Tag Archives: TV

Why I wish “Alpha House” Senator Gil John Was Real

Screenshot 2014-10-30 at 3.43.10 PM
John Goodman with Odetta, the dog who plays Senator Biggs’ dog, Buster

Gil John Biggs, Republican Senator of North Carolina, is a retired UNC basketball coach and is played by John Goodman on Amazon’s “Alpha House.” In the first season, he is facing a tight race, and decides to skip an event with the govenor to get back in touch with his roots. He ends up filming a video on a beach hit by Hurricane Sandy, and the result is something I wish existed in the real world. It is honest, unfiltered, and it wins him the primary election. Take a look:

——

I decided to play a little hooky today.

I drove down to my hometown of Ruby Shoals, which is right on the shore.
Angie, show ’em a bit of where we’re at.
Go on.
OK, so it was tore up some by Sandy, but you get the general Oh, grab a shot of them gulls there.
Cute little suckers.
Anyway, being back on this beach reminds me of what a privilege it was to grow up in a place where you could run through tide pools, hunt for sharks’ teeth, blow up crabs with cherry bombs Man, that’s just good times.
Anywho, Ruby Shoals has always been pretty conservative.
Soid Republican.
And as Republicans, the thing we believed in most of all was opportunity.
Which meant we believed in building stuff to create opportunity.
Like roads and schools and power grids.
It was a Republican, Ike, who built our highway system.
And another, Nixon, who created the EPA to protect what we are looking at right now.
As conservatives, we believed in conservin’ and free markets, which is why most of us used to favor cap and trade to fight climate change.
Anyway, that was then.
We don’t believe in climate change now.
Or any research into it.
Same with mandates or infrastructure or background checks or a dozen other things we used to support before we got within pissin’ range of the Tea Party.
I’ve about had it with all that.
Remember the old Gil John Biggs? The one who used to bring home a new clinic or research center or whatnot without apology? Sure, I named ’em after myself, but I don’t mind future generations knowing who invested in ’em.
You remember Coach Biggs? Who made college loans a huge priority because he’d seen how they changed lives.
And remember the guy that never voted to shut down the government or wreck our credit or suppress voting rights or compared people to Hitler?

Remember that guy? He’s back.

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New Shows Summer 2014

I’m an NBC girl. They’ve hosted some of my favorite shows, most notably “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation.” I always watched “The Office” for many years, “Community” for four seasons, “SNL,” and I’ve been watching “Friends” finally, about a decade late. NBC has been a joke for a long time, because they cannot get their comedy act together.

1600 Penn, Animal Practice, Best Friends Forever, Guys With Kids, Growing Up Fisher, Sean Saves the World, Welcome to the Family, Up All Night, Outsourced, The Michael J Fox Show….all gone after two seasons or less, some didn’t make it a full season. And this was all within the last few years. This past fall schedule lost all of its new shows, leaving only “Parks and Recreation” for its once-famous Thursday night comedy lineup.

So when Amy Phoeler’s brother started a show, “Welcome to Sweden,” I hopped on board premiere night to check it out. Right after was “Working the Engle’s,” which stars Andrea Martin. She was Aunt Voula in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Both are…disappointing. Greg Phoeler is nowhere near as charming as his sister; he comes across as soppy and unintelligent as an accountant who leaves everything behind to move with his girlfriend to her native Sweden. When he is asked at customs why he is coming to Sweden, he says, “You can just put love,” and then seems taken aback when the customs officer does not deem this an acceptable answer or find it funny. He has not bothered to learn any of the language, and so far, a lot of the jokes have centered around his oblivious, large-eyed confusion about what anyone is saying. Any kind of trouble he gets into is purely because he came to a foreign country completely unprepared, so I have no sympathy for him. The relationship with his girlfriend is awkward and it is hard to believe they have been together for so many years. Lena Olin is a highlight, not shockingly, as girlfriend Emma’s mother. She and Emma’s father share a confusion about Greg Phoeler that I agree with. Proof that not everything Amy Phoeler touches can turn to gold.

“Working the Engle’s” will not last, and that makes me sad, but only because I like seeing Andrea Martin again. She is trying very hard to be funny in a show that is so horrifically unfunny I was actually shocked at the end of the latest episode. It centers around a dysfunctional family (groundbreaking, I know) who are trying to start a law firm since their recently-deceased father has left them a hefty debt. The leader of the group is the youngest daughter, who you might recognize as Abigail Hobbes from “Hannibal,” also an NBC show. She is also sort of the focus of the show, and recites a super awkward, cheesy intro at the end of the pilot and at the beginning of the second. She’s the only lawyer in the group, and quits her horrible job to join forces with her two siblings to make money to pay back their father’s debt. The brother is a petty criminal, a giant eggplant of a man, whose whole schtick is that he likes to con people, but ultimately has a good heart. The other daughter is a former party girl/drug addict who has recently “found God” and is trying to be a minister, but knows next to nothing about anything, either Bible or how-to-answer-a-phone-related. Andrea Martin is stressed, adores all of her children, and is trying to start her life again after learning of her late husband’s debt and falling off a roof. She’s only funny because she’s Andrea Martin, and even she cannot save just bad writing. And it is bad. No real jokes. The fact that the family does not know what they are doing is the comedy pot from which we have to pull from. This has been done SO MANY TIMES that to make it funny again, you got to have some sharp, sharp writing, and this show is based on the fact that most of these characters are dumb.

“Parks and Rec” will end this year. So far, there is NO show that is anywhere close to replacing the gaping holes left by “The Office,” “Parks and Rec,” and “30 Rock,” and it doesn’t look like there will be one in the near future. Tina Fey, get those pilots rolling!

UPDATED:

I watched FX’s “The Strain” because Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite storytellers and directed my favorite movie (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and I’m always on board for a good vampire story. “The Strain” does not disappoint. It has the look and feel of a movie, and combines the intrigue and relevant fear of fast-spreading epidemics and the classic, ancient horror of vampires. And these are not your teenager’s vampires. These are gruesome, relentless monsters with six-foot long tongue-needles that both inject the vampire parasitic and soak the victim dry. Will modern medicine be able to stop this menace or will our heroes have to resort to more traditional routes?

Racist, Say What?

ImageImageI saw this posting on Tumblr yesterday and after my initial feelings of horror, I checked my pulse and began to think. I don’t necessarily know people who share this view, but I do know people who might dismiss this person as one of a rambling few, or say the much dreaded, “I don’t really agree with this, but I can see their point/where they’re coming from.” Yeah, I can see where they’re coming from to. Racism Mountain, due south from Ignorance Junction.

Ok, let’s break it down. What exactly is this person upset about? They are upset about the fact that they perceive there are more black people than white people in commercials. They even use the word “disgusted.” Why is this so disgusting? If they themselves are not disgusted just by seeing “so many” black people and not racist, are they upset about the fact that commercials are not statistically accurate?

Since I follow this blog, I’m inclined to believe this isn’t the case, given the kind of content I’ve seen. If it was, where’s the outrage over the fact that TV does not show predominately overweight people (60% of Americans are considered overweight)? And while we’re talking about misrepresentations, where’s the rage over the fact that on countless occasions, white people have been playing people of color since the dawn of Hollywood to now? Laurence Olivier played a black man (complete with black face), Mickey Rooney was a Japanese man, Angelina Joli was Cuban, Katharine Hepburn was also Japanese, Natalie Wood was Puerto Rican, Ben Affleck was Hispanic, and Johnny Depp was Native American.

(A common defense of older movies with obviously whitewashed characters is that there simply weren’t people of the correct race in Hollywood. Because…RACISM. Actual racism. So that’s not a great argument.)

So, it seems that this angry person cares about representation, but only when it seems like white people are “losing.”  I would bet a lot of money that this person is also upset about the TV channel BET and historically black colleges. This anger is misplaced. And since when has TV been just about realistically portraying statistics? Representation is more than that. It has to be. Otherwise, yeah, we’d just have white people in everything, and then they would play the remaining 1.4% of Americans that are Chinese, or whatever. It’s happened before. It’s still happening.

In a Stanford address in 2005, Hazel Rose Markus wrote that “reality depends on representation. We learn to see and we learn to see the world as our society sees it, as our family sees it, as our political party sees it…” If young black Americans aren’t shown someone on TV who looks like them (in a positive way), it’s like they’re erased from society. Life imitates art. Sure, the “statistics” might be off, but for SO LONG, black people were either not on TV at all, or were shown in horribly negative and racist ways, as idiots, as passive slaves, as criminals.

I’d say society owes minorities some commercial time.

An Open Letter to NBC

ImageDear NBC,

Are you drunk? This is a serious question. Somewhere between your weeping into your gin over memories of “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” and believing that Anne Heche in “Save Me” was a great idea, did you just completely lose sight of what good TV is about?

Don’t get me wrong, you’ve done some decent things in the past few years. “Grimm” is pretty good. It’s got a great leading man, interesting stories, it’s riding high on the new popularity of fairy tales…way to be hip, peacock. You stayed faithful to “30 Rock,” one of the best sitcoms in TV history, and despite plunging numbers, you’ve stuck by “Community” as well. However, upon hearing that “Parks & Recreation” is going on a hiatus to make way for SNL clip shows, football, and “The Voice,” I literally smashed my face unto my keyboard. I then heard that your main reason for messing up your schedule was to encourage people to watch “Sean Saves the World” after losing the awful-looking “Welcome to the Family” and “Ironside,” which was LITERALLY a remake of YOUR OWN SHOW from 1967-1975. I think you know that people haven’t missed Jack from “Will and Grace” that much since after the premiere of 4.43 million, the second episode dropped to 3.26. Is your strategy along the lines of FORCING people to watch it by removing the best show in your Thursday night lineup?

Face it, NBC, you aren’t going to be pulling numbers like you used to. I know, I know, you’re a TV network, it’s all about the Benjamins, but seriously. You’re just not that guy anymore. You’re not the jock standing on a table in a bar, leading the rest of the group in a chorus of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You need to embrace your identity as the quirky but charming guy in a corner booth with his laptop, looking up lists of reaction GIFS of cats. Your “The Office” finale (THE FINALE) netted a nice 8.07 million, but any random episode of “The Big Bang Theory” is getting between 10-15 million now. And that is a quirky show. Stop with the single dad/teenager daughter thing or young woman navigates New York City looking for love. Make the dad a mime and his daughter a six-year-old member of Mensa. Throw that young woman into a tiny Alaskan town (ala “Northern Exposure,” anyone?)

Oh, and when you do get a good thing going, don’t mess it up beyond repair. I’m looking at you, “Up All Night.” I am so disappointed in you, NCB. So disappointed.

Sincerely,

A saddened and angry lover of “Parks & Recreation”