November 2007 Archives
Twelve-year-old Laurel is a remarkably grounded, normal, self-possessed kid from somewhere in Massachusetts that has given her that bad-ass Boston-y accent I kind of can't resist in anyone. In her CBS profile, she declares that her favorite world leader is Jesus Christ, but also objects to the portrayal of women in the media (!) and has this to say about the worst presidents in history: "I'm not sure if President Bush will read this (probably not) and I don't want to hurt his feelings but I am not too happy with his decisions." She finishes, "He doesn't seem real bright like a president should be." She says some cringeworthy things about immigrants, but honestly, the fact that she can hold in her head the fact that you can hold some beliefs that liberals hold and other beliefs that conservatives hold still pleases me. She'll get older; she'll work it all out.
On the show, Laurel is easily the most respected kid in the whole fake town. To return to a concept taught in my college Sociology class, some of the other kids have power, but Laurel alone has authority. In other words, the rest of the council has the actual ability to create consequences, and can get people to do things because they can give out the gold star and whatnot. But Laurel has actual authority, meaning that people have accepted her as a real live leader, so when she suggests that something should be a done a certain way, it's likely that her explanation will be received favorably, because her blessing on an idea has come to mean a lot.
Remarkably, when each "district" (team, really) was given the chance to pick a new leader, nobody on the green team she was then leading even took any interest in running against Laurel. They all just pretty much said, "You rock; we're fine." This despite the fact that the team was losing challenges like mad and riding near the bottom of the artificial socioeconomic ladder almost every week as a result. They didn't care; they like her. They trust her.
The kid has a near-flawless moral compass embedded in her brain: she hates bullies, prefers to resolve disputes and allow all sides to retain as much dignity as possible, does not put up with prima donnas, expects everyone to do their share of the work, generously gives credit where it's due, and cheers for everyone in every situation.
At the end of last week's talent-show episode, she busted out an a cappella version of "Amazing Grace" that was simple, unadorned, and lovely -- sounding just like a talented kid should sound, and not like a pageant contestant or the next American Idol.
Some kids on this show honestly must make their parents want to crawl under the couch and cry, even if they don't admit it. I hope Laurel's parents are getting a kick out of watching her, because she is a credit to them. She is awesome. I want her to be twenty years older so we can be pals.
- Topanga Hasselbeck
- Linn-Baker Hasselbeck
- Mowry Hasselbeck
- Salem The Cat Hasselbeck
- Urkel Hasselbeck
So: the most recent episode of Cold Case. Yeah, I'm "the one" who still watches that show. Why? I do like my crime procedurals, but CC's formula has gotten a bit tired, particularly the ruthlessly on-the-nose musical cues selected to highlight whatever era the cold case du jour belongs to -- and Kathryn Morris is likeable, but in the last couple of seasons, she's stopped giving her acting much nuance; the character seems to exist at one of two poles, "near angry tears" or "beaming bittersweetly."
And then the show will pull shit like it did last Sunday (stop reading now if you DVRed it and don't want to know). The serial-killer plot was a bit too neat -- although compared with SVU's take on serial murderers from last week, it seemed like a model of restraint -- but it was paced well, and it worked for me until the end, when it was clear that the killer was going to either kill himself or try some sort of suicide-by-cop thing. So why didn't Valens just aim for the fleshy part of the thigh and take him down first? It's not like he didn't have ample opportunity; the killer's speechifying went on for a good two minutes. I suppose it's more dramatic, in theory, to have the guy slit his own throat than for Valens to clip him in the leg, but in practice, when every episode ends with a musical montage anyway, I don't see why the writers fell back on Ebert's "talking villain" cheat.
Needlessly gory climaxes, lazy acting by Morris -- I should just take Cold Case off the DVR, I suppose. But I keep watching it for Jeremy Ratchford and Thom Barry, who still turn in touching performances and keep it authentic. And John "Sheriff Witter" Finn as the boss is good, too.
One of the myriad PBS programs I nerdily DVR is P.O.V., "television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films." It's a great resource for a documentary fan like myself, and films vary in subject from Apted's 7 Up series to shorter pieces like Bill's Run: A Political Journey In Rural Kansas, which came out in 2004 and which my DVR grabbed last week. It's an insightful film (if a little bit too folksy in places -- we can see everyone's wearing overalls; we don't necessarily need the Ken Burnsian banjo cues on the soundtrack), a good story, an accessible length (under an hour), and it's like NPR in that you can listen to it while you pay bills or tidy up.
PBS programming is a great backup in the event that the WGA strike lasts into next year; depending on your local station's line-up, shows like P.O.V. and American Experience get rerun a great deal, and you can rack up a bunch of documentaries on the TiVo and watch your tax dollars at work.
Wing Chun: Shannyn Sossamon's doing a Moonlight?
Joe R: She's on Moonlight.
WC: I know, they just showed her; she's going to be in it tomorrow.
JR: No, she's on it. She was one of the many recasts.
WC: No way, seriously?
JR: What, because she's such a big movie star that doing Moonlight is beneath her?
WC: Good point.
JR: Didn't she also give her kid some legendarily stupid name? Not Pilot Inspektor...
WC: Yeah -- not Moxie Crimefighter... [looks it up] I thought so! "Audio Science."
JR: Oh, Jesus Christ.
WC: I can't decide whether it's lamer to name your kid Audio Science...or be in the cast of Moonlight.
Randy's had a lot of great moments over the years -- playing World Of Warcraft, engaging in a quasi-gay sex act with Kyle's dad during a meteor shower, producing a record-breaking poo (bigger than Bono's!) -- but in our household, Randy's most memorable performance was in "The Losing Edge" (pictured), in which Randy trains hard to be the drunkest drunk sports dad in town. "I'm sorry, I thought this was America!" has a permanent place in our household's catchphrase repertoire, for which we say, thank you, Randy Marsh.
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