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August 10, 2007

The Savage Critcis: The Naked Cosmos (2005)

The Savage Critics | Jog | My Life is Choked with Comics #4 - The Naked Cosmos
Yep, what really does it for me these days, is comic-book creators actually making movies themselves.... But the most fascinating one I’ve seen hails from 2005, and it doesn’t even resemble a movie so much as episodes from a public broadcast show gone incurably mad. Yet it's funny, and surprising, and altogether recommended. Directed and written and starring and partially scored by none other than the great Gilbert Hernandez.... I can't quite call it a movie, since it's structured like a quartet of episodes of a television program. Indeed, some sources claim that these episodes actually aired on public access television in the Las Vegas area, although my own searches indicate that this is merely the concept behind the work, a simulation of various episodes that actually builds and climaxes as a singular thing. Regardless of what it is, rest assured that it's very funny, very eccentric, and prone to lapsing into wonderfully jarring zones of melancholy and violence. From a filmmaking standpoint, it certainly represents a level of forethought as to how to cope with the project's obvious monetary limitations. Hell, a strange television show needs to look low-budget, and director/writer/star Hernandez more than rises to the challenge. Also, by 'star,' I actually mean 'performer of all adult male roles.' Yep, Beto plays a whole lot of characters in this thing, and his wife, Carol Kovinick, plays nearly all the rest (so, all adult female roles). Daughter Natalia Beatriz Hernandez plays all children, regardless of gender.... The plot concerns a fellow named Quintas (an effeminate, black-garbed Hernandez with lipstick, eyeshadow and a blonde wig), who's the host of the show we're watching - The Naked Cosmos. Quintas only wants to urge his viewers, the children of the cosmos, to harmonize with the astral plane and stuff like that. He's very weird, and somehow sad, prone to pondering the existence of a mysterious purple disc that seems to take everyone away for fun and memorable rides except for him. Sometimes he needs an injection, which momentarily causes his facial veins to pop and foam to pour from his mouth. Beto completely freaks out with the character at least twice per episode, including several episode-closing exhortations to look to the skies, howled at the top of his lungs....

Nick Hornby interviews The Wire's David Simon

The Believer - Interview with David Simon NICK HORNBY: Every...

August 08, 2007

On the subtext of TV shows

Dead Things ON Sticks: Maureen Ryan Talks to Me Through My TeeVee

Many TV shows similarly have an interesting, well-told "cover story" -- and a subtext that's just as intriguing, if not more intriguing.

This "TV disguise" is actually something I've thought about a lot -- many of the cleverest shows on TV use it to great effect.

For instance, I think "Battlestar Galactica" isn't just a satisfying tale of survivors on the run from extermination. It is that, on one level, but wrapped inside that overall structure is a meditation on governing, power, the tension between the military and civilians and an exploration of what human beings will do to each other -- and for each other -- when the "normal" restrictions of human society are taken away.

Likewise, I've always thought "House" is really a weekly ethics seminar. What is moral behavior? What constitutes brutal disregard for others and what constitutes selfless adherence to well-defined ideals? What's the definition of violating a person's individual rights, and when is it OK to ignore those rights in order to save a life? Those kinds of discussions and arguments between House and his staff, or House and Wilson, could be taking place in a graduate philosophy seminar. Lucky for us they take place within a tightly constructed mystery story.

"The Sopranos"? A gangster's tale, to be sure, but also a deeply resonant examination of materialism and what the definition of manhood is in the 21st century.

Would you believe that I think "Deadwood" is, on one level, a treatise on government as well? After all, if you put aside the boozing and the swearing and so forth, the show's really about how people on the edge of a lawless frontier choose to rule themselves.

And way back in the day, I used to think "Grey's Anatomy" was an interesting take on how friendship and ambition collided. Now I'm not sure what it's about, except about how desperate TV writers often seem to be driven by a desire to make their characters as illogical, unlikable and inconsistent as possible.

I've often thought that the smartest TV writers find an idea or a set of challenging ideas that they want to explore, and then find a TV-friendly format that will allow them to do that.

Kristen Bell to join cast of Lost?

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel | SCIFI.COM

TV Guide's Michael Ausiello has posted a rumor that the producers of ABC's Lost are considering Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell for the new role of Charlotte, a hot 20-something who is said to be "precocious, loquacious and funny." According to Ausiello, the role is described as "a very successful academic who also knows how to handle herself in the real world."

The character of Charlotte will likely appear in the second episode of the season. The role is initially recurring, with a possibility of becoming a series regular down the line.