TV postsThursday March 22, 2018
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.
Quote of the Day
“Season Two, I knew I wanted to go to the death of work. Because where do these drug corners come from? They come from deindustrialization. Our economy no longer needs mass employment. The only factory in town that's still hiring and is always hiring are the corners.”
David Simon, “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire,” by Jonathan Abrams
I'd Like to Hear About Jerry After Seinfeld
I laughed hard at two jokes:
- cotton balls
Otherwise “Jerry Before Seinfeld,” currently streaming on Netflix, is a mixed experience. We get a sketchy documentary of Jerry's early years intermixed with mostly old routines (the ones he supposedly discarded in “I'm Telling You for the Last Time”) about childhood, sugar cereals, laundry, etc., done by the 60-something billionaire comedian on the stage of The Comic Strip, the small comedy club where he perfected his routine in the '70s.
Does he rush through the routines now? He doesn't seem as comfortable on stage as he used to. Stage actors need to own the stage, to pause as much as they want, to know the audience will wait for them. He doesn't have that anymore. Is he afraid that he's lost it? And by being afraid, has he lost it?
Really, the bigger problem for Seinfeld is that his was observational comedy, and observational comedy doesn't work too well if you're a billionaire. Sure, he tells the one joke about the first time he got a maid, and feeling bad about not picking up after himself (“I'm sorry, I...”), but that's about it. It has to be Jerry before “Seinfeld” because Jerry after “Seinfeld” is ... what? Just a rich asshole with too many cars? What can he tell us about how the .0001% lives? He would have to go beyond his polite observations and he can't even bring himself to rag on Trump. His bit about the insanity of anyone who wants to be president is good:
Who should be the most powerful person in America, the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, the leader of the free world? You know, actually, that sounds like me.
But it leaves open the question of why/how Trump is more insane than most. He's still tiptoeing around the controversial. I guess he always will.
Plus anything new in the culture? Twitter or binge-watching or what have you? He sounds like your grandpa talking about it. He sounds dismissive since he didn't grow up with it. Maybe there's comedy to mine there but right now he's using the wrong pick-axe. The diamond-encrusted kind.