Tag: TV shows

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Regarding ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Before my wife started watching the new series streaming from Hulu, I warned her: “I can’t imagine how I would feel if a woman”. I had already finished first hour “Offred” from the production based on 1985 tome The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Three episodes are online now—and their tone and timeliness are visceral and all too familiar, like was the Battlestar Galactica miniseries that followed the 9-11 terrorist attacks by two years. There is something that is too real, too possible—and, unlike the so-called Trump “Resistance”, I don’t refer to the current government in Washington, D.C. No imminent right-wing coup is on the horizon, as so many Liberals want to believe. That’s as fictional as The Handmaid’s Tale.

What’s disturbing is another kind of currency, which is largely lost in the torrent of “it could happen here” commentary: The plight of women portrayed in the series isn’t far removed from what many of them experience elsewhere in 2017. Not in some alternate-reality United States, but across swaths of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—if not both American continents and Europe. Severity may vary by degrees, but where on this planet isn’t there, at the least, some vestige of the subservient, objectified woman? Liberals, who as a class supposedly champion for the human rights of all people, shouldn’t ignore what is while obsessing about what might be for fear it could happen to them. 

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Syfy ‘Ascension’ Review

Not since (what was then) SciFi Channel televised the Battlestar Galactica miniseries in 2003 has science fiction storytelling been so good as Ascension, which aired last week. BSG changed the tone and tenure of speculative drama, that felt altogether more real in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Later watchers won’t feel the same about the miniseries or full seasons that followed. They’re beret of the shared context that amplified the emotional content.

Ascension’s showrunners smartly seek something similar, but playing reminiscent emotions rather than anger or fear. For aging Baby Boomers, and even their descendants, Ascension is a time tunnel to the early 1960s, perfectly preserved 51 years later. Pop! Let’s look inside the time capsule! i09 calls Ascension “Mad Men in Space”, and there’s something to that allusion. But unlike later Mad Men seasons, which carried the characters forward into the decade’s crises and conflicts, Ascension harkens a golden era of innocence before Civil Rights, Vietnam, war protests, hippies, political assassinations, or even the Beatles. 

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Canadian Strife along 'The Border'

I grew up watching Canadian TV from the CBC station across the St. John River in New Brunswick. Programs like “The Beachcombers”, “The Friendly Giant”, “Mr. Dressup” and “North of 60”, among many others, delighted. In 1995, my wife, daughter and I moved home to Maine for 18 months, and my daughter watched “Big Comfy Couch” before its stateside debut. Many successful American TV shows were produced in Canada, such as “Battlestar Galactica” and “X-Files” and many HGTV programs.

The Canadian shows have a much different tone than their American counterparts that reminds of British TV. Well, they’re both part of the Commonwealth, eh. Yesterday I discovered CBC drama “The Border” on Netflix and have since streamed four episodes. I like it so far.

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Did ’24’ Help Elect a President?

It’s a question I’ve pondered for some time, and I’m inclined to answer affirmative. The subliminal cultural impact of television is too easily overlooked, although the New York Times took a politically charged look in March 26 story “For ‘24,’ Terror Fight (and Series) Nears End“. The Times’ perspective is different than one I present here, but worth noting for what’s there and what is not.

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Are You a Doll?

In 1978, new wave band Devo asked “Are we not men?” The name Devo comes from de-evolution, the idea that humans perhaps are going backwards, not forwards. I’ve been thinking more about this concept with respect to entertainment and marketing after watching a Fox Network TV show.

I won’t chart any new philosophical ground in this post. But, hey, it’s end of summer, online traffic lulls and I’m feeling philosophical.

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The Battle of Jericho

Okay, I’m hooked. Few days back, I downloaded the full season of “Jericho“, the end of America saga, where terrorists nuke 23 cities, which include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Lawrence, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tucson, and Washington, D.C. I had heard rumors about the apocalyptic drama, but I watch little network TV and no CBS programing. I think of CBS as the old folks network.

“Jericho” is unusually good TV drama, similar caliber and mystery-driven format as “Battlestar Galactica” or “Lost”. The show deserves much more viewership than in its dismal ratings. 

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License, Stupidity, or Politics?

It is nitpicking time for the bone pickers. Last night, the DVR recorded the pilot episode of “Bones,” which was telecast for no reason I can guess; it’s an old episode. I hadn’t seen the first, which shocked from the opening sequence. Anyone from Washington should know that the airport above couldn’t possibly be Dulles. The identified airport isn’t in Washington but Virginia—in, duh, Dulles—and absolutely nowhere close to the U.S. Capitol. About 30 miles distance separates runways and the domed government building.

The view above would fit for Reagan National Airport. No doubt it is that airport. So, why does “Bones” kick off with such a glaring mistake? I make a big deal out of this for two reasons: The show is all about brainiac forensic anthropologists who live and breathe minute details; the setting is Washington, D.C. For either or both reasons, “Bones” should get the airport right. 

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Starry Eyes

Maybe one reason we can’t elect a reasonable president is because so many people would rather vote for an American Idol. According to an Associated Press story over on CNN, Americans cast 63 million votes—”more than any president in the history of our country has received”—to pick Taylor Hicks as the new American Idol.

I chuckle at the absurdity of the show’s concept. Talent isn’t good singing. Real talent is songwriting and musical ability. Even a bad singer can have a pretty big hit with a really good song. But even the best singer will fail if the material is no good. Some American Idol failures, like, uh, William Hung, went on to success because of bad singing. 

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J-a-a-a-ck!

I couldn’t not watch “24” this season, because the plot got so ridiculous there was need to see what would happen next. Each episode I hoped for better. Now, after 24 disappointing hours, I’m starting to feel like a drug addict hoping the next fix will finally satisfy.

Bad as things were, the show’s writers ended the season with the worst kind of cliffhanger. Good `ol Jack Bauer got captured by the Chinese. I guess the American president and Russian terrorists weren’t tough enough. Now, “24” addicts must wait until January 2007—eight freaking months—to see what happens to beaten and kidnapped Jack on Day 6. Geez. 

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More Battles Than Stars

From the critics corner: “Battlestar Galactica.” To recap, the last half-season concluded with some wicked female violence and an attempted rape (all in the name of killing the evil Cylons). Two weeks ago, the show opened with more violence against women and the young male fantasy catfight, where one woman (OK, robot) shoots the other woman (and evil authority figure) in the head. Maybe the presumably young-male audience appreciates the the show’s assault on women.

This week’s episode, “Epiphanies,” took position on some of the most fiercely-debated philosophical and moral issues dividing U.S. liberals and conservatives.