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September 2007 Archives

September 23, 2007

Slings & Arrows: The Complete Third Season

Turns out, it bounced back pretty seriously, doing what Slings & Arrows does best: counterpointing the real lives of the actors, technician, and administration of the fictional New Burbage Festival with the play they are putting on this season. Even more than that, they counterpoint the Shakespeare group’s King Lear with an original musical called East Hastings, a mutant combination of the unbridled optimism and grunge of Rent and the goofy “urban” theatricality of West Side Story.

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Poirot: The Classic Collection 2

My bias against this type of story prepared me to dislike Poirot. However, it surprised me to discover how many movies on this Poirot set had complex storylines with satisfying — but not baffling or inconceivable — conclusions. True, there’s the occasional “he created a fake pattern of serial killing, killed three extra people and would have kept going if he hadn’t been caught, tried to pin it on someone else, all so he could inherit an estate from his brother” solution, but many of the mysteries rely on complicated relationships and motives rather than convoluted schemes with thin motives. I’ve read some of Agatha Christie’s short stories and novels, though I am not familiar with the sources of any of these particular mysteries. I don’t know if the adaptations are revisionist tales that differ wildly from the source to fit the post-hardboiled world, or if the more famous Christie stories are famous solely because of their preposterousness. While it at least seems Christie told the same story over and over again (nearly every mystery revolves around self-absorbed rich people killing over inheritance), the level of quality and satisfaction in the resolutions vary wildly from story to story.

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Cracker: A New Terror

Perhaps wanting to distance himself from international success as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, Robbie Coltrane returns to his other famous role, Dr. Eddie Fitzgerald, an abusive, insecure, alcoholic forensic psychologist. A New Terror takes a “ripped-from-the-headlines” approach by drawing parallels between America’s War on Terror and the terrorist acts in Northern Ireland and England. I know some about this political situation, but not much, and that’s kind of the point.

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Chancer: Series 1

I couldn’t tell you if the show made sense to British audiences in 1990; maybe the intrigue and confusion of the high-finance world appealed to that post-Wall Street era more than it does to a person living in the collapsed rubble of the e-Conomy bubble. But as the characters formulated and as the dust and debris of the machinations of the first three episodes settled, Chancer turns into an enjoyable epic of corporate corruption, city “ethics” versus country morality, and globalization.

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A Touch of Frost: Seasons 11 & 12

I’d never seen A Touch of Frost before receiving my review copy. David Jason’s performance struck me like an embittered barfly after a Cubs loss, all surprising toughness and intense focus. The remarkable thing about Jason as Detective Inspector Jack Frost is the apparent personal derision he has for the perpetrators of crimes. Sure, plenty of cop shows feature men and women who want to stop murderers, kidnappers, and thieves — but Frost isn’t angry about the crimes, isn’t mad about the victims. David Jason plays Frost who is personally offended that someone would commit a crime and try to cover it up. He wants to solve the crimes not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of saying, “You’ll never get one over on me.” He delivers most of his lines with a sort of exasperation and disappointment that sloppy criminals think they can get away with anything. They always make mistakes, and Frost will always be waiting in the wings until it’s his turn to uncover the mistakes and pounce.

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September 30, 2007

A New Day Dawns?

Both this week and last, the new pilots lambasted us with focus-grouped mediocrity or even-more-focus-grouped outright badness, fighting as hard as they can to grab the brass ring of cancellation as quickly as possible. Who will go first? Who will…

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September 23, 2007

Fall Pilots I Won’t Watch Spectacu-Jamboree

We’re just now coming down from one of the best cable summer seasons in history. We’ve seen the debuts of Mad Men, Damages, Burn Notice, and tremendous second seasons from Psych, The Business, and The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman….

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September 7, 2007

The Mountains of Indiana: A Story of Disdain

Long-time readers know I have a tendency to act bitter and vindictive mostly for entertainment purposes; sometimes I really am bitter and vindictive for various reasons, but usually I just enjoy being mean. Not mean-for-meanness sake like Bluto or something; I just don’t take life seriously enough to get worked up over much, yet I find it entertaining when others do, so I try to provoke those feelings. It’s not one of my better traits, but it is one I’ve tried to work on (often with unfortunate results). Once in awhile, though, people stumble into my crosshairs and turn into an arch-nemesis, usually without even knowing it. Would I really announce an arch-nemesis to the person? That’s not how I roll; I prefer to quietly plot their demise while maintaining a ruse of friendship. I believe it’s a strategy laid down in Machiavelli’s The Prince, but I might have that confused with Crazy from the Heat by David Lee Roth.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 11:07 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (2) | Blog Posts, Screenwriting Articles