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Monday, Feb 1, 2010
After a spectacular first season and disappointing second season, what will we see in the third season of FX’s Damages?

I queued up the third-season premiere of FX’s Damages earlier this evening with a good bit of uncertainty. Part of this uncertainty was because, despite my appreciation of its taut first season, the second left me completely cold. Even after watching the enjoyable and promising start to the new season, I still cannot remember the events that unfolded in the final episodes of season two. Seriously, where did Timothy Olyphant’s character go? And how did Ellen end up in the DA’s office? And what happened to all those characters we spent season two learning about? William Hurt, are you in prison? These are all questions that I once learned the answers to (and that, yes, I know, I could look up online in ten seconds), but it feels like a major problem that nothing has yet jogged my memory.


Fortunately, I think this only says profoundly negative things about last season and leaves me still jazzed about the apparent resurgence onscreen here at the start of the new season. The fresh start brings with it a new cast of characters (and, more importantly, a new group of actors). On paper, I find Lily Tomlin and Campbell Scott less appealing than Olyphant and Hurt from last season, but, if the premiere is any indication, the new crop of actors has been given a better storyline to function within (and Martin Short’s character echoes Zeljko Ivanek’s Emmy-winning performance from season one). Glenn Close remains arresting as Patty Hewes, and Rose Byrne plays Ellen with a newly found confidence which suits her better than the furtive glances and double-crosses of the ill-conceived undercover storyline of season two (if I wanted to watch Alias, I have the DVDs).


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Sunday, Jan 31, 2010
While sick last week, I took the opportunity to catch up on a marathon of HBO's Hung.

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I am currently enjoying a three-month free trial of HBO and various other premium channels, which probably explains the predominance of HBO and Showtime series in my writings. If you don’t want to pay for premium channels and can’t convince your cable provider to give you a free trial (give it a try one day), then, well, I was going to apologize, but you probably aren’t reading this blog.


Anyway, I recently DVR’d the first season of HBO’s Hung. I remember reading primarily negative reviews when the show premiered, so I set the recent marathon to record out of a somewhat morbid curiosity. Much to my surprise, I found Hung to be an extremely enjoyable viewing experience. The leisurely paced first season chronicles high-school basketball coach Ray Drecker’s attempts to dig himself out of a financial and psychological hole by becoming a prostitute (or, as his wonderfully clueless pimp Tanya Skagle deems him, a “happiness consultant”).


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Saturday, Jan 30, 2010

I can’t help leaving Episode Two behind with a distinct distaste for the judges and their pipe cleaner frameworks, especially the slithering way Michael Kors talks about women and age. He may as well come out and call some of the dresses “deathy”.


There’s this stunningly vacant moment in the introduction to the Vogue documentary, The September Issue, where Anna Wintour theorizes (as much as a woman who spends her days saying “this one”, “that one” can be said to theorize) that people make fun of fashion because they are intimidated and have never been part of the popular crowd. I’ve always made fun of people in fashion because many of them, like Anna Wintour, seem self-important and dumb. And yet, in the same documentary, the viewer meets Grace Coddington, a woman whose sense of the beautiful was so painterly and grand, that I instantly understood how someone could devote their life to capturing the essence of rapture. She had instinct, intellect and vision. Fashion is not intrinsically the province of special needs.


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Thursday, Jan 28, 2010

Everything is big in Texas, including, judging by the American Idol auditions in Dallas, the talent. It was in Dallas, after all, that the judges found Season One winner Kelly Clarkson, and the clips from those days were a reminder of how the judges looked nine years and several million dollars ago. Joining the table for day one in Big D was the generally entertaining Neil Patrick Harris, who acknowledged his role as the show’s Jerk of the Day by ironically describing his goal as to crush as many dreams and make as many people cry as possible.


The Doog may have had little sympathy for the contestants who prostrate themselves in the hallway and wail to high heaven after being cut (“If they can’t handle this heat, that [Hollywood] stage is a broiler”), but he had less opportunity to lower the boom than on previous shows. Easing up on the parade of clowns, the show focused almost entirely on promising singers, handing out a whopping 32 golden tickets, a season record. The only attempt at drama on this night was the producers’ efforts to set up a pissing contest between Harris and Simon, which wasn’t terribly convincing despite careful editing.


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Thursday, Jan 28, 2010
Courtesy of the folks at ABC, five seasons of Lost in just over eight minutes.

If you are like me, you’re already getting excited about the return of Lost next week.  It has been five seasons so convoluted and compelling that it is cathartic just to know that the end is in sight.  Of course, if you’re truly like me, you’ve also forgotten more about what happened in those previous five seasons than you remember. 


The producers at Lost and the good folks at ABC actually don’t get enough credit for their recaps.  Here’s their latest, which condenses five seasons in eight minutes and 15 seconds (which, by my somewhat shaky math, takes about 4,627 fewer minutes than watching all your DVDs again).  This won’t help anyone catch up with Lost, but it is a clever, funny, poignant, and ultimately useful way to warm up for the new season if you’ve been watching all along but need to be reminded exactly what the deal was with that hatch again.  Hopefully, the final season itself will be this good.


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