Monday, October 11, 2004

TV: A Keeper, A Sleeper and A Sweeper

The videotapes presented three more new shows for first viewing and the results are mixed. One, Boston Legal, is a keeper. CIS New York is a sleeper with a chance to match the success it's going to get no matter what I write here. And the third? Complete Savages. Complete Review? Yuck.

Boston Legal, is of course, the phoenix that has arisen from the ashes of David Kelley's The Practice. It actually debuted last year as the final few weeks of The Practice. But a change or two amongst the carryover characters and the addition of a couple of new ones gives this show the chance to proclaim newness.

There's lots to like including carryover James Spader's Alan Shore, a lawyer with a self-aware lack of ethics and more than a hint of a heart of gold. You WANT to cheer for him, but he's just a little too smirky to get completely behind. Rhona Mitra and Lake Bell are associate lawyers drawn like moths to his flame and that is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Monica Potter has jumped over from the sadly-missing (but still undead) Tru Calling to replace Rebecca DeMornay as the witch of the law firm. I like looking at Potter more, but DeMornay was VERY, VERY good in the part last year. Truly hateable. The other returnee from last year is William Shatner as the over-the-top Denny Crane. He's losing it, knows it, and has decided to enjoy the ride. Denny Crane, too.

The most welcome addition to the crew playing all new is Mark Valley's lawyer take on his Keen Eddie character, Detective Eddie Arlette. He and Spader bump heads immediately. Good Stuff.

Kelley normally gets two good years out of each show. This looks like a something to savour for at least that long.

CIS New York is the third in the icky innards franchise and there's a distinct lack of humour in the show thus far, even when the B Plot centres on a rat-opsy. And that's what worries me. Bill Peterson's humour is what drove CIS, the original, to its position atop the ratings. It was drier that the Las Vegas air, but it was there. Death requires humour to be palatable.

When the Miami branch of the show debuted, you'd get more than the odd shot of its lead David Caruso, smiling at least. And given the presence of Emily Procter and Sofia Milos, that was enough to buy the time to watch the show. Which brings up the coast to New York and the supposed coup of casting Gary Sinise. His character, Mack Taylor, is supposed to have the depth of Peterson's Gil Grissom and Caruso's Horatio Caine, but other than a religious fervosity, he just seems grim. As do the rest, spear-headed by Melina Kanakaredes, NY's doppleganger of Milos' Yelena Salas, hair and all.

If NY can lighten up, then it's worth watching, regardless of the lemming race to watch anything with CSI in it's title. If not, it will prove their IS a finite limite to just how much tissue damage a human brain can take (watching).

Sunday, October 10, 2004

SPORTS: A rose by any other name ...

Say it with me .. The American League Divisional Championship Series. Just trips off the tongue doesn't it? Euccchhh. To be followed by the American League Championship Series, the ALCS, cuz the real name stinks.

The problem is 'Championship.' It COMPLETELY misrepresents the first round and only slightly is more meaningful after that.

Now, let's try ... The American League Pennant Semi-Finals. Then the American League Pennant Series. Now THAT sounds better, doesn't it? Leads right into the World Series.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

TV: Calling dr vegas ...

Well, this was a week of work and not much passed by on videotape that I hadn't seen before. The exception was dr. vegas, Rob Lowe's latest attempt to prove what a good supporting character he can be. Too much screen time is NOT good for Lowe and he gets WAAAY too much time as the lead in this latest Las Vegas-set TV hour.

Lowe's Dr. Grant, Billy to all of his friends, is flawed, but good-hearted. Need to read any more? Laurence Olivier couldn't make this role sufferable. And that sinks the show. I know Joe Pantaliano is over the top as the casino owner, but I forgive Joey Pants just about anything. He's watchable. Tom Sizemore is intriguing as a casino host. Amy Adams is presentable as the other doctor in Grant's office at the Casino. And Sarah Lancaster, the lust-object last year in Everwood, surfaces here as the dealer with the heart of gold. Oops, there's that good gold-hearted description again. Arrrrgghh!!!

Watching Lancaster beam only goes so far. Eventually, Lowe's mug comes front and centre and stays too long. Thankfully, dr. vegas won't be staying all that long.

Maybe Lowe can get his old West Wing role back after proving the Peter Principle is still alive and kicking.

POLITICS: My Kerry Speech

As a Canadian, I watch the American presidential debates with a growing sense that our neighbours to the South are getting ready to make the most important vote ever held when it comes to Canadian interests.

It has been billed as the vote for the better war-time president. The candidate best able to extract the USA from the Iraq quagmire. And some people believe that. I don't. Nobody is getting out of Iraq easily or in the near future. What this vote is for is how readily America will enter its next war.

As such, the world trembles at the thought of another Bush term. Failing by virtually any other measurement, Bush can only rule by continuing fear-mongering. And it's a sad fact that effective fear-mongering requires the odd war to keep the bogeymen as threat to the mental peace of the citizenry.

Politicians lie. They lie to themselves. They lie to us. I hope those lies have a bit of non-self interest to them. In light of my expectations of fudging on the part of all politicians, the shenanigans of 30 years ago hold no interest to me. Based on what I believe is close to the truth, I would have admired the young Kerry and pilloried the party-boy Bush at the time, had I known them. But they've changed since then and neither one is to be measured completely on the youth-time exploits. The fine shadings of words taken out of context three decades later? Not interested.

If that takes the only peg leg out from under Kerry, so be it. But he is MORE than that, despite his campaign's unflagging dependence on his military exploits. Too bad they don't point more to his socially-conscious record and true international statesmanship. That said, the same mistake about Kerry is being made by Karl Rove and his cabal of Bush and Dick Cheney supporters.

Flip-flopper. Wilting in the face of the enemy. French flunkie. Repeat ad nauseum, only variating the commentary by using euphemisms.

So, if I may, let me write the speech I wish John Kerry had given early and often.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, children and any pets that might have made their way here to this event. My name is John Kerry and I am running for the Presidency of the United States of America.

I have ideas I think you will be interested in, for making America as great as it can be. I plan to stop expatriating jobs overseas to save a few bucks, only to see service diminish and dispirited ex-employees look vainly for new work. I will stop kowtowing to big drug, chemical and oil companies who are making profits at the expense of lowering the standards of living for all of you. I say all of you, because you can be sure that the fat cats enriched by the current administration have no time to stand out there listening to what I've got to say. I've got more to tell you, but let me take a few minutes to comment on the one thing that seems to be dominating the news.

My opponent, the President of the United States, has no plans to make your life better. His only plan, the one plan he has used to maintain power, is to keep you fearful. He and his Attorney General John Ashcroft, have imported the Singapore governing model intact. By chipping away at the very core of the values that make America great, he has moved us too closely to a Police state. He has used the criminal actions of 19 terrorists, 16 of them Saudis, none of them Iraqis, to curtail the personal freedoms that separate America from the rest of the world. He has waged legitimate war in Afghanistan to attack the safe harbour of those terrorits. But on the cusp of victory over terror, he invaded a country that had nothing to do with September 11th. None. And no broadly-hinted collusion charges changes that fact. He invaded a country with NO weapons of mass destruction. He invaded a country with no ability to harm American interests save for paying the families of suicide bombers in Israel. An odious practice, for sure, but does it raise the bar to the level of invasion? We had more cause to invade Saudi Arabia than Iraq.

A vote was taken before we went to war with Iraq. The Congress was asked to vote in favour of giving the President the option of going to war. We were giving information by the President that made it obvious that this option had to be made available to our Commander-in-Chief. I take the President at his word that the information we were given was the same information he had. All of it. Had we suspected at the time that the information was as error-filled as it was, as idealogically-biased as it has proven to be, as bereft of opposing points of view as were out there in large number at the time, we would not have voted for the option of war to be made available to the President.

The OPTION of war. An option to be used as a last resort. And, within weeks, without the exhausting of all political alternatives, the President gave up the focused war on terror in Afghanistan and sent the troops to Baghdad. Thousands injured. More than a thousand American men and women killed. Uncounted Iraqis dead and injured. That might not be a story here in this country where the name of every combatant killed in Vietnam is engraved in granite in Washington and the names of every lost soul in New York is read each anniversary of September 11th. I mourn for the soldiers we have lost in this needless conflict. And I mourn for the innocent lives lost in Iraq too. I wish I was confident everybody in this political arena did too.

I later voted, on first reading, against the expenditure of 85 billion dollars in Iraq. This vote was a protest against this war and its obscene profits for certain companies, and I said so at the time. I later voted for a measure that featured less pay-offs for friends of the Vice-President's former firms, and put more of that huge sum of money directly in the theatre of combat. A sum that we were later to find is one-half to one-third of the money we will be shipping to Iraq rather than spending it here at home.

These two votes are the complete focus of my opponent's campaign to be elected President of the United States of America. He has no plan to make your life better. He only wants you to fear the flip-flopper, a man he claims will wilt when faced with the most horrendous decision a President can face. War. And he claims I will bend to the will of the French and to the international community if ever faced with war. He wants you to be afraid of me.

But fear not, as you can see, I'm nothing to be afraid of. Yet, I HAVE killed. People have tried to kill me. I was wounded in action and returned to battle. I have ordered others to shoot at and presumably kill the enemy. And I have done so in a split second. In battle, you have to make those decisions. In statesmanship, you have more time to gather information, listen to all points of view, and proceed with calm determination that what you are doing is right for America.

Gathering all information, allowing dissent to be heard, allows you to learn something that permits you to change your mind. How often do we believe somebody is guilty of a crime before evidence of innocence is found? To forbid yourself the ability to change your mind is a character flaw I find unfathomable. If changing one's mind is flip-flopping, than I wear the label with pride. I assume the President does too. How else to explain his change in positions on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security or the creation of the bi-partisan September 11 Commission. His initial opposition was wrong and he changed his mind. Good for him.

I won't wilt under pressure. I won't cling to ideas and concepts proven wrong over time. And no amount of saying so by my opponents will ever make me put American self-sovereignity in the hands of non-Americans. Name-calling doesn't impress me much. I have too much hope for America to let that get to me. I hope you don't let it get to you either.

Now, back to what I plan to do to make YOUR life better ....