Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

One of my all-time favorite TV shows is The West Wing.  I stream the entire seven seasons from beginning to end at least twice a year. It’s one of the things I do when I have work to do, like writing, is that I stream shows or movies that I have seen a gazillion times because I don’t have to watch those with undivided attention to appreciate them.  Over the weekend, while trying to get some writind done,  I began to stream it once again.

One of the things I like about the show, aside from the excellent acting and the political comment, is that almost every episode leaves me thinking about some topic in the show, and often it makes me cry.  One of these episodes was in Season 1, episode 10, titled “In Excelsis Deo”. In this particular episode, there were a couple of very poignant situations that left me with tears in my eyes.  First, there was a storyline in which a young homosexual youth was tortured and beaten to death because he was gay.  The description of the crime, along with the reactions of the characters, are quite moving.  Another storyline involved a homeless war veteran who froze to death in view of the Capitol.  Toby, a regular on the show who plays the White House Communications Chief, is called by D.C. police to identify the body.  He doesn’t know the man but the man was wearing his coat with his business card in the pocket.  It turns out that Toby had donated that coat to the Goodwill, that’s how the homeless man got it.  Toby, seeing a tattoo on the homeless man, realizes that the man was a Korean War veteran.  He calls around and finds out that the man was a recipient of the Purple Heart.  There is no information available on him, which means no one in his family has been notified.  So Toby go to where the man died and asks around if anyone knew him.  He is sent to a location in D.C., under an overpass, where homeless gather to eat and sleep.  He finds the dead man’s brother there and tells him about the death and learns that there is no one else in the family.  Toby arranges a military funeral for the dead man.  Mrs. Landingham, who we discover earlier in the same episode lost twin sons in the Vietnam war, asks to accompany Toby to Arlington National Cemetery.  Someone asks Toby if he knew the dead man and when he says no, he is asked “then why do you care?”  He answers, “because somebody should.” That makes me cry every time I watch it. In fact, it is such a touching moment, I sometimes replay that part a couple of times before going on to the next episode.

I think that TV is at its best when it moves us to feel, to act, to think, and to remember.  This show does all of that for me.  I think that’s why the series will always be unforgettable.

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I recently accepted a Comcast offer to try out their “digital starter” package.  With this package I get a lot of channels that I had not seen previously.  I have developed some favorites that will be tough to get rid of when my trial offer is over.  Yup.  I’m hooked.

One of these shows is called Drop Dead Diva and airs on the  Lifetime Channel.  It’s new this season.  In the first episode of the season, Deb is a 24 year old blonde model who is pretty self-centered.  At the beginning of the episode Deb is speeding off some place and talking on her cell phone while driving.  She gets into an accident and is killed.  Don’t worry, it’s a comedy.  When she is at the gates of heaven, the Gate Keeper sits her down and looks at his computer screen to review her life.  He finds that she has not one single good deed on record for her entire 24 years.  The Gate Keeper says he can’t admit her to heaven with such a record.  He’s saying she’ll have to go back down to earth to try to improve her record but Deb is impatient and sticks her hand on the Gate Keeper’s keyboard and pushes a button which immediately sends her back to earth, to the hospital where she died.  There’s just one problem.  There is another woman dying at the hospital.  She’s a lawyer, named Jane, who took a bullet when an angry husband came to shoot his wife’s lover who happens to be Jane’s boss.  So Deb’s soul ends up in the body of the lawyer who comes back to life!

This would be great, normally, but there are a few problems.  First, Jane is not 24.  She’s 32.  And Jane is not blonde.  She’s a brunette.  She’s not shallow.  She’s intelligent and has a brilliant legal mind and a heart capable of compassion.  But what Deb is most shocked with is that Jane is not a tall, slim,  size 2 model, she’s a short, plump size 16.

The episodes since then have been filled with comedy but also with some thought provoking moments when the show explores some of the public’s prejudices toward intelligent and  physically “less than perfect” women.  The cast is filled with characters that challenge our perceptions of various types of people.  And they do this in a fun and humorous way.

The cast includes Brooke Elliott as Jane; Margaret Cho as Teri, Jane’s secretary and assistant; Kate Levering as Kim, a seemingly heartless female attorney who is constantly competing with Jane, although she is slim and attractive; Josh Stamberg as J. Parker, the managing attorney of the firm where Jane works who is also a less than competent attorney.

There are others who round out the cast but this was just supposed to be a quick post to share this new show I discovered and point you in the right direction should you choose to check it out.  It really is quite worthy of the one hour a week (Sunday evening) that it takes up over the air waves.  (I guess maybe their not air waves any more now that we’re digital.  I don’t know.  If you do, let me know.)

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Boy Interrupted

I’ve been restless for a couple of days.  I’ve also been fighting depression which has been a problem for me in the past ten or so years.  Then tonight I turned to HBO On Demand for a distraction and came across a documentary called Boy Interrupted.  The synopsis told me it was a film made by the mother of boy, Evan Perry, who committed suicide at age 15.  I know I probably should have looked for something else but I didn’t.  I chose to watch it.

Last night one of my nieces, Roxie, posted on Facebook that she missed her brothers (who are living away from where she lives) and I was instantly compelled to comment that I miss my brothers too.  But then I erased it without posting it.  I didn’t want to make Roxie or anyone of my nieces and nephews uncomfortable.  It is their fathers that I miss, my brothers.  I seem to be thinking about them a lot these days.  I want to see them and talk to them and listen to them.  I want to hug them and cry with them and laugh again.  But I didn’t post any of this.  I kept it all inside.

Tonight I needed to watch that documentary.

There is one point where Evan’s grandmother is being interviewed about the suicide of her grandson and the suicide of her own son, Scott,  35 years earlier.  She makes a comment to the effect that suicide “changes you and you are never the same”.  I knew exactly what she meant.

Boy Interrupted is a compelling film.  It is well worth the 93 minutes you spend watching it.  You will learn from it.  And with luck, it will save someone’s life.  I’m glad I watched it.  I hope you are able to watch it.  It is currently on HBO On Demand and was a 2008 Sundance Film Festival nominee for Grand Jury Prize.  I’m sure that even if you don’t have HBO, you will be able to find it to watch it.

It will change you and you will never be the same.

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As I wrote in Nana Diaries Part One, my mom has been visiting. In the evenings, she sits in the living room and watches her novelas (Spanish language soap operas) which air only on weekdays. She doesn’t have anything that she watches on weekend nights. I don’t watch a lot of TV but there are two shows I do watch on Sunday nights. One is Desperate Housewives (okay, I know it’s trashy but I’m hooked and it often has comedic value); the other is Brothers and Sisters (I really, really love Sally Field).

The first Sunday she was visiting, she sat down to watch Desperate Housewives with me. I started to explain who each character was. After about five minutes, she got up and left the room and didn’t return until the end of the show. She said something about the women on the show being descaradas which translates to something along the lines of disgraceful (literally meaning without face).

During the commercial break between the two shows, she came and sat down on the couch, once again. Then Brothers and Sisters began. It was the season premiere and they were recapping what happened at the end of last season. As some of you may know, the show Brothers and Sisters has a key character who is gay. In the last season’s final episode, the gay brother married his partner. When that bit of recap came on, my mom said, “Uuuggghhhh! They got married?” I nodded that they had and kept watching the show. I was so involved in the show, I barely noticed when she left the room and didn’t return. About half way into the show, I realized she hadn’t come back. That’s when I realized that it was the show’s handling of gay marriage that upset her about this show.

The second week, she didn’t try to sit with me for either show. She kept herself busy in the kitchen, going through boxes and boxes of photographs. I think we were both happier that way. I enjoyed my shows and she didn’t have to see anything that insulted her.

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