Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Television Watch: The Bear (Seasons 1 and 2)

Initially, I wasn't overly interested in The Bear.  It looked like "quality TV", but leaning into a type of character we've seen a few dozen times over the past 20 years - a self-destructive guy, likely with chemical dependence issues, and likely has sex a lot.  Watch him fuck up over and over.  Look, Don Draper *owns* that, and you're not going to top that writing or performance, but people keep trying. I figured the show would be in a high-pressure world of a field everyone kinda thinks maybe they could work in, but knows that the real winners are genuine artists.  And, sometimes I get very worn out less by the existence of high end cuisine, but how "foodies" can be in general.*  

But (a) that is not what the show is about.  And (b) they added Jamie Lee Curtis.  So.  You know.

Over time I'd also figured out:  the show is not about a high-end restaurant - yet.  It's about a Chicago-area Italian Beef sandwich shop, and our lead has no addiction issues to make them edgy.  At least no chemical addiction issues.

At its heart, this is a show about two families, who are almost a circle on a Venn Diagram - the Berzattos, and the employees of The Beef, the aforementioned sandwich shop.  All are in shock after the suicide of owner and eldest sibling of the Berzatto family, Michael.  Who has left the resaturant to his brother, Carmine, who fled Chicago and the family to become a world-renowned chef in New York.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Television Watch: Fargo Season 5

In the long, long ago, I went to film school and had the rough idea of the kinds of stories I was drawn to, and in the most auteurish version of the world, what sort of thing I'd want to make.  When I watch the television series Fargo, it is with the knowledge that this is the kind of stuff that lives in my wheelhouse, but done light years better than - even in my most self-congratulatory fever dreams - I could imagine delivering.

It's noir, in its way.  And allegorical, most certainly.  Characters have rich inner lives from which they call and respond to one another, and watching each season is mapping and reconciling the arc of each character, understanding how they fit into a larger tapestry as Hawley weaves a picture of the point he's trying to make this time.

Initially, the show seemed like a fool's errand.  The 1996 film upon which the show is based is a bonafide modern-ish classic (I am not taking comment or questions on this statement).  Trying to work in the world of the Coens, aping their style and worldview seemed breathlessly arrogant.  I was part of the audience from the 1980's and 1990's, who - thanks to Joel and Ethan Coen - came to see movies could maybe be a bit more than what I thought.  The Coens provided a fresh take and a clear perspective all their own when it came to style, substance and density of narrative, as much auteurs as you were likely to see in the US film industry, and ushering in the 1990's indie-film era.   

Friday, February 2, 2024

Carl Weathers Merges With The Infinite

Here's what I think about when I think about Carl Weathers:

Sometimes you just like someone's vibe.  And then literally everything you learn about that person over a lifetime just reinforces or surpasses your early first impression.

I didn't see a Rocky movie til Rocky IV, and my introduction to Carl Weathers was seeing the great Apollo Creed fall in the ring.  He was, in my opinion, more likable and charming than our protagonist, enough so that seeing him die on screen in the first act was jarring.  Mission accomplished, movie.  You motivated Rocky and you got us to care, relying on Weathers' performance - and that was before I saw the other three Rocky movies, in which he's clearly, absolutely the star boxer the movies need.  

But of course Carl Weathers was also in action movies and generally around.  A few years later I was enjoying him in Predator and other movies.  I missed Action Jackson at the time, but caught it in recent years (it's not great, but he is).  

And then someone realized: you can put this guy in comedy.  People love this guy, and he's got a sense of humor.  And, so he started showing up in Happy Gilmore and Arrested Development.  I also was surprised to see him pop up in Friday Foster (I, too, enjoy a Pam Grier actioner).

What I'd missed was the whole Carl Weathers backstory of New Orleans kid who got a sports scholarship in high school and then college, and went pro as a football player - quitting to get into the movies.  And successfully doing so.  

But he was also behind the camera - and directed some of my favorite episodes of what I think is already a well-made show, The Mandalorian, in which he also starred in what may be my favorite role of his - Greef Karga, the shady businessman who finds a calling as a local leader (and has a vain streak you can't help but like).  I own at least two Greef Karga action figures, I admit.

Through that work was how I learned that Weathers had been busy behind the camera for a while, directing some TV, including some action programs.  Which - totally made sense.  I could see him dipping in and wanting to expand what he was doing and trying.

On a personal note, back when I was on twitter, I exchanged a tweet or two with Weathers, and the fact I'm still giddy about it should tell you where he ranked with me.  

I'm absolutely rattled at the sudden news of his passing, and wish his loved ones well.  I hope my impression of the man was correct, because he seemed like one of the good ones.    

Thursday, January 18, 2024

G-Watch: Monarch TV Series (2023-2024)

I did not expect my viewing of a show about Godzilla and Kurt and Wyatt Russell to turn into a hate-watch, but here we are.

My understanding is that there are enthusiastic viewers of this show, and, if I'm being honest, one of the things I've enjoyed about being a somewhat sideline Godzilla fan over the years is that the fanbase is pretty chipper about all forms and takes on Godzilla. There's no shock it would extend to this show. Maybe they're not as critical about film as they could be, but I was not going to be the guy to point out that maybe Destroy All Monsters is not going to double-bill with Citizen Kane.*

And it is a great time to have a general fondness for Godzilla. The movie in 2021 from Legendary was super fun, Minus One and Shin Godzilla are actual think-pieces, the shorts Toho put out are perfectly recreating what I like about pre-2000 Godzilla. I keep finding funny Japanese shorts aimed at kids with the monsters in-character and adorable and insane. And if I'm being candid, there's a hurricane of affordable (and less-affordable) Godzilla merch out there right now.

When Apple+ and Legendary announced Monarch, I was ambivalent. To me, the track record of the Monsterverse is not amazing, and I am decidedly less enthused about the existence of Monarch in those films than other fans. It's my opinion that the execution has, overall, been inconsistent and sloppy across the few movies they've put out. And, after several episodes, it seems the raison d'ĂȘtre for Monarch as a show was to paper over the bad continuity. Which, as every DC Comics fan should know, is actually just going to make things worse.

And, indeed, it did!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

90's Watch: Quiz Show (1994)

Watched:  01/15/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Robert Redford
Selection:  Jamie

It's been 30 years since Quiz Show (1994) was released, and probably 29 since I've last seen it.  I'm now much older than Ralph Fiennes and Rob Morrow as our leads, and in the intervening years, the real Charles Von Doren, Richard Goodwin and Herb Stemple have passed (oddly with little in the way of news or media mention).

Sometimes watching younger film reviewers on YouTube or reading the film discussion of younger film enthusiasts, it's interesting to note the tilt to genre pictures of prior eras, and it's easy to forget that genre was largely in the margins thirty years ago.  At the time, something like Quiz Show was happily released by Disney when they had multiple outlets for producing movies for general and adult audiences - this one released through Hollywood Pictures (see also Touchstone and whatever their deal was with Miramax).  And we had name directors doing prestige pictures that were a thing to go see.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Television with The Signal Watch - 2023

So, this isn't really a television blog.  But we did watch a lot of TV this last year.  

I can't really remember everything we watched in 2023, and certainly Jamie will immediately identify some gaps, but I wanted to give it a go and list out shows we watched a full season, to the best of my recollection. 

Now, in general I don't hate-watch television, so if I watched the thing, it means I enjoyed it.  Probably.  There's a notable exception here.  And one thing I was ready to quit on, but Jamie seemed into it, so I stayed with it.  

So, what shows did we watch?

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Report on Hallmark Movies 2023

don't worry, they play brother and sister

So, here we are in 2023.  

In addition to Direct to Streaming Christmas movies, I've been throwing on the Hallmark Channel since way back in November.  

Apparently what both Jamie and I need this year is to just zone out for 90 minutes from time to time, and to be able to talk over a movie featuring characters we don't really care about a whole lot.  And that's absolutely the intention of a Hallmark Christmas movie - a minimum of drama and plot, reasonably good looking people predictably falling for each other, and a happy ending that guarantees these people will now be as boring as you are, because the events of this movie was the biggest thing to ever happen to them.

I copped to watching the film in 2015 and wrote my treatise on Hallmark movies back in 2017, and I think it shocked a lot of you to find out how very, very much I know about these movies that so many so casually get sniffy about (with good reason, tbh).  But a lot has occurred since 2017.  We're in the dark future of 2023 now, and the world is not what it was.  

A very, very big part of me would love to know how Hallmark works and how these movies come into being.  I have some theories based loosely on what I knew from a friend's mom who wrote Harlequin Romance novels, but there's zero confirmation on any of this.  I'd just be guessing.  

Andre Braugher Merges With The Infinite

I am deeply saddened to say that actor Andre Braugher has passed.

Back in college, he was the talent who got me to check out and stay with Homicide: Life on the Street and years later starred for several seasons of Brooklyn 99 as the precinct captain, making the most of his comedic talents.

Braugher was an amazing talent, and added a great deal to everything he was in.  I'm very sorry to hear of his passing.

Please enjoy some of the best of his role as Captain Holt

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Norman Lear Merges With The Infinite

Norman Lear, a man who changed television, has passed at 101.

There's whole areas of media study dedicated to Lear, so I won't get into it too much here.  But for those of us growing up as kids in the 1970s and 80's, there was kind of pre-Lear television and post-Lear television.  Those halcyon days of media you think of where father knew best and folks' disagreements were settled over a polite laugh or gunfire and women wore pearls and kissed husbands as they walked in the door with a smile?  Not Norman Lear.

Lear found the comedy in the reality of world and knew you could do more making people laugh than you could with a lecture, reflecting real world issues back to the audience, in the format of the sitcom.  As a kid, I remember knowing things could take a dramatic turn on One Day at a Time (something the reboot series echoed), but it wasn't off-putting even as a kid.  It was part of how television worked, as far as I was concerned.

While he moved on from TV, Lear has remained influential.  I hope in years to come, folks understand what he did to move TV on from its juvenile state and propel conversations onto the screen and into living rooms, and giving voice to characters that had been supporting characters at best.

Here's to 101 well-lived years. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

90's 70's Watch: The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)

Watched:  11/10/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Betty Thomas

November of 2023 is about 28 years from when The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) was released.  Which is funny, because the TV show, The Brady Bunch, which this movie spoofs, ran from September 1969 to March 1974, meaning the movie - which was sending up the show was only separated from the final air date by 21 years.  That's some math, but we're~7 years further out now from this movie than we were from the show when the movie arrived.

While the US is too large and has too many people to have a monoculture, due to the nature of broadcast TV, and then early cable, in the 20th Century there was a shared experience for the youth of the United States in the form of mass entertainment.  With a minimum of programming aimed at youth, for millions of us, the politely banal episodic adventures of The Brady Bunch, playing in mid-afternoon reruns, were a common touchpoint.  As were a handful of other shows, to be sure.*

Musical tastes of the time could vary - you might like country or R&B or rock or metal - but you only had so many channels to pick from.  I cannot imagine today's kids have a concept of wanting to unwind after latch-keying oneself into your empty house after a long day at school and watching some TV, and, really, there's maybe two options across your 4 to 30-odd channels (if your folks sprung for cable).

So it was that, thanks to the power of cheap syndication, for about 20 years, The Brady Bunch aired daily, sometimes multiple episodes, as the six kids, two parents and their maid acted like weird, alternate-reality stepford wives and children, making mountains out of mole hills and speaking in an almost otherwordly way that became a common cultural currency for kids to discuss, make fun of, etc....  The tendency of TV execs to want to sanitize the world was so harsh and weird, it was like bleach had killed anything resembling actual life. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Piper Laurie Merges With The Infinite

Star or movies and television, Piper Laurie, has passed.  

We know Laurie primarily from Twin Peaks, Carrie and The Hustler.  

Laurie was a Civil Rights advocate and involved in numerous causes.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Phyllis Coates Merges With the Infinite

Coates appeared only in the first season of The Adventures of Superman from 1952 and the film, Superman and the Mole Men.  

I am a fan of all Loises, and as part of the legion of Loises, Ms. Coates folds a special place here at The Signal Watch.  Her Lois was quite a bit different from Noel Neill's take.  Coates tended to play a bit more into the streetwise, tough newspaper writer persona that would circle back around with some other actors to play the part.  

She left pretty quickly, but one does not play Lois and not get included in the Superman mythos.  As is the tradition, she returned to a different incarnation of Superman, appearing on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the first year as Lois' mother, Ellen Lane.

Of course, Coates was infinitely more than her brief Superman appearances.  She has 145 appearances listed on IMDB, and spanned 50 years in the business (including a lengthy break).  

Let's salute Ms. Coates and remember her for being a terrific part of the Superman legacy!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Bob Barker Merges With the Infinite

Bob Barker - the man, the myth, the pal for millions of us having a sick day from school or work - has passed at the age of 99.  

Not a soul in America living in the back quarter of the 20th Century hadn't seen Barker at one point or another, appearing daily on The Price is Right, possibly America's real favorite game show.  Among a hundred different games on the program, and surrounded by "Barker's Beauties", Bob was our genial uncle, walking contestants through the motions and managing chaos with a light chuckle, a peculiarly thin microphone and a voice gifted by the gods. 

Barker was a kind of gentlemen that no longer exists, a part of a different age.  The Kids will have only known the modern, post-modern gameshow host, maybe minus the soon-to-retire Pat Sajack, the guy who can't believe he's hosting a gameshow and refuses to take it seriously.  And while I don't think Barker had any illusions about what he was doing, he was never above it.  

Anyway, never write off a sharp suit, a good haircut and an unflappable demeanor.  

Have your pets spayed or neutered!

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Birthday of Lucille Ball

Today marks the 112th birthday of one of the greatest talents of the 20th Century and a true pioneer, who had an immeasurable impact on the world that continues to be felt every day.

If you're my age, you know Lucille Ball from the one endless reruns of I Love Lucy, one the of the templates for television comedy we're still referencing and still trying to top.  Prior to her show, she was a model and movie star - but wasn't aimed to be one of the greats.  If you've seen any of her films, she seems like she's too big for what they're giving her whether it's a comedy or a drama (she appears in a couple of crime movies I've seen).   But my guess is they didn't know what to do with her in a male-forward Hollywood of the time.  

In musicals and comedies, it's weird to see her not given the lead.  I grew up with Lucy as a huge star, so you're retroactively thinking "why can't they give her more screentime?"  

She honed an act with husband Desi Arnaz, and it more or less created the basis for what would become the show they'd take to the networks.  And much like Seinfeld, because it was her show and not one she was cast for, as it became a hit, she was able to build more and more of an empire, setting up Desilu Studios.  

I was reminded that today was Lucille Ball's birthday by Star Trek social media, who has never forgotten that if it weren't for Lucy championing the show and everything it stands for as head of Desilu Productions, we either get no Star Trek or a very watered down show that wasn't what we think of as Star Trek.  And they're still making that show.

But go back and watch some I Love Lucy.  The show is so... good.  Sure, it's a multi-camera show and it doesn't always fit with everything we expect out of a modern sitcom, but in addition to being a female-led show (and produced as Lucy was very involved in *everything*, more so than Desi) it's amazing to see how we're still working bits from the show now.   It's a classic for a reason.

And, very indirectly, Ball is responsible for TCM.  When the network was coming together and they recruited Robert Osbourne to be Robert Osbourne, it turns out that he was a friend of Ball's who had been given the opportunities in Hollywood he'd had because of her largesse paired with his know-how and encyclopedic knowledge of Hollywood history.  And you do not get the TCM of today without Osbourne, pals.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Paul Reubens Merges With the Infinite

Man, this is some sad news I did not expect at all.

Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-Wee Herman, has passed at the age of 70.

Reubens was a member of The Groundlings and became part of the class of breakout stars of his era, alongside Cassandra Peterson and others.  

Reubens created the unique and beloved character of Pee-Wee Herman, a persona who wound up in TV specials, movies, and the excellent Pee-Wee's Playhouse - one of the best things ever on Saturday mornings.  He's responsible for Tim Burton's early big screen success, and co-starred with everyone from Laurence Fishburne to Lynn-Marie Stewart and John Paragon on the Saturday morning show.  

Pee-Wee's run was cut short in the 1990's, but he returned in the age of social media, releasing a final movie, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, that was as funny as anything he'd done, and maybe freer?

What has surprised me most about Pee-Wee over the years has been that the movies, specials, etc.. get *funnier*.  My first viewing of Pee-Wee Herman content was in elementary school, and every time I watch one of his movies or review clips of any of his work, it doesn't just hold up, it shines a little brighter.  

Reubens also appeared in numerous other projects, playing a wide range of characters.  He's great in Mystery Men, 1991's Blow, and he got the biggest laugh of the movie from me in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  

On social media, he was very plugged into the same sort of cheerful "look at this weirdo thing" stuff I tend to want to forward to Jamie, all of it in fun.  Lots of retro, lots of outlandish goofiness.  The kind of stuff that would look at home beside Mr. T cereal and pterodactyl puppets.

We'll miss Paul Reubens, and we'll miss Pee-Wee Herman.  Taken way too soon.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

PodCast 247: "Ted Lasso: Season 3" Therapy Session w/ Mrshl, Maxwell and Ryan

Format:  Apple+
Decade:  2020's

MRSHL, Maxwell and Ryan have heard the final whistle on Season 3 of everyone's favorite show about a very well adjusted soccer team. After two wildly popular seasons, this season drew a wide range of opinions. Join us as we line up for a set-piece and see if we can't get it in the goal.



Part 1:

Part 2:

Ted Lasso Main Theme - Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe 
Fight Test - Flaming Lips

Friday, May 26, 2023

TV Watch: Mrs. Davis (2023)

Let me start by throwing whatever weight I may have to sway your viewing habits (which I assume is zero) into checking out Mrs. Davis, the 8-part TV series currently available on Peacock.  

I can provide a cursory description of the show, but it will be just the barest of bones of what the show actually is, as I don't want to spoil anything (yet) and I don't want to mislead anyone.

What I can tell you is that it's somewhat about a nun living in a parallel timeline where 10 years ago an AI came online that can speak directly to people.  In the years since its arrival, it's started to end war, famine, poverty, etc... and helped people find personal fulfillment.  Maybe.

It also sends people on quests, which, if they succeed means they earn "wings".  

Our nun, sister Simone, joined a convent just as the AI was coming into being and hates the AI, which she believes was responsible for the death of her father - a stage magician.  As her world is rocked by a rapid series of events, Simone is reunited with a childhood friend, and takes on a mission to take the AI down no matter the cost.

It's an action comedy.

And I love it.

It's also remarkably prescient, given this was filmed some time ago, and released just on the heels of the ChatGPT explosion and very real reconsideration of what AI may do to our cultural landscape, let alone one that speaks directly to an all too willing public.  We've all seen sci-fi stuff that seems eerily near-future and predictive, and this is that (in some ways).

I only really know Betty Gilpin from Netflix's wrestling show GLOW where she was amazing and a stand-out even in a cast of stand-outs.  But she's quietly one of the funniest actors I can name, effortlessly conveying internal conflicts and spontaneous reactions that are wildly authentic for someone who has been on two fairly over-the-top shows.  She's the rock that makes you believe the insanity, all without being a exactly a straight-man to the antics.  But definitely our POV of sanity in an insane world.

Or maybe not.  In this case, she's just our anchor POV in a world that is clearly mad.  She's found her peace living among her sisters, bottling and selling jam.  She has a bit of a romantic relationship she keeps to herself.

But the AI needs her, and it doesn't want to be ignored.  And when doing things for the AI is the biggest clout-generator on the planet?  Man.  

Anyway, I am just scratching the surface, but the tone, zig-zagging narrative, willing embrace of total chaos in storytelling - while telling an air-tight, somewhat moving story...  man.  That's hard to do.  All while making me occasionally laugh like a loon (often just Gilpin's "what now...?" expressions get the biggest moments for me).  If you told me this is where the show was going from the first episode to the last, I would have been deeply confused, but yet it does it all, seamlessly.  And hilariously.

I'll do another spoileriffic post later, but as we enter the long weekend, I wanted to put an offering on the table.  

Sunday, May 14, 2023

We Watched Eurovision 2023 (from the US. Texas, no less.)

I will be accused of only watching Eurovision 2023 because this edition was co-hosted by actor/ singer/ performer Hannah Waddingham of Ted Lasso fame.  First - how dare you.  Second - she looked amazing.

We've all heard of Eurovision, but until recently, it didn't air here in the US that I'm aware of.  In recent years we'd see twitter going bananas for it, but it was during daylight and work hours in the US, and it was very unclear what was occurring over there.  But folks of all ages and walks of life seemed into it, so I think that piqued the curiosity of some of us.

Right at the start of COVID, I remember watching the Eurovision movie starring Will Ferrell, and it gave me *some* clue as to what was happening and how it worked, but, honestly, raised more questions than it answered.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Jerry Springer Merges With The Infinite

Not many talk-show hosts get a movie playing themselves doing their own talk show.  Not many talk-show hosts inspire operas.  Not many talk-show hosts wind up doing a talk-show after a major political scandal involving paying a hooker with a signed check and then *still* winding up as mayor of a major US city for a stint.

Jerry Springer was probably not a good man, but in 2011, I did meet him in the sportsbook at the Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas where he was very nice to me and posed for drunken blurry pictures that have since been lost to bad asset management on the interwebs.  He was there hosting the Vegas nightly show of America's Got Talent.  He smoked a giant cigar and looked bored.

Like many talk-shows, Springer started off trying to do reasonable interviews that went in-depth on important issues, but when cancellation seemed imminent, he and his producers transformed his show into the chair-hurling, fist-tossing, hair-pulling bonanza it was.  Which made Springer rich, ultimately ran for roughly 25 years and spun off a few other shows, including a behind-the-scenes that made no one look good.  But when your set is designed to look like a sewer with a stripper pole, I guess no one cares?

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Signal Watch Round-Up: Sportsball and Television



Futbol is underway

Austin FC

Austin FC is my local team and my point of view when it comes to soccer/ futbol.  I am a fan.  I'll be ride-or-die with this team and the fanbase.  They are off to a very rough start.  

Futbol is a weird sport in that, unlike pretty much every other US-based sport, they don't just play within their league.  They also will play within a variety of Cups series, which adds extra games in the middle of the week.  It's bananas.  But, you can also get knocked out if you lose those games.  Which AFC did. 

It hasn't helped that my guy, Julio Cascante, went down with an injury about twenty minutes into the new season and one of our other strong defenders, Gabrielsen, returned to Norway for family reasons.  Anyway, it's not been great, but it's a long season.  And I'll be there!  Verde!  Listos!

In fact, we have tickets to see them play next week.

Apple and MLS

Apple+ is now the home for all of MLS, which is... fine.  I don't think they're actually sending the folks calling games to the stadiums, and because they're treating it almost like NCAA football coverage, they're missing what Americans depend on in some ways during long sporting seasons - we need coverage by homers.  

I don't know who the people are covering games.  They don't show them, they don't explain who they are, and there's a real tendency in soccer coverage to do it in a "what I would have done here" way I expect out of football games at 11:00 AM on a Saturday by ESPN's third tier guys.  It's not holistic coverage recognizing the audience, it's putting the person calling the game in the position of critic and a second adversary when you're watching.  I love baseball coverage by my local folks because they're living and dying with the team, an extension of that team, and they know to be merciful to the audience listening while also being honest.  It seems like an easy tweak for Apple to make, but I assume that placing teams in every city if very expensive versus having people sitting at a table in New York watching the games on a feed, which is what I suspect is happening.

I was also expecting the obvious to occur and a SportsCenter style show to arrive by Sunday morning after the Saturday matches, but instead it's basically just a dry highlight reel.  This is, in fact, bad.  It both keeps the audience at a distance from the game, players and staff, but it also suggests that there's nothing to see here or discuss, really.  Which...  I'm the first person to make fun of the endless coverage of sports on 5 Fox Sports channels, 10 ESPN channels, 4 NBC Channels, etc...  and the parade of dum-dums who get paid to make stuff up about sports.  But I don't think 30-60 minutes per week to cover an entire sports league that gets no coverage elsewhere is asking too much.  


This weekend the US Women's National Team is playing in Austin, and I failed to secure tickets.  I'm a little down about it, but I think they'll be back, maybe even this year as they head toward World Cup play this summer.  

And do plan to watch this summer,  USWNT looks great, but in addition to the usual other power houses, England's team seems to be on an incredible roll.  

But let's see what Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn do this year for USWNT.

Baseball Begins

The baseball season is underway!  Cubs are still gelling and look middle-of-the-road so far.  I didn't watch much last year, but am giving it some time again, which means figuring out who some of these guys are, especially on pitching.  

And, it's hard to know how good any of these guys will be over the length of the season.  You see people come in hot at the start of a season and fizzle at the end of month one.  Other people get hot for a while.  Others - especially pitchers - can be all over the place during a season.  I'm excited one of our pitchers seems to have found a good spot as a reliever (Alzolay).  But I also want to see more out of defense, especially around third base.  

And, I've been watching Pitching Ninja videos.

Anyway, baseball!  


The Wire

I never watched The Wire when it first aired.  Until HBOmax, HBO was something I'd have sporadically, but didn't feel the need to watch whatever was the hot HBO show and the movie selection was usually pretty mediocre.  

My brother had the series on DVD and loaned it to Jamie and me in 2007, but according to him we weren't "watching it fast enough" to demonstrate we truly appreciated it.  And he took the DVD set away.  It was hilarious, but I wound up just not watching the show at all.

But now I have the idiotically named HBOmax* and therefore access to The Wire, and I'm watching it with Laura and Marshall, one episode per week.  Laura is documenting her journey through The Wire via this Tumblr.

I am sure my participation is frustrating for my pals as I tend not to say a lot about a TV show until the end of a season.  I'm either enjoying it or I'm not, but I tend not to want to say much about a character's arc until the end of the season, because that's when you can say what worked or what didn't.  Anything before is guess work.  

As I mentioned in our chat, if you've worked for a large organization or one that's "political" (I suspect everyone's workplace with more than six people is political, literally or figuratively), it's a reminder of how people and their self-interest are their own worst enemies when it comes to solving the problems their paid to solve.  Obviously the point of the show, but - it's kind of fascinating to also see it done in a way that isn't just a labor to watch.  You can see the angles without feeling like you're watching Death of a Bureaucrat.  

What Else Are We Watching?

Ted Lasso - I feel like this season is off to a good start, I'm glad it's back, etc... But, man, I hate that they added the fortune teller to predict the future for even one scene.  I know you dum-dums decided astrology was real during COVID, but now we have to deal with fan speculation and, technically, wizards existing in the universe of a straightforward TV show.  Other than that, it's been lovely, and they more or less seem to have found a workable and less awkward storyline for Rebecca this season.

Abbott Elementary - The only 1/2 hour network sitcom we watch.  I'll be curious how long they can keep this up.

Mandalorian - I've seen nothing but the whining on twitter from people who get confused by any story more complicated than a side-scroller videogame, but pretty clearly Star Wars is expanding the timeline and storyline from a pretty narrow window to include the wider Star Wars universe, and that's... a good thing.  I was not a BSG watcher, so this is my first real time spent with Katee Sackhoff, and y'all were right about her.  

Superman and Lois - The weirdly undiscussed Superman show is still 2/3rds soap opera, 1/3rd Superman-ness, and that's... fine.  I've settled in, and after 2 prior seasons, I know the last few episodes of each seasons are where they'll pull out the super-story and remind you how cool Superman stuff can be.  In many ways, Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth "Bitsie" Tulloch are near-exact embodiments of how I think of Lois and Clark in the comics.  It's honestly kind of weird how much they've got it down.  There are things I wish they'd tweak or do differently, but I suspect the budget is a limiting factor for more time at the Fortress or doing Superman things.  But it's a lot for a CW show, so I'm happy about just having a Superman and Lois I can completely buy.

Schmigadoon - Season 2 of the show I've not even heard my theater-pals discuss is underway and you can tell they're a lot more comfortable from jump.  Rather than the Meredith Wilson style of musical, we're moving into Sondheim and Fosse, and while, yeah, maybe it helps to do your homework and this won't be for everyone, I'm *barely* a musicals guy, and this works for me.  Plus, Cicely Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are endlessly funny just existing on screen as folks reacting to what is happening.

*to my dying day, I will believe this branding was the work of people who don't understand the holdings and possible reach of WB's vast library, but who really think Game of Thrones is neat