TV postsTuesday April 09, 2019
Best Thing About The Good Place is The Bad Place
What's hell? Bro-hams, Axe Body Spray and “Transformers.”
Last month, when Patricia and I were both sick with the crud, we watched the first two seasons of “The Good Place” on Netflix. First season was good; second season was better. But the third-to-last episode of the second season? Where they all try to sneak through The Bad Place? Brilliant.
How do you torture humanity? It's already being done. We‘re being tortured daily with our own crap.
You get that sense throughout the series, but it’s this episode where the show's creator Michael Schur and his writing staff really let it all hang out, with slams on IHOP, the “Pirates of the Carribean” movies, and Hawaiian pizza, as our heroes wind up in The Museum of Human Misery: Hall of Low-Grade Crappiness:
Jason: Is there a gift shop?
Michael: Jason, this is hell. Of course, there's a gift shop.
There are animatronics of douches: the first person to floss in an open-plan office; the first white man with dreadlocks; and the first man to send an unsolicited picture of his genitals.
But my favorite moment is when Michael (Ted Danson), nominal demon turned nominal good guy, arrives and consults with his superior, Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson):
Shawn: (tossing a small canister of Axe Body Spray to Michael) “Welcome home. Axe up!”
Michael: (faux-excited) “Oh! New scent! ‘Transformers.’”
Shawn: “Yes. It makes you smell the way ‘Transformers’ movies make you feel.”
The kicker was when Michael later runs into the humans he's helping:
Eleanor: (making face) Ughhh! How do you smell loud and confusing?
Longtime readers will know I'm not exactly a fan. So despite the crud, I felt better after that. I felt less alone.
Bill Daily (1927-2018)
Most obit headlines mention “I Dream of Jeannie,” but I‘ll always think of him as Howard Borden, the neighbor of the Hartleys on “The Bob Newhart Show,” who did the pop-in at least once an episode. “Hey Bob, Hey Emily, what’s for supper?” He was one of my favorites on that show—the quintessential, classic, sitcom neighbor. In his case, daft sweetheart version.
Here's Bob Newhart's tribute.
Bill Daily & I go back to Chicago in the 50‘s. He and I were both trying to get into standup. Later, he joined the Bob Newhart Show. He was our bullpen guy - you could always go to him. He was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. I will miss him dearly— Bob Newhart (@BobNewhart) September 8, 2018
Here's the bit I most remember. Howard was a bachelor, or had just become one, and he was ironing a shirt. Was it for the first time? I forget. I don't really remember the why, just the what. He had the shirt all laid out on the ironing board just so, and he picked up the iron. Wetting his finger, and almost cringing in anticipation, he tested it to see if it was hot enough. Then he tested it again, more slowly. Then again. He let his fingertip stay on the iron, then pressed his entire palm against it. Then, deadpan, he pressed the iron against his cheek.
Somewhere back there in the 1970s, on a Saturday night in a basement in south Minneapolis, my older brother and I are laughing our asses off.
The Audience is a Child
Optimus Prime in “Transformers 2.” Plot sold separately.
“The audience is a child. If you ask the audience what they want, they‘ll want dessert. They’ll say they want ice cream. They‘ll want cake. You ask them what they want the next minute, they’ll say more ice cream, more cake. You show them that they like something else. ‘You like fried chicken? Here, taste my fried chicken.’ Then the next ten things they order will be the fried chicken. ‘You like Omar?’ ‘Yeah, I love Omar. Give me more of Omar.’ No, I want to tell you a story, and the characters are going to do what they‘re supposed to do in the story, and that’s the job of the writer. That's the writer's job. That's the storyteller's job. You don't write for anybody but the story, for yourself and for your idea of what the story is. The moment you start thinking about the audience and the audience's expectation, you‘re lost. You’re just lost.”
David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” in the oral history “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire,” by Jonathan Abrams.
TV Shows Nominated Best Drama Over ‘The Wire’
“Pawns, man, in the game, they get capped quick.”
I think everyone knows “The Wire” never won an Emmy but what's surprising is the few number of times it was even nominated. Just twice, and both for scripts: Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for the third season episode “Middle Ground” (the one where Stringer dies), and for the fifth season episode “—30—” (the last episode of the series).
Here, by the way, are the shows that were nominated for best drama during “The Wire”'s run:
|The West Wing||3||1|
|CSI: Crime Scene Invesgitation||2|
|Six Feet Under||2|
|Joan of Arcadia||1|
Great shows, good shows, a few head-scratchers. Almost all are mostly white shows.
I'm reading Jonathan Abrams' oral history on the series, “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire.” Halfway through he quotes Lance Reddick, who played Lt. Daniels, and who recognized early on how special the show was. According to Abrams, Reddick is still upset about the lack of awards. “I'll be pissed off about it until the day I die,” he says.
‘How to Pick Up Girls’ by Dominic West
“He has that kind of personality where he can say things and you just go, ‘How did you get away with that?’ I once stood behind him on an elevator—this was back in the early days, before he was married. We had a beautiful day player in the scene, and she was only there for the day, then she was taking the train back to New York. It was a crowded elevator, and he's only got this moment. ... You know what his pickup line was? She turned toward him and she said, ‘You know, I just broke up with my boyfriend.’ And he looked at her and went, ‘Really?’
”Later on, when she missed her train back to New York, I was like, ‘That’s all you needed? “Really?”' I think for the next two years I just kept going up to him whenever he was talking bullshit, ‘Really?’ That was my code for ‘Fuck you.’"
— David Simon, “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire,” by Jonathan Abrams. Cf., Mike Nichols on Robert Redford.