Deadliest Catch has found itself with a fine line to walk in its sixth season. One of its crab-fishing boat captains, Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie, suffered a massive stroke in January on his boat and passed away in an Anchorage hospital a few weeks later. Deadliest Catch has been The Discovery Channel’s highest-rated show for several years now, and as such his stroke and subsequent passing were much-publicized in the mainstream news media. Since these events happened in the middle of filming, there was no way for the show to gloss over his death. In fact, Harris himself insisted that the cameras keep rolling while he was in the hospital.
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Without doubt, Luther has been one of the cornerstones of the British television schedule this year so far. Its six episodes broadcast across May and June, the BBC’s latest police drama starred Idris Elba as its gruff and conflicted titular hero and commanded a significant, if somewhat inconsistent, share of the ratings. Already released on DVD, the series has also been penned into BBC America’s schedules for later this year. Broadly well-received critically in the UK and arguably already possessing a cult fan following, it’s interesting to speculate about how Luther might be welcomed in the United States.
According to its slogan, TNT knows drama, and in the summer it does viewers a tremendous favor by producing new, original one-hour dramas. TNT’s dramas tend to cover known ground: crime procedurals, medical dramas, and tales of redemption. As an added bonus, these shows star relatively famous people – Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Timothy Hutton – as captivating, specially skilled protagonists. Production values are relatively high, the acting is OK, and the stories are average, if generally unremarkable.
The newest addition to this family of dramas is Memphis Beat, a crime procedural that co-stars Jason Lee and the city of Memphis.Results, as they say, are varied.
There is potential here. While it’s certainly odd for anyone raised on Kevin Smith movies or My Name is Earl fans to see Jason Lee play a cop, he really is trying to bring Detective Dwight Hendricks to life. The problem is, neither Lee nor the audience seem to know who Hendricks is. Nor does anyone really seem to know what this show is or what it wants to be. This problem, which runs throughout Memphis Beat and works its way down into its core, is the key factor holding the show back from being good. When viewers don’t know why they should care, they generally don’t.
Family Guy is not what you think. That is, it isn’t if you think what I thought at first: a crude, tactless and brutal cartoon made solely to satisfy a primal juvenile need to laugh at the offensive. No. That is not Family Guy. Is Family Guy crude, tactless, brutal, offensive and juvenile? Often, yes. However, there is something much deeper going on.
To bristle at the ugly stereotypes perpetuated by this cartoon is natural. I cringe at their sly Jews, their effeminate homosexuals and every other offensive stererotype the show parades in front of us. Yet it’s not done in this manner out of racist or homophobic spite. It’s not a marketing tool to brainwash the public with xenophobia.
The phrase “the art world” can conjure vague, non-specific images: galleries, standing still and speaking in hushed tones, wine, pretension, and climate controlled rooms. For many, “art” in the “high art” sense is not a part of day-to-day life, except on the rare occasions a nearby city has an interesting or controversial exhibit, or when we’re invited to a friend’s art school graduation, and on such occasions, we take the time to browse and ponder art affixed to walls, pedestals, hanging from ceilings…
Regular exposure to such “institutionalized” art requires, for many, the concentrated effort to go off the beaten path. Luckily for those whose museum attendance record is somewhat lacking, Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist brings that world into our living rooms in a recognizable, Bravo-styled format (Work of Art follows the successful Project Runway/Top Chef reality competition template). What results is an art competition that marries the highbrow world of finer things with the lowbrow world of reality television for a slightly dramatic, generally pleasant evening of television.
// Short Ends and Leader
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