Sunday, September 24, 2006

If you haven't already, I recommend watching this interview with Bill Clinton on FOX News. I wanted to post a YouTube embed, but YouTube only has pieces of the interview uploaded by right-wingers hoping to paint the interview as Clinton getting irrational and antagonistic. It's actually a case of FOX's Chris Wallace getting completely owned.

I don't know very much about Clinton's bad points because I wasn't really interested in politics until Bush took office (the asshole big enough blow my antennae against my skull). But the interviews I've seen recently with him on The Daily Show, Keith Olbermann, and now FOX, sorely make me wish he was still president.

This is a case of truthiness striking again, and it's cause to realise again that Colbert's imitation of the NeoCon mentality may be funnier than the real thing, but is not exaggeration of it. You'll see that, preceding the interview, Chris Wallace mentions it's complete and unedited, as though Clinton did something that's embarrassing in the raw footage. At first I wondered if Wallace was simply trying to delude himself in consolation, but then I realised it was also another stitch of broad, community consensual truthiness--He gives it to the FOX News viewers so they can say it to themselves now, until it becomes "true." The same idea was behind the ABC documentary. It's obviously rational for Clinton to bring up the documentary, but for the clan of brainwashed behind Wallace, it probably seemed like a pathetically irrelevant reference.

On the subject of television, last week I made a bit of an effort to see more of it. A poll on Franklin's journal showed me how deprived I was as I was unable to choose a favourite character among current shows for my universal inexperience with them. So on Monday, I caught the premiere of Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was pretty good; intelligently written with interesting characters and good actors to play them. It seems to almost be a thoughtful ode to Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. I suppose there'll be some comparisons to Sports Night, but it seems to be carrying some political sensibility from The West Wing.

Next, I finally caught an episode of House, which both Arina and Franklin seem to dig. I thought it was decent, and I liked that Joel Grey was in the episode I saw. The show centres on the eccentric and brilliant Dr. Gregory House who, like many eccentric and brilliant television doctors before him, often comes up with the out of left field solution no-one else could see. It seemed to me that, in this case, the effect was mainly achieved by dumbing down the other characters. But that's probably pretty common--for the writer to be an uncannily ingenious doctor might be slightly much to ask. House is distinguished by some humour and dynamic energy from its star. It wasn't a bad hour.

Later that night, I saw Boston Legal. It would take a fierce effort of will for me to dislike that show, written by David E. Kelley, creator of two shows I enjoyed in the past (Ally McBeal and The Practice), and starring a small army of actors I like; James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen, Rene Auberjonois, Parker Posey, and that night's episode featured Michael J. Fox. And yet, I think I have a little David E. Kelley fatigue. In one episode I saw the familiar pattern--a bizarre case comes up, leading to a "surprisingly" thoughtful revelation in the courtroom about life or law. That's fine, except when, as in the episode in question, the bizarre circumstance seems a little too contrived and ridiculous, robbing the resolution of a great deal of weight.

But sometimes it does work. The number of characters, though, makes me wonder whether it's suffering from the same disease that brought down Ally McBeal; introduce a new, Quirky (tm) character, until the bag of quirks is empty, at which point we bring on another Quirky (tm) character, until . . .

Anyway, on Thursday I caught two shows I'd seen before, and liked, but hadn't been keeping up with; My Name is Earl and The Office.

As I'd suspected it might, the initially mildly decent My Name is Earl has grown better with age, primarily capitalising on the chemistry between Jason Lee and Jaime Pressly. Though it'd be a lot better if the two talented stars could lose those annoying accents.

The Office, however, easily puts Earl to shame. The Office is persistently funny while maintaining an atmosphere of consistent place and character so rarely seen in sitcoms. It does what usually only good comedy movies do--creates distinctive fools we care for, makes them do ridiculous things, while providing a nice overall shape to the episode. Steve Carell's brilliant in it, but so's everyone else, either by skill or good casting. This and Studio 60 were easily the two winners of last week's foray.

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