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Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010
We are all monsters, even if we don’t have fangs.

The dark things behind the veil communicate via the idiot box. For confirmation, ditch the shrieking ghost hunters and mediums, with their silly trailer campaigns splashed across TV schedules. Look no further than flat-share-horror Being Human. The first series sprung from something like the set up for a bad joke: a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost commune in a house somewhere in Bristol, first broadcast on niche, youth oriented channel BBC Three.


Where the first series saw each of the characters struggling to find their place in a world which can’t or won’t acknowledge them, the second finds them fighting to protect it. Gentle, geeky werewolf George (Russell Tovey, The History Boys,Dr. Who) continues as the beating heart of Being Human, as he struggles with the repercussions of a brutal murder he committed while transformed.


Charismatic vampire Mitchell (Aiden Turner, Desperate Romantics) finds himself adrift having controlled his cravings for blood, and vanquished, for the moment at least, the vampire hordes intent on taking over the world, led by Herrick (the excellent Jason Watkins). The apparent villain of this series is both more and less overt – craggy faced scientist Kemp, first seen as a psychiatrist at the end of series one (Donald Sumpter). He’s a trench-coat wearing, Van Helsing type monster hunter working with a shadowy figure whose identity and motives remain shrouded. By contrast, Herrick’s softly-spoken, inclusive middle-manager brand of villainy is one of the most interesting facets of the first series, reinforcing the intriguing idea of unimaginable terrors hidden in the mundane.


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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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Friday, Nov 20, 2009
Former New York Giants superstar (and current in-demand sports commentator) Michael Strahan speaks with PopMatters.

For years, Michael Strahan was one of the single most feared forces in the NFL; quite a feat for a guy known off the field as something of a big softy. In his fourteen year career as a defensive end for the New York Giants, Strahan was selected to seven Pro Bowls, named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2001, and captured the NFL single season sack record.


After a stellar career on the gridiron, Strahan seems set to be as dominant on TV as he was on the field. He’s a host for Pros vs Joes and the star of the new sitcom Brothers, where he plays a retired NFL star named Michael. It’s all a little bit postmodern, yes. And like any retired football player worth his salt, Strahan is offering his thoughts on the current NFL season on TV every Sunday.


I caught up with Michael Strahan earlier this week to talk about his Super Bowl picks, his former team, the business end of running an NFL franchise, whether or not getting hit in the head for a living can ever be a safe occupation and of course, how he stays pretty for his new career in TV land.



Tagged as: michael strahan
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Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009

Are you hunting Yeti for business or pleasure? Do you have any Chupacabra or Sloth Monsters to declare? Have you accepted any gifts from Swamp Dinosaurs, Bat Demons or Devil Worms while traveling?


The questions Josh Gates encounters when flying across the world for fun and adventure are slightly more exciting than what the rest of us have to answer at the airport. Still, even though the third season of his hour-long show Destination Truth premieres Wednesday, Sept. 9 on the Syfy Channel, the gig of monster-hunting host hasn’t become mundane.


Since June 2007, Gates has traveled to remote, off-the-grid locales with a small crew to investigate claims of encounters with beasts that could take a bite out of Bigfoot and Nessie. As if that wasn’t enough, his repertoire has recently extended to exploring curses and ghosts – and his adventures with the unknown all occur after he deals with known dangers. But Gates is an affable guy who, at 32 years-old, sports a professorial-meets-adventurer look. Not completely unlike another such explorer who favors a whip and fedora, Josh Gates has learned to take life-threatening work environments in stride.


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Friday, Jul 24, 2009
An examination of Claire's portraiture in Six Feet Under.

In terms of popular discussion, Six Feet Under has been hailed for tackling an unorthodox subject matter, for its filmic production values, its multi-faceted representation of homosexual relationships, and much more. But rarely does one find comment surrounding its use of art photography, and the insight that this offers us into its characters. Yet, as viewers, we are fully aware that the character of Claire in SFU and her story arc are very much driven by her artistic aspirations.


At the beginning of the show, the aimless teenage girl is caught grappling with her father’s death, which she struggles to contextualize alongside her adolescence. But in the second series, her Aunt Sarah pronounces her an artist, and as such, her pursuit of the imaginative form propels her from complacency to a state of self-enquiry. Considering the impact of this event on her character development, I thought it would be fitting to take a look at some of Claire’s portraiture, and to consider their narrative implications.


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