Posted in Brain Bits, Observations, Television

Brain Bits for a Boston Week

B StrongI love New England. I was proud to spend my college and law school years there, and being able to return to visit family and friends is always a pleasure. So when the bombs went off on Boylston Street on Monday—on Patriot’s Day, no less—it was like a knife to the heart.

The site of this week’s carnage was midway between my law school apartment and my alma mater, which at that time was located on Newbury Street. So I didn’t need to watch the videos of the attack to visualize where this happened. But I did. And I didn’t have to see the photos of the horror that ensued. But I did. And I didn’t need to be glued to NPR while I was at work on Friday, listening to the feed from Boston, in order to picture the lockdown in Boston and what was going on in Watertown. But I was. And on Saturday afternoon I cried when Fox Sports cut away from the Mets/Nationals game to the crowd at Fenway Park, led by Neil Diamond, singing “Sweet Caroline.”

I’ve written before about being a native New Jerseyan. But today, while the Jersey Shore may be in my DNA, my heart beats for Boston.

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What with season finales, series returns and shows dangling over the precipice awaiting word on renewal, there’s a lot going on in TV land. Sunday night is a virtual head-on collision of stalwarts, with “Game of Thrones” airing opposite “Nurse Jackie,” followed by “Mad Men.”

My scorecard so far reads like this:

“Game of Thrones”: Despite (or maybe because of) all the grue and gore, probably the most entertaining show now on the air. Yes, it’s getting complicated with all the different houses vying for the Iron Throne, but some time spent on the HBO web site or reviewing the family trees which appear as an appendix to each of George R.R. Martin’s novels should keep your head straight. And how can you resist Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, pulling the strings as Margery’s grandmother? Or Danerys Targaryan and her dragons of renown? Not to mention Tyrion Lannister, the unlikely hero of this saga? Sunday can never come soon enough.

“Nurse Jackie”: Getting a bit tired here. When did Kevin get to be such a bastard? I hope the show runners aren’t going down the Alzheimer’s path with Akalaitis. And why oh why did O’Hara move to London? Eve Best has got to return, otherwise this show will be a prime candidate for the trash can.

“Mad Men”: Flaccid. Limp. Sorry for the imagery, but what a disappointment the first two episodes of this season were. The two hour premiere was an exercise in tedium—Don Draper doing his “man of mystery” number again while screwing his neighbor’s wife, and what else is new? (By the way, I never would have recognized Linda Cardellini if her name hadn’t appeared in the closing credits). We already know what a rotten childhood Don had, but Matthew Weiner insists on belaboring the issue. At this point I want no more Draper flashbacks whatsoever unless they feature Anna Draper.

Based on the background news casts in last week’s episode, it appears we’re at the beginning of 1968, but where’s the creative snap of this era? Advertising was exploding at that time, what with the “let it all hang out” attitude, yet you’d never know it from what we’ve seen so far. And what’s Joan up to, besides putting down Mr. New Jersey Jaguar Dealership? She’s a partner in SCDP, and should have taken Lane Pryce’s job (though you can bet the boys won’t make her a VP). I enjoyed the Peggy scenes, especially those with her gossiping with Stan, but the show as a whole seems stuck in a rut. Relief is desperately needed.

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southland-cast-regina-king-michael-cudlitz-shawn-hatosy-ben-mckenzieThis season of “Southland” (and perhaps the entire series) ended on a fitting if unhappy note last Wednesday. As a big fan of the show I’d like to see it renewed, but if it isn’t, I have to say the producers left things in a logical place. Former Detective Sammy figured out that Ben was behind the robbery at his house, and their confrontation may have been the best scene of the episode. If “Southland” does return I suspect one of these men will be stuck with Dewey as a partner, which would be great comic relief.

John Cooper was left with nothing, perhaps not even his life. His ex-wife decides not to have a child with him, his ordeal at the hands of two meth heads keeps him off the streets and his sergeant refuses to override the brass’s decision on that score (Cooper’s pistol whipping the noisy neighbor demonstrates exactly why). While it looks like he’s gone, a return of “Southland” would no doubt bring word that the neighbors were indeed engaging in cannabis horticulture, thus exonerating Coop. We’ll see.

Only Lydia seemingly got a happy ending (though Sammy talking to his 18 month-old son like an adult is a joy). I say “seemingly” because while Tom Everett Scott is always easy on the eyes, I’m not sure I’d be trusting an ex-partner who threw me under the bus to save his own skin. But hey—if Lydia is happy, I’m happy.

In the meantime, we can only sit, wait, bite our nails and besiege TNT with emails begging them to renew “Southland.” Let your voice be heard by way of this link on TNT’s website. It can’t hurt.

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I love a good pun, and this one is especially welcome, given the events of the last week. It’s a great play on words, and I’ll give you a hint—it’s from a modern dress production of a certain Wagner opera. Sing out if you get it:

Bayerische Staatsoper

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