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Sunday, September 29, 2002

Video Victuals

Sunday's here--the day when I abandon myself to the tube. Pro football and The Sopranos. A great double helping of violence mixed with poetry. Those who don't like pro football will wonder what the hell I'm talking about when I ascribe the quality of poetry to football. Those who do like it will know exactly what I'm talking about.

In addition, there are two new shows opening tonight, just before and just after Tony and Family--one with promise, one with question marks. Boomtown, crime stories told from four different perspectives, a la Rashomon, has been well received by the critics who have previewed it. The other, American Dreams, we'll have to wait and see. I'm hoping it will be well done, but I'm not holding my breath. It has all the elements of being a sugary misreading of history, into which TV drama can lapse so easily. I'm hoping my doubts are misplaced, however, because the show will likely have lots of great songs from the past. It's the story of a Philadelphia family during the 60's where the teenage daughter is trying to get on American Bandstand as one of the dancers. The father thinks Dick Clark is leading youngsters to hell in a handbasket and forbids his daughter to have anything to do with it.

Dick Clark is one of the producers of this new show, so there will be lots of clips of his old show. That will be a kick in the ass for old-timers like me. But the setup for the depiction of the generational war that was brewing at the time sounds pretty lame. I'll be amazed if they come close to an honest representation, but I'm rooting for'em. Dick Clark is nobody's fool. We'll see if his brain has addled or not. (For a personal reflection on the War-Between-The-Generations, see my post of May 8).

Other TV notes: most promising new show I've seen so far is Michael Mann's Robbery-Homicide Division. It has the usual Mann trademarks of high-gloss cinematic visuals combined with the backdrop of hip, throroughly up-to-date music which helps build the dramatic tension as well as enhance the impact of the cinematography. Having said that, it's no Miami Vice, Mann's original ground-breaking use of this formula. It lacks the magic of the chemistry between Crockett and Tubbs--played by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas--one of the most serendipitous relationships ever to grace the tube. By the way, WTF ever happened to Thomas? He seems to have fallen off the planet. Here's one delicious tounge-in-cheek sighting.


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