I used to watch so much television it was like a second job. I blamed it on my friend in London who taught me, while he lived in New York, that one should never be ashamed of loving television. (This weekend he innocently got me hooked on UK Big Brother by sending a clip of houseguest Charley. Like a train wreck, she is so deliciously neurotic and egotistical you can’t look away even though you know you should.)
Summers have always been a welcome break from television for me. Lately, however, the smaller cable channels have become competitive players in this game of original programming, so I find myself looking out for new shows like Damages on FX (starring Glenn Close) and Saving Grace on TNT (starring Holly Hunter).
Of the three, The Closer is my favorite. I’ve been a Kyra Sedgwick fan since I saw the movie Singles. In The Closer, Kyra plays Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, a CIA-trained interrogator with a weakness for junk food. When I saw a couple of repeats of season 1 earlier this year, it was Brenda’s penchant for Ding Dongs (or whatever those cakes are she eats) at the end of a long day that made the show (and character) a true winner for me. (Yes, sometimes that’s all it takes.) Not that I have a love for Ding Dongs. It was Brenda pulling open her desk drawer and biting into a chocolate cake as all the stress from the day eased off her face that did it for me.
The day after Father’s Day, I sat back and watched TNT’s The Closer marathon – every episode of season 2 leading into the 9PM season 3 premiere – and I figured out what else I love about Brenda. She’s hysterically funny without meaning to be. I really do adore people with huge, quirky personalities that are so natural they look baffled or embarrassed when you laugh at something quirky they’ve done. The rest of the cast is also pretty fantastic. The show airs Monday nights at 9pm on TNT.
Honestly? I don’t know why I tune into Big Love on a regular basis. I like Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Mary Kay Place a lot, so I knew I’d tune in when I heard about it. But it’s about a polygamist family of Mormon fundamentalists in Utah…
Actually, that is precisely why I tune in on a regular basis. Doesn’t that sound disturbingly intriguing? I hate to be narrow-minded about it, but I’ve always believed polygamists use religion as a cover to be able to have sex with, and dominate, several women without consequences. I can’t say Big Love has changed my mind about that since it’s fiction, but I have learned that Bill Paxton’s character, Bill Henrickson, truly believes plural marriage is the way to get into Heaven. People who choose to live and dress a certain way because they believe it will give them passage into Heaven fascinate me. I don’t go out of my way to understand them, but I do wonder what kind of mind follows a word that says you must marry many women to be righteous, or whatever.
After watching the entire first season and what has already aired of the second, I still have no clear idea what the difference is between Mormon fudamentalists and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One group (or both?) believes black people are inferior. I think about that when I watch the show, but I keep it far back in my mind. (Like when I watch the 1996 version of Pride & Prejudice and Colin Firth as Darcy says “Every savage can dance.” As much as I love Darcy, that moment brings me back to earth and reminds me Darcy would whip a black girl, not kiss her.) This week’s episode addressed Nicki’s (Bill’s second wife) loathing of Catholicism when her son brings home a rosary from his Catholic school. She dumps the cross in the garbage and visits the school to chastise the nun for protheletizing. Obviously, I have absolutely no understanding of Mormon fundamentalists since I was shocked by Nicki’s behavior. I just assumed the cross symbolized the same thing for Mormons as it does for Catholics. Nicki asks the nun what, exactly, they believe and it was at that moment I spaced out and missed the nun’s answer. Big Love airs Monday nights at 9pm.
I sat through the entire first season of Entourage before I decided I liked it. I want to say it’s Sex and the City with boys, but that wouldn’t be accurate. It is different, despite being about four single best friends. The boys have different goals than the girls of SaTC, though they do share the desire to get laid on a consistent basis. The one thing that keeps me coming back to Entourage is Jeremy Piven. I’ve loved Jeremy since his small parts in Singles and Grosse Point Blank, and his big part in PCU. In Entourage, his talent really shines and I’m often tempted to buy the DVDs just to be able to watch all of his scenes over and over again. I do like the overall story of a New York kid making it big in Hollywood and taking his two best friends and brother along for the ride. It’s a fantasy a lot of us have. Vince is way too cavalier about his money and popularity – he leaves everything for his best friend/manager, Eric, to handle. That really gets on my nerves and diminshes his character for me. But I assume many young celebrities are like that. The other big draw (besides Jeremy Piven) is that, like Sex and the City, Entourage shows me a side of LA I don’t think I’ll ever experience. I don’t enjoy nightlife the way I used to and I certainly can’t afford to party the way the boys do. Oh, and I’m not as fabulous. So it’s really cool to watch that lifestyle on the small screen knowing I won’t have a hangover in the morning.
Next up: Damages and Saving Grace. It’s small things that make these decisions for me. Like the angel who looks like he needs a bath in Saving Grace and this exchange (an homage to former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor?) between Glenn Close and a guy in the Damages trailer:
Man: If you were a man, I’d kick the living crap out of you.
Close: If you were a man, I’d be worried.