Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Goodbye Six Feet Under

I canceled cable TV almost two years ago and hardly miss it. In fact, I think I’m much better off for having done it. For not only have I saved thousands of dollars in fees, but I’ve also watched great series I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to otherwise, because I would have been aimlessly frittering away my TV-watching time on the talking headless and other inferior programming instead of enjoying on demand via Amazon Prime, Netflix streaming, and Hulu some of the finest programs ever to adorn the small screen.

Over these past two years, in addition to watching great series that haven’t ended such as The Good Wife and Justified and reveling in several seasons of series that have such as Deadwood and Sons of Anarchy, I’ve also watched all of Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Friday Night Lights, Rome, Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and, just last night, I finished watching Six Feet Under.

Several years ago, a former friend of mine drunkenly raved about how great Six Feet Under is. He said it was a fantastically well-written, well-acted, and thought-provoking look at life and death and his favorite series ever by far. We watched the first episode together, although I think he passed out about halfway into it. Well, to be frank, I wasn’t quite as enamored with it then and subsequently as he was, but I still think it’s one of the finest TV dramas I’ve ever seen.

I guess what I disliked the most about Six Feet Under was that I often struggled not to despise almost every major character on the show. Almost every one of them, including all of the Fisher clan, seemed so incredibly neurotic, narcissistic, and callous to the needs and hurts of others, except to the extent that they saw them in terms of their own needs and hurts, that I often wanted to reach into the screen and slap them silly. I mean there were times when I virtually hated Nathan, Ruth, and Claire and recoiled from David’s whiny effeminacy.

But when all was said and done, I still cared about all of them, because, as all great TV series do, they were masterfully enacted as full-bodied, complex characters who took tentative steps forward and despairing ones backward along their developmental paths encountering life’s endless and sometimes overwhelming challenges, and there was so much poignancy mixed with delightfully dark humor in their travails, not to mention so many psychological, philosophical, and religious themes to contemplate along the way, that how could I not love the show and already miss it now that I’m caught in the melancholy wake of its majestic final episode? (You can see the final ten minutes of the finale below)

Well, now it’s on to what may well be the greatest show of them all--The Wire. What will I think of it and say about it after I’ve finished watching its finale? I should know in about three months.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Standing Up to North Korea

Was the North Korean government involved in the recent hacking attacks and threats against Sony Pictures? They say they weren’t. The U.S. government says they were. I’m not sure I consider either more credible than the other. But in this case, what difference does it make? Someone did it, and Sony Pictures indefinitely cancelled distribution of the ”The Interview” as a result. 

I can’t say that I blame Sony Pictures, but I hope they release the film later on. In the meantime, I applaud pugnacious Larry Flynt for pledging to release a pornographic parody of “The Interview” to thumb his nose at those responsible for the attacks. Moreover, President Obama has denounced the attacks and vowed to respond to them in a timely and appropriate fashion.

I have an idea of how he might do this. Why doesn’t the U.S. government pay Sony Pictures for the rights to the film and let one or more major networks broadcast it to the whole country for free? It could justify this as national defense against external intimidation and censorship, and many more people might end up seeing the film than ever would otherwise. I’d be one of them. The film looks like the kind of cinematic garbage I’d never see without good reason. But now I have the best of reasons.

Bring it on!