in the new dramaturgic device of keeping viewers on their toes--not to mention the edge of their seats--by always wondering which beloved character might be the next to meet the grim reaper.

Last night, I sat down to catch up on a lot of TV. Or, rather, TiVo. (I've been so busy lately that watching my favorite shows seems like a luxury instead of a right! And God knows I love my TV!) And, in addition to the death of a recurring character on one of my fave comedies, NBC's still-fantastic Scrubs, two other shows bid adieu to major characters.


It began with The L Word (yes, I'm a gay man who's addicted to a show about lesbians). For much of this season, tennis star Dana (Erin Daniels) has been fighting breast cancer, and last night, she succumbed to it. Wow! I could not believe it. I honestly didn't think that the writers would kill off such a popular character, but they daggone did! The show was exceptionally directed by filmmaker Rose Troche (Go Fish, etc.), and there were some brilliant touches. I loved how they showed so much of Alice (Leisha Halley) walking around outside the hospital just staring at the sun and enjoying some "me time" away from Dana, only to go back and find that Dana had passed away. And the whole montage that depicted what all the other characters were doing while Dana was dying was brilliant! (Meanwhile, ongoing storylines involving Bette's escape from the silent retreat, Tina's affair with a man(!!), Helena's sexual harassment woes, and Shane and Carmen's up-and-down romance proved to be just as enthralling.)

I've been a huge fan of this show since day one. Coming on the heels of the often-ridiculous Queer as Folk (which far too often chose melodrama and stereotypes in favor of truth), it had a lot to live up to, and it's done a wonderful job of carving out its own niche. It doesn't pander to the gay community, nor does it cowtow to mainstream society. It tells it like it is, and that's what I think sets the show apart. With its daring storylines and its frank subject matter, The L Word is setting a standard for gay and lesbian entertainment that I think -- finally -- gives the community the respectful, honest treatment it deserves. Leave it to the lesbians to do it right. Season grade: A-. Last night's episode: A


Don't laugh at me. I like this show. True, it's yet another silly show about spoiled teenagers having sex and getting into fistfights over truly stupid things, but in and amongst all the high school histrionics is a show with a lot of heart and sometimes even depth. This season, we saw Hayley's mother (Sheryl Lee) succumb to cancer (hey, it this a pattern?), and just recently (or for me, last night) we got a surprisingly prescient reminder that it's hard out there for a teen when one social outcast showed up to school with a gun and held several fellow students -- including a few of his friends -- hostage in the tutor's center. The outcast didn't kill anyone else, but in the final minutes of the show he turned the gun on himself and took his own life. Though a lot of the dialogue was a bit too didactic and obvious (this show rarely scores points for subtlety, it must be said) and the references to The Breakfast Club a bit too treacly, the episode served as a slap upside the head that, even though Columbine may have happened quite a while back, teen rage and alienation are still very important topics that should be discussed and dealt with.

The big shocker on this particular episode, however, came in the last few seconds, when resident evil-doer Dan (Paul Johansson) picked up the misfit's gun and turned it on his own brother Keith (Craig Sheffer) -- then pulled the trigger! No way! The rivalry between these two has been ongoing for years, and Dan has always been the villain, but even I didn't see that one coming. What a plot twist. I wonder how Keith's death (I'm assuming he dies -- unless he lives and has amnesia and doesn't remember that it was Dan who shot him) will affect the residents of Tree Hill? It will be an interesting storyline to see played out, and I for one am very intrigued to see what they do with it. Season Grade: B; Episode: B+

Anyway, that's it for me right now, kids. I'll be back with more TV talk when I have a chance to catch up on some more TiVo! Take care!

Hollywood Ken

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