Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Ruining My Eyes
I don't have a life, but I do have a television. Mostly use it as a monitor for my video collection these days, but this Sunday, I actually watched some real programs. Some more reluctantly than others. At any rate, a run-down . . .
6:oo p.m. -- Bones: Brennan and Booth on a plane to China. A woman turns up barbecued in the galley's convection oven ("It smells a bit like roast pork"). While working their way to the real killer, we meet the pilot with an unreported drinking problem, a stewardess stealing credit-card numbers from the passengers, and a lawyer who was cheating on his dying wife with Miss Extra Crispy (before she became a pulled-pork sandwich in the making). Oh, and a comic-relief Little Old Lady who's read all of Brennan's mystery novels. As per usual, equal parts amusing and annoying. The folks who write this show do beautifully by the main characters (including all of the folks back in the lab), but everything else feels second-hand and rather lazy. At least they didn't resort to making The Help the killer this time (in one episode, The Butler did it). Emily Deschanel and David Boreanz have the kind of effortless appeal you used to see in movie stars. These days, we have to settle for Scarlett Johannson . . .
7:00 p.m. -- Golden Globes Pre-Show Thingy Something or Other: More annoying than having teeth drilled without Novocain, but my mom likes seeing the ladies' dresses, and there were pots and pans to be cleaned. Three people whom I wouldn't know from Adam (apparently they were "Entertainment Journalists") stood on the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton, blocking access to the free booze until random celebrities told them Who They Were Wearing and How Exciting it All Was. Helena Bonham Carter turned up in fabric-sample dress and mis-matched shoes and still managed to look better than just about anyone else (for one thing, she wasn't falling out of the damn thing). Ricky Gervais turned up with a big smile (he knew what was coming) and looking more like an amiable vampire than ever (seriously, the man has terrifying canines). I'd hate to think this gig would be regarded as a plum assignment for an Entertainment Journalist; they must have drawn the shortest straws.
8:00-8:10 p.m. or so -- Golden Globe Awards: I did want to see Gervais' opening monologue, and he didn't disappoint. It should be said, I think, that in front of any other audience, jokes about Charlie Sheen's unregenerate degeneracy, Tom Cruise's probable homosexuality, and the infinite bribe-ability of Bulgarian expat show-biz stringers would seem rather mild, but this was a hotel ballroom packed with several hundred people who are still brooding over their ill-treatment in high school. And more than a few Bulgarian expat show-biz stringers. It was actually rather gutsy. The cameras captured many, many pursed lips, and a few people seemed so upset that their faces threatened to develop frown lines in defiance of Saturday's Botox injections. DeNiro, on the other hand, seemed to be having a wonderful time . . .
8:15 p.m. -- 60 Minutes: A story about Jared Loughner, the young man who shot up Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a host of other unfortunates, six of whom died. For once, there was no mention of Sarah Palin or cross-hair graphics, just a smart, patient explication of how Loughner started going crazy and nobody did anything about it. Very little gets done about the mentally ill in this country, and even less gets done in Arizona, where they're even cutting funding for transplant patients (not that there's much of that, either--even in states that aren't Arizona). It turns out, the only people doing much to keep potential assassins from fulfilling their ambitions are the Secret Service, who keeps tabs on people who pop up on their radar, visiting with them, making sure that they get psychiatric help and take their medications. Also, most assassins show genuine remorse for the crimes they've committed--which puts them several steps ahead of, say, Dick Cheney . . .
9:30 p.m. -- Episodes: A show about what folks do in Hollywood when they aren't handing out year-end bowling trophies. There's a Courtesy Lunch with Matt LeBlanc, a ghastly dinner party with network boss Merc Lapidus (John Pankow, doing wonderful things with a crudely-written part) and an explosion of potty-mouth from Tamsin Grieg at the end that is both shocking and paralyzingly funny. Yet again, Daisy Haggard only got three or four lines and still managed to be hilarious. There's a serious danger that the American version of Lyman's Boys may be called Pucks. On an incidental note, all of the ladies in the dinner-party scene were better dressed than the cleavage brigade at the GG's.
10:00 p.m. -- The Best of Jack Benny: An episode with Bob Hope, which means that his gag team probably re-wrote most of what Benny's gag team came up with. Nothing epic, but there's something wonderful about watching two people who know exactly what they're doing and love doing it going through their paces. Alas, this was not the Hope I ever saw on TV -- that was the Hope who kept doing what he did because he had no other life. Jesse White turned up in one sketch as a theatrical manager. An unexpected joke dropped into the mix, and there followed an heroic struggle not to laugh that was truly beautiful to see . . .
11:00 p.m.(ish) -- The Golden Globes: Wandered out for a soda just as Ricky Gervais was thanking God for making him an atheist. Barely heard it, of course, because they all but turned off the sound and pulled the camera away. Via YouTube, found out I had missed him referring to Bruce Willis as Aston Kutcher's dad and to Sylvester Stallone's amazing range as an actor. For some reason, I found myself remembering the story about Boris Karloff giving the Grammy Award he won for his recording of How The Grinch Stole Christmas to his agent, who used the thing as a doorstop. These were gentlemen who had things in perspective.
Midnight -- Dark and Stormy Night: A Larry Blamire Thing, as he refers to it. DVD I got recently. Spoof of Old Dark House thrillers. Blamire's usual stock company of collaborators, including his wife Jennifer Blaire, Brian Howe, Faye Masterson, Dan Conroy, Susan McConnell, Andrew Parks, and Robert Deveau, as well as Daniel Roebuck off of Lost, James Karen, H.M. Wynant, and Betty Garrett and her pet gorilla. The script showcases Blamire's fondness for complicated, silly word-play (at which he is brilliant), and the cast reminds you just how much underutilized, under-appreciated talent is knocking around out there. Absolutely unpretentious and completely delightful. And likely to be remembered long after this year's crop of Oscar-Bait movies has been forgotten.