Archive for October, 2006
“The compulsion to be perfect, immediately and eternally, is one of the most profound causes of procrastination for the garden-variety human, and it most certainly gives each of us all the reason we’ll ever need not to even try.”
It is at this point that Allen slinks further and further down into his seat in the back of the classroom as he feels Merlin Mann’s eyes fixate on him and sear into his procrastinating little soul like dual lasers of burning accusation.
From the How the Hell Did I Not Know About This Before? Department:
Lauren Graham will be guest-starring on the next two episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip playing… herself.
“The thing that is closest to your soul is the thing you’re going to avoid the most. The thing that will tap into the part of you that has not yet come to the fore but wants to be expressed, but you’re so afraid of it — you will absolutely find every single thing in your life to avoid doing that. And that… there is no trick about that. You just need to be aware of that. I think the awareness is somewhat curative and if you’re really aware that the things you’re going to avoid the most are the things that are going to scare you the most, that you might actually have to show up if that thing actually worked… That’s only going to be addressed by your wilingness to step up to the plate.”
Heroes – “One Giant Leap” (1.03)
This episode crystallized something for me which had been nagging at me the last couple of weeks:
Man, this show really doesn’t like women very much.
So far, Heroes only has two even remotely likable female characters: Claire and the skinny chick who’s puppy-dogging Mohinder around. Every single other female character on the show is presented in a negative light.  And of those two almost-likable women, Indestructible Lass suffers an attempted rape this episode which ends very, very badly (and produced a hell of a cliffhanger for next week) and Skinny Chick, I’m absolutely positive, is allied with The Forces of Evil. (More on her in just a minute.)
My main complaint with this show so far (other than the not-so-hidden misogyny) is the joylessness of it all. Only Hiro displays any excitement whatsoever about his newfound abilities; admittedly, his infectious enthusiasm goes a long way toward making up for the moroseness of the rest of the characters. (I suppose Peter is also excited by his powers, but since they only seem to work in the presence of his shithead brother, his enthusiasm’s been pretty thoroughly dampened.) There’s very little sense of fun to Heroes so far; it’s certainly intriguing and I’m going to keep watching for a while longer, but the relenteless darkness is feeling a bit oppressive. More Hiro and more Matt would go a long way toward lightening things up.
Time for a bit of speculation about the show’s Big Bad thus far, Syler: we still know very little about him, but it seems that it’s possible he has all of the powers exhibited by the rest of our cast. He certainly seems to be invulnerable and seems to be able to fly, plus whatever ability he’s got that allows him to perform grotesque murders with no sign of struggle (perhaps he has Hiro’s ability to stop or maniuplate time?). So what I’m wondering is this: could he also have shape-changing abilities? ‘Cause I have this suspicion that Skinny Chick perhaps actually could be Syler. It would certainly explain why Syler wasn’t home when they went to see him (not that that’s something that really has to be explained, but it fits) and how he knew to clear out of his pad afterwards. Even if she’s not Syler-In-Disguise, she’s almost certainly One of the Bad Guys in some way, trying to get some more knowledge out of Mohinder that they weren’t able to get out of his father. (Also: expect Dr. Saresh the Elder to show up soon — the picture on the back of the book he wrote is of an actor I recognize but whose name I don’t recall, so I think it’s a safe bet he’s not really dead. Maybe he’s also Syler? That would be interesting, and more than a little weird, since it would mean he’d been threatening to make out with his own son. Ew.)
Episode grade: B-
 It occurs to me that this criticism might not be entirely valid, since most every person on the show is something of a jackass.
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip – “The West Coast Delay” (1.04)
After a bit of an awkward start (c’mon, Harriet, you’re supposed to be an educated, intelligent woman — you mean to tell me you don’t recognize a freakin’ phone number when you see one?), “The West Coast Delay” ended up being the strongest episode of Studio 60 yet. It’s still not West Wing-class, but I feel like it’s making progress: for the first time, it felt like Sorkin and Co. were finding the show’s voice. I knew that moment was coming, and I’m glad to see it only took them four episodes to start getting there. We’re finally getting a little bit more screen time for some of the supporting cast and a feel for their personalities, and we’re getting some more interpersonal dynamics that don’t involve Sorkin’s meta-preaching. I’m hoping that NBC will end up moving this show to a better time slot, preferably a night where it can air at 9:00EST instead of 10:00EST, in hopes that some of those people who’ve already ditched the show can give it another chance. (Of course, I’m also hoping that NBC will actually pick up the full season, which they still haven’t done.)
Since Sorkin can’t educate his viewership about the political process and issues anymore (well, I suppose he could, but I think doing so would be a little awkward in a show about telelvision), he’s decided instead to educate us about the history of drama, or at the very least to give us homework, things to research on our own. He’s already brought in Gilbert and Sullivan and commedia dell’arte, and this week we had several references to August Strindberg, mopey 19th-century Swedish playwright and star of the buddy comedy Strindberg + Helium. While I’m glad that Sorkin thinks enough of his audience that he can throw these references out there, that he is indeed trying to raise the bar of what a network show expects of its viewers, I’m also wondering if maybe baby steps aren’t in order? A Masters degree in Drama shouldn’t be required to get the jokes.
By the way, was I the only one to let out a little squee of delight when the totally adorable Lucy Davis (Dawn from the original BBC version of The Office) showed up in the writer’s room? Is it too much to hope that maybe she might turn into a recurring character?
Episode grade: B+
Maybe you think that what your viewers want to see when they come to your site in search of news is “Girl gang-raped at three years old.” Maybe you’ve got oodles of statistics saying that, yes, what your audience really, really wants to read about is some whackjob mother who put her toddler in the oven. Maybe you’ve held focus group tests which tell you that yeah, what people want is more news stories about little kids getting their heads eaten by bears.
But I don’t.
If it was only occasionally that I had to confront these Awful Horridness Happens to Children stories, I think I could likely deal with it, just ignore the stories, but the fact is: every time I visit your site, there’s an article from that category in your Top Stories list. You might as well have a Childhood Tragedy section linked in your navigation menu at the top of the page.
(As I was writing this letter, I went to your home page to see what kind of Awful Horridness Happens to Children article you’re featuring now, and currently it’s “Police: Man says he killed 4 kids.” Lovely, thanks.)
I have two little girls, and I worry enough about them, about the random unspeakable tragedies which could strike them, without having to be presented with “news” of the horrible things happening to other children each time I click that CNN.com link. Those stories don’t make me feel better about or more grateful for my own healthy kids, they don’t make me appreciate them any more than I already do; they only sicken me with grief for the parents and families of those poor kids.
So I’m done. I’ve deleted your site from my bookmarks and I’ve unsubscribed from the CNN Breaking News email I’ve been getting for the last five years. No more for me.
When the House and Senate passed that disgusting Torture OK! bill which fundamentally altered our values as a nation and pushed us that much closer to the fascist police state Bush & Co. have been working so hard to institute for the last few years, I had to dig to find any coverage of that event — I had to go into your Politics section, and it wasn’t even the top story there when I found it.
When a little girl died after a dental procedure? Top story, front page, baby.
Look, I understand, I do. It’s all about the ratings, the page views — you’ve got to deliver those numbers to the advertisers who pay your bills, just like most every other form of entertainment. (Make no mistake: you are an entertainment organization, not a news organization.) And it’s easier for your audience to digest tragedy befalls child than it is Constitution buggered, especially in bite-sized chunks.
But that’s not what I want out of my news. That tragedy doesn’t personally affect me or my family or my friends; the tragedies regularly occuring in Washington do. I want to be informed, to be educated, to be made to think about what’s going on in my country and my world… not to be bludgeoned with the Hammer of Isn’t It Horrible. Count me out.
A Disgusted and Disgruntled Ex-Viewer