Sunday, June 30, 2013
Over the last few years, I've been working on transferring all of these tapes to DVD. It is still, of course, an imperfect archival medium, but schlepping boxes and boxes of tapes from move to move was seeming more and more ridiculous with the streamlined world of DVD there for the taking. I have reluctantly disposed of the VHS tapes as I've gone along, but it is always a bit painful to let them go. The dubbing project is going somewhat slowly, in large part because I'm always doing some sort of over-the-air archiving at the same time. My biggest ongoing over-the-air effort is saving all of the Ryan's Hope episodes airing on Soapnet (the channel runs the soap's episodes from its debut in 1975 to the end of 1981. Though RH aired until 1989, I have been told that music rights issues keep Soapnet from airing the post-'81 eps). But I've been archiving lots of other soap material, as well, and have saved full or nearly full runs of various prime-time series, too.
All of this may seem somewhat futile and old-fashioned in an age of YouTube and TV-on-DVD, but so much material remains unavailable in these formats, so much of it still seems fleeting (on YouTube today, gone tomorrow), and so much of it is partial (either clips of episodes or less than full runs of series) that I remain a tenacious archivist. I seem to get more and more serious about this as I get older. Perhaps it is nostalgia for the past; perhaps it is an inherent suspicion of new technologies; perhaps it is just experience that has taught me how devalued most TV still is.
The best part of these efforts has been my simultaneous creation of a video catalog that allows me to find whatever I need quickly and easily, and that gives me a collectors' geeky pride whenever I look at it. I'm getting close to having a thousand disks (most of which have from 2 to 13 TV episodes on them) and this darn catalog is as much a point of pride for me as is my book, or my child (OK, OK, I'm pretty much kidding there, but I do love my Excel spreadsheet beyond reason). To love a thing like television is to be protective of it--little boxes on a spreadsheet and a line-up of disc carrying cases is one of the best ways I know to preserve a piece of my own connection to the tube.
But it's really effective because I just loved, loved, loved the show. I know it's only been one episode but I am already quite impressed with its feminist sensibility. This doesn't much surprise me, as it was created and written by Diablo Cody, whose Juno script was also one of the more feminist pieces of mainstream culture I've seen of late. Unlike Juno, however, Tara jumps right into its progressive vision (I think it takes Juno until she tells her parents about the pregnancy for the tone of the film to shift and for me to start feeling really into it).
Tara seems particularly resonant with what I think of as third wave feminism. By this I mean that it is acutely aware of the multiplicity of identity. Now, that may seem way obvious, given the fact that the show's premise is our protagonist's multiple personality disorder. But that seems to serve more as metaphor than anything--it allows the show to experiment with different dimensions of Tara's identity in ways that a non-mentally ill character in a realist program could not. What stood out for me in ep. 1 was how very much the dimensions of Tara's identities served to explore dimensions of gender identity (and this before I've even seen Alice, the hyper-feminine '50s housewife alter). Hypersexual teen alter T and male Vietnam vet Buck already exemplify gendered extremes, though Alice will surely help make clear that those extremes do not appear on a linear continuum but rather a three-dimensional series of planes, with multiple versions of femininity, at least, vying for dominance.
Even better is the attitude of Tara's family toward her alters and thereby to her range of gendered identities. In the first episode they are totally and comfortably accepting. This is just the way things are for them. In fact, they seem to sort of benefit from the different identities Tara takes on, as if no singly gendered self can be the all things to all members of the family that many would wish. Whether this will turn out to be a critique of the multiple demands placed upon women, or whether it will remain an acceptance, even embrace, of the many selves we all might be if given the chance remains to be seen.
But I'm pretty sure that Showtime is going to get my subscription dollars so I can find out.
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Friday, June 28, 2013
In a week in which CBS, Guiding Light, and P&G mount an all-out promotional assault to tell us about the debut of their new shooting style, ABC Daytime pulls out the stops the old-fashioned way: sex, violence, and pole dancing. Let's start with the pole-dancing. I had been feeling more hopeful about All My Children lately, what with the glowing reviews of the Jesse and Angie reunion of recent weeks, and the pretty location shooting to match it. Then the good folks at Daytime Confidential brought this to my attention: the young women stars of AMC taking pole dancing lessons from Dancing with the Stars' Maksim. I can deal with the cross-promotion, even with a cheesy "let's learn to dance" sequence, but the soft-core porny music video montage of the ladies working it out on the pole--in their office? Yikes.
Then there's my show, GH. The internets are all up in arms over the hypocrisy of the oh-so-serious PSA airing after one of last week's episodes, when pre-teen Michael Corinthos accidentally set off a gun, shooting his dad's lady love. The actors portraying said lady love and the young mafioso-in-training solemnly came on screen thereafter to tell us violence is bad. The great wits of Serial Drama, both columnists and forum posters, have painstakingly detailed the seemingly endless acts of violence portrayed on GH ever since. It's a long list.
I'm totally with these folks in denouncing the hypocrisy of it all. And yet. Here I am, hard at work on my gymnastic efforts to read much of the business on GH these days differently, even sympathetically. For example, the reveal of Diego Alcazar as the Text Message Killer (for the uninitiated, no he doesn't kill BY text message, he just likes to taunt his victims VIA text message) is, indubitably, preposterous. As zarathelawyer reminds us, the character is dead, and dead in a pretty "yeah, he's definitely dead" way. Yet I kind of don't care about how very much the story asks us to suspend our disbelief. I'm just so glad it's almost over. I think the interim writers, whose work is still playing out, desperately grasped at whatever end they could give the story that would give the killer some plausible reason for committing his murderous acts. I still can't imagine how they will explain him offing Georgie (haven't watched today's yet, so don't tell me if it's been addressed), but he has something resembling a motive for the rest of his victims. More outrageous to me is the decimation of one of the few characters of color to grace this show in recent years. It began when he was, inexplicably, made into a sex criminal by taking naked pictures of roofied girls a few years ago. And now this. Nothing about the character ever signaled these sorts of acts of misogynist degeneracy--except that they told us he did these things. And he wasn't white.
I know. I'm making all of this sound really despicable. And in many ways it is. And yet. At least they're getting us out of this damn story, and placing blame on a character who has long been destroyed anyway.
Meanwhile, I continue to find ways to see the development of Sarah Brown's mob-girl Claudia Zacchara as an interesting characterization. Claudia is aggressively sexual, like, so aggressively sexual that it's freaking Sonny Corinthos--he of the Fonz-like sexual magnetism--out. But unlike the earlier female mobster, Faith Roscoe, Claudia's sexual aggression may actually have a cause. There have been hints that she was sexually abused by her father when she was a child and Sarah Brown's magical vulnerable bravado thing is making me believe that her present-day aggression, sexual and otherwise, is all about reacting to this painful past. And so I find her sympathetic and compelling.
In contrast, Sonny and all of the other typically dominant characters (and I mean dominant in that we are typically expected to take their perspectives and attitudes as those we should accept and adopt, as well) are falling to pieces. Sonny is running around town accusing all the wrong people of shooting his lady love and kidnapping his boy, all wild-eyed and gun-wagging. Frankly, he looks like a wack-job. Meanwhile, Carly is all a-fretting and a-wailing about her missing son, the aforementioned accidental shooter, Michael, believing he's another victim of Sonny's mobbin' ways (a view shared by the other GH dominants, Jason and Sonny) when in reality the kid is just totally frakked up, wielding guns and then running for his life because he thinks his pops will respond to violence with violence. Wherever did he get that idea? So here's what I'm liking: Sonny and Jason and Carly look stupid and wrong and misguided. I DON'T think I'm supposed to accept their worldview as mine. Meanwhile, saner citizens of Port Chuck speak sensibly: Jacks wants to call the police because a kid is missing. Sensible! Ric continues on his path of redemption, making nice with Alexis and kicking Trevor to the curb. Sensible! Johnny Zacchara wants to ignore all the mob business and snuggle up with his new sweetie. Sensible!
I may be trying way too hard to find the happy in GH these days. But in a world of sex, violence, and pole dancing, I take what I can get from the ABC soaps.
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Thursday, June 27, 2013
I began to fantasize about all of the ways this streaming video would improve my life: easy, fast GH screen caps! catching bits of episodes while eating lunch at my desk! keeping up while traveling! This may be Too Much Information, but this morning I experimented with watching a streaming ep on the laptop while getting ready in the bathroom. Even put the flat iron down for a minute to watch the intense Maxie/Spinelli scenes from the 1/9 episode.
My fantasies aren't coming true so quickly, however. The combination of my crap-ass computer (past its ideal replacement age), so-so internet connection, and the vagaries of streaming video players in general made the episode stop and start throughout, offering a not-particularly-pleasant viewing experience, even if that viewing was distracted by the putting in of contact lenses and moisturizing of face.
Plus, the soap news is so gloomy these days that it's hard to get too excited about all of the ways a streaming GH will benefit me. This piece includes some pretty devastating quotes from industry bigwigs, such as "No format has been hit harder [by the recession] than daytime serials" and that Guiding Light "isn't even treading water. It's sunk below the waves." Sad times indeed.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
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Sunday, June 23, 2013
But I am cheered by the headline Variety just sent to my email Inbox: "Sex and the City whips Indiana." I'm far from the world's biggest SaTC fan (I like it and all but have no special devotion). But I was really ticked off by all of the press coverage the last couple of weeks about how SaTC would ever manage to do decent b.o. if men weren't going to see it. "Anticipation for Sex high, but will men see it?" kind of headlines.
The media industries have for too long trusted in the idea that women will see men's movies (girls will play with boys' toys, etc.) but that the reverse won't work. Glad to see those SaTC ladies prove them wrong.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
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This past fall, the networks' new practice of offering the pilots for many new series for free on iTunes greatly assisted my old practice of watching all network (and most cable) scripted series at least once. I'm still a free iTunes junkie and will watch a wider range of shows there than I might otherwise choose to record and watch. So I recently got to check in with Kyle XY again (still don't think I'm missing anything there) and got to watch the first episode of the endearing Scott Baio is 46 . . . and pregnant. As a childhood Happy Days devotee and a generally proud product of the '70s, Scott Baio is of course very close to my heart. I got a real kick out of Scott Baio is 45 and single last summer, and so was happy to get to see the next phase in Scott reality TV drama. This series is shot in the Laguna Beach/Hills model--no "confessionals," no talking head interviews--just you-are-there footage of Scott and his buds bumbling through middle age. An added bonus is that one of those buds is Jason Hervey, the actor who played Wayne Arnold, Kevin Arnold's obnoxious big brother in one of my '80s TV faves, The Wonder Years. (Hmm . . . I'm sensing something about my past preferences for nostalgia TV . . . ) So I get Chachi and Wayne--what more could a girl want? [Sometime I'll have to write about my fondness for the animated kids' show, Oswald, a fondness primarily rooted in my adoration of Fred Savage, who voices octopus Oswald and was, of course, the Wonder Years' darling protagonist.]
But I really, really digress from the iPod at the gym thing. Today I began to watch the pilot of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles while at the gym. Now, I'm not done with it yet but I like it so far--strong women characters, lots of action. There is no way the money that was put into this pilot will appear in the later episodes and I can see how the on-the-run formula might get old. But here's my secret: I like pretty much anything I watch on the iPod at the gym. I think the fact that I am watching TV that I want to watch at the same time that I am working out is just too perfect a confluence of efficiency, productivity, and pleasure to make me anything but gleeful. (Maybe this explains my pleasure in the Lost recap, too.)
That said, I do find that I especially enjoy sitcoms and other half-hour programming viewed this way. Perhaps if I had a fancy new iPod Touch or some other device with a bigger screen and a better quality image, I'd enjoy dramas more. But the bright lighting, clear sound, and easy-to-follow plots of half-hour comedies fit that little screen and my sweating self just beautifully.
Friday, June 21, 2013
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What makes the Square Perfect photo studio in a box so special?Quality . . .These are made of high quality fabric. . you won't bedisappointed. The 16 inch x 16 inch x 16 inch size with large frontopening makes taking studio like images simple. Also included is atripod to keep your camera still, and colored backgrounds. Inaddition, we have included--at no charge--2 high output lights foryour indoor photography needs.All attachments are made easy with the velcro fastening system and thecase makes it easy to transport and store.WHAT IS INCLUDED?SOFT LIGHT BOX: Light weight and easy to set up table top design, thesoft light box utilizes a specially woven, heat resistant, 100% nylonfiber mesh diffuser, which delivers uniform illumination whileeliminating harsh shadows and reflective glare. Folds up forconvenient storage and travel.Set up size: 16 inch x 16 inch x 16 inch.FOUR BACKGROUNDS: Red, White, Blue, and black non reflective polyesterfabric background provides for contrast with either dark or lightobjects, as well as creates an infinite field of depth.Size: 31 inch Lx 15 inchHIGH OUTPUT LIGHTS: Two, studio quality, high output 3000K Tungstenlamps for excellent & even color temperature and clarity. Retractablelegs allow for hand held use. 8 inch height with 8 ft. power cord.110v/50w, UL listed.CAMERA STAND: Fully adjustable, high quality,aluminum and steel camera stand eliminates jitters and blurs commonlyexperienced with hand held shots. Large legs with skid reduction padskeeps stand firmly in place. Neck height ranges from 10 inches withextension up to 18 inches.
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This weekend marks the release of the feature film, Twilight, based on the first in Stephenie Meyer’s quartet of young adult novels featuring the awkward human teen, Bella Swan and her beautiful and perfect vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen. Haven’t seen the film yet—not bold enough to venture out to last night’s midnight screenings—and promised my sister a joint outing to see it over Thanksgiving weekend anyway. But I’ve read the book and am thisclose to being done with Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final in the series. I’m pretty sure I’ve already encountered the major plot points of BD, and if there is a surprise twist I’m not expecting, well, I’ll be pretty damn surprised.
These books are not exactly stellar works of writing, or plotting, or characterization, or really any of the things one might want in a novel. But I kept reading after Twilight, which I picked up in order to be in on the tweens-and-their-moms buzz, so there must be something there that’s drawing me back.
Maybe it’s the vampire boyfriend. There’s a lot of them floating around these days. Buffy’s Angel, of course, but also Sookie Stackhouse and her vbf. (I’m trying to coin a slang term here, so please keep up) of the Charlaine Harris books and HBO series, True Blood, as well as Edward, dreamy vbf of the moment. I’ve read the first in the Harris series and have been watching True Blood, though am, per usual, a couple of episodes behind. There’s no real competition for Buffy and Angel in any of this, so I kind of want to put them aside as exceptional. But certainly all three vbf stories have something in common. (Just remembered another! The short-lived CBS series of last season, Moonlight, with the young blonde reporter and her vbf—too lazy to go look up character names.)
In vbf stories, there is an inherent obstacle to the characters’ couplehood—namely, that vbf, as gorgeous and attentive as he might be—could also kill you, or make you all coffin-sleeping immortal, or revert to his soulless origins and cruelly dump you—if his manly passions get the better of him. Girls just know that guys aren’t so good at keeping those manly passions in check and, after all, what hetero-leaning girl doesn’t want to be the object of the perfect guy’s manly passions? Herein lies the problem—the thing you want most, that wants you most, could be very, very bad for you. Sigh.
In the Twilight series, the hook, if you could call it that, is that Edward is actually very good for Bella, and good to her. He nobly restrains his passion for her, like, indefinitely, for fear of doing her in, and many others have rightly noted that this makes him a supremely safe fantasy object for very young girls contemplating heterosexual sex but freaked out about it all the same. Edward is the abstinence king who really, really loves her like crazy anyway. Interestingly, this is the dimension of the books that has kept me from really getting into the Bella/Edward romance—well, that, and the fact that Bella is a supremely uninteresting young woman. (I think this is actually part of the appeal for many—she is so plain, so unremarkable, that you could actually be in her shoes—it’s not a far stretch to imagine since she is no more impressive than you.) I’ve been much more into the possibility/fantasy of a Bella/Jacob romance, Jacob being B’s bff, rival to Edward for Bella’s affections, and oh yeah, a werewolf. Jacob’s passion for Bella is much less restrained than Edward’s, plus she could actually have a real human life with him and he is unlikely to kill her when they have sex—seems like a no-brainer choice to me but, alas, events thus far in Breaking Dawn have indicated that Jacob is totally off the canvas as a romantic possibility for Bella, which I think may be why I’ve lost enthusiasm for the books and have yet to finish the last one. Up till a certain point in BD, I held out hope for a proper romantic triangle. Now that I’m pretty sure all such hope is gone, not so into it.
The other vbf stories make the vbf a much more appealing choice—for all the typical vbf reasons listed above but also because he doesn’t go to the extreme of protecting her by squelching his passion. True Blood is getting way too much of its mileage from its premium cable raciness, but I admit that Bill and Sookie are a pretty hot pair. Bill’s got old school gentlemanly charm (he was a Civil War soldier when turned vamp) as well as manly man passion and toughness. And he respects Sookie as pretty tough herself, as well as capable of things he is not (reading minds). She’s a great character, a million times more interesting than Bella (and definitely enhanced by Anna Paquin’s performance—I like on-screen Sookie better than I did on-page Sookie). I’m not going to get into the multiple appeals of Buffy and Angel as a pair, or Buffy and Spike, for that matter (TWO vbfs! Buffy is awesome).
In any case, the non-Twilight vbf stories find ways to create dramatic and sexual tension between the couple, to put up obstacles to their romance, without requiring the woman to be helpless, hapless, and hopeless. Having a vampire for a boyfriend is quite enough of a problem on its very own.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
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The excitement over the inclusion of ABC Daytime in the promo is understandable. Daytime programming has long been isolated from the prime time business of the broadcast nets. And no one at the nets seems too keen on the soaps these days. But the ABC soaps are in an enviable position in an era of integration and conglomeration. Because ABC Disney owns its shows (the only net to do so) the company has a different kind of investment in its soaps than do CBS and NBC. ABC Daytime prez Brian Frons has repeatedly spoken about his conception of the areas he oversees -- daytime, Soapnet, syndication -- as the different nodes in a cross-platform brand. Soap fans have some justifiable problems with this logic, mainly because it denies the genre-specificity of soaps. But it may be the justification that is helping to keep ABC's soaps on the air and even putting them in promos that don't differentiate between daytime and prime time. If ABC's soaps are just nodes in the cross-platform brand that is ABC Disney they can work interchangeably with other elements of the brand.
Plus, the promo makes crystal clear that ABC wants women viewers. The emphasis on female-led shows, on romantic elements of action shows like Lost, and the inclusion of the soaps suggests that they are pitching the fall line-up squarely at the femmes. At least they acknowledge that some of those women might actually like the net's daytime soaps, too.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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The Kinivo BTH220 Stereo Headset delivers style, performance, and remarkable sound with most stereo-capable Bluetooth devices. This lightweight headset lets you make Hands-Free Calls and Wirelessly Listen to Music so you'll stay tuned-in!
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This Link Depot HDMI Cable connects easily to your HDMI TV, LCD projector, DVD player, or set-top box. This cable features gold-plated connectors for a long, corrosion-free life. Its generous length gives you the freedom to place components right where you need them.
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Link Depot HDMI to HDMI Cable (25 feet)
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Part of my cultural difference was gender-based. There were SO MANY boys there. Yes, there were girls and women, too, but a LOT of 18-25 year old guys. Not all that surprising, of course, but quite noticeable when one is in the midst of it, albeit pleasantly so in the non-existent line to the women's bathroom. (When's the last time you attended an event where that was the case?) Sitting behind my friends and I were a particularly, um, vocal, contingent of these aforementioned attendees. Now, this was not a docile crowd. Part of the reason the show was so much fun were the impassioned responses of the crowd--yelling, hollering, riotous applause--these people were fans of the most unabashed kind, a sentiment I can well appreciate. Even if the fan expressions more familiar to me are those of the screeching and crying variety rather than of the guttural yell mode. So these guys behind us made me feel like I was getting the real, the authentic experience of the show, but also made me kind of cranky and irritated. To wit: host Tommy Tallarico yells, "Let's hear it for girl gamers!" when two teenage girls take the stage to compete in the live Frogger contest. One of the charming gentlemen behind me hollers back, "Especially the hot ones!" You get the picture.
Even as one pretty uninitiated in the gaming world, it was clear to me that this was but one segment of that world, as exemplified by the kinds of games featured, if not by the crowd. Those with Hollywood film-like scores dominated, which seemed to me to be most standard to the action and fantasy games. So no sports games, no games geared mainly to kids, no indie games. To be fair, the show was put on by the industry and so it understandably focused on the most popular games--Halo, Final Fantasy, Mario, etc.--and the audience was not complaining. Indeed, the orgasmic shouts of . . . pleasure, I guess, whenever a new game was introduced or another Japanese composer appeared on-screen were intense.
Some more specific reactions: I thought the Metal Gear Solid visuals, from cut scenes produced for the game, were amazing, really visually compelling, very much drawing upon the iconography of the Hollywood blockbuster, but in a good way--with all the emotion and drama and epic scale such imagery can carry. Two moments of intellectual property defensiveness stood out: Square-Enix's refusal to allow the show to use game footage from Final Fantasy and from Kingdom Hearts. The FF music went video-less, KH featured a montage of Disney characters. Seemed way too cutesy for the crowd, but what do I know? Native informants-OK, my one native informant--tell me that Square-Enix was holding out for the $ VGL wasn't coughing up. And the serious serious History Channel produced montage of suffering WWII-era Europeans during the Medal of Honor music seemed to me quite a stretch. This is a first person shooter war game, a bang-bang-you're dead game, dressed up to look historically significant and honoring of the civilian casualties of war? No, I haven't played it, but the VGL version seemed way too ain't-war-honorable for my tastes.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the evening was when host Tommy Tallarico (what a show biz name) busted out an electric guitar and jammed along with the orchestra. While the crowd went rock concert-wild with this, I was kind of embarrassed for the guy. He had just told us of his youthful fantasies, how he played air guitar to game soundtracks for his neighborhood pals. But then he was playing a real guitar, on a real stage, in front of thousands of screaming fans! I wondered if he'd created this whole show in order to live out this adolescent male fantasy. Yet the adoring throngs seemed to be living it through him. The same guys gathering around the Guitar Hero competition screens in the lobby before the show and during intermission seemed to want nothing more than to rock away amongst the crowd of admirers--the everyday experience of Guitar Hero in the living room made a little more public, a little more thrilling, yet, sadly, paling beside the on-stage triumph Tommy achieved. It's a good thing Tommy so happily shared his moment of glory.
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Monday, June 17, 2013
Sunday, June 16, 2013
1) Bits and pieces of General Hospital, I think from last Friday and this Monday. I'm watching so much of it on fast-forward these days that it's hard to take much away. Except I watch all Robin and Patrick scenes (except when Patrick talks about Sonny's problems) and always examine Maxie's outfits very carefully.
This one is cute but I'm ready to move on to a new day's wardrobe.
2) My viewing companion enters and we decide to watch the pilot episode of Life on Mars. It's good! I like the way it reminds me of the TV of the '80s--Quantum Leap, of course with the time travel thing--but also Magnum P.I., Moonlighting, all of those shows with episodic weekly plots but continuing character arcs that shape the whole thing. Like MZN says, more Lisa Bonet! Earns another week recorded via DVR.
3) Monday's episode of The Hills. The Justin Bobby/Audrina story has the potential to have Jason and Lauren-style drama, and Justin Bobby, while as big a jerk as all of the other dudes in the Hills-a-verse, has enough bad boy sexiness to make us understand why she would want him despite his assholery (unlike that awful Jason). But Audrina. Sigh. Poor, poor Audrina. I just don't think she can carry the storyline--just not enough going on behind the stare and smile--and without the heroine whose heartbreak we can share, it can only be a half-hearted attempt at soapy drama, not the replacement for it, a la the Lauren and Jason saga.
4) Dancing with the Stars results show-- on major FF, but aired earlier the same night, so I'd like some points for timeliness, please. Usual boring recaps, goofy bits, blah, blah, blah, then -- POW! An all-male Pussycat Dolls troupe starts strutting all over the dance floor, and soon doffs their already-revealing jackets. Riveting for a second, but soon back to fast forwarding. Then the kids start their competition and the ff grinds to a halt. Those kids are awesome, if a bit creepy, and make at least a few minutes of the results show worth seeing.
5) Normally, I would have called it quits for the night and headed off to read a bit of Breaking Dawn (I know--it's really bad, but I have to know what happens. Team Jacob!) But last night was the first of the two-part GH: Night Shift finale and I had to watch. Started on a slight DVR-induced delay but soon caught up and actually SAT THROUGH THE COMMERCIALS because I was seeing the most compelling hour of TV I've watched in a long time. They re-created Robert's living room set from the '80s! They put Robin in the flowery dress and had her say, "Hi. My name is Robin"! Anna wore that mantilla! And had that big bump in the front of her hair! They acknowledged Holly's absence! And Sean! And Tiffany! And Love, the doll! I can't even believe I got to see all of these people and this place again. I was back in 1985, in the happiest of my GH days. The other parts of the ep were good, too, especially the touching story of Kyle and the Chad Allen character, whose name is escaping me now.
As if I were not already primed to kiss the feet of the amazing Sri Rao for bringing this to my TV, today I read his interview with TV Guide Canada and discover that My So-Called Life is his favorite show (I married a guy for this very reason) and Herskovitz and Zwick are his TV writer idols. Mr. Rao, if you even find yourself in Milwaukee, I would be honored to have you to dinner. I think you are my new BFF.
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Saturday, June 15, 2013
A central story arc of In Treatment is Paul's relationship with his patient, Laura, a woman 20 years his junior who declares her love for him early on in the series. Soon we learn that Paul, living in an unhappy marriage to his wife, played by Michelle Forbes, has some pretty hot and heavy feelings for Laura, too. This situation of "erotic transference" and "counter-transference" forms the moral, ethical, and emotional dilemma at the heart of the show. Not all of my shrink friends have watched enough of the show to offer much of an opinion on this relationship. But a recent conversation about the series made clear their inability to suspend their disbelief. They were incredibly worked up about the "bad" kind of therapy Paul offers--all that talky psychodynamic stuff (these folks are cognitive-behaviorists)--and couldn't stop talking about it at that level. When the subject of Paul's relationship with Laura arose, they really got worked up, only grudgingly admitting to the potential pleasures for viewers of the forbidden romance plot underlying the ethical dilemma Paul faces.
Their reactions to the In Treatment plot have also made me think about what seems to be a tendency amongst my psychologist friends to have very strong feelings about the inviolable lines between therapists and patients/clients--a dynamic that In Treatment mulls in really thought-provoking ways. It makes perfect sense to me that, amidst the kind of emotional discourses between therapist and patient, there can be all kinds of feelings, ideas, fantasies, etc. This is what makes IT relatable and emotionally believable, even for the non-therapized (although perhaps not for the actual therapist). Interestingly, my friends have similarly rigid takes on faculty/student dynamics. Of course, I understand the power imbalance between faculty and students and strongly believe in the importance of faculty always being cognizant of their relative power and avoiding the kinds of romantic entanglements Paul and Laura are experiencing as a result.
Yet there is also a way in which faculty/student dynamics can be like therapy, or at least like the TV version of therapy we can now watch on HBO. By this, I don't mean that the professor serves as personal counselor, though of course one finds oneself in such situations from time to time. Instead, I'm talking here about the kind of mental and, sometimes, emotional, connections that professors and students can have--connections that they should have, I think, when ideas and learning are engaging and provocative for all. Such moments can be exciting, and they can result in strong ties between all involved, whether in a one on one teaching context or in a classroom setting, in which the ties can be between peers as well as between teacher and student. Such moments and the relationships they produce can and do change people, as learning to think in new ways inevitably does. And there can be an intimacy and an emotional experience tied to that that may, in some way, approximate Laura's experience with Paul, and Paul's with her.
In the meantime, I remain captivated by the show and the ways in which it makes the smallest details of the utmost importance. As MZN has discussed on zigzigger, new camera set-ups, characters standing up, wearing their hair differently, etc. are incredibly exciting moments, and always pregnant with meaning. (Paul sitting on the couch with Laura in the 3/3 episode, slouched down, with his foot up on the coffee table?!! Amazingly revealing, given his typical posture across from the couch in the leather chair.) MZN compares this to Warhol, but I say that these are the kinds of details beloved by soap fans, used to wading through hours of boring for the smallest moments of revelation. Maybe that's another parallel to the teacher/student thing: hours of boring, not much happening, interspersed with the rare moments of big excitement when ideas click and you see new things about yourself, others, the world.