Tuesday, February 26, 2013


What did we ever do before we got cable? I’m sure we would have still been highly entertained, but my God, has the human race gotten stupider, or have we really just lowered the bar on crap on the TV? It’s still possible to see some interesting stuff via PBS or National Geographic, but for some reason, we seem to find ourselves a-wallow in the likes of TRU-TV. Because? Because, as Stephen King puts it, we love the "siren song of crap."

If you haven’t had the pleasure, TRU-TV is apparently where intelligence and the human race has gone to die. I do enjoy watching “The Smoking Gun,” primarily for the comments made by the 5th-rated celebrities who are on this thing. It’s a real mixed bag of folks. Every one from Gary Busey to Lief Garrett, Danny Bonaduce to Tonya Hardy (who is pretty funny) to Todd Bridges throw in comments about the clips. The format is this: countdown from #20 to #1 of the “World’s Dumbest _________.” This week it’s been Brawlers and they have been doozies.

I wonder if this was one of those last man standing kinda things?

Lots of fights from Russia. The best one was the one in Krasnoyarsk, which is in Siberia, so you’re already about 4 removes from civilization. As a bunch of drunks fight in a liquor store lobby, the cops show up and stand around. Chuck Nice’s comment “It went from a brawl to a Halloween party, people dressed as cops showed up.” They finally manage to evict the brawlers; no one goes to jail and then to top it off, one of the managers and one of the brawlers proceed to get all emotional and waltz around in the lobby of this store. Total bizarro world.

They're actually discussing the merits of a Peace Treaty in the Russian Duma. In Parliament. In Moscow.

The whole show has crap like this, and I guess it’s my guilty pleasure. I’m not much of a TV person, with the exception of police procedurals or weird stuff like the “X-Files” or Kevin Bacon's new show, "The Following,” as grim as it is. And indeed it is.

The notion of one person being able to manipulate many people is not new. Think Charles Manson. But the ultra-creepy patina of using references to Edgar Allan Poe’s works and what they mean gives this show a very specific kind of horror. Some of the critics have been less than kind, but I think it is very well done, precisely because it is so very dark. Kevin Bacon has also shown himself to be a master and the complete opposite of the serial killer in the way he also can manipulate people, even if he is the protagonist of this story. Meaty stuff.

Yes, it's bizarre, but I can relate.

The other show I started watching again, and I find astonishing is “Twin Peaks.” On the one hand, it’s almost camp. Kyle McLaughlin’s portrayal of the FBI agent Dale Cooper is all over the map. He’s hale and hearty and four-square for the Twin Peak folks. The denizens of the town are beyond bizarre; pretty hilarious, in some cases and some of the situations are just ridiculous. However, the undercurrents are deadly serious and poignant, almost unbearably so. The transference of grieving for the dead Laura to the longing for things unnamed is almost palpable at times.

But what truly makes this show stand out is the musical score. Angelo Badalamenti wrote the score. The opening itself is singular as there is hardly any development and so ethereal. The soundtrack throughout is reminiscent of 50s be-bop, Stray Cats, kind of West Side Story-like and is very much a character of the series itself. Not only does it set the mood, it also seems to drive the action, almost tone-poem like. I’m having fun with the show, but there’s a lot in it that is really “out there.” Of course, being David Lynch, that’s what you get.

That’s pretty much what we’ve been looking at. The commercials are awful. I think of any segment of the population, with the exception of the government, advertisers thing we’re the stupidest things on the planet. But then, there is TRU-TV to prove that maybe the advertisers aren’t so far off the mark.

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