Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Three New Shows on TV

Two out of three isn't bad.

Mildred Pierce, taken from James M. Cain's (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity) novel of the same name, is a fine production. In his first two novels he cast women as she-devils using men for their own ends, but in Pierce he switched gears and made a woman with two children the sympathetic lead. Kate Winslett's acting is great; the woman has chops, it's hard for me to take my eyes off her. Everyone else on the cast is superb, too, and the set designs are perfect: unlike Boardwalk Empire's (HBO) Prohibition-era Atlantic City which has a soft-focus appearance, Pierce's post-Prohibition settings of Glendale and Pasadena and the coast highway from LA to Santa Barbara are brilliantly and crisply re-created. Only two episodes left. I'll miss it when it's gone. (HBO)

The Killing. Dunc noticed the lack of stereotypes. I appreciate the lack of sand-state locales. These both because the series is a Danish import. No cops with $100 haircuts on this show, no hot actresses slumming as forensics experts, no handsomely-stubbled matinee idols playing detective, no unusually good-looking people at all. There is darkness and tragedy, struggle and pain. (AMC)

I saved the worst for last. The Borgias. Period piece set in 15th century Rome. Sumptuous settings surprisingly well-lit for a time predating electric lighting. Vatican intrigue! Illicit love! Sword fights! Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Why...you can tell just by looking at them! High school level writing! Why is it high school level writing? Because it has more damn clich├ęs than a parody ("the suspense is killing me"), and because whenever anyone speaks a phrase in Latin there's always someone handy nearby to repeat it in English. (Showtime)

It's nice to see two good shows because the lack of anything worth watching has made Jack despondent.

Breaking Bad is still on hiatus. Dexter, where's Dexter?

But Nurse Jackie is back on again.

Coming: Game of Thrones. It looks great in the trailer, but fantasies are usually so full of themselves and pompous that they can't help but catch a case of "the stupids" (thanks, Dunc) early on. My idea of a proper fantasy is Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire (Comedy Central)

That about wraps up this episode of Amateur TV Review.


  1. Mind reading this morning ... getting ready to update FB with a Mildred Pierce recommendation. Kate Winslet at her best.

  2. "whenever anyone speaks a phrase in Latin there's always someone handy nearby to repeat it in English"

    I've got this great idea for a series where all the dialogue is in Latin. If I write a pilot, will you help me pitch it to AMC and HBO?

  3. The few bits of Latin they used were simple enough that anyone marginally familiar with a Romantic language could have sussed what they were saying.

    After all, if the writers were worried that even a snippet of Latin could be too confusing, then why didn't they do the whole show in English? It would make sense because Latin was the only language spoken in the Vatican in the 15th century, so tossing a few Latin phrases into the English dialog just makes no sense.

    And even if they felt they needed the Latin to keep us from confusing the Pope and cardinals with, say, Henry the 8th's court or some other group of men in ornate hats and dresses, there are less clumsy ways of communicating the meaning than having someone repeat it in English. That's just lazy writing.

    I'm just saying that this show seems to have been written by people who drink a whole lot of cough syrup, or think their viewers do.

  4. Did you watch any of the "Spartacus" series? The actors spoke English throughout, but it was a very stilted sort of English. I think the writers were trying to give the dialogue a flavor of Latin syntax, but it just came out sounding awkward and unnatural. (Heaping helpings of sex, violence and nudity kept me interested, though.)

    Also, why is it that in productions of this ilk, the upper-class Romans all have English accents and the low-class types sound American?

  5. Even more laughable, "The Borgias" opened with onscreen text describing Rome and the Vatican as the "centre" of Europe.

    I didn't catch "Spartacus."

  6. Hmm, "centre." Just trying to make it sound classy, I guess.

    I don't think Mrs. Elliott would enjoy "Spartacus," but you, being a degenerate like me, probably would. Netflix has it.

  7. Classy to someone who thinks you can class up a shopping mall by calling it a "centre," I suppose. My first reaction was "Is this a British production?"

    Like I say, the show aims low.

  8. No TV show ever aimed lower than "Spartacus." And it hit the bull's eye!


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