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Friday, Mar 19, 2010

For the most part, there just is no saving a franchise like Law & Order. I used to admire the show’s writing for having complex story lines that involved fascinating questions of legal ethics.  And I used to project sad romantic notions on Sam Waterston, bargaining that the best you could probably do with a man was one that ignored you, but at least had a passionate commitment to something else that you could admire. At some point, the drama went into the typical freefall of creative starvation. Knockoffs were generated to try to hone in on our fascination with series as if it were just a bunch of fetishes and cliches.


Let’s give them one that only does sex type crimes and one in which Vincent D’Onofrio plays Columbo like he’s a second away from committing a sex type crime. These “other parts” of the Law & Order office made story secondary; instead giving us character hamster wheels like Eliot Stabler. Stabler is Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet doing cop anger, righteous “this is for my daughter” cop anger, every single, stinking week. If he were someone in your life, going through that much repeated emotional extremism, you would have organized a group of friend’s with tranquilizer guns. But Stabler lives in a world with an incredibly irresponsible Human Resources department. It was during this dreary downfall that the marketing people made the unintentionally prescient slogan “Ripped From the Headlines”, which was supposed to mean fresh and topical, but really meant that that had just fired all the writers and started over with a shredder and scotch tape.


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Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010

The shock, the denial, the pain, the guilt, the anger. Still waiting for the acceptance. It’s been a rough week for American Idol after a devastating week of cuts, for a season that can hardly afford it. Last time out, I called for Paige, Katie, Tim, and Aaron to go home. All four survived to make the Top 12, which is a drag, but not nearly as suckful as missing out on a few more weeks of Katelyn Epperly, Todrick Hall, and especially Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott. Fans of both Alex and Lilly have been doing everything from circulating petitions to organizing boycotts, reflecting the general outrage over how America could’ve gotten it so wrong. There hasn’t been this much righteous indignation over voting in this country since hanging chads.


I still don’t think Vote for the Worst is influential enough to swing this thing, by the way, mostly because I refuse to believe there are that many people out there who are devoted to malicious, mean-spirited, bottom-feeding. What kind of person is driven to disappoint the largest possible number of people, anyway? Yes, there are thousands of VTFW voters out there, but total Idol votes number in the millions. It’s much more plausible that Lilly suffered from the three-way-split in the girl-with-a-guitar vote that broke heavily to Crystal and Didi this time. Tim received glowing praise from the judges last week, which played way more into his making the cut. Mike, Casey, Lee, and Andrew all have different niches and voting bases, so when the judges heaped the praise on Tim, it sealed Alex’s fate at the cute-guitar-playing-shaggy-haired-teen-boy fangirls gravitated toward Tim.


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Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010

Parenthood seems to be doing well, its ratings are okay and Entertainment Weekly put it at the top of their “must list”. So now that we know it’ll probably stick around for a while, let’s review what happened in the third episode, in case you missed it.


Everyone keeps describing Zeke as “the patriarch” of the Braverman clan, but I disagree with that. He may be the oldest member of the family, and he occasionally serves as comedic relief, but it seems like Adam’s in charge instead. For example, after Julia complained to him that her daughter was getting too attached to the dubious Racquel during her daddy-daughter “Zen swimming class”, it was Adam who told her to just try to teach Sydney how to swim herself.


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Friday, Mar 12, 2010
These people are sad, but it is a sadness wholly self-imposed, accumulated over years of lacking a critical inner voice.

I like to think of insanity as the best way to put your finger to the cultural breeze. Crazies tend to latch onto predominant themes in the ether tacking on justifications for some insane stuff they would have done anyway. Consequently, we now have people gunning down guards or flying planes into the IRS in order to cement their anti-government bona fides. Because nothing fights the power like murdering secretaries. When I saw Lindsay Lohan outing her clutter to Niecy Nash, I realized that hoarding had arrived. It’s this year’s molestation, for stars who want to resuscitate their careers by setting themselves up as national empathy objects. Despite the celubante hangers on, Hoarders is another triumph for A&E’s “in the mouth of madness” lineup, which includes dysfunction staples like Intervention and Dog the Bounty Hunter.


The psychology of Hoarders makes for such compelling TV because it’s a disordered behavior with an infinitely complex web of origins. Some people hoard in post traumatic response, like some kind of compulsive gathering of synechdoche, every piece of junk is in some way the person they lost. Some hoarders collect in anticipation of all the activities and hobbies they will begin just as soon as they stop hoarding, like cokeheads who talk about all the things they’re gonna do, unless of course, they just end up doing more coke. Of course, there are also the Saint Hoarders who clutch the shopping binges because they are going to be gifts or donated to charity and people who insist that they’re grandchildren will be able to rake in cash by liquidating the junk when they die. Like any good rationalization, these excuses are diversions designed to prevent the afflicted from touching their open-sored compulsions. These might be shit piles, but they’re just one garage sale away from becoming junior’s tuition.


Tagged as: a&e, hoarders, judge judy
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Thursday, Mar 11, 2010

Wednesday night was a death match for the guys in a field that has, to this point, been defined by mediocrity. It’s safe to say that this week was a solid one for both girls and boys, and voters have successfully whittled the field down to an acceptable, if slightly underwhelming, final sixteen. What helped was saying adios last week to John Park and Jermaine Sellers, although in the case of Sellers, it was a major slap in God’s face.


I hate to raise an ugly subject, but how has race been a factor so far in the voting?  While the judges did commendable work in offering a cross-section of ethnicity in the initial Top 24, voters have skewed very white since then. Last week alone, three of the four castaways were black (Sellers, Haely Vaughn, and Michelle Delamor), and the fourth was Park, an Asian-American. The week before, two of those sent home were Latin-Americans. The sole African-American girl, Paige Miles, faces almost-certain expulsion Thursday, and, of the guys, Todrick Hall has been hanging by a thread. Is Michael Lynche the Great Black Hope?  Can we really chalk this up to colorblind merit?  Has the viewer demographic changed since Ruben Studdard and Fantasia went the distance?  Is someone going to say that this is related to the economy?  What do you think?  The phonelines are open.


In any case, the boys went big on Wednesday—big song choices, big performances, and, in some case, big turnarounds. Here were the night’s Biggests:


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